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All About YOU! Episode 26 with Dr. Samantha McKinney

Welcome back to the All About Audiology podcast. I’m your host, Dr. Lilach Saperstein. And this is the All About YOU episode. If you are new around here, welcome! Every other episode is all about YOU. Some of your reactions, your experiences with audiology and this week, an incredible interview with an audiologist who is also a cochlear implant user! Her name is Dr. Samantha McKinney and she is also a pediatric cochlear implant audiologist, who herself has gotten a cochlear implant a few years ago. She’s going to tell us her story, which is just so interesting, inspiring and specifically fascinating because she knows both sides of everything that’s going on, both from the patient perspective and from the audiologist perspective. You can see so many of her great blog posts and tips and information at youcicanhearnow.com.

Last week we heard from Dr. Lindsay Cockburn and we were discussing about cochlear implants; do they work, what are all the factors involved…And I thought it would be super, super interesting to bring Dr. Samantha McKinney in to hear her perspective on cochlear implants and to give us that unique perspective that she has.

Before I play you the interview, I do want to remind you to visit allaboutaudiology.com/hope to learn more about the Hope Beyond Hearing program, which is a consulting and support service that I offer to parents of children with hearing loss. You do not have to do this alone! There is support and information and resources out there. Lots of things like this podcast and so many wonderful people putting out information on blogs. My program is something unique, in that it really integrates between the audiology information and your own mental health, your own ability to cope with the difficulty of the news of a diagnosis. And so that’s something that I’m really very passionate about, that if you are struggling, if this is something that’s really bigger than you, I do want to offer my support and my services to you. So you can visit allaboutaudiology.com/hope to learn more.

Right now, we’re going to listen and learn about Dr. Samantha.

LS: “I’m so excited to have you here on the All About Audiology podcast. This is Dr. Samantha McKinney from northern California. The reason I’m so excited to be speaking with you is because: Number one, I love following you on Instagram, and learning so much from your blog posts and from all of the things that you share. [Number two], you have a very unique perspective as both an audiologist, and as a patient. So can you tell us a little bit about yourself and anything you want to tell us?”

Dr. M: “Thank you for having me on here. I’m excited just to talk with you today. I guess that you just kind of told my story a little bit. So I was not identified with hearing loss until just over a year old. I guess my mom was a little suspicious that I wasn’t responding and not talking. So she went to the pediatrician and they said, ‘Oh no, she’s fine. Big sister’s talking for her.’ So she thought, ‘Okay, we’ll just keep going.’ She still had her suspicions. She said that there was one time that my back was turned to her and she was calling my name, and got closer and closer and got right behind me and said, ‘Samantha!’ I freaked out because I had just seen her and didn’t realize that she was right behind me. So she knew, with mother’s intuition and her gut feeling that something was not right.

So finally, she got a referral to an audiologist and they identified me with severe sensorineural hearing loss and I was fit with hearing aids pretty quickly after that. So I was probably about 18 months old. Then we were sent to a total communication program, which is learning both sign language and spoken language, but they used mostly sign exact English. So what I was saying was what I was signing as well. So it’s a little bit different from American Sign Language. I did a lot from 18 months until about four years old, and then in the same school, I was then put into a mainstream program. But I was still in the same school so I still had my same speech therapists and still had my same teachers nearby. This was in two cities away from where we lived. So I had to essentially ride a bus to school every day at 18 months old. So I can’t imagine what my mom was thinking or my dad when they had to drop me off to the bus and off I went to school, came back home and got dropped off.

So I was there for five years. Then I was able to go to a mainstream school in my hometown and that was in second grade. And I had preferential seating in the classroom, I did not use an FM system until I think, third grade. But back then it was this giant, beige looking device and I had to wear the t-coil loop so it was a lot of stuff on me and I wasn’t too happy about it. So whenever my older kids are a little hesitant to want to wear FM systems or anything that adds to what they already have, I totally understand what they are going through. But I also know the benefits of using an FM system because I do realize that I probably missed out on a lot, and I had to work a lot harder to do well in school. Whereas, if I had used the FM, things would probably have been a little easier for me.”

LS: “Please talk a little bit about your speech development. After you got the hearing aids, what was it like those first couple of years?”

Dr. M: “Yeah, so I asked my mom that too, and she said that as soon as I got the hearing aids on, my speech took off. She said, ‘It was like a switch, you were in the right program and you could hear and you took off right from then on.’ I had speech therapy until sixth grade. I felt like I didn’t really need to go to speech therapy going into middle school, but I knew that it was there if I ever needed it. At that age, you are not wanting to be involved in speech therapy anymore and being pulled out of your class. So a lot of people actually ask me about my speech, and say, ‘Wow, your speech is really good.’ I think it has a lot to do with the type of hearing loss that I have. It’s pretty flat and it actually rises in the highs so I’m actually able to hear the “S”, “Sh” and “T” sounds as high frequency consonant sounds that a lot of deaf people tend to not have sounds there or responses there.”

LS: “You know, I wonder if because your name is Samantha, you really needed both the “S” and the “Th”…

Dr. M: “That is true!”

LS: you had to get those right. Haha.”

Dr. M: “That is very true actually. I do vividly remember having to make the “S” on the back of my hand so that I knew I was, you know, putting air out and making the correct sounds. You’re exactly right. Samantha is literally all those high frequency consonants. (Laughing)”

LS: “Then what happened in sixth grade, going to middle school and high school? I just want to know your whole life story, that’s all.”

Dr. M: “I feel like high school was pretty normal for me. I played sports, actually I played soccer pretty much from age five up until high school. In middle school I got into softball, then I got into volleyball. So I was definitely involved. My mom was very good at teaching me to be my own advocate. She would say, ‘If there is something you missed on the bulletin, it’s your responsibility to go figure out what you missed.’ She was definitely encouraging me to look out for myself and then just kind of being open to people who were constantly asking me, ‘What’s that thing in your ear?’ You know, nobody wants that attention. But I always teach my kids, my patients, that people don’t know what they don’t know. So they are just, out of curiosity asking what is in your ear, but it just comes out a little not so nice. But really they just want to know what’s in your ear, why do you have to wear those and I always say, just answer their question and move on. Why do I wear glasses? Because I can’t see. Why do I wear hearing aids? Because I can’t hear and they help me hear. And then just move on.”

LS: “Sounds like your mom really did an amazing thing for you. I just keep hearing the same, there’s a theme across many people that I speak to. Where you ask them, ‘How was it growing up?’ And they start their answer with, ‘My mom…’ ” Both laugh.

Dr. M: “Yeah, my dad was good too but I definitely think my mom encouraged me.”

LS: “Superstar parents!”

Dr. M: “She definitely went to all my meetings and made sure that I had everything that I needed, but also pushed me to get out there and always treated me like a normal child. You don’t necessarily have a hearing loss, it seems like she was just doing the best that she could with what she knew. Which, now I feel like with Instagram, all the social media, there is so many resources for these families now. It’s so good to have because you’re introduced with this new information about their new baby and they don’t know what to do next. They go on social media #hearing loss or they google, my child has a hearing loss, and there is so many different resources that come up to help them through this. So yeah, it’s great.”

LS: “So when you finished high school, what were your plans after you finished school?”

Dr. M: “In high school, I was probably an average student, As and Bs, maybe a couple of Cs if I slacked off a little bit. But it was hard. I wasn’t using an FM system and I was working really hard to stay on top of things, AND playing sports. So I had decided that I was going to do community college and then transfer somewhere. I had just kind of felt like I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do and I didn’t have a whole lot of information about college. Not a lot of people in my family went to college straight out of high school so it was kind of a new thing for all of us and I wasn’t sure. I think the pressure of having to take the (can’t think of the word)…

LS: “SATs?”

Dr. M: “The SAT, thank you! (Laughs). So yeah, just the pressure of having to apply for scholarships and which school would I go to. It was just too much. Whereas I knew, I’m going to start with community college. It’s cheaper and I’ll figure out what I want to do and go from there.

So I thought I wanted to be an interior decorator, then I realized I don’t have the touch for that. Then I thought about being an accountant so I took some classes and realized, no, I don’t want to do that. Then I got into child development classes and then I realized, I think I want to work with children. So I had to think, you know, what kinds of things could I get into. When you have a hearing loss, you do tend to limit yourself in what you think you can do. You may struggle on the telephone, you may struggle talking to people, so when you think about jobs, you are kind of wondering, can I do that? That looks like it requires a lot of talking on the phone or just things that are a little bit harder. So I did go through that, kind of, self-doubt in a way but then I kind of thought, ‘What about being a teacher to the deaf?’ It would be kind of what I went through when I was little. I could be one of those teachers.

So I ended up looking into which schools had those kind of programs and then went to go tour the John Tracey Clinic in Los Angeles. That was very eye-opening for me. So John Tracey Clinic is an auditory oral school for children who are deaf and hard of hearing. So I went there and they started showing me all the classrooms and all the kids and I thought it was very cute. There was a lot of them. So then we walked around the rest of the clinic, through the school and I walked into the audiology clinic portion and they said, ‘Hey, this is So and So, the audiologist…’ Her and I got to talking. Something just lit up inside of me. It was kind of that moment of feeling that this is what I want to do. So then I knew from then on that I wanted to pediatric audiology. I don’t know, it just lit a fire in me and I thought, okay this is something that I can do? Is there something that tells me I can’t do this? So I went back to my audiologist and asked him, you know, ‘Hey, I think I’m interested in audiology.’ And he said, ‘It’s going to be a lot of math and a lot of science.’

I looked into the programs and applied to San Diego Speech Language and Hearing Sciences. I also applied to Cal State North ridge program as well. So I ended up going to San Diego State and transferring there and finishing college in San Diego.”

LS: “So you had gone to audiology booths and done tons of testing all throughout your childhood, so you always had a relationship with an audiologist. You knew about the testing or were familiar with the booths. Did it ever occur to you before that, that that could be a possible choice, like in health care or working with kids? Or was it only at that point when you were in your college years?”

Dr. M: “No, I don’t think it ever did occur to me because I think when you go to the audiologist or the doctors for the condition that you have, I don’t think it’s something as a kid, that you really look into because sometimes it’s kind of a dreaded appointment. Hahaha. Yeah, you kind of look at those things and don’t even consider them because that’s something that you had to deal with growing up. I don’t think it was until I kind of had to work through the process of wanting to work with kids with hearing loss, teacher of the deaf, speech therapists, audiology. I knew right away that speech therapy was not for me. Then the teacher of the deaf was definitely a consideration but I kind of felt like I was a little bit more drawn to the technical side of things. I was always doing that kind of stuff with my dad so I thought, okay, I think I really like the idea of actually getting to work with the hearing aids and other devices. I didn’t even know about cochlear implants at that point.”

LS: “That’s awesome. I think it also gives you a huge leg up with every patient that you see, because you remember being that kid. You know that this is not a fun day necessarily and they keep asking you to do this game over and over again, or these lights, they’re getting boring. Hahaha. So you really have a different view than lots of other audiologists.”

Dr. M: “So whenever I meet a new patient, or a new family, I usually wear my hair down so you can’t see my hearing aid or my cochlear implant 99% of the time. So it’s often used as a tool for me honestly. I meet the family, I do the hearing test, I tell them the diagnosis and I kind of walk them through that. If I feel like the family is struggling with the idea of their child having hearing loss, a lot of parents usually think of their future. Will my child be successful? When I feel like they are missing that, I usually pull that out and say, ‘Hey, just so you know, I also have a hearing loss myself. I have a hearing aid and a cochlear implant and I’m a doctor.’ It just kind of gives them that little glimpse of hope of, ‘okay, I still need to work through this but there’s hope that it’s going to be okay.’

LS: “That’s amazing.”

Dr. M: “It’s a nice tool to have.”

Both laughing.

LS: “Very hard one tool but yes indeed. So you have a cochlear implant in one ear, what was that whole story about? When did that happen?”

Dr. M: “So that story is actually kind of a funny one. So as I had said, for your graduate school, you do three years of academic course work, and then when you are in your fourth year, you ex-tern at a clinic for a year. So when I ended up going to University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, my mentor/adviser, Dr. Schoblatt, she actually has a cochlear implant as well. We met on my first day and she is making sure I have all my schedules set up and everything that I need, and then she out of nowhere just asks me, ‘What do you think about getting a cochlear implant?’ I kind of took a step back, I was nowhere ready for that, nor did I think I needed one. I was a little bit put off but I knew she meant well. So then I started taking more courses and meeting more professors.

Well then I meet Dr. Holly Tigol who is, or was the director of the pediatric cochlear implant program there. She also taught our cochlear implant classes. So I’m doing my clinical rotation with her and she also asked out of nowhere, ‘When are you going to get an implant?’ Instead of asking if I thought about it or if I knew about it, just straight in there, when are you getting one? I think it was then that I kind of opened the door to it, seeing that these other people are seeing and expressing that I could benefit from a cochlear implant. Why is that? Let me figure out why. I definitely knew that I was working really hard to hear, read lips, take down new information, write it down. I had note takers, I had some of the classes recorded. I had all the resources that I could use. I was using an FM system as well. So I thought, okay, if I’m going to be working in a clinic where I’m meeting a new person every hour, and with hearing loss, when you meet someone new, it’s very hard to really hear them because you’re not used to hearing their voice. Familiarity is a real thing. When I talk to my mom or dad and they mumble something, I know what they said because I know their mannerisms. But someone new, it’s a lot more work to read their lips, look at them, and really listen to them.

But in audiology, you have to be able to multi-task. I need to be able to fix his hearing aid while you are telling me a problem that happened at school that I need to know about. And then I need to go and write notes about it, so I kind of realized that this is something I’m going to have to consider. Maybe I’ll consider it when I have kids, but who knows when that’s going to be. That was probably my third year of grad school. In my fourth year, I came back to Los Angeles and did my ex-ternship at Hals Research Institute with the care center, which is a pediatric cochlear implant program. We were very busy working and unfortunately things went down there and we all got picked up and brought over to USC to start a new pediatric clinic there. There was a lot of down time because we didn’t have any patients so they were kind of just trickling in from word of mouth. Like hey, all of your audiologists are now over at USC. So with that down time, there was another fourth year that was with me and we were both kind of talking about doing a cochlear implant evaluation on me just to see. So we did. We did both ears and my left ear has always been a poor ear. My right ear is about 60% word recognition score. The left ear has always been 20-22% so there has always been a difference of hearing.

We took this evaluation and Stacy, the other ex-tern presented it because we always had meetings every Wednesday to go over cochlear implant candidates to decide whether they are a candidate or not based on what we tell them. So Stacy presented a potential candidate and said we have a 28 year old with severe hearing loss, sensorineurol bilateral. She’s worn hearing aids pretty much since birth, does well but definitely struggles to hear. So all of the audiologists are kind of thinking to themselves, ‘why are we seeing a 28 year old?’ So they kind of thought about it and didn’t really say anything, but yeah it sounds like the left ear would be good, but why are we seeing a 28 year old??? So her and I started laughing, and she says well it’s actually Samantha’s cochlear implant evaluation so they started laughing and they said, you definitely should consider an implant for that ear. So I kind of took the next steps from there, met with the surgeon, Dr. Naparko and he said everything looks good, how about surgery next Friday?!”

LS: “Wow, that’s expedited right there.”

Dr. M: “I had the same reaction right there. I’m thinking, okay. And he says, ‘There’s no time like the present.’ So I said, ‘Yeah, you’re not wrong. Alright, let’s do it.’ So a week later I had surgery.”

LS: “But also, you’re not the typical patient that says, what’s a cochlea, what are you talking about. You had all this first hand experience with hearing loss, first for your whole life and then all this audiological training, essentially almost finishing a doctorate degree. So you weren’t a typical patient in that sense for not knowing what’s going on. But that is quick.”

Dr. M: “So I definitely had questions for him but they were more like, how many surgeries have you done and what’s your success rate, just like everyone else would ask. I just wanted to make sure that he was the person to drill in my head and make sure that it was going to be okay. Hahaha. So I had my mom there and she had lots of questions as well and so it was good for her to ask her questions, even though I’m 28 years old, I still wanted her to be a part of the whole thing and she definitely was.”

LS: “That was exactly going to be my question of what was your family thinking about this new adventure, even though you said that you’re an adult.”

Dr. M: “They didn’t quite know what cochlear implants were because they are not in school with me. I talked to them about it and I had shared stories about my experience with kids getting activated because those were all the fun stories to share of what happened to my kid today and how did they react to the new sounds. You see the YouTube videos so I think they knew that it was this device that most people have really good success with but they didn’t understand truly how the device works and how it’s sending the signal to your brain and all that kind of technical stuff. My mom had a lot of questions about that kind of thing. I think she just wanted to hear it from another person. She heard it from me but it’s always nice to hear it from a different person they may have a different way of explaining. So I think she just wanted to kind of know more and understand more about how exactly it works. Because it’s hard to grasp the concept of this electric signal pulses and sends pulses to your nerve and then your brain has to understand what that is, how does it do that, what? So yeah.”

LS: “I remember in my cochlear implant class in various times when you are studying about this throughout the schooling, where I had this light bulb moment at one point where I realized all brain activity is electricity. It’s just internal from your own body. And here you are introducing external electricity. The fact that you have to understand how nerves work to begin with to then understand how the cochlear implant works, that was like, I get it now. “

Both laugh.

Dr. M: “For someone who is not in the medical field, it definitely takes time to process how you do that. My experience was that I got to choose this for me. I got to do my research and take my time. I went through school, learned all about it, all the intricate details of it, and I got to experience pediatrics and adults and their experience with cochlear implants so I have all this knowledge and I still was in that same boat. But I also have to remember when I’m talking to my families who are considering an implant, they are on a deadline, they have to make this decision pretty quickly. They can wait but we always tell them, the longer you wait, the harder it is to catch up. I can’t imagine that pressure. And I will never know that pressure. So I’m always very cautious to try to read how they are processing all of this. Are they ready for this because they do need to be ready. Sometimes they are not and they are just that type of person that do their thing and then will be ready, kind of thing. So everyone is different.”

LS: “What was your experience like when you woke up from the surgery and those couple of weeks before activation? That could be a scary time, because if you had some residual hearing, now it’s actually gone. That could be scary.”

Dr. M: “The day of surgery I woke up nervous and we drove down to LA. They got me all ready to go and I basically just had to wait around until they were ready to take me in. I had the cochlear implant rep there. She was going to be in the OR. We had the regional manager of the cochlear implant company there as well. I had people watching to make sure, it’s a little bit of an exception, but just making sure that everything was going to go well during surgery. After surgery, I woke up. Dr. Naparko was standing there and I don’t think I had my hearing aid on and kind of just had to wake up to read his lips to see what he was saying. I think he said something like, ‘You’re okay. You’re good to go. Everything went well.’ The clock was right behind him and I looked at the clock and in my head, I knew I went in at a certain time and I knew that I was expected to come out at a certain time. Well that time was like two hours later than I thought it was going to be. So I immediately, under anesthesia, you react in different ways. So I started to cry and poor Dr. Naparko was like, ‘Okay, I’m gonna get your mom.’ And he just runs away.

Both laughing.

So he goes to get my mom, she comes in and I’m kind of panicking. What happened? Why did it take longer? She said, ‘You’re fine. They just had to take their time a little bit. I kind of calmed down and I was okay after that. I think that me being off the anesthesia and you get home, all you want to do is go to bed. I probably took about three days to recover so definitely in bed the first and second day. The third day I was up walking around and I was fine. The feeling was, I was taking pretty much advil towards the second day. So it really wasn’t that bad. It just kind of felt like you have your girl with her hair in a top bun and someone comes and twists it, it kind of feels like that sensation, just kind of twisting your bun.”

LS: “Interesting. That’s an excellent way to describe it. Hahaha.”

Dr. M: “So just kind of going through that process. Then I had to go back to work with my right ear which was just wearing the hearing aid. I only get about 60% on that side so and then no hearing aid on the other side. Working was a little bit tough because I was having to really work hard to listen and be able to hear people. I had put a hearing aid on the left ear just to see what it would do. They were able to preserve my hearing but it didn’t sound the same. So I didn’t really get a whole lot of benefit from wearing the hearing aid in the meantime.”

LS: “And then, the YouTube star, YouTube sensation, the moment of truth that most likely is going to be not that dramatic, tell us about activation.”

Dr. M: “Three to four weeks later, I had my initial activation. That’s the nice thing about this whole process, is that I truly had a huge support group behind me. I had my entire UNC program streaming in live watching the initial activation.”

LS: “No pressure, hahaha.”

Dr. M: “It’s pretty cool to say the director of your program hopped on to watch you get your initial activation. I had that and it was awesome. I was so happy that everyone could be a part of it. My family, everyone was streaming this live broadcast. So it was pretty cool. And then I definitely filmed it. I did not have the YouTube crying moment at all. I think because I kind of knew what the expectations were. I just didn’t know what it was going to sound like. So I think for an adult getting activated, your biggest thing is you want it to work. You just want to be able to hear or feel something so that you know that it works. Once I started hearing the first initial beeps, it was actually more of a feeling. And instead of an actual auditory perception. But that eventually went away because my brain, once again, is trying to figure out what to do with this electrical pulse that is happening.

They continued to map me and then they went live which is where they turn on the device, kind of started low and worked their way up. I was able to hear. I think I was less like, Oh my gosh, I was more kind of taking it in. I kept telling my mom to talk to me and say something. It is really high pitched and kind of different. Patients report Mickey Mouse sounds or chipmunk sounds. For me it was just high pitched and I wasn’t able to really make sense of what she was saying yet. But that’s okay. I knew it was working and I knew it was going to be a long road ahead and that I was going to need to keep working to build that up to be able to understand speech. So it was just more interesting.

Then I finished there, my mom and I went to lunch and there was so much noise happening, it sounded like a video game. It just kept making beep beep sounds, so I thought this is what it is? Alright, low expectations, right? Just gotta work for it. So we went back to the clinic and went back in to change a couple settings and she had me read three sentences and she would say the sentence and because of this little change, I was actually able to hear what she was saying and pick the right sentence. So once I was able to do that, I thought, okay this is going to be good.”

LS: “That’s so incredible. A totally different experience than most people I think. Like even being able to go back the same day and fine tune it instead of waiting another two weeks and having to deal with all those noises.”

Dr. M: “Exactly. If I had spare time, I would go down to the clinic or to the computer and have the other extern and one other researcher have a conversation in the room and I would sit there and mess with the parameters to see which one would sound better to me.”

LS: “Wow.”

Dr. M: “They were talking about hiking in California.”

LS: “That’s incredible. Do you feel like you have really good knowledge of your own map?”

Dr. M: “You know, I’m the worst patient. If you talk to audiologists who have hearing loss, they are like the worst patients. We never seem to change our tubing in time for our hearing aids, we’re just the worst patients.”

LS: “How long ago was this?”

Dr. M: “So I got the implant five years ago. And I do remember obviously, the initial activation and then I do remember, probably about two weeks later, I was hearing more and more words and I thought, wow I’m doing really well. And then it kind of hits you, ‘Oh wait, I can’t hear that. Why am I not hearing that?’ Because you’re only two weeks in, you have to be patient. I definitely had that, ‘Sam, you have to be patient’ moment. Keep working and you’ll get there. So it’s hard to do but we tell our patients over and over again, it’s going to take work, it’s going to take time. Just as a person, you just want it to work right then and there. That’s not how cochlear implants work.”

LS: “What are some of the things that you did either formally, or informally to help you get used to the sounds?”

Dr. M: “So that was another perk of being in a clinic that works with kids with hearing loss, is that I had an AVT (Auditory Verbal Therapist) available to happily help me with my oral rehabilitation. She’s great. So after work, she would spend 30 minutes with me to help me build up the skills to be able to hear the difference between bat vs. cat. Even words like read and bead. Very hard to hear the differences.”

LS: “You would take your hearing aid out for those sessions?”

Dr. M: “During work hours, I would be wearing both devices because that was my ideal listening situation. That was going to be how I was going to be able to hear. But during oral rehab I would take it out. If I was writing reports, I would actually turn off my hearing aid, and just try to overhear or listen to what other people were saying just outside of my cubicle. I do remember one day, of of the audiologists who was on the other side of the room said something and I was fully able to understand what she said. It was kind of another good little moment for me as well.”

LS: “When was that, if you could say, around what time?”

Dr. M: “Definitely in the first few months. I’m a little bit of an exception. I think when they say rock star cochlear implant users, I am one of those. I think, actually I know it has to do with the amount of hearing loss that I have in that left ear. So I still had responses in high pitches. I wore a hearing aid since birth so all of that stimulation was still there so it was much easier for me to grasp on to those electric sounds and make sense of them a lot quicker than somebody who has had a longer auditory deprivation or just profound hearing loss where there may have not been nerve stimulation there.”

LS: “To wrap up, if you can tell all of our listeners one thing that you just wish everybody knows about cochlear implants or about audiology, or about yourself, just something that you just wish more people would know.”

Dr. M: “So it’s audiology awareness month, and as you know I’m a pediatric audiologist, but I didn’t think that I could be a pediatric audiologist. So my message to anyone out there trying to figure out what they want to do, just know that your hearing loss does not hold you back, and that you truly can do anything. Sometimes it takes a little bit of work figuring out how to get there. The road will not be easy but it will be worth it.”

LS: “That’s amazing. If people want to follow you or learn more about you, where can they find you online?”

Dr. M: “I have my blog, youcicanhearnow. I have the Instagram account as well, @youcicanhearnow. I’m also on twitter as well.”

LS: “I’m not on twitter, tell me about twitter. Should I be on twitter?”

Dr. M: “I don’t know, I think with social media it’s just about putting your pieces in all different areas and seeing what sticks. There are different professionals on each one. My twitter account has more of the researchers on there, audiology researchers. Instagram is definitely more for my audience which is anyone with hearing loss, but mostly parents with children with hearing loss. I’m trying to provide information, resources, tips and tricks and then my own personal experience to share and kind of give that hope and kind of show them that their kid is going to be able to do anything. They will be like normal kiddos basically.”

LS: “That’s so valuable and so appreciated. Thank you for everything you share and for sharing your story with us today.”

Dr. M: “Thank you for having me.”

Thank you so much to Dr. Samantha McKinney for sharing her story with us and for all of the great work that she’s doing. I thank you so much for listening to the podcast and supporting All About Audiology. This is a project out of a big, big passion to get as much information, awareness out there and just to talk about these things that you might not hear other people talking about. If you are a parent to a child with a hearing loss, the first time, you’ve ever had to think about hearing loss may have been the moment that you had the diagnosis or the time that they “failed” the hearing screening. This is something that many people have no experience with until they need to. It’s also really difficult when you’re getting information from lots of different places, where you have the doctors saying one thing, the audiologists saying another. You read various things in your own research, Facebook groups and other parents and different things that are coming at you, and sometimes it can be hard to purse out what it is the right thing to do but what also is the right thing for YOU.

I do believe that listening to your own intuition when making decisions is something that we really don’t want to lose, we want to be able to listen to our intuition but to do that, we need to have all the information in place. That’s something that I’m extremely passionate about. The Hope Beyond Hearing program, is integrating between having all the information that you need and being able to be an empowered and informed person and at the same time, really taking care of yourself and making sure that you are addressing all the feelings, emotions and difficult challenges and difficult conversations that arise surrounding having a child with a hearing loss.

Thank you so much for listening. On the next episode, we are going to be talking about Auditory Verbal Therapy. If we haven’t talked about the controversies enough, that’s a very controversial episode. It’s very interesting to me to speak with people who are very passionate about their standpoint and have done incredible and amazing things. We’re going to be talking with Miss Ayala Tal-El Matlow from AVIsrael, who has brought Auditory Verbal Therapy to Israel. she has twin daughters and when they were young, they moved to Israel from Canada and there were no Auditory Verbal Therapy services available in Israel. She and her husband and other families started together the non-profit and they brought Auditory Verbal Therapy to Israel. We’re going to be learning from her story, we’re going to be learning about Auditory Verbal Therapy and you will also hear some of my hesitancy with some of the tenets of the philosophy. But I always think it’s fascinating to learn from each other and be open and to make sure we have information to help each individual child.

Thank you again so much for listening. Come back for the next episode, AV Therapy. That’s next week.

I’m Dr. Lilach Saperstein, and this is the All About Audiology podcast.

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