Jacqui Thorpe, 54, was left in tears after she developed severe tinnitus and was ‘profoundly deaf’ in both years following the tragic death of her husband Paul.
The great-grandmother-of-six said her world was turned ‘upside down’ after her husband was diagnosed with a grade 5 aggressive brain tumour.
She quit her job to care for him, and after a nine-month battle with the disease Paul sadly died at just 39 in January 2005.
Jacqui was left to pick up the pieces but she developed severe tinnitus due to the trauma of his death which terrified her.
Her condition deteriorated rapidly and she was soon unable to hear anymore.
An audiologist fitted her with hearing aids, but they were ‘loud and muffled’ and she was sacked as a sales administrator as she couldn’t hear over the phone.
For years no one was able to help her and she resorted to learning how to read lips in a bid to communicate with people.
But after 16 years of pain, she was finally fitted with an NHS cochlear implant which has changed her life and allowed her to ‘hear the birds again’.
Jacqui, from Pontefract, said: “Throughout the 16 years I've tried and tried cried out for help no one could help.
“My hearing became really bad tinnitus my head I was scared but I really didn’t moan about it because I needed to hold myself together.
“But I’d lost my husband my best friend my children’s father - I was heartbroken.
“My ears tinnitus got worse and worse I tried to carry on and just get by my hearing loss must have been the trauma I've been through and the upset.
“The audiologist I spoke to said to me after my hearing test how on earth are you managing you are profoundly deaf in both ears, it’s high-pitched loss very rare at your age.
“Eventually was given the chance to get the NHS of cochlear implant, but I had mixed emotions because it’s an operation but could be life changing.
“It’s my only hope so I went for it and so glad I did.
“Dr Strachen and the whole team at Bradford looked after me the operation itself.
“It’s amazing now a huge success I can finally hear everything all strange at first I can hear the birds.
“I love listening to the birds now, my indicators my sat nav. I’m now independent more confident and much happier it’s amazing.”
Jacqui, who is now a business owner, believes she began to lose her hearing after her husband passed away in January 2005.
She said watching the cancer take everything from him when he was a ‘strong man’ and ‘very much a Jack the lad’ left her traumatised.
The mum-of-two said: “Finding out my husband had a grade 5 aggressive brain tumour was devastating took me to my knees when we found out I was numb.
“Paul was such a strong man very much a Jack the lad was a wonderful father funny caring life was never dull.
“The cancer took everything from him got poorly very quickly the tumour was removed at LGI but the cancer was still there and spread quickly all through this I stood by my husband.
“I tried not to upset the kids and carried on as normal as we could.
“I gave up work so I could care for my husband he once said he was sick of seeing me and wanted to go to the pub his wish was my command - he had that sense of humour.
“Paul battled for 9 months from being diagnosed he was very brave throughout he was defeated in January 2005.
“Our world turned upside down that day me the kids heartbroken.
“I was traumatised by the tumour Paul’s fits and illness he stayed home until the end.”
She spent nearly £3,000 on hearing aids which didn’t work and lost her job and Jacqui started to feel like her life was spiralling out of control.
But one day in 2019, she took her granddaughter Felicity to school and couldn’t hear anything she said and decided she had to make a change.
She sought the advice of a private audiologist who could not believe she even worked at the time as she was ‘profoundly deaf in both ears’.
They referred her to a team in Bradford who offered her a small hope after suggesting the Synchrony 2 cochlear implant and MED-EL RONDO 3 audio processor.
A cochlear implant is a small, complex electronic device that can help to provide a sense of sound to a person who is profoundly deaf or severely hard-of-hearing.
The implant consists of an external portion that sits behind the ear and a second portion that is surgically placed under the skin.
After two years of assessments at the Yorkshire Auditory Implant Service (YAIS) at Bradford Royal Infirmary, Jacqui was finally able to have surgery.
On December 16 2020 she went under the knife, and by the New Year she got her hearing back.
Jacqui said she hopes to raise awareness for a silent disability.
She said: “Living with hearing loss is a silent disability which people are rude about and make fun, but it certainly is not funny.
“It took my 16 years to be understood.”