“I’ve been so thrilled with the outcomes that I am considering doing the other ear. When I am ready, I know I have the best team behind me.”
Having worn hearing aids since my early 20’s, I became accustomed at a relatively early age to not being at my full potential. I would get my hearing tested every five years or so, and sadly, the results only got lower and lower.
It was a done deal; there was no escaping it. For me to hear, it meant a frustrating life with hearing aids, and for 20-plus years that’s what I’ve done. I hated using the phone and I avoided social situations or even talking to cashiers.
The universe decided it was time for a change; to point me towards another option. At the age of 46, cochlear implants came onto my radar.
I had gone to see my audiologist to discuss getting new hearing aids. I was overdue for a set with upgraded technology, hoping they would help me hear better. In that meeting, my audiologist was wearing a mask, and I was having an unusually hard time understanding her. In that moment, it clicked for me that with Covid and mask use everywhere I was having a REALLY hard time. I did not realize how much I relied on reading lips!
We progressed with my usual testing, and when the battery of results came back, my audiologist was blunt about the findings. She said I’d reached a new threshold for hearing loss severity, and “You qualify for a cochlear implant.” My hearing had gotten worse. The news was met with severe disappointment. I took it as “I’m broken.” I was very skeptical the recommendation about implants would actually help me to hear again. But I put wheels in motion anyway.
Working with my insurance company and doing research online, I discovered the Cochlear Clinic at ENT Associates run by Dr. Scott Greene (CI Surgeon) and Dr. Nada Hanna (CI Audiologist). Their office was two hours away, and I was still a little apprehensive, but the reviews were great, so I reached out.
The first appointment I was a wreck. You start the CI assessment with a hearing / speech test with Dr. Hanna, and my scores were so poor, it was hard for me to contain myself. Acknowledging the severity of my hearing loss was tremendously emotional. I cried, I even begged Dr. Hanna to stop the booth test. But Dr. Hanna was so compassionate. She got me focused and back on emotional solid ground even though my scores were under 10% comprehension. Things got better from there.
In the consultation with Dr. Greene, he radiated all the calm and expertise you wish every physician possessed. He patiently walked me through every aspect of what getting a CI would entail: the surgery, the recovery, the activation timeline, and the expectations for success.
It didn’t take long to realize how the quality of my life would greatly improve with a CI. Then to hear him ask me, “What concerns do you have?” Well, in between the tears (again), I said I was hoping I would be borderline, and I could just get by, I don’t know if I am ready to change my whole life, I just can’t believe this has happened to me and I am where I am. He stated, “You are not borderline, and you don’t need to struggle anymore, this WILL change for the better.” I knew I had had confidence in Dr. Greene’s recommendations and experience from these moments. The next time I would see him would be minutes before surgery.
After delays due to COVID, I was able to get my surgery within four months. To say I was nervous that day would be an understatement. Dr Greene spent a few minutes just before surgery asking me again, Do I have any questions? Do I have any concerns? I felt like I could make a podcast about what going through my head, instead I said, “I’m ready.” The morning went flawlessly, and recovery was a breeze. Within two days my bandages were off and healing well, with only a small incision behind the ear with dissolvable stitches.
After two weeks of recovery, Dr. Hanna turned the implant on, and it was an amazing experience. All 22 of my channels worked! It’s so heart-warming, she gets excited for everyone hearing for the first time again! She explained everything so I knew what to expect and how to improve.
My hearing just kept getting better and better every day and after every follow-up visit. Getting to appointments was time consuming since it was a few hours away, but it was a priority. Dr. Hanna has helped me understand the technology, apps, streaming, capabilities, etc. Learning to hear again with implants takes practice, and doing the therapy as recommended by the Cochlear Institute has helped tremendously. Going from the sound of “Minnie Mouse” voices immediately after activation to listening to the map directions streaming through my ears while driving without looking at my phone, it’s pretty amazing.
Every day I think back to my old way of life and how much I struggled with what are considered “normal” activities. But now, I am now experiencing things I couldn’t have imagined. I can actually hear the sound of air now, and it is still getting better! I am not afraid to make a phone call anymore!
I’ve been so thrilled with the outcomes that I am considering doing the other ear. If and when I am ready, I know I have the best team behind me.