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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! ūüėČ

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!

Cool wireless accessories

An advantage to this cochlear implant is that the brand, Cochlear, has partnered with a hearing aid manufacturer, Resound, for their wireless bluetooth accessories.

Among the wireless accessories offered are a TV Streamer that can be connected to the television with the audio streamed directly to the cochlear implant processor as well as a Phone Clip+ that can connect via Bluetooth to a cell phone for conversations streamed directly to the processor.

I have one implant as my other ear is better and does not qualify for one. ¬†But I plan to buy a compatible hearing aid (a Resound hearing aid) so that if I make a phone call with the Phone Clip, it will stream the audio to both ears directly! ¬†Right now, my hearing aid is a Phonak and their wireless portfolio is incompatible since they’re not partnered with¬†Cochlear.

The television audio would also be streamed directly.

The Phone Clip and TV Streamer can also connect to other devices such as a computer, MP3 player, etc. so the applications for use are widespread!

Being able to use Bluetooth in this way is a welcome addition to the hybrid implant; a sort of cherry on top!

There is a wireless microphone that can be used in a classroom for example or at a restaurant Рthe microphone can be clipped to whom you want to hear and their voice is amplified.  But I have never enjoyed those types of products.  Hearing aids have had this option for years (usually called an FM system, but there are different technologies that are called a variety of things), but I have always preferred using the microphones on my hearing aids rather than these microphones.

Check out the wireless accessories here: http://www.cochlear.com/wps/wcm/connect/us/home/treatment-options-for-hearing-loss/wireless-accessories

Hearing New Frequencies!

I had my second programming appointment today and it was amazing! ¬†My brain is making the connection that the stimulation it is receiving is sound. ¬†This started happening the last couple of days, but I wasn’t sure what was happening! ¬†The sound is different than acoustic sound delivered from a hearing aid and is completely new, thus the need for the brain to rewire completely!

The acoustic portion (hearing aid) of the hybrid CI was adjusted to be more optimal for amplifying the low frequency hearing I have.  Thankfully, the test today showed that the low frequencies are still stable and thus I am able to continue to benefit from my residual hearing!  Whee!!!  This is a process that is continuously tested because even after the implant is placed, there is a risk that a person will lose their residual hearing.

I was thrilled as was my audiologist, Nancy, because I was able to distinguish between pitches in the appointment today.  I am so pleased and happy and feel so blessed and lucky!

This is truly a journey Рa lifelong process.  Having the time to dedicate to this implant and allowing the brain to learn is so helpful and essential to the process.

Yes, I still have overwhelming moments of nerve stimulation, where it feels uncomfortable. ¬†But I know the brain is working hard and this is par for the course! ¬†I am so happy with today’s results and so pleased that my brain is capable of more sounds – especially given the length of time I have been hard-of-hearing!