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Kenneth's Story

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Cochlear Implant

At age 84, Kenneth B. is enjoying his golden years. A retired educator, he currently resides in Bucks County with his wife of 58 years. Kenneth started his career as an industrial arts instructor, teaching drafting and woodshops at a private secondary school. “In retrospect, although there probably is a genetic factor in my hearing loss, the daily noise of a busy shop with industrial machines most likely started a bilateral hearing loss. Ear protection and dust masks were not commonly used in the 1950’s,” he explains. After 11 years in the shop and earning a M.S. degree from the University of Pennsylvania, Kenneth moved to a public school as an elementary school counselor. “I retired at 59 and have enjoyed every minute since,” he adds. 

Struggling to Stay Connected

As Kenneth aged, though, his hearing gradually worsened. He wore hearing aids in both ears and tried his best to take advantage of new technology. “I have accepted my declining hearing and have tried to address my needs with new hearing aids each time an audiologist would see a significant change. Before finding my way to Temple my audiologist told me that my hearing aids were as good as the present technology could provide and that I still had a significant loss with them. However, trying to stay connected to family (especially grandchildren), friends and community continued to be a real struggle.  I accepted this and continued to read ads from various doctors of audiology, attend seminars, even trying different brands.”

Eventually, Kenneth’s hearing deteriorated to the point where he was looking for options, and he saw a magazine ad for a hybrid cochlear implant—combining one regular hearing aid with an implant. “This sounded interesting, and I started my research through the internet,” he recalls. Kenneth’s research led him to the Temple Head & Neck Institute. “Temple was one of the only hospitals in the Philadelphia area to offer this technology, so I decided to make a call to see more about this device,” Kenneth adds. “I have always been impressed with Temple’s reputation.” 

After contacting Temple, a nurse transitioned Kenneth’s treatment plan to Maria E. Pomponio, AuD, (pictured above) an audiologist with the Temple Head & Neck Institute. “When I first met Dr. Pomponio I was so very impressed by her demeanor and her knowledge. She was very patient, capable and kind.  She explained the tests and explained what her recommendations were.  That same day, she introduced me to Natasha Pollak, MD, a head and neck surgeon who was very experienced in cochlear implant procedures. I was impressed that I was able to meet with the medical doctor the same day. This collaborative approach between medical staff at Temple was very helpful as I am 84, and it saved me another visit to the office,” he adds. 

Kenneth remembers how Dr. Pollak and Dr. Pomponio both took the time to explain his condition, why he was a suitable candidate for a cochlear implant and what to expect. “I felt very comfortable knowing that I was in great hands. I knew Temple was the best choice for my care. I went ahead and planned my surgery with Dr. Pollak,” he says.

A New Lease on Life 

Following his successful surgery, Dr. Pomponio worked closely with Kenneth to “train” him on how to utilize his cochlear implant. “I looked forward to seeing her weekly, then monthly and now every few months,” Kenneth says. “She loves what her profession is and it shows. She is the type of medical professional who is there for her patients. She cares about people,” he says. 

Kenneth says he is hearing better and is pleased with the results.  

What is especially rewarding for Kenneth, he says, is that he can be more of a participant than an observer in conversations with his grandchildren. “Before, I would get enjoyment just watching my family interact and watching my grandchildren speak to each other. Now, I can understand what they are saying without asking them to repeat things.  It’s made me so happy to be able to communicate better. I am very thankful to my team at Temple and I wake up each day feeling confident and grateful.”