Later that day

Later same day in response to questions: my hearing loss was initially congenital.  As a small child I assumed that my grandparent’s piano had dud keys at the top end. Both my sons have inherited high frequency hearing loss and my mother said several of her relatives were deaf.  (My three daughters are all OK and so are the two Grandchildren.)  I then had pneumococcal meningitis in the seventies, due to a middle ear infection, and that burnt out a lot more. Now of course, age is playing a huge role.

I have been reading up and there are two websites with good information on them. I particularly appreciated the case histories on the National Cochlear Implant Users Association website: User-Experiences and there is also stuff on British Cochlear Implant Group. There are leaflets on the Action on Hearing Loss website. The Royal National Throat Nose and Ear Hospital.

They seem to suggest it’s worth doing when younger rather than waiting until older.  You are more likely to learn!  You have to be patient because initially it’s all scary noises until you learn to interpret them. It was a bit like that when I got digital hearing aids. Flushing the loo nearly gave me a heart attack.

I was a bit worried about this quote from Wikipedia:

If an individual has been deaf for a long period of time, the brain may begin using the area of the brain typically used for hearing for other functions. If such a person receives a cochlear implant, the sounds can be very disorienting, and the brain often will struggle to readapt to sound.

They prefer to do implants in folk who have heard and whose speech is normal, and people who are part of the hearing community rather than members of the Deaf Community (who are sometimes equivocal about CIs).

Rare complication is facial nerve damage. You can’t wash your hair for four weeks. You are turned on at six weeks but will have to cope without a hearing aid that side in the meantime so if they use my better ear (that not affected by meningitis) I will be in dire straits. I also won’t be able to play rugby, football, box or scuba dive! Although NICE recommend bilateral CIs the specialists tend to do one side and save the other in case better technology turns up. Some devices can be updated without the need for more surgery. There is NICE guidance on CIs.

There are four manufacturers and the audiologist will decide which device is most appropriate.

A relevant comment was that in some noisy situations even the hearing have trouble making out what is being said.  In fact the whole bit on the BCIG website is worth reproducing:

GENERAL LISTENING TIPS

  • Relearn the trick of concentration. Pay attention. Listen.
  • Avoid pretending you have understood what was said.
  • Do not be afraid to ask people to repeat, rephrase, or speak louder or more slowly.
  • Remind people to speak directly to you and to look at you when they speak.
  • Watch the speakers. Pay careful attention to the lips, facial expressions, gestures, and body language. Position yourself to take advantage of good lighting.
  • Realise that hearing in noisy places is a problem for all listeners.
  • When listening over the telephone, position the receiver carefully over the microphone of your speech processor or use the telephone adapter.
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