Saturday, September 22, 2007


This is not random numbers. This does not represent the population of Northern Thailand. This positive integer is the actual cost of my cochlear implant surgery that is printed on my EOB. Holy! Let me just leave it as that because a collection of other four letter words are springing to mind and this blog is rated PG-13. Thank goodness, I was sitting down when I opened that envelope.

Tuesday was the first time that I opened up the black hollow steel door at work to reveal the security scanner with two familiar constabulary individuals monitoring every beep and boop, I was nervous. Never mind this being the first time that I walk into work with a cleverly disguised magnet stuck to my head, but what if I fulfill all the requirements needed for that scanner to go haywire and alert the guards. The domino effect of emanating a loud beep (that will probably have sounded like an African drum or nothing at all), which will lead me to assume a position of arms out to the side, having a secondary wand from front to back, head to toe. What if, just what if the possibility of while being scanned and the magnet become airborne and attaches itself to the wand?! I can see it now, a phrase never uttered by these lips, “Umm, could I please have my magnet back?” A scene from the movie the Poltergeist ran through my mind with all the silverware flying all over the place. I blink my eyes and motion myself back to reality.

“Good morning, boys!” I say.

“How you doing, Abbie?” They say.

“Oh, I’m doing just ……..fine.” I say with an uneasy smile.

I put my purse and food down on the conveyer belt of the x-ray machine and watch it as if it was going through a car wash. Now I look up at this steel arbor with multi-colored blinking diodes before me. I swallow my last breath before taking one giant step underneath it. I have arrived to the other side. My eyes moved as if I was in REM (someone pinch me please) at the two constabulary individuals for any apparent movement. They did not move a muscle. Total silence was in the air. What the hell was I worried about? ::) For all practical purposes of keeping the magnet on my head, I feel better knowing that I can come and go as I please with my happy little magnet safely tucked under my hair.

I was given some homework in my last post. Michael Chorost who is the author of Rebuilt suggested that I have a second look at his book for some comfort. When I first started researching about cochlear implants, his name popped up all over the place. I was seeing popular quotes, videos, and numerous articles. He is quite the popular cyborg! Upon doing more research, I discover he grew up in the same neck of the woods as I did and was implanted with the Advanced Bionics device. I could hardly wait to get my hands on his book. I headed over to my friendly neighborhood library and checked his book out. Once I picked it up, I couldn’t put it down. Right from the beginning, the book was evoked beautifully with such technological skill that was fueled with veracious witticism. It is the perfect book to read if you are curious, contemplating, or currently already have a cochlear implant.

Back to my homework! He suggested reviewing his Activation chapter of his book. The first time I read Rebuilt, I personally connected with his sudden hearing loss. The rest of book was mountains of entertaining information. The second time around was more meaningful. A couple days after I was activated, I was asked how I was doing, psychologically. I lacked the ability to articulate myself correctly, for once. I stumbled trying to answer that. It is not often I am speechless; I have an answer for everything. While reading Rebuilt again, I was able to personalize it on so many levels. The emotional roller coaster of expectations, uncertainties, anticipation, and disappointment is all a normal part of this process. One small step at a time... How is that for articulation? :) With the wonderful racket I am hearing, I have been granted solace and encouragement. I am positive that it will get better with time. I ended up buying my own copy of Rebuilt to refer to throughout each stage of this process.

Besides, for a low price of $124, 073, you can hear acorns hit your roof too! :)


Michael said...

Abbie, that number probably doesn't represent the true cost of your implant -- it's what the hospital and the manufacturer is billing your insurance company. What the insurance company actually pays them is likely to be a completely different and much smaller figure that they'll negotiate between themselves. Frankly, I don't understand it and I don't know anyone who does. It's almost impossible to find out the true cost of getting an implant. The healthcare system is insanely complex. So don't take that number too seriously.

By the way, I've never had a problem going through security gates. I just walk right through and nobody notices. I keep a little card in my wallet explaining it's a medical device, but I've never had to use it. Not once.

Thanks for buying my book. :-)


Anonymous said...

I agree with Mike. After the whole cost for my bilaterial implants in July, the hositpal received only 57,000 and my total cost was only 693. The cost on paper was 158,000 and doctor cost was 24,000. After all the cost I owe a total of 1,094. I made arrangement for payment of 25 a month - so I will be paying this off for a long time.

I am going to the library to check out the book here as well. I wish I know of someone in Clarksville who has implants.(I know Jennifer we have the same audie) I felt so alone until I found all of you on the internet.


Jennifer said...

I don't remember what my bill ended up being...I just remember thanking my lucky stars that I didn't have to pay a penny of it...the number was astronomical!
I, too, have read Michael's book...and I think it's about time for me to read it again. I hope my experience this time around is more like yours...I can hardly wait to see! :)

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