Since many children are being considered as possible Cochlear Implant
candidates, I thought I would share with you my experiences with the CI. I have followed
AV (Auditory-Verbal) since I was about 1 year old. My hearing loss (unaided) starts at 85
dB (at 250 Hz) and slopes down to 120 dB (at 4000 Hz). My aided audiogram is out of the
speech banana after 2000 Hz.
Through intensive AV training, I was able to use the telephone to converse with
my close friends and family, listen to music, take a foreign language, be mainstreamed,
etc. I never considered a CI until last year, when it suddenly hit me that though I was
hearing and discriminating quite well, I was missing the higher frequencies. (This is a
fact I've known forever, but it hit me all of a sudden at that point in my life that I WAS
I was not terrifed of the surgery nor the side effects--but of these 2 things.
(1) I was worried music would sound horrible after the CI was hooked up and (2) was the
anesthesologist going to put an IV in me? Was it going to hurt? (They put in 2 IV's!)
My mom and dad were worried about more important things. (Important to them,
anyway--LOL.) Their concerns were: (1) Would I like the implant? (2) How long would it be
before I discriminated speech? (3) Should I sacrifice my residual hearing for the implant?
There's really no way of knowing, as everyone has different experiences, and
different ways of listening, I think. But surgery came and went. I was on the
computer right after I came home from the hospital, wanting to eat pizza (the hospital
said that was a no-no. Darn.)
On my hookup day, I was a little nervous--but my parents, I think, were more
nervous than I was. About a half-hour after I was hooked up, we were on the way home, and
it was at that point that I knew that getting the CI was the right decision. I was able to
discriminate speech with the CI alone--from single words to simple sentences, questions,
nonsense words, etc, and I knew what my mom was saying (she had her mouth covered). She
was really, really, really excited! I was, too, but it was really noisy. It drove me nuts
just to hear paper moving, silverware touching each other...ugh. My brother got a kick out
of it all, and would take every opportunity to sneak up behind me and go,
"SHHHHHH!!" very loudly.
Hearing with the CI is different than hearing with the hearing aid because I
hear the higher frequencies. When I wear the CI and hearing aid together, I find that
sound is more full, and I discriminate better with both the hearing aid and CI. Before the
CI, when I would listen to the Reverend Mother in The Sound of Music or listen to Whitney
Houston sing, I noticed that the higher the notes they sang, the more the higher notes
fizzled out...until they went back down the scale again. But after the CI, I was surprised
to hear what they really sounded like 'cause I thought what I heard before was the way
they really sounded like!
In addition, I said I could talk on the phone with hearing aids alone. But with
the CI, I am able to talk to a greater number of less familiar people, or call up my
friends from college or high school (some of the friends I had in high school were
difficult for me to understand before) and talk with them for more than an hour at a time
about who-knows-what. It's an ongoing process; although I still cannot understand everyone
on the phone yet, I hope that I will be able to do so in the near future. However, it is a
great improvement being able to talk to more of my friends on the phone.
In a noisy situation, I follow conversations better. Also...I discovered how
well I can understand people who speak as though their teeth are wired shut. I've also
found that I am able to localize (this is something I had difficulty with when I wore
hearing aids only).
Another thing I want to mention is that on the one-year evaluation, my open-set
discrimination was over 85%. That was really, really, really cool because I remember
feeling so frustrated during my initial evaluations because of that dumb tape-recorded
voice saying sentences I couldn't decipher. And here I was, understanding most of what the
voice said. My brother had his jaw on the floor. So did my mom. My mom said that when the
audiologists gave me soundfield tests, the high frequencies were so unbearably loud, and I
couldn't hear them with the hearing aids on. Now, I can hear them at about 35 dB. Gives
her ears a much needed break.