Why a Surgeon Chose a MED-EL Cochlear Implant
When Jason’s hearing loss started affecting his daily communication, he decided to go for a cochlear implant. In this article, the 46-year-old surgeon and CI user shares why he selected a MED-EL device, what benefits it brought him, and how close his CI hearing is to his natural hearing.
My name is Jason. I am 46 years old, born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and currently residing there. I’m a physician specializing in cosmetic surgery of the body and face. My hobbies include cars and car racing, running, fitness, as well as attending theater productions.
“Cookie Bite” Hearing Loss Diagnosis
My hearing loss began in college; however, I didn’t think much of it until near the end of my surgical residency when a colleague brought it to my attention. I had a hearing test about six months later and was diagnosed with “cookie bite” hearing loss which is a type of sensorineural hearing loss. I was fitted with a pair of hearing aids which made a difference.
However, over the next decade, my hearing declined to the point where it was difficult to function in daily life and the hearing aids made no difference in my word recognition anymore. I found out that my hearing loss is genetic. Unfortunately, my family really knew nothing about it–only that there were some relatives who were hard of hearing. No one told me that my hearing loss would likely be progressive.
Social Isolation Due to Hearing Loss
As time went on and the hearing aids gave less and less of a benefit, my world began to shrink socially. Work became more and more difficult. As time went on, there were many embarrassing situations almost daily: answering a question completely wrong, not being able to order things at stores and restaurants, or seeming like I was completely aloof because I didn’t hear something. My wife was my support during that time, and she did most of the navigating and talking in public as well as answering or clarifying questions. When my wife wasn’t around, my daughter would take on this role. If neither of them was with me, I just got used to the awkward situations and embarrassment.
Researching a Solution for Hearing Loss
I did a lot of research prior to choosing an implant company. MED-EL was the company I decided to go with because of the electrode. Having an electrode that covers the second turn of the cochlea made sense because the pitches were matched closer to natural hearing. This not only gave me the best chance at things sounding normal but also the best chance at music appreciation.
Waiting Five Years to Get a Cochlear Implant
It took me five years to go for the implant after my initial consultation. My first appointment with the surgeon was just to see what my options might be, and I really wasn’t expecting to be a candidate. I went home from that appointment and cried.
I thought this was the end. Now I realize it was the beginning.
Once everyone was wearing a mask for COVID, I realized just how much I had been relying on lip reading. Communication became extremely difficult. That’s when I knew I needed to do something. That’s when I decided to get implanted.
Close to Natural Hearing With My Cochlear Implant
The morning after activation, I went downstairs and poured my coffee. All of that sounded perfectly normal—everything else that day didn’t. But although people sounded weird, I could understand everyone when they talked to me. Prior to activation, I couldn’t understand a word with that ear. Every day, more and more things started to sound like before my hearing loss. About a month later, I started getting very good bass tones. It took about three to four months for everything to sound normal.
Today, my CI hearing is very natural. There were some sounds that took longer to get back than others, but the sound quality is nearly the same as with my natural hearing.
The Advantages of My RONDO 3 Audio Processor
I have a RONDO 3 as well as a SONNET 2 audio processor. The RONDO 3 is the processor I use daily. The sound quality with my MED-EL device is great. Everything sounds like I remember my normal hearing being prior to losing my hearing. With the RONDO 3 audio processor, I like not having anything on my ear after years of wearing hearing aids. Not having to worry about batteries is another big plus. I just place RONDO 3 on the charging pad every night, and in the morning, it’s good to go for the whole day. It’s also been fantastic to run and hear sounds. I couldn’t wear hearing aids when I would go out for a run because the sweat would shut them off. RONDO 3 can handle my sweating easily.
My Rehab Activities After CI Activation
I used different rehab apps and had my family say lists of words to me while covering their mouths. On the way home from activation, my wife played “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey. I listened to that song every day for probably four months. It’s amazing how it changed over time. The other thing I did since I could understand words right away was to not use my hearing aid at all for the first month.
My favorite sounds are people’s voices since I can now understand them, a good electric guitar solo, and electronic music. Today, I can enjoy all these sounds again despite hearing loss.
The Benefits of Getting a Cochlear Implant
- Getting implanted has really helped my confidence. My anxiety about not being able to hear in certain situations is gone.
- I’m not mentally drained in the evening from trying to hear all day.
- I have also been able to move into a leadership role at work and participate in large meetings. I can now hear everything, even people on speakerphone.
- My relationship with my wife and daughter has improved since I can participate in conversations now.
- As my wife is a classically trained singer, she participates in a lot of musical theater productions. It is great to be able to enjoy hearing her sing and perform again.
My Advice for Others With Hearing Loss
Hearing loss disconnects you from the world and the people around you. This can affect your mental, emotional, and even physical health. My world got smaller with each passing year as my hearing worsened.
While a cochlear implant won’t bring back your natural hearing, it is the next best thing and has opened the world for me once again.
If you have hearing loss, I can advise you not to hesitate and do whatever you can to treat hearing loss. Advocate for yourself instead of trying to hide your hearing loss–because chances are you can’t hide it anyway. If you qualify for a cochlear implant, have the surgery. Knowing what I know now, I waited five years too long, and that’s time I could have been hearing that I can’t get back.
Thank you, Jason!
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The content on this website is for general informational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. Please contact your doctor or hearing specialist to learn what type of hearing solution is suitable for your specific needs. Not all products, features, or indications shown are approved in all countries.