I have a friend and colleague, Dr. Nashlea Brogan, with is also an audiologist with a profound hearing loss. She received a Cochlear Implant on July 23rd of this year and was activated recently on August 23th. We have been emailing back and forth a bit about how things were progressing for her. I asked her if I could post these exchanges in my blog. I think you will enjoy reading about her experience.
A few background notes:
1. Nashlea received the Med-El Cochlear Implant.
2. Nashlea was born with normal hearing. She believes her hearing started to decrease in her teens. She was tested at age 14 and by 18 years received her first set of hearing aids. Since that time her hearing continued to progressively deteriorate such that she lost most of her hearing in her twenties and early thirties.
2. Med-El, Cochlear, and Advanced Bionics all use different numbers of electrodes in their CI’s. So when Nashlea talks about the 13 electrodes, thats the number that Med-El uses. My CI is from Cochlear Corporation and has 24 electrodes. Note also that the length of the electrode arrays differ between the manufacturers. There is on-going debate as to what the optimal length and optimal number of electrodes should be which I am not going to discuss here, but I just wanted you the reader to be aware of this.
June 17, 2012
Well, I have my big day for cochlear implant surgery on July 23 and activation on August 23rd in London. I was expecting the surgery to be in the 2013 winter but they called last week with an opening for this summer, eek!!!!
If you have any advice or recommendations I would truly appreciate it. I have to continue managing my Hearing Centre’s during this time and do not know what to expect or how to even possibly plan. How long is recovery? Did you work between surgery and activation? After you were activated when did you return to work? Many people reported that they were exhausted in the first few months from sound? Did you travel during the initial months? What was work like when you returned? Sorry for all the questions, I am trying to leave the month after surgery and 2-3 months after activation as open as possible, but I am a planner. Is there anything you would have done differently?
I am very excited for you!
1. Recovery: varies greatly from person to person. I had my surgery on a Thursday. Went home next day Friday. Was back at work Monday. Others get really dizzy and need a week or two off.
2. Yes I worked between surgery and activation. I only took one day off.
3. I was not exhausted from sound. But I was impatient. You need to really chill out and wait. It takes months to get full benefit.
4. Read my blog!!!!
Aug. 10, 2012
Thanks for the reply and I really enjoyed your Blog both from the cochlear implant perspective and as an Audiologist.
I had my surgery and all went well, they made a full insertion through the entire cochlea with all 13 electrodes of the Med-El. I wasn’t really myself until 10 days after surgery, I had a lot of ear pain 5-6 days post surgery. I am also living with my FM system, I never truly grasped how difficult having monaural hearing was. My FM system, has made car trips, dining, work and any public situation manageable. I don’t know what I would have done without it. So, next the step is activation on August 23! Now I need to learn patience.
August 29, 2012
Activation a dream come true.
I had my cochlear implant activated last Thursday. Now, I had prepared myself for a difficult time, I was scared from talking to other people and not being able to wear my hearing aid for three months in my other ear. I had advised my receptionist that I wouldn’t be able to see patients until I could understand some speech, I was terrified.
Today, I feel like I won the lottery of life!!!!! The audiologist first tested all 13 electrodes from 250Hz to 6000Hz and I could hear all of them. Once I was activated both the Audiologist and my husband sounded like daffy duck or mermaids!!! That sound lasted only a few hours, we went to a restaurant after my appointment and I could hear the waitress, the music, the other people talking. It has since gotten better hour by hour.
My biggest and most rewarding moment of all this was my children. For the first time, I heard all my 3 year old girls little words!!! She hasn’t stopped talking to me since. I can hear my nieces and friends children talking. When they say mommy to me from behind or another room I hear them. Not hearing children was the hardest part of having a hearing loss for me. I was happy going to work, I did public talks all over Sarnia, I travelled, went out, the hearing loss was more of an inconvenience for these things. But with children I felt isolated and dependent on other people to help me understand what my 3 year old niece was asking me, even my own daughter! I was nervous going to my sons mothers day’s tea in SK because of me not hearing him singing, or if his friend might ask me something with the other mothers looking on.
No sounds have been too loud, all the environmental sounds are exactly as a I remember them. A little history on me, I was born with normal hearing, they think it started to decrease in my teens, at age 14 I was tested but not enough loss for amplification and by 18 years I received my first hearing aids (I had normal hearing to 1500Hz at that time), I have lost most of my hearing in my twenties and early thirties.
I just never imagined this…..its so wonderful and to think its getting better!!! The one thing that i have never heard or read about CI’s is how separate every sound is. I always felt with hearing aids that all the sounds were meshed together, for example I could hear lots of noises in a car, it was loud and made speech hard to understand but the sounds were all blended in one big ball of background noise. Now, I can hear all the indicators, the sounds the buttons make when you press them, the tires hitting the road or cracks, and the acceleration of the motor every time the gas is pressed, and speech is separate not competing with the car sounds.
I haven’t felt any background noise since the moment of activation, in restaurants, cars, and the mall. I hear all the sounds of people walking, talking, machines, music but I wouldn’t describe them as background noise like a hearing aid!
I could type forever. I feel so happy, so full of energy, I don’t even want to take the implant off at night. What an amazing and incredible device!!! What sounds should I go listen to today, ha ha!!
Well Nashlea, thanks so much for allowing me to share your experiences. I want the readers to know that everyone’s CI experience is unique. I had no post-surgical ear pain or dizziness, yet Nashlea did. On the other hand, I needed months to achieve the benefits from my CI that Nashlea received in only a few hours. Patience is the key.
Details about Nashlea’s Audiology practice:
|Bluewater Hearing Centre
316 George St.
N7T 4P4 Canada