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how a cochlear implant improved my dad’s life

Dad and meThanks to Cochlear for sponsoring this important post. All opinions 
are, as always, my own.

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.

Mom and Dady anniversary

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.

Mom, Dad, Alex

“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.”

And that’s exactly how he feels.
Mom and Dad 85 birthday

“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 lois@midlifeattheoasis.com. And check out IWantYouToHear.com to learn more.

Comments

  1. How wonderful, Lois! Your parents are beautiful! You and your dad so clearly explained how life-changing his Cochlear device is for him, it brought me to tears for you and your family. xo

  2. Helene Cohen Bludman says:

    I am so happy that your dad was helped by a cochlear implant. My dad has hearing aids but they often Dont seem to work. He can hardly hear at all. I will share this post with him — maybe he will discuss it with his doctor.

  3. My second cousin was born with severe hearing loss. She is my son’s age and when she was around 8 or 9 she had this implant. It changed her life as it did your dads. Thank goodness it helped your dad. What a wonderful story, Lois. I wish my dad had this because the hearing aids he has, worth thousands of dollars, doesn’t do the trick.

  4. How impressive your dad is, I’m sure it would have been so easy for him to give up. I am so blessed that after a ruptured eardrum my hearing came back. There were days I almost gave up.

  5. What a lovely story and so affirming of so many things. I’d like my husband to pay more attention to his ongoing hearing loss and I’ll show him this. Maybe he will.

  6. What a wonderful story! I know of a few people that have had Cochlear implants and it is just amazing!

  7. Such a happy story! I’m so glad your dad found cochlear! So wonderful that his quality of life has improved and he feels part of things! Thanks for sharing!

  8. Kimberly Dickerson says:

    This is simply awesome! I’m so glad the implant changed your dad’s life for the better. He looks very happy :).

  9. That was such a touching story, and I’m so happy for your dad that the implant has made such a tremendous difference. He is awesome!

  10. Tonya C says:

    That’s so awesome! I’m happy for your family. I’m sure this has tremendously changed his life and yours!

  11. What a great story! I don’t know anybody who have had Cochlear implants, so loved reading your post!

  12. what an amazing story – I need to share this with my cousin as she could benefit from this for sure – she lost all of her hearing in one ear from a childhood illness and partial in her other

  13. How beautiful! Thank you for sharing your Dad’s story and glad that it is helping make a world of a difference!

  14. Wow, such an amazing story! I am so happy your Dad is able to hear again! I know a few people with hearing loss and it is devastating to them.

  15. What an inspiring story! I am very happy for your father, and your photos are beautiful!

  16. By the way, I love the title of your blog! Very creative and nice!

  17. What an inspiration your dad is! I have a friend who had implants put it due to being in a grenade blast while in Afghan and he says the same thing, that it’s amazing and he truly is a different person himself now that it’s in.

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