How I prepared for emergencies as a cochlear implant wearer

David B. Cluff, Mon, 20 Apr 2020

Ever get stuck in traffic and realize you are about to run out of gas? That was me a few weeks ago. As much as I was worried about running out of gas, I also feared that my cochlear implant sound processor would run out of battery life while I was stuck in traffic for three hours on a snowy night. That was when I realized that I was not fully prepared for any type of emergency.

Ever get stuck in traffic and realize you are about to run out of gas? That was me a few weeks ago. As much as I was worried about running out of gas, I also feared that my cochlear implant sound processor would run out of battery life while I was stuck in traffic for three hours on a snowy night. That was when I realized that I was not fully prepared for any type of emergency.

Prepare an emergency kit

The next day, I began thinking about what type of things I could put in an emergency back-up kit for my car. A few things came to mind:

  1. First aid kit
  2. Travel-size toiletries
  3. Blanket
  1. Extra set of clothes
  2. Flashlight

I could keep adding to that list, but what I really began to think about was how could I customize this emergency kit for my cochlear implant? I concluded that there are two main things I would need in any situation.

1. Extra batteries or a back-up charger

2. A medical alert tag

I have a laptop bag that I take to work every day, and I carry an extra battery that would give me another full day of battery life. That battery brings me extra peace of mind, so I realized I should also have extra batteries in my back-up kit. If you have a Naída CI system, it’s also compatible with zinc air and AAA battery options, which would be an even better option than a rechargeable battery.
 

Carry a medical alert tag

The next thing to think about is your medical alert tag. I have one strapped to my carry-on luggage for air travel, but it is also important to have one with you no matter what the means of your transportation. Since my implant is not MRI compatible, my medical alert tag says Cochlear Implant. No MRI. Deaf. My fear is that I’d get into an accident, have my cochlear implants fall off, and medical professionals would put me through an MRI. That is a scary thought.

Thankfully some newer implants on the market are MRI compatible. Nevertheless, I think it would be a good idea to have the Cochlear Implant indication on your medical alert tag or bracelet so that medical professionals are made aware in emergency situations.
 

Inform others

Another thing you can do to prepare is to let those you commonly travel with know where your emergency kit is and what they need to know in case something happens. The more you are prepared, the less you have to worry in case something unexpected happens.

I also recommend you have a portable charger for your phone. If your sound processor battery dies and someone needs to communicate with you, you can use your phone to communicate by typing questions and answers.

There are also useful health apps that store your relevant health information. The one I use contains my emergency contacts, general health status, and information about my cochlear implants.

My emergency kit brings me more peace of mind when I travel and prepares me for anything that might come up. I hope these tips about how to prepare for one are helpful to you.

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Written by:

David B. Cluff

David is a 20-year cochlear implant recipient, father, husband, photographer, and blogger. David lost his hearing overnight at age six which is where his cochlear implant journey began. Since then he has gone to share his story through photography, blogging, and social media platforms. David and his wife, Heather, are parents to three young kids under the age of 4. He is currently a CGI Photography Manager for a furniture company and thrives on creativity. David also serves as an AB Cochlear Implant Mentor. To connect with David, visit HearingJourney.

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