My Wake-up Call

Many people have experienced a “wake-up call”—that defining moment when something in their life has to change. For some, it’s a dramatic event and, for others, it’s a seemingly mundane event, but for most it’s life changing. My wake-up call was no exception.

For years I struggled with hearing loss. As time went on my world got smaller and smaller. Easy conversations with friends and family became a thing of the past. I relied on my husband to step in and translate for me when we ran errands. I even relied on my husband to order for me at restaurants. I was losing my independence.

Hearing aids were no longer providing me enough sound to enjoy life fully. I was resistant at first when my audiologist suggested that I get evaluated for a cochlear implant. I wasn’t one to jump into having a surgical procedure. As time went on though, it became increasingly difficult to hear. One of my favorite joys, music, was slipping away from me too.

One year “Phantom of the Opera” came back to Los Angeles. I very much wanted to see it because I thought it may be my last time to hear it before my hearing declined even more. I purchased a ticket in the fourth row, center, so I would have the best chance of hearing the production. As soon at the musical began my heart sank. I couldn’t make out one line of dialogue or any of the lyrics. Tears dribbled down my cheeks as I watched a performance I couldn’t hear.

After the show, I walked down the street to my car in a daze. There was no denying it anymore. I could not pretend that all was okay. I was going deaf. This was my wake-up call.

When I arrived home, I got serious and took a good look at cochlear implants for a hearing solution. After months of research and contemplation I decided on Cochlear Americas. I had my first implant surgery and was activated with the Cochlear Nucleus 6 early in 2016. At activation, I understood speech immediately.

My husband and I went out to dinner to celebrate that night and I used the Mini Microphone 2+. For the first time in a very long time I ordered for myself and understood the server. For weeks, I laughed and cried at all the sounds I was getting back.

Later in the year I had my second implant surgery done. Thankfully, I had remarkable results again. Being bilateral made a huge difference in my life. I no longer had to lean in with my implanted side to hear people and I could discern the direction of sound much easier. Shortly after my second surgery an off the ear processor called Kanso came out. I love having a discreet processor as an option.

me and kanso

My implants gave me back my independence. I am a registered nurse and, because of my implants, I have been able to work with patients again. I love the look of surprise on my patient’s face when I listen to their lung and heart sounds with my special stethoscope that streams sound directly into my Kanso processors. The patients think it’s magical.

I’m also a writer and now I can speak publicly about the writing process again. Music is coming back to me too. Last week I played my CD of “Phantom of the Opera” and sang along with one of my favorite show tunes.

books

If you are interested in learning more, check out  www.cochlear.com/us/wakeupcall. I’m glad that I paid attention to my wake-up call.

Views expressed here are my own. Consult your hearing health provider to determine if you are a candidate for Cochlear technology. Outcomes and results may vary.

 

 

 

10 Comments

  1. Such a familiar story! I’m afraid to go bilateral for a couple of reasons. My progressive hearing loss was different for each ear, I’m afraid that will result in my brain not being in sync and understanding less. Also, I’m afraid to be totally deaf during the night and in the shower.

    1. Melinda,
      I understand. I found that my brain did better with two CIs than it did with a hearing aid and CI. With the hearing aid and CI it felt like there were two soundtracks going on at once. As for being deaf when the processors are off, I was a bit anxious the first night but now I find that I sleep better. I wish you the best on your hearing journey. Thank you for writing.

  2. What an amazing cochlear success story. The isolation and loss of independence is heartbreaking and anyone with hearing loss can identify with that. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Eric,
      Thank you for writing. Yes, it was difficult during that time. I am grateful for what I got back. Sometimes I have to pause and recall the past. I can’t believe how much my life has changed.
      Heather

  3. I got my CI 2.5 years ago and after five months lost my low frequency hearing in the CI ear. I am wearing a Resound ha in the other ear, and I am hearing at 80% in quiet and 60% in noise. It’s been a huge struggle for me. I did Auditory Verbal Therapy for many months which helped. I’m afraid to go bi-lateral because I’m reluctant to give up what Auditory/mechanical hearing I have in the ha ear. It’s scary to me to think of everything g sounding like a robot – 100% electrical. How do you recognize anyone’s voice with no auditory hearing. I still struggle in. noisy restaurants and have begun to believe it will always be that way. Sometimes the noise really gets on my nerves I’m thankful for what I can hear but disappointed that it’s not much better.

    1. Jackie,
      Thank you for writing. I am able to differentiate different voices. Each voice is unique and distinct. I don’t think about the robotic quality often but if I do focus on the sound then I would best describe it as a human voice wrapped in an electronic blanket. Most of the time I only hear the specific person and it sounds fine to me. As for restaurants, as more time passed and more rehab done I found that these past six months I am not even using a mini mic in restaurants. I can hear fine. I wish you the best on your hearing journey. If you want to chat more please email me at drheatherrivera@gmail.com.

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