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.