Taking the First Step

I made the long traffic-filled drive to Bethesda MD for my Cochlear Implant consult today. My surgeon was nice enough but definitely has the personality of a surgeon very smart but a little bit arrogant. My audiologist is the amazing Dr. Schuchman who has been helping me out with my current cochlear implant. He has gone above and beyond with providing the latest and greatest up to date technology to provide the most quality sound that can be offered.

So many people are “stuck” with their older version of their cochlear implant. Oftentimes the a lower quality of sound or limitations of channels. It has been amazing to see how technology has changed over time.

This is a simulation of what cochlear implants sound like through various channels. The Freedom is a 24 channel implant as is the new Hybrid that I am currently scheduled to receive.  (Fair warning: this is a simulation not the quality of all people’s comprehension nor is it a guarantee that all cochlear implants sound like this at that level)

I am fortunate to have the opportunities provided to me that the quality of sound can be improved upon more and more. Dr. Rivera and Dr. Schuchman both answered a few questions that I had for my upcoming surgery.

Question 1: What makes this procedure different from the procedure done in 2008?

Answer 1: The intention of this surgery is to preserve the hearing I have now and add to it, the cochlear implant. In order to preserve the hearing I have there is are three precautionary measures taken: The first is the new internal hardware. It is shorter and smaller and will not destroy the working parts of the cochlea. The second is a new surgical technique. (Dr. Rivera did not elaborate on this…nor did I ask). The last is the addition of prescription steroid pills. I will be prescribed prednisone for a week prior to the surgery and a week after the surgery to reduce the risk of inflammation at the site of the surgery. This will protect the working cells from becoming damaged as a result of the surgery. Dr. Rivera had high hopes for this surgery and keeping what little hearing I have left.

Question 2: What kinds of accessories come with this cochlear implant?

Along with the external device, there are a few new accessories that come with the new cochlear implant. I will be getting a remote control that can control both of my cochlear implants individually (by changing the volume, the specific program, and the sensitivity). It will also come with an adaptor that I can plug into my iPhone and listen to music as well as an extra rechargeable battery. I will also be getting a voucher for something that hasn’t even been approved yet: a blue tooth adaptor. Essentially it’s a blue tooth with a hookup to my cochlear implant. How cool is that?!

An extra cool thing is that there are skinit.com stickers for cochlear implants …WHAT?! how have I not known this?

Question 3: What is the recovery time?

The recovery time hasn’t changed much in 8 years. There is about a two week recovery period along with frequent subsequent visits to the audiologist and surgeon to make sure everything is healing as necessary.

Question 4: When can we schedule the cochlear implant for?

As of now it looks like the cochlear implant surgery is scheduled for sometime between August 10-August 20th. School starts on August 25th so an earlier date would be better however it all depends on the surgeon’s schedule.

So what’s next? I need a CT scan sometime before the surgery and I will start pre-op preparation about a week before the surgery. I want to say that I appreciate all the support I have gotten from everyone!




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