Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Approaching the ONE YEAR mark!!

Wow doesn't time fly when you're having fun?? On the 29th September it'll be my one year anniversary of having my C.I activated.. I'm so glad I've kept this blog going because already I'm forgetting how I felt in the early days of this experience and things are still changing and getting better. I haven't been to hospital much in the last few months which is such a contrast to the early days when you're pretty much there every week! I had a new hearing aid called Phonak Naida fitted on the 21st July and I got used to that pretty quickly and I was so happy because it boosted my hearing up in my left ear. Going from hearing not very much speech to hearing the gist of everything (with lip-reading) again was lovely. Put that together with my implant and I was very happy!

Things have been quiet on the audiobook front because I've got out of the habit of doing it before I go to sleep at night and because most nights I'm so tired I just want to turn off the light and sleep so I've hardly done any listening practice.. Once I'm back into a proper routine I'm sure I will continue it!

The best thing about this implant recently is hearing what people have said without lip-reading in a quiet situation (one situation in a car!!) and this is such a good feeling because it makes me feel like a 'hearing person' haha.. I heard my boyfriend's father (sitting in the front driver's seat and I was sat behind him while the car was moving) say: "If there's nothing there, we'll just go to Ikea!" before we all went for a walk around a park.
Last week while sorting files and catalogues with a colleague we were having a conversation and I spent most of the time looking at what I was sorting, not at her lips!
I'm finding most of the time that if it's a quiet room and what the person says is in context to what we're doing - be it cleaning, talking about a topic or 'pass the ketchup' at dinnertime - then I can mostly hear what the person has said. It's great to not look at the person who's said something/ asked a question, give an answer and then look up to see their astounded face when I've heard/ answered correctly! Tee hee! However, none of the above applies when I'm tired or in a noisy situation - this is where lip-reading comes in very handy.

My only complaint about the Advanced Bionics C.I brand is their batteries. As I've completed my first summer holidays with an implant I'm now aware of a practical problem. My batteries only last for 9 hours which means I need two batteries a day (more, if I'm going to be awake into the early hours at a special party or up early for a long day). As AB only give you 4 batteries to rotate this means I need to charge all of them every other day or charge two every day. Sometimes (and I've done this twice now) I forget to put the charger on at night to charge all 4 batteries and so I wake up in the morning and I have no charged batteries to wear! Luckily I'm peripatetic and spend a good hour in my car first thing so I can make use of the in-car charger which plugs into the cigarrette lighter compartment and I can charge maybe one battery. Also, I went away for 4 days and took the charger but OH NO I forgot thee three other batteries which were at home on my bed in the little black zip up holder and which blended in with my black duvet cover so I didn't see them and forgot them! I had to spend 4 days charging the battery overnight, not wearing my C.I until after breakfast at 9am and then charging the poor one battery whilst I was eating my dinner at 5pm and then I could hear for the rest of the evening. I do wish I had chosen Cochlear or Med-el simply because of this battery practicality as they use disposable batteries. Why did I have to be so vain (with the colour caps) and environmentally friendly (with rechargeable batteries)!? When I go travelling or camping in the future, charging my batteries is going to be a problem that needs to be carefully thought about... grr!! Advanced Bionics - change to disposable batteries please!!

Monday, 4 May 2009

Just over 7 months..

Sorry guys! Every time I have sat down at the computer I forgot to update this because I have so much to say that I have been waiting for a bank holiday! What a lovely three day weekend, wish it happened more often!

Things with my C.I are now very positive!! The biggest thing to report is that I have had simple conversations on the phone with Anthony and this is so cool because now I can hear what he's saying and he is actually clear, not mumbling like I thought he was and blaming it on the fact that he's a man.. It's such a strange feeling to be talking to somebody on the phone like a hearing person, as I haven't done this for a good ten years and even ten years ago I don't think I could hear on the phone as well as I can now.

Audio books made all the difference.. Once I started (very reluctantly after a kick up the bottom from Anthony after complaining about being deaf and it being rubbish) doing it every day a week later I was able to hear Anthony better and I was noticing that listening to speakers on the tv without subtitles was easier and life was getting easier too! I've been doing the audio books since January and I'm now on my 2nd one "Murder on the Orient Express" written by Agatha Christie read by David Suchet and I'm finding this extremely difficult because of the French, Swedish and American accents in the book! However, I'm persevering because I know it will pay off in the end.

I had a tune up recently as I noticed the high pitched sounds were getting quieter and just generally everything wasn’t sounding as clear as it should. I was pleased that afterwards sounds such as s, t, shh and f were sharper and more pronounced and I’ve also had a really good rehab session recently. I was doing the hardest stuff that they had in their books and understanding most of the sentences! I have a programming coming up in a few weeks which I’m really looking forward to as the sound always improves a few weeks afterwards.

The only negative thing I have to report out of all this is that the hearing in my left ear has deteriorated quite suddenly to more of a ski slope loss instead of a bump then a ski slope. This happened just after Christmas and I went to bed with a severe/profound hearing loss and in the morning when I put my hearing aid in again I couldn’t hear speech as well as I could before. I blamed it on the hearing aid thinking it wasn’t working and so promised to sort it out next time I was at the hospital. It was a long time till I sorted it out and had a hearing test and realised that I had lost 20DB of hearing in the middle range of frequencies which really affects how well I hear speech. So I had my hearing aid adjusted to cope with this loss but also to work with my implant and away I went to get used to the fact that I had lost a lot of hearing overnight. This took me a few weeks to get used to but it happened around the same time that my implant was starting to give me some positive moments so it was a bittersweet time.

I’m so happy that I feel positive about it now because it’s such a marked difference from 7 months ago when I wanted to rip it off and hurl it at the nearest wall and did not want to put it on again. I heard a saying recently and it definitely applies to me now “It’s the best and the worst thing that has ever happened to me.” As long as someone is prepared to put in the hard work and not expect immediate results I would recommend having a C.I. Wow – I never thought I’d say that either!