I recently had one of those “milestone” birthdays (hint: the post title gives it away with a little math).
There’s nothing like a birthday, especially a milestone birthday, to make you reflect on life and man has my life has changed this year.
As I think back to this time last year, I had went through some rough times leading up to the decision to pursue being evaluated for a cochlear implant. I was fairly certain that I needed to find a different career, one that wouldn’t put me face-to-face as much with people since I had such a difficult time communicating.
Those who have known me for a long time know that despite the few introverted tendencies I have, I’m an extrovert. Not shy. Could strike up a conversation with just about anyone. That hadn’t happened in a long time.
A year ago I was spending most of my free time searching the Internet for information about cochlear implants. What were they? How did they work? What if they don’t work? Who makes them and who makes the best ones? What do people who have one or two cochlear implants think about them? Can they hear better? What is better?
A year ago I was limiting social interactions. Every day was noisy. My favorite time of day was when I took my hearing aids off. That was almost the only time during the day when I could relax and take a break from the hard work of listening.
On my milestone birthday so many thoughts flooded my mind. It’s not really that my life has changed, I was actually given a life again. My worse day with cochlear implants has been better than my best day with hearing aids.
I am an active participant in several online discussion groups about cochlear implants. I’ve met people who have had experiences as amazing as mine and people who have not. Some have struggled for years following surgery to be able to have conversations without being able to see the other person, still relying on lip reading techniques to bring meaning to what was being heard. I’ve had moments of sadness when thinking about people who have went through what I have only to be no better off, technically speaking. But, that’s the risk each of us signed up for. There are no guarantees.
That hasn’t been my experience at all. I could understand speech from the moment I was activated in each ear and had 85% word recognition fairly quickly after activation. The risk I took, the risk of being fully deaf following surgery and not getting the outcome I did from a cochlear implant, was so worth it.
Today I willingly offer information, insight and support as often as I can to anyone on the journey to better hearing with cochlear implants. I’m grateful for the kindness so many have shown me who have traveled before me on the journey. My journey will be lifelong and I’m looking forward to each step.
This has truly been one of the most amazingly wonderful years of my life.