I am profoundly deaf. Since most people are not familiar with decibels, I usually just say that I’ve lost 90% of my hearing in my left ear, and 100% in my right. I wear a hearing aid, and in November of 2013, two days before my 19th birthday, I received a Chochlear Implant! My hearing (or lack of it) adventure is quite interesting, so… let’s get started.
I was born with perfect hearing. At age 3 I was administered the Chicken Pox Vaccine, and within two weeks my day care teacher was speaking with my parents about my lack of attention. A few days later I was in the pediatrician’s office trying to explain that I could not hear. It took quite a bit to get the doctor to listen to me and my parents, but finally we got a referral to a specialist. Clearly, something was wrong.
I was then sent to the Audiology Department at Arizona State University for testing. I had lost about half of my hearing in both ears. I was further referred to the Audiology Department at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. Audiologist Mike Sabo referred me to Dr. John Macias who prescribed an MRI which confirmed that I did not have nerve damage– my loss was due to dead and dying cilia in my cochlea.
Hearing aids were prescribed, and with the help of Debra Flynn at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, I was fitted for hearing aids which helped me to hear speech, for the most part, normally. Unfortunately, my hearing loss was to get worse.
At age 5, even though I had received the Chicken Pox Vaccine, I contracted the Chicken Pox! The itching was not too bad, but the pox effected my hearing– I had another 50% drop within a couple of weeks! Now, it’s important to note that I do not blame the Vaccine for my hearing loss. I am just, somehow, sensitive to the virus that is the family of Chicken Pox, Herpes, and Shingles. Any time I am around the virus, I get a loss.
Over the next decade I would have a loss every now and again. Finally, at age 18, virtually all hearing was lost in my right ear. I could certainly not understand speech, in fact I could barely hear a sound. It was time to explore a Cochlear Implant Surgery.
Tests at Dr. Macias’ office confirmed what I already knew. My right ear was basically useless. We decided that I would be a good candidate for a Cochlear Implant, and the wheels were put into motion to get the surgery quickly, while I still had hearing in my left ear to assist with the programming of the CI and the learning curve associated with the device. I was given literature from three major CI companies, and after careful consideration, I selected the Advanced Bionics CI system.
I had to update and get some additional vaccines. A CAT scan and MRI were ordered, and a surgery date was scheduled. All of this took about a month.
Finally, the big day came. The Pre Operative process was pretty straight forward, and soon I was off to the operating room.
Less than 2 hours later I was in the recovery room.
Still a bit groggy, but feeling fine! I think the “smiley face” sticker on my bandage really made me feel better–not!
Within the hour, I was on my way home! I think my experience is becoming more typical than you find on other sites on the web. Many of the experiences related elsewhere are based on teaching hospitals, and to the procedure takes much longer. With a physician in private practice, I believe you could expect to be in and out of surgery in a couple of hours, tops.
My bandages were removed two days later.