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Dante B. lived his life on the outside, unable to have meaningful conversations and relationships with his children and family. He had learned to cope with his profound hearing loss for so long, using lip-reading skills to get by, but it was no longer enough. He had a major wake-up call when he realized that he did not want to miss meaningful relationships with his grandchildren, as he had with his daughters. Read how Dante’s decision to get a cochlear implant changed his life:

Dante with wife, who made the decision to get a cochlear implant“My name is Dante, and I am 55 years old. I was diagnosed as having moderate to profound hearing loss at the age of 7. I went to a special school for the deaf that promoted oral communication, provided speech therapy and taught lip-reading skills. This allowed me to communicate effectively and eventually be incorporated into the mainstream school system.

When you are deaf, understanding children is an impossible task. When my daughters were young and would try to have a conversation with me, I compensated by telling my daughters to go talk to their mother. I have never really had those important father-daughter conversations, and I feel I have missed so much of their lives.

My girls are adults now and my oldest daughter, Danielle, was getting married in June 2015. I had images of my future grandkids having conversations with me, where I respond with ‘yes’ and ‘is that right,’ without actually hearing what was being said; just like how I communicated with my daughters. I started to wonder what kind of a grandpa I would be to my grandkids. It was then that I realized my hearing aids were really doing nothing for me, and something had to change.

Dante dancing with daughter at her wedding prior to decision to get a cochlear implantBefore my daughter’s wedding, she told me that she picked out a special song for the father-daughter dance. It was a song by Heartland, ‘I Loved Her First.’ On the day of the wedding, I danced the father-daughter dance with my daughter, which was supposed to be one of life’s most memorable experiences for a father. I cried while we were dancing, because I could not hear the music or the words to the song that she had picked out for us. I vowed that I would never listen to that song, not until I could hear with both ears implanted.

Decision to get cochlear implants

I made the decision to proceed with a cochlear implant on July 28, after my daughter’s June 2015 wedding. The cochlear implant surgery was simple; I went in at 7 a.m. and was home by 4 p.m. The recovery was not bad at all, and I only missed three days of work.

Dante who made the decision to get a cochlear implant with grandchild

My activation day was in August at my audiologist’s office, and my wife and three daughters accompanied me. I was expecting that the activation would be like some of the videos that were out there, where I would hear my daughters for the first time say, ‘Hi daddy.’ Because I had been deaf for so long, I heard nothing the first day. Things progressively got better each day and after a weeks’ time, I was streaming the beautiful sounds of music nonstop.

It is hard for a deaf person that cannot ever remember hearing to explain to someone what it is like to have a cochlear implant. I relate it to getting real close to a TV, to the point that you see the dots on a screen and not the picture. The more you back up, the clearer the picture is. At first, I was hearing nothing; eventually it was as if I was hearing every letter or syllable of a word as separate tone.

I often joke with people by telling them that my remote will change one of my programs to a dog mode. I feel like my Cochlear Implant allows me to hear as good as a dog. I find that most people tend to be fascinated by my progress.

I knew this was going to be a long process and a lot of hard work, but I knew I could do this. I have come to realize the key to my success was not just the implant itself, but my attitude and determination to hear like everyone else. I had a close friend tell me, ‘you have to learn to crawl before you can run.’

Wish to have been implanted sooner

I wish I would not have waited 20 years to get my Cochlear Implant. I know my implant changed who I am as a person. In a way, I think it woke up my brain that was asleep for so long.

I hear so many things that fascinate me about this world. I hear nature at its best. The birds in the morning, the frogs and crickets at night, soda fizzing in a glass and the list goes on. I try to find something new to listen to every day. Life is so great with my one Cochlear Implant that I have made the easy decision to get my second implant in the spring of 2018. I have met so many great people that I now consider family at the Cochlear support group in St. Louis.

Goals for the future

Dante playing violin after decision to get a cochlear implantI have the Cochlear Nucleus® 6 Sound Processor now and cannot wait to get upgraded to the Cochlear™ Nucleus® 7 Sound Processor with the iPhone® compatibility. Before I had my first cochlear implant, I knew I had to set goals for myself as to where I wanted to be and what I wanted to be able to do. I made a simple bucket list that would motivate me to be successful:

  1. I want to hear the ocean for the first time with my wife. – Complete
  2. I want to learn how to play a musical instrument and be able to hear music. – Complete
  3. I will re-dance the father-daughter dance with my daughter, Danielle, and I will hear the song Heartland, ‘I Loved Her First.’ for the first time
  4. I want to be able to have a normal conversation with my grandkids every day of their lives and to be a better grandfather than I was a father.”

Are you struggling to communicate with family and friends like Dante? See if cochlear implants could be the treatment option for your hearing loss: Cochlear.com/US/CochlearImplants.

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Cara Lippitt
Cara Lippitt is the Public Relations Associate Manager at Cochlear Americas. She is responsible for consumer marketing social media and blog content. Cara is inspired by the stories of the recipients that she is able to tell and the incredible journeys they have taken. Cara was born and raised in Colorado and adores the mountains, snow and the world of musical theatre.