An Emotional Journey to Bilateral Implants | Part I

Kate is a Cochlear employee and received her first cochlear implant in 2009. She recently decided to go ahead with the second surgery. Why? Because she wanted to hear her children better, be less tired by the end of the day from listening and because the first implant was so incredible and life-changing. The journey was an emotional one and she decided to share it with us, to explain the challenges people may face when deciding to go ahead with their second cochlear implant surgery. This is her journal.

Kate O 2016

23 February 2017: OK, I’m doing this!

So I’ve been considering a second cochlear implant for many years now.

I should be leaping at this thought, like nothing holding me back…. But that’s not the case.

It was only last year – the year my son Arlin started kindergarten – that I realised I was missing words, and finding it hard to hear with just one implanted ear.

I had booked in my CT scan last year (first step before embarking on 2nd CI journey), then cancelled it, because I wasn’t ready. I would do it when things calmed down.
But would they ever calm down?

So I just had it done, lunchtime today – x-ray of the head. This is to check to see that my inner ear is okay, and there are no obstructions to receiving my second implant.

When I got back to work, I snuck a sneaky look at the x-rays in the light at my desk…. And it brought back a flood of memories of that first day in the hospital 7 years ago, after I had my first CI surgery; lying in the bed, head bandaged up; my then-boyfriend (now husband) sitting near me, intrigued by the x-rays. He held them up to the light, and I remember felt slightly sick as I saw the outline of the implant against the side of my skull. It had really happened.

How do I feel today?
Slightly drained, sad and quiet. I am realising I’m about to embark on the same journey I took over 7 years ago. And I’m surprised it’s still an emotional one. I feel like I am going to cry, and I feel like I need a hug.

Why? Well, I am surprised too. I don’t want to have surgery. I don’t want to have to spend time recovering, and be tired for weeks and weeks while I get used to new sounds. I don’t want to have to wait for 2-3 weeks after surgery not hearing anything at all out of that ear, only to maybe find out that it sounds like a vacuum cleaner constantly switched on in my ear, as a recipient once described it to me...

It’s entirely possible I won’t hear well in that deaf ear, ever. It’s a leap of faith, and an unknown. I am a little bit afraid.

I know, deep down, it will be okay. It’s just the enormity of this first step. I realise that even though I am sharing with my family and friends about what I am planning on doing, I am really on my own with this. No one will be able to hear what I am hearing, except me. No one else will know how tired I am at the end of the day, except me. No one else will be able to really understand that anxiety and worry about whether or not I’ll ever hear out of that ear again, except me. There will be supporters all around me, but really it’s going to be up to me how I deal with this, and no one else.

I feel it will take some time to be ready to go on this journey again. From the outside in, it seems so simple. It works. Just get the tests, have the surgery, switch it on. Bam. Done. Good. Great.

But I know that humans are not simple, and neither is this journey.

Writing this is helping me to grapple with all the emotions I have– and helping me to build courage to embark on what I know will be yet another life-changing chapter in my life.

To be continued…


Please seek advice from your medical practitioner or health professional about treatments for hearing loss. They will be able to  advise on a suitable solution for the hearing loss condition. All products should be used only as directed by your medical practitioner or health professional. Not all products are available in all countries. Please contact your local Cochlear representatives.

Cochlear, Hear now. And always and elliptical logo are either trademarks or registered trademarks of Cochlear Limited. D1255107 ISS1 JUL17 Cochlear © 2017 All rights reserved.

4 thoughts on “An Emotional Journey to Bilateral Implants | Part I

  1. Wow Kate. I can’t pretend to understand how you are feeling but I admire you so much for going on this journey and sharing it with us. Wishing you the very best of luck, my friend xx

  2. Kirsten! so lovely to hear from you my friend – exciting times, huh? I know I talked about getting the second one a lot – and here I am! Finally got up the guts to do it – and I am so glad I did. I talked on the phone yesterday! Called my mum and we had a conversation, using the new CI all by itself. Amazing, i still can’t quite believe it.

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