Processor Features

Today marks Day 22 post-activation of my Cochlear Implant.

One thing I’ve learned over the past week is that I love the sound of birds. I heard them for the first time on Day 9, but for a few days after, I never noticed them. I assume it just takes time for my brain to “click”, but it did finally. Every time I walk out my front door, birds chirping is the first sound I notice. I haven’t picked up leaves swaying in the wind, or airplanes passing overhead, but the birds have become distinct.

And did I say I smile? It’s weird how I walk out my door, hear the loud high-pitched singing, and as soon as I realize what I’ve heard, I just can’t stop from smiling. It’s often these days that I go through half a day, or even a full day without rendering the fact that I can hear now. It’s easy how something becomes so constant so fast. But those birds? They remind me that even though my hearing is long lost, I’ve been given the gift of hearing once more, through this remarkable technological device. They remind me to be forever thankful.

Last week I had my second mapping. Mapping being adjustments of the sounds/pitches that I hear with my processor.

Just like during my activation, or first mapping, I spent part of my audiologist appointment listening to each pitch as she sent them through her computer to my processor, and I determined how loud it needed to be to comfortably hear it. This time, I was able to bring up the volume on the lower pitches, and I think my audiologist also slightly brought down the volume of the higher pitches. I’ve been much happier with the result, and I find that everything has a better fullness of sound.

This time around I was also given the features on my remote for the processor. Before, all I had were four programs on my remote, each with different volume settings. But now I have four different programs that each include a feature.

Feature #1 is “Everyday.” This is what I had with the volumes. It’s complete surround sound, with everything being the same level of volume. From the dishes clattering behind me, or the person talking in front of me, everything sounds the same. I use this program at home constantly. My kids were outside a few moments ago, and when my daughter started to cry because they bumped heads on the trampoline, I heard it clear enough (even with my typing noise) that I was able to go outside to get her. Have I said how much I love that I can hear the kids now?

Feature #2 is “Noise.” This one is supposed to suppress the noise around me, while still being able to hear somewhat surround sound, but I can’t really tell much difference. My mom and I were sitting in the hospital waiting room last week and there was so much noise around us (i.e. TV, kids, people on cell phones, intercom, etc) and I couldn’t tell that it helped me converse with her any more than the Everyday feature. So I can’t say that I’ve used this one. At all.

Feature #3 is “Focus.” This one I definitely use. I had originally thought that this one would mute a lot of background noise and focus in front, but that’s not really the case. It very very minutely suppresses the sounds behind me, but more than anything, I find that it brings out a person’s speech if they are in front or on my processor side. I don’t really know how to explain it. More than muting anything, it’s like it brightens a person speaking, making it easier to understand them amidst noise. Obviously I use this one anytime I’m out and around adult company. If my kids are with me, I usually stick to Everyday, so that I can hear them no matter where they are. But with adults, and in restaurants, I want to be able to pick out speech of a particular person or persons.

Feature #4 is “Music.” Now I’d love to say that I’ve used this and give some sort of educated advice, but I just haven’t had the opportunity to use it yet. One day soon. My days certainly won’t slow down over the weekend, but hopefully I’ll be able to blog about it in the near future. I love music, so I’m excited about testing the same songs with this new feature, to see if it makes instruments and additional vocalists clearer.

Today I end with a story.

I was at my local grocery store yesterday afternoon and was walking away from the cashier, having already finished paying. I’d walked a good twenty feet or more when I heard someone calling out behind me. It took them about three times before it actually “clicked” as to what I was hearing, but I stopped and turned. Then I backed up a little before the cashier caught up with me and handed me a bag of groceries that I hadn’t seen. I was embarrassed, sure. But I was actually smiling when I walked away, because when I looked at her face, she was smiling at me. She’d known that I just hadn’t seen them.

Can I tell you in words how different this experience is? I’ve certainly had this happen to me before. When I couldn’t hear. But months ago, when it happened before, I had walked from the store with a tear streaked face, hating that I hadn’t heard a cashier. She had had to completely run me down and touch my arm to get my attention. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but the look from the cashier today wasn’t a I’m-so-frustrated-because-you-never-heard-me-call-you-ten-times-until-I-caught-you look, like the lady had given me a few months ago. Hers yesterday afternoon was a smile, mixed with a oh-you-forgot-your-groceries look. Big difference people. Big difference.

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4 responses to this post.

  1. I am glad to have found you several months ago and am enjoying hearing about your journey. It makes me want to see what it is all about. And, it makes me more curious about the cochlear implant.

    The big difference between you and I is that I was born with severe loss. I got my first aid just before I was two years of age. And, I’m old! LOL

    Due to the fact that I have an intense fear of going under the knife, my history of hearing loss, and my age, I’m just not sure it’s right for me. Personally, I think it might be of a benefit to me since it might bring the loss down from 95 to 50-ish. But, I just don’t know if I could go through all that at my age and with my fears of being put under.

    But, I got to tell you, I’m extremely happy for you that you are able to hear your children. 🙂 And, your husband. 🙂 Your journey is an awesome read and I’m glad you are sharing it with the world.

    Reply

    • I was on the fence for a long time about cochlear implants too. A counselor asked me once, “What do you have to lose?” My response? Nothing. I had already lost most all my hearing and was about ready to just drop my hearing aids too. And then I thought about what I could gain with an implant. And that pretty much cinched the deal for me. But I know it’s a big decision and one that has to be just right for you personally.

      I must say one thing. Please don’t let age be a considering factor, especially if you’re a happy healthy individual. My dad was 61 years old when he had his surgery, and he did remarkably well. We kinda joke about how he recovered faster than both my sister and I, and we were obviously decades younger!

      It never hurts to just look into it. All three brands of implants have an information request online to send a huge packet of information. I actually attended a Cochlear seminar that had lots of people with implants there, so that I could observe them, ask questions, and get information.

      I believe the more informed that you are, the more confident a decision is, whether for it or against it.

      Reply

  2. Posted by Jill on March 11, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    You sound like you are just doing awesome. I find your blog absolutely captivating…it’s so nice to understand what and how my kids hear (two are deaf w/ CIs). Thanks so much for letting me peek into your world.

    Reply

    • Thanks so much, Jill! I enjoy writing and it’s really helped some of my hearing family understand my whole ordeal, and hopefully help others along the way as well. So glad to hear that it might benefit you too!

      Reply

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