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Severe hearing loss took Christopher J.’s career, hobbies and livelihood away from him. Thankfully, his supportive, loving family helped guide him to hearing loss professionals that provided him with the bimodal hearing loss solution, giving Christopher his hearing and life back:

Christopher J. with bimodal hearing and family“In 2015, a progressive hearing loss took almost everything from me.

Severe hearing loss caused my personality and confidence to diminish, affecting my ability to communicate with family, friends and coworkers, as well as meet new people.

My hearing loss was the most profound personal crisis I had ever experienced. It took away my livelihood because I could not adequately communicate and connect with colleagues and clients. My consulting workflow evaporated, along with my ability to provide for my family, destroying our peace of mind and financial security.

After hanging on by a thread for almost a year, the thread snapped. We had a beautiful life in California. Beautiful weather, natural beauty, and an excellent school for my son, Shay. My wife, Bianca, loved living there, but we couldn’t sustain the expense due to the loss of my work.

We couldn’t keep our health insurance or pay my son’s tuition for his schooling, and we fell behind on our apartment lease. It was a total and complete disaster for us. My hearing ability turned out to be everything. It doesn’t matter how skilled I was as a professional, how intelligent I am or how much of an expert I am in my field, I needed to be able to communicate to work as a professional. Without my ability to hear, I could not do an essential part of my job – client communication.

I also lost the energy and the desire to participate in cycling and running, which were two activities I relied on in my life to relieve stress and maintain health and fitness.

The sudden and abrupt interruption to my career left my family shell-shocked, but admittedly, I lived for many years with a sense of fear and foreboding that something like this might happen.

I was already deaf in my left ear and had been so since the age of 4, due to meningitis. However, I still had my right ear function and successfully managed my hearing condition for 45 years as a student and then as a professional.

Christopher J. biking with bimodal hearingIn my career, colleagues and clients relied on me for answers to their problems. But then I couldn’t hear the questions, which caused the flow of work that I relied upon to support my family to stop. I did what I could to keep my family afloat, but without the income from my profession, our lives were under pressure.

I kept applying for jobs. I was used to dazzling potential employers in interviews, but now I couldn’t hear anything over the telephone, which made phone interviews disastrous for me. My hearing was like a rollercoaster. I’d hear one sentence, but not the next. Or one word, but not the next two.

Eventually, we had to leave California. My mother-in-law allowed us to stay with her in Pittsburgh while we got things sorted out. As broken as I was, Bianca was my guiding light, helping me to navigate the darkness that enveloped me. Her actions kept us tethered to safety and ensured we remained tethered, including researching the best options for treating my hearing loss, making phone calls on my behalf and arranging for us to have health insurance. She helped to pull me out of the abyss!

I believed hearing again was impossible. All my life doctors told me I’d never hear in my left ear, and I applied this pessimistic view to my right ear as well. Bianca got an appointment for me at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) Ear and Hearing Center, who had credibility in my family via my sister-in-law, Fabrienne, who is deaf. UPMC successfully treated her through cochlear implant surgery and activation.

Finding an answer to my hearing loss

When I went in to see UPMC, my hearing test indicated that I was a possible candidate for cochlear implantation. My otolaryngologist and audiologist examined me and concluded that the hearing loss in my right ear could benefit from a high-powered hearing aid and by prescribing a medication, triamterene, to balance out my fluid retention. He also recommended that we evaluate the left ear for a possible cochlear implant, via MRI and CT scans to determine if my inner ear structure was viable.

About a month after that initial appointment, I received the news that my left cochlea was clear and open enough for implantation, meaning I was a viable candidate for cochlear implant surgery.

I decided on Cochlear and selected the Nucleus® 6 Sound Processor based on the company’s excellent track record with my family, proven technology and reputation for the highest standard of quality. I put my hope for recovering my left side hearing in Cochlear!

I then selected a ReSound Enzo2 TM as my hearing aid because of its compatibility with Cochlear’s True WirelessTM accessories, including the Mini Microphone and Phone Clip. Amazingly, it has seriously maximized my remaining right ear hearing!

I had successful cochlear implant surgery on July 6, 2016 and was activated a month later. I have been working on achieving the best possible hearing since that time.

My life is back

Life has changed profoundly for me now that I can hear well enough to communicate effectively! I can stream phone calls into my sound processor and hearing aid simultaneously with almost 100 percent word recognition! I can converse with people again, even in noisy crowds! I have occasional difficulty due to tinnitus, but the bottom line for me is the continual improvement I experience each day with my ability to hear!

My confidence is coming back! I’m making new friends! I’m networking with professional colleagues, and working in my profession again! Phone interviews are no longer to be feared! And I’m feeling so comfortable and relaxed with my hearing that I’ve returned to pursuing my running and cycling! My bimodal hearing technology from Cochlear and Resound has helped me regain the life I thought I had lost! I will be forever grateful for this amazing gift of sound!

I needed hope. My family kept that hope alive for me. And Cochlear delivered it!”

If you desire to hear your best in both ears, click here to learn more about Cochlear’s SMARTbimodal™ solutions.

ReSound is a trademark of GN Hearing A/S.
Renee Oehlerking
Renee Oehlerking is the Public Relations Manager at Cochlear Americas where she is responsible for the region’s public relations and consumer marketing social media. Renee enjoys uncovering, telling and showcasing the inspiring stories of hearing implant recipients. As a recent transplant to Denver, Colorado, Renee enjoys exploring all that the state has to offer outdoors.