WELCOME TO COCHLEAR IMPLANT BASICS
WELCOME TO COCHLEAR IMPLANT BASICS
Being told you qualify for a cochlear implant can be a devastating, overwhelming and at times, frightening.
Devastating, knowing that your hearing has declined to the point where hearing aids will no longer work well.
Overwhelming in the choices and the decisions you have to make.
The thought of head surgery is frightening.
Cochlear Implant Basics is designed to provide support and to help you navigate those choices.
While all hearing losses are unique as our fingerprints, they do have similarities.
By sharing the experiences of candidates, recipients and professional, Cochlear Implant Basics will provide the background and information you can use to begin your own research and be more confident in your decisions.
The interviews have minimal editing. These candidates have walked in your shoes. They provide information based on their own unique experiences. Information you can use on your own hearing journey.
The FAQ section covers most questions. The contact section is there and we are always glad to assist others to get out of isolation and back into the world of sound.
Reminder that Cochlear Implant Basics is not medical advice. Consult your own health care provider.
I met Janet just after she received a cochlear implant three years ago. There was a genetic component to her hearing loss. Her brother received a cochlear implant before she did.
She is an intrepid personality who refused to give up even as she was struggling to get the best results.
Activated with a Cochlear Nucleus 6 and wearing a ReSound hearing aid in the other ear, her bimodal hearing was never optimal. I believed at the time, she would eventually opt to get a second cochlear implant.
As her hearing in the HA side declined she was ready.
I asked her to sit down with me to talk about her experiences and her decision to go bilateral.
She also shares her experience with tinnitus and how receiving the first cochlear implant had an effect on it.
As she describes it, Sue had a lifelong progressive moderate to profound sensorineural hearing loss in both ears.
Wearing hearing aids from the age of eight, she struggled but used many of the compensation tricks that are familiar to those of us with a hearing loss.
But she went beyond what we may have done and her story would take hours and provide an encyclopedia of useful tips.
My interest was to have her focus on music, a topic of major interest to many candidates. Her involvement with music and being married to a musician, meant that as her hearing loss progressed, her world was shrinking.
Sue received bilateral cochlear implant surgery and was activated with two Cochlear Nucleus 7s in 2018.
She talks about her experience with music both pre and post activation.
I hope to do a second interview with Sue so she can share her experience of how she managed her career and business without hearing. In the interim, I am glad she agreed to share her knowledge and experience with music.
This interview was done via Skype. It may sound a bit thin but it is clear.
I recently learned that Dr. Loren Bartels had performed a cochlear implant surgery on a five month old child.
He was also the surgeon who performed bilateral cochlear implant surgery on me in December 2015 just before my 65th birthday.
His career with cochlear implants predates the time of FDA approval for them in the United States.
In other words, he has seen and performed surgery and the restoration of hearing through these miracle devices from the start. He talks about his background and the advancement of cochlear implants as well as his own criteria for determining a candidacy. His views on pediatric cochlear implant surgery are invaluable to parents seeking answers.
His unique perspective is invaluable to those starting their hearing journey research. I am glad he agreed to take time on his busy schedule to sit down with me for this interview.
Dr. Vicky Moore is an audiologist and co-owner of The Hearing Spa in Sarasota Florida. Along with being an independent hearing aid dealer, she does evaluations for cochlear implants candidates and is an expert programmer for all three major makes of cochlear implants.
New candidates often want to know about how the audiologist does the testing. Dr. Moore discusses the process from the beginning to end and gives a very unique perspective about activation day.
Her interview covers a wide range of related issues and is a good starting point for your research into your hearing journey.
We first met David more than two years ago. His high frequency hearing loss was interfering with his job as a reporter and was a strain on him and his family.
He was a through researcher. He wanted to retain whatever natural hearing he had. In his case a hybrid cochlear implant was the best possible solution. A hybrid cochlear implant is a combination of a cochlear implant with a hearing aid component. They are not common and David’s search led him far afield from home until he found a surgeon in which he had full confidence.
His high frequency hearing loss probably started when he was very young. Like many others, he did not realize he had a problem until he was an adult and his story speaks to many of us who lived in denial of our hearing loss.
Happily he received an Advanced Bionics hybrid and he talks about his progress and the changes it brought to his life.
Totally deaf for 35 years, Richard received bilateral cochlear implant surgery just prior to his 65th birthday. He went from zero speech comprehension to 85% with time and effort at rehabilitation. He was implanted with two Cochlear implants and activated with two Cochlear Nucleus 6 (which he later upgraded to Nucleus 7 external processors.
Only to prove that long term deafness does not necessarily result in poor results of getting a cochlear implant. Today he enjoys socializing, using the telephone (something he was unable to do for 35 years) and hanging out in the local vinyl record store, Daddy-O’s.
Growing up with normal hearing, Chris woke up one morning when she was 32, to discover she had lost her hearing in one ear. The sudden hearing loss was compounded by a progressive loss on the other side.
With no hearing on one side and a series of powerful hearing aid on the other, she struggled to keep her job. But one day, she realized the fight was futile. Her hearing was too far gone.
Being told by a succession of doctors that there was nothing they could do for her or that a cochlear implant was not the answer because the “sounded mechanical,” she adapted a new vocation which allowed her to isolate herself.
Happily she attended a convention of the Hearing Loss Association of America where she was able to collect brochures and information that led her to getting cochlear implant surgery and activated with a Cochlear Kanso processor.
Today she is bimodal, a ReSound Hearing aid on one side and a Cochlear Kanso on the other. Fully functional she has joined the world of sound again.
Kathy discovered her hearing loss while self-testing an audiometer as a school nurse. She realized that either the machine had a problem or her hearing. It was her hearing.
Many will be able to relate to her succession of unfulfilling hearing aid solutions. She adapted to a series of vocational changes within the nursing field. Kathy struggled every step of the way.
That is, until eventually, she found the right help and received a cochlear implant. Today she has a Cochlear Nucleus 6 on side and an Oticon Agil Pro hearing aid on the other and is considering a second implant. In the interim, she is constantly discovering new situations where she is able to function at a high level with better hearing.
Vinell has a long-term progressive, profound hearing loss. There is a genetic component within her family for hearing loss.
At one point she had to give up the career she loved as a legal secretary as she could no longer use a phone, take dictation and functioning within a conference environment was impossible for her.
She has not received a cochlear implant yet. Although she was scheduled to have surgery, family issues intervened and she has delayed. She has not chosen a company. Her interview is important to those who have delayed for any of the reasons Vinell has cited here.
Her hearing loss has effected every facet of her life and it is poignant that when she is asked what would change in her life, she declares, “Everything!”
Debbie is a bilateral Cochlear Nucleus 7 recipient. Is also an amazing person. Her hearing loss was gradual so she does not know when it began but it was diagnosed when she was in college.
At the time it was a 10% loss. An annoying inconvenience. Next time she was tested it was 20%. With each successive test, her hearing loss grew and grew until it was 80% or more.
Now it was a severe handicap. Debbie persevered and continued her career albeit at a difficult and exhausting pace.
Eventually she considered getting a cochlear implant but she had a major complication, a condition known as Bing Siebenmann Dysplasia which lessened her chance of a successful activation.
Again, with her deep faith, she moved forward to achieve remarkable results and later decided for a second surgery to become bilateral. She now has 95% speech comprehension.