I have always been open discussing my hearing impairment growing up, and this is a post that I never even dreamed that I would be writing- journey into the Cochlear Implant world.
Some bones did not develop in my ears when I was born, and doctors would tell my mom that I was just ignoring her when I never responded to what she said. This was almost twenty-seven years ago, and hearing testing on children was not as pressed then as it is today. I was finally diagnosed with hearing loss and fitted with my first set of hearing aids by age five. I am the only one deaf in the family; though some older family members suffer from hearing loss due to older age.
I was able to receive hearing aids, and the suggestion of being tested for a cochlear implant came up, but I was not “deaf enough” to start the process. I became adapted to the hearing world, especially when it came to education. I struggled tremendously in private schooling since they do not receive funding for students with disabilities as public schooling. I had trouble hearing teachers, which showed in my grades. When I transferred to public schooling due to financial difficulties with my parents, there was a complete change in my studies. With proper help for my hearing, I was a solid A-B student.
When I entered college, that was a challenge for me since there were a larger number of students that were needing assistance as I was. So, it was more of a first come first served basis, and once again, my first year of college resulted in failed sciences (classes filled with 150 students in an echo like classroom). I transferred to a smaller college to get my grades back up, which I should have done in the first place. My classes were smaller and I was able to bring my previously 1.5 GPA up to a 3.5 GPA by the time I graduated with my Associate Degree in Criminal Justice. I am still in college, and I have maintained a 4.0 GPA.
After my college graduation, I enrolled in an online university because I had gotten married and was moving cross-country to be with my husband. When he had to deploy, I was expecting at the time, and decided to put college off so that I could take care of important things during my pregnancy and deployment. I had some nervousness about being a deaf mother because I didn’t want to not be able to hear my son cry or talk to me if he needed me. Fast forward three years later, I started the journey to receive a cochlear implant a year ago, and my surgery was September 11, 2015.
Before I started the process, I was apprehensive about going through with it because the thought of being drilled into my head scared me, and I just wasn’t ready to receive hearing (weird, I know). I truly believe healing can happen to people, and I pushed the consultation off in hopes that I’d be healed, but my heart wasn’t in it as firm belief for myself. My thoughts were, “What would I do with hearing? I’ve been deaf for my whole life, and I don’t know if I am ready for something like that.” I see now that God wanted me to go through this in order to get stronger in my faith in Him.
After the surgery, I had some pain and it seemed like my ear “sank in” when I slept on the side once I had healed. I had to wait a whole month and a half to get the device turned on, and when it was turned on, it wasn’t like the videos you see. I heard “sounds” but they sounded like a muffled, Martian, Donald Duck. There was a lot of ringing, and I couldn’t hear my husband or little boy. I went through a depressed phase. At the second appointment, the audiologist readjusted my device, and when she started speaking, I heard words! It is still a process as I can only hear twenty percent of sound and words, but previously, it was zero percent. So, I’ll take that percentage over the zero percent any day.
I’ve been able to experience enhanced sounds like pencil scratches, the sound of grass, my husband in the basement talking to his brother while I am upstairs. I am truly blessed I went through the surgery because this is something that God wanted me to have. The way I see it, if it wasn’t in God’s Will for me to have a cochlear implant, the whole process would have never happened- the consultation would have been denied, the CT scans would have shown something that would inhibit surgery, and anything that would stop the process. My faith grew more through this process because even though I was scared, I knew that God would see me through on each step. Those little sounds that I am experiencing each day are sounds that are taken for granted. I am truly implanted with blessings from God.