Living over 800 kilometres from her hometown of Brisbane, a visit to Hear and Say brings a lot of nostalgia for mum of two, Maddi.
“I was two when I got my first cochlear implant – and back then I was the youngest child in Queensland to receive one,” recalled Maddi.
“It had a great big processor, with massive cords hanging out on one side. I remember one day at school when we were using scissors for an activity, and I accidentally cut the cord! I was in about Grade Five when I got fitted with these little brown processors that were cordless – I was ecstatic!”
Maddi went on to get a second cochlear implant on her left side at 19 years old. Although the journey using the new device wasn’t as smooth sailing as her right side, Maddi said she had developed a lot of resilience having moved by herself from the city to Central Queensland.
“After leaving school, my parents encouraged me to try something on my own and leave Brisbane. I took a leap and moved out to Central Queensland, which really got me out of my comfort zone. It taught me not to be afraid to take on change and really helped me gain my confidence,” said Maddi.
Now with two young daughters, Maddi said becoming a mother had provided even greater motivation to keep up with the ongoing work needed to ensure her hearing and speech remained at their full potential.
“I’m most grateful for being able to hear my babies laugh – that’s just the most amazing sound, getting to hear them giggle and talk. A world of hearing and sound means I get to live an everyday life, and be able to talk with my husband, family and friends,” said Maddi.
“It’s a cliché but ever since I became a mum, I feel quite empowered to not be afraid to let my deafness stop me. I’m part of a diversity and inclusion group at work, and I’m proud to be showing people that my deafness isn’t a limit for me. It’s something I really want to do for my girls, too.”
For people like Maddi living in regional Queensland who use cochlear implants to hear, access to specialist audiology services can still present significant logistical challenges. Particularly with her increasing family commitments, Maddi said it was difficult regularly making the nine-hour drive from Emerald to Brisbane for appointments.
However, thanks to generous funding from RACQ Foundation, Hear and Say now has specialist audiology equipment which enables the remote programming of cochlear implants, a service required by implant users every six months for life.
Maddi was thrilled to be one of the first people at Hear and Say to trial the innovative equipment, connected to an audiologist in Brisbane right from her lounge room.
Reflecting back, Maddi said she couldn’t imagine not having the constant presence of Hear and Say and the support it had offered to her family.
“I really wouldn’t know life without Hear and Say. They’ve always been there for me, growing up and even being a young adult now with a family of my own. I love the remote audiology services that Hear and Say now has available for people like me living outside of the cities, and one day I hope I can have my husband and kids down to Brisbane too so I can show them Hear and Say and all the amazing things they do.”