February 19th, 2015 was the date set for the activation. I cannot describe the emotions and feelings I had. I was excited, nervous and had no idea what to expect. I didn’t want to set my expectations too high but not too low either.
It is a weird sound when they first turn on the cochlear implant, and still is 2 weeks later. It is a mechanical sound and the words/sounds are robotic. As she turned the implant on and increase the volume, my face twitched – that was my indicator that it was too loud. I had it turned up to level 5 (on master volume 174 I believe).
My audiologist did some ear training with me. I was able to tell if it was same or different between a few numbers and even tell a few numbers apart.
The actual activation was not as dramatic to me as I can already hear with my hearing aid. However, watch this video and you can see my face when I get the numbers right. I had my hearing aid turned off (still in my ear to act as a ear plug). It is a Facebook video but it is public. Fast forward to about 6-7 minutes in, unless you are interested in learning a bit about the activation.
“Why did you choose get a cochlear implant if you have a hearing aid?” is a question I get often. When I would tell someone I was receiving the cochlear implant, and now that I have it – this was a question. The answer is long.
I may have a hearing aid – but it is only in my right ear. One on one with someone – I hear 98% – but reality is – often times there is background noise and social situations. My hearing drops dramatically to 38% with my right ear facing the person talking – 22% with my left ear facing the person talking. Now try picturing how difficult it must be to hear at work. I work in the child care field. I work with toddlers, preschool and school aged children. Try picturing how difficult it would be to listen and pay attention at restaurants, dinners, family gatherings etc.
I absolutely hate big social groups and having to listen and try to avoid it as much as I can – but you can’t always avoid it so I just do the best I can. I rely on lip reading for the most part – while most people know to look at me – a stranger doesn’t. The waitress at the restaurant, the cashier at a store, cashier at a fast food place, the person at the drive thru. All these people do not know and probably never crossed their mind when I ask to repeat themselves. I do hear but it is hard and even I get frustrated when I ask someone to repeat.
A cochlear implant will enhance my hearing world and maybe one day I will be able to get through a conversation or social groups without needing to rely on lip reading.