THE first thing people might notice about Inverell resident, Anthony King might be his experience as a builder, play on the rugby paddock, his talent riding saddle broncs and bulls, or his passion for training working dogs and roping horses.
They might congratulate the 29-year-old and his fiancée, Emma Harrington, about the imminent birth of their first child.
The last thing they might notice is that he has been deaf all of his life.
Recently, Anthony has been fitted with a Cochlear Bone Conduction Hearing Implant device (BAHA) behind both ears. A surgical procedure inserts two thin magnets beneath the skin and the hearing aids are also magnetic and held in place.
Anthony has been aided by a bone conductor held on a headband to relay the world to his working cochlea since about the age of three. The device gives the gift of sound, but unfortunately caused him discomfort for years, sometimes chafing his skin raw.
It is also a directional sound, meaning he has to be facing the source of a sound to know where it is coming from.
Anthony was ‘switched on’ with the BAHA on November 11 at the Sharon King Hearing Centre in Tamworth. The device allows Anthony a 360 degree hearing radius. He said it is a very new experience.
“Probably the sound quality, I’ve heard a few things I’ve never heard before. Things sound a lot different.”
He said the BAHA has Bluetooth technology, remote control and wind block settings that will come in handy when he is on a horse.
Anthony had one previous attempt at increasing his hearing ability with not too much success, and he said he felt a little uncertain if he wanted to take the step again.
Sharon King had been assisting Anthony with his headband set-up for some time. She felt determined to open the door to his hearing quality. When he was given short notice that a surgical window had opened in Sydney, he did not think he could make it.
“And then Sharon just rang me and said, ‘You’re going down here, we’ve already paid for your mum, and your air tickets. You’re going down,’” Anthony said.
“I wouldn’t have done it if it wasn’t for her. She wasn’t going to stop until I got it done because she knew how much it would change my life.
“It’s pretty special.”
He said Sharon has the licences and experience to switch on and hook up the BAHA devices at her Tamworth location, saving Anthony and other hearing disabled people the long trip to Sydney. Anthony said it is also useful that Sharon travels around the region to address any issues people are having with their hearing devices.
“So she comes to all these areas; here one day, Walcha the next, Moree the next.”
Anthony said with a bub on the way, he might play it more gently.
“I’ve always been rough and ready, in rugby or rodeo, or something a bit dangerous, but now I’m taking a little bit of a step back. Getting old and soft now,” he grinned.