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Speaking with Patients about Cochlear and Hearing Loss

October 3, 2018
* For closed captioning, click the button in the bottom-right of the video. *
Elena Pearlstein and Barbara Kraska, who both underwent cochlear implant surgery at GBMC’s Presbyterian Board of Governors Cochlear Implant Center of Excellence, shared the story of their journeys with Mary Beth Marsden. Elena, who’s now in 6th grade, was diagnosed with hearing loss when she was one after her parents noticed she wasn’t babbling like other babies her age. Her doctor found fluid in her ears, so she had surgery to implant tubes that would drain the fluid.

“We thought that would fix the problem,” said her mother. “But three months later, her hearing still hadn’t improved. We took her for another evaluation and I expected to hear that nothing was wrong, but the doctor said she did have hearing loss and needed hearing aids. It hit me like a ton of bricks.”

Unfortunately, Elena’s hearing loss continued to progress. About a year ago, her parents noticed she was falling behind in school and becoming socially isolated, so they had her assessed by an educational psychologist who works with children with hearing issues. He raised the idea of getting cochlear implants. Said Elena, “I was excited, but I didn’t know what it would be like. It took some time to get used to the first implant, but now that I have the second one I can hear the notes and words better when I sing.” Added her father, “She has access to so much sound and so many experiences she didn’t before she got her implants.”

Barbara Kraska is equally excited about her cochlear implant. “It changed my life for the better very quickly,” she explained. Barbara had been living with progressive hearing loss for several years but was in denial. “When my kids said I should get my hearing tested, I took it personally. Now I wish I’d gotten tested sooner.”

Where she once was embarrassed about having to ask people to repeat what they said, didn’t enjoy watching movies because she couldn’t follow what was going on, and started to withdraw from doing things she enjoyed, today Barbara is the happy, social person she was before her hearing loss.

“I highly recommend the cochlear implant to people with hearing loss,” she said. “I love going to the movies and out to dinner now. The other night my husband couldn’t hear what a waiter said and he asked me if I heard and I said, ‘Yes I did’ with a big smile.”
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