People constantly pester me to get a CI (cochlear implant). I’m getting pretty annoyed about it now. Friends, acquaintances, work colleagues, speech therapists, hearing therapists, all ask me why don’t I get a CI.
I’ve spoken to audiologists in different hospitals and CI technicians at the South of England CI Centre, rather than rely on user feedback.
Why fix something that’s not broken? I’m happy the way I am, I’ve got a Hearing Dog who does so much more for me than a hearing aid ever could, I can speak clearly and understand most people under my own steam. Why risk changing all that?
Why is it risky? Let’s say I went ahead and got a CI. Let’s say it works. Great. What’s the likelihood of that happening? Almost zero. This is because CIs are much less likely to be successful in adults who have been deaf all their lives, like me. I *shouldn’t* be able to speak clearly as I can’t hear you speak – WITH my hearing aids in. I’ve been extremely fortunate to have parents who worked hard to make sure my speech was clear, they and my teachers and speech therapist pushed me to improve my speech and most people don’t realise I’m deaf, apparently I don’t even have a ‘deaf voice’. If I got a CI, I would have to learn to recognise sounds and start this process all over again. As I have never heard sound, how is my brain supposed to recognise and interpret what it hears? This is why post-lingually deaf children have a more successful ‘hit’ rate with CIs than pre-lingually deaf adults. People who have heard sound can remember what it sounds like and use this knowledge, and children’s brains are not as hard-wired as adult brains.
When they insert a CI, this is usually done on the best ear as the NHS will only carry out one operation per person due to the high cost (approx. £40,000). The operation involves inserting electrodes into the cochlea. IF the electrodes are inserted successfully, this insertion usually destroys all residual hearing. IF the operation is successful, the CI is switched on some time later. IF the switch-on is successful, the patient then begins the process of rehabilitation. IF rehabilitation is successful, then you have a hit. Yes, they are marvellous for some people, but I feel there are too many ‘ifs’ for me.
My best ear is naturally the one I rely on. My worst ear is pretty useless, I can’t even tell if the TV is on, with my hearing aid in. Why on earth would I want to start relying on my worst ear, if the CI didn’t work? Switch the CI processor off at night or when swimming, and you’re still deaf. If the rehabilitation isn’t successful, you’re still deaf. You have to walk around with a box on the side of your head and hearing aid cases on your lugs, so you still look deaf and still depend on batteries and the whole get-up to work ok. I’m quite happy not being able to hear on the phone as captioned telephony and palantype are available to me under Access to Work funding. My current digital hearing aids help me to pick up speech with lip reading. My Hearing Dog gives me more independence and a link to the hearing world. If a CI didn’t work for me, as is likely, I wouldn’t benefit from hearing aids and my speech would deteriorate, so I’d really struggle socially and in my career.
Thanks, but no thanks!
(Apologies for the lack of subtitles / BSL on the movie clip. As usual, not accessible to us is it!)