4 year bilateral cochlear implant review

5 06 2016

I’ve just had my 4 year review of my cochlear implant hearing. My hearing is a straight -20db after turning down the volume a little, and it feels natural now to have such super hearing.

I work from home a lot these days; I can hear the neighbours on one side when they argue and the neighbour’s TV on the other side. Hearing well is not always a good thing! My new hearing dog Bailey has a very loud bark so all in all, it can get very noisy sometimes! This “overload” of sounds has been the hardest thing to get used to and I do like to take the processors off occasionally so I can get some peace!

I pick up the phone now and again when it’s an emergency or I’ve had to make a call and there isn’t a hearing person around to ask. Using the telephone takes a lot of confidence and interestingly the most difficult ones are where I had to phone people in Southern Ireland and struggled with the accents (I’m Northern Irish so didn’t expect this!), the easiest ones are where I listened to a digital voice and had to take down a pin number (and got it right! Wowser!).

audiogram 2016

Red: My hearing in 2016 with bilateral cochlear implants

Blue: My hearing in 2010, before receiving cochlear implants

 

 

hearing test 2016CUNY lipreading test – 24 sentences of varying length and complexity presented in auditory and visual condition – lipreading with sound

BKB sentence test – 32 short sentences of simple syntactic structure presented in auditory alone condition

 

I’ve been able to converse with a relative stranger when she was talking to me from the next room, because her voice was loud and clear enough for me to follow, and she wasn’t speaking too fast. I take great pleasure in understanding public announcements on the London underground, on trains, and in train stations.

The most surprising sound was water dripping from the ceiling to the kitchen floor when the builder forgot to secure the radiator flow upstairs – I was in the lounge! I was able to react immediately and run upstairs to alert the builder.

Another sound was (hearing this from the lounge again) water dripping from the kitchen sink into a bucket below, inside a cupboard. It sounded like a double popping sound. Investigating this, I watched – the first pop was the water drop hitting the surface of the water, the second pop was the water bubble bursting. Awesome!

hear speech

Being able to hear sounds well has made me much more relaxed about communication, and I now understand why hearing people don’t really comprehend the complexities of deafness. When you can hear well, it is so effortless and easy, it’s like breathing. Many hearing people don’t understand that hearing well is not just about volume. It’s about clarity, understanding, processing the sounds that you hear and knowing what a sound is, being able to translate heard sounds into speech and making sense of them.

The most frustrating thing is I still need communication support as many speak quickly and mumble, many environments are too noisy and have poor acoustics, and I am just not used to processing sounds into speech. I will always be deaf. But hey, that’s okay.

Some people speak too fast for me to listen to them and decipher what they’ve said, or they are simply too far away – lipreading is often a much easier tool for me to use. I had some people visit recently to give me quotes for roof repairs, and they all had (hilarious) cockney accents. Listening and lipreading, I had the pleasure of understanding every word they said and trying to keep a straight face at how they spoke. Recently I’ve travelled to the Midlands and the north of England, Paris, Gibraltar, Granada, Barcelona, Budapest, and Qatar – I have enjoyed experiencing and listening to all these accents and easily understood everyone I spoke to, without worrying about whether I would be able to or not. Communication is now enjoyable, and that has been a truly amazing gift.





HLAA Convention 2015

28 06 2015

We attended the HLAA convention in St Louis and we had such fun! It was great to see many old friends again and catch up on our amazing cyborg-ness.

The photo shows the Japanese delegation, I was so pleased to be able to practice my Japanese.  今日は!

Japanese delegation

One of them kept asking why Jacob had to raise money for his cochlear implants when CI recipients have insurance in the US. In Japan, the national health care system, like the UK, completely funds cochlear implants.

One of the guys in the photo is a jazz musician. He’s looking for any other jazz musician CI recipients to connect with – do leave a comment and contact link if you know of anyone or you’re a jazz musician yourself.

Every workshop at the event was captioned – which is fantastic. In Japan, they are not so fortunate with access for deaf people. Japan has turned to digital broadcasting, depending on the late night programming and region, but there are often no closed captions, and the DVDs and BluRays for Japanese movies and animation, as well as internet broadcasts are rarely closed captioned.

There are few places where Japanese films are screened with Japanese closed captions, and those screenings usually happen within a couple of days, and in many cases are only screened once. Film making in Japan often has a low budget and tight timeline, so low budget late-night broadcasting and UHF stations are rarely closed captioned. Since it costs television stations money to close caption broadcasts, they use a legal loophole. In order to escape having to add captions in any case, they will broadcast late at night or on UHF stations. And of course the country is pretending not to see this.

The process of closed captioning has been kept hidden from the country’s inhabitants, and in order for the majority of the society to be kept out of the know, they are not putting effort into developing people capable of providing captioning services. Broadcast and cable television stations are more likely to have closed captions. There is a small number of Japanese captioners working for the deaf.

The country, media, NPOs and even organizations who work with disabled people won’t consider requests for closed captioning and won’t do anything about it. The younger generation in Japan have an openly disablist attitude. However there are both disabled and non-disabled people working towards life for disabled people to become a little more enjoyable.

HLAA delegates and USA inhabitants, count yourselves very fortunate!





2 year bilateral cochlear implant review

31 12 2013

So I’ve been bilateral for two years. Two amazing years.

Life has taken over and I’ve been so busy that I haven’t made much time for focused rehabilitation exercises. I asked for my Advanced Bionics processors’ programming to be adjusted to include Clearvoice High with threshold levels reduced to zero, to improve sound in background noise. I asked for T-coil so I can use this with an FM system, the Phonak Roger pen system which I’m really looking forward to using in meetings. The sound field audiometry testing produced threshold responses at 10-20 dBhl, so I have excellent access to the full range of speech frequency sounds at normal conversation levels (and I can hear my neighbours next door cleaning, tidying up, talking, and their TV!). My next review is in 2 years time. I’ve been instructed to replace my T-mics every 3-6 months and the headpiece every year. Below is a comparison of my hearing before I got my cochlear implants (in blue, without hearing aids) and my hearing as it is now, with 2 cochlear implants (in red).

311213

How have my speech perception skills changed over the last 2 years? I was tested with the sequential right-sided implant only, and I was really quite tired on the day so I probably could have done a bit better.

2013 review

  • CUNY lipreading test – 24 sentences of varying length and complexity presented in auditory and visual condition – lipreading with sound
  • BKB sentence test – 32 short sentences of simple syntactic structure presented in auditory alone condition
  • AB word test – 30 single words of one syllable presented in auditory alone condition and scored phonemically

I am continuing to make good progress with the second implant. The BKB sentence score when using both left and right implant is 87%, comparable to one year ago. I am very happy with both implants and prefer to wear them both at the same time. It is lovely though to have an “off” switch and relax at the weekends or after a long day.

I am still using realtime captions in meetings with my little mini iPad – it’s on 4G so I can get captions anywhere I go. I love it. (You can get this remote speech-to-text service from 121 Captions) I have tried some small meetings of up to about 4 people, and can manage without captions, but it is quite tiring – and the speed at which people talk!!!!!! OMGosh!!

My tinnitus is much better than it was before implantation, and it is quite different now. It has changed from musical hallucinations and a never-ending loud barrage of random sounds to a quiet motor hum, which gets louder when I am tired, and even disappears occasionally. With my cochlear implants on, I usually don’t notice the hum. I have purchased a travel sleep sound therapy system and pillow speakers from the British Tinnitus Association. The idea is that rather than putting up with loud tinnitus, I have a short nap with my cochlear implants on, and listen to soothing sounds to reduce the tinnitus. I’ll review this sound system soon. Here’s a useful  visual guide to tinnitus.

1507488_602846159787637_685071519_o

I continue to be amazed by what I can now hear. I can tell when it is raining, when I am sitting at my desk with the window closed. No need to stick my hand out of the window any more. I can hear the photocopier running, two rooms along. I can use the phone, calling automated systems and listening to digital voices, but strangers speak so fast that they need to be asked to slow down. The phone is still a tricky one and a lot depends on my confidence rather than my ability to hear and understand. I can hear my pesky neighbours NO PROBLEM lol. I can hear the wind outside during the recent bad weather spells.  The waves on a beach are so loud, they still shock me. I can hear traffic a few streets away, so sitting in the garden is not as quiet as it would be for a hearing person, as I am so sensitive to sound. I can hear plants growing (just kidding on that one!). I could hear the change in my dog’s breathing when he became ill. I can hear food cooking and burning, which helps my cooking skills 🙂

I am still working out some sounds, I think I have pigeons or something weird on top of my chimney – no idea what that sound is! The heating system frightened me with loud thumps until I reset it (and figured out what it was, once I had calmed down). I enjoyed running the London Marathon with my iPod and listening to crystal clear music, and chatting to strangers in the cheering crowds. I’ve been to rock concerts and really enjoyed them. Everything is still quite overwhelming but the sharp edge has come off and 99% of sounds are now bearable. I still don’t like screaming babies….uggg. Interestingly, nothing is too loud, nothing hurts and makes me cringe from the volume like the hearing aids did. The loudest sound I have heard is a thunderstorm in Gibraltar, which scared the **** out of me and I hid under the table – just like my dad used to do. I have learned that you don’t actually have to *like* a sound, and you can love a sound too. My favourite sound is the rain, it’s like a sprinkling of musical tinkles.

I use the following resources for rehab, as well as unabridged audio books. My favourites are apps targeted at non-native English speakers, which I use on my iPad or laptop. These have British accents and have very clear speakers.

The overall effect of being able to hear well is being much more relaxed about communication and meeting strangers. I can lipread and listen, and communicate with strangers very well. I have attended events and found some people very difficult to lipread, and was forced to listen to them, and surprised myself by how much I can understand. The problem I have seems to be with distance from the speaker – the further away they get, the more difficult they are to hear. I am not permanently exhausted as I used to be, and I really value my mental and physical health.  My other half is a hearing person, he doesn’t care that I have cochlear implants at all – which is a double edged sword. He’s a surgeon so he is used to all this medical mucking around. Before you ask – no, he’s not a cochlear implant surgeon – damn, I missed out on a freebie upgrade in the future! He is only too happy to use text messaging instead of the phone, he doesn’t look at me when he’s talking, and he likes to whisper sweet nothings into my ear – and in Arabic as well! (ohhhhhhh the rehab! LOL) So I have some work ahead to improve my listening skills, to keep my auditory attention “on” and try not to lipread so much. Isn’t it difficult to stop a habit, when lipreading is like breathing? It’s good to keep the challenges coming and to keep trying.

Reach for the stars, and you just might catch one.

– FYI my neighbours have just started drilling holes somewhere in their house. The CIs come off NOW! 😉

Happy New Year everyone xx





FDA appoves Naída CI Q70 sound processor

28 08 2013

Advanced Bionics is excited to announce that the new Naída CI Q70 (Naída CI) sound processor has received FDA regulatory approval for commercial release and will soon be available throughout the United States.

 

WHOO HOO!





Advanced Bionics Naída CI Q70 Review

25 08 2013

naida processor

Here is the definitive, in-depth review of Advanced Bionic’s latest processor, the amazing Naída CI Q70!

My new processor, the Naída Cl Q70, is smaller, lighter and even more discreet than the Harmony processor. With the battery is installed, it is much lighter on the ear. To be honest, it is so small that I almost forget I am wearing it! …

Naída CI Q70 after the jump, in English, and in French!>





FDA approval – Now What?

6 08 2013

MED-EL recently rolled out the RONDO processor.  Cochlear has just received FDA approval for the Nucleus 6.  And AB is awaiting FDA approval for the Naída CI.  Why isn’t the new hardware available as soon as it has been approved?

Read on ….





Nucleus 6 FDA Approval

5 08 2013

Nucleus 6

 

Image source: Nyhetsrummet

The FDA has given approval to Cochlear’s Nucleus 6!

Source: FDA

Cochlear Nucleus 6 system