Kimberley Chan

What I learned in 2016 post-surgery

Holy moly! Two whole seasons have flown by since I last posted. Apologies for the delay…but can you blame me? After almost one year of not being able to go out much, talk to many people, listen to music, dance, travel, one year of practically missing out on everything that defines my life, I spent the summer and fall getting my life back and enjoying Montreal’s festive scenes. If you’re just catching on, last year, I woke up one day and couldn’t hear anything. You can read about The Day My Life Changed.

Fast forward, I through a whole medical journey, during which I went through the processes of getting a cochlear implant – a brutal evaluation and testing period in preparation for surgery day. I’m honestly blown away by how powerful the CI is. My level of hearing has gone from almost zero to almost as good as someone with normal hearing. This summer, I was able to do things that I haven’t been able to do for the past year. I attended music festivals, comedy shows, theatrical performances and often held Skype conference calls.

When something like this happens to you, it completely changes your perspective on life. 2015 was nothing but shit for me. 2016 was about taking all this shit and learning from it. As we near the end of the year (OMG, where did the time go?!) I’d like to share some of what I learned.

Perseverance is everything

I know, we’ve all heard this a million times before, but there can never be enough lesson. Guys, I lost a human sense. One day I could hear, the next day I couldn’t. The audiologists – the professionals in the field – told me that my hearing would never be as loud and powerful as before. But somehow, I wasn’t convinced. We were dealing with the most sophisticated hearing technology; it had to be possible. Countless hours of research, conversations, and trials ensued. I had to fight to hear the way I wanted to. I now hear everything sharply. I can tell the difference between high and low pitched sounds and distinguish sounds from far away, but I had to fight for this. So, lesson for you – if you know something is possible, fight for it, even if “the pros” are convinced you’re 100% wrong. Fight like an angry little girl doing martial arts.


A photo can mean the world to someone (even if it’s crappy)
When I was going through all those medical ordeals, I seriously thought I didn’t have much time left to live. If you knew you only had a short time to live, trust me, one of the last things you would care about is whether your hair/nails/makeup is perfect. You’d have fun doing the things you like, and you’d let the cameras capture every moment. Once upon a time, I was in the hospital, wearing an ugly gown and a gigantic bandage around my head. I was a three-hour drive away from my friends and family. I posted pictures of myself, because that was the only way to bring them into my world. I used social media to show people what I was going through. Reality should be portrayed more often on these mediums. Shots of you with your messy hair simply mean you’re well enough to move around at full speed; let people take or post more pictures of you being who you are because, it may mean a lot to them. You look fabulous in most of you pictures. If people see one pic of you looking less-than-perfect, whatever, right?


The little things people do for you matter
There are good people out there…and not-so-good ones. Nothing new, but it’s not until you really can’t communicate with people that you realize who’s willing to make the effort to communicate with you. Appreciate who they are and all the little things they do for you. It wasn’t until I was in a mess of a medical situation (or any messy situation I guess) that I realized who actually valued my presence and efforts. There were the people I’ve never met who sent me words of encouragement, the friends from abroad who’d check in during their off hours, and the people who even wrote me poems and songs. On the other hand, there were people like this guy:


Do the things you want to do NOW
Another “Instagram quote-like” saying, but I’m still in disbelief of how one day, I just suddenly couldn’t do anything. It’s scarier to think that this, or something worse, could happen to anyone, at any time. Do the things you want to do NOW. Take that trip, learn that skill you’ve always wanted to learn, spend time with your friends and family who live miles away, call your grandma, leave that job you feel tortured at…anything. You are responsible for your own happiness, and whether the next day/week/year will be a good one will depend on how good you make it. Trust yourself. You just never know what life will throw at you. Cook up some good stuff, now.


Again, these lessons were not really new ones to me, but having your life practically flip over overnight really makes you think about all the little things that life has to offer.

I wish you all a great start to 2017! Let’s all aim to make the new year a gratifying and positive one! I’m excited to say that these lessons will be the basis of a new project I’ll be sharing with you all soon.

Thank you all for your support and happy new year!

Kimberley =)


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Got a CI-related question? Ask away – I’ll do my best to cover it in a future post.


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