When I Get a Cochlear Implant, I Shall Wear Feathers

When I get a cochlear implant, I shall wear feathers,

I think.

I haven’t made up my mind exactly, because it’s still a long way off,

Within a year. I hope.

I shall choose equipment to be white like my hair.

Is that boring?

Why not spice it up, flaunt it, and glorify it?

With feathers from eagles, doves or heck, even chickens!indian-feather-tattoo-design-3

And I want a skinny silver-white braid, too.

Feathers and braids will cascade down my neck from the magnet,

Tipped with greeny-blue-aquamarine jewel bobs.


They will swing as I walk, or turn my head, or laugh,

Rather like chimes, but without the sound,

(I would go crazy with the tinkling.)

With colour and motion, they will draw attention to the powerful device on my head.

Actually, it’s inside my head and on my head and behind my ear—

Processors, transmitters, magnets, receivers and electrodes,

That will let me hear in a way I never dreamed.

(At least I hope that’s the way I’ll hear it.  Shall I keep

my expectations realistic—or ridiculously high?)


You could say these bits of science do all the work to make sound happen in my brain.

But I’ll be doing a lot of work, too.

On the day the surgeon told me I’d passed the evaluation, he asked me, “What’s the most important part of getting a cochlear implant?”

(This sounds like a trick question. I’m not good at trick questions.)

        That I have to want it?   “No.”

        That I really want to hear better?  “No.”

        Well then, what?  “Practice, practice, practice.”

 (How was I supposed to know that’s what he was looking for?)

So, OK. I really want to hear better and I’m going to have the implant and then I’m going to practice, practice, practice, by listening, listening, listening.

(And no cheating by peeking because I’m one awesome speechreader!)

Yup, I can do all that. Definitely.


But! If I’m going to walk around with an extra half-pound of batteries, plastic, wires and coils in/on my head, I want to look good.

I haven’t cared if anyone sees my hearing aids although, truthfully, they’re not very visible.

But unless you have long, lush tresses—which I no longer do—there’s no hiding a cochlear implant.

In the grocery story, it will be like:

“Mom, look THERE…on that woman’s HEAD!

And Mom, admiring my jeweled feather-braid, will go, “Don’t point, dear.”

And I shall turn to them, my feather fluttering in the slight breeze,

And say, “I know, very cool, hey? It helps me hear you.”


When I get a cochlear implant, I shall wear feathers.




Indian feather tattoo design from tatoobite.com

Cochlear implants fr0m Med-El and Cochlear

About Gael Hannan

The Better HearingConsumer addresses the personal experience of living with hearing loss. Editor Gael Hannan and her occasional guest bloggers explore every corner of the hearing loss life with humor and poignancy. Comment Policy   Gael Hannan, Editor Gael Hannan is an author, speaker and advocate on hearing loss issues. In addition to her weekly blog at the Better Hearing Consumer, which has a passionate international following,Gael has written two acclaimed books, “The Way I Hear It: A Life with Hearing Loss”and “Hear & Beyond: Live Skillfully with Hearing Loss”, written with Shari Eberts. She is regularly invited to present her uniquely humorous and insightful work to appreciative audiences around the world. Gael has received many awards for her work that advocates for individuals to become more knowledgeable and successful at dealing with their hearing loss and a more inclusive society for them to live in. She lives with her husband on Vancouver Island, Canada. Books and other media Hear & Beyond: Live Skillfully with Hearing Loss. Written with Shari Eberts and available anywhere books are sold. The Way I Hear It: A Life With Hearing Loss. Available through online bookstores. Unheard Voices, DVD, vignettes from the hearing loss life. Contact Gael Hannan to order.


  1. That is wonderful news Gael. I have had my implant now for 13 years. I had long hair in the beginning but now it is very short and silvery grey. I never thought to try feathers. Must try them. I have friend who has peacocks – would you like some of those feathers???

  2. Have to tell you, that as the queen of cochlear implant bling, feathers are a great idea. More than ever before your hearing loss advocate opportunities will flourish. For who doesn’t flourish when they have feathers?

  3. Feathers are good. My hearing aids are purple I chose NOT to have hearing aids that blend with my gray hair. You WILL hear better. I know it is scary but go for it. You will love it. – and you will be surprised at how much you hear. :-)

  4. Congrats Gael! I’ve been flaunting my Rondo since I was implanted in 2013. I’ll be getting my other ear implanted on March 1st. I plan on different Skinits for each external processor. No doubt you will rock yours!

  5. You may not be able to find feathers but check out SkinIt, online. They sell stickies that are cut to fit each manufacturer’s cochlear implant perfectly.
    I’m currently wearing Monet’s Water Lilies but there are hundreds of choices.
    I want jewels too, but haven’t yet found stick-ons.

  6. This is lovely! I’ve been trying to decide how to decorate my new CI (surgery last December), and you’ve given me some good ideas.

  7. You are unquestionably exceptional and so your processor must be – adorned with feathers as light and airy as a silvery mist.

  8. So happy to hear that you are a cochlear implant candidate. I switched from the Opus 2 to the Rondo because I got tired of the behind the ear and cable configuration. The Rondo is thicker and can’t be hidden quite as easily under your hair, but I just love the ease of it. No cable, no rubbing behind the ear, I can wear sunglasses or reading glasses so easily with no competing with the bte processor. Wishing you a wonderful cochlear implant journey!

    1. I hope AB comes out with a version of the Rondo. I wear glasses 24/7 and there is not a lot of room behind my ears for glasses and the ci processor. I have a clip that I sometimes wear on my collar but it’s ugly. The processor looks like a strangely large metallic insect perched on my shirt. Even with the Skin-It decoration it’s definitely never going to pass as a hair clip.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.