Date: January 26, 2015
"How do you feel about the cochlear implant?" I ask myself. If you ask me today, I'll tell you that I have mixed emotions. I'm nervous as hell. But also very excited.
At the start I was just nervous.
I still remember the first appointment with the audiologist, the specialist referred me to.
For the first time, the audiologist showed me what a cochlear implant actually looks like. I usually see the outside circular magnet on the head of people with cochlear implant, but I never knew how the inside looks like.
Inside the ear you have a snail like organ called the cochlea. Sound travels into the ear, through the cochlea and then to the brain. There are tiny hair cells/ follicles inside the cochlear, which picks up the sounds and transmits sound impulses to the brain.
Usually with most deaf/ hard of hearing people, the hair follicles inside the cochlea are damaged or missing. Sound is not effectively transmitted to the brain, therefore they cannot hear certain/all sounds.
A discussion with a surgeon explained that during the cochlear implant surgery, a tinnyyyy wire or coil is implanted inside my cochlea, as well as a receiver and a magnet placed inside my scalp, which is connected to a magnet outside on my head. A hearing device is worn on my ear, which through a microphone, collects sounds that travels through the magnets and into the receiver (inside my head). The receiver implanted generates sound impulses which then is directly transmitted into my cochlea (through the electronic wire, into my brain).
In a way, the cochlear implant is a hearing device that acts as a “bionic” ear.
A meeting with another audiologist explained that after the surgery of implanting the cochlear, I visit the audiologist to “switch” on the device for the first time. The audiologist would adjust sound settings on the computer until I would be able to “hear” .
A few follow up sessions are required to gradually increase the volume of my hearing and to conduct hearing tests to check improvements.
It’s been 2-3 years since the first audiologist appointment. And during that period it felt like a roller coaster.
After my first audiology appointment, when I attended my annual hearing checkup at Australian Hearing Centre (which is a government supported organisation) I told them that I was interested to start finding out more information about the cochlear implant.
Pleased with my decision, my audiologist referred me to the Sydney Cochlear Implant Centre, which is an organisation that provides cochlear implant and audiology consultations, through a range of different methods: private health, government funded or charity based.
From then, I had numerous meetings between my GP, different audiologists and surgeons. I also had to attend various hospitals for different clinical testing such as balance test, MRI, cat scans and X-rays; all to check if I’m eligible for the cochlear implant.
And guess what I am!
It was also a roller coaster of emotions and I know that it took a longgg time to finally accept getting the cochlear implant. And many different factors influenced, and even pushed, my decision to approve.
One of the main reasons was that, I am soo blessed to be born in a country with extensive health care and a system that also offers public health to help ease financial costs.
The cochlear implant alone costs something like 20 or 40k. And that is not including surgery, hospital/ operation costs, and costs of mannny specialist appointments to attend. And all those clinical testings I had to do.
In light of Australia Day, I want to express my deepest gratitude for living in country that offers free health care, public hospitals and amazing organisations like SCIC and as Australian Hearing Centre where I’ve been a client for 15+ years and received annual appointments and many hearing aids and other devices, free of charge.
And Australia is one of the top counties, leading the world in cochlear implant innovations and research!
I always take things for granted how lucky we are to have, not just free testing and hearing aid technology available for us, but also a public health system like ours.
Earlier last year, I had a final meeting with the audiologist at the Sydney Cochlear Implant Centre and now I’m on the waiting list to finally get one!
I figure that, if an opportunity exists there for you, why shouldn’t you reap it? Others would not have the same opportunities available for them.
Go for Gold.