‘Cruel’ wait for an im­plant

The Press - - In Depth -

At 48, Si­mon Bal­dock has given up hope of ever hear­ing again. He was as­sessed as el­i­gi­ble for an im­plant last year, but with­out ex­tra fund­ing, he will re­main on the wait­ing list.

He says the ex­pe­ri­ence is ‘‘al­most cruel’’. ‘‘The im­pres­sion given is that this magic wand of a cochlear im­plant will hap­pen to you . . . And then to re­ceive a let­ter stat­ing that you do meet the el­i­gi­bil­ity re­quire­ments com­fort­ably [but] due to fund­ing con­straints this won’t hap­pen. I’m still in a bit of shock pro­cess­ing that I won’t get one.’’

A ge­netic con­di­tion saw his hear­ing be­gin to de­te­ri­o­rate as a teenager and has got pro­gres­sively worse in the last 18 months.

A psy­chol­o­gist, from Pic­ton, Bal­dock now fears for his job. He says ev­ery day is ‘‘men­tally and phys­i­cally ex­haust­ing’’ and in­ter­ac­tions with groups of peo­ple have be­come im­pos­si­ble. ‘‘All I try to do is sur­vive through to the end of each day as it is very tir­ing, phys­i­cally, phys­i­o­log­i­cally and emo­tion­ally.

‘‘I used to be quite so­cia­ble, in­volved in foot­ball, cricket. I loved go­ing to the theatre. Over time I have lost ac­cess to mu­sic, TV, be­ing able to go to the cinema and con­ver­sa­tions with more than one or two peo­ple . . .

‘‘So­cial gath­er­ings I now tend to try to avoid if I can. It is re­ally emo­tion­ally chal­leng­ing to be sat there, at a fam­ily gath­er­ing, des­per­ately want­ing to be part of the con­ver­sa­tion . . . but just sit­ting and nod­ding, smil­ing . . . and not re­ally know­ing what is go­ing on.

‘‘Do you know what it feels like to be sat at a ta­ble, sur­rounded by your fam­ily, want­ing des­per­ately so much to be part of the fun, the joy, the hap­pi­ness, to share in with it, and yet feel so sep­a­rated, so dis­tant, so apart that some­times you would rather not be there as it is too heart­break­ing?’’

BRYA IN­GRAM/STUFF

Si­mon Bal­dock fears the long wait­ing list means he will never hear again.

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