Cochlear Implant Evaluation-Step 1

I had a CI evaluation appointment yesterday to verify that I’m a CI candidate. There has never been any question as to if I’m a candidate for a CI, but it’s part of the procedure. It’s also important to have this done for insurance purposes.

As I was driving up to the CI center I was thinking about how life really does seem to go in circles. Twenty-three years ago my parents drove ~4 hours to the very same center to get a second opinion. Thankfully it’s now a 40 minute drive 😉 Anyways, they drove me up to this very same center and spoke to a CI surgeon. This doctor encouraged my parents to implant me even though he referred to it as an experimental surgery and it was in the trial phases (basically, I would have been one of his guinea pigs).

Even though experiments have been dated back to the 1800s, it wasn’t until the 1980s-1990s that these experiments became reality. To give another idea of how new this technology still is.

Cochlear is the oldest cochlear implant company. The very first Cochlear recipient was in 1978. Cochlear America’s office wasn’t even established until 1984. FDA approved CIs for adults in 1985. Clinical trials for children in the US also started in 1985. Let me clarify that 1985 was the year my parents took me to this CI center. It was definitely a very new and experimental surgery and no one knew what the outcomes would be. No one knew what kind of training would be successful with a CI. There were just too many unknowns at that time. CIs weren’t approved by the FDA for children (age 2-17) until 1990.

I couldn’t help but think that I was going back to the very same center where one of the doctors wanted me to undergo an experimental surgery. I have to say that it had to be a very difficult decision for my parents to make and I 100% believe that they made the best decision for me at that time to not be implanted.

Anyways, the appointment lasted about 2 hours. The audiologist mentioned a few times that it was a very easy appointment for her and a fairly short one. I had already read a lot of studies about CIs, I did my “homework”, and I have the benefit of having friends who have CIs.

Some people have asked me what happened during my appointment. Basically we just talked about the reasons why I was interested in receiving a CI and the best CI “brand” for someone with my background. I also had several hearing tests. One with my hearing aids, one without, one with my hearing aids in my right ear only, one with my hearing aid in my left ear only, etc. I found out that my hearing has dropped 5 db in my left ear and I’ve somehow lost about 15 db all across the graph when aided. The audiologist checked my hearing aids and they’re at the maximum setting possible. She also gave me 2 additional tests. One was where I had to tell her what words she was saying without lip-reading (with hearing aids). I scored a very low 0% on that test, lol. For the second test I was given a list of words where I had to choose from the list which word she was saying (once again no lip-reading). I scored 55% on this.

There are several steps involved in the process of receiving a CI. The next step is to have a CT-scan to make sure there are no structural issues with my cochlea that may affect surgery and outcomes. I will also have a balance test after my CT-scan because CI surgery can affect your balance. After that I will meet with the CI team including the surgeon. I’m looking forward to meeting with the surgeon because I have several questions about long-term risks associated with the surgery itself. How significant these risks are to me is what will determine if I decide to be implanted. I’m already pretty familiar with these risks but I want to hear them directly from the surgeon.

The next appointment (CT-scan, balance test, and team meeting) is next Thursday so tune in next week!

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