Samantha

a personal blog where
hearing loss and real life meet

McKinney

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Welcome to the You CI Can Hear Now blog! My name is Samantha and I am a Pediatric Audiologist helping little ears one at a time. I was identified with severe sensorineural hearing loss at 18 months old and was immediately fit with hearing aids and attended a Total Communication program where I learned both sign and spoken language. I now wear a hearing aid and a cochlear implant.

In medical terms I'm hard-of-hearing - in audiology terms I'm bimodal - in cool terms I'm bionic!

 

I enjoy drinking fancy coffee, trying new foods, and traveling the world. I have many other side hobbies that I can't wait to share with you. The purpose of this blog is to have somewhere to share information and resources that would be useful for YOU as well as a place to share my day to day adventures to hopefully inspire you.

 

No matter where you are in your journey I hope that my journey will inspire you to reach for the stars. Thank you for taking the time to visit my blog! Feel free to reach out or send some love in the comments. I would love to shine a light on those who have a small business related to the hard of hearing world or those who have stories that must be shared to spread awareness. If you are interested in collaborations or working together, please email me at youcicanhearnow@gmail.com. Be sure to subscribe to my monthly newsletter too!
 

P.S. - Be sure to check out my book, Rapid Audiogram Interpretation: A Clinician s Manual which provides a methodical, step-by-step approach for interpreting audiograms. Training and experienced clinicians, as well as non-audiologists in related fields, will benefit from this unique workbook and easy-to-remember interpretation process.

I'm Samantha

 

the Blog

 

It all started with the question...


“If you weren’t afraid, what would you do?”


Which led to an answer of, “Get a cochlear implant!”


Turns out my deepest desire was also my deepest fear.


It has been FIVE years since my implant has been turned on. I don’t usually get emotional over things like this, but it truly has been a journey. It was a long and arduous process of deciding what I needed the most in my life. I have had a hearing loss since infancy and wore hearing aids into my twenties. I received a high school diploma, an undergraduate degree, and a doctorate degree. And I worked my butt off. I was first introduced to cochlear implants in my undergraduate days, but never once did it cross my mind that I would be a candidate for something like that. The implant was for people who couldn’t’ hear at all. It was the “miracle implant”.


Little did I know, my career path and personal path slowly became one. I began to learn more and gain experience through my job at the House Research Institute where the OG resided. House introduced me to a whole new world of miracles happening. I knew from then on, working with children with hearing loss was what I was meant to do.


I was accepted to University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where I met the people who are partially responsible for changing my life and giving me the opportunity to accomplish my dreams. My first advising session was with a (fabulous) audiologist who wore a hearing aid in one ear and a cochlear implant in the other. After a casual conversation of how things were going, how I liked North Carolina, and how the transition was going she asked, “Have you ever thought about getting a cochlear implant?” My immediate response was, no. No, I never thought of getting an implant, no I didn’t think I needed an implant, no because I do just fine with my hearing aids! I left that session feeling somewhat uncomfortable. But, I knew it was coming from a good place.


The days trickled on, the material got harder. I used my FM system, note-taker(s), and roommate to help me with the intense material. I didn’t realize how much I was missing out on until slowly people I became close with pointed it out to me. I was meeting new people everyday and reading their lips to be sure I understood everything they said so I wouldn’t miss a word. I was struggling and exhausted at the end of classes and clinic.


I began working as an assistant for the CCCDP (pediatric CI center) and my boss never missed a chance to introduce the idea of getting a cochlear implant. She too was coming from the goodness of her heart. To get people to stop asking I eventually said I would get one in 5 years, possibly when I have kids.


Next chapter, fourth year externship at House: My chance to have my very own patients and caseload excited me. I felt ready. Well, due to unfortunate circumstances we had to jump ship. We moved to USC and developed a brand new pediatric audiology clinic. There was a time where things were slow and we had a lot of time to think. More and more people were inquiring about my thoughts on an implant. I finally decided the timing couldn’t be more perfect. I had an amazing support group and one of the best surgeons in the nation at my disposal. Why would I wait until I have kids? The time is now or as some would say, “there is no time like the present!” I decided to go for it.


I recorded videos of myself during the process and looking back on them I looked surprisingly calm, but internally nervous. Though I knew everything would be okay, I was mostly afraid of the surgery and the risks involved. I eventually realized the benefits would outweigh the risks. I had to stop asking “what-if” and trust that everything would work out.


On February 20, 2014, I had the cochlear implant surgery and 3 weeks later on March 13, 2014 I had my initial activation. I had low expectations for my activation. I knew things would sound funny and I would hear beeps and whistles before I could hear speech. I put a lot of work into the therapy portion and wore my implant alone often to ensure that I would get the most benefit out of the device. I can tell you all today that after five years of listening with my cochlear implant, I went from 20% word understanding to 88% word understanding! Those closest to me comment on my improved performance. They say I respond a little quicker, I can hear them in the other room, and I don’t always have to rely on speech reading!


The cochlear implant has given me so many opportunities on so many different levels and I truly cannot wait to see what this crazy journey has in store for the future. I hope to share my journey to inspire others. Fear is a crippling thing and can get in the way of a great opportunity. I hope you can use this experience to move yourself in a way you never thought possible. Thank you to all of my supporters and superHEARos. You know who you are!


- Samantha

 

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