An 80-Year-Old With Two Cochlear Implants: Meet Barbara
80-year-old Barbara recently received bilateral cochlear implants, and shares how life has been improving for her each and every day.
“I thought to myself, “How could they possibly be as good as they claimed? Would they really be the answer to my problem?””
I was born in Richmond, Virginia, and moved to Hampton 57 years ago when I married. I have three children, five grandchildren, and a pug dog! I’m retired now, but worked as a special education co-teacher in an elementary school, including for the hearing disabled. In my spare time, I like to do a great deal of reading and art work, and I enjoy doing work at my church.
It is thought that perhaps my hearing loss was gradual over a number of years, but one specific cause has never been established. I wore hearing aids on both ears for roughly 40 years, until even the strongest of them did nothing for me in terms of hearing better. After extensive testing from ENT specialists, my medical professional said that two cochlear implants were in order. I thought to myself, “How could they possibly be as good as they claimed? Would they really be the answer to my problem?”
“I resorted more and more to writing articles and reading, rather than involving myself in conversation.”
I read anything and everything I could find about cochlear implants and exactly what it could do. Because of my hearing loss, I had begun to withdraw from family conversations and make myself less noticeable all the time. I resorted more and more to writing articles and reading, rather than involving myself in conversation. I had lost the ability to hear music at all and that was a tremendous loss of enjoyment for me. I had learned to lip read several years ago and could “sign” well enough to get along, but to no great avail. Overall I was falling further and further behind in socially-connected things, from attending church, to being with family. Every year in October, I used to drive to the mountains to visit my son and his family who live there. Sadly I had to stop driving, and talking on the phone with my family, because hearing was mandatory for these things. Hearing loss was affecting so many areas of my life that I finally decided to go ahead with getting cochlear implants.
“When I heard the squeak of the office chair for the first time in years, it took me by such surprise that I nearly jumped out of my chair.”
All the people to whom I spoke about this were tremendously pleased about my decision. My first cochlear implant was done on February 15, 2016. It was an awesome experience that I will never forget. The first words I heard with my first implant were “Why are you crying, Barbara?” My answer to that was, “What a wonderful sound I am receiving!” I heard good sound from the first minute of connection. When I heard the squeak of the office chair for the first time in years, it took me by such surprise that I nearly jumped out of my chair. Thunder is another sound that I had to readjust to.
My surgeon had said that two implants would be recommended since sound was almost nil in both ears. I had no problem going forward with the second implant, and what a great reward this has been. My second cochlear implant was done on January 24, 2017, with the same great results. Learning to use the cochlear implants was a very gratifying and enjoyable experience. Life has improved for me in that I can now hear things so clearly and loudly.
“I simply cannot imagine being without my implants from day to day.”
When I think back, I’m truly surprised how I went without hearing at all for the two years before getting my cochlear implants, as I cannot imagine not having my implants now. I simply cannot imagine being without my implants from day to day. After my glasses in the mornings, my implants are the next things I take care of, even before breakfast or dressing for the day. Several people have talked with me and are interested in how my implants work. I am more than happy to share information about one of the best things that has ever happened to my family and me.
“What a great feeling and sense of independence this is to once again drive when I want or need to.”
There are so many new sounds for me that I had not heard for many years. Now, I can hear the ticking of clocks in the house—sometimes I even have to double check myself to be sure that is what I hear! As funny as this may seem, I can even hear my pug dog when she snores in the next room—it is so great to have this sound now! Music is once again a great part of my world of enjoyment—I can hear it again in a glorious way. In fact, this week, I acquired a violin and intend to try to learn to play, at least for my enjoyment. This has always been a true desire of mine. When I tucked it beneath my chin last night, it was like a new world opening for me.
Last October, I was once again able to drive on my own and visit my son and his family in the Pocono Mountains. What a great feeling and sense of independence this is to once again drive when I want or need to. I am still very mindful of traffic around me, which one certainly needs to do in today’s driving. I can also now use the phone and talk with my family, something which I haven’t been able to do for a number of years.
“I am totally involved in conversation with family and friends and feel as if I am part of life again.”
From where I sit on Sunday mornings in church, I can now hear the minister 100% with my implants. I get a lot from the sermon and the piano and organ music that we have. What a blessing these are for me now that I can enjoy hearing them in church! I have always tended to be somewhat of an extrovert—I want to be around people and go places and do things. This had stopped because of my hearing loss. Now, with cochlear implants, I enjoy all of these much-wanted parts of life. I am totally involved in conversations with family and friends when I see them, and feel as if I am part of life again.
Now, life is good! I firmly believe that if one wants to enjoy all aspects of life, an implant is the epitome of offering that pleasure—whether you’re young or old. It is truly worth the time it would take. I would strongly encourage anyone to “have a go at it” if cochlear implants were an option for them to hear. They will give them the opportunity to hear ANYTHING that is on this earth! I have spoken to several people about how good my cochlear implants are. All who know me, know how much my speaking and hearing has now improved. I thank MED-EL for giving me sound once again and making my life so much better.
Does this story sound familiar to you? Do you or someone you know have hearing loss and want to look at more options? Get in contact with a MED-EL Representative today.
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