Thursday, July 19, 2012

Mapping A C I

My first mapping appointment went very well.  Sara made a few changes and gave me instruction on how to use the Neptune Processor.

Sara is a specially trained cochlear implant audiologist with 16 years experience with all three implant companies.  We have a great understanding of each other and work well together.

Both my processors are programmed alike, each having three program settings that I can manually select.  

 Electrodes can be set to fire in pairs or in sequence.  We are testing both types of firings to see which I prefer.

Sara really knows and understands implants and their technology.  She also has a wonderful personality, which is extremely important in working with all age groups in this very challenging position she has.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

What is the cost of hearing?

Advanced Bionics is the only company that offers two types of sound processors.  I have one of each.  The most commonly seen is the BTE(behind the ear) Harmony Processor. 

  It comes in many colors, has two sizes of rechargeable batteries, is mostly automatic but has several manual controls, and has two microphones, one called a TMic that is placed directly in the ear opening and gives optimal sound quality. 

 This processor and it's many accessories comes in a large kit. The total cost for this part of my hearing journey is $8,910.

 The second processor I have is a Neptune, only recently available in the U.S.  This is the world's only water proof swimmable sound processor.  It is designed for use both in and out of the water.  It runs on one AAA rechargeable battery and can be worn anywhere on the body. 

 This means nothing is worn on the ear.  There are many advantages to having both types of processor.  The Neptune also comes with many accessories for a cost of $8,415.

The actual implant, which I had surgically placed on June 23, has 16 electrodes that were threaded into the cochlea of my inner ear.  Click on the picture above to enlarge it.

   It is these electrodes that send electrical signals to the hearing nerve, thus replacing the damaged part of my cochlea. This internal implant is fully up-gradeable, enabling my hearing to advance as future technology does--without the need for more surgery. 

 The hospital charge for this surgery and wonderful technology is $112,000.  Two anesthesiologists at $858 each and the surgeon at $99,999.99 round out the bill-- fully covered by our Medicare System along with the kits above and all related audiologist appointments.  The cost of future software and hardware improvements is unknown.  I have no immediate plans for implanting my other(left) ear.  If I do so, these costs will be repeated.  Can you hear me now?

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Implant Activation Day

Activation Day is a huge event, as on this day implant sound is turned on for the first time.
I have a chat with Nurse Dorothy Hall about my post-op experiences--

--Then have a long session with Sara Morton, a specially trained implant audiologist, who works only with implant recipients.

She unpacks the first of two kits I will receive, goes over the many accessories in it, and connects me to a computer for programming my initial settings.

This is a Harmony Sound Processor with computer connection for programming. The round part is a magnetic headpiece that sends digital signals to the internal implant under the skin. With this device turned on, the first sound I heard in my totally deaf right ear was that of Judy's voice.  How nice is that?

                            Click on the picture above to read about hearing.

 To learn more about cochlear implants, go to Cochlear Implants Advanced Bionics and click on "What is a Cochlear System Advanced Bionics and Cochlear Implant Advantages."

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Bionic Ears and Cochlear Implants

Hearing aids and bionic ears aren't what they used to be.

After having been approved for cochlear implants last December, I spent the next few months researching the three companies that manufacture them.

This is an important decision, as the implant electrodes are surgically placed in your inner ear and you only get one shot at this.  It's imperative that you choose the right company, as your hearing for the rest of your life will depend on them.  

I chose Advanced Bionics, relying on its past performance, superior engineering, many significant innovative improvements, outstanding customer support, and the overall large capacity it's implant has for future software additions.

The surgeon, audiologist and hospital are also very important to overall success.

We delayed surgery for three months to be able to have Dr. James Kemper place the implant at Seton Medical Center in Austin.  

I was successfully implanted on June 23, with no complications at all. Both Dr. and hospital were excellent. 

This gave Rita a chance to practice her new-found hair cutting techniques, as she could do no wrong.

Business is good and anxious customers are already beginning to line up.

Bob already enjoying his new buzz cut.

The new me, customer number one.

                                                  Bob, customer number two.