Criteria for Cochlear Implantation
Characteristics of Successful Candidates
Candidate Expectations and Outcomes
Am I Too Old for a Cochlear Implant
Other Important Considerations
Participating in Research
View Breaking the Silence Video
Some members of my family will tell you I have never had good hearing. My Grandfather was very hard of hearing and wore a hearing aid. I just assumed I was like him and it really was not a big deal. I grew up in Florida near the ocean and spent more time in the water than on land. Constant ear infections were a normal part of my life. I made it to my early twenties with no serious hearing problems. After my last child was born in my late twenties there was a definite drop in my hearing. As a stay at home Mom it didn't present a big problem in my life until I hit my mid thirties and another drop in my hearing occurred. I had very little hearing in my left ear and was fitted for a hearing aid in my right ear.
A year later, I found myself the sole supporter of three children and I was now a working Mom. For the next ten years I didn't have time to be deaf! Thank heaven the children were young adults on their own and I had a good job before the next drop in hearing occurred. I'm sure everyone remembers that trip to the doctor and being told "you are profoundly deaf and there is nothing we can do to restore your hearing". This was followed by: “ I am going to certify you deaf to the state of Florida who will give you a TDD and I suggest you learn sign language”. Using the phone was history, but with the support of my co- workers I managed to keep my job.
Who can ever forget the day your hearing aid broke, only to find out it was not your hearing aid that was broke? My hearing was gone! Only by the grace of God, did I find myself in the office of Steven Sederholm, Doctor of Audiology. After testing he found even the strongest aid would not help me. Well, I guess now I will take the time to learn to be deaf and the thought terrified me. He said, “Why don't you look into a cochlear implant” and he gave me the name of Dr. Annelle Hodges at the University of Miami Ear Institute.
From my first appointment I had no doubt that it would work for me and I would hear again. Was I nervous about my December 2001 surgery, NO, under the care of Dr. Thomas Balkany and the audiology team, I knew I had the best. They decided to implant my good right ear. I was lucky, for me the surgery was a piece of cake, no complications. It was also my first experience as a deaf person. Until my activation on January 2nd I could hear nothing. Christmas with my family is a book of written conversations that I treasure and still read from time to time. I continued to work during this time. I lip read very well. Co workers continued to speak to me, to them I wasn't deaf I was just Sandy that didn't use the phone. Activation Day . . . they tell you keep your hopes high and your expectations low, I'd like to say I followed this advise but the truth is there was no doubt in my mind I would hear.
My grand daughter's first words were "can you hear me Grandma?" YES, Heather I can hear you. The first three months had their ups and downs, I could hear, I could understand but we all sounded like we were talking under water. In April the long awaited 3G was here and with my audiologist, Stacy Payne the magic began. I heard grand children's voices for the first time and my children, family and friends sounded just as I remembered. Does life get any better than this? I was so grateful and excited to be able to hear it never occurred to me . . . and then one day Stacy said " you would be a good candidate for bilateral." I bounced this thought off my supervisor at work and she said "I'd do it in a heartbeat " Eighteen months after my first implant I was back in the skilled hands of Dr. Thomas Balkany and his excellent team to implant my bad left ear. I was back to work in five days, no complications.
Would the ear that had no stimulation for over 30 years be able to hear well? In my case ….YES. I wore only the new implant for the first four weeks and could hear as well with the new implant as I did my other one. Thanksgiving Day, and the Hugh family dinner, I wore both CI's for the first time. I heard everyone and everything. Bilateral has given me a sense of direction on where sound is coming from. Conversation is sharp and clear. I went to the movies for the first time in years and understood the dialog. I enjoy music again. Meetings or social occasions are no longer a reason to panic . . .I can hear. One of my favorite songs has always been Simon and Garfunkel's "The Sound of Silence". Today it is still a favorite song but thanks to a Cochlear Implant it is not a way of life.
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