I love love love the new Beauty and the Beast movie. One of the best parts, of course, is the Beast’s library, so I wrote “Belle Would Be Enchanted by These 10 Lovely Libraries in Hotels” for USA Today 10Best.Read All Entries
how a cochlear implant improved my dad’s life
When I told my dad Cochlear was sponsoring this post so I could share his story, he was thrilled.
You see, my dad had a cochlear implant nine years ago at the age of 79. He had lost all hearing in his left ear after being exposed to extremely loud noises – the kind many of us are exposed to regularly – on a couple of occasions.
Back in 1964, a mechanical sound from an amplifier during a show rehearsal at the high school where he worked affected the hearing in his left ear to such a degree that he hasn’t used that ear when he talks on the phone since then.
My dad wrote to the University of Virginia in Charlottesville after reading about work they were doing in the field, and he got back a letter saying it would probably be another 20 years until there would actually be something on the market.
In 1971, a very loud rock concert in his school auditorium exacerbated the damage that had already been done, and, thanks to a hearing aid for his right ear, he considers himself lucky that he was able to keep up with his job at the time.
Once computers came along, my dad spent hours researching options for his hearing loss. He kept reading about cochlear implants and asked his doctor about them. He was told that he wasn’t a candidate.
By the time my parents moved to California from New York in 2005, my dad was determined to do something about his hearing, which was getting worse. He went regularly to support groups in Orange County, where he met Dr. John Vaughan, who changed my dad’s life when he told him he was ready for a cochlear implant. He explained that, because my dad had sensorineural hearing loss, a cochlear implant would probably make a huge difference.
He was right. Two weeks after his surgery, my dad was driving to his two-week evaluation and vividly remembers hearing the “click click” of the car’s directional signal in his left ear for the first time in years.
“It was amazing,” he says. “I could participate in life again, and I was so happy to be able to pick up more of conversations and enjoy the clarity of listening to audiobooks.”
I told my dad that Cochlear was trying to raise awareness about cochlear implants as an option for children with hearing loss, and he shared with me the story of a woman who came up to him in Quizno’s because she saw his device. She told him about her son and wanted to know how he felt about his cochlear implant and whether he would recommend it.
“Is there a different word for ‘miraculous?’’ he asked. “Why wouldn’t you want to open the whole world up for your child?”
My dad believes that there’s a loneliness that comes with hearing loss, and that the cochlear implant eliminates that feeling.
“If you can’t hear, you plant yourself in a corner,” he says. When he was in the hospital last year, he had to take off his outer microphone and couldn’t communicate with the doctors and nurses because he simply couldn’t hear them.
Once the device was back on, one of the rehab therapists told him, “You’re a completely different person.”
“I couldn’t even be having this conversation with you now if it weren’t for the cochlear implant,” my dad points out.
I’m grateful to Cochlear for giving me this opportunity to talk to my dad about a topic that he’s so passionate about, and I know he is, too.
“If someone actually got help for their child because of what I said, that would be such a gift to me,” he says.
Note: My dad is happy to answer any specific questions so please feel free to leave them in the comments or send them to me at email@example.com. And check out IWantYouToHear.com to learn more.