Yesterday at lunchtime I ran into Deb, a prof on campus. She and I went to the same women's college in Minnesota. She is much younger than I am, and we were at our alma mater years apart. She was a music major when she first arrived, but then her hearing loss (begun when she was about 17) got worse, and she switched to psychology. She got married back in the 90s sometime, and she has a set of twins in nursery school. We hadn't seen each other for a while, so we stood on the icy sidewalk in the wind and signed a few sentences to bring each other up to date. She told me she was on sabbatical right now, and I told her I was going to get a cochlear implant in March. With a big smile, she reached up and removed her own processor and held it out to show me. "Wow! When did you get it?" I said. "Last June," she said. "I love it!!" I asked her if she could hear her little children's voices now, and she said she called them on the phone on turn-on day! I asked if she could hear and play music, too, and she said, "Yes...both. It's thrilling." She's always had a confident glow about her, so I can't really say that she looked any different or happier, but she kept saying, "I love it!" If we can arrange it, we're going to meet for lunch possibly tomorrow, and I'll get to ask her lots more about the whole experience.
Before lunch, I also heard from Bev Biderman. Bev is Canadian and the author of Wired for Sound, a great book that details her process of learning to hear again with a cochlear implant. Cathy asked me to review the book for Odyssey back in 1997 or 1998 when the book first came out, and I loved it. It was personal and informative and even-handed. When Bev came to give a talk here five or six years ago, we met for breakfast. She was getting better and better at hearing with the implant, and I was struck by how easily she handled conversation. Yesterday morning, out of curiosity, I looked her up online at U of Toronto and sent her an email, telling her about my upcoming implant in March. She wrote back immediately saying this was "wonderful news!" Bev is now an adaptive technology consultant and planning analyst at the University of Toronto. She told me she now has two cochlear implants and is enjoying the stereo effect of hearing with both ears. Bev's surgeon at Johns Hopkins for her first cochlear implant is the same guy who will be doing mine.
I have to say that my excitement about the possibilities being opened went sky high after I talked with Deb and heard from Bev. I haven't allowed myself to get too fired up about this in case it doesn't work, but now I'm just kind of humming along. Surgery will be three weeks from today! I have to remember to stop taking aspirin next Thursday.