Cochlear Implant update

It’s been well over a year now, and my CI is continuing to do well.  I’m finally hearing the higher pitched sounds such as beeps and musical high notes.  I also recently discovered that I hear very well through headphones when they’re positioned close to my processor microphone.

I’m still blown away with the fact that voices, music, and other noises all sound so normal.  

There is still a little bit a electronic aspect to it, but that has become progressively less noticeable as time has passed.

As I’ve said before, one of the best things about the CI is that it never stops improving as I put myself in day-to-day hearing situations or get new programs and processor upgrades.  Of course there will be bumps in the road—a bad map (software program) or failure with the internal part, but for the most part, those can be fixed.  I’ve also noticed an improvement in my own speech, particularly when I wear the CI without my hearing aid in my other ear.

As the CI has improved, the benefits of my hearing aid has lessened greatly.  It no longer has to fill in for the higher pitches that the CI couldn’t handle until the past couple of months.

However, two ears are always better than one, especially for conversing in noisy situations and for localization to who is speaking.

I am at the point now where my current hearing aid is maxed out for my loss and it is approaching 5 years old, which is about the time frame hearing aids last with the most benefit.  The technology changes so quickly that the hearing aid becomes pretty much obsolete in 3-5 years.

I would love to implant that ear and have bilateral CI hearing.  A CI would be a great improvement over what any hearing aid could offer and give the ability to converse and interact with others pretty much as well as someone with normal hearing.  However, that depends on how well the ear does.  I’m setting the bar pretty high since my right CI performs near normal hearing levels in speech understanding.

It is a tough decision because there are surgery risks, and I would most likely lose what remaining hearing I have left, which is not much, but I still have some speech understanding with the hearing aid.  Then of course, there’s insurance approval.

Another thing to consider is research and technology advancements.  MED-EL, the company that created my implant, is coming out with a new all-in-one processor soon.  This will probably continue to get smaller and thinner, and will likely lead to a fully implantable CI at some point in the future.

So, yes there’s a lot of factors to weigh.  It is hard to be stuck in that “middle” area where I could go either way, but it is not a decision to take lightly, that’s for sure.



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