Richard Green’s life changed forever when he was hit by a car on Auckland’s College Hill four years ago.
After being rushed to hospital with multiple injuries, he told the trauma surgeon that his hearing seemed ‘weird’ and found out later that he had lost the hearing in his left ear.
“The journey back from my accident has been hard,” he says.
Fifty-five-year-old Richard tried hearing aids, but says “they just didn’t work in my industry.”
Richard heads arts charity He Waka Eke Noa Charitable Trust which works across the arts spectrum producing events and festivals, touring theatre in education initiative the Ugly Shakespeare Company nationally and running Kete Aronui, an accessible rehearsal, workshop, meeting and creative space in Onehunga.
Last year his audiologist encouraged him to try a cochlear implant, and within six months he’d had surgery. Supported by The Hearing House, Richard says he’s learning to process sound while at the same time manage his energy levels.
“It’s quite challenging,” he says, “It’s something you’ve got to learn to live with, but the support I’ve had from The Hearing House has been incredible. They’ve guided me through the process, talked to me about rehabilitation and made sure I felt safe and comfortable with my journey.
“They’ve also been very good at humouring me – that’s my style.”
Richard, who’s a music lover, is rapt that he can hear his treasured vinyl collection more clearly now and is embracing the individualism that wearing a cochlear implant has given him. He’s got a range of different coloured implant sleeves to match his collection of kilts and is talking with a signwriter about how he can 3-D print and design a range of vinyl sheets to personalise sleeves for other wearers.
“Someone stopped me at an event recently and said I had the coolest pimped CI they’d ever seen.
“That made me feel good. I can still be my own person, and I treasure that.”