Cochlear Implant: A Six Step Process

Tea is a process… 

Choose the best flavor, prepare the teapot, wait as it steeps, pour the first cup, take small sips until it’s just the right temperature, and finally, enjoy! A cochlear implant is a bit like that.

1.) Choose the best flavor:

I love walking into a tea shop and just breathing in the magnificent smells. So many flavors, as well as a thousand different teapots and decorative mugs to choose from. Just like most things in life, cochlear implants offer a variety of good choices. Which company? (Cochlear, Advanced Bionics, Med El? All of them good!) Which model? (Nucleus, Kanso, Neptune, Synchrony, and more. All of them good!) Which size, which color, which accessories?

The thing about choosing the best tea is that it’s a personal choice. Everyone’s taste buds are different, so it’s not really about which kind is best, it’s about which kind is preferred by YOU. Do you wear glasses and prefer to not have 2 things on your ear? Maybe Kanso. Do you spend a lot of your time in the water? Maybe Neptune. My personal choice was the Cochlear Nucleus 7 because I am able to control everything with my iPhone, a technology benefit that fits MY taste buds.

2.) Prepare the teapot:

My favorite teapot is in the photo above. The pot gets filled with water, and a little basket on top gets filled with loose leaf tea, then covered by the lid before being placed on the stovetop. Filling the teapot is a bit like surgery day. Open, insert, close. There are 2 distinct parts to a cochlear implant(CI) hearing system. The first is the part that is implanted under your skin, and wound deeply into the spiral shaped cochlea by a skilled surgeon. But preparing the teapot is only step 2. Still no flavor. Still no sound.

3.) Wait as it steeps: 

Waiting is the hardest part. All those lovely aromas enticing you, but you know it’s still too weak to taste good. That’s how it feels these few weeks post surgery. Knowing that the device is there is exciting! But we’re still too weak; our bodies need time to heal. The device needs time to become comfortably at home in your body. Time to steep. Patience. Pain, swelling, pressure, and dizziness slowly fade, until the tea is ready to be poured.

 

4.) Pour the first cup:

I have a favorite mug that fits comfortably in my hand and holds just the right amount of tea for me. Around the rim are words of positiviTEA, spoken into my day. I feel good when I drink from it. The second distinct part of a cochlear implant(CI) hearing system is the visible sound processor which is worn on the outside, and attaches to the implanted device by a magnet. It’s like the mug that holds your tea, and after about 4 weeks of steeping, it’s time to fill the mug. An audiologist programs the sound processor, connects it, tests it, adjusts it, and sends you out into the world to begin sipping on all the new sounds. Activation day is probably the most exciting! It’s the taste you’ve been waiting for, for a really long time.

5.) Take small sips until it’s just the right temperature:

Caution: Freshly brewed tea is hot! If you drink too much, too soon you WILL burn your tongue. A lesson I’m sure we’ve all learned. The full potential of a CI hearing system cannot be experienced on activation day. The intensity of noise that hasn’t been heard for so long, or ever, can be overwhelming. Scalding. It takes time to cool. Many new recipients of a CI express disappointment on the day of activation. It’s not the amazing flavor they’ve been smelling and anticipating. It’s just hot. It’s just noise. But audiologists work closely with CI recipients over time, introducing sounds incrementally as the brain adjusts and learns. There are so many new sounds to learn! It takes time. It requires patience. Adjustment appointments with your audiologist are set up 2 weeks apart, a month apart, 3 months apart, until sound no longer scalds and the steam dissipates. Stir, blow, sip, stir, blow, sip. Eventually your tea will reach the right temperature.

 


6.) Finally, enjoy:

Sometimes I enjoy an afternoon tea party with a group of good friends. Sometimes I like to relax on my sofa and enjoy my tea while I read my Bible. Sometimes I take it with me on the go, wherever life leads me that day.

A cochlear implant is a bit like that.

To Be Fully Satisfied 

The following is a repost from back in December at dailysurrendertojesus.com. It felt appropriate as I adjust to the complete loss of sound in my right ear, post surgery. One of the reasons cochlear implant surgery is reserved for those with profound loss is because, through the surgery, any natural hearing that remained is removed, and bypassed. When your loss is already profound it seems like a small sacrifice.

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My hearing loss has been impacting my life in a big way recently, as it gradually gets worse. Over the last 2 years I went from scoring a 52% on a word discrimination test, WITH the help of my hearing aids, to just a few weeks ago scoring a 38%. What that means is… communication is HARD, and getting harder. Without hearing aids I’m almost completely deaf, and with them, the strongest available, I still only hear about 38% of what people are saying. I rely on body language, facial expressions, lip reading, and it’s a great deal of work. Some days I feel defeated and end up in tears, exhausted by the effort of trying to decipher the day’s sounds.

But some days… I sit in sweet fellowship with my God and tell him thank you. Thank you for the silence. Because He speaks in the silence, and I love to hear His voice. When all the other voices are fading around me, His whisper has become louder in my life. His words clearer. He has drawn me in closer and revealed himself to me in ways that I may never have known without the experience of my loss. My commitment to him has grown deeper because of it. My dependence on him in even the most average of moments keeps showing me clearly how faithful and good He is. He keeps showing up and showing himself strong for me.

The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to give strong support to those whose hearts are committed to him.” 2Chronicles 16:9

He truly does seek opportunity to support us when we sincerely desire the strength of his presence. He is faithfully by our side in the midst of every moment, extraordinary, difficult, or mundane. He will never leave us.

One of the hardships of hearing loss is the extreme loneliness that can be felt. Even with hundreds of people surrounding you, and so many conversations in your midst, it is normal with hearing loss to feel alone in the middle of it all. To sit in the midst of family and friends and desperately wish you could be part of their conversation, but no matter how hard you try you just can’t hear enough to figure out what is being said, can be the loneliest feeling. But God whispers loud in those moments and reminds me He is there. I pray for those who I can’t hear, and God’s peace settles over me. The prayer life that God has grown in me is one of the sweet blessings that cause me to thank him for my loss. When I start to feel alone, but turn to him, I find that his presence fully satisfies.

A precious friend recommended a wonderful book to me called He Speaks In The Silence, by Diane Comer. She shares her story of hearing loss, and how through her loss she finds greater intimacy with God. The first half of the book is her unique story, but the second half is both of ours, because it’s mostly about how God shows up, and He is good. Reading her book blessed me! Or rather, reminded me of how I’m blessed!

The word translated as blessing in the New Testament is derived from the Greek word, makarismos, which means “to be indwelt by God through the Holy Spirit and, therefore, because of His indwelling to be fully satisfied in spite of the afflictions of life.” (Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament) To be blessed actually means to be fully satisfied. To thrive on the inside even if life is falling apart on the outside. To be so filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit within, that we are able to endure and taste the sweetness of His love even in the midst of bitter reality. Even when it hurts, even when we do not understand.” ~from He Speaks In The Silence, chapter 6.

God is good. ALL the time.

Shared from my heart ~ Stacy

Surgery

I’m sitting in the waiting room at the House Ear Clinic in Los Angeles. Today is my pre-op appointment. This Thursday is surgery day.  I am, admittedly, a bit nervous. Not so much about the surgery itself, as I’ve had a few of those, but because I know I have a lot of work ahead of me. In theory, the cochlear implant (CI) will “give me back” my hearing, but the reality is… I will be introduced to a brand new type of sound. An electronic sound that is foreign to my brain. The first six months, approximately, of “hearing” again, will actually be spent learning. Learning what every sound is. Learning to recognize every sound in its new electronic form. I know again and again I will depend on others to help me identify an audio world again. I know this because I watched my sister, my mom, and other family members go through this before me. The advice I’ve received from them is “Be patient.”, “Be prepared to work hard.”, and “Stay positive because it will be worth it in time.”.

 I know I will never have my natural hearing again. But this cochlear implant (CI) technology is still amazing to me. Even the first day with the CI sound processor should be an improvement in my ability to distinguish clarity of speech. While I am a little nervous, I’m also extremely excited! I’m hopeful. I look forward to participating fully in conversation again. 

The internal device will be implanted this Thursday, After a month of healing the external sound processor will be hooked up and programmed on October 23rd. 

34 days.

In lieu of a photo this week, I’m sharing this video, made by my nephew, of my sister’s experience receiving the CI… ​



Overcoming the Depression of Hearing Loss


A recent visit from my 20 year old son got me thinking back to the days at the beginning of my hearing loss. Just a few weeks ago he received confirmation from an audiologist of what we already suspected: he inherited my hearing disability. Sound will slowly fade away, as it did for me.  I hurt for him, and I rejoice in hope for him, for I now know this fading holds some beauty.

I was a teenager when I got my own confirmation from an audiologist. I knew my mom’s hearing disability was hereditary and I had already noticed signs of it, but that hearing test set it in stone and sent me spinning. Depression is a common experience for those who lose a sense that seems so vital in this life and world. Our society functions upon the assumption of hearing. Hearing loss creates a separation from society; a feeling of isolation when left out of conversations and activities that others are participating in. Being alone is lonely, but being left out is even lonelier; a kind of loneliness that sparks depression.
“Why me?” That question rattled around in my mind for years. Occasionally it still pops up, but now I have an answer. This happened so that “the works of God should be made manifest in him(her).” John 9:3 

Manifest: to make clear or evident to the understanding. To reveal or expose.

This happened so that the works of God should be revealed, understood, and made clear in me.

The works of God is translated from the Greek word ergon, which means “that which one undertakes to do, or that with which one is occupied.”

Experiencing the loss of my hearing has helped me to clearly understand that God is not occupied with physical prosperity or ease, which is temporary, but with the development and growth of our spiritual life, which is eternal. He has undertaken the task of transforming our hearts, and opening our spiritual ears to hear him and to know him. His occupation is to reveal himself to us.

Helen Keller, though physically blind, saw the works of God clearly, and described it like this: “I can see, and that is why I can be happy, in what you call the dark, but which to me is golden. I can see a God-made world, not a man-made world.”

Without a doubt, hearing loss is challenging! But my world is not as silent and lonely as I once thought it would be, for God speaks in the quiet, and his words are peace.

“Be still (be at peace) and know that He is God.”

huShhhh – When We Want to Hear His Voice

As a preschool teacher many years ago, before the severity of my current hearing loss, I learned a great secret: The secret to being very effective at calming a chaotic classroom, and getting noisy kids to hear me. When 3 and 4 year old noises get out of control, that is the time to find the quietest space, crouch low with a finger to your lips, and ever so softly… whisper.

Who will come sit beside me and listen? I have a great story to tell. Can you hear my whisper? Come, sit beside me. hushhh, listen.”

One by one the noises quieted as friends saw friends sit on the rug beside me, and whisper with me. Worked. Every. Time.

So it is with hearing loss, I’ve since learned. The more noise overlapping noise, the more difficult it is to hear that one voice I want to hear, for it blends into the chaotic environment. To hear I must step into a quieter space and sit close. It is easier to hear the contrast of a whisper in a silent room, than a yell undifferentiated among the sounds of a noisy room.

And so it is with hearing God, I’m learning. He doesn’t speak in the roar of the wind or the loud rumble of the quaking earth, but with a soft gentle whisper. (1Kings 19:11-12) With his still small voice he whispers an invitation to come sit beside him. We hear him when we hush the roar and the rumble of our mind’s distractions, join our friends who are sitting beside him, and in that stillness we listen to the whisper of His Word, with great attention.

Come, sit beside Him and listen. Be still, (be hushed), and know that He is God.