Sunday, July 08, 2001

The Whole Story: Part 2, The Decision

The Decision

In March 2000, I was once again seated before my doctor to discuss my annual hearing tests. The additional decline in hearing capability was no surprise but the news that I was now a possible candidate for a cochlear implant was unexpected. My otolaryngologist explained that his policy was to implant the better ear because there was a greater chance of success in the ear that had the most recent stimulation. He suggested that I give it serious consideration and that I pick up some literature at the front desk. My response to this recommendation would have been an immediate, “Let’s schedule it!” if he had advised an implant for my left (“deaf”) ear. But I was not ready to sacrifice the only residual hearing I had left in my right ear. Driving home, Gerry and I discussed the idea of getting a second opinion. The next day he called our insurance company, and then the Listening Center at Johns Hopkins Hospital and arranged a consultation for May 11, 2000, the first of six appointments in the 5-month candidacy process. I was encouraged by the knowledge that surgeons there often implanted the “worst” ear and with great results.

By the time the verdict was in, I was more than ready to proceed with surgery. An implant in my left ear offered me a hope for the future, the possibility of some restored hearing and the prospect of enough speech comprehension to resume some degree of independence and connection with people. The Listening Center was careful to emphasize that there were no guarantees, only the prediction that it was likely that I would hear more environmental sounds than what I was hearing with my hearing aid. Fine … I had nothing to lose, and everything to gain.