Life With a Cochlear Implant: An Intro
“I have a cochlear implant”.
That’s been my standard opening line. It’s my response to people who ask if I have a hearing aid, or wonder why I’m changing batteries on a strange machine in the middle of their sentence. Most people I encounter don’t know what it is, or what it really means. This confusion is understandable, because these little machines aren’t common knowledge. They also create a different reality and experience for each person who has one. For years, I’ve been trying to truly start a blog about my own reality with a cochlear implant.
I’m a pretty average college girl. I attend the University of Texas at Austin. I played trumpet in the Coppell High School marching band, and fell in love with music. I joined a sorority in an effort to become part of a smaller group, and I’m studying to become a nurse. On all counts, my life is average, and my long hair usually covers my cochlear implant. Most of the people I meet in college don’t know I have one, because it doesn’t come up in conversation.
I contracted bacterial meningitis when I was three. I became profoundly deaf as a result of the illness and treatment, losing every last bit of my hearing. Luckily, I was a candidate for a cochlear implant (only one, as was standard procedure at the time). At 18 years old, after lots of experience and patience from my parents, I’m able to rely entirely on this little machine. When it flips on, I can hear. When it runs out of battery, I can’t. In a sense, I can turn off the world (and little siblings, and noise in the library). This is my reality, and all that I can remember.
The idea of a cochlear implant is still relatively unfamiliar to potential candidates, or the parents of kids who are candidates. Even in everyday life with a cochlear, I’ve wondered if other people are going through the same process as me. Can I waterproof this thing? Do other people have as much trouble finding headphones? Who else is deaf in one ear? This blog will be about my daily life with a cochlear implant, and navigating life in between the hearing and Deaf communities. I am just one person, who has just one experience with a cochlear implant, but I hope to get another voice out there.