Elisa is a cochlear implant recipient who shares the challenges she faced with hearing loss and her transition to hearing with the cochlear implant.
Well, that was a cheesy opening line there, but i had to start somewhere! To give you some background on my hearing loss, I’ve had a profound bilateral sensorineural hearing loss since 15 months old due to a bout with meningitis. My parents enrolled me at Central Institute for the Deaf in St. Louis, MO where I went through extensive speech and lip reading therapy for 4 years until we moved away to VA. From there I was enrolled in Camelot Elementary School in Annadale, VA, for 2 years before we moved to another location and then another location…..and another….
The reason for the different schools is because my father was in the military for 22 years. It wasn’t easy on me, or my parents, but it taught me some well-learned and tough lessons.
I applaud the two schools mentioned above for working with me so early in my life (I also highly recommend them!). I cannot stress how vital speech therapy is to a deaf child, regardless of the degree of hearing loss, even if they resist and fight to not go. Trust me, I’ve been there. And so has many other deaf kids. If your child is fighting with you about going, there are two things to look at here: communicate with your child and try to understand what your child is going through. Not every teacher is compatible with your child. I’ve been through so many speech therapists and audiologists my entire life and grateful to all of them, but I can think of a handful that touched my heart and life profoundly. Deaf people and hearing people have two different perspectives, especially from a social and communication standpoint. With the frustration of deaf people having a hard time understanding what people are saying in different scenarios (poor lighting environments, heads turning, lips being covered up when touching their faces, etc ), it is more stressful on a deaf person, socially, whether we all realize it or not. Deaf people learn to adapt and find a system that works for them as they grow older, but there will always be a stumbling block in socialization somewhere along the line.
When I was in high school, the cochlear implant was making big news and my parents wanted me to get it but I wasn’t ready for it. At that time I was suffering from speech therapy burnout (weekly sessions since age 15 months took their toll!) and a bad case of teenage angst – I wanted to live my high school life (3 different high schools didn’t help either) and have fun with my new drivers license rather than getting operated on and go through more speech therapy. Even though they pushed me to get it at first, they respected my decision and backed off. I think they knew I would get it when I was ready.
Fast forward 5 years later. I had seen a video of a young girl just getting her implant activated for the first time and I knew at that time I was ready to go for it. So I went through the process of getting one. It took a year before mine got activated and man, was I disappointed at first!! I couldn’t hear anything when it first turned on. But slowly and surely, the sounds came to me and it took a while for me to adjust to the sound difference between hearing aids and a cochlear implant. It has really helped me to hear more sounds that I never heard before, and with each new processor that comes out, my hearing is improved, and much clearer.
I just got the Nucleus 5 processor a few months ago and the difference between the older processors and the Nucleus 5 is amazing. I recommend anyone who has the older processor to get an upgrade as soon as possible. If your health insurance company is denying it to you, appeal, appeal, and appeal, until you get what you need. Call your Cochlear company representative or talk with your audiologist for assistance with your insurance appeal process if you have to. They are always willing to help to send in the necessary information to explain to the insurance companies why you need it. It is vital to keep up with the upgrades, because they improve each time and enhance your hearing and your life!
I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or find me at my blog, www.elisacashiola.com for any questions or comments.