So my CI friends say air travel is no biggie. Security scanners, etc. should all be fine. I’m supposed to walk on through with the “normal” folk. My surgeon advised me to heed any warnings for people with pacemakers since that’s another surgical implant with metal in it. Uh, okay. It’s been a while since I’ve flown anywhere so I am a little nervous.
I decide to wear my Harmony on-ear processor, put my Neptune processor in my pocket along with my Advanced Bionics ID card. The reason I’m carrying hardware on my person is because I’ve read warnings that the processor microphones are sensitive and can be damaged by luggage x-ray scanners.
At Logan, it’s my first time going through the full body scanner thing. I just do what that tell me. Stand there with my arms over my head. Didn’t feel a thing! The young woman sees something, I guess my implant and hardware I’m carrying. I immediately tell her that I have a cochlear implant and that’s what’s she’s seeing. She asks if I’m willing to be patted down on the spot or if I want to go somewhere more private. I tell her to go for it and ask if they do back massages as well. She smiles. No problem. On hindsight, I should remember not to joke with TSA agents. A sense of humor isn’t one of their job requirements. I was lucky and the people I dealt with were quite nice.
One slip up had nothing to do with my implant. I forgot the requirement about limited sized liquid carry ons and that they needed to be in a quart size ziplock. Another agent had to open up my bag. Took a little bit of time but he was nice and no problem .
Waiting at the gate I don’t hear clearly when the gate attendant calls to start boarding. I quickly approach her, tell her that I’m deaf and that I did not hear the announcement. They immediately tell me I can do advance boarding. Cool! I’m one of the first on the plane and can easily stow my carry on bag. And the staff on the plane check in with me to see what I need. I tell the flight attendant I can hear pretty well with my implant but that he should check on me if there are any important announcements. I then joke and say, “Just remember to save me!”. He laughs and high fives me.
Take off. Okay what’s gonna happen now??? I’m wearing my Neptune processor now and the loudness of the take off is bugging me so I remove the headpiece microphone. Again, nothing happens to me physically. Don’t feel anything weird, bad or uncomfortable. Oh yay! Cochlear implant recipients really can travel by air. I am such a doubter! Only once I try it myself do I truly believe. Does that make me a bad person?
Next fun thing. I can plug my direct connect audio cable into the audio jack on the arm rest to listen to the in-flight movie. So far I’ve been too distracted by other stuff but I think I’m hearing it pretty good!? I will have to pay more attention. This is cool and it makes me happy.