Don’t Take Hearing for Granted; Even in Your Twenties

A Cochlear Implant Procedure at SVMC

Imagine, everyday sounds, the sounds that fill your soul and the voices of loved ones vanishing. A local resident lost her hearing and was offered an opportunity that she might not have had unless she lived in Los Angeles or the Bay Area.

In November of 2020, 24-year-old, Destiny Martinez of Exeter, California began to feel ear pain; her balance was off; she was dizzy and sounds were muffled. She went to her doctor and learned that she had a viral infection and was experiencing fluid in her ears that was causing an earache and she was prescribed medication. The symptoms didn’t subside a few weeks later and on Christmas Eve she found herself at the ER at a nearby hospital.

Months passed of not being able to hear. She couldn’t hear her family members; only inaudible sounds. “It was like a never ending games of charades,” Destiny explained. The isolation and frustration was kicking in and her daily love of listening to music and singing along was not there as it was before. “I would usually use music as a coping mechanism, but I didn’t even have that,” Destiny said.


She and her mom kept going back to doctors’ appointments and she was given new prescriptions and exercises to try at home. Each time she got back in the car from yet another appointment, as her mom tried to further explain and translate what the doctor had said, she knew in her heart, something was being missed. Something was wrong and wasn’t being diagnosed. “I was confused and angry that all of a sudden, my most important form of communication had been taken away from me,” Destiny said.

It wasn’t until Destiny stepped foot into local Porterville Ear and Sinus Specialist’s office, Mark E. Reader, DO, when the search of the unknown came to a close. After he first tried a steroid treatment, it was then, seven month later, where the diagnosis of idiopathic sudden sensorineural hearing loss was determined, and the cause most likely related to that viral infection that started her on this journey. But none-the less, a rare occurrence for hearing loss.

The news of losing her hearing wasn’t easy to take in, but Dr. Reader had the solution to help Destiny hear again and improve the ability to understand speech. He recommended a cochlear implant, which is a small electronic device that electrically stimulates the nerve for hearing and is done through a surgical procedure.

Sierra View Medical Center (SVMC) is the only location between Los Angeles and the Bay Area where this procedure is offered, so Destiny didn’t have to travel far for the surgery. Undergoing surgery can be daunting, but with Dr. Reader’s expertise and having more than 15 years at Sierra View, upon years of experience before hand, with an OR staff that is next to none, right here in Tulare County, Destiny was in good hands.

Destiny’s surgery took approximately two hours from the time the incision was made to when she was moved into the recovery area and monitored closely. Among the SVMC Operating Room team, that worked along-side Dr. Reader, for Destiny’s procedure, was pre-op nurse, Florence Baltazar, RN,OR Nurse, Sam Pacheco, RN; and recovery nurse, Andrea Smith, RN.

SVMC OR Team members

After the general anesthesia wore off and Destiny awoke, she vividly remembers Andrea Smith, RN. “I remember being nervous beforehand, but what I remember the most was when I woke up. I remember one nurse’s warm presence made all the difference; just her holding my hand and her comforting me, let me know that everything was ok.”

For seven months prior, Destiny felt alone and frustrated, but after the surgery, she felt a huge relief of being able to hear. Hearing her family say, ‘I love you’ again to enjoying her music and other sounds all due to the cochlear implant, was a turning point for Destiny.

Learning to use a cochlear implant is a gradual process, but with Destiny’s commitment and the ease of going in for visits for adjustments and fine-tuning at Dr. Reader’s office, just down the road from Sierra View Medical Center, she is experiencing an improved quality of life once again. Destiny shared that she never imagined anything like this would happen to her and that she is thankful to hear once again due to the cochlear implant. She has learned much patience along the way and if she could tell the community one thing, it would be to never take things like hearing for granted.