Got an interesting comment from someone who’s read my blog:

I am glad you are purporting success with the device, and are such an active advocate.  Indeed your story is miraculous compared to the ones I have come across (numbness, tinnitus, excruciating pain from hair, white noise).  So I am wandering if you are another version of the ‘cochlear volunteers’ distributing erroneous information for a kickback your readers are not informed of.  I guess if you publish this and an accurate answer, I need not be suspicious and outraged by the ’social networking’ propoganda cochlear will go to maximise their profits.
Ruth

And I think it’s a really valid comment.

I was extremely suspicious of anyone that told me a cochlear implant was good before I had one, and for good reason. It’s just hard to believe how it could be as good as they say it is. And you read all these blogs, and talk to all these people, and every single person has a different experience.

I decided to get an implant after I saw a deaf woman I know who had two cochlear implants talking on the phone. That’s when I thought, oh well, it might work – and if it doesn’t, I havent lost anything.

After I was booked in for this surgery, I started this blog because I thought everyone would think that an implant was a miracle cure, and think I would be ‘fixed’ once I had it, and I knew it wasn’t going to be like that. I wanted my friends and family to know the truth. ‘Course the truth turned out to be pretty good for me.  But I didn’t know that was what it was going to be like.

Perhaps my optimism about the implant has come from the fact that I really didn’t expect it to be that good.

My only expectation was really that it would  help with my lip-reading. And I knew that it might not even do that. So I was realistic.

My wish was that I wouldn’t have to lip-read, but I figured that was a wish only.

So, the bad parts of my experience are few… I was having dinner with friends the other night in a pub in Perth. We were discussing each other’s cochlear implants (there were three of us there who had just recently had one in the past year.)

We were talking about the horror stories, and I mentioned that I freaked out the day after my surgery when I leant forward and this rusty coloured fluid came out my nose! Thought my brain was melting! But it was only a few drops, and then it stopped, so I figured that I was ok. I forgot to put that in the blog, but I guess you could call that a ‘bad’ or scary part of the surgery. Actually, that sounds lame. It was not really blog mention worthy.

So, what other things suck about cochlear implants? because I really have been too complimentary to them, haven’t I?

Well. let me count the ways:

  • I hate the way it feels on my head, both the processor and the internal bit. But it’s worth it to be able to hear ok, and I figure I’ll get used to it. Hey, I’m an eternal optimist. But I must say, I wake up in the middle of the night sometimes with my ear feeling a bit numb, and thinking ‘oh god, I have metal in my head’. That is a bit yuck.
  • It’s a stupid design. Every time I want to change a program, it takes a few seconds to press.
  • I worry about the bit inside my head breaking. If it breaks, I am stuffed, because getting a replacement internal bit is not guaranteed to work as well as the first one, because removing the implant damages in the inner structure of the ear, i.e. the cochlea. So that is something that is in the back of my mind a lot – I might lose all this at any time.
  • You can’t do contact sports any more after this. That kind of sucks, even though I dont play contact sports of any kind – I just dont like being told “You cant do this any more because …” you know?
  • It kind of sucks how many batteries it takes – I spend $1 every day on a battery, that’s $365 per year. They are fiddly little things too. When I am 100 years old it’s going to suck changing those things.
  • Sometimes I can hear on the phone and other times I can’t. Sometimes I can hear TV, other times I can’t. It’s not consistent.

As for Cochlear Ltd being the best cochlear implant company, I don’t know about that anymore. I mainly support them because they are Australian, and pretty reliable.

From the research I have done, it sounds like Med-El would be a good cochlear implant – it apparently has a slimmer electrode, which goes deeper into the cochlea, and gives you more spectrum of sound, and therefore makes speech and sound more natural.

I am seriously considering getting a Med-El for my second implant.

But who knows!

So there you go… And what’s the answer to the million dollar question?

Is the cochlear implant really that good? Well, the answer is …. for some, yes. For others, no.  It’s as simple as that.

Everyone’s different, and that is probably the most frustrating thing about a cochlear implant ever. There is absolutely no guarantee about how it’s going to work.

I was brave enough to deal with the possible consequences, as I was well aware of the possible outcomes – which was that it might not help me at all.

It’s scary.

And that’s why whenever you meet someone who’s had a cochlear implant, or the parent of a child with an implant (because they’ve had to make the same decision!) you should think about the difficult decision they made, and no matter what outcome – give them a pat them on the back and say: “Respect to you for being brave, mate.”

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