When I first got my cochlear implant I was told that it may make it so I don’t have to rely on lip-reading so much, but that I would probably still do it simply out of habit. They weren’t kidding about that.
Many people with cochlear implants do not want to have to lip-read and even become angry or frustrated by lipreading when they have a cochlear. I can kind of understand where they are coming from. They shouldn’t need to rely on lip-reading with a cochlear and also lip-reading can be exhausting! So I understand why people would want to not need it anymore.
I’ve had a very positive experience with my cochlear implant. Part of this positive experience includes not needing to rely on lipreading so much anymore. I can hear in the dark. I can hear when people are behind me. I can hear without having to look at people. These are all things I could never have even dreamed of doing prior to getting my cochlear implant. It certainly makes for a much easier, less exhausting, and more enjoyable life, that’s for sure!
However, some people see my lipreading as a habit that I should break, especially now that I have a cochlear implant. They are right in saying that I lipread out of habit. As my hearing aid audiologist, Sherry would say, “Lipreading has become my crutch because for so long it’s all I had to get me by.” Sure, I don’t need it so much now that I have my cochlear implant, but it’s definitely not a habit I plan on breaking anytime soon. Here’s why:
I wear my cochlear implant for about 90% of the day and 90% of my life. But there are still times when I can’t wear my cochlear. You may recall me discussing my trip to Six Flags Great Adventure. This is the perfect example. You see, I had to take out my cochlear and my hearing aid for most of those rides and I left it with my boyfriend’s mom. I wasn’t able to hear anything during those times. I have profound hearing loss — approximately 95-97% hearing loss in both ears. I still wanted to be able to communicate with my boyfriend during this time though. After all, some of those lines were very long (we waited over 2 hours to ride Kingda Ka…). I can’t hear any sound at all, but I was still able to communicate and have some small conversations with him. I also do not know sign language, so that definitely wasn’t an option. The thing that helped the most was being able to lipread. I was very thankful that day to have not lost this ability.
Having a cochlear implant means not having to lipread even half as much as I used to. This has been nothing short of a blessing for me. But don’t expect me to give up my ability to lipread altogether. There are times when that ability has become a blessing as well!