It was at the age of four my teacher in school thought I wasn't listening in class and I was always getting into trouble for it. But a routine hearing test in school showed I had a mild hearing loss and I was then referred to ENT and Audiology departments at my local hospital.
After numerous surgeries for grommets, tonsillectomy, adenoidectomy, implantation etc… my hearing loss still wasn't improving and at 13, my loss progressed to moderate in both ears. It was at this point I was given my first pair of hearing aids.
My hearing loss continued to decline and at 21 I was referred to a more specialist ENT department at the Manchester Royal Infirmary to get a formal diagnosis. I had a CT and MRI scan which showed my hearing loss was now severe in both ears and I had an ear disease, Otosclerosis. My hearing loss wasn't going to get any better.
This is when I decided to accept my hearing loss, be proud of my hearing aids and implant, not to be afraid to ask for help and to fight for my rights. Without my hearing aids/implant, I wouldn't be able to use the phone independently at work/home, I couldn't be included in group discussions and socialising would be extremely difficult. I already have an underactive thyroid and heart murmur which I struggle with fatigue from, and my hearing loss on top means I can be more tired than the average person. My hearing aids mean some of this fatigue is taken away, as I don't have to strain as much to listen, or constantly rely on lip reading to follow along.
I also like to decorate my hearing aids to make them stand out and always get brightly coloured moulds. This is because I want to be proud of wearing them as it's obvious I have a hearing loss to most people. It also allows people who don't know anything about deafness to ask questions and I can try and educate them with some Deaf Awareness to help someone else like me. There is one advantage of having a hearing loss though... being able to switch off when you want some down time!
I am currently training to run the half marathon for Action on Hearing Loss on Sunday, 10th September at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, otherwise known as the Great North Run. I want to raise as much money as possible for the charity to provide opportunities for people with hearing loss, like give them access to assistive technology to improve their quality of lives, and to support more research into hearing loss to possibly restore hearing, or find different ways of amplification in the future. You can follow my fundraising efforts and support me by visiting my Just Giving page: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/nuala-donnellan
I have already ran the Manchester 10k back in May to give myself a head start as to what it will be like to run a competitive race and have been practising running outside, especially running consistently on inclines to get my body used to being pushed to the limit. I am really looking forward to the atmosphere and for Action on Hearing Loss to cheer me on when I feel like giving up. Just finishing the race will be a huge achievement for me and I am determined to do it!
Nuala is one of the many incredible people who take on challenges like this every year and YOU could join her too! Visit www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk/events to see some of the challenges you could take part in.