My implant is live. I am now part of cochlear nation.
It’s two weeks to the day since my cochlear implant surgery. The magnet inside my head just sitting there all lonely met its match today. When it did, and the audiologists activated the implant, they asked me whether I heard any static.
I sat and listened. They asked again, “Do you hear any static?”
“No,” I said. “But I’m hearing voices and neither of you is talking.”
They looked at each other, smiled and then looked at me, “There are people talking out in the hall.”
There are people talking out in the hall. Okay. Well, I guess I heard them talking out in the hall. I heard people talking out in the hall.
I had been warned that the implant would not result in normal hearing, that it wasn’t going to be a cure. It’s like an prosthetic leg is not a real leg. It isn’t beautiful and shapely, strong and muscular. A prosthetic leg is about function. In the same way, I think, a cochlear implant is about function. Do I want to have normal hearing? Sure. But that’s not an option. Do I want to function better? Yes. And the cochlear implant will help me do that.
Speech sounds very robotic. Think R2D2 robotic. This includes my own voice and everyone else’s. At first, people’s voices sounded like a text to speech reader but gradually over the day (and it has just been about 8 hours), the sounds have rounded out so they are more human, less machine-like.
Over the next several weeks, I will go through a series of adjustments and, after that, several check-ups during the year. The science of hearing technology is remarkably advanced and I am lucky enough to be really in the belly of the cochlear implant technology beast at the terrific Koss Cochlear Implant Center at Froedtert Hospital/Medical College of Wisconsin.
I walked out of the clinic carrying a suitcase with all the cochlear implant gear like I was taking a newborn baby home from the hospital. I was wanting people to stop and admire my suitcase, coo over it, congratulate me. But instead I got in the elevator and said “5, please” when a man asked me what floor I wanted.
5. That’s what floor I wanted. 5.
And I almost burst into tears.