The missing link

19 11 2010

I had a hearing test today and By God ….. it was good!

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The lines on the audiogram show my hearing, from the bottom line up;

1: Thin black line near bottom: February 2010, before my cochlear implant

2: Green line: April 2010, 2 weeks after switch-on

3: Blue line: June 2010, 3 months after switch-on

4: Pink line: August 2010, 5 months after switch-on

5: Black line: November 2010, 7-8 months after switch-on

We actually had to shoo my hearing dog out of the sound proof booth as he was making too much noise, he was just sniffing the floor but he had to go!

I have kept my programs as below;
Program slot 1: IDR70, ClearVoice medium, 100% T-mic (my everyday program)
Program slot 2: IDR80, no ClearVoice, 100% T-mic (for music)
Program slot 3: IDR70, ClearVoice high, 50% T-mic (for noisy places)

No changes were made to the comfort levels of my processor. I need to let my brain adjust to the current settings, my hearing is stable (actually …. improving – hooray!), and nature must take its course. With the help of a lot of audio work, of course!

So what kind of audio work have I been doing…?

Michael left a voicemail message on my fancy-schmancy iPhone and I laughed, it was soooo long – like, about ten minutes! He has a Dublin accent so I thought that would be easier to listen to than the English accents normally around me. The only thing was, he spoke too fast. Hearing people don’t know how to slow down! So I told him, S.L.O.W. D.O.W.N. and he tried again. Only *this* time, he decided to sprinkle some of his own magic. He tried a Northern Irish accent which had us both in stitches. His reasoning was that I would understand that more easily, as I grew up there. Even though he spoke faster, I understood more of the Norn Iron bit. So I’ll be phoning home a lot more often now!

And what kind of new noises have I been hearing….?

I went to the theatre last week and saw Tribes. Charlie wrote a great review for the Guardian. I thought it was a great play too but the ending felt like an anti-climax. I could really empathise with the main character Billy. Growing up in a hearing family that doesn’t communicate with you is just horrible. My WOW moment for this evening was when the father was grinding the pepper onto the plates at the family meal. I was sitting at the back of the theatre and I clearly heard every grind of that pepper mill! Our Michael couldn’t hear it at all … or maybe he has selective hearing? 😛

Another recent WOW moment was hearing the radiators fill up in my office – from the other side of the room. I am constantly removing clocks from meeting rooms (LOL) and oiled the squeaky door down the hall. In meetings, I can hear every single person in the room as if they were sitting right next to me, I find that truly amazing (although I have yet to understand). In the office one day, I heard a loud rustling sound in the wall next to me. I was told it was a mouse. Screamed. Discovered it was my colleague opening a ream of paper next door! Then I heard a tk-tk sound every second. Discovered that was the copier next door spitting out paper. LOL. Disbelief that I can hear that clearly through the wall. Also heard a helicopter wuf-wuf-wuf … lovely sound!

I went to play bingo at the local hard of hearinPhotobucketg club and they had someone call out the numbers, then someone would point at the number on the easel. Yeah, retro … I turned this into a listening exercise and listened to the number then checked what I heard on the easel. I got most of them right, just tripping up on the fifties and sixties. I delivered a deaf awareness training course and was able to test the demonstration hearing aids myself, instead of asking a hearing person to do this. We’re having soft weather at the moment and I can hear the windows rattling (I live in an old house). At Hallowe’en, the kids tricking and treating made me jump out of my skin when they rang the doorbell – it was so LOUD.

I am totally surprised at how horribly noisy it is in the library. I can’t stand the sound of paper being rustled, it cuts right through my brain. I sometimes understand all the announcements on the train and tube. I pop treats inside my dog’s activity ball and he takes it off down the long hallway. I’m amazed that I can still hear the treats rattling inside at the end of the hall! I got a shock when I dropped my dog off at the kennels, where they have the grooming parlour. The barking was deafening. Can you imagine working there? Ouch.

Yeah, this is some sound database I’m building up. We’re forecast snow next week – I think the crunch of snow will be my next new sound. All I need to really work on is the missing link – understanding all the sounds that make up speech and decipher the accents. Bring it on!

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14 responses

19 11 2010
Andy

That’s very interesting. I have seen the chart of someone else with a CI and it is similar to yours. I haven’t got any charts yet. I should have gone to Bristol for my one month adjustments a couple of days ago. As you have seen in the news, there have been floods and the trains didn’t run that day!

Sounds I can hear … apart from the first couple of days when everyone was on helium I could hear well straight away.
I had a moderate hearing loss in my childhood so the CI took me straight back there. I can’t understand voices without looking but I catch the odd word here and there and lipreading is a doddle. I feel as if a weight has been lifted from my brow.

I have been listening to a lot of radio and TV to get used to hearing voices. Previously what had been a gabble now sounds almost coherent, with sharp “s” and “t” sounds to break it all up.
The most remarkable improvement has been with music. Previously I could only hear the drums and bass, which is handy being a drummer but now I am getting a much fuller picture. I am back to somewhere around the level of loss in my teens so I am listening to the music of my misspent youth all over again. It’s not perfect but it’s the best I have had for years. The radio is no longer an irritating noise!

We have lots of birds in the garden and what used to be a faint scratching noise is now revealed in all its glory. They never stop, in fact! I have been standing in the garden quite a lot trying to work out which bird makes which sound.
One little problem I have is that I am over sensitive to high pitched sounds at the moment. A trickling tap is quite piercing and my son unwrapped a packet of sandwiches causing killer noise in my head! Anything rustly or crackly causes over load so I am going to get that turned down at my next appointment.

I’m trying to track down the source of a beep from something on my desk. I’m not sure what it is but it keeps beeping at me and when I find it I’M GONNA KILL IT!

6 12 2010
Funnyoldlife

LOL. Sounds like you are off to a good start. How did your recent mapping go? Yeah, the plastic wrappers and bags are the stuff of nightmares in the beginning. You might find that more sounds will reveal themselves in time, it doesn’t happen all at once. Quite a fun journey of discovery, really!

19 11 2010
Catherine Mellor

Tina, I have a mapping appointment next Wednesday. I am going to ask for a printout of my hearing charts. I do remember seeing similar results from the last time I was in a sound booth, and being vaguely shocked at how much I was hearing, and being surprised that as noisy as it seemed to be already, there was still more to come, that hearing people have been dealing with this noise all their lives! Like you, I can see myself not wanting to hear more than what I am hearing now, still wanting to process the all the new stuff first before going on. I do find word comprehension much easier over the iPod, and telephone, and with my FM. Any kind of background noise is a real killer. And the noise coming from traffic! @%#%@%!

6 12 2010
Funnyoldlife

Traffic….. ugh! I think I might even be starting to have selective hearing – I can ‘tune out’ the ticking clock in my room. Didn’t know that is possible with a CI!

19 11 2010
Steve

Hey Tina,

I think I’ve already commented on another of your CI progress posts but every time I read one I’m blown away by your progress. The difference in the before and after in the audiogram just makes me wonder why I’m fighting the fight to hear with hearing aids.

Cheers,
Steve

6 12 2010
Funnyoldlife

So why continue this particular fight? I thought my HAs were the best thing ever, until I jumped ship. Now I know what I was missing and I wish I had done this years ago.

19 11 2010
Speak Up Librarian

Thanks for sharing your progress, Tina. You are doing amazing. I am so happy for you.

I especially loved this line: I am totally surprised at how horribly noisy it is in the library.

6 12 2010
Funnyoldlife

Yeah Sara, I was shocked! I always thought libraries and churches were dead quiet places but obviously I’m wrong. Where do hearing people go to get silence?

23 11 2010
fadi

That is great news. It is a good improvement. Wonder what it will be like when 1 year is completed.

Are you coming to Dubai in January?

Fadi

6 12 2010
Funnyoldlife

Don’t think so Fadi 😦 But perhaps another time – depends on work!

24 11 2010
Richard

What about your hearing any lyrics or sentences out of radio or television set without captionings and lipreadings ? Do you understand most of talkers with your CI on ? Audiogram does not show any thing about speech comprehensions since CI does not provide low frequencies of sounds and musics. You can cheat with lipreadings.

Rick Freeman
AB Ci user
Not able to understand speeches and sentences.

24 11 2010
Funnyoldlife

@Rick. I can understand some words, but I need to practice listening every day. I am still lip reading all the time and set aside time to practice listening. I cannot understand the radio or TV, I can hear on the phone a little (depends on who is speaking and how tired I am), I can understand some train announcements and sometimes what people say (but this is mostly just the odd word, not often a whole sentence). CI does provide low frequency sounds – check out my audiogram – I have normal hearing across all the frequencies. Music sounds perfect but they could be singing in Chinese for all I know. The problem is that was born deaf, so my brain can hear all this sound but does not recognise it. It will take time for my brain to know what to do with the speech sounds and make sense of them. That means I have to do lots of practice. It won’t just happen by itself. It will take patience, practice and persistence.

6 12 2010
Andy

I think it is tougher when you are born seriously deaf because there is no memory of sounds. I seem to have had enough hearing to pick up speech, but badly. So I was hearing some sounds and at the age of about 6 I was able to sing in tune even though I could not hear all the music. With a hearing aid I could hear most of the notes on a piano, I remember trying that.

So what is happening now is I have gone back to those memories of sound and that is helping me to sort out all the new noises that I can hear. I have never heard high sounds well so that is all new to me. I am familiar with many sounds and with music because when I was a kid I used to invent ways of helping myself to hear better.
When I went to Mary Hare we had a lot of listening equipment, the whole place is wired with microphones, loops, headphones and so forth. So I was able to keep listening even though my hearing was going. I just kept cranking up the volume!

But then when I got to the point that I could no longer make sense of music it just became an irritating noise. The radio and TV were a gabble that was boring. Sometimes I would just watch the pictures and try to follow the plot, other times I would read a book. So now that is all changing again because I can understand the TV much more easily.

The radio is coming, slowly. The best thing on the radio to listen to is the weather forecast for shipping. They always speak very clearly and it is possible to understand many of the words. Also they repeat themselves a lot which helps the word recognition.

I am a bit stuck at the moment because I really need to get my sound rebalanced. I was unable to go to Bristol for my appointment on the agreed day because of floods. My train was cancelled and there wasn’t time to get back home for the car so now I have another appointment on Dec 22.

The way the weather is going I am gonna need a dog sled. It’s only 90 miles for goodness sake but it’s almost as much hassle as travelling to Timbuktu.

6 12 2010
deaflinguist

@ Andy – Someone else who likes the Shipping Forecast!

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