Welcome to Part 6 of Changing Cochleas – my story of adopting a cochlear implant and the life that follows.


How’s my life going with a cochlear implant (CI)?

Well, for starters—although I can’t speak for other recipients—it’s a lot LOUDER.

All sounds are louder: the ones that I recognize as well as new ones that, without any visual clues, I need help in identifying. Luckily, there are trained people standing by for this job. For years, my family, friends and I have been playing a game familiar to any person affected by hearing loss—Whazzat?, short for What’s That Sound? 

And now, thanks to my new bimodal hearing (I wear a ReSound LiNX2 hearing aid on my left and a Cochlear Kanso Sound Processor on my right), we’re playing Whazzat a lot. All the time, actually. But my family and friends don’t mind telling me what I’m hearing, because they know if they don’t, I’ll keep pestering them—and possibly leave them for a nicer group of loved ones. Besides, playing Whazzat let’s them show off their good hearing; they also enjoy my reaction to the excruciating sound of people chewing potato chips.

But at only 32 days since activation, most familiar sounds bear little resemblance to how I hear them acoustically through my hearing aid. The voices of strangers sound curiously alike, as if they’re crying while they speak. What I hear do hear clearly, however, are those high frequency sibilant sounds. Think of the hiss of snakes and steam and the grocery checkout woman who asks “do you want bagss-SSS?”  I groan f I’ve forgotten my sound-less cloth bags in the car; paper bags are noisy enough, but the loud crackling of plastic bags has become my Most Annoying Sound ever. In Wired for Sound: A Journey into Hearing, my friend Bev Biderman writes about her surprise at their harshness—she had expected that they “rustled softly in peace.”

To read the rest of this article, please click here.

Thank you to Cochlear Americas and to HearingHealthMatters.org for their support in the development of the “Changing Cochleas” series.