Thursday, February 7, 2013

Cochlear Implant Recipient on The Doctors Show

In my previous blog post, I discussed Dawn, the recipient who was going to be featured on this week's episode of The Doctors.  The episode aired today, and while I wasn't home to watch, I found a link to Dawn's segment.  I can identify with much of her story-- the lip reading, limiting myself to small groups, and fearing prior to the surgery what "real sound" would sound like.   Here is the link to the video, and WARNING:  Have tissues ready.

This is no doubt a miraculous and beautiful story, and over the last few days, I've questioned if I've become a bit of a negative nelly, seeing videos such as these and feeling a tad more jealous than I should for people who have shared suffering similar to my own.

I've also wondered if people who are completely deaf, or at least mostly deaf, seem to do better making sense of the new CI sounds than someone like me.   For example, I know one woman who was completely deaf and within a month following her surgery she was conversing normally and talking on the phone.  I figured I had an edge having some hearing, limited as it is, but now I'm not so sure.

I truly believe I heard most sounds as a child, but I know I've slowly lost a majority of them over time, particularly in the last five years.  I'm wondering if my brain is stubbornly holding on to 23 years worth of sound memories and refusing to make the switch over to bionic hearing because I just know... I KNOW... certain electronic sounds are just not the same as natural hearing.  I'm wondering if this wouldn't be an issue if you didn't know any different.  My audiologist tells me that eventually the bionic hearing will become "the new normal," and I'd love for her to be right.  But for now, the left side hears one thing, and the right hears a completely different version.

If there are any cochlear implant recipients out there able to offer insight on this topic, I'd love to hear from you!  Please share.


  1. Replies
    1. Thank you. And you are invited to follow mine.

  2. Hi Pam. It's been a while. I'm your long lost hearing loss twin. I'm coming up one year with my implant (left side). Right side has, I dunno, about 25-30% unaided hearing. I've never used hearing aids.
    According to the audiologist my progress is very good. I do well in 1:1 conversations, hearing LOTS more environmental sounds, overall less tired. But. Still struggle in noisy situations, large meetings, some people's voices, etc. Essentially all the stuff I struggled with pre-implant. Your hearing history definitely plays a role. I think those who do best w implant lost most hearing suddenly and their hearing memories are very recent. For you and I they are very old, or maybe non-existent hearing memories for some sounds and situations so it takes longer. I've heard from some implant users say up to 2 years. The implant has some limitations though and a CI research scientist recently pointed out to me that with natural hearing the brain not only receives signals from the ears, it also communicates to the ears, especially in noise. Our devices do not have a way interpret that feedback. That's good and bad, right? For me, the upside is I'll beat myself up a little less knowing that some things are just not my fault, i.e. not a result of me not working hard enough. To compensate I'm exploring assistive tech that can help me hear better. With my CI I have options that I didn't before. Feel free to contact me directly as well. Best, Barbara J., Newton, MA

    1. Barbara! Hi! It's so good to hear from you again. Yes, you are my hearing twin from Massechusetts, and I have another in Georgia. Together, we can be CI triplets. She has also had a CI for about a year.

      I've only recently realized what an impact my hearing memories have on my progress. My brain holds on tight to those.

      I'm curious to know what assistive tech you're exploring. How are you doing on the phone? Do you use your CI ear, or the ear with the natural hearing? I'll reach out to you directly soon! Thanks for keeping in touch.