Hearing Loss

All of us face challenges in our lives. Those of you who have followed this blog for years know that my ring of fire to go through was hearing loss that eventually resulted in deafness. Starting in my twenties, I wore hearing aids, but as my hearing declined, that technology no longer filled in the gaps and I could barely function in the hearing world. Even dinner table conversation with my son became impossible. In December of 2010 I had a cochlear implant installed in my left ear. The following year I had one implanted in the right. I had hoped that these devices would enable me to hear conversation, and they have, but they’ve given me back so much more than that. I’m still deaf, but with these cochlear implants turned on, I’m fully back into the world of sound. I’ve written about that here.


I wear my hair short. My CIs are visible. No one notices or cares – certainly not the ones that matter to me.

This transformation in my life could be called a miracle. Put me into a soundproof booth, and my hearing tests at 98%! But, it’s not a miracle, it’s the result of decades of hard work by scientists, and the years of training that surgeons go through, and the on-going education of audiologists. Hearing loss isn’t a disability that is visible, and it’s not one that young researchers think about delving into, nor that foundations throw a lot of money at. One of the few organizations that helps to fund the science that gives hope to people with hearing loss is the Hearing Health Foundation. When they asked me to write something for their website, I said yes. Here is what I wrote.


  1. Heartfelt, thought provoking topic. Very well written as usual. My Grandson suffers intermittently with his hearing they hope he will grow out of it. I admire how you cope and what you are able to do, long may it continue…:)

  2. I also remember being surprised at how hard you worked after each of your implants to learn to hear all over again. It’s a wonderful story. Thanks for sharing it.

    • Thank you for bringing that up. I believe that much of my success is due to training myself to hear again. The training is exactly like what I do with my animals – break behavior down into the smallest increments, be aware of each small success, and reward it. Then, move on to the next step!

  3. I, too remember the experience you shared learning to hear again…Lily’s claws behind you in the hall, the birds chirping. I was jumping up and down for you.

    Makes me think. A high fever rendered my nephew deaf at age 6. His entire immediate family learned to sign, and he has had hearing aids his whole life. He married a wonderful from-birth deaf woman and they have three beautiful hearing daughters(two of college age now) who, of course, all sign. He’s a bit of a genius and has pretty much called his own shots working for a couple of the biggest tech companies, so could have done the implants. I don’t know why he/they would have chosen otherwise.

    • There are cultural and emotional reasons to join and stay in the Deaf community. (They didn’t sway me, but I understand them.) The success of CIs varies and there are no guarantees. It’s a hard choice to make – made harder because there are so many misconceptions about the surgery, the device, and the resulting hearing. Even at the Hearing Health Foundation, I talked to a hard-of-hearing woman who didn’t realize how things have changed in the last few years. I hope that my story will put more information out there to aid decision making.

  4. I received a new and more powerful aid not too long ago and for the first time, I heard things that puzzled me. It was exciting time; although, it wore me out to no end as I am no longer the young person i was. I did ask about cochlear implant; but, since I still had a little hearing in left ear, I was not qualified.

    Unlike you, I was born with a severe and profound hearing loss. I was raised to speak and lip read (no sign). There was always an hearing loss sigma with me; but, I ignored it and plugged on plugging on only to fight against crap in the rat race when I became a professional programmer years ago.

    It is tough struggling in a hearing world. But, times have changed. People are now more willing (and more understanding) to work with people who have hearing loss. However, it is tough for me to switch mentally from the mindset of hiding my loss to no longer hiding — it is tough to let go of the past emotional crap I endured. You are an inspiration. :-)

    • I don’t underestimate how difficult and exhausting a hearing loss is. You need downtime, and you need to give yourself permission to take everything off and be quiet. Listening is hard work! It was only because I was desperate that I turned to the CIs. By the way, the criteria for CI candidates has changed. You can now get the implants even if you have residual hearing. In fact, my second CI didn’t destroy all of my remaining hearing.

    • I wasn’t able to use the phone for years, and didn’t expect to be able to hear on it when I got my CIs – but I can! I still need an amplified telephone, and I’m stressed on the phone (all of those years of not hearing and struggling to) but I can call to make appointments, and even have conversations.

  5. I’ve found these posts about hearing, or nor hearing, extremely valuable. I have some hearing loss and have been aware for decades that I use body language and lip reading to hear. (I can’t “hear” without my glasses.) My husband has a much worse hearing loss and your posts made me aware of how much he is missing from life around him. And made me aware of how much I may miss now, and in the future. My hearing loss is genetic, my mom has it, both of my sisters, and I recently found out both of my female cousins.

    • Please make an appointment with an audiologist. If you’re willing to drive east, the Lahey clinic in Burlington has a good department. The new generation of hearing aids can help you. You’ll be hearing goat berries drop – and all of the other wonderful things you’ve been missing :)