August 11, 2015

Traveling & Cochlear Implants


3 cars and 11 of us
traveling the country! 
   I love to travel and this year my wife and I were blessed to be able to travel in five different countries. Earlier this year we did a two-week trip in England, France, and Wales. Visiting England was a dream come true and we got to travel with people we love and cherish. It was also my first time traveling internationally. Being deaf and wearing Cochlear Implants, my first thought was “Hmm, how is this going to work?” Some of the challenges I face when traveling is always these two things: (a) How will I re-charge my batteries? (b) How much battery life do I need and have?

Downtown London
    Traveling internationally was daunting when I asked myself the first question, as I know my brother fried some of his electronics due to different power outlets or wattage during his time there.  My heart would start pounding at the thought of watching my equipment getting all fried up. Thankfully, my cochlear implants came with a converter designed for those countries and my equipment. That brought a peace of mind, but still the worse case scenario was always in the back of my mind.  So, to help ease my worries I brought a third charger that was my old backup charger. Well, it became my guinea pig for all seven hotels we stayed in. If it did not get all fried up then I knew I was safe.  That is what got me through the trip.

Riding the boat in Paris
   Now, the second question was a little more stressful for me. On an average day I carry five batteries to get me through the day. A new battery for my right ear will last a full four hours and my left ear will get about 24 hours. (The difference is due the different age of the cochlear implant technology) Like any battery, it will lose  charge over time.  After awhile, some of my batteries will last anywhere from 4 hours to 20 minutes. Each day I constantly calculate how many batteries I need for the day and also plan night activities around the amount of battery life I have left.
So, planning for an international trip was a little more extensive than a normal day. My first hurdle was the long flight. Will I be able to charge my batteries on the flight or do I need to turn them off and be deaf the entire flight??  Right before we left I bought another battery just in case.  Getting a new battery is like a Christmas morning to me as: (a) they are around $200 per battery and (b) I get more battery life, which makes me really happy.  I feel like a robot at this point, but it is true and has been the story of my life. 

  The time came to board our long journey to England and once we switched planes in Canada I found that each seat had an outlet where you can charge stuff. I was super excited! I pulled out my chargers and was able to charge my batteries as we traveled and had enough battery life to experience a memorable welcome to England! By the third day, I was able to develop a routine and knew how much battery life I had each day.

  After our time there, traveling in the USA was so much easier. The following months included a trip to Idaho and then a quick weekend trip this past weekend for my brother-in-law’s wedding. Packing up my equipment for my ears and calculating my battery life was a piece of cake. It also helps to have an amazing wife who is able to sign to me if I have to be deaf for a few hours while traveling.