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

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.

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Written By: Abbey Russell

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 kept a journal of her experiences, and AG Bell recognizes Abbey’s generosity in sharing her story to help others understand some of the joys and challenges of adapting to a cochlear implant. This entry marks one year since she received her implant.

The past several months have seen some major life changes. The first being, that I moved into my first apartment! The second is… starting medical school!

Thankfully, I’ve been having a wonderful experience at my new place. While I needed to get the electric, renter’s insurance, and everything set up, I also recognized the need for an accessible fire alarm. I had found out through AGBell that you could apply for a free alarm through the local fire station! So I did just that, and I now have an accessible alarm.

I have a little puppy, Rosie, who alerts me if someone is at the door or if there are loud sounds coming from somewhere in the complex. (A fun little benefit from the implant is that when I walk around my apartment, the implant picks up on the pitter patter of my puppy’s little feet following me!)

When I’m studying or listening to music, I’ve noticed how my cochlear implant has also been beneficial for recognizing loud sounds or knocking. Each of these factors help me feel so much safer. For sounds to be unknown and unheard puts one in a very vulnerable place. I’ve been so thankful to have my implant at this stage of life.

The start of medical school ended up being a bit bumpy, as masks were mandated during orientation week. It was beyond difficult to meet new classmates when I couldn’t hold a conversation due to the masks. My ability to lipread well vanished completely. I could tell my classmates were confused and unsure of my ability to hear/converse because without a mask, I could communicate well but as soon as the masks went back on, I was pretty much profoundly deaf to voices. After class, I was both extremely physically and emotionally fatigued.

However, each day my faculty would help troubleshoot with clear masks and captioning, and they were willing to try new things. I would put myself out there more to make sure I had conversations with my classmates so they could know me for me and not just the “deaf” part of me. (We had opportunities to not wear masks during lunch or events held outside.)

“Abbey’s Road” in Volta Voices has opened up many conversations throughout the past year. I’ve had several young adults reach out who had hearing loss that was later onset or a deaf ear that never got treated. There was a mutual understanding between us. Each cochlear implant surgery may have a different prognosis, but I know I’ve had the blessing of being able to educate others on my experience. To those who read these journal entries, asked questions, and listened to my perspective, thank you.

I encourage you to recognize the hurdles someone has to undergo with hearing loss, even with the use of technology. But even more importantly, we must encourage those with hearing loss to be self-advocates to receive what they need and to see the beauty in the hearing loss. Sometimes I wonder if those with hearing aids or cochlear implants actually end up listening more intently, remembering conversations more vividly, and connecting emotionally on a deeper level. Thank you to my parents, family members, friends, teachers, and professionals who have all spoken life into me. I hope that each person with hearing loss, early or late onset, remembers they aren’t alone in this. I hope that they find peace throughout their hurdles and find joy in what they are able to do. Thank you for joining with me along my journey!

PHOTOS:

Abbey as a little girl (first day of Kindergarten) and the one by the car is the first day of medical school.

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Abbey during her white coat ceremony at the end of orientation.

Abbey’s mother (Cindy) and sister (Bethany) during vacation a few weeks ago.

For more information, please visit AG Bell here.

Abbey’s Road: un recorrido de la implantación coclear de Abbey

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 anotó en un diario sus experiencias y AG Bell le agradece su generosidad al compartir su historia y ayudar a otras personas a que conozcan algunas de las alegrías y los retos de la adaptación de un implante coclear. Esta entrada marca un año desde que recibiera el implante.

En los últimos meses se han producido algunos cambios importantes en mi vida. ¡El primero fue mudarme a mi primer apartamento! El segundo es… ¡empezar en la facultad de medicina!

Afortunadamente, la experiencia en mi nuevo hogar está siendo maravillosa. Si bien tuve que contratar el suministro eléctrico y el seguro de inquilino, además de dejar todo listo, también me di cuenta de que necesitaba una alarma antiincendios accesible. ¡Me enteré a través de AG Bell que se puede solicitar una alarma gratuita a través de la estación de bomberos local! Así lo hice y ahora dispongo de una alarma accesible.

También tengo una perrita, Rosie, que me avisa si alguien se encuentra en la puerta o si se escuchan ruidos fuertes en algún lugar del complejo. (Una pequeña y divertida ventaja del implante es que, cuando camino por el apartamento, el implante ¡capta las pisadas de la perrita que me sigue!)

Cuando estudio o escucho música, noto que el implante coclear también me permite reconocer sonidos fuertes o golpes. Todas estas ventajas me ayudan a sentirme mucho más segura. La incapacidad de reconocer y oír los sonidos pone a una persona en una posición bastante vulnerable. Me siento muy agradecida por haber recibido el implante en esta etapa de mi vida.

El comienzo en la facultad de medicina acabó siendo un poco accidentado, ya que las mascarillas fueron obligatorias durante la semana de orientación. Me resultó muy difícil conocer a los nuevos compañeros de clase al no poder mantener una conversación con las mascarillas. Mi capacidad de leer los labios se desvaneció por completo. Me daba cuenta de que mis compañeros estaban confundidos e inseguros de mi capacidad para oír/conversar porque sin la mascarilla me podía comunicarme bien pero, tan pronto como su uso volvía a ser obligatorio, no podía escuchar las voces. Después de las clases, me encontraba extremadamente cansada tanto física como emocionalmente.

No obstante, el profesorado trataba de ayudar a solucionar los problemas con mascarillas transparentes y subtítulos, y se mostraba dispuesto a probar cosas nuevas. Me esforcé por mantener conversaciones con mis compañeros para que me pudieran conocer personalmente y no se quedaran solo con mi faceta de «sordera». (Se nos dio la oportunidad de no tener que utilizar mascarillas durante el almuerzo o en los eventos celebrados en el exterior.)

«Abbey’s Road» en Volta Voices abrió muchas conversaciones durante el año pasado. Se pusieron en contacto conmigo varios adultos jóvenes que tenían una pérdida auditiva de aparición tardía o un oído con sordera para el que nunca habían recibido tratamiento. Entre nosotros se produjo un entendimiento mutuo. Cada cirugía de implante coclear puede tener un pronóstico diferente, pero me siento afortunada de haber podido informar a otras personas sobre mi experiencia. Les doy las gracias a todas las personas que leyeron estas entradas del diario, hicieron preguntas y conocieron mi perspectiva.

Les animo a reconocer los obstáculos que tiene que afrontar una persona con pérdida auditiva, incluso con el uso de la tecnología. Sin embargo, aún más importante es que animemos a aquellas personas con pérdida auditiva a que defiendan sus propios intereses para recibir lo que necesitan y aprecien la belleza de la pérdida auditiva. En ocasiones, pienso que las personas con audífonos o implantes cocleares escuchan con una mayor atención, recuerdan las conversaciones de una manera más vívida y se conectan emocionalmente a un nivel más profundo. Les doy las gracias a mis padres y a todos los familiares, amigos, maestros y profesionales por ayudarme en la vida. Me gustaría que todas las personas con pérdida auditiva, tanto si el inicio fue temprano o tardío, recuerden que no están solas. Espero que no pierdan la serenidad ante los obstáculos y encuentren alegría en lo que pueden hacer. ¡Gracias por acompañarme en mi recorrido!

FOTOGRAFÍAS:

Abbey de niña (primer día en preescolar) y la que se encuentra junto al coche corresponde al primer día en la facultad de medicina.

Abbey durante su «ceremonia de bata blanca» al final de la orientación.

La madre de Abbey (Cindy) y su hermana (Bethany) durante las vacaciones hace unas semanas.

Para mas infomación, visite a AG Bell International aquí.

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