Now here’s a special cochlear implant story from a MED-EL recipient. Michele Alexander has bilateral MED-EL RONDOs, and was recently invited to have an on-air radio interview with Steve Mills and Basil Zempilas of the 6PR Breakfast radio show in Australia. We’ve got audio of the interview, and thought that you might like to hear her first-hand experiences since receiving her RONDOs. Click on the “Play” button above to listen to the whole video (4:18 in length), or keep reading for a full transcript.
SM: This is a really interesting story. Michele Alexander’s gonna help us out. She’s wearing a device which is the world’s first single-unit processor for cochlear implants. So what it doesn’t have any more is that you don’t have a separate hook or separate cord or cable and the whole implant is actually inside the ear so you can cover it with hair, you wouldn’t even know you’ve got it in there which is a huge development in this area. Michele’s joining us right now, I’m sure she doesn’t mind us saying she’s in our age group, she’s in her early 50s. Good morning to you.
MA: Good morning Steve.
SM: Now you’ve lost your hearing suddenly, is that correct?
MA: That’s correct, yes. About six years ago I’d already lost my hearing in one ear but it didn’t bother me, and then overnight the other ear just went.
SM: And so, you couldn’t hear a thing or it was just all muffled, what could you hear?
MA: No, it went down to about 20% so I couldn’t hear anything
SM: Now you’ve had this device in, it’s called the RONDO?
MA: Yeah, the RONDO. The MED-EL RONDO.
SM: Now you’ve got it fitted, where did you get it fitted?
MA: I got it fitted last Tuesday.
SM: Okay, and what does it actually do? Why is it different to any other form of device?
MA: Well, most people know hearing aids. They tend to be reasonably big, they fit into the ear, and then they hook over the ear. This is just, this is just like a round disc. And because I’ve already had a cochlear implant, which means that I’ve got some electrode through my cochlea in my skull and a magnet, then it just sits onto my skull with a magnet. It’s just attached. It’s fantastic.
SM: Michele, how important to you was it-is it-that that item is discreet, that most people don’t know that it’s there?
MA: Oh look, I think in the first instance I think that people are very judgmental. When I first went deaf I had this stupid idea that deafness was a weakness. Six years on I know that that’s not the case, that hasn’t changed me because I’m deaf, but it just changed people’s personalities and we become very introverted because we can’t hear properly. So, for me I’m a proud hearing aid wearer. My hair is reasonably short, but you cannot see it. But that’s not the main reason that I got these, it’s so that I can wear sunglasses. Living in Perth, you need sunglasses all the time and it’s really difficult when you’ve got hearing aids over your ears trying to wear sunglasses or glasses and things like that as well.
SM: And as far as its effectiveness and the way it works, is it good?
MA: Oh, amazing! I mean, I have to keep touching. I’ve got two actually, one on either side. I’m bilateral. And I have to keep touching them because they’re so light. I can put my hair behind my ears and think “Is it still there? Is it still there?” But obviously if it wasn’t there, I wouldn’t be able to hear.
SM: So, do you work for RONDO? Do you work for them? You sound like one of their best clients.
MA: No, I’m a business coach in Perth and when I lost my hearing six years ago my world just came crashing down and the Ear Science Institute where I go and get my audiology tests on a regular basis there’s a most amazing gentleman by the name of Professor Marcus Atlas and he was my surgeon and he just basically said, “Michele you really have no option after all the tests and everything a cochlear implant is the way to go.”
SM: Is it expensive, how much does it cost the whole process?
MA: Oh look, yes it is expensive. But was it expensive? If you can’t hear, which was my situation, then I had no life without hearing.
SM: Good on you Michele, well thanks for taking our call this morning. Good on you. Michele Alexander there.