Monday, October 08, 2007

Just Imagine...

Just before I had my surgery to repair a deviated septum in February that led me to experience complete silence, I started researching cochlear implants. This is all before I discovered forums and blogs that are only a click away. My primary doctor's office was clueless with whom I should contact. They actually asked me what a cochlear implant was. Therefore, I figured a good starting point would be an audiologist! I broke out the Google super pages and started searching. I thought there would have been at least ONE person in the area that dealt with cochlear implants. I made a phone call to a so-called audiologist that I had never seen or talked to before in my life. The result of this phone call was disturbing. This audiologist stated that there is absolutely no way that I would be considered a candidate for cochlear implant based solely on how well I was hearing him on the phone.

That right, you read it right the first time. This glorified hearing aid dispenser diagnosed me as an unsuitable cochlear implant candidate just by talking to me on the phone. In his professional opinion, that a stronger powered hearing aids would be more suitable. He further went on to say that a cochlear implant does not sound like a hearing aid and I am better off sticking with hearing aids. Who knew audiologist can sound like a used car salesman? Just imagine if I took that preposterous professional opinion and did not seek out a second one. I would be sitting here stone cold deaf today. Instead, I opted to disregard it and research it further. I wanted to contact someone in the medical field that did not give me a face of utter confusion when I mentioned cochlear implant. My perseverance paid off in insurmountable amounts. I am hearing more then I ever have in the short time I have been walking on earth's terra firma.

Since I have off today for Columbus Day, I woke up a little later then usual on this fall morning with an expected temperature of 87 degrees, a gentle breeze blowing the leaves around and the thought occurred to me. If that absurd phone call happened to me, it had to have happened to others. I can only imagine how many others an experiencel like that would have stopped them dead in their tracks. To the others that have had a similar experience to mine and accepted it as their final retort, my suggestion to you is look further. The chances are the audiologist that you see to have your hearing aid adjusted is not a trained cochlear implant audiologist. They are two different species entirely. Seek out a reputable cochlear implant clinic. Here are some links track one down.

My personal preference was to find a clinic that dealt with all three of them. Diversity is the spice of life and I wanted that familiarity extended to my choice of implants. It is important that you double and triple check if the clinic and the doctor are covered under your health insurance because it is not cheap.

When I had my deviated septum surgery, I had to disclose that I was deaf and yadda yadda yadda. It turned out there was a nurse whose daughter has a cochlear implant who came to talk to me before I was wheeled in. Her daughter was born completely deaf and the cochlear implant was nothing short of a miracle for them. The nurses eyes was welling up with tears as she told me a story that her daughter can hear her name being called from downstairs. It was touching. The reason why I am telling you this story is that I felt it was kind of a prodigy because shortly after being told that story, I was wheeled into surgery and I woke up completely deaf.

I made some milestones last week. It was a crazy week at work. I had a training session on Wednesday in a relatively small conference room, oval table and all. There was about six chatty people total in this room and I was able to follow along with no problems. I was able to tell who was chiming in their two cents and immediately was able to turn to read their lips. I can say with confidence that I left that training session with comprehending at least ninety percent of what was said. Before my implant, I would dread this type of situation because my eyes would eventually glaze over in frustration and nod occasionally that I get the gist of the conversation.

Thursday was another training session, but in a computer classroom setting with a projector screen. I sat right in front of the instructor and everyone was behind me or to the right (my implant is on the left.) When other people in the class would pipe up with questions, I was able to tell who was talking and turn my head to read their lips. I felt very confident that I understood at least 80% of what was being said. Before my implant, I would have learned everything I needed to by watching the instructor move his mouse on the screen.

On Friday, I had another experience of being surrounded by several people discussing business in the hallway. Surprisingly, I was able to follow along with whoever was chiming in. Keeping up with the rate that politicians talk is no easy task. :) Friday night, my mother was practicing with me covering her mouth and running off a list of states and countries. I did fairly well but I think it was because I knew the subject matter and it was not hard to associate the sounds with the proper name. Even with my audio book, I can look away and pick up words here and there. I can't wait to see what tomorrows mapping will bring.

Just imagine, it has been only three weeks since I have been activated!


Anonymous said...

It's not just audiologists that are clueless about CI's...

4 years ago I went to the House Ear Clinic in L.A., and was told at that time that I was a borderline candidate for an implant. I was still doing okay with HA's at the time so I put it off. A couple of years ago as my hearing degraded, I decided to start the CI process. I had my HMO primary doctor refer me to an ENT. The ENT pooh-poohed my discussion of CIs and the House Clinic, but did order me up an MRI. Long wait... nothing. I went back to same ENT many months later. He acknowledged that my hearing was very bad but said, "cochlear implants are only for children born deaf to give them some environmental sound. Late deafened adults do not get much from them. You might want to look into a BAHA." I was stunned by how far behind the times he was. And of course a BAHA would not help in my condition. I twisted his arm and got a referral to a specialist who fortunately new his stuff and immediately referred me to a CI center. I have my first appointment there next Tuesday!

Cindy said...

That audiologist you spoke to over the phone sure had a lot of nerve! I'm glad you didn't accept the first opinion and continued to investigate.

Does this mean you're not totally wiped out after listening all day with your implant?? When I go to an all day meeting, I hit the sack as soon as I get home. Intensive listening sucks the life right outta me!

Please post more often - I miss reading new posts from you!!! :)
I'm so excited for you and happy that your implant is successful. Are you contemplating hearing in stereo?


Jennifer said... sounds like your progress in just three short weeks is just astounding! I'm SO happy for you!!
I was VERY lucky that the cards just fell the right way for me: my audiologist has a brother that has a CI, and she has been talking to me about them for years. The clinic that she referred me to does all three brands, I think, and allowed me to do my own research and choose my own brand. I just think that it was the luck of the draw that everything fell into place the way it did...I'm grateful for it, too :)

Anonymous said...

Abbie. Same here. I'm in a class room with 4 other people and I'm hearing everything being said! Had to lip-read one of the person with heavy Indian accent tho =)

-kalboy from