My name is Jason. I am 46 years old, born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where I currently reside. I’m a physician specializing in cosmetic surgery of the body and face. My hobbies include cars and car racing, running, fitness, as well as attending theater performances.
“Cookie Bite” Hearing Loss Diagnosis
My hearing loss started in college, but I didn't give it much thought until the end of my surgical residency, when a colleague brought it to my attention. About six months later, I had a hearing test and was diagnosed with the so-called "cookie bite" hearing loss, which is a type of sensorineural hearing loss. I was fitted with a pair of hearing aids, which made a big difference.
Over the next decade, however, my hearing deteriorated to the point where it was difficult to cope in everyday life and the hearing aids made no difference in recognising words anymore. I realised that my hearing loss was genetic. Unfortunately, my family knew nothing really about it - only that I had some relatives who were hard of hearing. No one told me that my hearing loss would probably be progressive.
Social Isolation Due to Hearing Loss
As time went on and hearing aids became less and less useful, my world began to shrink socially. Work became increasingly difficult. I found myself in a number of embarrassing situations almost every day: answering a question completely wrong, not being able to order in shops and restaurants, or looking completely withdrawn because I couldn't hear something. My wife was my support during this period and she did most of the navigating and public speaking, as well as answering or clarifying questions. When my wife wasn't around, my daughter took over this role. When I was completely alone, I simply got used to awkward situations.
Finding a Solution for Hearing Loss
I did a lot of research prior to choosing an implant company. MED-EL was the company I decided to go with because of their electrode. Having an electrode that covers the second turn of the cochlea makes sense because the pitches are closer to natural hearing. This not only gave me the best chance to hear things normally again, it also enabled me to appreciate music to the fullest.
Waiting Five Years to Get a Cochlear Implant
It took me five years to decide on an implant after my initial consultation. My first appointment with the surgeon was just to see what my options might be, and I really didn't expect to be a candidate. I went home from that appointment and cried.
I thought it was the end. Now I know it was just the beginning.
- Jason, CI user from the US