Paula M -Awareness Manager
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Hello and welcome to the Cochlear Community!
This is a GREAT Community of people just like you! Whether you are researching implantable hearing solutions, such as a cochlear implant or Baha system or you are already a recipient or parent or family member of someone with hearing loss....we are a family of people who understand where you are and what you are going through, because we've been there ourselves.
I grew up around people with hearing loss....several people in my family including my father and grandmother were hearing aid users as long as I can remember. I grew up with normal hearing as far as I know, however early in my work life I was experiencing difficulty hearing on the phone. With a family history of hearing loss I was evaluated and started wearing hearing aids at age 26. I was a successful hearing aid user for many years and had a progressive sensorineural loss. My hearing loss plateaued at about 65 dB for several years. At age 37 I experienced a sudden overnight loss which virtually left me deaf. I had no illness related to this loss. After determining that my hearing aids had not died...but instead my hearing had plummeted, my audiologist recommended I be evaluated for a cochlear implant. This was in the fall of 1995 and at that time the criteria for adult implantation was that you could have no measurable hearing. I had some (very little) measurable hearing at 250 and 500 hz. So while I had no speech understanding from that measurable hearing and about 120 dB loss in all other frequencies, I did not meet the criteria for implantation. Fortunately for me the criteria changed and after about 2 1/2 years of profound loss, I was approved as a candidate..... Although I was approved, insurance coverage of cochlear implants at this time was not an everyday occurrence...and therefore I battled insurance for an additional 2 years before I would get approval, therefore I was deaf for almost 5 years prior to implantation. I had immediate success with my implant. I had speech understanding from the first day and I have been using the phone since 5 days after activation!
I am fortunate in so many ways....I had been part of a great organization (SHHH) now known as HLAA, therefore I had a lot of support and really made my decision to have a Nucleus Cochlear Implant because of others who were in HLAA who had chosen to have cochlear implants. I knew that Cochlear was the company the created the multi-channel cochlear implant and I only really knew one person who had chosen another brand. I knew if I needed support from my friends who had cochlear implants, that I wanted to have the same brand that they did...I also knew how much we shared information about technology such as assistive devices and such, so they could share with me all the "gadgets" they used with their processors to enhance their listening experiences. This was long before there was a thought of a community of cochlear implant recipients such as this website. I have been very happy with my cochlear implant and so about 6 years after my first implant I decided to get a second implant. Again, I encountered insurance obstacles which lasted 22 months, and literally I was approved for my second implant the day before my surgery was scheduled. So I was implanted in with my second device at Christmas of 2007. I personally find that my understanding of conversation in noise has been greatly enhanced by being a bilateral recipient. I also find that I can localize sound much better than having one implant. And I LOVE hearing bilaterally on the phone with a neck-loop or listening to music or books on tapes/cd and most recently my Kindle. In my opinion, two ears really are better than one.
So now my life with a hearing loss has come full circle, as I now am employed by Cochlear Americas. I am blessed to work with sharing information about advanced hearing solutions with others and I also support our recipients after implantation sharing my personal experiences hoping to be able to make a difference in the successful outcome they have with their Cochlear implant or Baha. Thanks for reading my story! I hope to hear from you soon!
I am here to offer you resources, support and hope.
Happy Hearing! Paula