One Year of My Cochlear Implant: Part One
Why I wanted to have a new cochlear implant
I am writing about one year of my cochlear implant because of my one anniversary of my cochlear implant surgery. Last year, I made my decision to get my new cochlear implant for many reasons. I had four reasons why I wanted to have a new cochlear implant. First, when I was 9 years old with my first cochlear implant, I enjoyed hearing music and voices from other people. Second, I missed talking with my own voice and hearing what everyone said. Third, I wanted to socialize with the hearing people and Cochlear Implantees. I felt a little guilty about forgetting my cochlear implant as I followed Deaf people’s selfish opinions, not my own personal choice. I forgot how I had two amazing worlds in my life experience which were too complicated. Yet, I was so wrong to follow Deaf people because I should have chosen my own personal choices instead of following them, their opinions were so different. So I realized that I now have two worlds in my life: Hearing and Deaf. Forth, I finally took my chance to get a new cochlear implant and I’ve been happier to hear so many sounds from anywhere.
As 9 year old little girl with a first-time cochlear implant, I used to know the voices and music at home. Unfortunately, my old cochlear implant did not have more channels; it only had one channel. It meant that it did not have enough to hear more familiar sounds. I missed so many sounds that were not good enough to understand and identify what sound it was. A few years later, I continued to wear my old one and moved to a new school where Deaf students attended. It was the school for the Deaf. I enrolled into the Middle School and found some wonderful friends who treated me well. Somehow, other students were disapproved of me being cochlear implantee. Three girls bullied me in the girls’ bathroom and threw my old cochlear implant in the toilet. I was very upset and lost it. I was kind of scared to tell my mother this happened. She was angry and called the school for the bullying issue and my old cochlear implant processor. The janitor got my old one out of the toilet and it broke down. After a few years of not wearing cochlear implant, I become pure Deaf person myself and I left my identity of being a cochlear implantee. Deaf people pushed me to choose my own identity, not my own decision or feelings. I should have explored my feelings and choices over their opinions, I wished that I could have said no and that I could prefer to make my decision instead of letting them push me to change my identity. I did not blame them, I partly blamed myself because I did not have the courage to stand up for myself and make my own decision. In my understanding, I was easy to be a gullible young girl at the school for the Deaf.
In 1994, I went to Chabot College. I took classes and found some friends who were hearing. One day, I met a friend who was also a cochlear implantee and she told me that she had new cochlear implant. We talked about our different views of cochlear implant. Her boyfriend came to her, talking with her in the voice. What I had seen her talking with her boyfriend made me thinking of wearing my cochlear implant again; unluckily, my old cochlear implant processor broke and my old cochlear implant identity still left somehow in my life.
In 2000, I had seen those who were cochlear implantees and I wish that I could have been involved with them and that I could make friends with them but I did not have my cochlear implant processor with me. It took me so long time to re-evaluate my identity. I wanted to hear the sounds and voices, yet I couldn’t. My decision was kind of complicated, I was scared of being judged and criticized by Deaf people, some of them were my friends. I knew that my friends were against cochlear implantees, they did talk so negative about cochlear implants. Inside my feelings, I did not know if I could wanted to have a new one or not. But what about my friends? What about my personal choice? I knew that I am Deaf but being a cochlear implantee did not mean that I am Hearing. How could I make my choice without insulting my friends? It was not so easy.
Last year, I finally made my decision that I’d take the chance to get a new cochlear implant myself. I knew that I wanted to have a new one since I missed so many things I hadn’t heard for a long time. Last May 4, 2015 – I got cochlear implant surgery and it took me a few weeks to rest at home. I came to my audiologist and got my new cochlear implant processor and started to get activated! Since 25 years without hearing sounds, I finally heard more beautiful, amazing sounds from anywhere, especially the voices. I finally realized how my husband talked! Now I understand why people always ask where he’s from. I was happy to hear many things again. Now what? Since one year, I have been practicing my speech and studying the skill of lipreading while wearing my cochlear implant. It takes a lot of time to practice. No rush.
Well, how about my friends? How would my friends deal with this if I am a cochlear implantee?
Stay tuned: One Year of My Cochlear Implant: Part Two