Robyn Carter now lives in Blenheim, on the South Island, and is a computer programmer. She already had two cochlear implant surgeries and consequently holds a more balanced – but still positive – opinion about cochlear implant than some of the Cochlear volunteers. That may help you to weigh more accurately the pros and cons about cochlear implant.
Read also Robyn's interview in The Aucklander, on Wednesday 29th November, 2009.
1) What are the main prejudices and problems that you’ve encountered with the cochlear implant so far ?
I've only had a problem with the security people at Sydney airport because I could not pass under the electromagnetic security gate – they were quite rude and gave me a lot of grief. I kept telling them about the CI in my ear, but they wouldn't believe me. Other than that – no prejudices whatsoever.
2) Have you met other deaf people who were opposed to cochlear implant ? Have you managed to open a discussion about it ?
Many Deaf people I've met have been opposed to the Cochlear Implant including one today who told me she doesn't like them. I usually ask them why and tell them my experiences with it. I have been able to persuade 10-12 people to go onto the waiting list, and they in turn have ended up with Cochlear Implants and done well. Just recently I've managed to persuade someone to see their doctor about one, and she's now on the waiting list.
3) What is your family / friends / workmates’ attitude towards the cochlear implant ?
Initially my brother thought I would be 'cured', and it took a long time for him to understand that it's not a cure, and I will still have problems in certain situations. He and my family stopped taking my previous good hearing with my CI when the first one failed. They are much more patient now.
Is it different now from what it was before the surgery ?
Hugely different from before surgery (total deafness vs. hearing impaired)
Do you like it as it is now ?
I don't like this one as much as my first implant – it doesn't seem as natural, however just recently I noticed a gradual improvement since my last map and am finally getting used to it.
4) What improvements do you think the current CI clinics and follow-up care would need ?
The Auckland clinic is brilliant with follow up care and testing. The South Island clinic is not so good for testing. Auckland tests you every mapping, South Island don't have time so don't!
5) What helped you the most in your process of searching information about CI and taking the decision to be implanted ?
This didn't apply to me as I was a medical case – I was about to have an operation on one ear that would have a 95% chance of losing all my hearing, so they implanted my other ear first, and got that up and running. They wouldn't do the operation without the implant first – so I just went ahead and had it done.
6) What improvements would you like to see in general information about cochlear implant and in the support given to the willing-to-be implantees ?
I would like to see television advertisements about them, raising awareness of them as a whole.
7) What is your opinion about the current situation of the cochlear implant in New Zealand / Australia today ?
there is a great need for there to be more funding in NZ so more people can have them. I would like to see private medical companies start covering them as well – at present not one private medical company will fund Cochlear Implants in NZ – so we are very dependent on government funding.