An Octogenarian’s CI Journey
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Cochlear Implants—Pay It Forward*

Posted By Naama Tsach, PhD, Monday, December 18, 2017
Updated: Thursday, December 14, 2017

The following is an excerpt taken from the December 2017 issue of ACI Alliance Calling.

Everyone remembers certain events that were major landmarks in their life: marriage, a new job, birth of a baby, or—not so happy—death of a loved one. For me, after watching my hearing deteriorate for almost half my life (I’m 82), getting a cochlear implant was one of those major landmarks.

With my new CI, I was no longer isolated. I could converse easily with Joy, my wife. I could talk on the phone. Family get-togethers were once more enjoyable instead of being an onerous ritual. I became more active again in the community; to the surprise of some of my acquaintances, I no longer sat there quietly at meetings but talked up and joined in discussions.

When I decided to get a CI, I kept notes about my experiences and feelings. I wasn’t sure what I planned to do with these memoirs. Maybe it could help others with hearing loss considering hearing aids or cochlear implants.

With that in mind, I contacted Donna Sorkin and Naama Tsach of ACI Alliance to see if they were interested in what I wrote. Yes, they were. In fact, they wanted to publish it as part of Naama’s Blog on the organization’s website. They felt that we should use my musings as a way to tell older folks that you’re never too old to get a cochlear implant. (And you aren’t. Just ask me.) 

After some editing by the ACI Alliance staff, my first segment— The Decision—was ready for publication. I am so appreciative for their wonderful job!

Many people have expressed interest in my CI. A doctor I visited had no idea what it was. When I explained how a CI works, he thought the device might help his father who is getting little benefit from hearing aids. My audiologist asked me if I’d mind answering some questions from a patient who is thinking of getting a CI and I have exchanged several emails with the man.

I’ve since met with others who have questions about hearing, hearing loss, hearing aids, and cochlear implants. A friend who is president of the local Lions Club asked me to give a talk to the Club next month. He says he knows several members who might benefit from cochlear implants as they have great difficulty hearing, even with hearing aids.

I also put a note about my CI on my college class website with a link to the ACI Alliance blog, and will have a short article in the next class newsletter.

What else can I do? Well, our local county has an adult education program. Anyone can suggest a class on a topic they want to teach. We’ve had classes on everything from fly-fishing to geology to French literature. Spring term is coming up soon. It’s about time there was a class on hearing, hearing loss, and technology that can help— including cochlear implants!

Bruce Sloane, M.S., M.A.

*Editor added the title for Bruce’s article. Pay it forward—a goodwill movement popularized by the movie of the same name starring Kevin Spacey and Helen Hunt. The movie concept was that the recipient of a favor did a favor for others, spreading out good deeds. We think Bruce Sloane is “paying it forward.”

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The mission of the American Cochlear Implant (ACI) Alliance is to advance access to the gift of hearing provided by cochlear implantation through research, advocacy and awareness.