It was time for my annual review. I can’t believe it’s been a year since I went bilateral. Oh how time flies!
I went through the mapping process, adjusting each electrode on my newest implant – which didn’t need much changing after all. My older implant needed quite a lot of adjustment due to fibrous growth and also, we had been focusing on my newest implant for the past year. After adjusting, my older implant sounded louder and my voice sounded a bit lower. Together, they sounded balanced and it felt as if I was wearing one hearing device instead of two.
Being keen and pushy as usual, I had some requests;
- MP3 player volume : 20dB attenuation added to my music slot as when I’m plugged in with DAI (direct audio connect), the volume on my iPod is at zero and it’s still too loud – I can’t turn the volume down and have to do this on my implant processor instead. (We decided to sit this one out for a while)
- IDR & music : Change my music program to IDR 100 (by setting my T’s to 30% of the M’s and Soundwave IDR to 80) with AGC on and no Clearvoice. (We decided to try changing the T levels at a later date)
- Pulse width: Increase the pulse width from the default 18 to 26 uSec (We decided not to do this, as the latest Soundwave version will automatically adjust to maximise battery life)
- Battery replacement: One of my batteries had broken (This was replaced free of charge, thank you NHS!)
The next step was a hearing test. They didn’t want to see TOO good a hearing curve as I would then be picking up annoying background sounds as well, such as air conditioning units. The blue line shows my hearing test levels two years ago (no hearing aids) and the red line shows my hearing test levels today (with cochlear implants). Great result!
I took the speech perception tests and the results were *drum roll*
Lipreading – with sound 98%
Right ear/newest CI only – sound only, no lipreading – 68% (up from 43% in 2011)
Right & left ears – sound only, no lipreading – 87% (WHOOP WHOOP)
Right & left ears – sound only, no lipreading – 43% (up from 13% in 2011 with one CI)
Right & left ears – sound only, no lipreading – 70% (up from 33% in 2011 with one CI)
I’m really pleased and honestly never thought I would be able to hear this well. In practice, it means I am able to understand people behind me saying something simple such as “Can I help you” or “CAWFEEEEE?”, I can have a short (predictive) phone or Skype conversation with someone I know, and I am much more relaxed about meeting new people and lipreading them. It’s still difficult to listen with ears that have never really heard sound except a distorted rough version, it’s difficult to use a brain’s speech processing area that has never made sense of speech nor held an auditory memory. It does NOT mean I “can hear” – honestly, if one more person asks me “Can you hear her talking”… I will slap them!
Now that I have sorted out the bilateral direct connection setup that works with an Advanced Bionics Harmony processor, I’m able to listen to my MP3 player without an accompanying nasty loud whine, and can really start working on improving my binaural listening skills. My favourite speech rehabilitation tools are Listen to English and BBC: Learning English. Listening to the iPod is fine with one direct connect lead, but two give out a whine (this doesn’t happen with my iPhone – only the iPod). Bob says the line out adapter provides a true line output, tapped off prior to the power amplifier – thus eliminating any noise that might eminate in that power amplifier… line outputs are never tapped from speaker or headphone levels in home or pro audio amplifiers. To do this with an Advanced Bionics BTE processor, you will need a splitter and a USB line out adapter.
Final word …. Tel Aviv researchers have proof that two bionic ears are better than one. Read more here.