*This post was translated from Portuguese to English by Isabella Vitoria Ramalho
This post is dedicated to all the people with profound deafness. On my second book, I wrote about profound deafness as a state of being down in the dumps, and about the Cochlear Implant as our chance of bouncing back. Hearing again through a cochlear implantmight be magical, but inner, previous reflection is necessary. Here I bring the 5 QUESTIONS you must ask yourself BEFORE the COCHLEAR IMPLANT.
It is no wonder that the million-dollar question is very simple (and is targeted to those who are indicated for cochlear implantation):
DO YOU WANT TO HAVE A COCHLEAR IMPLANT?
The one who has to want it is you. It is not enough that your mother, father, brother, husband, or parrot want you to have it, because it is your life that will change and it is you who will have to deal with these changes. And under this question there are really significant others, to which people are not used to paying so much attention.
Are you ready to be hearing again?
We can only think that we want to magically be hearing again, but the truth is that each single sound that enters our brain after the cochlear implant will cause a lot of different feelings. I always say that hearing again, for me, was first a stab in the heart, and later then it became a caress in the soul.
In the beggining, it is not that easy to hear again after so many years of hearing impairment. It is a new beginning, and just like any other, it demands a strong adaptation ability. Our brain, our body, our heart and our soul will have to readapt themselves after the CI. My opinion? Facing this challenge is worth it!
Can you keep your expectations low?
The decision of having a CI is, of course, an assumption that we want to get better, but we can’t have unrealistic expectations.
When I decided for the CI, it never occurred to me that I would speak on the phone again, understand the human speech without lip-reading, hear birds and all the sounds that haven’t been part of my routine for years.
My expectations were really low: I was thinking that I would hear a little bit louder than with my hearing aids, and that would already be great for me.
When I recall that time, I notice that having kept my expectations low was one of the things that helped me the most in this process.
Do you understand that you will need a lot of commitment later?
Your brain will do a forced exercise 24 hours a day to adapt to the new auditory stimulus and you will have to help. Sitting and waiting for astonishing results will not take you anywhere.
Auditory training and speech therapy, when reccomended, are absolutely necessary and useful. Take the most out of them!! To be hearing again is like being sedentary for years and then suddenly start training to become a halterofilist. It might be tiring, it might be upsetting – and the results are not as quick as we want it to be.
Do you understand that each deafness situation is singular?
Unfortunately, the medical area is still not able to predict the behaviour of each human brain. We need to and are used to get inspiration on someone’s results, but we can’t think that it will work equally or similarly for us.
Our brain is unique. The stimulation it received throughout our lifetime is unique. The environment we live in is unique. Our willpower is unique. Our anatomy is unique. Consequently, you must avoid falling into the pitfall of comparing your results with someone else’s. Deafness is like a fingerprint.
Have you been informed about the cochlear implant brands?
This decision is extremely important. Speak with users of different brands, inform yourself about their technical support and customer service; Know the prices of each brand’s CI parts and acessories;
Know how much each brand will cost to your healthcare plan. Know it all!! You will get married to the chosen brand, so this decision is personal and non-transferable. Don’t be lazy when looking for information, so you will not regret it later.
Life changes when you are hearing again. Get ready for it.