Blog

Fantastic Auditory Training session today

I had a fantastic auditory training session today.  I completed preliminary testing to see where I currently stood with the hybrid and my understanding of speech.  I then went on to exercises of varying difficulties.  It was incredible to see my recognition increase as the exercises went on.  The progress comes with time and one must treat oneself with kindness and compassion as it takes patience to do the work!

My auditory therapist deals with the holistic person including emotions that come up and works accordingly.  Thus, she is able to remind me to not work so hard and allow myself to “be” and be in the moment as I do the exercises during the session.

I felt so free after being reminded and I feel so happy today to just “be.”

The “s” sound -auditory memory being formed! WHEE!!!

The “s” sound is one of those sounds that is very high frequency without much in the way of low frequencies.  Many sounds are spread throughout the frequency range with components in many frequencies.  Thus, the “s” sound is difficult to hear for someone like me who has high frequency hearing loss.

Today, as I went through an auditory retraining exercise on my iPad, with just my right ear listening, thus not getting any feedback from my better left ear, I successfully remembered how the “s” sound has been sounding to me recently – a completely new tone that is stimulated electrically – and thus was able to select the correct word from the list of words given in the test list.

This was absolutely thrilling to me and now I realize I must be gaining auditory memory for that new sound even though it still sounds weird.  It sounds different than other new sounds that also sound weird too!  Thus, I had the ability to distinguish it!

Hooray to my brain!  I’ve been dedicating hours a day to auditory retraining and being patient with the progress.

YIPPEE!!!

Memorable Sound Experiences

A few hearing discoveries:

Hearing water hit a hot skillet in a cafe and restaurant was a memorable discovery, heard in subsequent visits to other places.

Hearing footsteps in the distance during a Facetime video chat was quite shocking!

Recognizing that my scarf makes more noise than I thought answered many formerly unanswered questions about where new sound was coming from.

Hearing a fridge turn on has happened several times and is always a surprise!

And many others I have forgotten at the moment! 😉

This journey is a long one that takes years, but I’ve been on the ride and happily so!

Roller Coaster

The last few days have been very productive but trying.  Emotions are coming up about my hearing loss and things people say regarding my hearing loss are much stronger triggers for those emotions than they would normally be.  When you hear things about yourself that you know inside but don’t expose – such as your lessened ability to understand others or the fact that the phone is difficult – when others bring it up out into the open for you, it is hard to witness.

However, this goes along with the journey of better hearing and thus emotional support is so important.  I am in regular contact with my therapist, which is recommended to anyone undergoing the process.  Still, there will be many times where I have to process things on my own and eventually I remember that painful feelings will alleviate.  I am reminded that there is a big picture and each moment is just one tiny bit of that big picture.

Now, regarding this “big picture,
I’ve been very successful thus far.  I’m hearing beep-type sounds, which is exactly what should be happening at this early stage.  I’ve been practicing every day to process these new sounds by following along with captions on video as well as reading books on tape.  Also, having residual low frequency hearing (which the Hybrid version of the cochlear implant allows) is so useful and helpful in the journey.  I don’t need to retrain my brain for those sounds that it is receiving normally!  Plus, the residual hearing helps me follow along to phrases and words and supplements the new high frequency sounds so that they can more easily be attached to meaningful things.

It’s been a rollercoaster of a journey.  But it’s been an incredible journey.

My family has been so supportive as they’ve been right by my side as I begin the process.

Lisa, my AVT (formal auditory training – auditory verbal therapy) coach, has put me in touch with a psychotherapist/psychoanalyst who has bilateral cochlear implants (even though I have the Hybrid version, there is much overlap).  It isn’t to receive therapy, as I have my own therapist, but to communicate with each other as I am preparing for a career in psychotherapy and ironically psychoanalysis training has been in my mind as a future supplement to my learning!!!

Everyone is new to the Hybrid version of the implant, and so that has been a curiosity and learning experience for other people.  It’s been great to help people learn but also it’s been difficult because people don’t have the familiarity they have when dealing with people with regular cochlear implants.

This is not anyone’s fault and I don’t blame anyone!!!  I just am pointing this out.  As time goes by, people will learn from early adopters such as myself and be able to utilize that knowledge when working with other people.

I wouldn’t change a thing!  I just want to let people know that when I say “journey,” I truly mean it’s a journey!  It comes with incredible highs and lows.  But it’s worth it to me to hear and understand people better.

Please have patience with me as learning to hear with this device takes a long time, much longer than six months.  It often takes people years to continue to improve in different areas of communication and the cochlear implant is still a “tool” and not a cure.

However, the benefits of less fatigue, more support, better clarity, etc. are all worth it.

Progress!

This morning, I have been engaged in my retraining activities, which today have included reading an audio book and talking on a cell phone with my mother.  I could tell that words were becoming a little bit clearer with the audio book and decided to experiment with the phone and wow!  I was able to understand some phrases and begin to understand others.  This shows that with practice, these things will sound so much clearer and better.

My brain is successfully interpreting sounds!  Whee!  It’s so exciting!!!

One day at a time this process shall continue to improve!