Look! Look! LOOK!

7 02 2010

I guess a lot of people wonder what a cochlear implant looks like. This photo is of the CI made by Advanced Bionics, it is the same as the one which I am getting (and the same colour). The CI comes in two parts; one internal, one external. On the left is the internal part; the larger disc (1) houses the computer technology with a ‘tail’ for the electrode array, the smaller disc (2) is the magnet which is removable for MRI scans if needed. On the right is the processor. The processor (3) is the part that is updated with new software by the audiologist. The battery (4) is rechargeable and I will get a set of 4 batteries so I can rotate them each night – a battery charge will only last a day. The processor is connected by a wire to a magnet (5), which has an orange cover in this photo. I’ll be supplied with a set of covers in interchangeable colours to jazz up my CI or to match with my outfit. Advanced Bionic’s CI microphone is patented, which means no other CI manufacturer is able to produce a similar microphone. This is called the T-Mic (6), and is situated at the end of the ear hook to mimic normal hearing at the entrance to the ear canal, rather than at the top of the ear as in hearing aids and other CIs.

The external magnet connects to the internal magnet through their placement, creating the connection for processed sound to reach the auditory nerve. Here, they are placed similar to how they would be on a real person …

Putting it on, it is a little bigger than my current hearing aid (Oticon Spirit 3 SP) and about the same size as my last pair of hearing aids (Phonak Supero). I pulled my hair back for this photo but my CI will be hidden by my hair.

And if you’re bald or have very short hair? There’s nowhere to hide – but should you be hiding? Meet Scott, who says “It rocks my world every day”.

It’s probably like having a hearing dog – a few people stare but more people are lovely, they come up and talk to me and ask questions, they show an interest, they are aware of my hearing loss and make the effort to look at me and speak more clearly. I’ve made lots of friends this way. It’s helped me to stand up tall and spit in the face of deafness.

For some, it’s a choice between vanity or decent hearing. Hats? Wigs? Attitude? Two-fingers-up-at-the-world? Hmmm, food for thought. Fortunately, I don’t really need to make this choice, but if I had to make it, I would choose the opportunity of having decent hearing.



5 responses

7 02 2010
Dan Schwartz

It’s not a flaw: It’s a feature! And if you got it, flaunt it baby!

Actually, it’s the younger generation that’s leading the way proudly showing off their ear hardware. Amanda Glasspell‘s close friend Katie-louise “Bionic Bailey” is leading the pack over in England — Be sure to check out the photos on her blog.

Also, you can now get inexpensive custom Skinit covers for the Advanced Bionics Auria and Harmony BTE processors, coils, and batteries. Most people choose either a custom or stock design; but NYC artist and photographer Charles Wildbank created a design to blend in with his short, greying hair.

Me? My BTE hearing aids have red speckled earmolds & Tube-Riders (I have six pairs!); and when I get my CI, it will be fluorescent orange-red!

7 02 2010

Not baaad. I figured if I don’t care whether anyone sees my hearing aid (BTE), it’s not much difference, in my opinion, with this AB CI.

8 02 2010
Antenne Beethoven: Sich unter Blicken wohl fühlen « Not quite like Beethoven

[…] es nicht sieht. (Wie sieht das eigentlich aus, so ein Cochlea Implantat? Bei funny old life gibt es hier ein paar gute […]

8 02 2010

I still think a wig is needed. lol

Women do have it easier when it comes to wearing the CI. They can cover it up naturally and ‘look’ like a hearing person straight away. There would be no visual clues as to whether you are deaf or not..only on a windy day could your CI become apparent to the outside world. If women went bald, then you’d become alot more self-conscious.

That is where the CI is flawed. It’s aesthetics let it down badly in my opinion.

9 02 2010
Dan Schwartz


When you try to hide your hearing aids, they end up looking “clinical” with (usually mismatched) flesh-colored cases and awkwardly hidden earmolds.

On the other hand, when you use brightly colored ear hardware, it shows you’re comfortable with signalling your deafness; and just as importantly, willing to talk about it when curious onlookers walk up to you.

As I wrote above, I wear Tube-riders on my BTE hearing aids; and on average about once a week I get a guy ask me about them — And how to get help with their own hearing loss. The last three who asked me were at a bar, a deli counter, and the waitress at a BBQ restaurant.

So, if you got it, flaunt it baby!

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