door Marjolein Marreveld
Coming coronavirus puts on hold my ardently desired CI trajectory
In between all the coronary issues I was told by the audiologist at VUmc: “You are a good candidate for us”. It sounds like I’m getting a poetry record for a test. This was said to me because I am a good candidate for a cochlear implant (CI). And with that I am through the preliminaries to get a cochlear implant. A cochlear implant (CI) is a device that allows severely hearing impaired people to partially hear sound and/or speech again. A CI consists of an external part (speech processor) and an internal part (the implant). I was glad it was almost there. And then, because of the coronavirus, all regular actions and procedures were stopped. What seemed to me to be a good planning to be able to continue the work as usual was put at risk. It is still not clear when CI trajectories in the VUmc will be restarted. The big wait has started.
My CI-story, the preliminary trajectory
It has been clear to me for years that with my hearing loss and the future perspective of complete deafness, I would choose a CI. It has not been a question of whether this would take place, but when. In December 2016 I went to VUmc’s CI consultation hour for the first time. Annual visit and again many audiograms richer was waiting for significant deterioration of my hearing. That was the case in the summer of 2019, speech intelligibility deteriorated rapidly. After discussion in the multidisciplinary CI team, the preliminaries could begin in December.
I received many responses to the message that I am a good candidate for a CI. The nicest reaction was that someone thought I had won a prize. Well, actually that feels a bit like it, but I also have a way to go, I realize that well. Having a CI placed is not really a choice, it feels more like something that just has to be done in my life. I do notice that people don’t have a good idea of the CI trajectory you are going through. That is why I will tell you more about it.
There are three phases: the preliminary phase, the operation and the rehabilitation. I will start with the preliminary phase, because I have completed it so far.
Between 10 November 2019 and mid-February 2020, I went to the VUmc 6 times. I was very happy that many appointments were combined in one day. Wonderfully efficient! During those conversations there was a lot of space to think carefully before taking the step. I experienced the attention for this as very pleasant. This is how I grew towards my CI. The idea was to do the surgery in mid-May and the rehabilitation in July-August-September. And then the coronavirus became a killjoy and it still is. As you know there is not much to plan now and it has made me very calm.
First of all I got a CI-intake with a lot of explanation (26-11-19) I got an extensive folder with all kinds of information. Very handy as a reference book and to write things down myself. Then a morning marathon: a conversation with the speech therapist about the rehabilitation process and some tests, a conversation with a social worker about the impact of a CI, on life and work and a consultation with the ENT doctor. This was all possible on 1 morning (17-12-2019) which I really enjoyed. Then just before Christmas I got a CT scan of my head (20-12-2019) and after the turn of the year an MRI scan and a visit to anaesthesia (30-01-2020). Then I had a call appointment with the ENT doctor about the results of the scans. And finally a follow-up examination with the speech therapist and the final interview with the clinical physicist-audiologist in which I was told that I am a suitable candidate for a CI. I was also allowed to indicate my choice for the CI brand (20-02-2020). By the way, this is the only part where you can choose something yourself. Next time I will tell more about how I came to this choice and why. Oh yeah, and I got another shot at the general practitioner to prevent meningitis (04-03-20). And then the big wait started because the coronavirus stopped all regular treatments and trajectories.
by Marja de Kinderen, Slechthorend Amsterdam