Assimilation: Two months

31 05 2010

It has been 2 months since activation. What can I hear now?

Animals seem to have taken over my world. I have a large leafy garden and can hear birds all day long, not just blackbirds, but magpies, starlings, a lovely orchestra of TWEET TWEET, TRIILLLLL, CHIRP CHIRP, PING PING, COO COO, PEEP PEEP. I love sitting outside listening to them. At the moment I am hearing around ten different types of bird calls. One night I cracked up laughing. I could hear 3 birds singing to each other, they sounded like a phone ringing, knocking at the door and the doorbell. When night falls, all the birds fall silent. Then the dog next door starts barking and carries on for an hour. Then my own dog starts barking in his sleep. I have also heard our cat miaow. I haven’t heard our foxes yet and we have plenty!

Lower frequency sounds have started to come back. I can hear the rumble of traffic and the bus engine. Sounds I am enjoying listening to are male voices. Those sexy, rumbling, low, growly voices. I’m fascinated by how different they are from female voices. Who woulda thought a voice could be so attractive?

I have been able to hear a teeny bit on the phone. No special equipment required! I use my implant as normal, on 100% T-mic microphone, pick up my mobile phone, and put it to my ear as any hearing person would. The T-mic mimics the hearing ear as it is positioned at the ear canal, aiding directional listening by collecting sound in a more natural fashion than a hearing aid or other brand of cochlear implant. I do need lots more practice in discriminating words before I can use the phone easily. Considering I have been deaf all my life and have never used the phone, this blows my mind. I love hearing voices as it is like the captions have been shoved straight into my brain, the understanding is just there. It seems so effortless when it happens.

I have been able to hear speech in other situations too. Last weekend, I was the 2nd photographer at a wedding, working with Amanda, the 1st photographer.

Michelle and Lee, the newly-wed couple, were standing in an archway. Amanda was taking photos from the inside of the building whilst I was taking photos from the outside.

Michelle and Lee were kissing for this shot and they kept kissing. The kisses became slower and longer. More lingering. I didn’t really know where to look. I started thinking “Hey guys, maybe time to get a room?”

Then out of nowhere, I clearly heard Amanda shouting “Again! Again! Again!”

“….. Slower!”

Situation heard and understood!

The street is incredibly noisy. I use Advanced Bionic’s ClearVoice to reduce sounds in noisy environments such as the street, train station, on the train. It’s fantastic, and I can pick out voices around me as unwanted background sounds drop away. I tested ClearVoice in a wine bar, and was able to lipread and listen to other cochlear implant users with ease. I heard one lady who came up to my dog and said “Hello darling”. I actually heard her say this behind my back! (I had to double check with her to make sure I had heard her right – I don’t trust my new hearing yet.) I noticed that the hearing aid users were unable to participate easily, they looked stressed and were often left out of the general conversation. This was how I was 3 months ago and I felt sad for those people. The cochlear implant users really had to make the extra effort to include the hearing aid users in the conversation. We totally understood, for we had all been there.

At work, with my office door shut, I have been able to detect my colleagues Calum talking in his soft Scottish brogue in the office next door and Karen coughing as she walks down the corridor, the photocopier room door squeaking next door, the photocopier spewing out paper, people’s footsteps as they walk past my office, people talking outside the building. I was able to pick out clear (albeit echoey) voices in the kitchen as we gathered together to celebrate Robert’s birthday – it is no longer a wall of horrendous mushy sound. I am still loving the sound of the clock ticking on my office wall.

Today I tried my hearing aid in my other ear for the first time in 2 months. An aeroplane flew overhead and I could clearly hear it approaching with my cochlear implant. To my shock, it didn’t even register with my hearing aid. My own voice sounds deeper and much quieter with my hearing aid, and I can only hear bits of it. I put the television on and set it at a volume that was nice and loud for my cochlear implant. However, I could not hear it at all with my hearing aid. The quality of the sound is different between the two hearing devices – higher pitched with the implant, deeper with the hearing aid. I am horrified at the difference and at how much sound is missing with the hearing aid – which I used to wear in my better ear.

How much I have missed the sounds of life – without even realising it. I have a lot of catching up to do!



7 responses

1 06 2010

Hi Tina,

That sounds like fantastic progress. So great to read about what you can hear and how well your implant is working. I can totally relate to your experiences with your hearing aid. I think put my hearing aid on within week and a half after activation and have had similar experiences. It amazes me how much my implant dominates from a hearing perspective over my hearing aid. I guess I should not be too surprised since the implant allows me to hear down to 10 decibals with most pitches with some level of hearing at all pitches and the hearing aid is at a 40 decibal level with most pitches with no hearing at the the higher pitches. I think I have said it before, but they seem to working independently of each other instead of complementing each other. I hope that goes away with time, otherwise I am seriously thinking of going bilateral with the implants. Still stuggle with music and the higher pitched voices sounding mechanical but I think it is better.

Thanks for the update Tina. Take Care.


1 06 2010

Those words sound like sweet music to my ears.. what a wonderful world AB is right now. lol

2 06 2010

2 months on is a great place to be!! Onwards and upwards!

3 06 2010

I have only a moderate hearing loss and wear hearing aids, but it has been really interesting reading your experiences. I have to say I find mobile phone conversations a nightmare at the best of times, I can hear much better on landlines, even when both are used in quiet rooms. Hope you continue to enjoy your new experiences!

3 06 2010

Wow wow wow wow. That is progress.
As for trying old hearing aid, remember the surgeon *might* have inadvertently guillotined a few hundred thousand more cilia as s/he threaded the electrode array through your cochlea. Not that it matters, but surely it can’t be reasonable to expect the residual hearing to remain entirely unaffected in some way ? Not even sound exactly as before. No wonder the hearing aid sounded Grade Triple A horiffic. On the other hand, the surgeon could have made proper crop circles of all remaining ciliae with an overzealous dithering of the electrode positioning tools, and when you switched the old aid on, you wouldn’t have heard a thing. So Yay ; now you know you have some residual hearing preserved. Luck of the draw, Madam. Not that it makes any difference except it’s nice to know that maybe the ear will come in handy when stem cells are finally available in our dotage, then one doesn’t need to worry about silly things like loosing batteries anymore.

3 06 2010

Hi Sammarcko

I tried the hearing aid in the (right) unimplanted ear, which has always been my slightly better ear. In hearing aid days, my right ear was very similar to – just slightly better – my left (CI) ear on the audiogram but it was waaay better in giving me a better understanding of sounds. So I was completely floored by the comparison of what was my old ‘good’ ear against my new CI ear. I really relied on my right ear all my life and it’s strange not to use it at all now.

11 06 2010

I really interested in your post. Actually I posted a similar related article in my blog regarding this issue. What is your opinion about it?


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