HEAR, HEAR: Peter Robertson loves his bionic ear.
HEAR, HEAR: Peter Robertson loves his bionic ear.

Ear implant brings new lease on life

PETER ROBERTSON says his Cochlear implant changed his life for the better.

After losing his hearing without ever learning sign language, Peter suffered an unusual kind of isolation for nearly 25 years.

Now, three years after the having his bionic ear installed, Peter's running his own business and enjoying all the benefits of being able to hear that most of us take for granted.

Peter began suffering progressive deterioration of his hearing at the age of five and was profoundly deaf by the end of his teens.

Living in a kind of no-man's-land, he found work in jobs where hearing wasn't that important ? like truck driving ? and even managed to raise a family.

He says it's only now, looking back, that he sees how much of a struggle it was.

Having the implant installed was a long process. He had to go through 12 months worth of tests and counselling before having the operation because the doctors had to be sure the device would actually work for him ? and that he understood its limitations.

The procedure was relatively brief. Peter was only in hospital for a single night, but then he had to wait another six months before doctors were satisfied he'd recovered sufficiently from the invasive surgery, and could switch the implant on.

Peter said it was a bizarre experience. He essentially had to re-learn how to hear, a process that continues to this day.

"One day I was sitting around at home and I heard what sounded like a police siren and I assumed it was coming from my sons' video game," Peter says.

It turned out the sound was actually frogs croaking outside.

"So now I know if I'm driving along and I hear frogs croaking, I'm in trouble!"

The hearing aid isn't without limitations. Peter can talk to people face to face, and even use a mobile phone, but he has trouble communicating where there are crowds Nonetheless, the implant has opened up a whole new world.

Being able to understand face-to-face speech has enabled him to learn how to use computers and the Internet for the first time.

He's also been able to get his own business started, Lismore Recycled in Taylor Street, South Lismore, selling second-hand building materials and bric-a-brac.

"It feels like everything's come good," Peter said.

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