Nov 2017 The Tomahawk
Doctor Joe Ray has struggled with hearing issues for many years. In fact, he failed the hearing test three times when he joined the Air Force. He wasn’t sure what caused the hearing loss, but he did recall running a jackhammer one summer in his youth. “I didn’t realise I had a hearing problem until I started square dancing at 58,” Ray stated. “Now at 66, I noticed I had trouble understanding the calls. I would ask them to turn down the music and to repeat calls.” According to Ray, his hearing issues were one of the reasons he retired from dental practice at 61. “I didn’t want my hearing loss to impact my profession,” he stated.
Ray’s hearing tests showed he only had hearing of eight percent in his left year and seven percent in his right year. “Hearing becomes a problem after hearing loss gets to 60 percent,” Ray stated.
After consulting with his doctors, Ray decided to go the route of a cochlear implant. “You lose your natural hearing,” Ray stated. “It replaces your natural hearing. It takes about three months before you can notice a difference. I can hear better already. Basically, I had to learn how to listen again.”
Typical side effects from the procedure include some dizziness for up to two days, but basically patients should feel fairly normal and recover quickly. He is glad he had the surgery. “I am hearing sound I haven’t heard before, he said. I had to quit doing things because I couldn’t hear.” Within three months, Ray expects he should be hearing pretty well.
According to Ray, if you are considering surgery, read about cochlear implants and any side effects. “It’s a process to learn to hear again,” he stated. “The closest way to explain how I hear right now is to compare the people’s voices to a tracheotomy patient.” The brain has to adjust to where his hearing becomes the new normal. “It’s a whole lot better to where I was before the operation,” he said. “Do your due diligence,” Ray advised. “It can be a life changing event.”