www.CiSurgeon.org - Information about Cochlear Implants.
Dr. Ravi N. Samy, MD, FACS

CI Testimonials

Introduction

A medical diagnosis that we qualify for a cochlear implant procedure is an intimidating situation for most of us. Questions about surgical procedures, whether the implant will work, rehabilitation, money and how our daily activities will be affected are just the beginning stages in the mental wrestling that occurs.

A few of us in the Cincinnati CochlearR Community have written down our experiences with cochlear implants as a resource for potential recipients and their families. Our purpose is to provide some front line information about the period before surgery, dealing with post op recovery and life afterwards.

The people who have submitted testimonials for this publication belong to a larger group of implant recipients who meet monthly for the purpose of understanding our implants and sharing our personal journeys. Our group is comprised of people who have received cochlear implants from the COCHLEARR company. If you are considering an implant someone in our group can probably answer most of your questions. Implants have transformed our lives for the better in so many ways that it would be a tragedy not to share these changes with others.

So read on, come visit us and know that this is a chance worth taking.
Brian Gallat
briangallat@hotmail.com

Barb Elam

My journey began 25/30 years ago. At least, that’s when I had to admit I could not hear the conversation around me. The company I worked for decided we should all have individual cubes and that is when I realized I could not understand what the person in the cube next to me was saying unless I stood up and looked at them. So, my expertise at reading lips had begun.

I got hearing aids and wore them during the years I worked. My hearing very gradually continued to worsen, year after year. In 1998 I started to experience vertigo. After seeing several doctors they decided I had Meniere’s Disease. In 1999, I had surgery in my left ear to help with the vertigo. This also caused a significant amount of hearing loss. In 2000, I retired to be a grandmother and soon gave up wearing hearing aids. They were not of much help by that time and I made the decision not to wear them. My daughter, son, sister and grandson decided to take some ASL lessons and we did that for several years. My daughter and grandson were very good at signing and I could understand what they were signing. I, unfortunately, was not very good.

By last year my hearing had gotten so bad that my husband was afraid for me to drive the car alone. We were babysitting and doing a lot of picking up and dropping off the grandchildren from school and sports. When I was driving my daughter, I had to tell her not to talk because I couldn’t look at her and drive down the highway at the same time. I was to the point of losing my ability to drive and that would have been a serious problem. So I decided I would look into hearing aids again and was hopeful there had been improvements since we have entered the “digital” age. I saw an Ear, Nose & Throat Specialist and was told hearing aids would not help me and there was nothing they could do. My luck began to change at this point because the Audiologist that did my hearing test knew about cochlear implants and talked to me about them. We went back to the ENT’s office for the depressing words. When I asked him about cochlear implants he very kindly referred me to Dr. Samy.

My good luck continued….I met with Dr. Samy and his assistants and was told I could be a candidate for the cochlear implant. A date was set for my surgery, then I had to wait out the 4 months till the date arrived. One of the requirements Dr. Samy has is that you attend a Cochlear Implant Support Group. My good luck was still working for me in meeting this great group of people. They freely answer question after question and the speakers supply you with lots of information.

By surgery time, I was really excited to get the ball rolling. Surgery was a long day but I did not experience a lot of pain, dizziness or vertigo. That was my biggest fear, that the vertigo would come back. Again my luck held and my recovery went smoothly.

Then came my big day…..March 9, 2016…..Activation Day!!!! After attending the support group, my expectations were very low that I would be able to understand any of the spoken words. I truly believed I would have to learn to “hear” again. This was not the case, from the activation I have been able to understand words that are spoken. It was so exciting…..I could hear and not have to be looking at your lips!!! It was very emotional, I was laughing and my daughter was crying. But the family was definitely glad that I could hear somewhat again and words or sentences did not have to be repeated 3 times.
Now we fast forward to the present and I am finding out that learning to “listen” is what requires the most work. I had become used to taking myself out of the conversation or just ignoring what was going on around me because I did not know what was being said. After a few times of saying something that’s completely wrong or not pertaining to the conversation and feeling really stupid, you just quit participating. So, it’s practice, practice, practice to understand more and more of what is being said. There are several accessories you have to work with and they will help you to become better.
We have continued to attend the Support Group meetings and each time I learn something new and helpful to add to the list of things to make this journey back to hearing easier.

Deb Turner

I have inherited SNL in both ears, high frequencies. My father was nearly deaf when he passed, also high frequencies. My sister and I have inherited the loss, but not the brothers and so far we have not passed it on to our kids, as far as we know. I am 63 years old and had been wearing hearing aids for about 30 years, but needed them well before that. I noticed reduction in hearing in my 20s. I was a good lip/speech reader and was able to hide it for years. It would show up in group situations and I finally looked into aides when the teacher in the room next to mine, came into my class and asked what I was singing (I taught aerobics to high school kids who were physically disabled, and was singing with the music). I told her and then she told me “Those aren’t the words.” HAHA! I can laugh now!!!

My hearing continued to get worse and worse. I could no longer hear: timers, door bells, phones, smoke detectors, my daughter in law, children’s voices and cries, etc. I had lost all of my high frequencies.

In January, 2014, I started volunteering at a school near my home called Ohio Valley Voices. (God sent me there to be a blessing). This school is for deaf children, and they teach them to speech read and orally communicate. I began teaching the preschoolers and school age kids, physical education. About 80% of them wear cochlear implants, or are getting them after wearing hearing aids, and they were hearing sooooo much better than I. I decided to investigate cochlear implants for myself. I got the material, started going to the community support group meetings and then that summer got the audiology exam. I was a candidate for the Hybrid!!!

I received my first implant on Oct 29, 2014 and my second one 6 months later on April 22, 2015. I was and am amazed at how well I can hear. It has changed my life!! I have still retained my low frequencies in both ears, so far and am expected to do so. Now I can hear the high frequencies as well. I did the required rehabilitation by reading and listening to books at the same time and practicing on Angel Sound-a rehab program. I continue to do some type of rehabilitation daily.

Hearing on just one side, made it difficult for me to tell which direction the sound was coming from, but now I can tell. I can hear in conversations and, with the remote control, can change programs to hear in different environments. The Phone Clip and Mini-Mic and TV streamer have enhanced my hearing even more. I still have some difficulty with “unvoiced” speech sound discrimination, as well as in crowded environments, as most normal hearing folks do. I am looking forward to hearing clearly in crowds, announcements on PA systems, and my future (I hope) grandchildren.

To me, it has been worth it!!!! I hope this encourages you to seek more information and to consider this life changing implant.

Fred Sess

My hearing journey started very early. I was most likely born deaf in my left ear. My hearing impairment was found during kindergarten during a school hearing test. My right ear was normal. I attended public school K-12. I received my first hearing aid during my freshman year of high school. During my school days, I participated in band (trumpet) sang in church choir, was on the summer swim team and listened to my music (I like classical). I attended college and earned a degree in Radiologic Technology. During this time my hearing progressively got worse, with me getting stronger and stronger hearing aids. Six years ago I lost all of my hearing due to a series of events which then started my cochlear journey.

It seems that I got on a fast track on getting my cochlear implant (CI). I was deaf for about two and a half months waiting for my CI. I had no real option since I wanted (needed) to continue to work so this was the path I needed to take. I was given two options for my CI; CochlearR and Advanced Bionics . When I looked over all the options with both of these companies, I chose CochlearR, it felt like the best for me.

My surgery was done in Indianapolis, Indiana. All went well and it was a same day procedure. I had very little (almost no) pain. One of the “problems” was my tinnitus. Since I was a kid I had a ringing in my ears. While I was waiting for my CI, my tinnitus was very pronounced (ringing, fathom sounds, people singing). I was somewhat apprehensive about activation day. Will I be able to hear? Will activation hurt? Am I expecting too much? Well that was all unneeded anxiety. I was back to the hearing world!

Sounds were different. Speech was different. I was hearing stuff that I had not heard for years. I drove my wife nuts for a while, since I was asking her what that noise was. Or did you hear that? I am still learning to hear stuff. I was given tools to help me adjust to the new sounds of the CI. I would recommend that you practice, practice, practice with the tools you are given. It really helped me to adjust. For me, male speech is the hardest to understand. Music is also difficult. I really love my CI. My cochlear journey continues as I wait for approval for the N6 upgrade.

Jane Hoffman

My hearing loss really came to my attention when I was in my 30’s. However, my mother and all her siblings also had hearing loss. In the beginning for me, it was just not too noticeable. I mostly didn’t hear sirens in a distance or my baby daughter crying down the hall. Then in my early 40’s, I was working as a receptionist in the Human Resource Dept. and discovered I needed to boost the volume on the telephone (which required an attachment in those days). I finally went to an EN&T doctor which led to an audiologist and my first single hearing aid.

I only wore a single aid for the next 20 years, however it was upgraded several times. Finally I was told that two aids would really help me. I wore two aids for several more years but the hearing was going downhill rapidly. By 2010, my hearing had deteriorated so much that I really could not understand anyone on the telephone. I used a speaker on the phone but it was not much help and so I just stopped making phone calls. I still hung out with friends but really did not join in the conversations as I couldn’t understand what they were talking about. I learned to text on my cell phone and that helped for some communication, but I wanted to talk to my daughter living out of town and that was difficult.
I had asked about cochlear implants at my audiologist appointment in late 2011 but was told my hearing was not that far gone but by the next visit in 2012 she was very surprised at how much the hearing had deteriorated. Now she gave me a doctor’s name and recommended that I get tested for an implant. I received my first cochlear implant early in November 2012 and was activated the day before Thanksgiving. I was so surprised at being able to hear so much even though people sounded like chipmunks. I really didn’t have any problems with the surgery and have had extremely good success with the CI. My hearing has improved so much, now I can understand people on the phone, can join in conversations at parties, talk person to person on the phone with my daughter and in general feel I got my independence back.

I was happy with my success and did not plan on getting a second CI, however I did notice that the hearing aid that I wore in the other ear was not helping any longer. I had lost all ability to understand anything other than noise in that ear. I was still comfortable with my single CI but started to think about the possibility of that CI malfunctioning and me being deaf. That is when I decided to go for the second CI which I did in April 2015. That surgery went well also, and now I have “surround sound”. I have had very good success with my CI’s and only very minor problems such as dizziness, taste changes, etc. My success far outweighs any discomfort.

I have noticed an improvement over time even without structured practice. I hope my experience will encourage others to go forward with the surgery, it is well worth any inconvenience.

Roxanne Poole

I have suffered from single sided deafness (SSD) for the past 17 years, since the age of 30. I went to bed one night with perfect hearing and woke up the next morning with total hearing loss in my right ear from Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss (SSNHL). Over the last 17 years I have had about 5 bouts of SSNHL in my left ear as well. Each time I was immediately treated with high dose oral steroids and was able to restore my hearing over the course of a week or two in the left ear.

In 2015, only two weeks after having a complete hysterectomy, I woke up once again with SSNHL in my “good” ear. Once again I took a course of oral steroids and my hearing was restored, until I discontinued the steroids. I was then put on a higher dose and received an intra-tympanic steroid injection directly into my ear. The combination of oral and injected steroids restored my hearing in that ear. I suffer from autoimmune inner ear disease and there is a possibility that I will one day suddenly, and permanently, lose the hearing I have in my “good” ear.

I met with Dr. Samy a couple of times over the years regarding treatment for my hearing loss. I was not a candidate for a hearing aid and was originally told that I was not a candidate for a cochlear implant because I still had hearing in one ear. I was told that if I went deaf in both ears I would be considered a possible candidate at that time. During my bout of SSNHL in 2015, Dr. Samy told me that cochlear implants were now being implanted in some people with single sided deafness. Due to my history of repeated hearing loss and the possibility of total loss in the future, he felt that I would be a good candidate. Unfortunately he had only performed a few cochlear implant surgeries on SSD patients and couldn’t confidently tell me what to expect or how well it would work. At the time of my surgery there were less than 100 SSD CI patients in the country, as insurance rarely covers the surgery.

I received insurance approval in July of 2015 and had my surgery in August. No one could really tell me what to expect or how the CI would integrate with my hearing ear. I was told that a couple of patients with CI’s for SSD didn’t like them and didn’t use them after the surgery. One SSD patient told me not to believe all the videos of people happily crying at activation. She said, “I cried at activation but only because it sounded so bad”. (One year later she is now happy with her CI) I was very realistic going into surgery, I understood the CI would not produce a natural sound, that there would be a continual need for training and therapy, and that my brain would need to learn to process two different sound inputs. Despite all of this I was extremely committed to the process due to the very real chance that I could go completely deaf at any moment.

Surgery was uneventful except for a lot of dizziness afterward that delayed my activation by two weeks. At activation I heard sound but it all sounded jumbled and the same and I couldn’t recognize speech or even the sound of a voice. I suffered from dizziness with sound input and struggled to keep my balance
while walking. The balance issues improved over about two weeks and I did listening therapy every day. I used Angel Sound and listened to audio books while following along with a hard copy, streaming the sound directly to my CI, using the Mini-Mic or Phone Clip. The rest of the day I just wore the CI and conducted business as usual.

Initially I couldn’t understand any speech or sounds and had to guess where I was in the book, but by the end of the first book I could clearly understand the word “chapter”. Voices sounded very mechanical and robotic as well as high pitched. I describe it as Donald Duck sucking helium, and all voices sounded the same. I continued to listen to audio books every day and use Angel Sound. Around the 3rd book I was able to understand some words and even find my place on the page. By my 5th book I was listening to the audio only, without the hard copy. At that point I wanted to check my progress and went back to the very first book I listened to after activation. When I re-listened I was shocked to hear two different voices! Not only could I understand the narrator, I realized the book actually had two narrators. At that moment I knew, that with a lot of dedication and practice, I would be able to make the CI work for me if I were to lose all my hearing.

The other amazing moment was 4 days after activation, we were standing at a bank of elevators and when the bell signaled the elevator’s arrival I turned and walked directly to the correct door before it opened! Even though I could not yet identify specific sounds I had regained my directional hearing after 17 years. Five months later my brain is learning to integrate the two different sound inputs from my ears. The CI ear sounds nothing like my natural hearing ear but when hearing together, the CI ear enhances my overall hearing. This has made it much easier to hear in loud environments and I no longer have to be as strategic about where to sit when in large groups. I have noticed that I do way less lip reading and no longer need to sit in the first row at church or at meetings.

I will admit that the CI was, and is, at times overwhelming. It sometimes overpowers my good ear, though less now than in the beginning. I used to delay putting it on in the morning but now I sometimes forget that I even have it on. It requires daily commitment to wear it because I can hear without it, it can be inconvenient at times, and it sometimes distorts what I am hearing. It also requires a lot of therapy, at least for me. I would advise SSD patients to have realistic expectations and a strong commitment to therapy before undergoing the surgery. There is a lot of equipment to deal with, even when traveling. My family can tell a big difference in my hearing and I am now realizing how much I was missing before. The CI cannot reproduce natural hearing but with patience, practice and perseverance it can enhance your hearing. I find that I no longer avoid certain places and situations and I don’t have to work so hard to hear and understand like I did before my CI. I am extremely grateful to be granted the opportunity to receive an implant.

While it enhances my day-to-day life, the peace of mind it gives me is beyond measure. I no longer have to fear waking up one morning with no hearing and no form of available communication.

Beverly Karazsia

Before My Cochlear Implant:

It is incredibly difficult for someone without hearing loss to understand the gravity of how daily life is impacted when hearing is impaired. I have difficulty understanding and conversing with family, grandchildren, friends, and colleagues in professional meetings and board meetings. I struggle with simple communication such as talking on the phone, conversing in a car, or laughing at the comments or jokes being said around me. My day to day life is isolating. I can’t even easily communicate with my husband. I miss out on everyday moments, and a cochlear implant would allow me to participate in all of these things that I have lost in my life.

I’ve been Executive Director of Big Brothers Big Sisters, a non-profit organization that matches a caring adult with a child in need, for over 30 years. As the director, I work with children and adults in various programs and locations. I direct programs in school settings, and interview clients in locations that are not extremely quiet such as hallways, classrooms, homes, and other informal settings. It is my responsibility to navigate the problems that arise for children, mentors, families, and schools. In the last few years, it has become increasingly difficult for me to understand these important stakeholders in normal conversation. This is a great source of anxiety for me because I worry I may not hear or understand when a child comes to me with a serious problem like abuse or neglect. I worry that children will not trust me or come to me when they’re scared to go home or having trouble in school. Additionally, I cannot truly share in a child’s joy as he tells me about his mentor or give advice to an adult mentor struggling with a complicated situation. Instead, I rely on reading mentor journals. I struggle to do my job on a daily basis and the consequences of my shortcomings affect the most precious members of my community.

In addition to struggling with children and mentors, my hearing loss negatively impacts my ability to effectively lead the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization. It is almost impossible for me to understand and communicate with board members at meetings. Questions and resulting dialogue drive productivity, but I no longer ask questions or actively participate in discussion because I’m afraid I won’t understand what has been said. As a result, I’ve misunderstood and made incorrect choices, making more work and problems for the members of my team. Embarrassingly, I have had a board member lean across the table and yell their question at me during a meeting because I could not understand what was being said.

I only attend community meetings of other agencies unless absolutely necessary. I have missed opportunities to learn and grow from organizations such as United Fund, Community Action Coalition, State Big Brothers Big Sisters Directors meetings, Regional and National Big Brothers Big Sisters conferences, Indiana Youth Service Bureau conferences to name a few. In addition to lost professional development, my agency has also lost opportunities for funding due to my hearing loss. It is totally worthless for me to attend fundraising events as I cannot participate in decision making, field questions about our community and programs, or just plain speak professionally and conversationally to attendees because I cannot understand. Instead, I try to send someone else or take someone with me. This is not right! I am the Director of my agency and this is my responsibility as its director.

For me, the most heartbreaking component of my hearing impairment is my inability to understand the conversations of my family and friends. Envision sitting together with your family on Christmas or another holiday and not knowing what anyone is saying or what all the laughter is about. My children tell stories from years past, or talk about future plans, but I miss out on much of it. They ask me later and one of them will say, “Did you catch that mom? I’m wanting to do this.” Or “We talked about this at the dinner table, did you not get it?” It not only frustrates my family but it frustrates me as well.

I have a son who lives in Dallas. We cannot have a conversation on the phone any longer. We have tried video conversations, but that also is very difficult for me to understand. I have grandchildren and I want so desperately to understand them and especially to hear them when/if they are in trouble. One of my biggest fears is the day my son and daughter-in-law tell me I cannot babysit my granddaughter alone. They worry I won’t be able to hear or help if something happens to her.

I have tried to order food in a restaurant and after the waiter repeated the question over and over, he finally came around to me, got in my face and yelled, “What side item would you like!?” My hearing impairment takes away from my ability to participate in so many social situations. I have to rely on a friend or family member to fill me in on important lines of conversation, or I must continually ask someone repeat what they said 4, 5, 6 times, but I still don’t understand what they’ve said. It is so embarrassing and some people get frustrated and either give-up or give you a not so nice look.
My hearing loss is a safety issue for my 93 year old mother, of whom I am the appointed guardian. I routinely miss information from her doctor or pharmacist. I am faced with discussions weekly about her condition and often have to rely on my husband’s interpretation. As her guardian, I feel discouraged that I cannot care for my mother in the best way possible. Often, I need to understand and make a decision immediately, but am unable to do so.

Because of my hearing loss, I have lost the ability to be able to be completely independent. Due to my lack of understanding; I put myself, my family, coworkers, and the children I serve at risk and deal with their constant frustrations. With a cochlear implant, I could take some burden away from those around me. I will be able to stay connected with those I love and understand what their lives are like. It will let me help those who need my support and assistance; to be able to understand and solve their problems. It will help me give to those in need and reduce the burden on those around me. Overall, cochlear implants will allow me function in the world around me, and help me to gain back the life I have lost.

With cochlear implants, I expect my life to change and my hearing ability to be restored to 95%. First and foremost I want to understand my family on Christmas morning. I want to return to understanding conversations when all of us get together. I want to converse with my grandchildren. I want to be able to function in the capacity I was hired for at Big Brothers Big Sisters.

I have attended cochlear implant support group meeting and met with people who have had a cochlear implants. I’ve listened to them speak about what it was like before having an implant and what they are able to do now. I was inspired by a woman who said that all her jobs were taken away from her at her place of employment and now she has gained them back. Another person leaned over to me and said, “Now when you get together with all your family you can understand all of them.” Another told me I would be able to understand conversation if I sit in the backseat of a car. After cochlear implants, I have been assured that I will be able to return to independence. Dr. Samy’s hope is to improve my understanding level to at least 95%. Right now I only understand about 30% of a sentence being said. I am only 61 years old and I truly want to listen and understand the world around me! A cochlear implant could help me get back a life I thought was lost forever. It is amazing opportunity that would not be wasted.

After My Cochlear Implant:

The world of sound and speech understanding is more amazing than I could EVER have imagined!! I am able to experience it all because of the cochlear implant. On July 13, 2015, I gained the lost luxury of being able to hear and understand communication through a cochlear implant.

There are absolutely no possible words of gratitude I can express to those helping me experience this incredible gift! I can hear, and, more importantly, I can understand what is going on around me!
I previously wrote a letter expressing my desire for a cochlear implant. In it, I explained what I wanted most in life: to be an active participant in my family time and in the partnerships I facilitate at Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Greensburg, IN. Both of which make me feel fulfilled as a member of my community.

I am now so happy and grateful to tell everyone I will be able to continue my work helping of others. I truly believe God has given me this gift. I am blessed to have a better understanding of those I work directly with. I can understand what they say, respond to their needs, and communicate those needs to others who can help them.

My family is also a grateful recipient of my cochlear implant. They have supported and struggled with me for many years and their appreciation is beyond belief! One recent special moment was the first night after activation when my oldest son commented after talking on facetime, “Mom, you understand me now and you’re not looking at dad to have him interpret for you.” They are so grateful to have me participating in a conversation and to be a part of their lives and the lives of my grandchildren again.

Thank you to Dr. Samy and everyone for giving me this opportunity to enjoy life again!

Brian Gallat

My hearing loss is due to congenital nerve deafness. It was in kindergarten that I received my first hearing aid. The second year of college found me using two units. From there my hearing deteriorated a little bit each year. Using the telephone became absolutely impossible in 1999. This made work a lot more difficult as well as creating some major feelings of despair! At the same time, if I could not read lips then conversation was not possible either. Hearing aids were not really helping me unless I was in a quiet room with no distractions. I was using a wide variety of coping mechanisms to get through each day – like reading body language, listening to voice inflections and watching context very closely. My wife was constantly running interference to help me function.

In 2006 and again in 2009 my hearing aid audiologist told me that I could probably benefit from a cochlear implant. At the time, that simple statement sounded very scary! Implants seemed to be the absolute end of the road. They were an indicator that my life and communication skills were only going to go downhill. In the end, I really had nothing to lose by getting implants because my hearing was just terrible. It was after that realization when I finally became serious about looking into implants in 2010.

When I got tested for implants my wife came with me. She was almost in tears when faced with an official evaluation of how poor my hearing actually was. For me it was an unwelcome observation of what was hammered into me on a daily basis and which I considered better kept secret. Today I am very glad that I went ahead with the procedure. Currently I have two cochlear implants that are simply fabulous without any qualifications.

I received my first implant in March, 2011 and the second one six months later in September, 2011. Once I got the implants my hearing became normal or very close to it. By normal I mean approaching normal for a person without any losses! My hearing is now better than at any time previously in my life. It is actually sometimes better than a lot of my friends who do not have hearing aids but do have a small loss.

Actual comprehension as measured by my cochlear audiologist, Dr Lisa Houston, is around 90% in background noise without use of context or lipreading. Achieving this level of performance has required a lot of work on my part training my brain to recognize the new sounds generated by the implant. For me the improvement happened relatively quickly, but, I also put a lot of work into rehabilitation. EarIy on I did self-directed therapy with a computer program for 1.5 hours a day. In addition, I would continually experiment with the phone or the radio or the TV. Amazingly, my brain eventually started to convert the different electrical pulses into sounds just like what I was used to hearing before the implant. My initial practicing dropped off to nothing, but, later on I went back to practicing 4 days a week (which I still do) in high levels of background noise. This has proven to help me hear better in the more difficult situations that occasionally crop up. Even working with a professional the greatest determinate of success will be how much effort you put into learning to “rehear” on your own when nobody else is around.

Before the operation Dr Samy told me that there was about a 75% chance that I would be able to use the phone normally again. I honestly thought that there was just no possibility of that happening, but, was thinking that anything would be an improvement. The telephone is now very easy, and, I can also use a speakerphone without any problems. During my third week with my first implant I put voice service on my cell phone, made 6 calls the first day and never looked back. I either hold the phone to my ear same as anyone else or use a bluetooth accessory. There is no difficulty in recognizing who I am talking to either. My hearing can actually differentiate between Spanish nationals speaking English with different accents over a speakerphone.

Being tired at the end of the day from working to hear is a thing of the past. Music has come back into my life and is a great, great pleasure. Relationships with the people in my life are more relaxed, more satisfying and way more fun. One very nice characteristic of the implants is that temporary deafness after being around loud sounds does not occur. After leaving a football game or a music venue, my hearing is the same as if I had never been around any loud noises at all. Another great benefit is talking to new people and conversing with them instead of avoiding them like I did previously. People also say I talk more clearly now! It is wonderful not to have ear molds along with the associated itching, feedback, soreness and water accumulation.

I could never enjoy people laughing before – laughter acted to totally destroy my ability to understand what was happening as well as being another forceful reminder that I had just missed something again. Thankfully that stress is now gone and I can even hear enough to participate along with everyone else.

One implant was a tremendous improvement over my previous two hearing aids. So much so that I preferred to use just one implant and leave the hearing aid for the other ear in the drawer. The implant sound is much clearer and more precise than from a hearing aid. Two implants are also better than one because they improve the ability to locate sounds and result in pickup of more sounds. The sound with two units is more pleasing and balances out better also. For me music became much more enjoyable after receiving the second unit. I love to just crank up the volume now and let the implant decide when things are too loud!!!!.

My implants have been a tremendous success and have enabled me to restart my life with new hope and what seems like unlimited possibilities. The relief of being able to function in a world of sound while actually enjoying the experience is a treasure beyond words!

Lori Konkoly

To me, my cochlear implants and processors are MIRACULOUS technology. I never imagined I’d be able to hear as well as “normal” people!

My hearing was restored via cochlear implants in December 2009. It’s good to recall how profoundly hard-of-hearing I once was so I don’t forget how far I’ve come. I’m very grateful for this incredible gift of hearing.

I was five years old when my parents noticed I wasn’t hearing as well as usual. They took me for testing. Hearing loss was discovered. I was fitted with hearing aids for both ears. The reason for my hearing loss was and still is unknown. My hearing continued to deteriorate as I grew older, but I managed well with hearing aids. By the time I was in my mid 30’s, the incremental losses had built up. I could no longer use a telephone, watch TV without captions or even communicate without the necessity of lip-reading. Group situations were always challenging. Work became increasingly difficult, and I decided to leave my job to stay home with my three young children.

I was encouraged to investigate cochlear implants – by my parents and an audiologist at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center who tested my kids. (Thankfully my children do not have hearing loss). In 2009, I went to a summer picnic sponsored by the cochlear community. My husband and I met others who had implants. I was amazed at their stories. They could seemingly hear so well with their implants and processors, yet they had the same challenges and struggles as me when they wore hearing aids. I made an appointment with Dr. Lisa Houston and Dr. Ravi Samy, learned that I was a candidate, and never looked back.

I had surgery on both ears on the same date the first week of December 2009. So, for about three weeks I was completely deaf, until the date of my activation. I expected those weeks to be tough. In reality, those days were somewhat peaceful, because I was not constantly striving and straining to hear. I knew I couldn’t hear, and those around me did what they could to help with necessary communications.

Then, on December 23, 2009, I could hear again for the first time! And I could hear like never before. That day I seemingly could hear EVERYTHING!

When Dr. Lisa Houston first turned on my processors she asked, “What do you hear?” I only knew that was her question because I read her lips. I began to answer her, explaining that I was just hearing noises, lots of noise. Then she said this was normal, and it might take up to six months for me to begin to understand speech. Literally as she was saying this, I began to fully and completely hear and
understand her speech. Then my husband, who was sitting behind me, started talking to Lisa. I could hear and understand everything he said (without seeing his face for lip reading). A true miracle. The joy of that day – starting with the walk back to the parking garage and my husband trailing behind me, asking me so many questions to ‘test me’ and me passing all his ‘tests’ by responding and answering each question – hearing the speech of everyone, hearing all the new sounds such as appliances beeping, water running, clocks ticking, people whispering, etc., was incredible.

The day after my activation, I went to Christmas Eve mass at my parish. I could hear the entire celebration, the music, the readings, the homily – everything! And, strangely, people who knew me were saying my speech was improved. I found that quite odd, as I didn’t realize my speech was compromised, nor had I made any effort to change it. This became a recurring comment, mentioned to me by most everyone I spoke to post-implant. My speech had improved for the better – instantly and without any effort on my part.

I now hear it all every day. I can talk on the phone. I can speak to people who are in another room of the house. I hear the birds and the bugs buzzing and chirping. Best of all, I no longer live in fear of not hearing in group situations or any situations! I am grateful for this miracle.

My expectation post-surgery was just to hear ‘noise’ at first, and experience frustrations of learning a new way to hear. I had prayed for success and for patience, as so many people will tell you it takes time to adjust to hearing, interpreting and understanding sound again. That may be the case for many. I was blessed to have instant success hearing with my implants and processors.

No more annoying feedback, no ear mold fitting issues, no batteries dying on you anywhere and everywhere, no more straining to hear in less than ideal environments … cochlear implants are better than hearing aids for me in every way possible. I will be forever grateful for the doctors and researchers who developed this unbelievable technology, and for Dr. Samy and Dr. Houston who helped bring it to me!

Becky Osborne

I am so very grateful to Dr. Samy and his staff for the daily miracle of hearing which I now experience as a result of my cochlear implant.

My hearing loss was the result of meningitis at age 18 months – I lost different ranges of hearing in both ears. At age 9 I was fitted with my first hearing aid which was a great help, but I feel that the overexposure to noise from the hearing aid caused Tinnitus.

Around age 30 I experienced a severe drop in hearing on my right side; at that time I switched my hearing aid to the left side. Over the years the hearing in the right ear completely eroded until there was nothing left. At that time I realized I was a candidate for a cochlear implant.

I put off pursuing a CI until my children were in college. How I wish I had done it sooner! Words cannot describe the new world opened to me as a result of my implant. Life is more relaxed now, it isn’t so much work to communicate with others, and as a result, daily interactions are so much more enjoyable. Relationships are easier. I am able to take on a leadership position which I could have never handled before the implant. And best of all, being able to hear well has given a huge boost to my confidence and self-esteem.

My surgery went smoothly and I went home the next day. Activation (when you put on your processor and they “turn you on”) occurred three weeks later. I knew everyone would sound like Minnie Mouse but I did not realize how soon that changes; people quickly begin to sound normal. It is important to practice hearing using the tools available to you; my favorite was listening to a book on tape while following along with the actual book. I found the website Angel Sounds to be a little more work but extremely valuable in helping me to discriminate different sounds. The exercises help you easily determine what you are good at and what needs more help. In general, simply focusing on the everyday sounds and voices you are hearing is an important way to strengthen your listening, understanding, and discrimination skills.

Once I got through that initial feeling of being overwhelmed by all the accessories, I began to make them work for me in fabulous ways. The Remote Control unit is always nearby, allowing me to cut down background noise in a restaurant or increase the range (distance) at which I can hear my yoga instructor as she moves around the room. One day in yoga class I found tears of joy streaming down my face as I realized what a peaceful experience yoga had become for me now that I am able to close my eyes and accurately hear the instructor. Namaste!

The Phone Clip is extremely helpful in providing hands-free use of my cell phone and it even alerts me when a text comes in. I am able to hear on different types of cell phones even without the Phone Clip – this was Dr. Samy’s hope for me from the beginning, despite my not having used the phone on that ear for 25 years.

Over the holidays when my family gathered for the first time since my activation occurred in mid-August, it quickly became apparent how different the dynamic had become now that I could hear everyone, whether I was looking at their face or not. No longer did working in the kitchen or being in a different room prevent me from being a part of the conversation. Naturally, this greatly increased my enjoyment of family events. A frequent, funny occurrence happened several times when family members realized they couldn’t make comments behind my back anymore! I am more in control of conversations now, and I love the feeling that gives me!

The Mini-Mic is another accessory I enjoy using; it primarily helps me hear the person/people speaking to me in noisy environments, such as a restaurant, where I simply place it on the table. I can also place it next to the television to gain a wonderful boost in sound when I’m sitting farther away from the TV than normal. This last trick I learned at a CI Support Group meeting. This group was invaluable before my implantation in helping me understand the journey ahead of me. And I have learned many tips from the group since my activation.

While I continue to learn new things at the CI support meetings, it’s now my goal to help potential CI recipients who attend the meetings. Support from other recipients and your family members is so important to your success as a CI recipient. It is a process, not an overnight transformation. Dr. Samy has many helpful staff members to assist in you in this journey. I highly recommend becoming a CI recipient to anyone who qualifies for one. It is life changing!