Leah’s Story

April 13th, 2009 by | Tags: , | Comments Off

Leah is another cochlear implant recipient whom I met at the Cochlear Celebration. She was part of the gang along with Elizabeth, Michelle, Amy, Rhianon and Jennifer at Disneyland where we all shared incredible moments together. Leah is a recent graduate of Chapman University where she studied filmmaking. She currently has her own business in graphic design. Here is her story:

I was born with a profound sensorineural hearing loss. I was fitted with hearing aids at two weeks old and continued to wear them for several years. I struggled as my hearing got progressively worse. I reached the point of being unresponsive in both ears, even with hearing aids.

In 1992, my parents and I made the decision for me to get the cochlear implant. It was only two years before that the FDA approved implantation into children. At this time, Cochlear would only consider patients with profound hearing losses and I was a good candidate for the cochlear implant. So the day after my 9th birthday, I was implanted with a Nucleus 22 device on my right ear.

I remember the day when I went in for my first map. When my implant was turned on for the first time, I immediately heard a crinkling sound. It was so shrill and a sound very unfamiliar to me. “What is that noise?” I asked. My audiologist told me that it was my mother fiddling with the candy wrapper. And I vividly remember the expression on my mother’s face – a look of shock, amazement and overwhelming happiness.
So after that first day getting my implant activated, I entered a world of sound. As I heard new sounds every day, I’d ask “What’s that?”, every day.

I was always enrolled in intensive auditory-verbal therapy (still am), was mainstreamed my entire life, went to regular schools and excelled in all my classes. I was very active in softball, horseback riding and even learned to play the flute after my first Cochlear Implant.

I was recently implanted with the Freedom device on my left ear (at the end of 2007), and I’m still getting used to it.

I’m hoping to meet other cochlear implant users through this network, learn their stories and make friends. I’d love to find people that I can relate with — in the rewards of the cochlear implant and the challenges that we face with having a hearing loss. Please say hi!

(A little cool tidbit – I was featured on the Discovery Channel program in 1996 on cochlear implants, with William House and an Australian inventor of the multi-channel implant.)

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