After Timothy S. was diagnosed with progressive hearing loss, his social personality and motivation diminished alongside his hearing. After hitting rock bottom, he made a choice to treat his hearing loss. Since that day, he has never looked back. Check out Timothy’s story on the cochlear implant that changed his life:
When I was in fifth grade, my mother noticed that I often was not responding to the doorbell, even though it was ringing loud and clear. She decided to take me to an audiologist to find out what was going on. I was told I had acute hearing loss that was only going to progress over time.
As it turns out, my hearing loss is from a rare genetic mutation that was passed on from both my mother and father. I have two older sisters and one of them has the same condition as me and recently got a cochlear implant as well.
Diminishing hearing and isolation
In the early phases of my hearing loss, only high-pitched noises, such as the doorbell or telephone ringing, were impaired. Over the next few years, it got worse and worse until I got my first pair of hearing aids in middle school. I hated wearing them, partially because I was embarrassed, but mainly because they did not seem to help much.
By high school, I relied mainly on lip reading, especially if there was any background noise. By college, I had roughly 20 percent hearing and was entirely dependent on lip reading. Conversations meant guessing what the other person was saying half the time. In social situations, I had nothing of interest to say or contribute to a conversation. I felt myself slipping more and more into the background of things, which began taking a toll on my mental health. I stopped trying to be social. I spent my days holed up in my room watching reruns, and spent my nights finding solace at the bottom of a bottle.
I would wake up, and do it over and over again; if I had to tell you what scared me most in life, it was that empty apartment. Getting home from class, shutting the door and knowing there would be no calls, no invites to parties and no texts. It still terrifies me to this day. I was a C-student at best, as I could not hear what my teachers said in class. I had no ambition and no dream of a successful future.
Time for a change
After my junior year of college at Arizona State University (ASU), I dropped out and moved back home. My rut continued for another few months before I decided it was time to move forward with a cochlear implant.
Because the genetic mutation that causes my sister’s and my deafness is fairly unique, we were invited to the University of Washington, where they have a cutting edge laboratory to study hearing impairment and genetics. It was there that I learned all about Cochlear and their top of line cochlear implants and sound processors.
I received my cochlear implant in 2012 when I was 21. The surgery went without a hitch, and I activated my Nucleus® 5 Sound Processor about four weeks later. Over the next few months, I started hearing more and more sounds that were foreign to me. I remember learning that microwaves beep (I could have sworn I had heard something high pitched whenever I pushed buttons)! I shouted to my roommate ‘Hey Matt! Does our microwave beep?’ He looked at me dumbfounded, ‘of course it beeps, it is a microwave.’ Within another month, I could hear those beeps even from another room with the television on.
After six months of living with an implant, I went into my hearing clinic in Los Angeles for a hearing exam. I will never forget the joy I felt during the test when I heard those high-pitch beeps and understood the words crystal clear. It was incredible. Afterward, I walked out to see my dad sobbing next to the audiologist. I was informed that my hearing clocked in at 80 percent.
Becoming myself again
Over the next year, I began to branch out socially and was finally starting to feel like myself again. I could understand people without lip reading, could carry a conversation in a loud car and was even talking on the phone. After another year of working an office job, I decided it was time to finish my studies.
In January 2014, I went back to ASU to obtain my bachelor’s degree. This time around was a world of difference. I was a straight-A student, while maintaining a social life that I never could have dreamed of. I was dating, I was succeeding and for the first time in 10 years and I was happy.
After graduating in 2015 with Dean’s List honors, I took a managerial position in an office back home. My job requires speaking on the phone for around two hours per day, which I now do with ease. I am finally capable of doing anything a hearing person can do. Just last month, I upgraded to the Kanso® Sound Processor, and I absolutely love it.
Getting a cochlear implant was hands down the best decision I have ever made. The results have been life changing, and I have personally seen no real downsides. I quickly became so used to wearing my sound processor that I do not notice it on my head anymore; plus my hair does a fine job of concealing it.
If anyone reading this is ‘on-the-fence’ about getting a cochlear implant, it has my full endorsement. I often forget that I was ever deaf, as hearing loss has no impact on my life anymore. I owe every ounce of my happiness to this wonderful technology and the Cochlear Family.”