A Saskatchewan woman who’s worn hearing aids for decades is rediscovering all the world’s sounds thanks to doctors at St. Paul’s Hospital.
Vi Flatt from Regina Beach is the first person in North America to get a new type of cochlear implant, called the Oticon Neuro System.
“When you first lose your hearing it happens so gradually it becomes a new normal,” she said.
“You’re asking people to repeat their sentence and you don’t realize you can’t hear.”
With practice, she said she’s now able to hear people speak and she’s ready to work on the next challenge.
“I’ve been so focused on the physical word, I haven’t focused on music yet,” Flatt said.
“I will do that because the piano is my favourite and I have to get that back in my life.”
How did the surgery go?
“Amazing. It’s amazing,” said Flatt at the activation of her cochlear implant on September 27, one-month post-surgery.
Flatt started wearing hearing aids about 35 years ago and her hearing has been deteriorating since then.
“I once heard someone say when you’re blind and unseeing, you’re cut off from things, but when you can’t hear, you’re cut off from people. And, I’ve certainly been cut off from people,” she said.
At the age of 80, she has 25 per cent hearing with a hearing aid in her left ear.
A decade ago, the hearing in that ear worsened to the point where she could no longer wear a hearing aid.
“If I was watching sports on television I may crank up the volume and listen to it,” said Flatt’s husband Ray.
“For this first time in so many years I now have somebody telling me to turn it down,” he smiled.
Dr. Neal Shoman with St. Paul’s Hospital said the unit has a better processor and takes about half the time to install as older models.
The new unit is fully covered by the province for qualified patients.
Saskatoon is one of five cities in Canada that is launching the implant – the other four include Ottawa, Quebec City, St. John’s, and Toronto.
Before its arrival to the North American market, the Neuro System had been offered for nearly a year in France, Germany and Denmark.