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How to Decide to Get a Cochlear Implant or Not
This guide is something I really take to heart. It's from personal experience and talking to others and learning their experiences and thoughts.
I'm not a doctor. I'm a cochlear implant recipient. I'm not giving advice on the medical side of the issue here. What I want to address is the cultural and emotional sides of the decision.
I've talked with a number of people who are deaf about the cochlear implant. Mainly with people who have thought about getting a cochlear implant but have questions and concerns about it.
It's my hope that this guide will reach people who are debating on getting a cochlear implant and/or people who know someone who's pondering this decision. I hope to bring understanding to both sides.
A common theme is that a person pondering this decision has two opinions pulling on them. On one side their hearing friends and family are encouraging them to get it.
On the other side their deaf friends and family members are talking them out of getting it.
Why is this happening? Here's why...
Hearing people can't imagine why someone would want to continue to be deaf. They can't imagine someone intentionally not wanting to hear voices, music, talk on the phone, etc...
But think for a moment. How important would music, phone calls and voices be to you if you've never heard them? It's not a very strong argument to make from their point of view (born deaf issue).
There's also the culture issue. People who are born deaf usually belong to a deaf culture. This means they're acquainted with many other deaf people.
They have deaf friends, family, teachers, etc... No matter where they go they can meet other deaf people and have this cultural bond. Heavily linked to their language.
This is not unlike any other cultural group. People from different cultures or nationalities tend to come together.
I'm sure you've all read stories or seen parts of movies where they take people from one culture...
And force them into another. Change they way they dress, talk and live. I'm not trying to say one is more significant than the other. But to some deaf, this is the same type of threat the cochlear has
It's a threat to their culture. Their way of life. Agree or not I hope you can see why some feel threatened by this. Especially knowing the culture is so heavily based on their language.
My advice to anyone thinking about getting a cochlear implant is to research, research, research. But be careful. Research fact, not opinion. Research present facts not past facts.
What was true 15 years ago isn't always true today. For example you'd no longer require more surgeries if advances are made to the technology. Upgrades are done on the external sound processor today.
Make your own decision based on your own research and desires. Don't let anyone talk you into it or out of it. It's your life and you're decision alone.
Here are some facts based on my own experience. First, all surgeries are serious. There are always risks. Even in getting tonsils removed. Don't take that lightly for a moment!
Having said that. Getting a cochlear implant is a fairly low risk surgery. It commonly last 3-4 hours and most, myself included, go home the same day as the surgery (out patient).
You will receive a list of possible things that can go wrong and their percentage of likelihood they'll happen. The highest percentage is about 7%. And if it happens its treatable.
Meningitis is prevented with a vaccine before surgery which is now mandatory. You cannot get the CI without first getting the vaccine. Mainly children seem to have to worry about this.
The CI seemed like a miracle to me but its not a "miracle cure". I'm still deaf. I don't have "super hearing". But I can hear speech, music, talk on the phone and hear the rain and thunder.
They use to have less Chanel's (electrodes) with less sound quality. Hens the use to be true "sounds like robots" no longer applies. With practice voices sound "normal".
It'll require work on your part. You won't experience an overload of sound you can't handle. At first it'll only be turned up to about 5%. Over the first year the volume will gradually be increased.
The volume will be set in such a way that no matter how loud a sound is. It can't bring you discomfort. It'll be set to your needs.
You'll have to learn to hear and identify sounds. You'll have to practice this. But don't quit. At first a car horn and a dog bark will sound the same to you. But with practice that'll change.
I can now tell a small dog from a big dog by sound. I can now identify who's voice I'm hearing. All this came from lots of practice. The key is to celebrate small achievements and not shortcomings.
I'm telling you all this not to talk anyone into or out of it. But I am a cochlear implant recipient and this is my real experience.
So don't let anyone but you persuade your decision. Listen to your doctors, friends and families opinions. But remember that unless they have one its just that. An opinion.
If you or someone you know is making this decision. Feel free to contact me any time about it.
Check out other guides by this author!
I'm a semi professional magician. Graphic designer. I've been deaf almost 20 years but i can hear now thanks to the cochlear implant I got almost 2 years ago.