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Sharing Stories

Les’ Story

As I sat in the waiting room for my turn at the CAT scan I was embarrassed that I couldn't control my emotions as I cried like a child.  I am sure there were people waiting with me that had illnesses much worse than my late life hearing loss.  Yet I couldn't quell the emotions that I had suppressed for the last 2 years that were now coming to the surface.

At the age of 18 I entered into the job market as a professional tree cutter/Arborist and began a relationship with mother nature and all her wonders that would carry me for the next 24 years. I was blessed from the beginning and although times were often hard I was able to provide for my family in a way that I had never known or imagined.  Providing for my family was and continues to be the pride of my life.  Unfortunately, I never took serious the need to wear hearing protection and that would prove to be my biggest challenge ever.  In 2006 I had the opportunity to sell my business and enjoy, or so I thought, some much needed "down time" with my family.  My hearing had deteriorated over the last 4 years to the point that I could tell it was a distraction and source of frustration for those closest to me. But I assumed I could correct that with the use of hearing aids.
 
After spending lots of money and experiencing enormous amounts of frustration and embarrassment I retreated from being an outgoing person, serving on different community boards and enjoying cooking and socializing with my friends to a near recluse.  I soon fell victim to depression and the problems that accompany that state of mind. I decided that I just needed to get back  "in the game" so I bought a business and went back to work. I soon found that being back in an environment where I was supposed to be the lead communicator only worsened my state of mind as I experienced failure after failure in trying to communicate with others.  I soon lost the self confidence to just about go anywhere without my wife assisting me with conversations.  It was a humbling and humiliating period for me.

By this point I had given up on hearing aids as they were useless and I knew I had to do something if I was going to have any quality of life as a deaf/HOH person. I am forever grateful to my assistant who researched CI and scheduled me for a consultation with Dr. Jacques Herzog.  It was at this first appointment that I was cleared to be a CI recipient and started the process with a CAT scan that very day.

With just two weeks to go before my first implant surgery I recognize that there are no guarantees, but for right now I am enjoying the anticipation and elation of hope.  I envision being able to hear my daughter speaking to me in her sweet and soft voice, or my teenage son communicating with me rather than just giving up because it is so difficult.  I am excited for my wife so that she is not burdened to attend all of my doctors appointments and translate for me.  I am eager for my colleagues to be able to communicate with me without the tiring process of repeating themselves, moving closer.......

IT'S NOW FEBRUARY 1, SOME 7 MONTHS LATER...

It has been a bittersweet and difficult period for me.  First, the CI has performed exactly as advertised and I am enjoying the wonderful and amazing technology that allows me to hear.  Unfortunately what little hearing I had in my left is now gone and I am scheduled for my second implant in March.  The last seven months have been very challenging for my wife and I and we are anxious about being a bilateral CI patient.  The business we bought could not survive the economy and I had a very difficult time transitioning to my new hearing environment. I simply could not function in such a "charged" and "challenging" environment while adjusting to my CI.  The business and I both suffered greatly I now find myself at 46 years old and deaf, unemployed and a few semesters short of completing my degree.  Not exactly a skill set that is in great demand but others have overcome much more.

I am now in the process of educating myself on life as a deaf person and the options that are available to me and trying to position my family so that I can attend school full time while I complete my degree. I am finding wonderful organizations like www.CIAFONLINE.org that are providing me with a wealth of information for transitioning to my "new" life.  I appreciate the efforts of these caring and compassionate people who are thoughtful enough to provide this service.

Like anyone else I guess, I often wonder how this challenge is going to make me a better person and more directly how we are going to survive it as a family?  My wife and I have a strong belief and faith that our needs will be meet, but we certainly don't know how much suffering will be required.  I have found through this entire process that the biggest blessing has not been the CI, but the change that has occurred in me as I have become the compassionate and gentle person that I always admired in others.

I hope that as I move forward I may be able to share my experiences and compassion with others and hopefully make their journey a little less challenging.  I am looking forward to better hearing, but I very badly miss my sweet daughters natural voice.  Along with learning to be more compassionate I have adjusted (rightfully so) my priorities to a much better place.


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Resources What is a cochlear implant?  What does insurance typically cover?  What are the ongoing costs?  Connect to our Resources page to view the only online clearinghouse of up-to-date cochlear implant information. CLICK HERE FOR RESOURCES
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