One of my blog readers, Susan N, wrote an e-mail to me and asked me the following:
“Which CI do you have and how did you come to select that CI? How can a person know which CI is best for them? This decision isn't like purchasing a new pair of jeans that you can return if the fit isn't exactly what you wanted.”
I think this is one of the best questions anyone has asked me concerning the CI. I mean, most folks want to know how my hearing has improved, or want to understand if I have any side-effects. By all means, those are important. But I think its more important to take a good, careful, considered look at the foundation upon which new hearing is going to be built.
Toward that end, and with Susan's permission, I wanted to take some time to respond here, in this space, rather than by private e-mail, and I really want to invite every CI enabled reader of this post to leave your thoughts and comments for her. and, in doing so, help Susan as well as others who may read this post at a later date.
On to the questions !
Question 1 : “Which CI do you have and how did you come to select that CI?”
I have a Cochlear™ Nucleus Freedom with SmartSound™ 2 programming. I am particularly fond of the “Focus” program setting. I don’t see how I’d be sane without that. In the most noisy situations, I can easily pick out what I want to hear. Even on aircraft, while sitting next to the engine, I can talk to people in a normal voice. The least helpful program for me is the “music enhancement” setting. Music sounds better to me on the “everyday” setting.
Question 2 : “How can a person know which CI is best for them? This decision isn't like purchasing a new pair of jeans that you can return if the fit isn't exactly what you wanted.”
It might seem I’m waffling here, but it is true that no two people are going to react the same way to a CI. So….
I based my decision on a combination of things. I thought it was very important to consider the points below:
It didn’t seem to me that anything else would matter if my Doctor was a new-bee and had performed only a handful of CI procedures. I wanted an expert. And so I sought out the most expert CI Doctor/Surgeon in my city. I also considered what amount of follow up I might need and who would assist me post-op. Again, I picked the most experienced person I could find. It also helped that my wife is a Doctor as well as a Registered Surgical Nurse. So I had an excellent support team at home.
Second on my list was to understand and set realistic post hearing expectations. I read blogs, found research, and asked other CI folks about their results. I had no doubt of what to expect when the CI was first activated.
Third, I wanted the most reliable CI that I could find. That turned out to be the one I have. The Cochlear™ Nucleus Freedom.
Of huge importance was to meet with my CI programming/mapping person before I got my CI. I wanted to ask “a billion” questions; I wanted to see and hold an actual CI. I wanted to understand all the features and options.
A great mapping person will have an answer for all of your questions. Also, I knew I would be spending a lot more time with the mapping person than the doctor. So I wanted to meet with my proposed CI mapping person just to make sure I could communicate and that there were no personality conflicts.
Programming and hardware features were also on my list. I wanted to be able to change my settings and adjust for different hearing environments. I do wish that there was some program that I could set up on my PC to tweak my CI mapping. However, I don’t think the CI folks are warm to that idea.
Some people want CIs that have colored “shells” that can be changed (like cell phone covers). It seems that some CI makers have every possible colored shell and go to great lengths to advertise the same. Personally, as a Dilbert-like male engineer, I am much more interested in how the CI works, and how long the CI will last than I am in a brightly colored 10 cent outer plastic shell. If I want to change CI colors, I know where to buy paint.
Also, I’m a total fashion outcast and I must rely on my wife and the kindness of strangers for fashion advice. So, as you can imagine, my CI is just plain gray. It matches my eye color, not my hair (I don’t have any hair on my head!)
For those of you who are reading this post and are CI enabled, please take some time to share your CI selection story for the benefit of Susan N. – Write a paragraph, post a link to your blog, but by all means, please leave your thoughts and comments.