My husband and I went in for our audiologist appointment on Friday – nothing says romance when you get your assistive listening devices check out together! I waited patiently while he went first. He just got two new behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids for his moderate hearing loss and needed to get them adjusted. We left for lunch and came back later to talk with a different audiologist who specializes in cochlear implants.
So we came back from lunch to meet with the audiologist. There were a lot of things I learned that I didn’t know before and some things I learned about even though I heard about them (she just made them make more sense). I expected to walk in there to be whisked away for the hearing test and THEN ask the questions. But she sat us down and just talked first. My husband and I just racked our brains of all the questions we could think of and asked her. We must have been there for two hours. Time wasn’t important, understanding was. First off, she really put us at ease, well me anyways at least. I think the fact that she could answer our questions with more information than what we had, was wonderful. She understood our concerns with the surgery and the outcomes of getting a cochlear implant. She understood the propaganda that was going on out there with both people in general and the cochlear implant companies. Not only that but she has told us not to worry about work, scheduling the surgeon, insurance, etc., etc. she would take care of all that stuff. It was up to us to make that decision: that is the only stress we have at the moment, which is such a relief (I have a huge dislike for dealing with insurance people – I’ve done that in the past, and I don’t look forward to doing it again) .
One of our questions was: How fast would this all take? The reason why was my job contract ends at the end of December. It may be renewed again, but it may not and if it doesn’t, I would lose the insurance I have and have to start all over. The answer she gave came as almost a shock to us. One of my other concerns was that I didn’t want to miss that much work.
She told us that we could get the CAT scan, blood work, other testing, surgery, mapping and (I think) a secondary mapping all in a week and a half. The incision that the surgeon would make would be so small that the swelling wouldn’t be that bad and thus the magnets could attach the very next day (the one that’s under my skin and the one that would go on the outside would be able to attach together). There isn’t anything postponing the activation date except the swelling of the skin. The incision that would be made would only be about two inches and would go behind my ear.
Our next question was: which implant? There are three major cochlear implant companies: Cochlear, Advance Bionics and Med – El. She told us that Med-El was really behind in CI technology (and they look ugly – my audie said they look like a gun), so that was off our list right away. Advance Bionics has had three recalls total. They provide a range of colors for the external piece and rechargeable batteries. Cochlear hasn’t had any recalls and they have a disposable battery as well as (I think) rechargeable ones. The quality of sound is pretty much the same for either AB or Cochlear.
The next was: am I a qualified candidate? We told her I had meningitis when I was two. That worried her a little because if you get meningitis then bone may fill up the cochlea and thus I can’t get one. That’s when I went to get my hearing test done. If I respond at all to the hearing test in my right ear (that’s the one I would get implanted), then I shouldn’t have that problem. I did respond and the audiologist declared me a candidate.
Next steps: My audiologist is calling my insurance company for approval, she is also talking to the surgeon about my case and says she will get back with me. In the mean time I can e-mail her as many questions as I want (which I fully intend to do!). I will let you know what happens.