I’ve had a cochlear implant (CI) for three years and I don’t regret my decision.
How could I, when the cochlea it was replacing was only contributing to 2% speech recognition in the right ear? And I’m sure I only got that score because I guessed correctly. (When you’ve been taking hearing tests for as many years as I have, you learn something about creative responses.)
Every once in a while, on a bad hearing day like today, when my tinnitus is roaring loudly enough to interfere with proper sound, I like to remind myself just why I’m happy with my CI.
- I can hear my keys when I drop them. If I don’t hear things hit the ground, I lose them. Gloves, sunglasses, masks – they are still difficult to hear.
- My sound processor, secured to my head magnetically and with a silver ear cuff, helps inform the world that I have hearing loss. Then people aren’t so surprised when I ask them to repeat themselves. That’s one serious-looking device on the side of my head!
- When I’m out walking, I can hear cars coming. The benefit here should be clear.
- I can hear the tiny little birdies with their high peepy-squeaking. Larger birds don’t sound as clear. And I just learned that what I thought were certain birds are, in fact, squirrels. The same beasties who get at my bird feeders.
- I can tell when a machine is running in the house. All I have to do is figure out if it’s the dishwasher, the microwave, or the clothes dryer. God help me if they’re all running at once. And sometimes I hear outside noises – from inside! – such as somebody’s lawn mower or leaf blower or car.
- My CI tells me with a high bee-beep that my coffee is ready and when it’s shutting off. Also, I hear the coffee dripple-ing into the pot. (Dripple-ing is a different sound than dripping. If you’re a hearing person, you probably already know this.) I also hear a sound when the fridge door has been left ajar, although it takes me forever to pinpoint the sound.
- I can tell when the cat litter needs to be cleaned out, because the cat is pawing at the litter in a certain way– announcing that she, Nickie, or he, Charlie, has completed some important business.
- I can also tell when I don’t have to clean the litter, because I hear the Hearing Husband doing the shakey-shakey thing. What a guy.
- I can hear if I’ve left the room with the water still running in the sink. Maybe not immediately, but then I hear something and, then, oh man, the water! But I hear this only if I’m wearing my sound processor. If I got up at 2am to use the bathroom and then washed my hands, I would NOT hear the water still running. Just like when I wore two hearing aids – together they couldn’t catch the sound. This has caused a few problems through the years, including knocking out the phone line and flooding our RV.
- Oops, I’m on number 10 already. OK, what have I left out? Thanks to my cochlear implant, I can hear the wind blowing high in the fir trees, rain on the windows, the car’s turn signals, and all the wee sounds made by light switches, shuffling shoes, and clinking cutlery. The list is endless.
And this is a bonus, a big bonus. My CI has given me the higher frequencies of speech, the lovely hissy-bits that include words ending in the once-elusive ‘s’, the ch-ch’s and the soft g-sound. When my grandkids call Gigi, I can hear them (most of the time) and when I do, this extra hole in my head is worth it!