Why did I decide to do bilateral cochlear implants and also do them at the same time?
My process started 5 years ago, when I was finally realized that hearing aids were not going to help my hearing. It took 4 years to accept that I was going deaf. When I finally called for my appointment at Vanderbilt Medical Center, I had reached my point - accepting the next step. My appointment was June 6, 2006. I went through a series of test with my Audie, a CAT scan, and a doctor's appointment with Dr. Labadie. By 3 o'clock I found out I was approved for Cochlear implants. I know people who go through months to find out if they are even candidates. I found out within hours. Then I met with Dr. Ladabie. He explained my choices - one or two implants. He explained about risk and procedures. I listened and asked one question - what is the differences between one and two implants? He brought up sound location and noise discrimination. Then I asked this, if I wear two hearing aids then why not wear two cochlear implants? He said most people wear one, but research states two can be a benefit. To me it was a no brainer, get two now and not do one at a time. Plus I also hoped to get in a research project to help with the cost of surgery. So I left Vanderbilt with my three kits one from each company - Med El, Advanced Bionics, and Cochlear. Off to research and decide.
I chose Advanced Bionics. My reasons behind it was not research base or technology. I'm sorry to say I went with two things the rechargeable battery and the looks. I loved the look of the T-Mic and the batteries. I figured this, I have to wear these for at least the rest of my life, so why not pick something I like the looks of. I felt all were fantastic, but go with looks. I am so thankful I did make this choice, they are fantastic.
Denied, Denied, Denied.......My insurance denied my second implant based it being investigation. Vanderbilt filed several appeals for me and each one was denied. My next step was to asked for help. Let Them Hear is an organization in California that fights insurance denials for cochlear implants. They took my appeal and fought for me. They kept in contact with me, even as I was making the decision to just do one implant and move on. I must also say my insurance trust also was involve with the appeals and working with BCBS to have this approved. I can't express how many people put time and effect to get this done. I am overwhelmed to this day at the people at Clarksville Schools and Let Them Hear Foundation, who did this. They were so unselfish in this quest. My quest.....thank you.
I finally had surgery July 19, 2007 and activation on August 8, 2007. These are two dates that I will forever remember. They are embedded into my mind just like the birth of my daughter. What has bilateral implants given me? It gives me a surround sound, location of sound, and two ears that work. Separately the ears don't seem to give a complete crisp sound, together they work together. Music is easier to listen too. I can tell which child is talking in class or asking for my help. I hear this pss....Mrs. Deleon how do I do this.....pss....can I go to the restroom. So in my career it is a benefit for bilateral.
I hear this all the time, the myth and the questions. So the choice was mine. My family assisted in deciding, but in the end it is my ears, my body, my choice. I also chose to support families that make this choice for there children. I know how hard it is to make this choice. I took me 5+ years.
The big differences in my success and failure were my expectations. I know I don't have "normal" hearing. My expectations were to be able to have a hearing conversation with my daughter. My cochlear implants have given me more than that.
This blog has allow me to accept my deafness and the journey it leads me on. I have met some fantastic people. I have changed my views on a lot. One thing has not changed, that cochlear implants are a personal choice and we as a community should provide support and accept others. Discrimination either deaf/Deaf, Hard of Hearing/hard of hearing. hearing/Hearing just destroys Culture and Communities, we can't let it destroy or divide ours.
I want to include a few articles and web sites that provide resources that I use.