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Abbey’s Road – A Journey Through Abbey’s Cochlear Implantation

My day to day life as a new cochlear implant (CI) user has been improving as I continue to adjust and learn. My cochlear implant has found itself attracted to doorknobs and my metallic bed post, has gotten tangled in my hair, and has fallen off almost every time I take off my mask.

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Written By: Abbey Russell

My day to day life as a new cochlear implant (CI) user has been improving as I continue to adjust and learn. My cochlear implant has found itself attracted to doorknobs and my metallic bed post, has gotten tangled in my hair, and has fallen off almost every time I take off my mask. I panic at first, thinking my CI stopped working or that I had lost it! But then I laugh at this, as the magnetic portion of my processor makes having an implant a bit of an adventure.

I had expectations and hopes for this surgery and so did others who have inquired on my progress. Indeed, it was disappointing to find out, upon activation, that I wouldn’t hear speech. I know that for many, the absence of language seems disheartening. However, sounds do not only incorporate speech. In fact, it was my mom who kindly pointed out that my other ear is able to comprehend speech well. Having one “good ear” is a gift.

While it is a blessing in many ways, I found myself wondering the same dreaded question that others had inquired of me: “Was getting the cochlear implant worth it?” I knew this came from those who deeply cared and wanted to know how I really felt. I replied that I’d have to adjust for about six months before I could really give a definitive answer.

The truth is, when I was initially asked this question, I wasn’t sure if it was worth it. I didn’t hear speech and the “sounds” were super sensitive. It was difficult to stay optimistic and give an answer for how I was doing. However, I told myself to stay positive and give it time. Now four months later, and I can honestly say, “Yes, it was worth it.”

So why do I say I believe receiving the implant was worth it now? Those who know me know that I absolutely love music. I come from a musical family, and I’m always trying to hear music better since it sounds different than it would for someone with natural hearing. While in college, I only played piano off and on, but I used to play more in high school. From the day after my cochlear implant was activated, I began to play once again. This time, I feel the music and the beat more clearly. You see, with just my hearing aid, it is hard for me to distinguish which notes I’m hitting when I press down on the pedal. This pedal blends the notes and the song becomes more of a blur. But with my implant, I am able to distinguish the notes much more clearly. My parents have stated that I’ve begun to play the beat more consistently, play with more passion, and hit the correct notes. Though these seem like small factors that come into play, it has made music so much more enjoyable! Even if hearing music more richly would be the one benefit to come out of this journey, it would be enough. However, I believe even more positives are yet to come!

Abbey Russell is a 23-year-old college graduate who is preparing to enter medical school. After 19 years of deafness in her left ear and hearing loss in the right, Abbey made the decision to undergo cochlear implant surgery. Abbey is keeping a journal of her experiences, and AG Bell recognizes Abbey’s generosity in sharing her story to help others on this journey understand some of the joys and challenges of adapting to a cochlear implant.

For more information, please visit AG Bell here.

Abbey’s Road: el proceso de la implantación coclear de Abbey

Abbey Russell

Mi vida diaria como nueva usuaria de un implante coclear mejora a medida que me voy adaptando y aprendiendo. El aparato siente atracción por los pomos de las puertas y la barra metálica de la cama, se me enreda en el cabello y ¡se me cae prácticamente cada vez que me quito la mascarilla! Al principio me asustaba, pensando que había dejado de funcionar o que lo había perdido. Ahora ya me entra la risa, porque la parte magnética del procesador hace que llevar un implante sea una aventura.

Tenía expectativas y esperanzas en esta intervención quirúrgica e incluso otras personas que se han interesado por el progreso también tenían expectativas. Soy consciente de que, para muchas personas, la ausencia de lenguaje parece desalentadora. Lo cierto es que me sentí decepcionada al descubrir, tras la activación, que no escuchaba el habla. Sin embargo, la audición de sonidos no solo incluye el habla. De hecho, fue mi madre quien me recordó que mi otro oído era capaz de comprender bien el habla. Tener un «buen oído» es un regalo.

Si bien es una bendición en muchos sentidos, me encontré haciéndome la misma temida pregunta que otras personas me hacían: «¿ha valido la pena recibir un implante coclear?» Era consciente de que me lo preguntaban personas que se interesaban de verdad y querían saber cómo me sentía realmente. Sin embargo, les contestaba que necesitaba adaptarme unos seis meses antes de poder dar una respuesta definitiva.

Lo cierto es que, cuando me hacían esta pregunta al principio, no estaba segura de si había valido la pena. No oía el habla y los «sonidos» eran supersensibles. Me resultaba difícil mantener una actitud optimista y responder sobre cómo afrontaba la situación. Sin embargo, me decía a mí misma que debía seguir manteniendo una actitud positiva y dejar que pasara el tiempo. Cuatro meses después, puedo decir con toda sinceridad: «sí, valió la pena».

¿Y por qué creo que valió la pena recibir el implante? Las personas que me conocen saben que me encanta la música. Procedo de una familia de músicos y siempre intento mejorar la audición de la música, ya que la oigo de una manera diferente a como la oye una persona con una audición natural. En los últimos cuatro años, solo he tocado el piano de vez en cuando, pero solía tocar más cuando estudiaba secundaria. A partir del día siguiente a la activación del implante coclear, comencé a tocar de nuevo. Era capaz de sentir la música y el ritmo con más claridad. La verdad es que, solo con el audífono, me resulta difícil distinguir qué notas estoy tocando cuando piso el pedal. El pedal mezcla las notas y la melodía se difumina. Sin embargo, con el implante, soy capaz de distinguir mucho más las notas. Mis padres dicen que toco con más ritmo, más entusiasmo y con las notas correctas. Aunque parecen pequeños factores que entran en juego, ¡han hecho que la música sea mucho más divertida! Incluso si escuchar música con una mayor riqueza fuera el único beneficio de este proceso, sería suficiente. ¡Sin embargo, creo que aún quedan más aspectos positivos por llegar!

Abbey Russell es una graduada universitaria de 23 años que se está preparando para entrar en la facultad de medicina. Después de 19 años con sordera en el oído izquierdo y una pérdida auditiva en el derecho, Abbey tomó la decisión de someterse a una cirugía de implante coclear. Abbey anota en un diario sus experiencias y AG Bell le agradece su generosidad al compartir su trayectoria y ayudar a otras personas en este proceso a que conozcan algunas de las alegrías y los desafíos de la adaptación de un implante coclear.

Para mas infomación, visite a AG Bell International aquí.

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