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Cochlear implant excitement

I don’t know where to start writing about my cochlear implant journey, so I’ll just start writing and fill in the background as I feel like it. Luckily there isn’t much background yet because I’m just getting started.

Wednesday I received a big package in the mail from UNC. It had a map of the hospitals and stacks of literature from all three of the cochlear implant companies. Thank god there are only three is what I have to say!

I emailed my audiologist at UNC because I wasn’t sure if choosing a brand was even an option for me since I want them to do a specific surgery technique that was developed by one brand for a clinical trial of ‘hybrid’ cochlear implants. After all, I chose UNC over somewhere closer to home because they are experts at the ‘soft’ surgery technique that is less damaging to the cochlea and less likely to destroy all residual hearing. If that technique is only possible with Med-El then I’m going to go with Med-El. Maybe I shouldn’t even bother looking at the literature.

Well curiosity got the better of me and I started reading. I had no bias whatsoever for the other two brands (Cochlear and Advanced Bionics). I know people who have both types, I know all about the “Brand Wars” that develop. I know that all three brands are excellent and work well, because you can’t exactly do a direct comparison.

The funniest thing happen, I loved the literature from Med-El. They seemed to focus more on their advancements to the implant and electrode itself. The others focused on bells and whistles like their processing software, water resistance and rechargeable batteries (not bad things, mind you!). I was intrigued by the concept of hearing a sound envelope versus hearing the envelope and the “fine structure” within it. Another funny thing happen yesterday when I watched the Med-El DVD (which I found kind of amateurishly produced): the people they interviewed were engineering types. 🙂

So I went from wondering if I should even consider other brands to knowing that the one that works is the one that I want. And I found out that Med-El also has rechargeable batteries and some water resistance, as well as being able to use any of my DIA cords from my hearing aids by plugging them right into the implant processor! Most implants have ‘patch cords’ but I didn’t know if they were a standard plug or not. With it being the standard I can plug into my CI and my hearing aid with the same cords I already have. Awesome.

I’m excited and it seems like I will have to wait a few more months at least. I have my first appointment at UNC on March 9th for evaluation with audiologist, talk to the surgeon and CT Scan.



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6 replies on “Cochlear implant excitement”

  1. Share

    Great blog! I hope you’ll consider adding it to the aggregator at Deaf Village ( — we’d love to have you as part of our community!

  2. Share

    It sounds like being an engineer really is to your advantage as you start this journey. Thanks for blogging this! I’m looking forward to reading more.

  3. Share

    Lisa says:

    Sara, I enjoyed reading your postings. I know how you are feeling.
    As for me, I put off getting a CI for 8 years after I lost my ability to discriminate speech. I went with the Advanced Bionics. My only regret is I wish I had the implant done in my better ear. I also wish I went with an implant that uses store bought batteries since I travel a lot and I do want to be able to go on a week long camping trip. Packing a recharger and adapter is a drag. Also I miss the convenience of popping into a drug store if I am in need of a battery. If you have any questions as you explore your options, please don’t hesitate to send me a private email. Good luck to you! Lisa

    1. Share

      Sara says:

      Lisa –
      I didn’t realize you had gotten a CI… it does sound like our situations are similar… It seems like it’s a harder decision when you still have some hearing left. Thanks for bringing up camping and the battery thing. I’ll have to think about the that! I think Med-El has both options available, but not sure how interchangeable things are. Definitely seems like CIs like to EAT batteries.

  4. Share

    John Berry says:

    Sara-I’ve enjoyed your blogs and still get funny comments on the ‘slides in a flash’ photos you composed for me! I have a friends mom who is happy about her CI she got done several yrs ago–I had a knee reconstructive surgery I’m not so happy I went through…you are so correct to do diligent research as to current/future opts–stem cell may indeed open up some new doors!…I too played sax for many yrs, last was Richmond Municipal Band, and always rushed tempo–how do you battle w. that? You are amazing, I envy seeing your sax group photo–I played jazz for many yrs, but go back and my skills are so bad—finally gave my alto to a friends son who’s now playing it in band–now, I just look at my wall photos of Dexter Gorgon and Jerry Mulligan and dream–if you want to talk to Dot Clark who got the CI, she’s a local retired Physical Therapist-I can get her ph. #…its been approx. 2 yrs ago…I’m sure the tech. is moving fast in this field! Best of luck and keep playin’ the sax! John Berry

  5. Share

    Mike says:

    Keep sharing the CI news, this is exciting!

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