St. Augustine resident, Harry Zemon, experienced severe hearing loss from two major factors in his life. First, he was in the meat business and that meant dealing with high intensity noises coming from band saws, patty makers and grinders. Pair that with a genetic defect, hearing loss for him at age 70 turned into severe hearing loss – and hearing aids were no longer helpful.
Harry’s first venture into seeking information on hearing correction was in 1986. He realized he could not understand people. Conversations turned into mumbling. Since he was in the military, he found it was covered completely by insurance if surgery took place in Tampa. If he chose to go that route, it meant he would have a six-hour round trip every week for the first three-to-four weeks post-surgery. The VA provided many evaluations on his status of hearing and bone loss. But, he just could not deal with the trips to Tampa. So, he waited.
When Harry was able to obtain Medicare and the supplements, he inquired again. One day he was in the grocery store and a fellow in front of him was an older gentleman with a bright white cochlear processor firmly on his head. He approached the gentleman, a local attorney, to talk about this particular implant, and they talked nearly 25 minutes. The attorney shared his cochlear implant story of having the surgery in California many years ago.
Harry found out about an informative seminar in Jacksonville about cochlear implants, and he decided to go.
“I was sold,” said Mr. Zemon. “I knew this was what I had to have.”
In March 2018, Harry underwent successful cochlear implant surgery by J. Douglas Green Jr., MD, in Jacksonville.
“I kicked myself for not having it done earlier!” he went on to say.
The surgery resulted in Harry being able to now hear his three grandchildren – he calls them the chatterboxes. He can hear and understand them whereas before his daughter had to translate.
“It is a joy, a pleasure to hear them and the outside world again,” said Harry.
If he sees a person who is having a hard time to hearing, he strikes up a conversation sometimes. He chats about having a cochlear implant and how it’s made a huge difference in his life. The impact has been incredible.
Harry also uses a caption phone with a screen to further discern words. It’s like closed-caption on television. He says it helps him to further with word discrimination. Presently, he’s working on a new therapy program using his cell phone to further increase sound understanding even more clearly.
“If I would have known that grandkids were so much fun, I would have had them first! Harry exclaims.
Today the external cochlear processor comes in different colors and shades. Harry opted for the darker one, so it’s barely noticeable. Today’s products can hardly be seen under the hair.
Harry firmly believes that if people who are still leery abut what cochlear implants and severe hearing correction are all about that they should seek out the experts.
“Information is key, and what I knew initially barely scratched the surface,” he goes on to say. “A long time ago the surgery cost so much that it seemed as much as heart surgery – it’s come a long way today and is perfected.”
“It’s really a life changer. Regardless of whether your seven or 70, your world opens up all over again!”