Today, there are more than 450,000 people worldwide who suffer from hearing loss and benefit from Cochlear hearing implants. There are even more siblings of recipients and many of them are hearing individuals.
For those hearing siblings, it is common to wonder what life is like for their brother or sister with hearing loss. As we celebrate National Sister’s Day on August 7, Cochlear summer intern Kelin M. delves into this topic by interviewing her younger sister.
My sister Molly, who is 18 months younger than me, was only two when I got my cochlear implant. Throughout my life, Molly has been a huge support, always looking out for me and making sure I’m able to hear what is going on around me. Below, Molly describes her experience growing up with a sibling who has hearing loss and a hearing implant.
What was it like growing up with a sibling who has hearing loss?
“Because she has a cochlear implant, my experience growing up with Kelin was probably different than most kids’ experiences with their siblings, but it was normal to me. Although there were downsides, such as not being able to talk to her in the water when we were younger or not being able to get the last word in arguments (she would turn off her processor), I always felt cool telling my friends and peers that my sister had a cochlear implant. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Do you remember when you were told your sister was deaf/had a cochlear implant (CI)?
“For as long as I can remember my sister has had a cochlear implant resting on her ear, but I vaguely remember my mom having to explain it to me several times when I was young.”
What is the best thing about having a sister who has a hearing implant?
“The best thing about having a sister who has a cochlear implant is the fact that it made her who she is today: Kelin is the most understanding, patient, and kind person I have ever met. I believe the struggles that she has gone through with her hearing loss have made our relationship stronger because I was able to help her overcome some of the obstacles to hearing that she faced.”
What is the hardest thing about having a sister who has a hearing implant?
“Growing up, the hardest thing about having a sister who has a hearing loss was trying to help her navigate challenging hearing situations. The fact that it was difficult for Kelin to hear in the pool made her not want to swim a lot, and large social outings were not her favorite. It sometimes limited the amount of things she wanted to do.”
What did you have to do differently growing up because your sister has a CI?
“Luckily, Kelin is a champ at reading lips, so every time we went to the pool I would still be able to communicate with her, although it took longer than it would if she had her implant on. In social situations, my sister often couldn’t hear due to the loud background noise, so when it came to concerts and such, she would read my lips.”
How did growing up with someone who has hearing loss and a hearing implant impact you?
“Having a sister who has a cochlear implant makes me so thankful that she is able to hear. Without her cochlear implant, I believe our relationship would have been different. My sister’s positive experience with her cochlear implant makes me hope that everyone who qualifies for a cochlear implant tries to get one.”
What is the best thing about the cochlear implant?
“I think the best thing about the cochlear implant is that it allows recipients to experience so much more than they would without a hearing implant. Although there are some limitations, people who have cochlear implants are able to do so much more once they get it.”
What advice do you have for other people who have siblings who have hearing loss or hearing implants?
“The advice that I would give to other siblings with brothers/sisters with hearing loss or a hearing implant would be to be as patient and understanding as possible. It can get frustrating at times to have to repeat yourself, but always remember that as hard as it is for you, it is probably harder for your sibling.”
Want to find out more about Kelin’s hearing journey? Click here.