What's Wrong With Cochlear Implants? Part 1

It's Deaf Awareness over at Weekly HubMob!

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What It's All About

Cochlear implantation is a technology that is now mostly known by the mainstream.  I believe it is at a stage of acceptance and resignation by both deaf culture and the mainstream.   It is one of the many devices that acts as boosters or aid to the daily lives of the hearing impaired.  People find ways to function better, to communicate, to get around.  There are wheelchairs and limb prosthetics for the physically disabled.  There are corrective lenses and glasses for the vision impaired.  Yet, cochlear implant could be considered the bane of deaf society's existence.  So, what was wrong with cochlear implants?

Hearing Aids

I had hearing in my left ear only, where you see the hearing aid. The right had nothing.
I had hearing in my left ear only, where you see the hearing aid. The right had nothing.

What I Know

In 2003, I was given a suggestion to look into cochlear implantation. At 15, I had spent my entire life from the age of 2 wearing hearing aids with very small, imperceptible success. With hearing aids, I could make out sounds that would come to me as a white noise. I could hear distinct voices but never make out the words unless I was lip reading. The baffling thing was that when I removed it, there was not a single sound that existed. So, how was the hearing aid working if it only worked as an amplifier to what sounds you could hear? It is still a mystery to me.

My damage was done externally. I had gone from a dancing and singing, hearing child to a quiet, deaf one with a single blow in 1989. It was this blow that took my mother away. I had little to no hearing. Because of this, when my grandmother signed me up to be a candidate for cochlear implant surgery, I was warned that cochlear implant may not work for me.

Post-Surgery

The Surgery

To be a candidate, I had months of bloodwork and audio testing done.   I was kept up to date on all of my shots.  Then, with a counselor, I had to confirm that I had a support system set up with my family where they understood the work that had to be done post-surgery.  Once my implant was clicked on, I had years of retraining my brain and ear ahead of me.  Cochlear implant is never a cure-all, end-all for hearing impairment.  They only work with what tools are left inside your ear, i.e. your nerves.  I missed quite a bit of school, but they allowed me to make up for it by having schoolwork with me every time my grandmother took me four hours to Chapel Hill.

So, the date was set just before Thanksgiving of 2003.  The surgery consisted of delicate cutting of my scalp behind my left ear so that they could attach a metal to my skull and wire the cochlea.   Post-surgery, I was taken home for Thanksgiving break.  I spent most of the week with a wrap around my head since I essentially had an open wound.  Much of that week was a blur because I was so tired from the painkillers.

For thirty days, that incision had to have time to heal.  There was no external device to click on any hearing yet.  That came when the month was up.

Testing, Testing...

Christmas break rolled around and I had a present.  To get this present, I had to ride the four hours once again to Chapel Hill.  My stitches had fused and the surgery line had healed.  Everything looked good.  Excitement was palpable.

I was tested again.  Then, I had the external device assembled and hooked up to a computer before the magnet was touched against the metal under my skin.  It clicked.  Audio testing program came up on the screen.  The decibels had to be kept absolutely low so that sounds did not burst in my brain and burst whatever nerves I had left.  The audiologist increased it gently, slowly, until my ear felt too sensitive.  I could hear fairly good! I couldn't yet make out distinct sounds or words, but I could hear things that I hadn't heard before.  It took time, a lot of time, to recognize what those things were.

The first public outing with this device on was a Chinese restaurant right after I had my cochlear turned on.  We sat next to a fish tank.  I was fascinated by the warbling and bubbling sounds, as well as hearing Chinese accent.  But the noise still sounded electronic and tinny, and at times grated my nerves raw.

That's where the retraining the ear comes in.  I had speech therapists that doubled as audio trainers.  After tune-ups, practice, audio and speech training, the noise around me had increased to an almost normal hearing range.  I had adapted.

Mainstream Wild Child

I was neither part of the deaf culture nor the hearing world.  Because my family all had hearing, I had to adapt and take part in the mainstream society.  Not without sacrifice on my family's end, though.  They spent a lot of time learning sign language for me.  So, together, we navigated this in-between world of mine.  It's not a far stretch, then, for those with cochlear implant to be considered stuck between two worlds.  I already had been.  It felt like no change socially except I was highly expected to suddenly be healed and hear like everyone else.

So, what was wrong with cochlear implants?  Tune in to the next hub!

More by this Author


Comments 30 comments

bayoulady profile image

bayoulady 6 years ago from Northern Louisiana,USA

It's going great! I'm headed over to part two!


CASE1WORKER profile image

CASE1WORKER 6 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

just moving to part two


prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 6 years ago from malang-indonesia

I never heard about Cochlear implantation before. But you give us the detail about this surgery. I hope this could help someone else who have hearing problem and it could improve their quality of life. I learn much from you and this is really your experience. Amazing technology I thought. Thanks for share with us.

prasetio


Sunny Robinson profile image

Sunny Robinson 6 years ago from Tennessee Author

Case1Worker, I saw you! ;)

Prasetio30 -- Thank you! Thank you for reading. And yes, this is really my experience. It's not a full document on my experiences, unfortunately. I wouldn't know where to start on that.

There is so many things I could tell about my experiences with cochlear implant. I am so visual and tactile that I remember sounds, smells, texture of my first year with cochlear implant, which is a vital beginning.


jacobkuttyta profile image

jacobkuttyta 6 years ago from Delhi, India

Informative.

Thanks


cem4881 profile image

cem4881 6 years ago

I am enjoying your story, so far Kay. If I can figure it out, I will continue reading. Right now, it looks like I have to have a blog here if I want to read yours, so wish me luck!


Sunny Robinson profile image

Sunny Robinson 6 years ago from Tennessee Author

cem4881, you should be able to read it here: http://hubpages.com/hub/cochlearimplantculture2. I don't see why you must sign up. But hey, you may enjoy it here too! It's all about writing wonderful content that you enjoy writing about, and making some profit in the process.


MarianG 6 years ago

I love reading about people's own personal struggles in live and what came from them. This was fascinating! Thank you for sharing and I look forward to reading the next chapter!


SweetJoy profile image

SweetJoy 6 years ago from California

Your cochlear implant experience was so awesome! Thank you for sharing this! I'm gonna read your part two now! :-)


Sunny Robinson profile image

Sunny Robinson 6 years ago from Tennessee Author

MarianG and SweetJoy, I'm so glad you guys are enjoying this! It's people like the great commenters on my hubs so far that inspires me to keep on writing publicly.


SognoPiccolo profile image

SognoPiccolo 6 years ago from Wilmington, Ohio

I still cant get over how much I love that one picture of yours.


Sexyladydee 6 years ago

What a great hub. I always enjoy the personal ones. I can't wait to read the second part. I have a daughter with physical disabilities and I know that anything that makes one different seems to make the pack wanna single you out and say what you should and should not do. I am glad your family decided to go with you and what might work well for you and to add to your life. I never understood the controversy because as a hearing person I always thought it was a personal decision to be made by the individual and their family. Dee


CBM1987 profile image

CBM1987 6 years ago

Wow just read part one , partially I can understand the two world feel to things. Though the implant makes me wonder if its possible to change that. I'm Deaf in one ear and have about 80 percent hearing in the other. Roughly its been a long time since ive seen a doctor for it. The other part is more racial I'm a half breed stuck between two different cultures I have no common ground and sometimes its hard for me to define myself as "where I belong" thanks for the read it was awesome


Michael 6 years ago

People. All your comments suck.

Great info!

Luv the article!

Going to read part 2 now!

All so you can get your petty backlinks. You people are pathetic. I have 7 adult web sites and yet you don't see me trying to whore them out with backlinks. Have some self dignity and for the love of Christ, when you comment, have it be useful.

I hope all your blogs burn in blog hell.

That is all.


Sunny Robinson profile image

Sunny Robinson 6 years ago from Tennessee Author

Well, Michael. It would seem that your sites being ADULT would guarantee you visitors because that's what plenty of people automatically look for.

"Have some self dignity and for the love of Christ, when you comment, have it be useful."

Yours wasn't very useful at all. This way, I met about 60 or more people who actually relate to what I wrote. Those people I am in communications with now offsite. However, you... don't relate at all to what I wrote, and I'm not relating at all to your comment, so I'm trying to figure out if your message even had a true purpose other than being totally rude. Perhaps, you shouldn't have bothered to read this.


SognoPiccolo profile image

SognoPiccolo 6 years ago from Wilmington, Ohio

HAHA... he said "for the love of Christ" ... the rest of that comment wasn't very "Christian-like" in my opinion...Why would he want to do anything for the love of Christ?


What's News profile image

What's News 6 years ago

Micheal must be a HubPages cast off. Anyway congratulations Sunny I just took a look at the hot hubs and this hub is on the list. I knew when I saw that you had wrote this during last weeks HubMob that it was going to do well. Great Job.


What's News profile image

What's News 6 years ago

I think that the comments area is for encourage. If you have something extra to add to the topic of that hub then go ahead but, I think it's mainly to thank the writer and show encouragement.


What's News profile image

What's News 6 years ago

One more thing I want Micheal to know if he ever visits this again. My friend you took the easy way out by going with the Adult Websites so, who are you to down anyone for trying to get backlinks.

You smut peddling guys play on peoples weaknesses to make a living. The people here on Hubpages work for what they get out of the internet.

Sorry Sunny for ranting but it just made me mad to read what he had to say.


SarahSilver profile image

SarahSilver 6 years ago

fascinating hub, trying to find part two. ive had deaf friends and loved sign language. i also love blind people and feel there are many benefits and greatness to being around blind people and deaf both. I hope that we dont erase the uniquenss of such people and what they bring to us


JayDeck profile image

JayDeck 6 years ago from New Jersey

You're very thoughtful to share your experience with cochlear implants. I am hearing and, therefore, have no frame of reference to fully appreciate what it is like to hear a sound for the first time. You were, as you say, between the deaf and hearing world and i wonder how your experience might have been, be, different were you to have stronger ties to the deaf community.

I have seen some arguing over the years on the topic of cochlear implants and still do not have a clear understanding of where and why people stand on the issues.

Thanks for the hub, i'll read pt 2.

-J


Catalin79 profile image

Catalin79 6 years ago from Bucuresti

Very interesting stuff. Sucks that it happened to you though.


PZigney profile image

PZigney 6 years ago

Intriguing article. Wanting to read more. My aunt is having hearing problems and she's one of my favorites so this hits home.


Sunny Robinson profile image

Sunny Robinson 6 years ago from Tennessee Author

Thank you guys! :)


nikitha p profile image

nikitha p 6 years ago from India

very informative hub! thanks for sharing.


De Greek profile image

De Greek 6 years ago from UK

I have a loved one with a hearing problem and this is fascinating. Going over to part 2 :-)


youthinfotech 5 years ago

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Hearing aid


Terry Thornton 5 years ago

Excellent post. Hearing Loss is an isolating experience as so many of our elders experience dimished hearing regularly. Thanks for taking the time to clarify this for us.


Canklefish profile image

Canklefish 3 years ago from East Coast

Cochlear Implants? This is a new term by me, but it stands to reason that it has hit the mainstream. Simply amazing!

http://faciallyfreed.com/


Ernie 2 years ago

I got my implant in Nov 2012 after going deaf all of a sudden (over 2 hours) in Sept 12 2012

I'm an old Army Artillery SSGT so know what happened to my hearing over many years of war...Went deaf overnight.....If I die tomorrow it's not soon enough....implant sucks...never had tinnitus....noise...crap that drives me crazy till I got it....went from bad to worse after getting it...noise is unbearable!...now on VA prescribed valium and alcohol just to sleep 3 hours a night!....PTSD hasn't been evaluated yet LOL!...I'm a royal screw up!..As I said....Life not worth it!

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