Thursday, August 04, 2005


Welcome to the first installment of the Cochlear Implant Blog, also known as the Cochbla. Many people have asked for updates on the implant process so I thought I'd try this. I will be updating this periodically to let you know how things are going, to let you know what it feels like to have a hole drilled in my head and a wire implanted in my ear; and what it feels like to hear through a computer sticking out of my skull. In case you were wondering about that. If not, is a good site, it's got news and stuff.

It is Tminus 6 days to surgery for me, minus 7 for Sam. Both of us are a bit nervous, but Sam has good perspective and is more upset that he missed out on a sweet deal to buy a classic BMW convertible and that the Mets can't string together a winning streak. My parents seem ok with the impending operations.

I've been considering an implant seriously for about 8 months now. I've had non-stop headaches for more than two years, which refused to go away even after I stopped working at the law firm. After being treated for concussions and migraines to no effect, I found out that it was my hearing aids that were causing the headaches. Thirty years of amplified sound wore out the membranes that hold the fluid in the inner ear. These membranes now move too much, which makes the fluid in the ear move to much which causes headaches similar to what you get from motion sickness.

Sam's situation is pretty similar. I will be having my right ear operated on, Sam, his left. Which ear is operated on is determined by which ear is worse off. The worse ear is chosen because the surgery is irreversible. Once donce, tht ear loses all its residual hearing for good. Might not seem like a big deal as the ear is already deaf, but it actually is a pretty big change -- the ear operated on can no longer pick up any vibrations whatsoever. It's pretty much just for looks then so I might get an earing or a small tattoo of a guy fishing for mackerel.

I worked closely with Dr. Andrew Fishman at NYU trying to get to the root of my ear problems. When we figured out what it was and set the date for the surgery, he promptly left for India for a year to do neurosurgery at a free hospital for street children, the dick. Dr. John Thomas Roland (he also owns a steakhouse) will now do my operation and he has probably done as many of these operations as anyone in the world. As he put it: "more than 750 and I haven't sliced through any facial nerves yet." I don't think I've put on a band-aid that many times. Many days he does three operations which leads to the obvious question -- who are all these people?

Leads to another issue -- all these cochlear implants are rapidly, massively, and irreversibly changing the deaf (signing) community. Wait, that's someone else's blog.

Nah, I'll get to that sometime.

Just want to quickly mention that this Saturday is a wedding party for my great friend Dante Paradiso. Dante, you may not know -- and I say this in absolute seriousness -- is a genuine hero. He, more than anyone (and he will deny this, but I have seen the classified state department evidence), is responsible for ending that terrible civil war in Liberia a few years ago. I am honored to be his friend and promise not to bring up his abysmal record in sporting competitions against yours truly at the party. One of my fondest memories of being a forest ranger with Dante is watching him scream in agony and storm off into the redwood forest after losing a third set tiebreaker in a tennis match late at night on the Northern Pacific Coast. Good times. D is the man.

If you have any specific questions, please drop a line any time. Otherwise, check back in a couple days. Thanks to all of you for your great support during this interesting time.


Blogger Michele said...

Dear Josh,

How long after the operation before you know if it's successful?


9:44 AM  
Blogger Bankable Poetry said...

Woke up this morning,
Couldn't hear my shoes.
Thought to myself -
Must be the cochlear blues.

(Disclaimer: Bankable Poetry has no authority in poetry of this genre, but he wholeheartedly supports Josh in becoming a zen cyborg.)

11:22 AM  
Blogger Sam said...

It was a sweet ride. Damnit.

6:10 PM  
Blogger rebecca said...

Hey - I hear you're going to be a movie star!

6:56 AM  
Blogger Ravi said...

Hi Josh:

Some implants do preserve your residual hearing depending on how your surgery goes. I think your Surgeon is giving you low expectations.

All the best

10:27 PM  
Blogger Josh said...


Hi. Thanks for checking in. We checked in about the possibility of preserving hearing in the operation. Not to get too technical, but at this point is only possible to preserve low frequency hearing -- which is where the vast majority of deaf people hear best but where Sam and I hear worst. Preserving hearing in a CI operation is a great new development, but it wouldn't benefit us. But other then that, I expect things will go fine.

7:20 PM  
Anonymous Paul said...

Hi Josh. My wife had her CI surgery the same day you started your blog. You can follow her story at The Year I Went Deaf. Thanks for sharing yours!

1:00 AM  

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