My Cochlear Implant

I have now had my final decision appointment. It was good news and all my tests went well and I have been told that my funding is in place and I should get the operation in around 3 to 4 months. That seems a long way away but I’m sure the time will fly as it’s already nearly March and I can’t remember where Jan and Feb have gone!!!

 After I was told I would definitely get my implant I was taken into a room with an audiologist and asked to choose which make of implant I wanted. Now luckily i have been a busy bee and done a lot of research as to which ones would suit me best and had pretty much made my mind up before hand. I’m glad I did because the hospital give you very little information to go on and to suddenly have to choose between 3 there and then could be very tricky. I mean, this is something I’m going to have in my head for the rest of my life!!! Quite a big decision don’t you think?

 I have mentioned in previous posts the 3 makes of CI. In case you haven’t read that bit here is a reminder. Click on each one to see for yourself what they are all about.

Cochlear

Med-El

Advanced Bionics

 I can tell you now that had I not done any research I would have gone for the Cochlear one. Not only is it the smallest of all the units it comes with a fancy looking remote control too!!! Cool……….!!

Now I have done my research I have actually gone for the Advanced Bionics one which actually is the biggest of all the units at the moment! Why? I hear you shout!!

Well. When it comes to the technology all the makes are pretty impressive. But…………the AB one seems to offer more for me now and more importantly more for me in the future!! These diagrams should show you more easily what I mean.

 

Although the performance of the unit is important I made up my mind based on what future each make offered me. On the technology side it seemed that Cochlear was nearly at full capacity, where as Med-El and AB had more scope to upgrade and improve its software without further operations. There are lots more detailed and accurate stats out there but these go straight over my head. I have to think what is important to me. Therefore, I plumped for the AB!!

It did surprise me actually that when I got to try all of them on I also found the AB to be the most comfortable. Although the biggest it sat much more neatly behind the ear and the microphone sits in the ear canal which seems to make more sense as it uses the natural shape of the ear to capture the sound.

Here is what my CI looks like:

The top part of the diagram is the external part of the unit (the processor) which is worn behind the ear with the wire attached to the small disc which itself attaches to the implant magnetically!! I can just imagine it now………..I go to a friends for a couple of quiet beers and leave with a bottle top attached to my head!!

The bottom part of the diagram is the actual implant that goes inside my head with the long thin electrode that gets inserted into the cochlear! Aaaargh………scary!! 😉

This picture give you a better idea of what the inner ear and cochlear look like. It is obviously a fairly dangerous operation (as most are!) but I have been warned that I may temporarily lose some feeling down that side of the face as well as some taste. Although my wife says I never had any taste anyway!! 🙂 (Apart from when I asked her on a date of course!!)

The operation takes 3 to 5 hours but you are in and out in a day and then I will have to wait another 3 to 4 weeks before the actual switch on!!

A lot of people think that this operation will make me hear again. Unfortunately this is not the case. I will still be deaf. I will just have a clever bit of bionic technology in my head to help me hear things more clearly (I hope). How well I get on with it depends on my brain and how well it is able to convert the sounds I receive through the implant into recognisable sounds that I can understand. This is where the re-hab part comes in. Some recipients take a long time to adjust and some go home the day of switch on and can converse with their wife / husband without having to turn and read their lips. Quite dangerous if you are the driver!!!

My advice to anyone thinking about having a CI is DO YOUR RESEARCH & make the decision on what you feel most comfortable with. Dont be afraid to ask questions because there are lots of friendly people out there who have been through it and come out the other side smiling…………and hearing!! 🙂 Check out some of my links on the blogroll for helpful places to find information.

Now I have to bide my time until the operation and try to carry on as normal whilst looking forward to finally getting my bionic ear!!

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2 Comments »

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  1. Well done Graham on looking past the marketing blurb. It’s a shame that the NHS are so stretched they can’t give appropriate advice and support. It’s a huge decision to make, a bit like choosing between a skateboard, a Mini or a Ferrari – they will all get us from A to B but I know which I’d prefer! I agree, I thought the AB one was the most comfortable but then I do have big ears – it’s all the more to hear with! I thought it felt very similar to wearing a hearing aid, so … *shrugs*

    I’ve added rehab links to my blog’s CI page so that should help you out a bit.

  2. Hi Graham!

    You chose wisely when you picked Advanced Bionics, as they have the best electronics on the implant itself. Your friend Tina Lannin has done an excellent job researching her choice; and in fact got `planted just two days ago!

    Take a look at the blog of my buddy Katie-louise “Bionic Bailey” as she can show you you how to manage your implant processor while playing sports.

    Both Katie-louise and her pal Amanda Glasspell (blog) are part of the new Volunteer Mentor program, where you have someone who already has a CI hold your hand throughout the process. This is an extension of the very successful BEA Mentor Program here in America… And having gone through it myself, I can tell you it rocks! In fact, Amanda was Tina’s Mentor, inaugurating the program on your side of the Atlantic.

    I’ll send Facebook friend suggestions between you and Amanda & Katie-louise.

    Also, ClearVoice technology is being rolled out across England in the next 2-3 weeks; and it is available already in Canada. Unfortunately, it is waiting for FDA approval here in America.


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