A personal account of living with deafness

For a current update on my cochlear implant experience, go to: http://withinearshotbc.blogspot.com

Thursday, December 08, 2005


Learning sign and obtaining a CI

I needed to enhance my resume. It was time for me to go back to school. I knew I wanted to remain in the community with deaf and hard of hearing people. I sought to learn sign. An oral deaf teacher actually suggested I learn, not only for career reasons, but told me it may improve my life. She was right; I saw its many benefits. There are no longer barriers when I meet a deaf signing person. I can now go to church, attend a workshop and relax when an interpreter is there. It is a three – dimensional language so I am able to grasp a fuller understanding of what is being said. Although I am good at being conceptual with sentences, I still struggle with words on the lips. My struggle has been eased with sign. While I was in school full time for a year, I spent some energy trying new hearing aids that were digital. That proved to be an unexpected adjustment, as I’d always had powerful analogs. The outcome now is that digital isn’t loud enough for me, but the sounds are clearer. The reason I wanted a new hearing aid was to be able to hook up to a FM System, a device that is often used for deaf children in large classrooms. (I enjoy learning at school, as I often take courses and workshops.) The teacher wears a microphone, and it enables the FM user to hear her more directly. All in all I didn’t find the system very beneficial as not only does it amplify sound, it also amplifies unpleasant noise and the sounds are unnatural to me.

With the signing and an increased knowledge of history in deafness under my belt, I am blessed to find work with two organizations that focus their energies in providing abilities to deaf and hard of hearing children. In one job, I work in the preschool assisting several special needs children with hearing loss. In the other, I work with families, audiologists and speech/language pathologists to provide insights and sign to improve communication with the deaf child. I use my voice every day and also sign. I have found my calling and love working among these people. As I was wearing my new hearing aids, however, it was brought to my attention by my family that I wasn’t responding like I used to. I loved my digitals, as they work well at suppressing background noise and the sounds are more natural, but I soon realized that I was having a harder time communicating within my home.They are not loud enough. I would often miss my daughters calling out as they came in or out the door. The final test for me came when I would ask yes or no questions through a closed door to my children. I used to be able to hear the “S” in “yes” so clearly. After several adjustments on the hearing aid, the audiologist told me they were unable to increase the sound. In March of 2005, I called for a formal examination at the hospital. It was determined my hearing had continued to decrease and that I was now on the list for an implant. (Prior to that, I had been tested twice in the last six years. I was labeled ‘borderline’ candidate, meaning I was doing well with whatever residual hearing I had left.)

Currently British Columbia will only implant devices manufactured by Cochlear. Because the Canadian governments Medical Services Plan pays for the operation, they have limited options in each province. I struggle with the lack of options, but after speaking with many recipients in BC, I have yet to find one discouraged by the product made by Cochlear. Now I will be entering a new chapter in my life, with a surgical implantation on Dec 12, 2005 consisting of a computer chip inserted on the skull behind the ear, with a cable into the cochlea which looks like a snail. In mid to end of January 2006, I will be “switched-on”, using the processor and will begin the new adventure of sound.

For a current update, go to: http://withinearshotbc.blogspot.com

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