Lisa gradually started to lose her hearing in her left ear. She tried hearing aids as a solution for her single-sided deafness but continued to struggle. When her audiologist suggested a cochlear implant, she was excited but realistic with expectations. She now wears her cochlear implant proudly and relishes in her ability to hear directionally again. Read more:

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“Hello, my name is Lisa and I have single-sided deafness. Here is my story:

I noticed something wrong with my hearing back around 2010. My left ear was a bit stuffy, like when you have a head cold. When it didn’t go away after a few weeks, I went to my primary care physician and she did not see anything wrong in my ears. She ended up sending me to have my hearing tested and I was told I had some hearing loss but nothing to worry about as it wasn’t bad enough for a hearing aid at that time.

Life with hearing loss – a new reality

Lisa, whose cochlear implant was a solution for her single-sided deafness taking a selfie. A couple of years went by and it was getting harder to hear from that ear, so I went to have my hearing tested again. This time I was told I could benefit by wearing a hearing aid. I can still remember being shown how they work and picked a color to match my hair. I had tears in my eyes because I associated hearing aids with the elderly. They asked me if I felt that way about wearing glasses and I told them no because I have had them since I was very young. They tried to reassure me that even some babies need hearing aids.

I was very emotional, but my husband was there holding my hand, saying encouraging words. We ordered the hearing aid and I tried wearing it but hated every minute of it. My ears just couldn’t hold a hearing aid and my glasses. They kept falling off my ear. I stopped wearing it and didn’t really feel it helped much anyway; the voices were muffled like someone was trying to talk to me with their hand tightly over their mouth.

Hearing loss was affecting my work

I struggled to hear and had to ask people to repeat what they said. I was working as an office manager in a high school – at times it was so loud I couldn’t tell who was saying what. Part of my job was to keep an eye on students in detention and keep an ear on conversations the superintendent had with these students, as a backup. I remember being reprimanded for not ‘listening’ as it was part of my job.

In 2018 I started at a new job. I began working with developmentally disabled clients and I had trouble with directional hearing from my left ear. With some clients it could make for a dangerous situation since they could sneak up on me from my left, as I would always turn to the sound which meant I would look to my right every time.

My new job came with amazing health insurance, so when I started noticing issues at work with my clients, I knew it was time to get serious about my hearing problem.

Beginning a journey to hear again

Lisa, whose cochlear implant was a solution for her single-sided deafness, with her Kanso Sound Processor decorated. I went through so many tests, including injections in my eardrum and saw a few different specialists. I researched and was thinking maybe a bone anchored hearing aid would be my answer, so asked about that in the beginning. Turns out a bone anchored hearing aid would not be my answer, so I was given information on a cochlear implant. I was shocked my hearing was this bad but listened to my audiologist and everyone who was helping me start my journey to hearing again.

I went home with a few books to look through to help decide which company I wanted to go with. I knew Cochlear was the right company for me. Next thing was insurance1, ‘would they approve my surgery?’  The answer was yes. I was scared and excited all at the same time!

Then the covid pandemic hit and surgery was put on hold. Time went by and finally I was able to have the surgery. No visitors were allowed to stay in the building so my husband had to wait outside until the nurse brought me out after surgery and my husband took over taking care of me. I felt pretty good and did not have much pain as long as I took my pain medication. Now I just had to wait for activation day.

My new cochlear implant

When activation day finally arrived, I was so excited, but realistic at the same time. My audiologist was so helpful as I had issues with my processor not staying on my head at all, maybe thick skin and still a bit swollen. I chose the Cochlear™ Nucleus® Kanso® 2 Sound Processor but it was not available at the time we were placing the order. In the meantime, my audiologist loaned me the Cochlear Nucleus 7 Sound Processor so I could try and see if that would work for me.

The Nucleus 7 Sound Processor would not stay on my ear with my glasses so after a couple days, I had my husband shave a small spot on my head to see if that would help my magnet stick, it helped, but not much. The next appointment I had with my audiologist, she came up with an idea to use toupee tape to stick the processor to my skin. It worked!!! We were both thrilled I could now wear my processor with no hat.

I needed to find a new audiologist because my current one ironically found a new job working for Cochlear, my new audiologist is great also.

Navigating life with a cochlear implant

Lisa, whose cochlear implant was a solution to her single-sided deafness, with her Kanso Sound Processor decorated. I feel very honored and wear my processor proudly for all to see. I have had people ask about it and I excitedly share my story with them. Being that I have single-sided deafness, I feel it is a bit challenging adjusting to hearing from my implanted side as my ‘good’ ear tries to do all the hearing. I do very well listening with my cochlear implant when sounds go directly through my processor. I am able to use Bluetooth®2 to stream directly to my phone to listen to songs and watch movies with no issues as my ‘good-ear’ is not trying to overpower my implanted side.

One thing that is amazing is that I now have directional hearing again. No one can sneak up on me. Being able to hear sounds from both sides makes me feel whole again. At night when I tuck my little helper [my sound processor] into his charging/dry box, I feel alone for a few minutes. It feels a bit like the left side of me is missing. In the morning he is all charged and ready to get me through another day.

I feel very honored and wear my processor proudly for all to see. I have had people ask about it and I excitedly share my story with them.”

If you are looking for a solution for single-sided deafness, contact Cochlear today to learn how we could help your hearing loss.

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  1. Insurance coverage may vary. Contact your insurance company or local Hearing Implant Specialist to determine your eligibility for coverage
  2. 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.
  3. For a full list of smartphone and app compatible devices, visit: www.cochlear.com/compatibility.
Jesse Griego
Jesse Griego is the Social Media Specialist at Cochlear Americas. Jesse finds inspiration daily in the successes of our recipients and their hearing journeys. Jesse was born and raised in Colorado and enjoys fitness, being a wrestling coach and learning to play guitar.