Posted by: T. Boyd | December 7, 2017

Diary of a Cochlear Implant

January 26, 2018

During this long part of the story, the day-to-day changes are gradual so it is not very easy to know  what is significant in the progress.  Already, I hear so much better with my CI turned on – I never go without it.  When I had dual hearing aids of the latest top-of-the-line Resounds Enzo 3D, my hearing was really good (compared to previous aids) in that I could pinpoint where a sound was coming from, and use the iPhone app to focus and adjust for the environment.  But I still could not understand the words being spoken except for certain speakers in quiet environments.

Now, I have good location ability of sound without the iPhone app, and  I am hearing high frequency sounds of birds chirping, for example.  And I can hear the the sibilants like “t”, “s”, “z” sounds in words for the first time in 20-30 years!  Some examples are words that depend on those sounds are: “sip, zip, ship, chip, and jump, and the second consonant in vision.” (from Wikipedia under sibilant).

BEST of all, the experience last Sunday:  my wife and I are active in a local church that meets in an old theater with concrete floor and walls, resulting in lots of echoes and very loud background noise.  I have never been able to carry on a conversation inside the meeting room.  And I can only hear and understand people speaking when I am wearing sound-cancelation earphones plugged into the sound system (which is why my main job for the church is doing the sound and video recording).

This last Sunday was the first time I had been to the large meeting since my CI surgery, having been under the weather for the last 6 or 7 weeks (not only the surgery rehab time, but also have been sick – caught the flu in spite of the extra strength flu shot.)

The amazing thing was, I could understand the conversation of friends in the noisy room for the first time in the seven years we have been attending the church!  Wow!  That is so encouraging.

I need to admit that men’s voices are easier to understand than women’s which the audiologist said is normal because my brain will take quite a while to understand how to interpret the high frequencies which I am hearing for the first time in years.  He also said the adjustment to the new sounds will continue for a year or more in the learning process, always getting better and better.

The battery life:

The special 675 batteries for implants are longer lasting than regular 675 hearing aid batteries, but the life is only about 2 days of wearing them all day.  The CI instrument uses 2 of these at a time.  So I am glad that the MedEl accessories included a large supply of these cells.  Also included are rechargeable which I have tried.  Three of these standard size batteries (you use one at a time) are included,  The manual says the standard size lasts up to 10 hours, but I have found only 4-5 hours of use. (The micro size batteries are said to last up to 7 hours, but I doubt that).  MedEl Rechargeable batteriesHere is an image from the manual.  However, that is a small complaint compared to not being able to hear in my right ear.

I am trying to “tell it like it is” including any negative sides of the story, of which there are very few thus far.  I only was able to get the CI surgery and pay for the technology because I am under medicare.  I was shocked to see the Medicare accounting for this operation.  Besides the surgeon fee, which was reasonable, the total cost of the hospital stay and the equipment was $120,000 or so!  Wow!  I had no idea it was going to be that much.  But all but about $1000 or $2000 will be covered, and maybe our supplemental insurance will cover even that part.

Virginia is one of the states whose Medicare benefits covers 2 implants; so I hope to get the 2nd implant later this year for the other ear while that benefit is available (with the government going through so many changes, you never know what the future holds).

Until next time… listening to the newly-opened-up world of sound.  🙂

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