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My 2nd Cochlear Clinician
Jackson, MS

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The following is a memoir of my cochlear treatment experience and my personal evaluation of this healthcare provider based on medical records, witness, and my journal.

This profoundly inconsiderate, thoughtless, perfunctory cochlear implant clinician ignored my written requests for my sound processor and just overwrote it with a horribly loud shrieking distortion. Then she told me to come back in three months.  She refused to lower the loud shrieking before then "because my brain needed time to adjust to that setting first." She was mot worth a second visit. But she was surely worth a warning to others.

In early August 2021, after searching for a cochlear implant clinician to correct a wretched clinician's work on my Cochlear Americas Nucleus 7 refurbished sound processor. I finally got an appointment with Dr. Vikkara Gonzowak,  AuD, PhD,Ear Goddess,  audiology department head at Jackson City Hospital in Jackson, Mississippi, a nearly four hour drive from my home. Mississippi has very few cochlear audiologists.

I prepared and emailed a one-page brief with my basic background and complaint along with a specific request to raise the volume of the voice register volume of the setting in my program slot #1, allowing for her to then make her own decisions in another of the four available program slots on my processor. This was to assure that I would have at least one sort of workable program that would allow me to understand words.

After a required ENT exam and scolding by cranky old Dr. Tompson Ebyrhard about something I couldn't hear, but, my wife said he praised Gonzowak as the glorified guru goddess of the ear world, my wife and I were off to Dr. Gonzowaks's office in northeast suburbia.

Dr. Gonzowak had long black hair surrounding her round plump face with a tummy and hips to match covered by a white lab coat. With a look of her "passion for CI users" concern, she pleasantly asked how long I had been suffering. I told her since September 2020. Then with virtually no hesitation, she hooked a plug to my sound processor and just overwrote the whole thing with her personal starter preset in a few minutes and was "done." The sound was harsh and shrieking.

I complained about the loud horrible shriek that terribly distorted words and was painful and I asked her to turn it down. She told me she could not do another adjustment for three months because my brain needed that time to adjust to this new setting.

She said she also raised the floor of the lowest electrode (#22) from 188 Hz to 250 Hz, her cockeyed idea of improving speech. It made men's footsteps sound like someone "boinking" the bottom of a small sauce pan with a wooden spoon. It sucked. I asked her for a printout of the MAP setting. She said it would be in medical records which I could access in a couple weeks. (She lied. She did not provided one). She then smoothly scooted my wife and me out the door. I felt snake oiled by a cheap shaman. But…

A cochlear website had a help page about adjustments.They encouraged patients to ask their audiologist for quantitative details (MAPs) of their adjustments. I had just learned one should sit and wait for the doctor to print one out and to not leave without one.

Always ask the audiologist for printouts of your program settings. Better yet, ask them to print to pdf format and send you the file by email.  If nothing else, you can use them for wrapping paper.  Just one step above that, and they are handy reminders of what you have in each program slot.  And if you read them in more detail, you may find subtle differences that you can try to correlate to the way the programs sound.  Finally, you may be able to use that knowledge to come up with things to try the next time you visit the audiologist.

This snake oil shaman brought back the memory of the despicable clownician who had recently ruined me. Now, I didn't trust this gonzo either. I might have to begin another search. I could not understand my wife's words from more than 12 inches away. And they was covered by a high loud shriek.

Following my disappointing session, my wife and I went to a nice restaurant for a late afternoon dinner. I could hear the high loud overtones of the silverware clattering in the kitchen. The kitchen was over a hundred feet away. The air flow from the air conditioner outlet whistled in a harsh shriek. I knew the high frequencies had been set much too loud. I nervously thought I had just been had by another damn quack. This time, I left the processor on my head to see if my brain actually did adapt to it. But after 12 days it still shrieked loudly, showing no sign of changing.

After 14 days, the medical record came in the mail. The brief paragraph described the technical things she did but provided no MAP or any information of real value to me. I was angry. I was furiously enraged and livid. Woman or not, I pictured going back to Flowerhood and slapping the hell out of that damn werewolf until her ears flopped over and her fur fell out!

But, Jackson suburbia was a long drive and the other logistics would be too difficult. We began a search for yet another audiologist. Meanwhile, with my 20 years of digital audio recording engineering experience, I did my best to analyze what I heard and what the processor held.

Dr. Gonzowak's treatment was so dreadfully and worthlessly out of balance on the first visit, there was no way I would gamble a second chance. She messed up my hearing very badly. She couldn't map her own face palm.

I later secured a map printout from what was stored in my processor. I saw the data and it helped confirm what I heard. The shriek would be difficult to find and fix.The current levels from 1000 to 8000 Hz were raised very, very high. No wonder it shrieked.I emailed the doctor explaining the problem. She sent a certified letter stating "the institution is unable to help you" notice with signatures of her department members verifying her admission of incompetence. I sent her a note saying I recognized her quality level upon reading the medical record and it was too late for her to apologize.

"She has a passion for cochlear implant users and finds limitless rewards in being able to improve her patients quality of life??????" said her website blurb.

Winfield Rothlisberger, MM, JD, PhD

Now, imagine what this gonzo godzilla could do for your or your child's implant.

Dr. Vikkara Gomzpwal