I started writing this narrative about a year ago and am now finishing with these last few paragraphs. What is there left to say? Is my hearing now “normal?” No, but it definitely is “near-normal.” I manage to hear in almost any environment. At a large gathering last week, I enjoyed a coherent discussion with a friend, despite the numerous noisy conversations going on around us. We were both close to shouting and struggling to hear. She knew how meager my hearing was before the CI. During a lull, she said, “A year ago we couldn’t have had this conversation.” How astute, and how true.
I can still talk loudly (and do at times), but now I speak mostly in such a low voice that some people ask me to talk louder. Shrill voices are sometimes hard to understand, both on TV and the phone but it’s simple enough to adjust with the CI’s remote control. I enjoy the rapid pace of a heated discussion or argument even if I occasionally miss a word or two. And I continue to be amazed by the sounds of nature; when I step out the door each morning I listen to the tweets—the birds’, of course, not that other kind—but where the birds are located exactly is difficult because my directional hearing is still poor.
Helping others who struggle with a hearing loss is important to me. My audiologist has referred me to several people who have recently lost their hearing or are having problems. I’m happy to share my experiences and answer their questions, usually through e-mail. In addition to communicating via this blog, I’ve talked to community groups about hearing loss and written several articles about cochlear implants. I was looking forward to teaching a short course about hearing as part of our community’s adult education program but not enough people signed up and the course was cancelled—maybe next time.
Hearing technology continues to advance. Many CI recipients use hearing aids or have usable hearing in their contralateral ear. The three major cochlear implant manufacturers are now considering hearing aids for the other ear as part of the hearing equation. Depending upon a person’s hearing characteristics, this can enhance the hearing experience in important ways—including helping with directional hearing. Hybrid or electro-acoustic devices that combine “electric” hearing with acoustic hearing are an option for some.
Insurance coverage is evolving for technologies beyond the straight cochlear implant. Your CI clinic and the cochlear implant manufacturers’ insurance support offices can assist.
Visit the ACI Alliance insurance page https://www.acialliance.org/page/Insurance to take advantage of a wealth of information there. On this page you can read about other folks’ experiences and also see what the experts recommend on insurance coverage issues. You can also send questions to the ACI Alliance staff to post or respond to. I’ll add my comments as I thread my way through the process.
I hope to release this entire blog soon as an enhanced e-book, downloadable to a Kindle or other e-reader. When it’s ready, I’ll announce it here. Stay tuned! I hope you have enjoyed reading about my journey and it has been of value to you. Best wishes, and happy hearing!
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