This week marks five years since SJ got her first cochlear implant.

I looked back at the blog post I wrote about her surgery and it brings me to tears.


Then I look at the blog post about the time I had to fish for her cochlear implant off of the downstairs neighbor’s deck! I’m able to laugh about it now, but my heart still pounds a little just thinking about it.



Then there was the first time she muttered some hardly intelligible words into the microphone for the school Christmas program and I beamed with pride.


When I am old and grey I might remember this 5 year stretch as a blip on the radar of life. However, let me put it in writing that it was not! It has been a long 5 years. There have been ups and downs, challenges and rewards, but by the grace of God, we have made it to this very significant milestone.

What is so significant about 5 years?

1. It’s half a decade so that’s pretty big in my book.

2. She is in second grade now which is as far as you can go at her school. So this is her “senior year”. She graduates this spring.

3. The Cochlear warranty is 5 years and then you are eligible for an upgrade. You know how some people go berserk about the latest phone upgrades? Imagine that times one hundred!

For the record, the upgrade is for the sound processor. That means all the external parts which come off and on: the microphone, battery, and magnet.


A lot of people ask if she ever has to have another surgery as the technology improves and the answer is no. I remember watching promo DVDs from each of the three manufacturers that we had to choose from for SJ’s CI (cochlear implant). One thing they raved about was “backward compatibility” That means that whatever technology they come up with will work with the electronic medical devices that are implanted in her head. I know it’s very sci-fi but stay with me.

When SJ’s was implanted in 2012 she received the Nucleus 5.


The processor is hooked on her ponytail because her ear was still healing from surgery.

A couple years later Cochlear released the Nucleus 6 and the audiology world was abuzz with what all the new features would be. Some of SJ’s friends got upgrades. There weren’t that many noticeable changes except that it came with a snug fitting aqua accessory to make your processor waterproof. CI processors are like glasses. You take them off for “the three S’s”. Sleep. Swim. Shower. There are disposable baggies that you can order to allow you to swim with sound processors on, but they are pretty bulky so they’re hard to keep in place and it’s tricky to keep the right amount on hand for everytime you go swimming. Kind of like swim diapers, except you can’t just go to the store and pick up a pack if you run out.


That’s why the new aqua + was such an improvement.



The next time I caught wind of a new CI device was last year when they released the Kanso.


This is the same as the Nucleus 6, but instead of having an over-the-ear sound processor there is a round processor that attaches to your head and that’s it. I guess it’s more discreet. I was freaking out for a little bit wondering if SJ would want that or the traditional style that looks more like a hearing aid. J and I both decided to stick with the over-the-ear for a number of reasons, especially since she’ll be starting a new school and be responsible for all of her equipment. We want it to be something she is used to.

Now here we are at the end of 2017 and they just released the Nucleus 7 which is what SJ will be eligible for. The coolest part of this new CI is that it the first hearing device ever to be compatible with Apple products!


Okay this is where I geek out!!! I am a long time Apple user and it’s exciting to think about deaf people, including my daughter, being able to stream from their phones and iPads directly into their CIs and change their settings without carrying around an extra remote. The REALLY cool part though, the thing that makes me shriek for joy, is the FIND MY PROCESSOR feature.


You guys. This is a huge game changer.

Over the past five years,  SJ has temporarily lost her processors dozen of times. We’ve driven back to parks in search of a missing processor. We’ve gone back to a playmate’s house searching every inch of area she may have crossed that day. Or the story I already mentioned where SJ slid her processor through the crack in our porch. It is so stressful and these things are not cheap. We are talking $20,000. Yes, I meant for there to be four zeros. The good news is if your child flushes their processor down the toilet or has it fly off on a roller coaster (I know people who experienced these examples first hand) you get a ONE TIME loss at no cost.


After all the headaches and heart attacks we always managed to track down missing processors. So we never needed the loss insurance, that is until a few weeks ago. SJ was rolling downhill in a Tonka truck (one of my kids’ favorite activities) and when she came in that night and was getting ready for bed I noticed she was missing a processor… again. Ugh. So we went out looking that night. We went out looking the next day. We talked to the neighbors and they were looking. One or our neighbor friends even had a metal detector.


Despite our best efforts the CI never turned up and I had to file a claim for our one time loss. The good news is we are months away from getting new ones anyway so I feel like we already reached the finish line.

That’s life with bionic ears. It’s not always easy, but it’s definitely a blessing.