Abigael’s Story

January 24th, 2008 by | Tags: , , | 2 Comments »

I met Abigael last year at the Cochlear Celebration. She was one of the 2007 Graeme Clark Scholarship winners. She was raised with SEE and the oral approach. Despite being born born profoundly deaf and not receiving her cochlear implant until 11 years old, she hears well and speaks with only a slight deaf accent. She’s currently at Utah State University studying Deaf Education. Here is Abigael’s story:

I have always been mainstreamed since pre- school. My parents say that I was such a determined child that I did not even really understand that life was different for me until 2nd grade. Working hard on listening and speaking were just normal for me.

In May of 1999, at the age of 11, I finally received my cochlear implant! I had tried to receive on several years earlier but had not been a good candidate at the time. So, when the day arrived I was very excited, but I was incredibly nervous just the same. By now I was in 5th grade and I really wanted to hear better. I wanted to join in a conversation with my friends to be aware of things around me and I really wanted to enhance my speech. During surgery they found an unusual substance in my cochlea and they debated on continuing the operation but Dr. Marion believed it could still be a successful operation. They had to implant different than usual, with the exception of Dr. Marion the team of doctors said it was not a doable surgery on me. Dr. Marion had a strong impression to attempt a new technique he had never tried. The technique succeeded and so did the surgery.

Six weeks later, when my implant was turned on, I was overwhelmed. I didn’t comprehend what I was feeling and the emotions took me over. I cried and cried. I felt rather than heard. The sensations I was feeling started in my stomach and with time moved to my chest then my forehead and finally to my earlobes. Day- by- day I began to recognize and understand my new hearing. It was amazing, but yet difficult. After about three months I began to hear with no pain or sensations. I heard music for the first time, birds, the chirping of crickets outside, doors opening and shutting, the sound of bacon frying, running water, and eventually the sound of someone else on the other end of the phone. I have a very dedicated and talented speech therapist, Carla, which saw me everyday to help me understand what I was hearing. Everyone around me, my family, my brothers, my patient sister Lucy, friends and teachers have always supported me.

The cochlear implant has been a miracle for me. I believe in the power of miracles because they have impacted my life, my identity and the relationships surrounding me. I now attend Brigham Young University- Idaho where I have found great support and life away from my comfort zone. I am confident and capable of handling my life. It brings me great joy to be able to seek after my dreams without limitations. I have learned a lot about life through my hearing loss and even more with the ability to hear from my cochlear implant.

As I reflect back, all of the trials and efforts were beyond the words I can express. It was definitely worth the effort. I sure I will always be striving to hear better and understand more but, I truly, truly cannot imagine my life without this precious miraculous implant. My parents and I are so exceptionally grateful for the decision we made and those who help me hear.


January 24, 2008 at 10:33 pm

Never underestimate the power, miracle and gift of hearing.

anna s

January 25, 2008 at 9:53 am

sounds a lot like my ci kid who is currently raised with SEE/ASL/Oral. Anything goes, and most importantly, keep an open mind and respect the choices that we all make. I just wish t5hat some of the Deaf people would respect my choice as a Deaf mother as the combined approach is really working for my tween.

thank you, rachel, for sharing stories of ci kids not limited to oral only as my child is a mixture of little this and little that. this gives me hope.