Tuesday, 30 September 2008

29th September 2008 - switch on day!

Yesterday I got switched on. The whole process was very nerve wracking and emotional - here's why. My appointment was at 10am and first I had to find the lowest sounds that I could hear with the implant. The first time they sent a sound through my implant into my nerve was extremely strange. It felt like there was an electronic pulse going through my head and it made a kind of "whum" noise. The first few times this happened I twitched my neck and couldn't believe that's what it felt like! Then it turned into sound and the noise was high pitched. The audiologist lowered it and lowered it until I could no longer hear it. This was very difficult and I had to do it again and again with different frequencies. The next exercise I had to find what was "comfortably loud" for all the frequencies. This exercise was even harder than the first because it's impossible to know what volume I can tolerate high pitched noises at for a whole day! I cried during this bit because it was so hard and I was also feeling like "is this what I'm going to be hearing when they switch it on properly? High pitched whistles?. Once I'd got over it we finished this and then they turned it on!

At first I had a continuous whistle noise in my head/ears which was quite uncomfortable and then gradually within a few minutes it had faded and I was only hearing it every time there was a high pitched speech sound or another sound. However, high pitched speech sounds feature very often in conversation! I ended up hating the word "so" because it really penetrated my head. We then had to adjust my lowest settings as I'd got used listening with it and could actually go lower. They then sent me outside for lunch and I had to return in an hour to pick up everything else and my Advanced Bionics monkey! (Their mascot is a monkey.) I walked outside and I couldn't hear anything. I spent the majority of the time in what felt like silence and only high pitched noises penetrated this "silence". However, when I took it off I knew then it was really silent. Because they've set it so low I can barely hear anything but I know there's constant noise because it's not what it's like when it's off. I absolutely hate it at the moment because I know there's so much more noise I should be hearing but I know there's a lot more tunings and hard work to come. Ant shouted at me really loudly with my back to him and I didn't hear him. Or I might have done but everything's so jumbled at the moment I can't make sense of it. The only time I recognise a sound in this high pitched jungle I'm living in at the moment is if it's a solitary sound that I'm aware is happening. For example, putting a cup down on the table, turning a page, sniffling and so on. The only sounds that sound like they should are the wind and my sniffs! Kissing Ant isn't very pleasant because every kiss is punctuated with a high pitched whistle. I hope it develops as time passes and I don't have to live with this all the time... My next tune isn't till Oct 10th so I've got what feels like a long time to wait!

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

The period in between op and switch on...

I can't believe it's been almost a month since I wrote a new post. I've been going through an intense experience since then. I had a check up with Mr Gray on the 9th September and all was fine, I had an X-ray and got yet another sick note for work! I started back at work on the 16th September and it's been difficult managing with one hearing aid. It took a long time for me to be ready for work as I couldn't drive as this involved turning my head quickly and I couldn't do that without losing focus for a few seconds. Another thing that affected my speedy recovery was my tinnitus. If I overexerted myself or heard a loud sound this would trigger off a noise resembling a plane taking off in my ears or drums beating over and over again. I found it very difficult to be in Tesco in the first few weeks as I couldn't distinguish between all the different sounds - children talking/screaming, people talking, trolleys and general hubbub. Based on this, I knew that a classroom experience was going to be difficult and it was but I have slowly got used to not being able to localise sounds and tried to relax a bit. Apart from now battling a cold I'm feeling almost 100% and it's nearly 5 weeks since the operation. My scar is healing very well and my hair is about 8-10mm long and growing far quicker than I expected it to! I have taken photos but I'm not able to put them up on here, sorry.

My switch on date is 29th September! I had hoped it would be sooner but I just have to be patient. I'm worried I've made the wrong decision but I've done it now so I'm commited - ooops, bit late to decide that! I'm only worried because I've no idea what I'm going to hear when they activate the implant. I hope that people's voices sound normal. That will be the hardest thing to cope with, I think, if people sound different. I'll be patient and I'm not expecting miracles or for it to sound like I expect it to sound like. I'm quietly optimistic about the long term future though, it's so exciting to think I might be able to hear without lip-reading, talk to people through closed doors and maybe even hear on the phone. :o) We'll see.. It's going to be so weird having a magnet on my head (I can feel where it is) and I'm not sure I'm going to be happy with the fact I've chosen a rainbow coloured cap! But as Anthony said, I should be proud of it, not want to hide it... Haha! Watch this space!