During the 1959 measles epidemic, 6-year-old Ginger lost some of her hearing with the illness. By the time she started junior high, Ginger’s hearing loss in both ears had become profound. Getting cochlear implants, the first in 1987 and a second in 2002, has allowed this 67-year-old widow to continue to work, support her family and contribute to the community.
“Living with hearing loss was definitely difficult. Even though I was a very proficient lip reader through my school years, there were a lot of things that I could not follow, and my friends would let me borrow their notes to study. I didn’t hear well enough to carry a telephone conversation, so when I began my professional career, my secretary had to make my telephone calls for me. When I was engaged and my fiancé lived in a different city, my mother had to help me communicate over the telephone with him.
Deciding to take action for myself
I initially was tested for a cochlear implant and deemed a candidate in 1982 during clinical trials, but I was pregnant with my first child and just didn’t feel that I could handle the surgery with a new baby. A few years later, I went to a presentation on the cochlear implant at the Houston Ear Research Foundation and it was there I decided that I was the only person that could help myself. My youngest child was 3 years old and the time felt right. It really was an easy decision and I had the support of my husband.
Life was easier from the start
I knew that I was going to be okay when, from the kitchen, I could hear my 3-year-old daughter in her room counting to 10. The sound was just so natural, and I could talk on the phone.
Back in 1987, my first processor was large and bulky, and I wore it in my bra! My girlfriends got a kick out of the blinking red light that sometimes showed through my clothing.
In 2002, I decided to get a second cochlear implant – the surgery was definitely easier because it was now an outpatient surgery. Today I have two CochlearTM Nucleus® 7 Sound Processors; I like the size and the comfort of them being behind the ear.
Confidence for a lifelong career and community service
Having cochlear implants gave me the confidence to start my own business in communications. I have been the board president of several Houston-area organizations including National Charity League – Livable Forest Chapter, International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) – Houston Chapter and Mothers Against Cancer, which has raised over $6.5 million for pediatric cancer research at Texas Children’s Cancer Center.
My late husband and I were honored by Humble Area Assistance Ministries as Pillars of the Community. I’ve been honored as a FamilyTime Crisis and Counseling Center Woman of Distinction as an outstanding mother by Easter Seals and as an IABC/Houston Volunteer of the Year.
At 67, I am still working! I do not feel the need to retire; working keeps my mind active. With my bachelor’s degree in journalism and experience as a technical writer, I work part-time for a government organization and write funding proposals for not-for-profit organizations.
With better hearing, I can follow conversations rather than rely on lip reading. I’ve been able to take accurate minutes during face-to-face and online meetings, and I can take notes without looking at the speaker.
Independent living on my own
Now with my Nucleus 7s, I love the Bluetooth®1 technology. The sound comes directly into both ears; I can hear on the phone unbelievably well. I talk to my friends and my sisters and I’m able to make doctors’ appointments by phone. Having been a widow for three years now, this means I don’t have to rely on other people. I’m totally independent.
If people ask me about getting a cochlear implant, I tell them, ‘Cochlear knows what they are doing; they’ve been in the business a long time. Having a cochlear implant is so much more powerful than hearing aids.’
Being able to get the latest sound processor technology with my 34-year-old implant is about hope for the future – I know the technology will continue to improve, and I want to be able to keep up with that and increase whatever hearing I can get. I have faith in Cochlear as I’ve seen this since 1987.”
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