Since getting my cochlear implant last year I have had many people come to me and ask me questions about it. I love answering questions about my cochlear implant and I love that people want to ask about it. It’s important to ask a lot of questions especially if you are considering having the procedure done yourself. Getting a cochlear implant is the best thing I’ve ever done, but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s still surgery. You need to know the risks and what to expect to determine if it’s right for you (which I obviously decided it was for me). Your surgeon shouldn’t mind answering your questions, and if he does, then that right there should be a red flag for you that you need to find another surgeon.
The first time I met Dr. Wilcox a year ago I came to him with a grand total of 32 questions. He answered every single one of them without hesitation. He wasn’t annoyed at all by any of my questions; he was more than happy to answer them and asked if I had any more for him! Here are the 33 questions I asked my surgeon prior to my first cochlear implant surgery:
- What are the risks?
- Are cochlear implant patients more likely to get meningitis? Should I get a meningitis shot? (The answer to this was no by the way. I never did get a meningitis shot.)
- Can the surgery cause an increase in headaches or migraines? (Another no.)
- Is there any chance the magnets will react to metal or other materials? (No reactions but my external magnet does stick to things which I think is fun lol)
- After it heals will I be able to put things in my hair and/or wear hats? (Yes I can but some hats cause my magnet to fall off I’ve found).
- Will I lose my residual hearing? (This is usually a yes for most people. I am the exception. I still have the same amount of residual hearing. It depends on whether or not your surgeon hits the nerve. Mine was able to avoid it, but they usually can’t avoid hitting it).
- Do you just do one implant at a time? Which ear do you suggest doing first? Should I have them both done eventually? (This depends on your surgeon. Mine does one at a time and it didn’t matter which one I did first. They usually like to do the worst ear first but mine are the same. He recommended I do both but said it was always my choice.)
- How long have you been performing the surgery for? (I forget the answer, but it’s a long time lol)
- Will I be able to use headphones after everything is healed? (This was a yes but I have to avoid metal ones because they can stick to the magnet).
- What is the chance that I’ll be able to talk on the phone once implanted? (He couldn’t really give me an answer because everyone is different, but I am able to talk on the phone with ease now. It did take me about a month to get to that point though).
- How soon can I be activated after surgery? (I was activated exactly 1 month post surgery).
- How often should I go for a mapping? (This kind of depends on the person. I believe in the beginning it was once a month then it dropped down to once every 6 months and eventually once a year I think but if you’re not happy with the mapping you can request them sooner).
- Do they take batteries? Are they rechargeable? If not, where do you buy them? (I have three rechargeable batteries and one that is not. I don’t like the none-rechargeable one to be honest. I bought the batteries from the hospital since I have trouble finding them in stores but I’m told some people can find them at the drug store. Online too.)
- Are the implants water resistant? (No, they are not but there is an aquacase that makes it water proof! :))
- Do the implants come apart? (I can’t move the implant in my head of course but the external part comes off and I can detach everything).
- Can I wear my implant to the gym? (Yes but I learned to use the aquacase after having too much sweat cause the battery to shorten out and it not to work right.)
- How will the implant affect tinnitus if at all? (No different. If anything I think I hear it less now. I could feel the electrodes moving in my head before I was turned on though. That was pretty neat.)
- What are the parts of the cochlear implant? (I’m too lazy to answer this now. Basically internal, external with the battery and mic)
- Will I be put under anesthesia for the surgery? (Yes I was. I was knocked out in 2 minutes and didn’t feel a thing. I woke up unaware of where I was and what was happening and I was “weird” to put it lightly.)
- When would be the soonest date I could have the surgery done? (I had surgery performed exactly one month after meeting my surgeon, but it depends on the hospital, schedules, and how quickly you get testings/approvals)
- Is there currently a wait-list for this surgery? (No, there wasn’t. Again this depends on your hospital).
- How much more clarity and volume should I expect to get from the implant? (I’m not sure what he said but I ended up with about 93%!)
- Is there a chance that I’ll experience issues/soreness with my jaw and/or throat after surgery? (Yes from the breathing tube. I had a very sore throat and couldn’t eat solid food for about a week or 10 days).
- Will my face go numb after surgery? (This can happen if the surgeon hits a nerve. My surgeon was very well aware of the nerve and said he knew how to avoid it. He was true to his word!)
- Will I lose my taste buds after surgery? (See #24).
- I work on a computer all day. Can this cause issues such as static with my implant? (No.)
- Will the implant last for life? (Internally, yes. Externally it may be upgraded every few years as advanced in technology are made).
- How will my implant work with my hearing aid for the ear that does not receive an implant? (You can sync them together or something if you have Phonak hearing aids. Which I don’t. So it really didn’t make a difference).
- Will I be able to adjust the volume on my Cochlear Implant on my own or will it be computerized? (I can adjust it to an extent. If I ever need significant changes I can have my audiologist reprogram it on her computer).
- Will I feel electric jolts after being activated? (I did before they turned it on a bit).
- Can you give me more information on EAS implants? Would you recommend that for my type of hearing loss? (I honestly don’t remember what any of this means).
- Will the implant whistle like how my hearing aids do? (No they don’t and I’m quite thankful for that!)
This second time around I have far less questions, mainly because I’ve already been through it once and have most of my questions answered. But I still have a few including:
- Can I sync my two implants together (Not really. They are working to combine them but haven’t really done it successfully so far. However, I may be able to match the setting or something like that so they work together).
- Can I wear my first implant when recovering from surgery for my second one? (Yes).
- What kind of testing will I need to go through? (Since it’s only been a year since my first surgery, I don’t have to go through most of them again. I just need another evaluation for insurance purposes).
Those three questions are really all I have so far, but I’m sure I’ll think of more to come. I’m very excited for round 2 of this incredible, blessed journey!