Conclusion from The Gift of Sound: Part 1
The Start of Something New
Fast forward to October 31, 2008. It had been over a year since I had my transplants. I was doing well. I wasn’t suffering from any complications. Living happily and healthy as could be. I was finally able to schedule an appointment and qualification testing for cochlear implant surgery. Five years before, this surgery was not an option, because I was too sick to undergo anesthesia.
I was very anxious and nervous about cochlear implants. I didn’t know anyone who had them. I read a small amount of information online. I repeatedly read about, how others described the sound as robotic or like Mickey Mouse. I thought, I don’t know if I want to hear robotic Mickey sounds for the rest of my life. I was desperate to hear again, so I thought taking a chance was better than nothing. I underwent surgery for a cochlear implant on my right ear in 2008 on Halloween. At my hospital, it’s recommended implanting one ear at a time, just in case you don’t like it at all, then you’d be stuck with two.
Journal Entry October 27, 2008 (Excerpt)
Four days until cochlear implant surgery! I’ve been waiting for this day for so long, I can’t believe it’s almost here. I’m excited, that I will be able to hear my family and friends speaking to me, and the thought of possibly listening to music again gives me goosebumps. I don’t know how I’ve made it without listening to music all these years. To hear the sound of music again will be beyond my expectations. The one moment I’ve been waiting for since I could no longer hear a single sound is the voices of my parents saying, “I love you” While I’m asleep at night, I’m dreaming, and I’m not deaf, I’m dancing, and singing along at concerts, I’m exceptionally happy, and I’m far from shy. To be able to hear again is another dream come true, another miracle. Until then, I’ll be preparing myself for my life to change once more, in the blink of an eye.
I had to wait a few weeks for the incision to heal, before I went back to the audiologist to have her activate it, and actually turn it on. Cochlear implants are available in a variety of colors, to match your skin tone, and hair color. I have a tan colored processor behind my ear, and a brown coil, and magnet attached to my head. They are powered through rechargeable, or two disposable hearing aid batteries.
I sat quietly in a chair that day, my palms sweating like usual every time I get nervous, expecting the unexpected. My audiologist finally turned my implant on and what did I hear? Well, nothing, but a bunch of white noise. You know the static sound you hear on the TV, when you accidentally press the wrong button, and it can’t the find a channel? That’s what I heard. She reassured me it would get better as time passed. My brain had to adjust, and relearn sounds it hadn’t heard in five years. While my mom, dad, and grandma sat there talking amongst themselves, I suddenly heard a ticking noise. What was it? The clock hanging on the wall in front of me! Maybe there was hope for me after all.
The Gift of Sound
While we were on our way home from this appointment I sat in the front seat of the car. I heard another clicking noise. I didn’t recognize it. I asked my mom what it was. It was the turn signal! When I arrived home I was standing in the kitchen, texting on my phone, when I noticed I could hear the clacking of the keys, as I typed. I also heard the refrigerator running! My audiologist reminded me to make sure the television sound is on, so I could get used to hearing it. It was the very next day when I heard a small excerpt of music for the first time. I was sitting in my bright, pink, fuzzy, lounge chair, occupied on my laptop, while Nick at Nite played in the background, on the TV. I loved watching George Lopez at the time. As I typed away on my laptop I heard high pitched noises, that sounded like bells. I glanced up from my computer screen laughing, as I realized it was the opening theme song, Low Rider, for George Lopez.
I began hearing all sorts of noises only a week after my implant was turned on. I could hear the voices of my family talking to me (especially during a conversation when my aunt yelled with her loud voice, “Thats ridiculous!” You had to be there), I heard birds tweeting, footsteps in the hallway, and I heard running water. I was home alone one day after school, when I hadn’t realized how dark it had become outside. Suddenly, I heard a very loud, scary, noise. I turned panicky, as I couldn’t distinguish exactly what I was hearing. Finally, I had gathered enough sense to run to the window, and glance outside. It was pouring rain! I sighed with relief, shook my head, and laughed.
I wanted to wait for the perfect time to try listening to music, a full song. I didn’t want to be disappointed. After I thought I had recognized enough sounds, I searched on YouTube, for a song I had previously listened to countless times. I took a deep breath, prayed, pressed the play button, and there it was, the gift of sound. I heard the melody exactly as I remembered! Life had never sounded so beautiful:
Can this be true?
Tell me, can this be real?
How can I put into words what I feel?
My life was complete
I thought I was whole
Why do I feel like I’m losing control?
I never thought that love could feel like this
And you’ve changed my world with just one kiss
How can it be that right here with me
There’s an angel?
It’s a miracle
Your love is like a river
Peaceful and deep
Your soul is like a secret
That I never could keep
When I look into your eyes
I know that it’s true
God must have spent
A little more time
Hearing Happily Ever After
My prayers were answered, and my dreams became reality. I wanted more than anything to hear the sound of music. After five years, life was abruptly normal. I could hear my dad again, playing his bass guitar in his music room. Over the years, I’ve attended several concerts with my friends, I gathered the courage to try online dating, I danced the night away at my proms, and during the best day of my life, at my wedding. Today, I’ve been blessed with the sound of my husband’s voice, laughter, my favorite TV shows, the crashing ocean waves at the beach, thunderstorms, church sermons, and christian music, but most of all, I can hear the two people that never gave up on me, my mom and dad. It’s the voices you never forget, no matter how much time goes by.
During the times I’m listening to the not so pleasant noises, such as, the landscaping crew who mows our lawn, the garbage truck, the dishwasher, or the washing machine, I can simply remove my “ears” I’m also able to sleep soundly at night, as I don’t sleep with my implants on. It’s the best of both worlds!
Losing my hearing made me appreciate my life that much more. You never realize how blessed you are, until you’ve lost what you thought you could never live without, and my dad was right, everything turned out better than OK. The wonderful, wise, supportive, loving, father of mine has never steered me wrong, and taught me, you never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.
Step outside and enjoy the blessings of today, tomorrow, and always. What do you see? Most importantly, what do you hear?
Feel free to contact me, ask me more about cochlear technology, and accessories available today. Learn more about cochlear implants at Cochlear Americas.