January 19, 2011
Although I have had my cochlear implant for a few weeks now, I'd like to begin at the start of my journey for all my friends who want to follow my new life-changing (I hope) cochlear implant.
Here goes....Last year, approximately in October, my behind the ear (BTE) hearing aid malfunctioned for the first time after buying it while in graduate school back in 1999---so the hearing aid lasting 10 years is pretty good after paying $500 bucks for it back then. After not having a hearing aid for approximately a month or two (don't blame me for not remembering which month...blame my aging brain cells!!!) , my wife strongly encourages me to think seriously about considering doing a cochlear implant as she has had one herself for over a year with such remarkable results.
Back in the early 80s, my parents were contacted by a prominent cochlear implant surgeon who asked my parents if I was interested in doing a coclear implant at the time. After researching it and learning that the equipment was kind of bulky and large as well as the implant being kind of fairly technologically new at the time, I decided to take a pass on it because I hadn't had the patience for technology bugs and kinks that take a long time to work out. Hence, I decided to wait instead for the technology curve to flatten out---that is wait for the technology to significantly improve to the point where its really worth getting it. Over the years through college and my early working years, I had forgotten all about this technology until up a few years ago.
After watching my wife over the course of a year with her implant and being very impressed at how much hearing she had gained back, I decided to give it some serious thought to making an appointment to meet with the doctors at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, MD. After getting my audiogram done by a local audiologist in Fairfax, I took the papers and headed up to Baltimore to meet up with the audiologist there as well as the doctor who would be doing the surgery on me. After meeting up with an audiologist there and discussing the various options available to me and the three different cochlear manufacturers, she tests me again to ascertain whether my worst ear --my right ear-- still had any nerve activity left that would allow the doctors to implant the device there. I hadn't worn a hearing aid in my right ear since my pre-teen years since my hearing in that ear declined severely to the point where my left ear became my best ear for some unknown reason that even ear doctors today still do not understand. The audiologist strongly recommended that my right ear be implanted along with Johns Hopkins protocol since they didn't want to "mess around" with what residual hearing I had left in my left ear.
The remaining residual hearing I have left in my left ear is something that I would need to rely on if the cochlear implant fails on my right ear. I just cannot solely rely on lipreading alone without hearing the vowels in conversations (I cannot for the life of me hear consonants at all). After discussing this with numerous friends who have gotten implants before me, I finally decided to go ahead and get my right ear implanted and confirmed that fact with both the doctor and the audiologist.
Stay tuned for more on this journey......