I started this blog to document my experience in getting a cochlear implant. Although I’ve had my meryl.net blog for years, it’s for business and a different audience. One of the first things you learn about marketing … know your audience, right?
My Deaf History
I was born with sensorineural hearing loss (nerve-related), which made me profoundly deaf as I had a 90-100 db loss. My parents figured it out when I was about six months old. My mom noticed that my face lit up only when she was in front of me. When she was behind me, I never responded. Being the youngest of three kids, my parents knew I should’ve been responsive to sound by then.
At that time, my parents had two choices: oral or sign language. They didn’t want to send me to a residential school for the deaf, so they opted for speech therapy … a ginormous amount of it. I received speech therapy at Bluebonnet Elementary School, University of Texas at Dallas’ Callier Center, Easter Seals, TCU, elementary school and with private therapist.
Some of the speech therapy was only available during the school year. They didn’t want me to lose practice during the summer months, so they took me wherever speech therapy was available.
Three days a week for several years, my mom mom drove me from Fort Worth to Dallas and back (about 60 miles). Children’s car seats weren’t good back then. So I entertained myself by bouncing all around the station wagon. It was a miracle I never got hurt.
Anyway, all this tiresome therapy (went on until I was 11) helped me learn how to speak and lipread. Needless to say, I had a bad attitude at times especially when I was older. I attended public schools for my enter school career with second grade being the exception because the kids had to take a bus to a different school for second grade. My parents didn’t feel comfortable with that, so they put me in a private school of about 10 kids. We had to bus again in sixth grade, and I went with my classmates that time.
Life with Good Ol’ Hearing Aids
Hearing aids worked for me. I could hear running water, dogs barking, male and female voices, dishwasher, etc. However, most of the time, I needed be in the same room to hear these sounds.
Though I could tell the difference between most male and female voices (children exempt), I couldn’t understand what people said without lipreading. My hearing is like someone who doesn’t know Russian. The person can see and probably recognize Russian writing, but can’t translate it. My hearing recognizes sounds and voices, but can’t translate them. I can talk on the phone a tiny bit — just simple questions with limited answers. No carrying conversations.
After 33 years, I decided to get a cochlear implant. I was pregnant with my youngest when I made the decision. My thought process was this was probably the last baby I was going to have and this was the time to do it. This way I had the opportunity to see if hearing would be different beginning with a baby.
Still, my hearing aids were good to me. I could hear music, babies crying, laundry buzzing. It was still a hard decision. For me, the the Holy Grail of hearing is to be able to hear what people say without lipreading (talking on the phone, for example). I didn’t find the Holy Grail.
How the Cochlear Implant Worked Out
The good news was that I could pick up sounds from further away. For example, I had to be near the laundry room to hear the buzzing. Now, I can hear it from almost any room in the house. (Never did test it out.) I could also hear birds chirping outside of my office window. The cochlear implant doesn’t feel like a huge improvement as I had hoped. However … almost 10 years after the surgery, my mom told me I speak better.
My husband didn’t notice a difference. He was at a disadvantage because he saw me every day. It’s just like we don’t notice our children getting taller. When my daughter went away to college and came home for the semester — she noticed her brothers had grown.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
P.S. This website isn’t update much anymore as I’ve gotten busy with three children and my writing services business. From time to time, I’ll come across something worth sharing and will post it.