At 89 years old, Bill S. reflects on his hearing loss and how his Cochlear Implant changed his life when he decided his hearing aids weren’t doing enough.

“For 30 years, I’ve lived with hearing loss. 

It’s a disability that is not immediately apparent, but I remember it like it was yesterday. Twelve years ago, the members of my Lions Club in Arizona carried on at our meeting, and I could barely hear them. I asked a question, and a member gave me a puzzled look and said, ‘We discussed that 10 minutes ago.’ I became very frustrated and embarrassed.

Since then, I have made it my mission to save others from the frustration and embarrassment that I went through with my hearing loss. I speak at organizations around the state about hearing loss, the need for hearing aids and cochlear implants, and how treating your hearing loss may reduce falling and dementia. Hearing loss is not an isolated matter.

So many people my age suffer from hearing loss, and I know that personally to my regret.

In the 1970s, I was general manager of a 15,000-acre cotton and wheat farm. I regularly flew an airplane to inspect the crops. I was young and strong. Being advised to wear earplugs, I declined.

In the 1980s, I ran a 3,000-acre corn operation in Kansas where sprinklers were pumped by large, noisy natural gas engines. The earmuffs given to me to protect my hearing lay untouched on a shelf at home.

After many years using hearing aids, I gratefully received my Cochlear Implant (CI) over a decade ago. After spending three months with a speech therapist, my CI ear improved in terms of speech recognition from 2 percent to now 72 percent. An interesting situation occurred in my remaining hearing aid ear too. Because of all the brain training from my CI therapy, my speech and word comprehension doubled for my hearing aid ear. I always stress the need for speech therapy, both for hearing aids and cochlear implant users. I call it the “four Ps” – persistence, patience and practice with a positive attitude.

I learned this during the four years I spent in the Air Force, in processing 15,000/day enlisted personnel in the personnel accounting division for the Korean War. If a speech therapist is not available, use Angel Sound or Cochlear’s The Communication Corner on the computer – or even both.

With my Nucleus® 6 Sound Processor and my speech training, I have improved my daily life. Although I still struggle sometimes, my comprehension of the spoken word dramatically improves when I use Cochlear’s True WirelessTM Mini Microphone 2. I use the Mini Mic daily. I also very frequently use the Advanced Remote Assistant to change the normal ratio of Mini Mic to FM to 100 percent FM in all looped areas. Doing so makes a marked improvement in my comprehension.

As a retired agricultural engineer, I appreciate Cochlear’s commitment to research and development, spending AUS$100 million a year, which makes them the continued leader in the field. I look at it as that every five years, when my insurance provides me the ability to upgrade to a new sound processor, Cochlear has spent AUS$500 million over that time in order to provide ME with the most advanced technology possible!

Unfortunately, many of us do not appreciate the scope of hearing loss. It is time we pay more attention to this largely hidden disability in order to improve our lives and the lives of those around us.

Let us all ‘spread the word’ about how the use of a Cochlear Implant may make one’s life more enjoyable.”

If you feel your hearing aids aren’t doing enough to help you hear, learn more about Cochlear Implants here.

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.