Debbe Hagner, Cochlear Implant Recipient.
I have had a severe to profound hearing loss most of my life. It has been over one year since I got the cochlear implant to recover my ability to hear. I have heard many people tell me “Oh darn, I can’t talk behind your back.” I often wonder- how much was really going on behind my back before the implant. I guess I will never know. I know some of them were joking or teasing me. It made me more conscious. So watch out! I can hear now!
Since I wrote the first article, I have had people ask, please continue to write more on what you learned or new things you heard. Initially, after the implant, I did not understand the TV or the GPS in my car. Over time I started to recognize words on TV. I would check with my friend ,Gary, with whom I share an interest in genealogy; I would ask if I heard some dialogs correctly. He would say, “Yes, that is correct,” or “No.” I would keep on trying. I was disappointed some days, as I couldn’t understand the GPS or TV. But I was reminded “Be Patient.”
Then I started understanding the teller at the bank or the drive-through at McDonalds. I was stunned. Little by little I was able to discriminate and recognize sounds better. I was really surprised that I was able to understand Gary while the TV was on (loud) about six feet away. While Gary and I worked on genealogy, he would make me repeat back to him what I heard. Before the cochlear implant, I would make several mistakes in repeating what I thought I heard. I am very grateful that he was patient with me before and after the cochlear implant.
One of the things that surprised me the most was the noise came from Rice Krispies. For 40 years I never knew that that cereal made a “pop crackle” noise. I thought the Rice Krispies advertisement was a joke, as I didn’t believe that it really did make noises. I never heard them through the hearing aid.
Over time I have not had to ask people to repeat things, or say “huh.” People commented that I look much more relaxed, and my speech is better. I think I have said “huh” or “what” one time since I got the CI, which is really nice. It feels great!
Occasionally I need to take my hearing aid out to give my brain time to focus and rest from the CI. The hearing aid is a booster but not enough as a standalone. One of things I complain about with hearing aids is that there is no clarity. It is really hard to explain. I hear sounds, but I need constantly to lip-read everyone. I could not hear the turning signal in the car or a siren unless it was close by. Now I can hear a siren, but not always where it is coming from.
My primary doctor is thrilled to see my progress and suggests that I see a speech pathologist. You see, I have difficulty hearing and enunciating consonants that are similar – B, P and D. When I say the word “ditch,” it sounds like “dish” or “fish” to people. So I would like for hearing people to correct me when I am saying it wrong. Though some of them feel that they would be hurting my feelings, I greatly appreciate it and view it as encouragement. I am looking forward to more training from USF on speech and auditory tools.