Is a Cochlear Implant really that good?

August 12, 2010 at 9:00 pm | Posted in Cochlear Implants | 15 Comments
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Since my ‘switch on’ nearly 10 weeks ago I find myself making great progress in the old sound department but with the improvements continuing on a daily basis I am finding I’m forgetting what it was like when I was just using a hearing aid.  I get asked by friends if the implant is really that good and I find myself saying………’Oh yes……….it’s 500 times better than the hearing aid’!  I should add that I can only comment on my own experiences and remind you that before my CI I was totally deaf (unaidable) in my right ear and profoundly deaf in my left ear.

So………..why is the CI so much better than the HA??  For me it’s easy.  All I have to do is take my CI off and put my HA in.  Voila!!  I can now hear sod all apart from loud tinny sounds that I have to really concentrate on to work out what it is.  If I was to have a conversation now with just the HA I would have to turn my ear towards that person, screw up my eyes and really focus on the mouth of that person…………..then I would have to say………’sorry, I didn’t quite get that………..what did you say’?

I hate the sound of my HA so much now and the quality of sound that I get from it is so poor it actually messes with my CI sound!!  I therefore have ditched the HA………….not quite for good……..as I am going to try to get it re-tuned next month……….but pretty much forever!!!  Yay!!

I think the CI is so good that the only thing I can think of that HA’s are better than CI’s with is the batteries!!  That’s it!!  The CI out ranks, out performs and out thinks the HA on every other level!!

So, what am I able to do now that I couldn’t before??  The list is endless and everything I am about to mention I was not able to do or hear with the HA:-

I can hear simple every day sounds like the Kettle, Microwave, Fridge beeping to tell me I’d left it open, a knock at the door, traffic noise, birds singing, a bumble bee buzzing nearby, the squeak on the kitchen door, my cats meowing and purring…………as I said, the list goes on!!!  Environmental sounds are pretty much normal!!
Now the harder stuff to master!!
I can listen to my MP3 player and enjoy 80% of the music I play!
I can listen to a Harry Potter audio book and make out 99% of the words!
I can hear the TV and use the subtitles (some programmes differ) only as and aid not a requirement!
I can use the mobile phone for simple conversations with familiar voices! (I still have a lot of work to do on this!)
In the last week I have found that I am able ear wig on conversations in the car and join in the chat too, whilst sitting in the front and hearing what was being said in the back seat!!
I have also been able to use the phone to hear and answer security questions about my bank account before having to hand the phone back to a member of the bank staff to finish the conversation for me.  That was tough but satisfying at the same time.
I have been able to attend a social event with loud music and have conversations with people without struggling too much!!  I did have to stop one person and asked if they were from Ireland…………as I was struggling to make out her words!!  At least I could tell where she was from!!
All in all the CI IS 500 times better than the HA if you have profound hearing loss!!  Remember, all mentioned above was impossible to achieve with just the HA!!Other pro’s are it is so much more comfortable to wear!  No more horrible plastic ear pieces and no more horrible feedback and buzzing when laughing or eating!!I have the Advanced Bionics and I’m glad I have chosen this model over the others.  The sound quality at the moment is equal to if not better than the MedEl or Cochlear makes (although this is a contentious subject with users of the other makes).  All implants work well and whichever anyone chooses will do well for them.  I prefer the AB for other reasons.  The AB has a microphone that sits nicely in the ear canal and uses the natural shape of the ear to capture the sound and send it into my brain.  This also means that when using a telephone you can just put it to your ear like a hearing person would rather than hover it over the mic at the top of the ear.  I also like the fact that I have 4 rechargeable batteries, rather than throw aways, that last between 8 and 12 hours a day.  As long as I remember to charge them and carry a spare with me!!!  The AB also has a clever bit of software called ClearVoice which acts to soften harsh sounds and make everyday listening even more comfortable.

A slight word of caution………..the CI is never going to be perfect and I will always need it to help me hear….

BUT……

Is a Cochlear Implant really that good?  You bet your life it is!! 

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