Upgrading My Cochlear Implant

I don’t like change. Especially if it’s something that doesn’t need to be changed. A great example of this is the iPhone. Anyone that owns an iPhone knows that every once in a while, they need to install the latest update – but they hold it off for as long as possible. Each upgrade means a change, and not necessarily a welcome one.

That’s how I felt each time I had to update the software on my cochlear implant. Each time I had to do an update, what I hear changes.

Upgrading the Cochlear

According to Cochlear, the time to upgrade is usually determined by three things:

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For me, it’s typically the third option.

When I get a new cochlear, I have it for about four years, then the warranty on it expires, and it’s time to get a new one.

Each cochlear is different from the last, and like any new piece of machinery, the software changes too.

My Experiences with Upgrades

When I was younger, I did not like the upgrades. My parents and audiologist can attest to that because each time we had to go to Sick Kids Hospital for an upgrade, the visit ended with angry tears and frustration.

One memorable upgrade that I remember was when I was in high school, and Cochlear just came out with a new software that allows the cochlear implant to automatically adjust the recipient’s hearing to suit different settings by tuning sounds in and out.

An example would be if I was in a noisy restaurant, the cochlear would tune out the background noises of other people talking, dishes clanging and only tune in on the sounds in my immediate vicinity.

For some reason, I did not take well to that upgrade at all. Within five minutes of getting it, I felt like I was hearing all the wrong things. My cochlear would tune in on the air conditioner, but tune out my mother’s voice. The next day, I went to school, and walked home in tears because I couldn’t hear any of my teachers but I could hear a kid tapping their pencil on the desk.

It wasn’t fun. Looking back on it, I realized all I had to do was go back to my audiologist, and keep tweaking the settings until they found the right one for me. Instead, I went back and demanded to have the old software put on my new cochlear. I wasn’t willing to change.

But that was my experience. Some people that I know loved the upgrades and looked forward to the next one, while others had a harder time transitioning and preferred to keep their old program forever if they could. It all depends on the person.

How I Feel About Upgrades Now

Remember what I said at the beginning of the post about how I didn’t like change, especially for something that I thought didn’t need change? Now, for the cochlear, I disagree with that. While it can be a bumpy transition, the change is a necessary one to improve your hearing.

The biggest thing that changed for me during the upgrades now was my mindset. I’m a lot more open minded and willing to accept the slight changes in my hearing, especially if it means that I will hear better.

My very first processor was one where I had a bulky machine strapped to my waist, and a long wire going up under my shirt attached to the cochlear on my ear. Now, there’s no bulky machine and no wire, just a slim hearing device that fits snugly behind the ear.

Not only does the cochlear implant look better, it also sounds better. My hearing performance is better than ever and I have Cochlear’s innovation to thank for that.

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