Heather Rivera, PhD, remembers when she realized her hearing aids weren’t enough and it was time to explore cochlear implants. Now, she can’t imagine her life without them. Heather shares her journey and her experience with the latest Cochlear implant sound processor, KansoTM:
“The crowd appeared to enjoy the live jazz band. I sat in silent shock as I watched the drummer hit the drums and the crowd clapping, yet, I heard no sound. It was a defining moment in my hearing journey. No longer would I be able to stumble along with my hearing aids.
There had been other moments where the Universe tried to slap me to wake up, but my denial response is strong, and I didn’t want to face the truth that I was losing my hearing.
After months of research and contemplation, I decided to go forward with a cochlear implant, and I decided on Cochlear as my brand. I had my first implant surgery and got the Nucleus® 6 Sound Processor in early 2016.
At activation, I understood speech immediately even though it did sound robotic. I giggled at the ‘space alien’ voices and was ecstatic at what I was able to hear.
My husband and I went out to dinner to celebrate that night, and I used the Mini Microphone. For the first time in a very long time I ordered for myself and understood the server.
For weeks, I laughed and cried at all the sounds I was getting back—car blinkers, microwave beeps, waves crashing and birds, oh those lovely birds. To me, birdsong is the most beautiful music around. A month after activation I scored 98 percent on the word recognition test. I wanted to jump and dance for joy right there in the audiologist’s office
Later in the year, I went for my second cochlear implant. Thankfully, I had remarkable results again. Being bilateral made a huge difference in my life. I no longer had to lean in with my implanted side to hear people, and I could discern the direction of sound much easier.
The new Kanso Sound Processor recently came out, and I was fortunate enough to get it through Cochlear’s Technology Exchange Program (TEP).
Kanso is so light that I don’t even notice it on my head and, yet, I hear great. I love that I can lie down and watch the clouds pass by without the processor falling off my head. The hair clip keeps the processor very secure, so I don’t have to worry about it falling to the ground if I knock it off my head. I have long hair, and being able to tuck loose strands behind my ears without the behind-the-ear processor in the way is also a great benefit.
Living in Hawaii has exposed me to even more delightful sounds. We have a type of frog here called the Coqui. All night they sing with their high-pitched chirps of ‘Co Kee.’ Before my cochlear implants, I couldn’t hear them at all. Now I enjoy their song in the evening.
I appreciate listening to the waterfalls, the tropical birds and the rain on our corrugated roof. My husband and I enjoy hiking the valleys on the island. As we walk we pause often to listen—just listen.
I’m a writer, and I had previously hosted workshops and retreats. As I lost my hearing, I stopped speaking publicly. Recently, I participated in my first author event since being implanted. It felt wonderful talking with and listening to attendees while signing books. My cochlear implants gave me back my independence. There are days that I forget that I have hearing loss—for me that is true success.”