May is Better Hearing and Speech Month. In recognition, we’re sharing stories about people achieving better hearing through prevention, regular monitoring and treatment. Hearing loss does not have to stop you from living the life you want. Read about Cochlear recipient and volunteer Marty G., who shows how taking action can be the first step toward living life to the fullest.
My name is Marty G., and at age 69, with a Nucleus® 7 Sound Processor in my right ear and a hearing aid in my left, I feel so fortunate to be able to hear even better than I did many years ago with two hearing aids.
How my hearing loss began
My hearing loss in both ears became noticeable to my husband, Mike, when I was in my mid-30s. He told me I was having strange conversations with people. It was obvious to him that I didn’t really understand what was being said. I eventually learned that my hearing loss was due to genetic factors.
My hearing was corrected in my thirties with two in-the-canal hearing aids, which were always problematic, followed by other types of hearing aids over the years. These worked well for a long time, but my hearing continued to decline. My career as a high school librarian allowed me to work with students one-on-one. This was helpful given my hearing, but I also taught larger groups. I learned to compensate by walking around the library and getting closer to students as they interacted with me.
At the age of 61, I discovered over a period of days with an earache that I had lost all hearing in my right ear.
When I consulted with my ENT and asked what I could do, he suggested speaking to my audiologist about another type of hearing aid. But my tinnitus in the right ear became so loud and distracting that I found it difficult to sleep. I became depressed.
A good friend at work suggested getting another opinion, which I did first at the Cleveland Clinic then at Ohio State University. When I learned that I qualified for a cochlear implant that could help with my hearing problems, I knew I should take that step forward. My audiologist and ENT were a huge help in my Nucleus® 5 Sound Processor activation, and for all my mappings and care until my husband and I moved to Colorado.
Creating a community of support
In addition to my rehab, there is no doubt in my mind that one of the biggest aspects of my CI journey was attending Cochlear support meetings at OSU’s clinic and elsewhere. At my second meeting, I and another recipient decided we wanted to help other Cochlear recipients in the area and created the Columbus, OH Cochlear Chapter.
Over a period of years we served more than 100 members in our community. It seemed so important to both of us that we share the benefits and joy of regaining hearing with others who might be struggling or looking for a better solution. We also had the help of a Cochlear Engagement Manager and an audiologist who devoted many evenings and hours to our group and helped provide a solid foundation of care for recipients and candidates in our area. I have since moved, but the chapter is still going strong in the Columbus, OH area.
New location, same “pay it forward” spirit
Now that my husband and I have moved to Colorado, I have been pleased to work with a local Cochlear engagement manager to begin a new northern Front Range Chapter for CI and Baha® support. We have just started meeting every other month on Saturday mornings from 10:00-noon at the Lafayette Public Library. People can find this meeting and all Cochlear events on the Cochlear website.
One piece of advice…
If I could offer one piece of advice to anyone with severe to profound hearing loss considering a cochlear implant, it would be to take the leap! Try and obtain one as soon as possible – the sooner the better. And, it might take patience, practice, and persistence to regain hearing with good comprehension, but that it’s attainable and amazing – such clear sound! Cochlear Americas continues to research and develop amazing new processors with even better accessories, and they always make sure those processors can work with all of their internal implants, going years back.
Today, I love engaging with my grandchildren, helping them learn to talk and sing. I’m able to converse on the phone easily, listen to music, and join book club discussions and gatherings with friends and family. My implant has allowed me to continue to be active at home and in my community in my retirement years.
For more information on Better Hearing and Speech Month, visit: www.soundsinevitable.com.