Music makes my heart sing

19 06 2010

I’ve just had my 3 month checkup. The first person I saw was my surgeon who is a very happy bunny. All looks good! My internal implant is a little sore along the side of the bump, this turned out to be where it touches the processor. I’ll need to hop along to my opticians and get the arm of my glasses (and sunnies!) adjusted so it doesn’t press against the area behind my ear and weaken the skin.

I then went to see my audiologist. She was also very happy at my progress. I had all my electrodes set again to maximum comfort levels and was given a slight increase in sound. I asked for ClearVoice (high) to be replaced with a normal program with a wider IDR (Input Dynamic Range) of 70 for music. With a wider IDR (explained here), you gain a wider range of sound. For the last two weeks, music has sounded pretty much perfect. When I listen to my iPod with the 70 IDR, it sounds even better, it’s so beautiful that I don’t want to stop listening. If I close my eyes, I can pretend I am hearing in stereo, as I sit enveloped in this wonderful sound that is in-my-face-listen-to-me, full and rich, swirling around my head and making me feeeeel the emotion. Vocals sound normal and some are so beautiful that they make me want to cry. Isn’t this what music’s all about?

I had a hearing test and have improved in the last 2 months so this was great news. The decibel range of zero going down  to -30db is considered to be a normal range of hearing for a hearing person (above the red line).

Red dots : My hearing 3 months after activation
Blue dots : My hearing 2 weeks after activation
Black dots : My hearing before the cochlear implant

My speech and language therapist tested me on my language comprehension, in the left ear with cochlear implant only. Here’s an updated progress chart from pre-implant through 2 weeks post-implant, to my current 3 month status. I’m aiming to get all speech comprehension scores close to 100%.

Sentences in quiet = Listening to sentences without lipreading
Words in quiet = Listening to single words without lipreading
Lipreading & sound = Lipreading and listening to a speaker’s sentences
Lipreading in quiet = Lipreading a speaker’s sentences with no sound

The biggest change has been my ability to hear sentences in a soundproof booth, it has jumped from 24% with a hearing aid to 43% with a cochlear implant. If I did not have the cochlear implant, this ability would have continued to decline. I have been able to understand some words when listening to my Harry Potter audio book, it’s so exciting when I am able to pick out a bit here and there. It’s hard work, it’s almost like concentrating but trying not to concentrate too hard – like when you look at those magic eye 3D pictures and try to see what’s hidden there. My ability to hear words in quiet hasn’t changed, as this is very difficult to do without context to help.

My lipreading in quiet scores, at 43%, are very high. I spoke to a professor whose area of interest is forensic lipreading, and she said most people would score 5% in lipreading in quiet. Deaf people get to practise lipreading every day of their lives but as there are so many homophenes and unseen phonemes, it is not possible to score 100%. It’s great that I can still lip read well – and thank goodness I can, or I’d be stuffed trying to get through all of this! I’ve been worried that my ability to lipread would decrease as I learn to hear and try to break the habit, but my audie reassures me and academic studies show this is not usually the case. However, some of my implanted friends say they cannot lipread any more, discovered when they run out of battery power and are forced to rely on lipreading. So I don’t really know if I’ll be able to hang onto my lipreading ability.

I have experienced some new sounds in the last month. The beeping as the green man (walk/don’t walk) sign flashes when I cross the road, and I can hear it All The Way Across The Road. Amazing! I went to see a ballet, Swan Lake, at the Royal Albert Hall.  This was my first visit to a ballet. I was able to hear the orchestra very well and was surprised to see the ballet dancers enter and exit stage very beautifully and gracefully, but with an incongruously ungraceful THD THUD THUD THUD THUD THUD at the same time! I peeled a banana this morning and was surprised by the loud SSSSSSSSSSS sound it made. I then popped out to the shops and another new sound had me jumping in fright so much so that I almost threw myself into the nearest wall. I heard this very loud and deep roar right behind me, I could almost feel it and it jumped out of nowhere, I didn’t know what it was, and it frightened the crap out of me. I used to be scared of dogs that jumped and barked at me so maybe this is where that fright came from, apart from it being so loud and unexpected. I then saw a Harley Davidson go past, obviously it revved just before it reached me. SHEESH!

Although singing voices sound normal, speaking voices don’t sound normal yet (when people talk to me directly) although they are not far off.  I feel as if I am living on Planet Cartoon as people walking past still sound like Minnie Mouse or Donald Duck.

And my shoes squeak all the time! Bah!




9 responses

19 06 2010

Now you know why you can’t sneak up on people. Your shoes squeak!

19 06 2010

Great post. Glad to hear you are doing so well. I have found that I can’t lipread very well now and almost panic when the battery goes. That said I do need to lipread especially in noise even though my sentences and words scores were 98 to 100%. I still use captions on TV but sometimes manage without.

I’m jealous of the music. Music is good in the car, or at the cinema but the sounds from my laptop, TV or Blackberry are very tiny. Maybe I should try an ipod to see how that sounds

Anyway, great progress, so good to read your delight in the new sounds

19 06 2010

Your audiogram has blown me away. That is an amazing improvement. It’s also made me realise that I’ve never done a hearing test with my hearing aids, in wonder what my aided audiogram would look like? Not as good as yours I’d imagine.

19 06 2010

Hi Steve
I have got pretty much the most powerful hearing aids and they only give me about a 50db increase in sound – which wasn’t enough to give me understanding of speech, as it didn’t really touch the speech banana.
You can find out your hearing aid gain on the manufacturer’s website and add that gain to your audiogram to get your aided hearing. This audiogram shows my aided hearing (with hearing aids).

20 06 2010

Wow. It’s brilliant. The things you hear now like the pedestrian crossing, are things that I don’t hear. Not evn with my hearing aids.

It’s brilliant you can hear this.

20 06 2010


It’s a wonderful life out there! It’s amazing how much more colour there is in life just by being able to hear and to be able to appreciate music to the extent you are now able to is phenomenal.

I’ve always loved ballet – in fact I did ballet as a child – and am looking forward to hearing thud-thud-thud too! I always used to get a feel for the music by how the dancers interpreted it, and now I guess I shall find out whether I was right or wrong next time I go!

It’s a case of ‘me too’ with the sore side of the bump when I wear my sunnies as the arm is much wider than my normal glasses. I get around that by placing the arm on top of the processor rather than behind my ear, and by being careful exactly how I push my sunnies up on my head. And as for lipreading – you have expressed exactly how I feel. I don’t want to lose my ability to lipread, because it really is part of who I am.

Here’s to the upward curve!


21 06 2010

Hi Tina!

What a great update and good to hear about your tremondous progress. I too am jealous of your ability to hear music so well. I think I am going to have to concentrate my energy on listening to music now. I had been so concerned about being able to hear conversations that I solely focused on working on understanding words and sentences either by radio, TV or listening exercises. I need to start putting aside time each day just to listen to music like you do.

I have to say that I didn’t really have a good appreciation for the speech banana that you wrote about in one of your earlier postings but I do now after having my CI for a month. Not sure why it took me awhile to understand this (I am slow) but even in my best of hearing times (before my CI) when both of my ears worked with hearing aids, I never was able to understand what was being said on the radio or TV. I could hear certain words or even phrases but not enough to comprehend the content of what was being said. I also did not understand how much intensity and focus I brought to following conversations with other people. I had been doing it all of my life so it just felt natural to me.

After having my CI for less than a month, all of the sudden I can follow the radio and TV (although I still prefer to have the closed captioning on, old habits die hard I guess). I also find that I am not as stressed or tired at the end of the day which I finally have figured out that it has to do with how much easier it is for me to follow conversations and interact in group situations. What really is dramatic to me though is when I turn off the CI and still have my HA on. I think to myself, ah ha! that is what Tina is talking about with the speech banana.

My squeaking tennis shoes actually annoy the heck out of me. I can’t believe how loud it is and that I never heard it before. No wonder why people would say I would not have survived very long as a spy. 🙂

Take Care Tina,

29 06 2010
Tinnitus Remedies – Trusted and Proven | Tinnitus Remedy Today

[…] Music makes my heart sing « I look so I can hear…. […]

3 07 2010

Tina, hope you got back in one piece in LHR. It was nice to see you, and I have to admit that your lip reading skills are fantastic. It was an eye opener for me; I never knew lip reading can be so handy.
Mabrook on the wonderful progress, and I am sure your speech comprehension will make huge leaps in the next few months.
An excellent essay on your experiences, and hearty Kudos. Like Sylvia, I too will need an autographed copy!
Hope to see you in Dubai or London again.

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