Regaining self confidence and self-esteem following my hearing loss
It has been a long journey for me.
My hearing started to deteriorate in my early thirties and became worse over the years. One of my biggest concerns over the years was that I became reliant on other people, began to lose my own confidence, and really found it frustrating socially or in a group of people. I had to rely on my wife to help me out with the telephone, dealing with business matters that I would normally have coped with easily.
Communication became difficult, and socially I was very much at a disadvantage. I continued to lose confidence in my own ability too. It is easy to understand how deafness can lead to isolation and feeling left out socially. It is a disability that cannot be seen. Thankfully now this is changing, but for me, it was hard on occasions.
Deciding if a cochlear implant was right for me
My cochlear implant journey has taken ‘many twists and turns’ over the years, since the first thought of an implant was ‘implanted into my head!’ (excuse the pun!). My emotions varied from one extreme to another, as the possibility and hope that I might to be able to hear better was ‘dangled in front of me’.
After being referred for a cochlear implant, I wondered just how I would manage to communicate after having the operation and ‘activation ‘of the CI processor.
Becoming a Health Walk Leader
It was during this time that we went on a Hertfordshire Health Walk in Welwyn Garden City. Although I missed a lot of the conversation, I enjoyed the walk and decided to go on others. It was suggested that we became Health Walk leaders, however the thought of leading a Health Walk left me with a mix of emotions!
The leaders encouraged me to apply to be a walk leader despite my disability; they said it shouldn’t be a problem. I was encouraged by the Hertfordshire Health Walk team to attend the training course and First Aid courses and I could make up my mind after that. I was tentative but decided that I would ‘give it a go’ as they say. I was not disappointed.
The other walk leaders knew my situation, and the support from them was great, and I grew in confidence and my self-esteem returned more and more. There were exciting times to think that I could now be a leader and help others who needed my help.
I now co-lead a weekly walk. So, all in all, there are no barriers to cochlear implant users volunteering in other roles and the benefits are worth the time.
Benefits of Health Walks
The Health Walks are great; you are in the open air, you are breathing in fresh air, being with other people socialising. I discovered that many of the walkers lived by themselves, so the social aspect was very important as well. We enjoy a drink at the local café at the end of the walk.