When Mike began to lose his hearing 25 years ago, the avid musician felt like he was losing so much more. Music had been a passion for him but over time, it became distorted. Not only that, but Mike could also feel himself pulling away from those in his life whom he loved the most. After his wife passed—who Mike referred to as “[his] ears”—Mike realized it was time to make a change. He made the decision to get a Cochlear implant, and since then Mike has become involved in the volunteer community and made a connection he never expected.


A cherished hobby slips away

When asked about his values growing up, Mike, a Cochlear™ Nucleus® 7 recipient, answered simply.

“Kindness, fairness, family, friends.”

Mike grew up surrounded by family and noted that the excitement of a big household brought love and fun to his life. Connection is one of the most important things to Mike: “Loving people and being loved,” he said.

As he got older, Mike became involved in music programs and was an accomplished singer, so when he lost his hearing, he noticed the distortion of pitch and tone first. “I wasn’t able to separate instruments, I wasn’t able to hear harmonies, and then I wasn’t able to vocally produce a note on key,” Mike said.

This was one of the reasons why his daughter-in-law, who worked for Cochlear, introduced him to Marcia, a Cochlear volunteer. Marcia, a Cochlear recipient since 2014 and an accomplished musician herself, would understand Mike’s struggle, help him adjust to the implant, and hopefully help him find his way back to music.

Mike, a cochlear volunteer who found love with a fellow cochlear implant recipient and volunteer named Marcia. Making his way out of the darkness

Before his Cochlear implant, Mike said that he was well on the way to becoming a recluse. A lifelong passion for community service was threatened with the gradual loss of his hearing, and the things Mike loved about serving his community: sitting and chatting with frequenters of his local soup kitchen, for example, was no longer an option for him.

“Volunteering and giving back is a big part of my life,” Mike told us, “And I felt, I guess, maybe a sense of inadequacy that I wasn’t doing what I was meant to do and capable of doing.”

When he met Marcia, a Cochlear volunteer, choral group member, and a clarinetist, Mike felt like the world was opening up again. He described her, at first, as a “very good friend, [a] very close friend”. She became Mike’s mentor and would chat with him frequently over the phone about his progress and decision to become implanted.

“He was very sincere,” Marcia said, “[He was] really looking for answers and wanting a better quality of life. He really wanted to know that this was the right thing for him.”

Marcia also reignited Mike’s passion for volunteering.

“I just was so excited by what she did and what she was able to give me, that I wanted to do the same for others,” Mike said.

Mike and Marcia, who are cochlear volunteers that found love together, posing for a photo. A new relationship blooms

As Marcia continued to mentor Mike, the two, who lived states away at the time, would communicate and text on a regular basis. However, soon their conversations began to evolve.

“Somewhere along the line we discovered that we were talking more than just about hearing, and our conversations had turned into three-hour phone conversations which became very special to both of us.”

Mike and Marcia could not deny their connection, and over the next two years when Mike would visit his son and family in Minnesota, visiting with Marcia became a special part of these trips. It wasn’t long before Mike decided to leave Ohio and move to Minnesota to be closer to family, and to be with Marcia.

Marcia also encouraged Mike to join the ranks of Cochlear Volunteers to share his story with potential candidates.

“I just was so excited by what she did and what she was able to give me, that I wanted to join her in helping others with hearing impairments,” Mike said.

Not only that, but Mike and Marcia now volunteer as a team: they’re even referred to as the M&M Team. “We will make a call, get a referral, and we’ll decide which one of us or both of us can best serve the person,” Mike said, “But [volunteering] is something we have in common.”

Pictured are Mike and Marcia, who are cochlear volunteers that found love posing for a picture wearing costume accessories. Mike and Marcia Now

Mike and Marcia now live together in Minnesota, where they can continue volunteering together, travel, and deepen bonds with their families. Mike thanks his Cochlear implant for bringing back so many things into his life, and that includes his relationship with Marcia as well as his love for helping others.

“First of all, [my implant] brought Marcia and I together,” Mike said, “[We] would not have met had it not been for our mutual hearing loss. It’s opened up a world of volunteering again, which I very much missed.”

Marcia is also happy that their cochlear implants brought them together. “I get to spend time with my forever best friend as well as help others. Mike is truly my ‘hearing win’!”

We’re so happy that Mike found love with his Cochlear Implant, and won back his passion for life, music, and more. You can learn more about Mike’s story by watching the video below. Find out if you’re a candidate and see what you have the potential to win back right here.

Jesse Griego
Jesse Griego is the Social Media Specialist at Cochlear Americas. Jesse finds inspiration daily in the resiliency of our recipients and their hearing journeys. Jesse was born and raised in Colorado and in his free time enjoys being a wrestling and lacrosse coach, playing guitar and being with his hound dog.