Courtney H. got Cochlear Implants when she was young, beginning the life of an active child. From dance, camping and playing the flute, Courtney was always about trying new things. So, when she was offered an opportunity to go to a water festival in Thailand, she packed her Cochlear Aqua+ kit and went to the other side of the world to hear and experience something new. Read on to hear about her incredible trip:

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Courtney using her Cochlear Aqua+ kit“My name is Courtney H. and here is my story. At 27 years old, I went on my first international trip to Thailand, where the Aqua+* kit was an extremely useful addition to my usual Cochlear Implant toolkit. But, before I dive into Thailand, let us start at the beginning.

The beginning

I was my parent’s first child and was born in 1990.  At 9 months old, we were at a local parade, and I was fast asleep in a stroller when a fire truck passed by and honked its air horn. You guys know how loud those are, right? I did not wake up at the noise, which was the tipping point that got my parents thinking about my hearing. After some testing, they received confirmation that I was indeed profoundly deaf in both ears. My hearing loss is congenital, and we are still not sure why I was born deaf.

My first treatment to hearing loss was to try hearing aids, but after a year, those were not working. That is when my parents were presented with the idea of a cochlear implant. After much research and deliberation, they ultimately decided to move forward with getting an implant for my left ear. I got the Nucleus 22 Implant from Cochlear in January 1993. Six weeks later, I had my activation with the chest-worn processor.

Upgrades and activities

Courtney in Thailand where she used her Aqua+ KitSince then, I have upgraded to several different sound processors, all Nucleus 22 Implant compatible, such as: EsPrit 22 Sound Processor, ESPrit 3G Sound Processor, Cochlear Nucleus® Freedom® Sound Processor, and now currently the Cochlear Nucleus® 6 Sound Processor. Growing up, my parents encouraged me to be fearless and to embrace my deafness because that is just who I was. I participated in a range of activities like ballet, jazz and tap dancing through 5th grade, tennis, softball, learned how to play the flute, camped, hiked, went on family road trips, skied and snowboarded…basically, I cannot sit still for very long.

I never really truly understood the miracle of hearing until I was older. The implant opened up new opportunities to try different activities, talk to new people, listen to music and to appreciate being able to hear my favorite sound, the crash of the waves at the ocean.

Aqua+ traveling companion

Before the Nucleus 6 Sound Processor, I always missed out on fully participating during any water activities with friends and family at the lake or the pool, and I never knew what it sounded like being underwater.

Now, with the Nucleus 6 Sound Processor, I am so glad that I opted into getting the Aqua+ kit as a part of my starter kit. Do not get me wrong; I was scared to get my sound processor wet… but, boy, let me tell you, I cannot imagine not having the Aqua+ now. All of my curiosities and feelings of isolation with water were suddenly resolved after 25 years! With that, new opportunities were suddenly opened up where I might have hesitated before, like my trip to Thailand.

Courtney in Thailand, where she used her Cochlear Aqua+ kit

My sister and I started planning a trip for me to come over to Thailand to visit her. She suggested that I come during Songkran, which is the Thai New Year. Songkran is known to be a very wet holiday; the locals have huge water fights that involve buckets of water, hoses and giant squirt guns to indicate cleansing and renewal to welcome the New Year. I knew immediately that the Aqua+ would allow me to fully experience that festival.

Fully experiencing the water festival

I was running around the streets of Koh Phi Phi, Thailand with my squirt gun, there would be people spraying me with hoses and super soakers and when I went to fill up, that is when the buckets of water came. It was so amazing to be actively involved in a water activity without the worry of my sound processor getting wet. I was SOAKING wet head to toe by the end of day. While wearing the Aqua+, I was able to hear music, people laughing and was able to strike up conversations with strangers from around the world.

Prior to the Aqua+, people told me that I was not missing out on being able to hear around water or underwater, but they were wrong. It is such a unique sound! I feel like the Aqua+ added a new perspective on activities that I can try, like floating the river! I am truly grateful for all of my opportunities that my Cochlear Implant has played a big part in, and I am looking forward to traveling more and fully embracing my deafness because that is who I am.”

Are you interested in hearing around water? Learn more about the Cochlear Aqua+ kit for Cochlear Implants.

*The Nucleus 6 Sound Processors with Aqua+ and Aqua+ Coil are water resistant to level IP68 of the International Standard IEC60529 when you use a Cochlear Standard Rechargeable Battery Module or Cochlear Compact Rechargeable Battery Module. Refer to the relevant User Guide for more information.
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.