Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Some CI Education

When I shared my blog on Sunday night, my body was buzzing in fear and vulnerability.   The 24 hours following the post proved to be one of the most emotional days of my life.  As the comments from my friends, family, and even strangers poured in, I spent most of Monday ugly-crying tears of joy and asking myself, Why the HECK didn't I talk about this sooner?  Today I feel lighter, relieved, and all the more excited for the surgery and the future.  I can't describe what the supportive messages have meant to me.  I wholeheartedly thank all of you who are standing behind me in this journey. 

In the last month, I've had several people suggest I blog about my experiences, and they know who they are.   Thank you for giving me the push I needed.  I also want to thank Jennifer Thorpe, a cochlear implant (or CI) recipient.  (A side note: There is a whole new language and set of abbreviations that comes with cochlear implants.  I attended a CI presentation a few weeks ago and made the mistake of referring to recipients as implantees.  Some advice: recipients is preferred).  Anyway, Jennifer is also a mentor to individuals with hearing loss, and I originally "met" her through a website designed to support people struggling with their hearing.  In her mentor profile, she described herself as a mother, wife, and a big social butterfly.... I knew she was the mentor for me!  I wrote to Jennifer just this past Friday on facebook, admitting I was excited about the upcoming surgery but also pretty terrified.  She responded by inviting over fifty CI recipients to share their personal stories with me, and I was provided with great bits of information and advice.   For example, I learned my jaw might be sore following surgery and I should have ice cream and sherbet on hand.   Some described leaving the hospital with their heads in a "turban," or having a large "cone" over the implanted ear.  Lovely!  Needless to say, I have no plans of going out and socializing on April 18th.  My cone and I will be in bed with a hand packed pint from Stewart's!

Anyhow, the wonderful people who wrote to me not only provided  insight about the surgical process, but  also offered their friendship, love and prayers.  I hope that by sharing MY story, I can help somebody the same way their stories have helped ME. 

Of course, the blog has also elicited some questions.  My favorite so far has come from my younger sister, Mandy, who lives with an almost identical hearing loss to mine.  Like me, she has gone through school, career, and life without much hearing help. On Monday night, she instant messaged me.

"Can I ask you a question?" she wrote.  "Are you going to have to shave your head?  Because I think what is holding me back from considering this surgery is that I really don't want to shave my head."

I actually know a CI recipient who had to shave her head for her surgery over twenty years ago, but fortunately, the procedure has been modernized.   I am happy to report that my hair will stay.  The cone, on the other hand, can go!

To learn more about cochlear implants here is a short animation:


  1. Debbie lee RichardApril 4, 2012 at 4:07 PM

    I'm so excited to learn all about this through you. So love your writing.

  2. Best wishes for a speedy recovery! Your surgery is on my husband's birthday so I will remember it and, I will be praying heavily for you on that day; as I've added you to my prayer list. I am so glad you have heard from others who have had the surgery and now have a better idea of what to expect in your recovery. I've have a stapes prostetic over 15 yrs. ago and, I am amazed that it's still going! Good Luck!

    1. It is always so great to hear from you and Happy Birthday to Mr. Rehm! Thank you for reading and for your comment. It means a lot to me!

  3. I am in love with your writing, Pam! What a gift you have. Don't stop. Keep on. Persevere. And know that your honest vulnerability is a true blessing to all of us.

    SCORE on the Stewart's Shops ice cream!

    Oh and PS... if you DID have to shave your head -- you'd be no less beautiful. At all!

    Love, Donna

    1. I so LOVE Stewart's ice cream. I have no problem living on it for a few days if necessary!

      Another source of inspiration in this whole process is the founder of our local Association for the Hearing Impaired. Someone told me she HAD to shave her head years ago when she received her first cochlear implant. I recently talked with her about her surgery and she told me she went back to work right away with I imagine, her shaved and bandaged head. In her words, "she had paperwork to do." She is something! After the surgery, LIFE GOES ON. The ultimate goal is for me to be able to communicate and connect better with people, and in the end, it will be worth it no matter what.

      Thanks Donna!

  4. Hey Pam! Would you consider adding your blog into the DeafVillage aggegrator?
    Vivie - DeafVillage Moderator

    1. Hi Vivie,
      Thanks for contacting me. I added my blog to your site. Hope it worked!
      Thank you for inviting me. Your site is a great resource to many and I am be honored to be a part of it!