Micah B. dealt with hearing loss his whole life; when his hearing loss declined so much that he was a cochlear implant candidate, he didn’t hesitate to move forward because he wanted to be an active family man. Micah upgraded his sound processors, and the Cochlear™ Nucleus® 7 Sound Processor connectivity has changed the way he experiences music, sports and connections with his family:
“My journey as a cochlear implant recipient has been an amazing one. In fact, it has been life changing.
I was born with hearing loss, but I wasn’t diagnosed until age 4. A few months later, I was fitted with hearing aids. From the time I started kindergarten, I was put into a mainstream school and attended regular classes like most other kids. Although I was not the most athletic kid and had some balance issues, I participated in sports, including baseball and basketball. I still love sports to this day.
While growing up, I did mostly fine with hearing aids. I was able to hear the TV, listen to music and participate in conversations like most other people. I’m not going to say it was perfect, because it wasn’t. It was hard to hear in restaurants. Lip reading was essential to any conversations. Listening to sports on TV, as much as I love them, was problematic. I would hear more of the crowd at the game than I would the announcers. I would have to turn the TV up loudly and/or turn the captions on to understand what was being said. I got by.
Challenges when my hearing loss got worse
That is, until the spring of 2008. I had just turned 32, and my worst fear had been realized: my hearing took a significant turn for the worst. My then fiancé and I were living in Atlanta, Georgia. I woke up one day and my hearing just didn’t seem sharp. I was missing things and sounds just seemed muffled. I can remember going to an Atlanta Braves baseball game and struggling to hear anything. Sounds would be muffled for a couple of weeks, and then my hearing would return. However, each time the hearing returned, it seemed like it was not good as it was before. This went on for months. I went to see a doctor, and numerous tests and imaging were done. None of them provided any answers. I was frustrated and sad.
After our wedding in October 2008, I took a transfer at my job and we relocated to Connecticut. Shortly after our arrival, we discovered we were going to have a baby. I was going to be a father and it was going to be a boy. I was over the moon!
A few months later, my hearing went out again, and this time and it was more prolonged than it had been previously. Weeks and months went by and my hearing didn’t return. I was even more frustrated at this point. I was responsible for remotely managing a team of about 15 employees at work, and communication by phone was critical. Additionally, as excited as a was about becoming a father, panic was also starting to set in. I was worried about the things I would miss. I was imagining my son saying, ‘dada,’ for the first time and not being able to hear it. Something had to be done.
Deciding to move forward with a cochlear implant
I contacted the local Ivy League university and made an appointment with the audiology department there. They ordered some tests, but there were no definitive answers about what was causing my hearing to worsen. While they may not have had answers, they did offer a solution. I can remember my audiologist saying, ‘So, what do you know about cochlear implants?’ While I had heard of them, I really didn’t know much about them.
The audiologist told me about the technology, and that there were a few different cochlear implant companies out there. However, she strongly suggested Cochlear because of their reputation for technology advancements and their outstanding customer support. After a long conversation, she asked if I wanted to go home and think about having the surgery, and I decided that I didn’t need to do that. I wanted to have the surgery as soon as possible. I had a son coming in three months.
New experiences hearing again with my cochlear implant
In May 2009, I was implanted on my right side. A few weeks later, I was activated. When the implant was turned on, all I could hear was what I thought was a buzzing sound. It seemed at first like a fan was going. I asked the audiologist what the sound was, and he seemed puzzled. He didn’t hear a fan. Then all of a sudden, I realized what I was hearing was his speech! I guess it took my brain a few minutes to catch up because I hadn’t heard speech clearly in so long. I was elated. I could hear again!
My son, Anthony, was born July 13. I could hear his cry, and it was the sweetest sound I thought I might never hear. As he got older and began to talk, I was leaving for work one day. I heard the words, ‘bye, bye dada.’ It was a moment that was not lost on me. If not for Cochlear, I would have missed those precious words.
Three years later, I was implanted on my left side. Being bilaterally implanted was even better, because I can now hear on both sides. This made conversations, in particular, much easier. However, one thing that I was still struggling with was music. I could hear and understand music that I knew prior to my hearing failing, but understanding any new music was challenging.
Upgrading to Nucleus 7 connectivity
In October 2018, I upgraded to the Nucleus 7 Sound Processors. One of the things I was most excited about is the fact that the Nucleus 7 Sound Processors have iPhone® compatibility and Bluetooth® technology.123
I couldn’t wait to get the new processors activated, so I set up an appointment with my audiologist the day after they arrived. Once the processors were activated and paired with my phone, I called a friend and I was just in awe. I was amazed that I could hear so clearly and didn’t have to use the telecoil function! On the way home, I immediately opened my Spotify®4 app and played some music; it was crystal clear!
Nearly every night I use FaceTime® to call my son, and the sound is just incredible. I now listen to music almost every day too, even new music! With the Aqua+ accessory5, I can also swim with the processors on, which is amazing because I’ve never been able swim and hear at the same time! Another feature I use every day is the True WirelessTM TV Streamer. This little device connects to the TV and connects wirelessly to my processors. With the TV Streamer, the sound from the TV streams directly into my Nucleus 7 Sound Processors, and I can hear perfectly. I can now hear the announcers during sports games, and because of this it is a much more pleasurable experience, and people in the room with me don’t have to worry about the TV being too loud for them.
I am completely grateful for Cochlear Americas’ innovative products, as they truly have changed my life in ways I never thought were possible.”
If you’re looking for the best in connectivity as you’re considering going forward with a cochlear implant, find out more about the Nucleus 7 Sound Processor’s connectivity.
- For compatibility information, visit www.cochlear.com/compatibility.
- iPhone and FaceTime are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries.
- The Bluetooth® word mark and logos are registered trademarks owned by Bluetooth SIG, Inc. and any use of such marks by Cochlear is under license.
- © 2020 Spotify AB
- The Nucleus 7 Sound Processor with Aqua+ is water resistant to level IP68 of the International Standard IEC60529. This water protection rating means that the sound processor with the Aqua+ can be continuously submerged under water to a depth of 3 m (9 ft and 9 in) for up to 2 hours. This water protection only applies when you use a Cochlear Standard Rechargeable Battery Module or Cochlear Compact Rechargeable Battery Module.