Cochlear Implant Changes Woman’s Life

If you ask Joan Roster to name some of the most important dates in her life, she would surely include July 6, 2006 on the list. That was the day she received a cochlear implant in her left ear and went from living in a world of almost total silence to one filled with conversation, music, and the laughter of her four young granddaughters.

Cochlear 20Implant“I’ve been hearing impaired most of my life. I was deaf in my left ear and had limited hearing in my right ear because calcium deposits prevented the stapes in my middle ear from vibrating,” “I’ve worn a hearing aid in my right ear since I was about 19.”

Mrs. Roster began coming to the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in 1967. To improve the hearing in her right ear, Dr. Harold Schuknecht, now deceased, performed three stapedectomies that resulted in 80 percent hearing. Her hearing changed after she suffered a stroke several years ago. An audiology test confirmed that she had only 20 percent hearing in her right ear. She was now a candidate for a cochlear implant in her left ear.

“I was hesitant about the surgery because of my age,” said Mrs. Roster, who is 77 years old. Dr. Jennifer Smullen put my concerns to rest when she said, "I performed cochlear implant surgery on a patient who was 92 years old." Dr. Smullen has been treating Mrs. Roster for over a year. “Dr. Smullen takes her time and makes sure that you can hear and understand her.” When the cochlear implant’s external processor was activated four weeks later, Mrs. Roster cried tears of joy. “The results were beyond everyone’s expectations.” Thanks to the cochlear implant, Mrs. Roster is back on the auxiliary board of Morton Hospital in Taunton, Mass., and on the board of her local art association. She is an avid golfer and has resumed playing the piano. “I’m very grateful for the care and compassion I received at the Mass. Eye and Ear,” she said. “No one else will ever touch my ears!”