Another argument for the benefits of going bilateral…
I’m at work, doing OUTS over in Automotive. As I’m in the middle of the aisle, kneeling, I hear in my CI ear, this faint voice go “Excuse me…..excuse me” and I think to myself “that is so cool, I understood what the person is saying”. It wasn’t my mind filling in the information, it was real, actual speech heard the way that speech is intended to be heard.
Curiosity got the better of me like Alice In Wonderland, and I get up to see where the voice is coming from. Going to the right (as I heard it in my right ear), I approach the end of the aisle and peer out into the racetrack (the main aisle) expecting to see one of my coworkers helping the guest who asked for help. I don’t see a single person in either direction. As I’m about to turn around I hear “excuse me” again, and realized that it was coming from behind me.
There was a man standing at the end of the aisle, on my left side. My right ear (the CI) could pick up what he said and my brain was able to interpret what he was saying correctly, but because my left ear didn’t pick up the sound, much less even interpret what was being said, I automatically thought it was coming from my right.
That’s the problem with having one cochlear implant and one hearing aid. Your sense of localization is all screwed up. My right ear is compensating for my left ear, but the one area it is sorely failing at is localization. I used to be great at localization, when I had two devices of the same kind (hearing aid and hearing aid) to assist in that. Now that I have a much more powerful device in my right ear, my left ear is losing its skills that it used to have.
When I first got the implant turned on, my left ear was compensating for my right ear. It got to the point where I had to take off my hearing aid and force my right ear to listen with the CI. Now one year later, the roles have changed.
I don’t like this unbalanced feeling. I want to be equal on both sides, or nearly equal. When I had two hearing aids, I preferred listening with my left ear more, because it understood speech.
But this latest incident has made me a stronger proponent for bilateral implantation. I’m going to talk to the insurance company and see if I can get a second implant, and try to get that over the Thanksgiving or Christmas break.
If I have the surgery again, I should be in and out like everybody else, because now I know what to expect, plus I know what kind of anesthesia works for me (even though it made me super-hyper that night). And before anybody asks, yes, I plan to go with the same doctor who did my first surgery.