If you’ve chosen to get a cochlear implant, or have just received one, congratulations! It’s a big and exciting step towards connecting with all the sounds in your life.
To get you off on the right foot, we’ve put together this information that you can use before getting your cochlear implant: before the surgery, or before activation.
Before Your Cochlear Implant Surgery
Cochlear implantation is a straightforward procedure, and in some hospitals you can go home the same day. Here are a few ways that you can prepare to make sure that it’s a comfortable and easy time.
- If you currently wear a hearing aid, bring it along. Make sure that you know where it is at all times. When nurses are making your bed, wear it in place, or store it in a safe place. Don’t keep it in a napkin or handkerchief, because that can end up with your hearing aid being accidentally dumped in the trash bin.
- If you’re using medication, tell your doctor and medical team in advance. This will make sure that your doctor gives you the right medications and the right anesthesia.
- Then, after your surgery, your surgeon will likely give you some information about how to best recover. This will include information like how long to keep your bandage on your head, activities that you should or should not do, and other recovery-related tips.
- When your doctor tells you some new or important information, repeat it back to them to make sure you have understood them right. If you’re not sure, clarify this with them by asking them to repeat the information in another way, or ask them to write it down for you.
- Write down the important hearing dates for your next month: when (and where) will you have your activation? Will you need to do any follow-up with your surgeon or audiologist before then?
Afterwards your main goal should be to rest, recover and relax. After all, it won’t be long before you’ll start hearing with your cochlear implant!
Before Your Audio Processor Activation
After you’ve received your implant and are home from the hospital, it’s all about waiting and getting ready for your cochlear implant activation. That’s the day when you’ll start using the external part of your cochlear implant—your audio processor—to hear sounds. The date of your activation can vary from place to place, and it usually happens between 2 and 6 weeks after you get out of the hospital from your surgery.
Now’s a good time to get yourself familiarized with the different aspects of hearing with a cochlear implant: the different specialists you’ll meet, the terms and jargon you might hear them use, and the rehabilitation exercises that will help you to hear your best.
For example, here are some of the different specialists who you might work with:
- Ear, Nose, and Throat Specialist (ENT). Since you’ve got a cochlear implant, you’ve likely already met with an ENT Specialist. After your activation, they’re the ones who you will see if you’ve got any questions about the health of your ear.
- Audiologist. An audiologist is the specialist who will activate your cochlear implant, and they’re also the one who will help you in follow-up counseling, subsequent fittings, understanding your cochlear implant technology and some rehabilitation.
- Hearing Therapist. Hearing therapists are specialists who help with hearing assessments, setting expectations, and some rehabilitation activities.
- Speech & Language Pathologist/Therapist (SLP/T). A SLP/T helps monitor your hearing progress over time, assess your listening, speech and language needs, develop and work on communication goals with you, and answers questions you might have about your communication.
There are lots of other professionals who focus on hearing and cochlear implants, and you can learn about their roles in our blog post about hearing loss professionals.
And here are some of the more common hearing-related terms you might hear.
- Hearing: being able to perceive sound, in general
- Detection: being able to tell that a specific sound exists
- Listening: paying attention to, or trying to hear, a specific sound
- Discrimination: being able to tell the difference between different sounds
For more terms and definitions, check out our blog article with a bigger list of hearing-related terms.
Finally, you can prepare for rehabilitation. Rehabilitation is an umbrella term for all the different activities that can help you to hear better with your cochlear implant: from structured listening exercises at your clinic, to listening to audiobooks or playing games at home.
We’ve got hundreds of different rehabilitation tips and tricks here on the blog, and you can read them all in our cochlear implant tips & trips section.
After your cochlear implant activation there’s lots to do—and we’ve got the information to make it easier to start hearing. Here are a few blog posts about what to expect in your first months of hearing:
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