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: