One week until implantation. I keep having to remind myself that getting a cochlear implant is only the beginning of the process. It ’s important to remember a few things, such as, nothing can restore “normal” hearing. I believe the best that can be expected is the possibility of being able to better understand what is heard. Being able to take part in a group discussion and actually keep up would be like music to my ears – so to speak.

That being said, what is clearly understood about the CI is that when it is activated, no one knows what the recipient will hear. It is highly unusual to be able to hear and understand clear speech at first. The sound is digitally processed and presented to the auditory nerve. The brain may or may not know what to do with that information at first. Based on my personal experience, my brain often does not know what to do with the information it gets, so I’ll reserve judgement until activation day – May 31. That’s another long month away. I think that I think too much.

It’s been suggested that I go fishing. You know what’s really sad? I’d have to search for my fishing pole. I’m not even sure I have one that works. It’s been that long.

Stay tuned.

One of the sidebar features I have discovered on my journey toward a cochlear implant is support community that is out there. Advanced Bionics ( AB ), the makers of the device I will be getting, provide space for an excellent forum on their web site. There are hundreds of people there from all around the world who either have a cochlear implant ( CI ) or are waiting, as I am, to get one.

I thought I’d check it out and left a short note on the “I’m new here” page about my impending operation. Before long there was a page full of responses from people who were willing to share their experiences and offer encouragement. As in almost every other area of life, talking to “users” is often the best source of useful information. It was very comforting.

I was amazed to find that more than half of those respondents were bilateral recipients of a CI. I have only seen two people with a CI. Both were unilateral recipients. I personally do not know anyone who has one. I follow a blog written by a woman living in New York City who speaks of going out to dinner with three other friends, all of whom had a cochlear implant. Life in the city!

The actual information I have received on the forum has been very helpful for me as I am in the process of making some decisions about some options that are available to me. That’s when talking to someone who has had to make similar choices and who have opinions based on personal experience becomes useful. I’m here to tell you that the personal testimony is alive and well.

One more thing: I found a video of the actual operation and watched it. I’m not sure that was a good idea. But there it is. 🙂

Two weeks now until my operation. I just knew you wanted to know. Thanks for reading. Stay tuned.

By now, just about all my friends know I am Hard Of Hearing (HOH). That being said, only a few know just how HOH I really am. In recent years I have, sometimes conscientiously and sometimes un-conscientiously, withdrawn from “normal” social society. Concerts, meetings, parties and other gatherings of more than a few participants, are impossible for me. If one can not hear, and more importantly, understand then it is a most uncomfortable experience.

It is not easy to confess that after nineteen years wearing hearing aids, that I had never been examined by a Ear Nose and Throat specialist. I’m not sure about why that is, but I decided to ask for such an examination through my primary care physician. Subsequently, I have learned this is not unusual. Unless there is some sudden change in hearing, it is assumed that any problem with hearing is a matter for an audiologist who can prescribe a hearing aid to amplify sound for you.

I had not had an audiogram done in several years. That examination revealed that I had profound asymmetrical sensorineural hearing loss. There was hardly anything useful coming through my left ear and the right ear was seriously affected. The opinion was that if I wanted to pursue it – I was a valid candidate for a cochlear implant.

Moving forward, I am scheduled for implantation on May 6 at Tufts Medical Center in Boston. That sentence just glossed over several months of grappling with insurance, travel arrangements, more examinations and endless waiting that has been the core of this experience to date. It’s hard not to complain, and I do complain, but I am also grateful for the people who have advocated for me and helped me to navigate these stormy medical – insurance waters. Thank you.

I’m sorry, but I have to add this: Single Payor universal health care would fix this in a heartbeat.

Now I wait. My operation is three weeks away and I am a nervous basket case. It could be said that this is a growth experience for me – admitting such a weakness – but I choose to think of it as simple acknowledgement of my delightful humanity. How’s that for a juicy rationalization? Anyway, it’s all I can think about. There is more and I’ll seek to deal with it in later posts. Thank you for reading.

Be well – Stay tuned

Jerry Henderson