Last month, I talked about Cochlear Implants: the good, the bad and the ugly. I wanted to show a totally unbiased case study about CIs, as they are called for short. The decision to choose a CI can be a very difficult one to make and must be made by an individual based on their own personal circumstances. There is no right and only answer for everyone. I didn’t want to mention my own decision to prevent possibly swaying someone in either direction that may not be as beneficial for them. The question is asked of me often, though, and many of my readers may have wanted to ask me, but they really couldn’t through this forum. It is because people always ask me why I have made my choice that I will explain now, but only to answer that question and not to say this is the decision I think anyone else should make. Please understand that, Dear Reader.
I have chosen for now not to have a CI. I have lived with hearing loss and with the progressing severity of loss all my life. I never felt it was a serious disadvantage before I lost the majority of my sight because I had developed coping skills such as reading lips, people’s body language, and situations to put it simply. With the loss of sight, life did become more difficult, and isolation became more of a friend than I wanted. Seeking to reduce the isolation, fear, and dependence, I looked at many options including the CI. I researched deeply and carefully in regards to all options and prayed for guidance before I decided that I would not get a CI.
My decision is based on the facts that I have now gained even more skills such as braille, tactile ASL, increased tactile detection and understanding among other less definable skills that have helped to ease the isolation and the fears of being DeafBlind.
One factor was and is that the doctors that I have seen (many, I assure you) vary greatly on whether I am a good candidate for a CI because they can’t determine how much auditory nerve damage I have which would make a CI useless. I do not want to risk major surgery and wind up with a device that doesn’t work, and that chance could be significant in my case.
Another reason is I do not want to destroy the cochlear and auditory nerve when technology is advancing quickly and the near to somewhat near future may bring a truer cure for deafness and/or blindness such as stem cell implantation to actually regrow the damaged parts of my cochlear.
I also already suffer from increasing balance issues and vertigo that will possibly and most likely worsen after the surgery is performed. I do not like having to deal with these issues now and would not want to suffer worsening degrees of these issues.
A minor factor is that many sounds, except for music, only made me irritable and sensitive when I could hear some sounds. Silence doesn’t bother me that much. It really wasn’t the lack of hearing that presented the biggest challenges in my life. It was the coupling of the loss of sight.
If a chance to regain my sight (even just partially) presented itself, I would consider that more readily. I would still be careful about a device that destroyed my eyes in some way to attach electrodes or camera arrays, but I would probably think longer before dismissing any ways to regain my sight. I guess if I had to choose between regaining hearing or regaining vision in a non-permanent cure method such as implantation, I would choose vision first. That might be hard for some to understand, but I have spent my life deaf, and I am used to it. I haven’t spent my life blind, so I miss my sight more.
Those who know me and see me often, know that I have developed skills and abilities that make me seem less deaf and blind than I am despite being almost total and the residual is definitely not functionally useful at all. With my coping skills and relationship with Jesus, I function well. I feel independent to some degree. I have dignity. I am not as lonely with my connections to the world through tactile ASL and the internet through braille. I have ways to continue teaching students of all kinds and function as the administrator of our school. I have ways to work as a writer that seems to do good for others in many ways.
Through all of this, I also have gained an even closer relationship with my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. To put it simply, I am ok just as I am right now. God is taking good care of me. God has been good and is good to me, so as I said before, I am ok. I am actually more than ok just as I am right now.
So, I do not need a CI right now. I can be independent to a great degree with my independent living skills, cane skills, environmental awareness skills, and wonderful, loving guide dog. I am productive and successful in life contributing to take care of myself and to be a contributing member of society. That is the most important factor for being happy and having joy in life. I can, and may, change my mind later, but for now I am ok here with God in the Dark Silence using the touches I have to access and influence the world. I will just wait with God to see what the future brings.