Susanna was born with profound hearing loss and experienced an additional decline in hearing later in life until she was deemed a cochlear implant candidate. She was determined to hear again and jumped at the opportunity to receive a cochlear implant. Her determination and rehab have helped her become a successful entrepreneur, motivational speaker and advocate. Read more:
“I was born profoundly deaf with sensorineural (nerve-related deafness) hearing loss. At the age of 3, I began to wear hearing aids. My left ear was my hearing ear (I could understand speech and sound in this ear) and my right ear was used predominantly to help me localize sound because I could not understand speech in this ear.
I grew up in a hearing world and I was mainstreamed in public schools. I went on to college, a professional career in retail management and a challenging hobby of showing Arabian horses. I encountered many setbacks along the way, most notably talking on the telephone; however, I did not let my hearing loss stop me from accomplishing what I had set out to do! I did succeed in many endeavors with lots of hard work, determination and a positive attitude.
During the summer of 2005, my life took a drastic turn. I suffered ‘sudden deafness’ in my left ear. My right ear’s ability to hear was progressively worsening but now, I was truly deaf in my left ear. At the time, I was working in retail management for a leading department store chain. I was worried because I was wondering ‘how am I going to work and support myself?’ as I am a single, independent adult.
Fulfilling a desire to be in a hearing world
I made a decision to obtain a cochlear implant because I am an outgoing person who loves to be with people and I did not have anything to lose in obtaining a cochlear implant. After all, I was raised in a hearing world and I desired to continue on that same path. I researched different cochlear implant companies and I reached out to other individuals that wore cochlear implants. Several of them, wore cochlear implants from the Cochlear company and they were satisfied with the outcome. Thus, I chose Cochlear.
While waiting for my surgery, I continued to work at the store, it was extremely difficult as I could not hear. Six months later, I was implanted with a left cochlear implant (CI). It was not instant success for me. I hated the CI at first, why? I could not understand speech and the noise was unbearable, coupled with extreme tinnitus.
Rehabilitation requires determination
I continued to wear my cochlear implant daily because I was determined to hear again! I did listening exercises with my parents, combined with coping strategies. I was ultimately able to have success with my left ear CI. It took about three months before sound was clear and speech was understood. It took even longer, about nine months to a year to understand speech on the telephone. Eventually, I was able to appreciate the CI because it was actually better than my hearing aids. Mind you, I am thankful for the hearing aids!
Since I did well with the left CI, about a year later, I obtained a cochlear implant on my right ear. The rehabilitation process was actually much easier. I assumed it was because my brain already was trained from the left ear. I can actually understand speech and talk on the phone with both my right and left ear CI’s, something I was never able to do well with my hearing aids.
I wear the Cochlear™ Nucleus® 7 Sound Processor and I love the streaming capabilities1. I love talking on the telephone hands-free. I love streaming music and listening to podcasts, especially when I am driving or flying.
The many successes in my life
I am an avid, passionate equestrian who shows horses and takes lessons. Taking lessons and hearing the horse show announcer used to be extremely difficult for me. However, with the Nucleus 7 Sound Processor, I just call my trainer on the telephone and with the streaming and Bluetooth®2 capability, I can hear my trainer loud and clear. This is my absolute favorite part of the Nucleus 7 Sound Processor!
I had spent 20 years in retail management. After being fired, and despite earning a master’s degree, I was not able to obtain a professional position. During this difficult time, I began to paint furniture, as a stress buster – it has turned into a full-time business: https://DusslingFineFinishes.com.
Meanwhile, I had written a children’s book Sunny and her Cochlear Implants a story about hope and the power of a positive attitude. https://www.amazon.com/Sunny-Cochlear-Implants-Susanna-Dussling/dp/1452016364
In addition, I was a guest on 2 podcasts where I share my hearing loss story, I encourage you to listen at https://cochlearimplantbasics.com/2022/10/susanna-dussling/ and https://momgeek.com/148-susanna-dussling-on-resilience-regret/.
Today, I have a successful furniture refinishing company, train and teach with both Arabian and American Saddlebred horses; I also help individuals and corporations to conquer change and boost their resiliency as a professional speaker and trainer with my company, Dussling Speaks LLC, https://susannamdussling.com.
The future and beyond
As for the future, I will continue to speak and create beautiful one-of-a-kind custom, hand-painted furniture. I will continue to help my horse riders gain confidence and be a success not in just in the show ring but life itself, as there are many lessons to be learned from riding and being with horses.
My best tip for those with hearing loss is that it takes tremendous courage, bold determination and persistence to succeed with the cochlear implants and in life. To achieve success, you must put in the work and be accepting that there will be failures along the way. However, these setbacks, make us appreciate the good things in our lives. I also believe in taking risks in life. Obtaining a cochlear implant was risky. My desire to hear was stronger than not being able to hear, therefore, I believe people should not be afraid to take risks.
I am very active, social, love being around friends and family and I love to talk. Life is grand with my personal ‘surround sound system.’ I am very grateful for my cochlear implants. To me, they are truly the greatest invention and I want to share it with the world!
Forever grateful to my parents for their unending support and love over the years.”
If you suffer from hearing loss and are determined to hear, cochlear implants may be a solution for you! Find out more information here.
- For a full list of smartphone and app compatible devices, visit: www.cochlear.com/compatibility.
- The Bluetooth® word mark and logos are registered trademarks owned by Bluetooth SIG, Inc. and any use of such marks by Cochlear is under license.