deaf book club
September Book Club: ‘My Hard of Hearing Life’ by Cynthia Dixon
August 28, 2019
captions for audiobooks
Audible to release captions for audiobooks
August 30, 2019

Finally, I can swim with my cochlear implants!

advanced bionics aqua case
This was the first summer I could finally swim with my cochlear implants.

Now, I have a newfound appreciation for my Advanced Bionics Aqua Case, a waterproof cochlear implant solution. 

Isolation

My newfound appreciation for my Aqua Case is a journey that began when I was 10 and heard in the water for the first time. At this point, a waterproof processor meant inclusion. Prior to the Neptune, you could find me at the pool and at pool parties with friends. However, I was always found at the opposite end of the pool as all of my friends. It was easier that way. I had no way to hear and they had no way to communicate with me. So instead of playing games and hanging out with friends at the pool, I would either stay poolside and interact with everyone from afar, or I would swim laps because that didn’t require talking. 

Read more: Five Tips for Teaching a Deaf Child to Swim

I was extremely lucky to have a babysitter who took it upon herself to take four year old me out to the pool to teach me how to swim. I can only imagine the difficulty of this task, though she got creative and we had signs to communicate. But not everyone is as patient and creative as Christina was. I later became all the more grateful that she was there to teach me to swim. I didn’t recognize her patience then, but it’s all I see in those lessons now.

Makeshift Solution

For several years before any waterproof solution came out, my mom — through her creativity — sealed my processor in a bag using a food sealer. I put the bag on my head with the headpiece magnetized to my head. I also wore a swim cap to keep the processor on. This was not ideal in any way whatsoever. It was inconvenient and the sound quality wasn’t great, but I got sound in the water. As a child, that was all that mattered. I didn’t care how I got the sound or that my T-mic was covered, ultimately taking away lots of clarity and speech understanding. If I tried hard enough, I knew I could make it work. I did until the Neptune came out! 

Neptune

With the Neptune and the Aqua Case, a world of sound and understanding in water came to light – the same as in any other setting! I never knew that pool games were a thing until I used the Neptune. I had gone 10 years not knowing about Marco Polo, Sharks in the Minnow, or any other games. How could I, though? No one had a way to communicate with me in the water. Even if they explained the game before I took my processor off, I had no way to hear what anyone was saying during the game itself. It felt like I was learning how to socialize in the pool with this new processor. Suddenly a waterproof solution didn’t just mean hearing in water, it meant swimming away from isolation and diving into a world of communication in a whole new setting I didn’t know existed.

“Suddenly a waterproof solution didn’t just mean hearing in water, it meant swimming away from isolation and diving into a world of communication in a whole new setting I didn’t know existed.”

This was why I truly appreciated my Neptune and now Aqua Case. I could finally interact with others at all times. Swimming became fun in a whole other way! At this point I could never imagine going back. If I forgot my Neptune, you’d see how withdrawn and isolated I’d become. Now with my Aqua Case, I am often double checking that my processor is in the case since the sound quality is the same!

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It’s National Cochlear Implant Day and I could go on for hours about how I love my implant and how I love AB, I could list 1,000 things my CI has given me… but I’d like to focus on this one thing: This was taken just moments after I went surfing (for the first time) with my @advancedbionics AquaCase. I’ve never told myself I couldn’t do anything because of my cochlear implant (CI), but when I got out of the ocean after surfing that day- I had no idea just how much the phrase “the sky is the limit” really applied to me AND my Cochlear Implant. I knew that my CI wouldn’t stop me from surfing, but I also had my doubts and lowered my expectations because I’d never done intense water activity with my AquaCase before. I knew I could try surfing, I just didn’t know how much my CI could try surfing with me. I was prepared for surfing in silence. But my AquaCase stayed with me and allowed me to be a surfer first and get the full experience!! My CI surfed the waves with me. Being able to truly experience this was both inspiring, exhilarating, and impossible without my Advanced Bionics CI and AquaCase!!! #nationalcochlearimplantday #phonak #phonakteens #phonakteenadvisor #advancedbionics

A post shared by Emmy (@phabulous_ears) on

Newfound Appreciation for the Aqua Case

This past summer, the summer after my senior year, I discovered a newfound appreciation for the Aqua Case, the current solution to my waterproof hearing. I began babysitting and nannying a couple young kids over the summer. In Arizona, long days with little ones means lots of pool time. Of course I always grabbed my Aqua Case before anything else. After the first day of pool time with the kids, I realized that my waterproof hearing wasn’t just giving me inclusion, it was giving me access to safety and the ability to watch and play with the children. The simple summer activity of swimming with younger children under my charge would be completely different if I couldn’t hear. It would’ve been hard and frustrating for the kids too. 

I always knew how much I loved and appreciated my Neptune and Aqua Case, but this summer my appreciation and understanding of their significance grew drastically. Now I get inclusion and safety from my Aqua Case!

What was it like when you first heard in the water?

Emmy Cartwright
Author Details
Emmy is a Phonak Teen Advisory Board member and wears an Advanced Bionics Cochlear Implant and Phonak CROS.
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Emmy Cartwright
Emmy is a Phonak Teen Advisory Board member and wears an Advanced Bionics Cochlear Implant and Phonak CROS.
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