Tuesday, 28 October 2008

One month since switch on... I'm feeling good!

I realised yesterday that it's been just over 4 weeks since I've been switched on. I can't believe how slowly time has been going, but I also can't believe how much time has also passed! When I think back to what I was hearing through my processor a month ago and compare it to what I hear now, it's amazing. From "beep, beep, beep" and a bird in my ear to sounds that are becoming increasingly better shaped, if that makes sense! What's even more amazing is that it's my brain doing all the work to change the sounds into what they should sound like - in such a short space of time..

I've been to London today and I was happy to order my train ticket at the station with just my processor, I sat on the train and was really annoyed at having to listen to people's conversations on their mobiles! I can't hear voices clearly but I know they're talking and it's bloody annoying when you've settled down with a good magazine and some nice snacks expecting a quiet journey! I did the same again on the train home and as it was rush hour everyone was tired and so no one was talking - giving me time to enjoy the peace and work out what the occasional noises were. Coughs are becoming clearer, they've been a sharp noise up until now but when I hear it, I know it's a cough, not something that makes me jump out of my seat anymore! The only thing I do struggle with (which is a common problem with implantees and hearing people anyway) is multiple voices in the same room, I can't pick out who's who or focus on one particular voice. My mum tells me this will get easier as I get more used to listening with it and I can hear more sounds.

Time for a funny story.. yesterday mum and I were talking about the credit crunch and she mentioned JCB knickers operators have taken a 50% pay cut to avoid redundancy. However, when she said knickers I realised, "that doesn't sound right, knickers taking a pay cut?" So I said "knickers?" and she replied "no, diggers!". It gave us quite a giggle and I was very pleased I had something silly that I'd misheard that I could put on here! My mum's voice is also starting to sound more like I remembering it sounding. I've already mentioned people are sounding weird, almost mechanical and that I couldn't hear feeling in their voices. Well, I think that is changing.. I can hear which words people are emphasising and accents are beginning to come through. I'm trying to find time to practice with my audiobooks that the Emmeline Centre have given me because I know that this will help with my speech recognition. The man reading the story is so slow though that I get bored with it easily so I'm just doing a chapter at a time - the book is: Three men in a boat.

As you can probably tell, I'm having a positive day and I can't wait for my next tune up on Thursday afternoon. Perserverance is a real key with an implant and just when I'm feeling down about the whole thing my bionic ear gives me a new sound or I realise I can hear a sound in better quality since switch on. I wouldn't go as far to say I love it yet, because I'm still enjoying using my other HA (naughty me) and I like it when I have both on because my processor gives me the higher sounds and my hearing aid gives me the lower sounds and everyone/everything sounds human! I'm also pleased to say that kissing Anthony is a much nicer sound to listen to. It sounds like a kiss instead of a beep or whistle and I can hear all of it clearly. Let's see what my physicist does on Thursday and we'll see how the sound changes even more...

Friday, 24 October 2008

24th October 2008

Very sorry I haven't written in here for a long time, I've not been feeling very positive lately and have been tired everytime I've sat down to write so I decided I would wait until I felt a bit more positive. I won't write a lot today as I'm going through a little period of "can't be bothered" to write on here so I'll just give a quick update.. Speech is becoming a lot clearer, but it's still monotone so everybody sounds the same and we found in a rehab appointment on Thursday that I really struggle to hear the letter 'm' with my processor so this is something for me to work on.

I have gone though phases of feeling really positive and happy to wear just my processor and other days when I want both my processor and my HA on to give me a bit of "normalness". I have been adjusted once since I last wrote, to get rid of the start up noise, which I'm pleased to say has gone and so it is much more pleasant to put it back on when it falls off! The audiologist also brought my lower thresholds down to try and give me some more lower sounds and I noticed an immediate difference in how many more speech sounds I could hear which was great. I think it's slowly getting quieter and quieter but at the same time the amount of things I'm hearing is increasing which is a bit of an oxymoron but good progress nevertheless! So I'm looking forward to my next tuning which is in a week's time and I'm really looking forward to having my map changed more! Music is becoming clearer, I can hear more of the melody and the lyrics are more obvious, 3 weeks ago they were very quiet and I struggled to hear them. That's all I'm going to write for today, I hope I find some renewed energy for this blog somewhere!

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

I'm in Limbo...

Well I had my 3rd mapping done on Friday last week. She only changed a few of the electrodes so the difference wasn't huge. The reason for this was because I had that emergency mapping done so I'd already been adjusted quite a bit. After the 3rd mapping I hoped I would be able to hear a little bit better or at least be picking up a wider range of sounds. I was disappointed to find that it sounded much the same! However, the more I listen, the more I can tell that there is more sound coming through. I can hear cars whooshing past in my car even when all the windows are closed. And it sounds real too, like a whoosh sound. I heard my mum's cuckoo clock ticking from across the room and I have never heard it before. In tesco today I was dawdling in the cereal aisle and kept turning around when a lady squeaked a dog's toy behind me because I wanted to confirm that's what I had heard. She must have thought I was getting annoyed with her! Speech is still a weird sound, if I have subtitles on the tv or a film what I'm hearing sounds right but if I've no idea what's coming I couldn't tell you what people were saying. It's possible that some sounds are robotic but I really can't tell at the moment, it's still monotone. Plastic, paper and bags are the most annoying sounds at the moment. They're so scratchy and uncomfortable I have stopped swinging my bags! I heard someone's trousers behind me swishing along the floor outside today with a lot of background noise.. I wouldn't have heard this with two hearing aids as the background noise would have drowned it out. I'm still not feeling 100% happy about all of this because I'm being impatient and there's not enough sound coming through all the time to give me the information I want. I.e how loud or quiet should I be talking in a situation, do I need to tread lighter in order not to stamp along school corridors (I have a very heavy tread anyway!) But all those little sounds that I can hear and mentioned above give me a warm good feeling inside that makes me think, well the more of those I have, the more I'll feel I've done the right thing..

I had a rehab appointment at the hospital after the tuning and in this I had to do lots of listening practice which was really hard. It's the first time I've really listened and I was pleased to find that I could follow the speakers voice as they read from a script. I struggled a little with identifying an everyday sound but I was able to hear the rhythm of the noise or say whether it was high or low. I was exhausted after this appointment but pleased as I felt I was making progress. I didn't get told off for wearing my hearing either but they did "encourage" me to spend time with just my processor on to practice listening and as I type this post, I have been wearing just my processor for the past 3 hours so I'm doing good. :o) The reason I'm in Limbo is because it's just over two weeks till my next tuning. I want to be tuned every week and have more and more sound come in during those tunings because I'm impatient to hear well again! However, I have a lot more listening practice to do and so that time will encourage me to work hard. I'm going every week for rehab and the next one is tomorrow so I'll write soon to let you know what happens!

Thursday, 9 October 2008

The day before my 3rd mapping

I'm off to the hospital tomorrow for my third mapping. I wanted to update this before I go so that I have a before and after memoir! I have had some real ups and downs in the past week and a bit. The first few days after switch on were a nightmare. All I could hear was what sounded like birds in my ear all day. "Shh", "ch" and "ss" were the only clear sounds. By Wednesday I was very emotional, hating the implant and all I wanted to do was rip it off and hurl it at the nearest wall! I cried a lot that day and lots of my colleagues witnessed this, but I couldn't pretend I was happy when I clearly wasn't. Because of this state that I got in I really wanted to go back to the Emmeline Centre and change the settings. From talking to others and what I felt personally, I decided that I'd set my comfortably loud sounds too loud and wanted to get them turned down. I also wanted emotional reassurance from professionals that things were going to get better! So I went back to the hospital on Friday and I spent a good hour or so with the Physicist adjusting all the levels and he tried to give me more lower sounds as I could not hear these as yet. I went away from that appointment feeling much happier and the sounds I was hearing didn't give me such a headache. I still reluctantly wore it but over the weekend something happened to my attitude. At a concert on Sunday I fully expected to remove the processor and enjoy the music with just one hearing aid. However, I took it off and felt unbalanced without it! OMG... So I put it back on and wore it for the whole evening, beeps and all! I have continued to wear it with my hearing aid all week and just wearing the processor in the mornings and evenings at home or any other opportunity when it's quiet and I can focus on noises around me. I can hear my very loud kitchen clock ticking from two metres away and couldn't do this with just my hearing aids. I can hear my car indicator ticking and couldn't do this before.

My colleague tested what I could hear using six sounds that are used to test childrens hearing with their implants; ooh, arr, eee, mmm, sss and shh. If there were two sounds to choose from I could discriminate which sound she'd said. If I was choosing one from all six I didn't do as well. I tended to confuse ooh with mmm and sss with eee as these latter sounds are quite high. I was very pleased with these results though and felt good that just over a week after being switched on I'm able to discriminate between these sounds and it can only improve. I might have been able to distinguish these sounds with my two hearing aids but I certainly would have struggled with the higher sounds and these are the sounds I'm now having success hearing again.

Some things are no longer sounding beepy - I scratched a rough velcro strip on Wed after switch on to see what it sounded like and instead of sounding scratchy it sounded like "beep,beep,beep" in very quick succession. Now, things are starting to make sense, paper and plastic are still weird but getting there. Speech is very boring to listen to as the higher frequencies are clearish but the rest is low and monotonous, like a very boring maths teacher droning on at the same frequency. So, if I sing along to music with just my implant I start singing with a low, boring voice and I switch my hearing aid on and realise the music is soaring and my voice should be too! I must be getting used to these higher sounds though as the lower ones are starting to come through. I'm looking forward to tomorrow and seeing how much it changes afterwards!

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

My activated cochlear implant!

My Advanced Bionics Cochlear Implant complete with 'rockets' headcap...

It's all healed apart from a small scab at the top under my hair.. and my hair is an inch long - it's growing quickly!

My scar the day after the op

I haven't washed my ear yet but it all looks great and isn't too sore :o)

Friday 22nd - Home after the op

At home resting on my parent's couch - feeling dizzy and sick and my hair's a mess but I'm home.