Posted by: T. Boyd | December 7, 2017

Diary of a Cochlear Implant

January 9, 2018

Tomorrow I go back for my 3rd session with the audiologist.  From then on it will be once a month starting on February 14 (Valentine’s Day!).  The things I am hearing for the first time in years are amazing!  I went outside a few minutes ago to scold a squirrel away from the bird feeder.  And he (she?) scolded back with that high pitch protest, or it might have been a bird scolding me, but anyway, I haven’t heard that high range of sound in years!

For the first time, ever, I heard the rice cooker signal when it had finished cooking – again a high frequency beep that my ears (with modern hearing aids) could not pick up. (I never used a rice cooker back before my hearing loss began).

Last Friday, with much of Richmond shutdown from the snow storm on Wednesday night, and probably with lots of audiology appointments canceled, I had the attention of most of the VCU audiology team.  It was wonderful!  I got my second adjustment of the CI processor – I hope to soon simulate with an audio track what it sounds like when I am only hearing through the implant – and Sean and Lisa added more range to the hearing, I think. (They won’t tell me exactly what they are doing. – Sean is very experienced in dealing with Techies like myself that think they can hurry the process along if he would just let me do some of the adjusting! He says the more I vary other inputs, the more it will slow down my brain’s learning curve – I really appreciate how he gently, but firmly handles problem patients like myself.)

So, I am being unusually (for me) patient so far.  After that session, then Amy, Lisa, Janet, and one or two other staff persons worked in getting my Resound hearing aid (HA) back on track – it quit working with the Resound iPhone app, Smart 3D, and I wanted to get that control back.  After an hour or more of Dr. Janet’s time on line with Resound, they finally declared the HA was asleep (we think they meant “dead”) and to return it to the factory.  Then the staff supplied me with a digital Phonak HA which restored my left ear hearing so that I had stereo ability once again.

Although I can understand speech with the CI alone, it is still not very clear, especially with female voices.  I can understand Sean, I would say, about 75% of the time – with women, it is more like 40%.  They said that was because his voice is a lower pitch, and was typical at this stage of learning.  But with the HA in the left ear working in conjunction with the CI, my speech understanding improvement is astonishing.

Sean said, the process of my brain fully adjusting will take maybe two years to fully complete which sounds like a long time, but after 20-30 years of hearing difficulty, that doesn’t seem to be too long to me. (At my wife’s and my ages, we are amazed how the years are flying by, anyway).  And this adventure that I am on, with daily discoveries of new sounds, has brought an excitement that I am looking forward to experiencing for the months ahead.

I understand now how other recipients talk about the first thing they do upon waking is to put on the processor and activate their implant, which I now do as well.  Before I would sometimes go all morning without putting in my hearing aids, but no more!

January 19 notes:

  • My wife says I have quit “shouting” all the time – i thought I was talking in a normal voice – when the CI was first turned on I was shocked by how loud my voice was.
  • She says I am not having her repeat what she says nearly as much, but my communication skills in understanding the “female stream of consciousness” is not much better!  🙂
  • Hearing high frequencies in the right ear – for first time ever I could understand a video by one of favorite speakers: Ravi Zacharias.
  • While listening to earphones to spoken words, I noticed I am clearly hearing in the right (CI) ear the consonant sounds (sibilants) like esses, and distinguishing between “t” and “d”.
  • Did I tell about zero residual hearing in right ear?
  • Flu – side effects of dizziness, or is it still the CI surgery/fluid adjusting?
  • Batteries – lasting 3 days or so
  • Two things I want to add:
    • Edit the initial video with Sean
    • Simulate how the “filtered” voice sounds to me.
  • From the first activation, I could hear better and understand more with the CI turned on than I could with just the left ear hearing sound.  Maybe that’s because until Dec. 5, my right ear was hearing just as well (badly) as my left ear, so the brain was not surprised by the sounds, even if distorted.





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