Jan J. started losing her hearing in her 30s, and it kept declining over the years. By the time she was in her 50s and in the most powerful hearing aids, Jan’s hearing was so bad she wasn’t able to communicate with others, especially the ones she loved most. Learn about Jan’s journey and how she got to be a happy, independent and talkative grandmother with bilateral Cochlear Implants:

Bilateral Cochlear Implant Recipient“As a wife, mom and grandma of nine I was getting to the point that I felt I was in my own world. I knew it had to change because feeling helpless and insecure was not working. I depended on our dogs to be my alarm. I dreaded the chance I might be spoken to and need to answer questions. Whether it be the neighbor, family, doctor or anyone, I was no longer sure I would respond correctly. I was tired of bluffing my way through life as I could not hear and anxiety was taking over.

My hearing loss began when I was in my 30s. By the time I was in my 50s, it was getting to the point where I was missing a lot of life despite the fact that I was wearing good hearing aids.

My right ear was my worst, and seven years ago, I got an extremely bad infection in that ear. My family doctor referred me to an ENT (ear, nose and throat doctor) who worked for several weeks to clear the infection up enough to do a mastoid surgery, in which he cut out some of bone that had the infection in it. As I was healing up from that, he told me he felt I would be a good candidate for a cochlear implant.

In the spring of 2016, which was just over six years from my mastoid surgery, I made the decision to contact our insurance to see if cochlear implant surgery was covered. My communication had to be by email as I was no longer able to talk by phone except by texting. I put my husband’s number on the email, and before I could let him know he might get a call, he came in having received the call that gave me the much-wanted information.

I had my husband make an appointment with my ENT who gave me the needed referral to University of Michigan (UofM), where I would have my cochlear implant surgery done. One month later, I met my audiologist at UofM. I found her to be so kind and caring that it was easy to open up.

After a total fail of hearing tests on both ears, we sat and talked. One of the questions my audiologist asked was why did I want a cochlear implant? With my emotions coming undone, I said that I want to be able to communicate with my family, especially my grandchildren (I call them my Grands). I wanted that so very much! She saw and heard my desire and determination. I then met my surgeon and had a CT scan.

I had one more appointment with my audiologist to give her my decision on what implant brand I wanted, and I had firmly said I wanted to go with Cochlear. My order was then placed for the Nucleus® 6 Sound Processor.

On August 17, 2016, I had my first Cochlear Implant surgery and was told it was a success. September 19 was my activation day, and it was so much better than I could have asked.

Feeling alive again

Grandmother with bilateral Cochlear ImplantsI sat facing my husband and listening to the beeps, and then I realized I was hearing my audiologist and the Cochlear representative speaking. I started repeating what they were saying. In the beginning, it seemed a little robotic, but then I was hearing true voices. It was nothing short of amazing.

We went home with the windows down and the radio on, and yet I could hear my husband speaking on the phone and understand him as well as some songs I knew from past. My thought was WOW! This is day one and I know it will only get better!

The first two weeks just astounded me. I woke one morning saying to myself today I shall call my sons. I had already spoke on the phone with a friend within days of activation and several times to my husband. However, this was what I wanted so badly. My oldest son has an extremely soft voice, and it had been tough to communicate at all with him for many years. I made my calls, and I was so thrilled to actually be able to have conversations with them.

By afternoon, they had each posted on Facebook emotion-wrenching posts about having talked with their mom by phone, and it had been over 20 years since they had really been able to do that well with me. That day I told my son I would go bilateral as soon as I could. Of course, I already knew I had been told it would be approximately a year before I could go bilateral, but I didn’t let that deter me.

At my three-month appointment, I had again said I would love to be bilateral as soon as possible. After talking a bit to my audiologist, she said she would like to test me in the booth. I had expected to do that at six months, but away I went. I came out and she smiled and said let’s go talk. That day not only did I switch to the Kanso® Sound Processor, but she gave me the go ahead on my wish to be bilateral. My surgeon gave me the go ahead next after I passed his balance test. I was ready to go and beyond excited. With one good ear getting better each day, I wanted to experience it all.

I had my second Cochlear Implant surgery six months following my first one.

With my Cochlear Kanso Sound Processors, I no longer feel helpless and alone in own world. By the time I was bilaterally activated on March 27, 2017, I was feeling alive again. Having had a wonderful activation before, I didn’t want to get my hopes up and fail, but I had faith. Again, it was truly amazing.

Spring was here, and I was hearing sounds I couldn’t remember last hearing. This past summer we sat out in the evening and I was in awe. Hearing the sounds of nature, and talking to the neighbors and really feeling secure to talk to them and people everywhere. I find myself enjoying people’s conversation more than I remember. It is such a great feeling not to be afraid when I see the neighbors. Now I know I can truly hear them. We can have family get-togethers, and I don’t have to be afraid for myself. I can make my own phone calls now too.

My Cochlear Implants have helped me become independent again. I love making conversation with others and feeling secure in life. I feel more alive than I have in so many years!”

If you’re struggling to hear your family, talk on the phone and are pulling away from life, see if cochlear implants could be the treatment option for your hearing loss: Cochlear.com/US/CochlearImplants.

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.