May 30th mentoring experience

Yesterday, I received an email from someone locally who is became a successful CI candidate. I thought I would post the email and my reply for any others who may be interested.


    Dear Sam: I am a patient of Dr. (name removed to protect the innocent) and have been chosen as a successful candidate for a cohlear implant…I have research all 3 companies and feel that they all proclaim characteristics that appeal to me…somehow I have been drawn more to the Med-El product but I also notice that more of the people listed in the Implant directory seemed to go with the Advanced Bionics or Cochlear brands…what are your thoughts and could you tell me alittle of your journey with your implant…can you talk on the telephone and understand music…right now I struggle with my amplified phone and don’t understand music (it is just noise for me) unless it is a song I know then I might get some of it…I met ( great people) they told me not to stress out so much on choosing an implant…to choose one and go forward…but this is a huge decision to me…I hope to be succesful enough with the implant to regain some of the life I used to have…


Goof morning (name removed to protect the innocent),

Sorry for not getting back to you sooner and welcome to the world of cochlear implants or CIs, as we lazily call them! Let me tell you that you are in excellent hands with (name removed to protect the innocent). And of course, I know the (name removed to protect the innocent). They are the most wonderful couple and you could even call them Mr. and Mrs. CI-Buffalo! They are the founders of what is now known as the Buffalo Implant Group (B.I.G.).

I am a bilateral CI recipient with my right (and worse) ear done in January 2007 and my left ear, January 2008. I wore a hearing aid all my life, mostly in my left ear. That ear was my favorite. Since it is very rare for both ears to sound exactly the same, my left ear’s frequency range is in the lows to mid-range and my right ear is in the mid-range to highs.

I chose to do my right ear first because I had “everything to gain, nothing to lose”. It took a while but with practice and patience, that ear slowly became usable to the point where I no longer needed my hearing aid in the left ear and, it was at that point in time I decided to go bi-lateral. Since you mentioned music, I will tell you that it had never ever sound so much better with one ear, I couldn’t imagine what it sounded like in true stereo. My speech comprehension being 0% with the hearing aid, slowly and gradually improved to about 25%. Now, that is not a bad figure considering I am talking about my worse ear AND, like the old adage, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” because I was a kind of lazy when it came to practicing.

Finally, in January 2008 I had my left ear done and when that was activated in February, I was totally floored! Not only did it sound better than with the bearing aid but together with my right ear, my hearing became phenomenal! I am like, “this is what I had to wait 50 something years for?” After about 2 visits for mappings, my speech comprehension slowly increased to 75%.

However and unfortunately, because I have not been really practicing, the use of the phone has not been good enough but you will have to blame me for that. I am slowly getting there and a lot of it is psychological. I am much more open because no longer do I have to nod in agreement when I don’t understand someone. Following conversations are a breeze. Music is so much more enjoyable. And life is grand after all!!

Now about the device itself. I chose Advanced Bionics. The biggest factor at the time was they were the only company with a rechargeable battery. And, their marketing material was the most educational of all 3 companies. Plus, they are an American company. Other factors include the device itself.

It has a unique part called the t-mic which is the microphone that extends down to the opening of the ear. It can be bent so that it takes advantage of the bowl of the ear, giving you the maximum benefit of natural sound.

It has AutoSound. Like the commercial for the Ronco Rotisserie, “Just Set It and Forget About It!”. You won’t have to constantly adjust the dial to adapt to the environment. No matter where you are…quiet, normal or noisy, the program is design to take those environmental situations into consideration. For example, in a restaurant if it is too loud it adjusts to reduce the amount of background noise but increase the emphasis on conversations up close.

The processing speed is another consideration. The current program can process up to 81,000 pieces of information per second. I believe that is almost twice that of its nearest competitor. What that means, is the information gets through faster…there is no hesitation. Have you ever watched the news where there is an interview with a correspondent on the other side of the globe and there is a hesitation before they answer? That is the difference between Advanced Bionics and the others.

And, independent studies show that AB has the highest reliability factor and, the lowest return rate. In fact, AB’s device is more upgradeable than the others meaning 20 years from now, the current internal device will more likely still be functioning with the processor of tomorrow than that of CA or Med-El.

There is so much more that you can get out of Advanced Bionics. They are also the sponsor of the largest independent cochlear implant community in the world called Hearing Journey ( And even better, you will find free listening lessons with there. You will also get to meet some of the best CI friends you could ever have. And on Thursday nights at 8:00, they have on-line chat where you can get to meet these folks and me.

I would also encourage you to visit my blog, Welcome to Sam Spritzer’s Web Site at and if you go back to 2007 and 2008, you’ll see my story in more detail.

Lastly, I want to take this opportunity to invite you to meet other CIers and learn more about the Advanced Bionics device at:

Buffalo Rochester BEA Social

When: Saturday, June 6, 2009, 11am-1pm
Where: Darien Lake State Park, Shelter #2, 10289 Harlow Rd, Darien Center, NY 14040

RSVP to Katie Peter at or 877 335 0899
Please do be sure to bring a picnic lunch. Drinks and desserts will be provided!

Well (name removed to protect the innocent), I don’t want to take up your entire day reading this but I guess this is a good start. I would love to learn more about your loss, decision and answer any questions you may have. And I hope to meet you at the social next week. And if you want, I can meet you for coffee if you like. In the meanwhile, can you tell me why you are leaning towards Med-El? What are your expectations and concerns? What is your hearing history?

Please do keep in touch and please do not hesitate to answer any questions you may have.

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