It’s been a kind of eventful week. North Korea’s baby-faced leader, Kim Jom –Un, or whatever his name is, woke up with a headache and decided that he would give everyone else one. So incensed had be become of the continuous ache in his temples that he has decided to nuke everything that moves. Then of course Margaret Thatcher died. Thatcher was always a figure that polarised people. For all the good she did for Britain there are people that will always hate her hardline policies. Love her or loathe her, the woman had an impact that few people can hope to have in their life time. You don’t make enemies if you don’t stand for something as they say. It seems Gina died in Home and Away too and the dramas continue on My Kitchen Rules. Stop the world! I want to get off.
I am not sure why but Thatcher’s death made me take stock. I grew up in her era. She was coming to prominence just as I was becoming deaf. Around the same time my hearing loss was becoming an issue she became leader of the Conservatives in Britain. She replaced the much lampooned Edward Heath.
In 1975 my parents had somehow managed to save up enough money to take us all to England for a holiday. As Maggie was coming to power I was in England and coming to the realisation that losing ones hearing meant something and it wasn’t good. I recall my mother constantly telling me to say “Beg Your Pardon” rather than my customary “WHAT” as I struggled to understand the thick cockney accents that my mothers, and especially my fathers, family spoke with. It was even worst when we visited friends in Yorkshire. The accents didn’t help but the reality was that this was the beginning of the steep spiral in my hearing.
But anyway as Maggie rose to power my audiogram arrows went in the opposite direction. They have continued to go in the opposite direction ever since to the point that I now hear about as much as Maggie can even though she is dead. I don’t wish to mock the dead; I only wish to point out that I have become very, very, very deaf.
Alas, at the time of Maggie’s death I have been profoundly deaf for 38 years. I had a more minor hearing loss before that but the real decline can perhaps be linked back to around 74 or 75. So Maggie’s life changing event of becoming leader of the Conservatives coincided with my own challenging event of becoming deaf.
Maggie becoming the Conservatives leader, and eventually the PM, brought with it both rewards and heartache. Some of her colleagues, for example, were assassinated by the IRA. She was in the Brighton Hotel when the IRA bomb went off killing several of her colleagues. A few years before that she apparently had just said goodbye to her closest advisor as he drove out of a car park. Seconds later his car blew up courtesy of another IRA bomb. Of course she also made some tough decisions, some would say even cruel. These decisions meant that she copped a lot of abuse that has continued even after her death.
It was not all a bed of roses but she must have had a sense of immense pride as the British economy slowly turned around under her leadership. She had a particularly strong influence on the fall of Communism and the Berlin wall. These were heady and enthralling political times and Maggie was one of the key political figures of those times.
It seems trite that I should compare being Deaf with being one of the major leaders of the Western world but being Deaf has brought with it both rewards and heartache too. It’s isolating and frustrating. Opportunities are missed. Simple pleasures that I once enjoyed like music are now denied me. Some times it’s so frustrating I just scream.
But the rewards have been many. I have friends in the deafness and disability areas from all over the world. It has been my career and has taken me to many interesting and diverse places. I have met Prime Ministers and famous people. I have been able to experience the richness of the Deaf community. Indeed I met my wife through the Deaf community at, of all places, my front door. Despite my deafness life has been good.
It’s funny how life works. On Saturday I woke up and there was a cochlear implant processor magnetised to my fridge door. The processors of cochlear implantees stay on their heads through a magnet that attaches itself to the thingy that has been inserted in their head.. A friend who has a cochlear implant was staying overnight. For reasons known only to her she decided to stick her processor on the fridge door. Then Maggie died making me reflect back to 1975 when she came into power. This was also the time when my hearing loss became a real issue. And then it hit me, to paraphrase Gough Whitlam, IT’S TIME!
After being deaf for 38 years, the last ten of those not being able to hear a sound, it hit me that it was seriously time for me to do something about getting a cochlear implant. I have been referred twice. The first time in 2005 was by my own Ears Nose and Throat specialist. This referral came to nothing. The second time was by my sons Ear Nose and Throat specialist who, realising that I was deaf, took my details and referred me to the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear hospital. It is worth noting that she did this without checking I was ok with it. Rather comically this referral appeared on my son’s case notes. There was a footnote at the bottom … Finlay’s father, Mr Kerridge, was referred to the Royal Victorian Ear and Eye hospital for assessment for suitability for a cochlear implant …. I kid you not. But these two referrals led to nothing.
The recent death of Maggie made me reflect on my life. Of course my mind being what it is went on a journey down memory lane and somehow linked Maggie’s death to the cochlear implant processor that my friend had magnetised to my fridge. There could only be one conclusion – It was time!
I am one of those that has a memory of sound and indeed I think in sound. I am most likely well suited to a cochlear implant. So I have made the decision to move on with it and see what is possible. On my computer screen, minimised at the bottom, is the phone number of the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital. Shortly I will ring it and set the train in motion. Hopefully I can find out what happened to my referrals and set myself up with an assessment.
All going well I will make this adventure to getting a cochlear implant into a series for The Rebuttal. It should be interesting indeed!
Keep reading for the next installment.