Real-life inspires new book

An image from the book, which is being illustrated by Shannon James of Art By Shannon.

An image from the book, which is being illustrated by Shannon James of Art By Shannon.

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A woman who overcame hearing loss is writing a children’s book inspired by her experience - and is setting the story in the Outer Hebrides after falling in love with the islands.

Melanie Hancock, from Chesterfield, suffered from an unpleasant condition that caused frequent ear infections and hearing difficulties, but was successfully treated with an implanted hearing device. The main character in her story - a Hebridean girl called Lemoni McCloud - goes through a similar operation.

Melanie, aged 51, who is learning Gaelic and plans to eventually retire to the Isle of Lewis or Skye, got the idea to write the book on her frequent visits to the area in recent years.

As well as celebrating island life, she hopes that by making her main character hard of hearing it will remove the stigma around this for children and highlight the problems that those who are hard of hearing face.

Melanie had the additional problem of a socially isolating condition called runny ears, which caused an unsightly and smelly discharge. And the hearing aids she wore since the age of five aggravated the problem, preventing her ears from drying out.

But then, aged 46, Melanie’s life began to change. She was fitted with the first of two Cochlear Baha bone conduction hearing implants in her left ear and another in her right ear two years later.

The devices improved her hearing and reduced the recurrence of almost monthly infections caused by a condition called Chronic Suppurative Otitis Media (CSOM) - a chronic inflammation of the middle ear and mastoid cavity.

Melanie has drawn on her own experiences and re-written them in a light-hearted way through the eyes of the primary school girl.

Second guessing and misunderstanding things in conversation are an example.

“When I was a teenager there was an incident in the gym changing room when my friend was talking about this very straight-laced girl emigrating. I thought she said the girl was pregnant by lip reading incorrectly,” laughs Melanie.

“This sort of thing was happening to me all the time, making it hard to fit in and to get on socially.”

For more information about runny ears visit: website