Today marks yet another step in my hearing loss journey. As it happens, just when you think the dust has settled a bit and you’ve “got this”, something jolts your complacency back into uncertainty.
About a month ago, I went for my annual hearing check-up. I was happy to learn my hearing has been stable the last few years, but what has changed (greatly) is my speech recognition scores. In one year, I went from recognizing 7 out of 10 words to only being able to decipher 3 of 10 – not very good. So what does this mean?
Well, amplification can only go so far and that is what hearing aids do – they amplify sound and make the world a very loud place! Here’s my struggle, I can sit in the middle of a loud movie theatre and not be able to distinguish what is being said by the actors, which is why I use a captioning device when I go to the movies. So it’s not about things being loud(er), it’s my inability to understand what is being said……Did I mention I use to be able to name that tune in under 10 seconds?!…….So what now?
It is my understanding that hearing aids will not be able to help me with speech recognition, but a cochlear implant will. I have a friend who said her speech recognition went up to over 90% with an implant, that’s huge! Another friend who enjoys music again – Oh, how I miss music….
If you’re like me, I was clueless how an implant works. I did some research and learned there are two components to a cochlear implant – an internal and external. The internal (implanted) portion has a receiver and tiny electrodes, which is imbedded under the skin behind the ear. The electrodes are surgically inserted into the cochlea.
The external portion, includes a speech processor that is connected to a headpiece by a cord – It magnetically attaches to the surface of the head behind the ear at the spot where the internal portion of the implant is located. The headpiece has a transmitting coil that sends the signal from the speech processor to the internal part of the cochlear implant. It’s pretty darn amazing technology!
To be honest, I’m still wrapping my head around the idea. Like any surgery there are risks that have to be considered. For one, I may lose what little hearing I have left. There could be injury to the facial nerve. I could develop attacks of dizziness or vertigo and those are just a few. There is a lot to consider.
Over the course of the next several months, I will be sharing this walk with you as I navigate through the decision making process. If you have a C.I. please share your experience, I would love to hear from you!