Bilateral annual review: Year One

17 09 2012

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.

UK: splitter

US: splitter

UK: USB line out adapter

US: USB line out adapter 






Final word …. Tel Aviv researchers have proof that two bionic ears are better than one. Read more here.




10 responses

18 09 2012
ruth kaldor

Is the blue line on your audiogram without hearing aids on and the top line is how you hear with your implant? Thanks, Ruth

18 09 2012

Hi Ruth

Yes, thats’s correct.

18 09 2012

Single words are HARD. I have been using the Angel software that Bob talked about and like it very much. They do exercises where they say seed seed seeth and you have to tell them which one sounds different. It’s really HARD! But also kind of exciting, especially when you become aware of a new sound, however slight it is.

18 09 2012

I need to look at that. Single words are incredibly difficult as we can’t use context to help work out what was said.

TigerSpeech Technology is currently distributing all the auditory rehabilitation software developed in the last 20 years for free. Anyone (cochlear implant and hearing aid users) who is interested in the auditory rehabilitation software and hearing test software can visit the following web site:

TigerSpeech Technology & Emily Shannon Fu Foundation

The main software, summarized:

1. AngelSound: an interactive listening rehabilitation software for cochlear implant users and hearing aid user. For details, please visit About Angel Sound

2. AngelHear: an automated hearing assessment tools using personal computer. For details, please visit About Angel Hear

3. AngelSim: a program simulating cochlear implants and hearing loss. For details, please visit About AngelSim (TigerCIS): Cochlear Implant and Hearing Loss Simulator

Similar programs for Mandarin Chinese are also available for downloading. Programs for other languages may also be developed and distributed in the future.

18 09 2012

Well done! I told you two was better than one! Are you getting the hang of directional hearing? I am hearing well but only on one side, The other ear is beyond help unless I have another CI.
Electronic equipment… be careful how you connect things together because there are some things you can’t do without causing problems. The best thing would be to find someone who knows a lot about electronics and get them to explain how to connect stuff together by matching the loads and things like that. It’s easy to understand the rules and you get better sound quality.

Also be a bit careful about making direct connections to amplifiers because if you overload the circuits something might go phut! What I would suggest is that you could use a small desktop mixer and feed everything through that. It’s just a little box and a couple of knobs and it will help to equalise the loads and avoid unwanted distortion.

I am using my CI with a metronome at the moment to keep time in my drum practice. I have had the noise limiter removed and it works much better now without it! I have the metronome connected to the CI with the patch lead supplied and I have that ticking away in one ear and a hearing aid in the other ear. It works quite well and my timing is improving all the time. That’s something I have wanted for years.

18 09 2012

Hi Andy

My directional hearing was tested in May (28%) and June (70%). I am going in later this week to see the researcher who tested this and I might get another test, will update. I do turn around and pick up sounds from the correct direction, most of the time.

The equipment is certainly tricky. Advanced Bionics really should be offering a stereo splitter to bilateral recipients.

20 09 2012
Catherine Mellor

This is something I am still exploring. Not really sure if I notice direction yet, if the times I have noticed direction were only coincidence. It just doesn’t seem that important to me, not like understanding speech better, which i am or hearing music, ah! the music. It is more enjoyable listening to new music now! My horizons are expanding!

21 09 2012

You mention fibrous growths. I always wonder about the changing body disrupting any implanted devices. 😦

21 09 2012

I think that can happen as I know of people who report changing perception of sound (and not in a good way). It’s not that common though.

23 09 2012
Jeffrey Swartz

I almost qualified for cochlear implant. The CI surgeon says sometime next year but wants to see how I do with HA’s first. I have really bad hearing but better yet I have severe loudness recruitment. I liked your blog. Interesting.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s