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Ruth Fox’s Story: A 25 Year Miracle

October 19th, 2012 by | Tags: , , | 3 Comments »

Ruth had progressive hearing loss and first received her cochlear implant in 1986.  She plays the violin and was a librarian and a special education teacher.

In 1986, I was lost and without hope for the future. Little did I know that I was about to embark on journey that continues to start each day with miracle.

WSP Sound Processor

Progressive hearing loss, which began at my birth, robbed me of two careers: the first as a violinist and the second as a reference librarian. Now was threatening my third career as a special education teacher for children with multi disabilities, as communication challenges became overwhelming. The limitations of lip reading became more pronounced as my residual hearing faded, no one in my social or employment circles knew sign language, the ADA was not yet born to protect me, and the many conveniences of alternate communication we have today such as relay, captioned phones, email, instant messaging were still dreams in their creators’ minds.

As my hearing loss progressed, I found SHHH (Self Help for Hard of Hearing) in a library reference book of organizations. Seeking solutions for my future, I went to their second national convention in Palo Alto, CA. For the first time in my life I met people my age experiencing the same effects of hearing loss that I did. There were two people there who had cochlear implants. I talked with them and listened to doctors and audiologists who presented on the current status of Cochlear Implants.

Upon returning home my local ENT referred me to a Cochlear Implant Center, a six hour drive from my home. I endured the four day evaluation that explored my hearing loss, psychological state, intellectual ability, and health status. Two weeks later an ethics committee informed me of my acceptance. So different from today’s audiological evaluation that determines candidacy potential in a couple of hours or less. My surgeon had grown up in my neighborhood, studied violin as I did, and most likely we sat in the same studio waiting for lessons at the same time. Upon completion of my surgery, he called our violin instructor to report what he had just done!

Ruth plays the violin with Terry Zwolan, an audiologist.

Miracles began with the activation of my cochlear implant. Even though music, speech and noise all sounded the same that first day, I was fascinated with the sounds from water fountains and rain. Each day brought new sounds, and even today my list of new sound experiences continues to grow. Three months after activation I made my first phone call to my brother. The difficultly and anxiety that accompanied phone use gradually eased and I found a new freedom from isolation. Technology of cochlear Implant processors progressed very similar to that of hearing aids of decades earlier, from big awkward boxes to small over the ear devices. Each new processor provided so much more sound and clarity. I experienced seven different processors in all, each time exploring sound of speech and music. Each new processor gave me new ability in my attempts to play my violin again; allowing my soul to sing with the drawing of the bow. Speech became clearer and my ability to listen without visual cues increase as I enjoyed radio commentaries, phone calls with friends, and comments from my husband in the next room.

Ruth is getting her cochlear implant programmed with Wendy, an audiologist.

Ruth is wearing the WSP Sound Processor.

Like the morning sunrise bringing the beauty of God’s creation out of the darkness of the night, my world comes alive with the miracle of sound as I put on my processor for the day.

3 Comments

Carol Burns

October 20, 2012 at 9:20 pm

Ruth and Margo are my heroes. They met me at the 1990 SHHH Convention in 1990 at Little Rock AK. They are my heroes along with Pat Clickener and Muriel B.

Carol Burns

October 20, 2012 at 9:36 pm

I met Ruth and Margo in 1990 at the SHHH conventipn in Little Rock and subsequent conventions until 1995 in Dallas I realized how much they had improved just thru the external upgrades. I went home from that convention and told my augiologist I wanted to move forward seeking a CI, despite my insurance policy exclusion. I am so grateful that in 1996 I received my first cochlear implant. I remember Pat Clickener also at that time and Muriel as well. They are the true pioneers….to which I always will pay it forward!

Margo Klug

October 24, 2012 at 3:11 am

Ruth and I go way back to 1989 when she mentored me on my ci journey. She is one of my special “bionic sisters” and a dear friend. She has been instrumental in guiding many ci recipients over the past 25 years. I wish Ruth continued ci joy!