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Cochlear Implant Story


I would like to express my deep gratitude to Dr. Dennis Bojrab and the staff at St. John’s Hospital in Novi for the wonderful care I recently received while hospitalized for surgery for a cochlear implant. My three adult children accompanied me for the surgery and commented on how well I was taken care of and how the staff kept them updated during the long procedure.

I can’t thank Dr. Bojrab enough for giving me my hearing back. How do you ever say “thank you” enough times to convey what it means to hear your grandchildren talk, become part of conversations again and even hear the simple things like water running or a clock ticking. As a husband, father and grandfather, I was missing so many moments in everyday life because of my hearing loss. Often I didn’t feel like part of what was happening around me. I became frustrated in public places like restaurants and stores because I would have problems processing what people were saying. And although I’m retired, I still work eight months a year at the Oakland County Parks in a supervisory role that requires me to interact with other staff and patrons. When I return to the job in the spring I’ll have more confidence and feel less self-conscious about my hearing. In closing, Dr. Bojrab gave me the best Christmas gift possible and I am forever indebted to his skill and compassion as an outstanding surgeon.

To Dr. Babu, Advanced Bionics, Julie (my audiologist), and everyone else that has been instrumental in starting me on the most fantastic journey of my life – THANK YOU!!!!

Since I was implanted and activated with the cochlear implant March/April 2013 my life has changed so drastically I cannot explain it.

I have gone from before my surgery not being able to understand what was being said to sitting at a table with 10 or 12 people (all talking) and taking part in the conversation. I used to guess a lot as to what people were saying and got a lot of looks telling me I had misread their lips but that does not happen anymore.

One of the few things I heard upon activation that I did not realize I could not hear before was the click of a light switch, the beeping of a timer, my footsteps as I walked across the floor. It had been so long since I had heard them they sounded like music.

One day as I was sitting on the porch I heard a shrill shrieking, which was almost painful to my ears, until I realized it was a sparrow sitting on the electrical wire chirping. I have not heard the crickets chirp yet but maybe that is because there are not many around anymore in the city. Another time I kept hearing a noise that I could not identify and spent quite a while running around the house until I realized it was my paper shredder which should have shut off automatically but didn’t. These are only a few of the wondrous things the cochlear implant has done for me.

Even though people’s voices still sound like a raspy whisper at least I can hear and understand them. I know I have a long way to go before noises sound completely normal but I look forward everyday to hearing new noises to identify.

Thank you again for the most fantastic journey of my lifetime.

December 1, 2011

Thanks to the Michigan Ear Institute for two of their great doctors; Seilesh Babu, M.D. and Stacey Cohen, Doctor of Audiology.

Ten years ago I was diagnosed with high pitch hearing loss due to permanent nerve damage. In the last 3 years, my hearing continued to decline, making speech recognition almost impossible. I had my surgery on Sept 22, 2011 and can hardly believe the new world of sound I am starting to hear…

Everyday conversations, TV, radio and cellphones are becoming a wonderful reality again. What’s so exciting is I am still learning and improving as time goes on. My wife is so excited that we now can have wonderful conversations and even talk on the cell and home phone. What also is so exciting is to be able to talk and hear my grandkids.

By the way I’m 67 years old and thank God that I had this surgery. I have the Cochlear Nucleus 5 Processor system. As Don’s wife, it has been a very frustrating time for me and my family. We are SOOO thankful that he got this surgery.

He can hear us!!!

We as his family also have to learn to adjust and know that he can hear and we don’t have to use signs or write down what we are trying to tell him. It’s great that even in the car we can talk to each other. It no longer is a one person conversation. We highly recommend this surgery for those that can’t hear.


Just wanted you to know how grateful I am for the Laha surgery you did in December. It has been 4 months now and I am still, everyday thankful for hearing sounds I couldn’t hear before.

When I take the processor off to shower to go to bed it’s like, really, really did I used to be this deaf? The difference it has made in my life is amazing! I feel like a “normal” hearing person now. Thank you so much, I will always be grateful.

Dr. Babu, I am writing to you with two purposes in mind:

First, Carolyn and her family want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for accepting Carolyn as your Cochlear implant patient. When we were referred to you we did not know what to expect since we had never known anyone with an implant. You were very honest in explaining the surgery process and reminding us that there was always the possibility it might not be successful. You also explained the steps we would have to take before it could be determined that Carolyn was an actual candidate for an implant. Also you explained that even if the surgery was successful that it could take up to a year for a patient to achieve the potential hearing you wanted for your patients. The literature you provided us with was explicit and helpful. The confidence we had in your surgical ability and your passion for your work made our decision easier. It has been 5 months since her surgery and Carolyn is very happy. She liked the implant from the minute she was hooked up. She works very hard with the computer training program. The smile that radiated on her face the first time she heard outside environmental sounds will always be one of my fondest memories. She said, “I can hear!!” That’s birds-right?” She is working hard and watching her progress is so rewarding. Second, My second purpose is to let potential implant candidates know Carolyn’s story and hopefully offer encouragement to them. Feel free to share the attachment. Thank you for opening the door to a new world for Carolyn.

As the mother of a 46 year old severely hearing impaired daughter, I am writing this letter as an encouragement to anyone who is wrestling with the decision of a cochlear implant for themselves or a family member.

My daughter never had hearing in her right but we always kept a hearing aid in that ear as well as the left ear. Carolyn is also legally blind and mildly autistic. She was educated in oral & total hearing programs until 18 then attended a work training program until 26 and was employed in a rehab supported employment program until age 42. Due to financial cutbacks for the disabled her employment was terminated. I always felt that Carolyn’s hearing loss was her most difficult disability. She learned to sign but because she was slow she could not converse with the deaf; she was too hearing impaired to converse with the oral even though she had a good vocabulary; too visually impaired to effectively read lips – she was a “loner.”

December 2011 Carolyn’s hearing in her left ear nose-dived and she spent the holidays frustrated and often in tears. In January 2012 we visited an otologist who suggested a cochlear implant for Carolyn’s right ear. Carolyn surprised me by agreeing to it. We were referred to Dr. Babu.

February 2012 we had our initial visit to meet Dr. Babu and the audiologist, Brandi. We told them the world of cochlear implants was completely foreign to us. Dr. Babu explained the surgery in a very simple way to us. He informed us of the risks and possible failure as well as what a successful outcome could mean for Carolyn. Brandi introduced Carolyn to the implant coil, the processor and the remote in a way that Carolyn understood the importance of each part. We went home that day with instructions from Dr. Babu for all the tests required before it could be determined if Carolyn was an actual candidate eg., MRI, Cat Scan, physical and echocardiogram. We also were given a great deal of literature to read and DVD to watch to familiarize us with the surgery, hook-up and life with an implant.

March 2012 we met Dr. Babu to go over the test results and he said she qualified but asked if we thought Carolyn was “up” to the surgery and if we understood the possibility there might be no life in the nerve. We assured him that we were ready! The hard part was waiting until May 17 which was the first open surgery he had.

May 17 arrived! The surgery went well and Carolyn was a real trooper. They did not cut her long hair-only shaved a small path along the back of her ear for the incision. Dr. Babu was so pleased that he had been able to connect all 22 electrodes!! Carolyn did not experience any of the side effects that we had been alerted to watch for. Dr. Babu removed the sutures in his office and was pleased with her recovery-hook-up date was to be June 27. He assured me that she would hear but every sound would be different to her- that she would not hear my “Mommy voice” it would sound different. (He was right- she told me that I had a bad throat.)

June 27 arrived! Brandi hooked her up at 1:30 pm and she did not remove the coil and processor until almost midnight-she was that comfortable with it. She found the coil, processor and remote very easy to use. Our life took a different turn – she wears it every day. I will never forget the first time she stepped outside and said “I can hear! That’s birds, right?” The smile that radiated on her face made all the anxieties about the surgery worthwhile.

Carolyn is so happy with the implant and is working very hard with the computer training program. She works 2 hours each day without her hearing aid in her left ear. I hope to wean her away from relying on her left ear with its hearing aid and have that ear only as a support. We feel confident that by May 2013 Carolyn’s quality of life will be better than it could ever have been without the implant. Our whole family is so happy for her.

We are so thankful that there are skilled, caring people like Dr. Babu and Brandi who can open doors to a better world for the severely hearing impaired population.

Good luck! I hope your experience will be as positive as Carolyn’s has been.

We can’t wait to hear from you!

Contact Michigan Ear Institute today!