Catherine, 51, a swimming teacher and mum-of-two from London, lost her hearing in her left ear as a teenager. But, says Catherine, her deafness is part of who she is – it doesn’t stop her doing what she loves.
“I lost my hearing in my left ear when I was 15, after I was run over by a van. My injuries were huge. I broke three ribs, fractured my skull, broke three bones in my left ear and ruptured the eardrum. It took me the best part of a year to recover, and my hearing in my left ear – which went completely following the accident – never really returned. I was also left with constant tinnitus.
In the years that followed, I was quite affected by what happened. The deafness really disrupted my balance and I found the tinnitus debilitating at times. But I’ve never been the sort of person to dwell on things that happen to me, so gradually I learnt to deal with the hearing loss and to adapt my life to cope with it. I refused to let it limit what I could do.
“My deafness won’t stop me doing the things I love.”
I’ve learnt to lipread so I ‘see to hear.’ I use my right ear when I’m on the phone and when I’m in bed, I lie on my side, with my ‘good’ ear facing upwards, so I can hear the kids at night. I’m a real social butterfly, so although I do struggle to hear in social situations, I won’t let that stop me enjoying myself!
I’m lucky that my friends and family are really considerate and always try to sit on my right side in a noisy restaurant, so I don’t miss out on any conversations. I can see that for some people having hearing loss might be debilitating, but I can honestly say that it’s had very little impact on my life – because I haven’t let it. I even ran the marathon this year! My deafness is part of who I am. It won’t stop me doing the things I love or being with the people I love.”