Meet David E., a bilateral Nucleus® 6 recipient. After his Cochlear Implants gave him the gift of sound, he decided to help others by becoming a Cochlear volunteer and sharing his story. Below, he recalls his journey from silence to sound:
I have the Nucleus 6 from Cochlear Americas for both ears, bilateral. When I made the decision, I could not hear any sounds in the high frequencies, which is where you hear all the consonants in our English language. Sounds like the “th”, “s,” “ph.” I hate to admit that I was married before I learned that one thousand wasn’t pronounced “one fousand.”
So, I have never heard those sounds all my life. As a result, my word comprehension was 4% in my left ear and 24% in my right ear. Not only could I not understand but I was deaf in any sound that was above the 1000 Hz. Sounds like the microwave going off at the end of a cooking cycle or the coo-coo clock tick-tocking I could not hear.
After the implant, I could immediately hear the sounds but I had no idea what I was hearing. My brain had a lot of work to begin to learn the sounds of the world, much like an infant that had just been born. The world became a very noisy place suddenly.
The first day of activation was one of the toughest days of my life but one of the most exciting days all wrapped in one. The sounds were overwhelming, my “quiet” world had been overturned and I had a difficult time attempting to hold a thought while all this noise was going on. However, soon my brain began to make some sense of all this noise and it was tolerable. I didn’t give up, I kept wearing my implants from sun up to sun down, even though I couldn’t understand a word that was being said for three months in my left ear.
Then one day, the light switch went on in my brain. I was driving down the freeway attempting to listen to a talk radio show and I finally realized that I was understanding what was being said in my left ear. I had to pull off the freeway as tears began streaming down my face. My brain had finally begun to understand the world of sounds and make sense out of them.
After 4 years, my brain is still adjusting and learning more sounds. I have made another major jump in my hearing. I had to tell a clerk at the county court house not to talk so loud! It feels as though I am now understanding even higher than the 85% I scored a couple of months ago with my new audiologist.
It takes time, it takes practice, only practice can make anything perfect. It takes patience, my success didn’t come overnight, in fact I just told you that 4 years after the implant I noticed a dramatic improvement in my hearing, here again, it happened just like turning on a light switch. That jump happened instantly and I am not sure I even recognized it until my wife had to tell me I was talking too loud and to tone it down! I had no idea, I was just talking loud enough to overcome the sounds going on around me.
Persistence is critically important! But sitting on top of all those attributes you must possess, the most critical is a positive attitude. You must believe this is going to work. Just as a professional golfer believes he is going to make that dramatic putt to win the Master’s golf tournament, it would never happen if he didn’t believe he could do it.
So, take those 3 P’s and make the decision to get cochlear implants, no matter what the company, you have so much hope ahead of you. And you too can be given a new life at the age of 67!
My only regret is that I didn’t make this decision sooner. There is no going back now. Watch out world, a hearing and understanding monster has been let loose!
Learn more about becoming a Cochlear volunteer here!
*Views expressed by Cochlear recipients and hearing health providers are those of the individual. Consult your hearing health provider to determine if you are a candidate for Cochlear technology. Outcomes and results may vary.