It started in the vacations of 1989 ,when i was on a trip to U.S.A to visit my uncle’s house, I, suddenly experienced an immense pressure in one of my ears while aeroplane was landing.
My uncle being a child specialist took me to an ENT expert and after conducting several tests I was finally given a hearing aid with which I could hear normally but i was extremely confused as how to react?
My classmates and school mates made fun of me saying,“ behri aa gayi ! ”
Some children used to stare at me which made me feel insulted. There were some teachers and classmates who used to sympathise with me, but that only made me feel more pathetic
Being a shy and introvert person, I didn’t know how to express my frustration and I used to cry a lot. I stopped playing, going out and then one day, I decided to quit school. From the next day I Started making excuses not to go to school and finally my mom got irritated with my excuses. When my dad came to know about it, he called me and said, “Beta lots of people wear spectacles, but that doesn’t mean that they are blind does it? So the same applies to your hearing aid. You are punishing yourself without any reason or fault of yours. Don’t feel let down by any comments but face them with your head high. You are an achiever not a coward. ”It was on t hat day, that I promised myself wouldn’t cry for this ever again.
Then as days turned into years, I completed my graduation, did some short term courses and then I finally got married.
All this while had been using my hearing aid. I always stood firm despite of receiving many harsh taunts from the world which included my so called ‘friends’. Only my parents and some college friends supported me throughout my fight with this mental suffering.
In April ,2004, I had come back from Canada to see my ailing father. We planned a short trip to Haridwar. We were sitting on banks of ‘Har ki paudi’ ,when suddenly a guy dived into the river and the water splashed into my ears
I experienced a slight pain which was not normal. I tried putting my index finger inside my ear to take out water but my God! I could not hear anything at all and I was experiencing a lot of pain behind my ear.
We tried seeing a local ENT doctor there in Haridwar, but it was all in vain.
We rushed back to Delhi as we all were confused what to do.
I then decided to visit an ENT living nearby who said, “ Infection ho gya hai ek hafte mein theek ho jaoge medicine khao”.
Four weeks went by, but I still could not hear any sounds. I felt like an alien who was isolated in a silent world. I was extremely confused as to what my next step should be. All I had to my advantage was lip reading and sign language.
Then my husband came back and so we decided to go to an expert.
My father in law took us to a Govt. Hospital and there I met an ENT. He advised us to go for an M.R.I scan, which revealed that my cochlea had been damaged and I was suffering from a genetic disorder so nothing could be done. It was a severe case and so, the doctor advised us to go for a cochlear implant. I was trying to lip read and understand the sign language so I could figure out what was being said.
When I was explained about the process of getting a cochlear implant, I got scared as it was a brain surgery
My family members suggested that I should see a few more doctors and have their views and then decide what to do.
During this time my son who was only 3 yrs old, got locked by me in the balcony as i couldn’t hear him crying and I went inside. For 2 hrs he was locked outside crying. I was damn scared at night and I searched the entire house looking for him. It was like hell for me. My landlord came up on hearing his crying and opened the balcony door and my son came running to me and we both cried a lot. That was a turning point in my life for me and I decided to go for Cochlear Implant.
My case being ontogenesis imperfect was so severe that no doctor was ready to touch it as there were 99% chances of failure. Upon going abroad too we found out that there too no doctor was willing to perform the operation.
We normally have this notion that the doctors in the government hospital are just like that so that made me twice as confused whether to go ahead with the surgery or not .But finally I decided to take a chance! Some tests like Bera and MRI were conducted and I was given a date on which I was to be operated on.
On 12 Nov 2004 early morning 6am, I was taken inside the operation theatre and to my utter surprise I saw cameras inside .
While I was wondering what was happening a team of 4-5 doctors came in and I was explained in sign language that they were from the company and they would be seeing my operation live and this would also be shown live at their research centre, as I was the first one in India to get a cochlear Implant and fifth one in the world.
I was feeling very happy about this when suddenly the doctors said that they would increase the price of implant as I’m an adult . After several heated arguments, things finally settled down and I was given anaesthesia at 8.30 am and the surgery started. It went on for 7-8 hrs. My cochlea was like kneaded dough with no bones and the nerves were all entangled but God had mercy on me and I finally got implanted. It was a big achievement for me and for the doctors. After one week I had a switch on. On the switch on day, my audiologist asked me whether I could hear something.
For me it was as if I was given a new life .I was listening to sounds again but with a different chord that I had never heard before.
Now it was time for therapy. As I went to my first class, the therapist said that it would take me a year or so to listen normally to which I was shocked. Every time I heard something, like piano keys or trumpet I was always like Oh my God! But I didn’t give up and I decided to fight on my own.
I started catching different sounds at home one by one for example, standing near the door bell and asking my kid to ring it for me.
It took me 3 months to stand before the world like normal adult catching sounds even from behind me. Wow! I was an achiever. People used to ask me ye ipod kaha se liye? And aap sun sakte ho sach mein? As at that, there were not many people who were aware about these surgeries.
It’s has been 12 years now. it was not an easy path for me but I won my struggle by facing so much torture of being taunted or sympathised with as if they really care for me. But now I give a hearty laugh at all this .For world I may be disabled but for me I’m a much better person. It is actually my choice that when someone is taunting me , I have the power to switch off my implant and ignore all the non sense and tensions of the world and as person I would also proudly refer to myself as having three ears.
The Moral I learnt: we should make our own path and walk on it with pride and always have faith in God for this is what makes you stronger.
Neeta Mehta Parashar