Saturday, April 19, 2014


“Silence is still golden.”  A few years ago from this month I woke up and sound was gone.  I lost my hearing permanently and without reason.  The only thing the doctors can think of was multiple ear infections.  I stopped asking the questions “Why me? What now? How?”  After wasted hours trying to find answers to those questions, I concluded that being deaf is not the worst situation I could face and that I needed to live with my soundless world.  I learned a lot about deafness from talking with my new online friends, reading other blogs, and reading books.  There are a lot of stories similar to mine, and some that are much worse.  I had my hearing for forty years, and I’m thankful for that.  I missed the sound of rain, even the sound of the toilet flushing, and the whisper of my wife’s voice in bed.  We take sound for granted.  We are so busy talking or busy with our electronic devices that we block out the sounds of the larger world around us.

Hearing aids are a deaf person’s best friend.  The newer, smaller hearing aids are amazing, allowing you to stream wireless devices directly.  Hearing aids are available to those with slight to severe hearing loss.  I wore hearing aids for four months, until my hearing loss grew worse and their effectiveness declined. 

Thanks be to God for the next best thing – cochlear Implants.  I was implanted on November 1, 2013, and three weeks later my electrode, the device inside your cochlea, was turned on.  WOW!  The difference was incredible.  I adapted quickly to the new technology and now have hearing that is as close to normal as possible.

I do have a few advantages over hearing people:

1. In a loud environment hearing people struggle to block out sounds.  My implant allows me to focus on one voice and diminish others. 

2. You have to put in earplugs to block out loud, annoying sounds like a dog barking, loud music, or crying babies.  I just take off my cochlear implant and silence is back.

3. You have to put something in your ears to hear music.  I just Bluetooth my music to my ear.  Convenient.

4. I don’t need to argue with my wife and kids anymore because I can unplug.  You can’t.

I am fortunate to have been without hearing for a short period of time.  I am thankful I found Advanced Bionics, who manufactured my cochlear implant, as well as a trustworthy doctor. 

Friday, January 24, 2014

Listening to Stories

Being out of work for several months and with money running thin, I started driving for  The job is easy and offers good money.  The company gives me a phone to accept rides from clients, I set my own hours, and I get paid weekly.  I don’t mind driving.  I like  hearing stories, seeing where people like going, and listening to music.  Once a ride is over the customer rates my service.  I don’t think I would have a high customer service rating if I couldn’t hear and communicate with the client.  The clients are well-mannered and I find most of them talkative.   I can’t imagine driving people around without being able to hear.  Even when the radio is on high and customers ask me questions I can hear them. That would not be possible with my hearing aids nor any other device than Advanced Bionics Naida.  I have my hearing back.

I start my student teaching soon.  The test of my hearing will be if I can hear the 5th graders, since they talk so softly.  I expect great things from my cochlear implant while I’m in the classroom.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Jeff Implant Activation

YEP! That is me hearing sounds for the first time in two years.  My cochlear implant surgery was November 1, 2013.  The surgery was a big success with really no issues at all.  I had to wait for three weeks to get activated, which is when the audiologist turned on the electrode inside my head.  Here is a quick video to explain:

I had high expectations of hearing something on November 22 when my cochlear implant was activated.  Everyone told me, "Keep your expectations low but hope for the best."  I knew that many people don't hear anything DAY 1.  The brain needs to learn sounds that one might not have heard at all or for some time.  I am lucky that I have only been without sound for two years, but never did I expect to hear words and sound so quickly. 

DAY 4 - My hearing of sounds was tested at normal hearing person level.  People still sound like robots and monotone but I know that will improve over time and with practice. 

I am so thankful for Edie Gibson who referred me to an amazing doctor in South Carolina.  It's funny, you don't need to go to the number one place to have surgery. Just find a doctor who takes you seriously and has done a lot of successful implants.  I want to give thanks to Dr. Erin at the Auditory-Verbal Center in Atlanta, GA, who has worked patiently with me answering all my questions;  and to my mom, who travelled from Arizona to Atlanta to take care of me during recovery so my wife could continue to work.  My mom didn't have too difficult a time since I slept a lot.  Finally, thank you Advanced Bionics for having the technology available.  I can't imagine going with another brand, having experienced all the support I have received just days after activation. 

I hope to be an inspiration to others who have reached the point of considering an implant.  I am still deaf because I can take off my device and the world is silence, but now I can choose to enter the world of sound.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

New Adventure

November 1st, 2013 - Cochlear Implant

I have been deaf for two years.  I lost my hearing suddenly as the result of a massive infection following years of sporadic ear infections.  I never got my hearing back and after using hearing aids for a short time they became useless.  

Nobody plans to go deaf but things happen.  I accepted my deafness and decided to be positive.  I did whatever I could to learn about my deafness and welcomed new ways to communicate.  When I lost my job and had to consider the prospects of new employment with a severe hearing loss while my hearing aids became less and less usable, I decided it was time for cochlear implant.  I wanted to hear my family’s voices, listen to music, and be more employable.  I am friends with many deaf people and they live happy lives without cochlear implants.  I have to say that its available but not for everyone. Getting a cochlear implant is a big step and a personal one.  Even though I have a cochlear implant now, I am still deaf.  I can switch off my device anytime I want and have the world go silent or turn it on and listen to everything.  

It is DAY 4 after surgery and as you can tell I am feeling better.  But here are my thoughts:

1.  “It feels weird having metal in my head.”
2.  “This tinnitus is driving me crazy.”
3.  “Nobody told me about drainage.” BTW, I don’t like fluids.
4.  “I thought it would hurt more”
5.  “I am so tired.  I feel like sleeping all day.”  I am glad I didn’t plan school or other activities during this recovery time.
6.  “I am so ugly.”  Yes, I am vain.  I didn’t expect my head to be shaved quite so extensively so that  my 8-10 stitches are highly visible.  I want my body back together like before.  My daughter thinks I look like the characters in the movie Coraline who’ve had new eyes stitched on with thread.

 I think she was being kind in calling me a stitched-up person.  I feel more like a:
 Dalek from "Dr. Who" TV series.
As you can see I am in good spirits.  I am glad to have my mom here from Arizona to help out while my wife goes to work and takes care of the kids.  I go back to see the doctor on November 15th to have these stitches removed.  The exciting day will be November 22nd at 3pm (EST).

Friday, October 25, 2013

Recovery - What Should I Watch

I will be home from cochlear implant surgery November 2nd.  My surgery is November 1st but I am staying the night at the hospital.  The surgery is in South Carolina, which is four hours away so instead of sitting in the car for four hours after surgery the doctor wants me to stay. 
Cochlear Implant recipients say it's about one week recovery but everyone is different.  Right now, I am done with my two graduate courses and it will not start again until 2nd week of November.  I need suggestions on what to watch on Netflix or Hulu.
Recent favorites
Teen Wolf
Dr. Who
Walking Dead
Masterchef Junior
I need some ideas.  Tell me what are you watching.  I'll try it.


Monday, October 21, 2013

T-Minus 9 Days


Anticipating Great Things, Anxious at times, and Amazed!
It is going to be an amazing experience - get my hearing back.  The days are flying by and soon I will be in the car driving to South Carolina getting ready for surgery.  You can read about it here why I have to go out of state for surgery -  I have read some amazing stories of Facebook friends who received their cochlear implant and they are hearing words.

Two of my friends have been encouraging during this time period.  Lisa J. and Rick S.


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Cochlear Implant - Family Thoughts

"From the moment he went deaf, Jeff has been researching cochlear implants. By now
he’s an expert. He’s done a great job without them. For a while the hearing aids worked well, and it took some of the stress off at his job. But then his hearing started going downhill again. We learned sign language together, and we can communicate to a certain extent. But I will never be that fluent - not enough to share my deepest thoughts and concerns. I can ask what he wants to eat, if he’s tired, what he wants to do. It’s utilitarian. But it is not my first language of emotional and intellectual communication. I will be very glad to be able to just talk.

Before he went deaf, we had been to a few music concerts, something we had not done before. We were listening to new music together. I’ve missed that, and I know he has, too. Recently I started listening to a podcast and I though, oh, Jeff would enjoy this. But of course he can’t listen to it.

There are many small things that come up - trying to talk on the phone, making sure that I fill in if someone asks him a question he doesn’t notice, remembering to not turn away when speaking or call out from another part of the house. And I really hate that in the dark both sign language and speech is useless. Lately I’m the only one who hears the ominous sound of the cats throwing up at night. That won’t change, of course, since he will always be able to switch off whenever he likes.

My greatest hope, though, is that the CI will allow him to pursue the career he wants - teaching. I also hope that he will continue to sign and be part of Deaf culture, because I know that’s important to him, and I think he has a lot to offer both hearing and Deaf cultures."

Lizzie (13 year old daughter) writes:
"I am extremely excited for my dad getting a cochlear implant. I’m worried that something might go wrong, but other than that, I’m thrilled. Once he’s able to hear, he can’t just turn away when he doesn’t want to listen. I won’t have to tap on his arm every time I want to speak. I think this will bring our family closer since it will be easier to communicate. I hope the cochlear implant will live up to his expectations, since I know it won’t be the same as before."
Abby (11 year old daughter) writes:
"I want Dad to hear me laugh and I also want him to be able to hear Dito (our cat) say
“meow” all the time, because it’s very annoying and I wish he could make it stop. I want him to hear me play the clarinet. And also so he can watch a movie without captioning. I will be able to talk to him without having to repeat myself all the time."

Cochlear Implant

I want to hear!

I can’t stand my hearing aids. I have reached the point where I can’t hear anything but static even with the multiple adjustments I have received.  My wife and I went out to dinner the other night and I wore my hearing aids so she wouldn’t have to sign all night long.  She gets tired signing and at times I do too. But I had to keep asking her to repeat what she said.  I was so pissed that I ripped my hearing aids out and put them in my pocket.  It is so much easier for me to lipread with no hearing aids or sound at all.    

My ENT said it is time to consider a CI (cochlear implant).  By the time this gets posted I will have had my CI evaluation, which is the determining factor.  I didn’t qualify at the last evaluation because the audiologist wasn’t thorough and the doctor simply didn’t want me as a patient.  I just learned a new hearing term called auditory fatigue. My hearing gets really bad as the day progresses, so having a CI evaluation at 3 pm rather than in the morning makes more sense.  

Even after I get a CI,  I will still consider myself deaf.  Please understand that a CI doesn’t fix me. I will not hear the way a hearing person does. I want to continue signing and participating in Deaf culture.  But the CI is a better device than my hearing aids if I want to participate in hearing culture. Here are the reasons I want a CI:

1.  I want to hear my daughters’ voices, especially before they graduate. Fine! - my wife’s voice, too.
2.  Having a CI will open up more options as I change careers.  (BTW, my next blog post will be about my career move and hearing).
3.  I miss music.

There is some contentious conversation in deaf cyberchat about whether deaf people should have CI’s.  I have had mixed feelings, but with the progressive deterioration of my hearing over the past six months and my recent layoff, I’ve had time to reflect on my future. Getting a CI is a personal choice based on what each person needs to follow his or her particular path. The deaf community should not look down on or shun a CI recipient. People with CI’s should in turn be accepting of those who don’t want to wear anything at all. Keep signing and learning about Deaf culture.  We all have to remember that once you lose your hearing it is gone.  You are deaf. The only difference is that some people - for any number of reasons - want to use devices that will help them hear sounds.   

We are all on the same boat.