Making It Real

One of the problems with being hearing impaired is that it’s invisible. No one can tell you’re hard of hearing or deaf unless you tell them – or if you’re lucky, they figure it out.

Talking about my cochlear implant is tricky. It’s a very concrete thing. I mean, I just had surgery to have the thing installed. But you can’t see it. I can barely feel it. I’m not kidding. I’m still not exactly sure where the receiver for the processor is. Then again, it’s all still pretty tender so it’s not like I want to go poking around up there.

I can’t even show a scar to make it real because my thick hair has already grown over most of it. The scar is so finely done that it’s basically invisible too so there’s nothing to see.

Making hearing impairment visible – without hearing aids – is tough.

Not only is Andreas a nerd, he’s curious about everything. Every. Single. Thing. Ever (almost). So for Christmas this year I coordinated his gift money into a 3D printer. Naturally, the first thing we printed: a model of the human inner ear.

This is a left inner ear. It’s the cochlea (the snail) and the semi-circular canals (that are responsible for balance). The model is 25mm long and is nearly twice as large as a real cochlea. I know it’s going to be helpful to have this in my pocket to show people how a cochlear implant works. I mean, it’s helping ME picture how a cochlear implant works. It makes it more real. Everyone has two of these things. Lefty, and righty.

I don’t know who the model is, but I’m grateful for whoever volunteered their CT scan.