Thursday, July 7, 2011

To cochlear or not to cochlear

I always figured I would get a cochlear implant... someday. I don't have any special reasoning behind this other than that it just always felt like the natural order of things. I've been operating under the assumption that eventually, I'll lose all my hearing (I've lost most, but not all) and would need a cochlear implant... someday. I never had any time frame for this mysterious someday... it just wasn't right now so I didn't concern myself with the particulars.

But now, I find myself drawn to the topic with surprising frequency. In two short years, I'll be 30. I don't know why, but getting a cochlear implant always seemed like a very 30s thing to do. Old enough to be sure that it's what I want and young enough to appreciate the benefits, bounce back from the surgery quickly and (knock on wood) handle the rehabilitation process with more ease (in theory, anyway... everyone responds to surgery differently, I know. I'm just sayin'... generally speaking, there are benefits to having this kind of procedure while I'm in my spring chicken stage of life).

I'm not sure I could pinpoint any one reason why I think getting one is a good idea. I'm concerned I might want one for the wrong reasons. I'm tempted to think it will make me "more hearing," and thus help me to fit in. But hearing aids and cochlear implants aren't like glasses. When I put my glasses on, my vision is, for all intents and purposes, back to normal. Being deaf or hard of hearing isn't like that, though. Hearing aids, cochlear implants and assistive listening devices can help fill in some of the gaps, but they do not "cure" hearing loss.

I know this, but still I wonder... would music sound sweeter with a cochlear implant? Could I learn to recognize speech without always having to look at someone? Would having a cochlear implant help me be more aware of my auditory surroundings?

On the other hand, I am doing well with my hearing aids. Why rock the boat? Also, getting a cochlear implant is permanent; if for some reason the implantation or activation was unsuccessful or if I decided I just didn't like it, then my understanding is that I couldn't just go back to wearing hearing aids. Finally, I know my hearing aids, how to care for them and what the world sounds like with them. A cochlear implant seems so foreign and I suspect that's where most of my hesitation comes from - a fear of the unknown. 

So I'd really like to hear from others who have a cochlear implant. What prompted you to get one? How do you feel about the results? And if you are deaf or hard of hearing but do not have a cochlear implant - why not? Do you wear hearing aids or use any other assistive listening devices?

1 comment:

  1. I'm bi-modal. Left side cochlear implant (I implanted my "worst" side with little residual hearing) and right side hearing aid. I LOVE being bi-modal. I hear voices better with my cochlear implant (recently tested at 96% pure-tone, 99 % speech recognition) and the hearing aid helps me hear music a little better in conjunction WITH the cochlear implant. My only regret in getting a cochlear implant in my worst ear was waiting so long! (took me 5 years to decide). I have no regrets! :-)