Step Five: Cochlear Implants

On Friday, January 21st, I went to John Hopkins yet again for another pre-surgical appointment.

Step One: Audiological evaluation, StepTwo: CAT or MRI, Step Three: Psychological Evaluation, Step Four: Meet the surgeon (and the interns, and the student doctors, and the nurses, and the….) Step Five: Device and Information class. Step 6: Surgery! Here I am at Step 5! I can’t believe I’m at step 5! Part of me feels like this whole process is not really taking place. I suppose I have tried to make do with BTE HA’s for so long, that the implant was just not something I spent time thinking about.

My family continues to voice comments like, “Won’t it be great if you can hear the cat’s purr?”

“Wouldn’t it be terrific if you can hear Max pant?” (the dog – not my hubby) GRIN.

“Wouldn’t it be great if the NEXT time the 17 year cicadas come, that you can hear it?”

But part of me has been thinking, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if this was really happening?”

Supportive hubby again took off work to take me to “Step 5” at John Hopkins. He was miffed at himself to enter the parking garage at JHH to see that a new professional sign was at the entrance. The first time we visited, there was a hand-printed sign on typing paper that read, “If you are Deaf, honk horn for attendant”. The second time we went, he very much wanted to take a picture of that sign, and armed himself with needed camera. But alas! No sign! I, personally, think he meant to write an article about it. It really peeved him for some reason. This time he did not bring the camera — and there stood a brand new metal sign with blue engraving. “If you are Deaf, please honk horn for assistance”.

Pllleeeeeze… like aDeaf person can’t read the sign that says, “Press button for garage exit ticket”? Of course they can!

Anyway, we parked the car and jogged to the stairwell. It was freezing. We jogged so we wouldn’t remain semi-permanent fixtures in the garage. Into the circular moving entrance door, and face to face with… you guessed it! That same security guard!

I opened up all my bags and handed him all of my ALD’s and said, “You work here alot, don’t you?” And grinned really big.

He grinned right back and said, “You COME here alot, don’t you?” And grinned just as big!

As we zipped up everything and walked to the front of security I thought about that comment some! I turned to hubby and said, “You know? This will become a very familiar place in the next year!” Hubby chuckled and said, “You only say that, Denise, because you know where all the bathrooms are now!” Up we go in the elevator to floor six. As soon as Terry hit the button for floor 6, someone must have shouted. Hubby grabbed the closing door and held it open. In came a very young couple pushing a stroller, with grandma trailing behind. In the stroller sat a little dark-haired boy with HUGE brown eyes, chubby cheeks and impish grin. He couldn’t have been more than 3 years old. He looked up at me, and then at my ears — and reached up and touched his own ears. His little hands gingerly touched each side of his head. At this point I saw a CI on the right side of his little head, and a BTE in his left ear. His impish grin turned to a huge smile and he clapped his hands. I stood there not knowing whether to cry or laugh! I think I may have done both. Could he hear his little hands clap? Would I ever hear little hands clap?

Within seconds the elevator doors opened and we all went out into the corridor of Level 6 — home of “The Listening Center” at John Hopkins Hospital. I went to check in, and peeked around while Terry listened to the instructions of the receptionist. (They are behind glass — I would never hear them…) I kept searching, and looking and then I spied them! CIHear pamphlets — and many were gone! Woo-hoo! We didn’t have to wait very long before the audiologist came to get us. She introduced herself, and the young woman at her side. Another intern… very nice, but nervous young woman. Into a big spacious office we go — and sit in front of a large table with 3 very prominent CI displays and cases on top. Before we even began, the audi asked what questions I might have.

“Well, I feel pretty educated about CI’s at this point! I’m sure you’ll answer any questions I have as we proceed!” I said.

“It would actually help me if I knew what questions you had ahead of time,” she answered. I had to scoot my chair closer and held my mic farther out… she had a very tiny voice! So I relayed all the questions and concerns I had, and she answered every single one. I felt much more at ease. Hubby had a couple of questions too. All 3 devices, and attach ments, batteries, accessories, etc., were brought out for me to see, handle and ask questions about. The intern’s eyes were enormous. She must have been brand spankin’ new, because she looked as though she’d never seen them before! After about an hour, the audi asked an intimidating question.

“Are you ready to choose a device and set up your surgery?”

I must have looked as “thrown” as I felt. I turned to hubby and said, “So?”. He took my hand and said, “Denise, we’ve researched this thing to death! I think you know which one you have the most confidence in!”

The audi interrupted and said, “You don’t have to choose today. If you want you can go home and think about it some more, and then email us and let us know!”

Well I wanted a surgery date! As I did indeed feel very confident about “who” I was going to use, I made the decision. Terry again squeezed my hand, and darn! He had big tears in his eyes, causing me to almost boo-hoo myself! Today, I opened my “inbox” to find an email from JHH.

Surgery date:April 6th.

The world stood still.

Denise Portis
Frederick County SHHH
Frederick, MD
©2006 Hearing Loss Diary

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One thought on “Step Five: Cochlear Implants

  1. WOW!! What a journey I dont know what questions to ask about the CI devise…Guess I will be able to look at them too. it is very surreal.

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