Cochlear Implant Update

As many of you know, I had a cochlear implant implanted on December 17. My surgeon says that I had a tougher recovery than 90% of her patients. More pain, more of a reaction to the anesthesia, and more weird side-effects. But that’s over with! (Well, almost.)

On January 10 the device was turned on, and, as expected, voices sounded like they went through one of those machines that a criminal might use to leave a ransom message. It takes awhile for the brain to make sense of these new pathways for aural inputs. Already, after only two weeks, voices are sounding more normal. Voices continue to have a metallic echo, but already I have more clarity than I had with my hearing aids.

For thirty years I have dealt with being hard of hearing, and with the anger, frustration, grieving, and acceptance, that comes with a disability. Because my loss is progressive, I went through that emotional cycle over and over. I’d learn to cope, and then have the rug pulled out from under me and have to go through it all over again. The CI has stopped that. I know my baseline. If I never hear better than I am hearing now, it’s okay, because I know it will never get worse. Just that has changed my world. The icing on the cake is that my hearing is getting better.  It’s likely that my hearing will improve not just over the next few weeks, but over the next year or more. Amazing.

From the start, human voices, although weird, were understandable. It was another story with my animals. The first time I heard Lily bark I thought that the fire alarm went off! Walking down my hallway, I wondered what a loud tick-tick-tick was. I turned around and discovered that Lily’s nails make a lot of noise when she trots behind me. I’m enjoying the chickens’ chortles and clucks (I wasn’t deaf, so I had heard them, but now I’m hearing their fuller musical range.) Surprisingly, the goats don’t sound much different than they did before. But, now that I can hear noises from a greater distance, I’ve found out that Caper bleats when I leave the barn to go back to the house. I didn’t know. Sweet.


  1. Congrats to everyday being a new hearing discovery. The sounds of the wind, the tinkling of a creek, the affections of our animals, families and friends. May life give you sweet discoveries.

  2. How wonderful to hear things when you know you’ve been missing them … makes them all the more precious. Enjoy!

  3. Fantastic. Happy for you.
    Terry, looks like Caper is giving you the half stick out the tongue treatment because he knows your going in the house. That little stinker.

  4. This brought tears to my eyes. I am so happy for you. The things we take for granted….

  5. Terry, how wonderful!! I am a Speech-Language Pathologist and very interested in aural rehab. My mother is severely hearing impaired and it is a genetic trait passed from generation to generation. I am hearing impaired but not as badly as my sister. The younger ones seem to be worse. At any rate, I tell you all this as my mom is going to talk to a surgeon about an implant too. She hasn’t had full hearing in 40 years. I have found some wonderful compensatory products and last year I hooked this item up called hear here to her tv. Well, the glass clinked in the glass on the show and I looked at her and said “did you hear that” and she said “what”? As I started to say the ice–she said–you mean the ice in the glass. I realized that her auditory processing was as much a factor as her hearing loss. As a SLP I should have known that but I didn’t think about it. Anyway-I know you will continue to improve and I am so very happy for you.
    Sorry for the rambling :)

    • Amy- think of the cochlear implant as part of the continuum of what you use to remain hearing. Like a better hearing aid. I went right from a 90 dB loss, severe, but still functioning with hearing aids, directly to this CI. The CI works – it stimulates everyone’s auditory nerve equally – but everyone’s brain and hearing history is unique. I’m sure that if she decides to do it, her brain will be up to the task!

  6. So very happy for you…so thrilling also to hear about your first sounds. You and family will enjoy this account of your time later down the road. My Mother too also struggled with being in the ‘hearing’ or ‘deaf’ community…she somehow floated in between the two never feeling a part of either. She is an amazing Mother…whether deaf or hearing!
    Many virtual hugs and quick healing prayers coming your way.

    • I never got close to being part of the deaf community. I actually remained hearing up until this implant – which is a factor in my immediate success with it, as my brain remembers hearing. So good that your mother was able to be a wonderful mother despite her challenges!

  7. Terry, I’m glad to hear the worst is over, and that things are improving daily. Loved reading your account of the tick tick ticks, clucks and distant bleats. How absolutely wonderful. I’m so happy for you!

  8. Glad to hear all is well. I hope you are on more shows how many have you bern on now three I think.

  9. Yay! Glad to “hear” that life is bringing music to your ears! Too bad you had to be among the 10% that had a tough time. You’ll be able to offer comfort to others with your experiences. Wonder how many more songbirds in the spring you’ll be able to hear?? :)

  10. I’m so happy for you. Hearing the animal sounds is so joyful and such a big part of our world. My chickens were taking a very long dirt bath yesterday as we are having 70 degree days. They were all purring and it was such a sweet sound.

  11. The first time my new digital hearing aids were inserted in my ears at the doctor’s office…I heard my husband zip his jacket. Amazing! Then that summer I heard a humming bird chirp…and the wings fluttering as he drank from feeder….that also was amazing.
    You’ll experience new distinct sounds daily. Hope you enjoy them all. I am so pelased for you Terry.

  12. Glad to hear the cochlear implants have worked so well and that you are finally better. It’s cute that Caper bleats when you go into the house. Too bad he can’t be a house goat :) Though I am sure their are goats out their that are, I don’t know if they can be potty trained like pigs, or wear diapers like house chickens do.

  13. Oh no another foot of snow. I hope that the birds will sound good this morning and not cranky as most people will be today

  14. Hi, my name is Pedro, I am from Dominican Republic and I’m so excited because of your farm and animals, they’re so so cute specially the rabbit. I was in Boston last december at a place called Hyde Park and I’m thinking in going back over again because I loved it. So, I’d like to know where you are and if it is possible to visit your farm in order to know you and your animals, I’ll appreciate it.
    God bless you all and take care.

    Thank you!!!

    • Pedro- I’m glad you got to visit Boston! We have a bit more snow than when you were here last. I’m sorry, but I don’t have visitors. My animals are in my backyard. I’m not a “real” farm! But, email me the next time you visit and I can make suggestions for where you can meet other farm animals. Both Drumlin Farm and Codman Farm in Lincoln are open to the public.

  15. So happy to have such a positive update on your hearing, and to know there is no place to go but up! Do enjoy it.

    PS Still think Pip is the best thing since sliced bread!