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.