Fiona Graney was a toddler when her hearing loss was first discovered. But thanks to her dedication and some assistance from her hearing aids, she's able to follow her dreams.
An undiagnosed case of meningitis or encephalitis as a child was the start of Fiona's hearing loss. It also led to an unexpected out-of-state trip.
“My parents flew the family to Sydney [from Darwin] immediately after the diagnosis for electrocochleography at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital,” she says.
There, Fiona was diagnosed with severe sensorineural hearing loss and started working with us to get the support she needed.
Some of my earliest memories are at Hearing Australia. I can remember playing with the toys in the reception area while waiting for an appointment and dropping the marbles when I heard the sounds for my hearing test, she says.
Fiona credits her hearing aids with helping her to lead the life she wanted.
“I wear them all day, every day, except when I am showering, swimming or sleeping. I can’t imagine life without my hearing aids," she says.
Doing it all
Now an adult, Fiona works as a lawyer and counts film, drama, literature and travel among her many hobbies. She acknowledges challenges along the way. For instance, at university, Graney wore an FM system in lectures, which required her lecturers to wear a microphone. Some were better about it than others. I was used to it as I had been wired up since primary school, but I definitely felt more self-conscious about it at university, she says.
This small change had a big impact on how she was feeling. All people with disabilities must feel the same sense of isolation and exclusion at some point and I am no different, she says.
Luckily, working life rarely presents such challenges. There have been some ‘embarrassing’ moments when I’ve had to sit close to a telephone or request a repetition of instructions. But it’s better to make sure you’ve heard the instructions correctly than to be perceived as unintelligent and lazy, she says.
She attributes much of her success to her outlook on life. It is more of a confidence problem than anything. I think I have become better at handling these types of hearing issues over time, she says.
Her hearing aids now
As for the hearing aids she’s using, Fiona says they’re pretty cool. The advances in technology since she was a child make a big difference.
They’re about half the size of my old ones and are barely visible. I have been wearing my hair up a lot more since I received them.
It's not just their appearance that's changed, either. I can listen to music wirelessly now. I am also picking up a lot of extra sounds—like keys and coins jangling in my bag! I am slowly learning to filter out the background noise, she says.