Are You Considering a Cochlear Implant?

Are you considering a Cochlear Implant?

If your hearing loss has gotten to the point where hearing aids are not helping, then you may want to consider an implant. This decision is a life-long commitment. For more information read, “Steps to a Cochlear Implant.)

Start with an Ear, Nose and Throat Doctor to see if you qualify. You will be appointed to apply with a surgeon to do the operation. They are few and far between and you may have to travel some to your nearest doctor.

I spent a day at Vanderbilt University Hospital get my getting my cochlear implant adjusted. The activation date was Jan. 5, 2017. Now that I have worn the implant for three months, it needed a number of adjustments to improve hearing perception.

Dr. Sara C. Unrein, Cochlear Implant Audiologist, gave many brilliant tips on how to personally adjust to the implant for better hearing. The technology is amazing and incredible. The unit partners with the Phonic behind the ear hearing aid on the left side. One button can adjust both sides to a comfortable level.

The Tele’coil system works wonders when talking on the phone, hooking up to the computer, radio or FM system where ever I can plug in the cord.

If you live in the greater Chattanooga area, you can make visit with me. We are forming a Cochlear Ear Association in Chattanooga along with the Hear Now Café.  We have several wonderful audiologists available to ask questions. Workshops on Lip Reading will be scheduled in the fall.

Get on our mailing list to be informed.

Until the Trumpet Sounds: LET MY PEOPLE HEAR!

David M. Harrison, Hearing Loss Support Specialist






My Search for Hearing led me to a Cochlear Implant

My search for personal hearing led me to a Cochlear Implant (CI).   Hearing for the first time with my new Advance Bionic Naida CI Q90 cochlear implant felt overwhelming to me. This new technology has definitely improved my life.

Along with the implant, I received a Phonak companion hearing aid in the left ear. This is called bimodal technology for streaming media simultaneously to both ears. I hear in stereo when talking on the phone.

The AB manual states, “Using state-of –the-art technology, a cochlear implant bypasses the damaged part of an ear and sends electrical signals directly to the brain via the hearing nerve. Cochlear implants are currently the only medical technology able to functionally restore one of the five senses, which is why many physicians refer to cochlear implants as ‘technological miracles.’”

You can watch how this operation was performed. Warning! This video is graphic. Please be advised. The surgery was done in a couple of hours.

The healing process made me sleep a lot. On January 5, 2017 I was hooked up with the processor after several hours of programing the unit for me. Adapting to and identifying sounds I never heard before presented an exciting challenge. Beeps of all kinds, turn signals, water running, birds chirping, and the hum of the refrigerator just to name a few sounds I heard.

The cochlear implant is for people who can’t hear well enough with hearing aids. There are three companies that produce these implants and processors. Insurance may pay for the surgery and an implant, depending on the type of health insurance you carry.

If you are suffering from hearing loss and need greater help, check with your ENT doctor for an evaluation.

Until the Trumpet Sounds: LET MY PEOPLE HEAR!

David M. Harrison, Advocate for Hearing Accessibility


I can hear again, with my cochlear implant!


I can hear again, with my cochlear implant! Yes, it’s true, says elementary school teacher, Marilyn Fisher. After the surgical staples were removed (OUCH!), the audiologist programmed my processor, and we spent the next three hours going over the instructions and doing some initial testing.

I am thrilled to report that I nearly aced all four levels of preliminary evaluation! I was able to repeat back what she had said – without the advantage of lip reading and with an ear plug in my “good” ear – almost perfectly.

I have a bag the size of a carry-on full of manuals and attachments for my gizmos. Today, I will begin using the training DVD that will help my brain remember words and sounds. But I have already tried to watch TV without the close-captioning and am able to grasp enough of the dialogue to follow the plot…and THAT hasn’t happened for quite a while.

And I know it’s going to sound cheesy/lame/overly sentimental, but I can’t begin to tell you what a thrill I got just hearing the turn signal in Gary’s truck on the way back to Chattanooga. And when I heard birds chirping in the backyard last night for the first time in a LONG time, it was really cool!

What does it sound like? Well, I’m happy to report that people do not sound like aquatic cartoon characters as originally warned and expected. The best way I can describe the sound is this: imagine listening to people who sound like they have been sucking helium out of party balloons but with a slightly mechanical sound on top of that! Everyone’s voice has the same pitch and quality–even my bass-voiced husband sounds like he has been inhaling helium. But I am told that in time that too will pass and I will begin to recognize voices a bit more as I remember them.

It will be extremely important for me to wear a MedicAlert necklace from now on in case I am in an accident or require medical attention: MRI’s and monopolar cautery (the paddles) are BIG no-no’s. I put my application and fee for this in the mail just now. And I am also applying for a handicapped tag for my car.

The CI allows me to hear but does not provide the directional clarity that normal hearing does. The LAST thing I want is to get run over in a WalMart parking lot by a hot-rod teenage driver or a mom with a van load of kids who doesn’t watch out for me and whom I can’t hear coming. So parking closer to the door will help me avoid becoming somebody’s hood ornament!

I also plan to be back into wearing contacts by the fall. With my processor
hanging off my ear, I don’t need another piece of plastic or metal from
eyeglass frames resting there, too.

So, that’s the latest for now. I’ve probably given you, as teens would say,
“TMI! (Too much information!). I will keep you updated on the progress I
make throughout the summer.

Blessings on you both! I look forward to seeing…and hearing you…soon! And I hope your HEAR NOW CAFÉ event goes well. Signed, Marilyn.

Until the Trumpet Sounds: LET MY PEOPLE HEAR!

David M. Harrison, Advocate for hearing accessibility

Delivered From the World of Silence


My life was headed to full deafness because hearing aids failed to deliver sound into my ear. Hearing loss is a lonely life and can lead to isolation and separation from family and friends.

“Had the Lord not helped me, my soul would have entered into a world of silence.” Psalm 94:17 paraphrased.

My future was bleak until I met several cochlear representatives at a national/international convention in Washington D.C. These wonderful people encouraged me to consider getting tested for a cochlear implant.

An appointment was scheduled for November 3, 2016 at Vanderbilt University Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee for a full day of testing from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. It was determined that I was approved for a cochlear implant. (The MRI experience)

The surgery was scheduled for December 20, 2016 to receive an electronic housing unit, and the electrode array inserted into the cochlear. This unit bypasses the damaged part of the ear and sends electrical signal directly to the brain via the hearing nerves. It is referred to as a “technological miracle.”

After two weeks for healing, I returned on January 5, 2017 to the hospital to be fitted with the Advance Bionics “Naida CI Q90 sound processor,” which is visible and worn behind the ear. This unit contains the microphone and electronics that process sound. The bionic unit was activated and I heard sound in my right ear for the first time in my life.

On February 2, 2017 on this visit there will be a number of speech recognition tests and any adjustment to improve listening ability. At that time, I will be the second recipient to receive the new Phonack Naida Link hearing aid in the left ear. (My first sound)

Isolation is not in my social future for hearing. The cochlea for people of all ages, may help end the isolation from hearing loss by bringing sounds that make sense into your life.
(Learn More Implants)

Until The Trumpet Sounds: LET MY PEOPLE HEAR!

David M. Harrison. Hearing Loss Support Specialist 

A New Implant Ear for the New Year

David Harrison
David Harrison

A cochlear implant and sound processor were placed in my right ear on January 5, 2017 by the audiologist at Vanderbilt hospital. With severe to profound hearing loss since birth, I now can hear sounds in my right ear.

A cochlear (koe-Klee-er) implant is a device that provides direct electrical stimulation to the auditory nerve in the inner ear.

This type of hearing loss is sensorineural (nerve deafness), which means there is damage to the tiny hair cells (cilia) in the part of the inner ear called the cochlea. Because of this damage, the sound cannot reach the auditory nerve.

With a cochlear implant (not a hearing aid), the damaged hair cells are bypassed, and the auditory nerve is stimulated directly.

The cochlear implant does not cure or restore hearing. It will allow for the perception of the sensation of sound. I hear the sound, but my brain does not yet recognize it. I face extensive rehabilitation services from audiologists, speech-language pathologists, teachers, and counselors. I must learn to listen, improve speech, make use of lip-reading, and practice social communication.

Improvement for me means a lot even if I cannot reach perfection. These are some of the challenges I face with my family, friends and in the world.  I hear new sounds every day that must be put into my sound directory.

My favorite sound I first recognized was the stately bonging of our chime clocks. Every hour I stop what I’m doing and count the chimes. It is an exciting journey to hear and understand the sounds I hear. Cathy, my dear wife, says that our two chime clocks make our home feel elegant to dwell in.

Watch Video on the cochlear Implant [Push to Watch]

Until the Trumpet Sounds, LET MY PEOPLE HEAR!

David M. Harrison, Hearing Loss Support Specialist