Saturday, November 24, 2012

True Relief

It has been awhile again. Sometimes life just gets in the way of getting things such as this done.

It's been a rocky road since my last post but I am happy to report that the road has now smoothed considerably. I told you about my processors shutting off on their own but over the past couple of months it has gotten worse. It got to the point that I didn't know if or when any of them would work and a couple of days I had to go to work with only one ear. It was getting a bit scary waiting for my appointment with my audie but the wait was necessary so a rep from the manufacturer could be there. So I went Wednesday a bundle of nerves fearing my implants were failing. Why do we always consider the worst? I guess so we can be pleased when it is not that bad. It turns out (or so they think) that even though my audie set the "power" on high my processor was trying to over ride that to save my battery life. So now I have 3 manually set programs for power. If it shuts off again I am to go up to the next program. They both assured me that if by chance I got to the last program and it still shuts off, there is more they can do.

Work has been challenging but I am loving it. We have had several "issues" at work to deal with but I have a wonderful boss and he is always telling me that I am doing a great job. He even told me last week that I better not ever get sick. LOL I worked 16 days straight without a day off so having 5 days off for the holiday has been wonderful. It's hard to believe it's only Saturday! It's been a lazy holiday for me... catching up on sleep, heck I didn't even get dressed for 2 days. I must get busy and get some things done today. Making lots of plans now. I am going to see my mom and sister for Christmas and planning on moving after the first of the year. It's time...

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Life Is Good!

I have really neglected my blog lately. Sorry about that but life has got in the way and that is a good thing. I finally have my life back and could not be happier about that!

As for my hearing since my last post, I stayed on that third program with the last electrode turned off. That program sounded the best so I still did not get to try Clear Voice high. That was ok because my hearing is improving. Two weeks ago, I had to go back to visit my audie. I was having a problem with my processors shutting off and on multiple times during the day. I had tried changing out everything I could trying to find the problem but nothing worked. It turns out I need more power which she fixed for me. While I was there she put me back in the booth to see what I could hear and then remapped me again. As she said, I am getting closer! It's obvious I have not heard high pitch sounds for a very long time. These are the sounds that I am having the most problems with. Just can't take them up there where they need to be. She did the same thing with my programs this time, raising those highs and giving me CV medium on one, CV high on two and the third program she turned off a second electrode. Many people worry about having electrodes turned off but that is nothing to worry about. It is not that you won't hear those pitches, the electrode next to it will pick those up.

So on the way home, I did the same checking out my new programs and found the same results. Program three sounded the best. I guess since I have not heard those high pitches for so long, each time she raises them she may have to turn off the highest electrode. I'm not sure if that will continue but I do know sounds are clearer and getting much better. I now know why they tell you to have lots of patience! This does take time to get all the settings just right but I am so close now. Some day I am going to get to try CV high! My next appointment is is Nov. and after this one it should be 6 months before I need to return. I am hoping things are set up good this next time and I can go 6 months without having to go to Tampa!

On a more personal level, I am finally getting my life back! This has been gradual and hearing at first brought so much of my life back that I can't describe how wonderful that was. But now things are getting so much better I feel like shouting from the roof tops! The past 5 years my job has been just that... a job. A means to live. I worked hard everyday but got no recognition for that. I was overlooked many times because I was deaf. Don't get me wrong, I was thankful just to have a job and be able to take care of myself but I am capable of so much more and never given the opportunity. I have recently gotten a promotion at work!! I LOVE my new job and after 5 years have gotten my first raise! :-) My new boss is awesome and sees how hard I work to get things done. Finally!! I can now see the light at the end of the tunnel and I am going for it at full speed. Nothing is going to stop me now!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

New Mapping

I went back to Tampa Tuesday to get my audie to work some more of her magic. She is awesome and I am so thankful and blessed to have her work with me.

When we go in for a mapping (adjustment) it is so hard for me. My implants have 16 electrodes that have different pitches. It gets complicated but there are virtually 120 pitches I get from these 16 electrodes. She starts off setting these electrodes at a comfortable level (loudness). It is so hard to tell with all the different pitches if I am getting them the same loudness which is what I am suppose to do. So now, she puts me in the booth and tests me with tones to see where I am hearing them. This tells her which electrodes I should go up in volume. So Tuesday after we did the booth thing, I told her to set it up where I needed to be and just let her drive. She raised all those high pitches quite a bit and they were loud but tolerable.

We also have a new strategy called Clear Voice which cuts out background noise and can tell speech from noise. There are three settings... low, medium and high. I use medium for everyday and LOVE it but have never tried high. I have found in noisy environments I seem to still have trouble so I wanted her to set one of my programs to high so I can try that out. My processor holds three programs so when she got the tones set, I had her set up one program with CV medium and one with CV high.

This left me with the third program I really didn't know what to do with. She then looks at me and says "how about if I set up the third program with something I want to try?". What she did with the third program is turn off the highest electrode. According to the booth, I am hearing right where I should be until I get to the high tones and it drops off there. Turning off this electrode does not mean I will not hear those high pitches, the electrode next to it will pick them up. So that is what she did.

So on the way home, I turned on talk radio (my rehab) to see how it sounded. Oh my, those high tones had a major hiss to them. All those "s" sounds sounded like sssssshhhhhhhh. At first I thought, uh oh we may have gone too high with those tones and then I thought maybe it will just take my brain time to adjust to it. I listened for about a half hour when it dawned on me to try program three where she turned off that electrode. She is SO smart! That took away most of that hiss! So for now, I still don't get to try CV high but I am hoping in time I will adjust to these highs that I have not heard in so long and can tolerate having that electrode back on. We shall see.

She also tested me in the booth with sentences just to see where I am at. I scored 58% which is kind of frustrating since I was at 69% shortly after my first implant. It is also encouraging because right before my second surgery I had dropped to 40% so at least I am heading in the right direction now. Most of the time, I feel like I am doing so much better than that. It is when I get in a group setting that I see I am not. So, I am still a work in progress but I am thrilled with what I can hear and I know it is only going to get better.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Catching Up

There is so much to catch up

I did get my second ear activated and it was SO strange. It sounds completely different than the other ear. Lots to get use to there. When activated, I got to listen through both ears about 2 minutes when my audie told me to remove the older one. She wanted me to only wear the new one for the first few weeks to give my brain time to get use to the new one. This was very hard to do but I am so proud of myself for doing just as she suggested. I had to get the new ear to catch up with the older one.

The new ear has more bass sounds than the older one. I was starting all over again learning to hear with it. When they say you need patience and lots of it they were not kidding at all! Slowing down and learning to "take it as it comes" has helped a lot. I was activated only a few days before my trip to see the kids and grandkids. I did not do as well as I thought I would but that was ok too. I did so much better than the last visit and I know my next visit will be even better. I had such a great time visiting with everyone. It was a bit overwhelming at times but then I was not in good listening conditions and I was relying on a new ear only. I think with all considered I did as well as I should have expected.

After 3 very long weeks, I was told I could start wearing both "ears"! Even though each ear sounds completely different, they sound wonderful together. My first day of wearing both ears, I went out and met a fellow CI'er that I had only talked to online. This was an incredible experience! We met at a local Starbucks that has a nice patio area outside. Imagine two deaf people sitting and talking for hours. LOL I was off to an incredible start. The next weekend I met with a different CI'er that has become a dear friend. She at that point had one CI and was scheduled for her second ear. She was nervous and wondering if she was doing the right thing. After we got together that day, she told me she felt so much better about going ahead with the second surgery. Seeing how well I was doing put all her fears to rest. I am so thankful for that!

I can now tell where a sound is coming from. This doesn't seem like a big thing to most but let me tell you it IS! I can not begin to express what a miracle I have received. To be able to hear anything at all is truly a miracle in itself but the gift I have been given is beyond anything I can describe. I am still not using the phone yet, that will take time and practice. It has been so long since I have used a phone that I now have a phobia of that crazy thing. It's very hard for me to do but I am going to work on that. I still need captions for the television but I do understand a lot of what is said there too. I am told this will continue to get better and better. I see improvement all the time so I know it will. Crowded, noisy situations are still difficult but I think it is for normal hearing folks too.

So now I still have lots of work ahead of me but I am at the point of helping others. I want other people that are dealing with hearing loss to see how wonderful this miracle is. I want to be a positive part of helping others deal with this horrible disability and let them see there is hope. I am so thankful to have my life back which is something hearing loss took from me.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Getting Very Excited!!

I am feeling much better now and this is my second week back at work. Since I have changed jobs at work, I actually love going to work now. I work with a great crew that makes all the difference and love working second shift. Still don't have quite all my energy back but I am getting there. All other symptoms have gotten better and I am even starting to get my taste back! YAY!!

One week from today I will have my second ear activated. Although I have had a rough time with my first ear, it is getting better and I know the second is going to help even more. Did I say I am getting excited? The best news is in two weeks I will be going to visit my kids and grandchildren! Yes, I am more than excited about this. The last time I was there I was deaf and it was difficult for me. This time I will get to hear those sweet little voices I have so longed to hear. I can not wait to play with the children and not have to say "Grandma can't hear you, can you show me what you want?" Even though they are all very young, they did a wonderful job of communicating with me when I was deaf but it is going to be SO much better this time. I am so thankful for my implants and getting my life back.

Saturday, May 26, 2012


It amazes me how differently "we" (general "we") see things from one time to another. With my first surgery you may recall I had problems the first couple of days because of pain pills but after that things went really well I thought. I was at work on day 7 post-op but had to come home due to not being able to wear safety glasses.

This surgery does not compare to the last in the least. The first couple of days this time was filled with nausea. YUK! The pain pills were not an issue this time other than possibly being the cause of the nausea. After day 2, I switched to advil and the nausea comes and goes but not as bad as it was. Recovery seems worse this time and I'm not sure why. I have slight balance issues (knocking on wood) but nothing compared to what some have to deal with. I am thankful for that. I feel like I have a major ear ache and lots of soreness. My neck and jaw are sore and I have lost taste in food. I am not worried because these are all "normal" side effects but I am hopeful they will pass soon. I am not able to wear my processor for the first implant. :( Anytime I put it on, it triggers tinnitus really bad. I am hoping this does not last until activation but it's a wait and see type thing. No way to tell if or when these things will improve. My SIL tells me he made a larger cut this time. He told her after surgery that I had a lot of scar tissue to cut through. I'm not sure why that was there since I have never had surgery on my ears before but nothing really surprises me either. This may be the reason I am much more sore this time. Who knows?

I just wish at this point I could get comfortable, rest and heal. Hopefully I will have better things to report soon....

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

24 Hours Post-op

I am still under the influence of drugs so any typos will just have to be overlooked as well as anything crazy I might say. LOL

My day started about 2:15AM yesterday. A shower and head wash with hibiclens and out the door by 3AM. An early morning but so worth it to not fight traffic and be back home a little after lunch. Everything went really well at the hospital (as far as I know). It's now official, I am bilaterally bionic! Now that I have two computers in my head, I wonder if I will become smarter? LOL (no need to answer that!)

I have had some nausea but not nearly as bad as last time. I am still a little off balance but not too bad and make sure I am holding on to something whenever I get up so I don't fall. I am not going to rush things this time to get back to work. I hope to go back next week but will just have to wait to see how I am doing. The "pressure bandage" is not tight like so many have complained about. I guess I got lucky both times because mine is loose. It will still feel much better when I can remove it tomorrow. Tinnitus was bad right after surgery but again not as bad as the first time. By the time I left the hospital, it was down to a dull roar. Today that is better so far, just comes and goes a bit but not too bad. I have a little bit of jaw pain but it is tolerable. I am going to spend another lazy day today, just in and out of bed all day. Tomorrow should be a better day to remove the bandage and shower! That will be the turn around day I do believe! More to come...

Friday, May 18, 2012

Here I Go Again!

I can hardly believe that on Tuesday I will receive my second cochlear implant. When I got the first one, I had no idea if I would be able to get a second. It took SO long to get the first one that when the chance came to get the second, I jumped on it with both feet! I have not even gotten the first one sorted out yet and now I am going to throw a second one in the mix. LOL I'm not really sure if this is a good thing or bad thing but the way I see it is they will learn together. There are many that get both at once so it is possible, I just don't know if I will get it figured out or not.

I had my pre-op appointment today and all went well. Everything is done and I am to arrive at the hospital at 5:15AM. I will be the first surgery of the day. Even though I have to leave the house at 3AM it is a good thing. I should be home around lunchtime. I am a lot more nervous this time and I'm not sure why. I'll be back next week to let you know how it goes!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Back On Track

I had a very exciting and interesting day. First of all I got a letter last week from the insurance company saying I was denied on my second surgery because it wasn't medically necessary. Not to worry I am told, this is standard procedure. One simple HINT test (hearing in noise test) will prove that it is. Ok, off to Tampa I go today to get this test done. My audie is not there on Friday's so I saw someone else. With just my implant and no noise I scored 40%. To be approved, I have to be below 50% so there was no need to test in noise. This surgery will happen and they tell me there will not be a problem getting it before my surgery date of 5/22.

I think I mentioned my last test I scored 69% so this tells you just how bad my mapping (programming) was. While setting up for the test, the audie today asked about a few things so I began to tell her I was not happy with how things were going. I know I am new to this but still I know when it is not right. We finished the testing and my new audie took me in the room, got my file and reprogrammed my processor just like I asked her to. It sounds SO much better! I LOVE my new audie! She has the knowledge but is willing to listen to me about what I like/don't like or what I hear/don't hear. She even set up a music program for me which has improved music 100%! Did I mention I really love my new audie?

Eighteen days until surgery! WOW! I waited so long for the first one that it doesn't seem possible I am doing it again so soon. I am very excited and know two ears will be so much better than one. I had no real problems with the first surgery but.... (there is always a but). I am nervous this time! Pre-surgery jitters are normal but I wasn't at all nervous the first time.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Time For An Update

I had another trip to Tampa this week. This time to install a new program just approved by the FDA called Clear Voice. Clear Voice is amazing! This program is designed to help hear better in noise. This program can actually tell when there is background noise you don't want to hear from things you do want to hear. One thing that everyone that has an implant has had to deal with is very loud road noise. With Clear Voice road noise is now gone! Before Clear Voice, road noise was awful and don't even think about rolling down a window. Now, with the window down, I can hear without the noise. I am still on a roller coaster of sorts. I feel like I understand very little about how this complicated implant actually works. I do trust my audie and I know she knows what she is doing but things are just not right either. It's frustrating because I don't feel like she listens to me. She has in her mind what she is going to do and does it no matter what I have to say about it.

A couple of examples of this. Before she started program changes, I could hear speech perfectly. Since then I have yet to get back there. One mapping I got was so bad I could no longer understand speech at all and had to go back to get it better. She made some changes which did help but I know I am not where I should be. Then this last visit with Clear Voice, it comes in 3 settings which are low, medium, and high. Most people I have talked to get to try the three settings to decide which they prefer. She decided I would get medium and that was it. Medium works great in the car and probably in a noisy restaurant (I have not tried this yet) but I don't like it at work even though I work in a noisy place. It does it's job but I feel like it is cutting out sounds I want to hear. I am not like everyone else, I like being able to her everything, noise and all. I really think I would rather have the low setting for everyday. I also asked her about raising my IDR (input dynamic range) but again she says most don't like it. I am getting very frustrated because I do not know how to get across to her that I am different, I want MORE! I may very well not like it but I think she should let me try it if I want to. I ended up telling her that I would leave it up to her to decide when I am ready but I do want to try it. I know others that were implanted around the same time that got it much sooner and loved it. Why can I not try these things?

After she was done with my mapping, I went to visit the surgery scheduler. I am now scheduled for my 2nd ear to be implanted on May 22nd!! Just over a month away and I can not believe this is happening so soon. I had to wait such a long time for the first one, this is just unbelievable. I am really hoping the 2nd implant will help me more and am considering finding a different audie after I get this one activated. I really need someone that is willing to work with me and help me achieve the best I can be. I don't feel like I am getting that. She did test me in the booth for the first time since activation the last time I went and I scored 69%. True enough that is a long way from 0% I had before but I should be much better than that. Right after activation I was scoring in the 80's on tests I did online. These tests are much different than the booth test but I just know I should be doing better.

It will be a struggle for awhile longer until I get things right but I know I will eventually get there. I am being VERY patient and will wait it out. Having said all of the above, I am still thrilled with my implant. Advanced Bionics has given me more than I could have hoped for. I did hear perfectly at activation and I know I will get back there again. Patience, patience, patience.......

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Finally Figuring Things Out.... I Think! :-)

Well, it was another trip to Tampa yesterday and I must say it was a great day! My audie (God bless her!) explained a lot of things to me which really helped me understand. I won't bore you with all the details that you probably don't care to read anyway but trust me, it was a great day. I went in the dreaded booth for the first time since my activation. I have always hated that dang booth because I always fail so miserably. The last time I was in there was right before surgery and I got a whopping 0%. I was expecting simple sentences which is what I usually got but not this time. It was quite a mixture. Both male and female voices, talking fast, saying long sentences! The first one shocked me and I only caught the last word then I was paying more attention. LOL I ended up with 69% and I am thrilled with what I have achieved so far. Things are only going to get better!

When I got done with the audie, I had to wait to see the surgeon for the last time.... maybe? No, everything is great with my implant, I have no problems there. He is ready to do my other ear! My insurance goes into effect on April 1st. He says I need NO testing, all I need to do is set up a pre-op appointment and set a surgery date! I am going bilateral!! He actually wanted me to do that yesterday but I decided to wait. I want to see what my out of pocket expense is going to be first and be ready for that. What was so neat is I heard my surgeon's voice for the first time and I understood everything he said! I can't begin to tell you how much that means.

It's almost been 2 months since my activation. It feels so good to think about how far I have come in that short time. At work is where I can tell the most changes. I work in a noisy factory. Lots of machinery etc. I really thought all that noise would bother me but I am happy that I like hearing everything, noise and all. When I was first activated, there were lots of things I could not hear at work. It was amazing to me that I could hear quieter things like a foot peddle but the loud alarms I did not hear at all. I could not hear the PA system or the break bells that ring. Little by little things are added everyday. I can now hear the break bells and the PA system. First I just could tell someone was saying something on the PA system, then I was understanding words here and there. I find myself understanding more and more everyday. It is incredible how this works!

Being able to communicate with people again.... there are no words to describe this. A lady that wrote a book about her experience with hearing loss said it was like being in solitary confinement, the worse punishment for criminals. That is SO true! I have really been given my life back...

Friday, March 9, 2012

My Brain Kicking In?

It will take me some time to figure all of this out. This is so complex it boggles my mind!

I am beginning to think I was over doing it a bit. Maybe? Not really sure but I am going to slow down on the rehab a bit because I "think" my brain is getting it now! LOL My brain and I are learning together I guess. :)

Here is what has been happening the last week or so..
I went back to my audie on the first. I was frantic by the time I got there because I could no longer understand anything anyone said. Everything was very distorted. She worked her magic and it was better. Not as good as I thought it should be (what do I know?) but I was able to understand what was said. I can work with this. She set me up with 3 programs. Program 1 for everyday. Program 2 for noisy situations and program 3 for trying the phone with direct connect. Program 2 is for work since it is so noisy there and the rest of the time I would use program 1.

I left her office and stayed on program 1 for the remainder of the night. The next morning I put it on program 2 for work and all was good. Once I got home is when things got weird. I tried to go back to program 1 but it was painfully LOUD! I settled for staying on program 2. The next day, program 2 was loud so now I am worried. I do have a volume control and had to use it to lower the volume. I spoke with my audie via email and she said to use that and she will see me in a couple of weeks, my next appointment. Last night I noticed a change! This time the change was good and voices became clearer. I am really getting excited about this! I have not done any rehab for several days. There was not much sense in trying music when I was not doing so great anyway. Today at work I didn't use program 2, I stayed on the regular program and it was fine at regular volume.

So here's the plan for the next couple of weeks..
I am going to slow down. I think I have been trying too hard, too much and have been straining my poor little brain! I have been told many times by many people that your brain has to adapt/learn to hear with the implant. I think I am getting it now. I am so thankful for the hearing I now have even though it is not perfect, it is a miracle I have been blessed with. I can't wait to see what tomorrow brings!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

I'm Learning!

I now know more than ever why everyone says you need the 3-4 P's. Patience, practice, persistence and prayers. Some say 3, I say 4. When I was activated and voices/speech was so good, I thought "I've got this". I am one of the lucky ones that hit the jackpot right away. Which is true but not so true too.

The first couple of visits to my audie after activation were only for volume increases. As my brain got use to hearing again, the volume would drop so it had to be boosted up some more. Once the volume settles down, that's when the journey really begins. My first mapping (adjustment) I was not happy with at all! I felt kind of rushed at the audie's office because she was also setting up my new processor so there wasn't much time for the mapping. She set up 3 maps for me. Program 1 was for everyday use. Program 2 was to use in noisy situations and Program 3 was for direct connect to use for my cell phone/iPod.

I have read many times that it sometimes takes time to get use to a new map so I struggled with this map for 2 weeks before I emailed my audie asking for help. I was back in her office within a couple of days. At that point I could not understand speech at all unless I was lipreading, everything was so distorted. She worked her magic and I was "good" again. Here is what I have figured out so far..

If I have not adjusted to a map within a week, contact my audie!
My brain has to adjust to the changes so as this happens things should become better. As that settles in, the brain wants more so that is why I have to go for more mappings. It does not stay the same.

Patience, patience, patience! I am learning! This is definitely a journey with lots of bumps in the road. I am so blessed to have the people of HJ to explain things to me. Without them, I'm not sure I would make it. Don't get me wrong, I am beyond thrilled to be able to hear again but understanding the process/progress helps more than I can put into words.

Now for what I am hearing...
Everyday is a new adventure wondering what I will hear today that I did not hear yesterday. New things are added all the time. It is so amazing to me how this works. Voices/speech is good again. I can hear without looking which is wonderful! I am hearing the television but still need closed captions. I can hear some words but not all but it is getting better all the time. I look forward to the day I can watch without closed captions and I know that day will come just not sure when. I have been working on music which still sounds bad for the most part. Some songs I can recognize but lots of the instruments are missing. Some vocals are there and others not, this will take lots of time but I will keep practicing listening and get there eventually. Listening to the same song over and over, I do notice it gets better. I can hear the birds now and last night I heard those noisy crickets for the first time in many many years! I think it is the first time they made me smile. LOL

I have so many gadgets now that I am trying to figure out. Technology has advanced and left me behind while I was in my deaf world. I bought an iPod to work on music. It sat here for over a week before I was able to figure out how to get it to work. I still have a lot to learn about that little jewel. I upgraded my cell phone so I could use direct connect to try to use the phone again. The direct connect will send the call directly to my implant. I tried it only to discover I could hear the caller but they could not hear me. Now how ironic is that? Through asking lots of questions I found out I needed to purchase a bluetooth. The direct connect has no mic is why they could not hear me. I have not figured out that new toy yet but am going to give it a try this weekend. I purchased one that was recommended. It is about the size of a AAA battery and also has a FM radio so once I figure out how it works I will be able to listen to music with it too. I am really straining my poor little brain!

The past few weeks have not been good for me. I wanted to post updates but also did not want to be negative. That is why there was only short posts along with the lack of time/energy. I never want anyone reading my blog to feel that I am not happy with my decision to get this implant. It is absolutely the BEST thing I have ever done for myself. It will take lots of work but I am willing to do whatever in necessary to get to where I want to be... a hearing person again.

Friday, February 24, 2012

I guess it's time for an update. I went back to my audie on the 13th for my first real mapping. The last time was just to give me more volume. Funny how these things work. When she first turned it on, everything was so loud but soon settled down. As your brain get use to the "noise" you suddenly need more volume. My first week I had 3 programs, all the same except for more volume on each. I quickly went through those and on my next appointment it was more of the same. This time I only made it to program 2 and had to turn it down just a bit. So now the volume is settled, it's time for the fun to begin.

I thought I had really done my homework and was going to help my audie to figure out what settings were best for me. I was disappointed with that. She basically said it was all normal and would come in time. I think my mapping could be better but I'm not real sure either. She spent most of the time putting together my new processor and getting it programmed. I have been told to be patient that it takes time to get use to a new mapping but I really have not noticed much change.

Voices now have an echo sound to them. I remember when I was first activated voices were clear and crisp but now I am wondering if that was the case or if hearing voices for the first time in 2 years was so exciting maybe I just thought it was better. I wish I knew for sure...

I am thrilled to be back among the hearing world in spite of not having it all yet. I am hearing more and more at work. Things don't sound "normal" but I am able to hear them for which I am grateful. It will take time but eventually things will start sounding more normal. Road noise has been bad in the car. I noticed this week that it is starting to settle down a bit. I am picking up more and more from the television and radio when it is talk. Music sounds horrible but I am working on that. I have listened to all kinds of music seeing what sounded best. Some I can identify and some not. I went with what I could and have listened over and over. It is improving but it will be a long time I'm afraid before music sounds like music.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Getting Better Everyday :)

This implant is incredible! I can't wait til the day I have 2.
It is so hard to describe but I will give it a shot. Voices and speech are perfect. Clear and crisp, nothing like what I got from a hearing aid. I could not ask for better with that but there are things I can and can not hear. I wish I could give you all the technical stuff but I will just have to go with the basics. My natural hearing has all been bypassed so what I am getting is digital hearing. It takes time for my brain to comprehend what it is hearing. It's not a struggle like it was with hearing aids, it's more like it's not there.... then it is! This is true for environmental sounds but music is a whole other story which I will get to in a minute. Work is a great example of this. I work in a very noisy plant. Lots of machinery, warning alarms, PA system and banging going on. I thought work would be a real problem for me but I am finding that is not the case! The first day of work with my implant, there were lots of things I could not hear. I did not hear the PA system at all or the warning alarms. I am now hearing them! More and more the hearing world is coming into view for me. :)

The television is getting better. I am getting to where I can understand a lot of it but I have to really pay attention. The radio is getting better as well as long as it is talk. Music is the tough one but with lots of practice I will be hearing that too. It sounds horrible right now. It is so bad I have to force myself to listen. Since it has been so long since I have been able to hear music, I have no idea what radio stations are even out there. LOL So in my car I hit the scan button until it lands on something and I listen. I have not been able to tell if I am listening to country, rock 'n' roll or that hip hop stuff I don't like! Now that is frustrating. Can you imagine me sitting there listening to hip hop trying to understand something I really don't want to? LOL I did get a surprise the other day when I was sitting there listening and finally recognized the beat. It was an old Elton John song. Wow! It still sounded horrible but at least I could tell what it was. The more I listen the better it gets. I will soon be investing in a music listening device. The day will come that I can enjoy music again, I just have lots of work to do to get there.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Hearing For A Week Now...

I have wanted to update this almost daily but with the crazy hours I have been working I just have not had the energy to do so. Lots has happened...

Initial activation was so much more than I ever expected! Voices were clear and crisp. Perfect in fact so it was easy to think "this was an instant fix" but not really. I went to work Friday after activation on Thursday and it was so neat! I could hear all voices! One voice at a time was perfect but get more talking and it was difficult but I could hear them. Some people at work I could not lip read at all so for 2 years I simply could not talk to them without someone else telling me what they said. This in itself was heaven! Then I started discovering the things I can not hear yet. Warning sounds on the machines are too high pitched so when they go off, my processor shuts down for a few seconds. My audie tells me this is a safety feature and will get better as my brain learns to hear again. My brain really has its work cut out for it. LOL

The things I hear is so amazing to me. I can hear the slightest of things. I have discovered the dog across the street is a real nuisance! I hear his barking inside my house. My cat is really wondering what is going on as well. LOL Before he could do whatever he wanted and I was oblivious to any of it but now, I hear him! He is very loud when eating, something I will have to get use to. Only having a CI in one ear makes it hard to localize where the sound is coming from. So when I hear him pounching from one place to another, I am looking all over to find him to see what he is up to this time. LOL

I often go through the drive thru on my way to work to get a drink. I have never been able to tell if anyone is there or not so I'd pull up, wait a few seconds and tell them what I wanted. Drive up to the window not knowing if they got my order or not. Now, I can hear when they ask for my order!! So neat. I don't understand what all they are saying but at least I know someone is there! I always preferred the drive thru even though I didn't know if they got my order or not. It was easier than going inside not knowing if I would understand the person. I always hated going in and facing someone to discover I had no idea what they were saying. I feel so liberated! I have a choice now, I can go in and talk to them or I can drive thru.

I am listening to the television a lot. I don't understand most of it but I am getting words here and there. I am still a work in progress. Music sounds horrible but I will soon start working on that. My brain has lots of work ahead. I have not heard music in so long that I don't even know what stations are on the radio. I have been listening to talk radio in the car which I am getting words here and there too. I try to get enough to at least figure out what they are talking about. There are exercises online I have been doing. The first time I tried, it was very difficult. I was hearing speech so well it surprised me. Basically they say a 4 word sentence and I click on the words they used. It has gotten easier so I know my brain is catching on. I have found the female voices are easier than male. Also one week later, the voices are not as sharp and crisp as they were at initial activation.

I have also had a few equipment problems. The equipment itself is fine but not practical for me. The BTE is definitely not for me! I have discovered I have small ears. LOL There is not enough room for the BTE and my glasses. Along with an incision that is still tender, it has not been a good week as far as this is concerned. I tried all the remedies to help with this but nothing worked. I have been so looking forward to my appointment yesterday to get the Neptune so I could get this processor off my ear. I was disappointed to find out my Neptune was not there. :( My audie did come up with another option! Bless her heart! She loaned me a kinderclip which I can put the BTE in and clip it elsewhere. She only had one cord which is short so it limits where I can clip it. As I told her "I will make it work". I happily have my Harmony clipped in my hair! My ear is happy, I can hear.... enough said!

To say I am happy with my implant would be a HUGE understatement! I have been given my life back. The is without a doubt the BEST thing that has ever been given to me excluding my family of course. I will continue to update my progress and look forward to the day I can report I am hearing everything and I will! :)

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Activation Update..

That was a brief activation post but honestly I was exhausted. I was put on nights at work (which I don't mind at all) so my early morning appointments no longer work as well. I only got a couple of hours sleep before going to activation and then needed to stay up all day to go back to mornings at work for Friday and Saturday.

So much has happen in the past 2 days it is hard to get it all together. Voices are wonderful if I am paying attention. If you speak a distance from me then it is harder if I don't know you are speaking to me. I have so much to learn yet. This experience is both thrilling and challenging. A good example of this is what happened to me yesterday afternoon once I got home from work. I have turned on sound again to the television, computer etc. so all these sounds are new. I can hear the television and pick up a word here and there but not good yet. It will get better. After work I was sitting here at the computer and I kept hearing "tones" but I couldn't figure out what it was. It was like 3 or 4 tones in a row almost like a warning beep. I thought at first it was coming from my processor and it was trying to warn me about something but I had no clue what. I thought at one point it might be the computer making tones as I was doing things but that wasn't it either. It turned out to be my cell phone! I had a text message. :-) I have never heard that before! How neat!

I am amazed at the things I can hear already. We have these large birds in our neighborhood that make a very loud noise. I was inside and could hear them about 50 feet from my house! There are some pitches I am not hearing at all but that will all change once my brain figures this all out. I had a friend come over last evening and it was so neat to be able to sit outside (not much light) and be able to have a conversation with her.

When first activated the audie will set it up and in the 3 program slots have the same program with an increase in volume as you progress. As the brain get use to this, the volume lowers. More and more is added until things start to "settle down". I asked her how long she thought I'd be on program 1 before I needed to switch to 2. Everyone is different so she had no idea but told me it could be in as little as an hour from then but she wanted me on 3 by next Friday when I go back for a "tune up". By Saturday morning I was still on program one and a little concerned not really knowing what to expect. I did notice my voice was calming down a bit so I thought my brain is getting use to hearing my voice! Not what was happening at all. LOL I needed more volume and didn't even know it. I guess my voice is suppose to be loud to me and I will get use to it. A couple of hours after I got to work, someone told me I was talking louder again. I changed to program 2 and that did the trick. My voice was normal again and things did actually sound better. Not having any sound at all for 2 years has made this difficult to judge. A few hours later she told me I was doing it again so I went to program 3. I also had to get my friend to come in and set my television to a comfortable level because I had no idea if it was loud or too soft. I want to practice with the right volume but had no way to know where that is.

Along with still being tired from surgery and work, rehab can be very tiring too. I am trying to take it slow and not over do it. Sometimes harder said than done. I have had my new Kindle "read to me" while following along with the text. I know it doesn't sound that difficult but it proved harder than I thought it would be. I have my car radio on a talk radio station so anytime I go somewhere I am listening. Most of that sounds like mush but I am hearing certain words here and there. I try to put enough together to at least figure out what the discussion is about. LOL I also went to an online site set up for rehab that was nice. Again much harder than I thought but on the easiest settings I scored 88% my first time. :) Granted, some of it was guessing but I will take that for my first try.

Today is only day 3 and I see improvements everyday. Hearing my cell phone, a knock at the door. I don't think speech can get any better. It sounds normal to me but then again, I'm not a good judge of things right now and could be wrong.  Road noise sounds like static and that is annoying but I know it will get better in time.

The new theme in my life.... "What's that noise?" :-)

Friday, January 27, 2012


Activation was yesterday and was so much more than I ever dreamed possible.

My SIL and I arrived a little early and I was so nervous. Once we were called back and my audi got everything all hooked up she first had to set the tones for a comfortable level. That was strange. She had to raise it quite a bit before I ever heard anything. When I started hearing the tones, they didn't sound like tones at all! It sounded like 2 ducks quacking. This made me laugh but I was also wondering, "is this what I am going to hear?". She said she was going to turn it on and then asked "how does that sound?" which brought the tears. Not only could I hear her voice, I knew what she said! Bring out the box of kleenex! She made a few clicks on the computer and we talked a bit. I heard and understood everything perfectly. My voice was very loud and her voice was soft. She says this will settle down which it has some. I will be back in more detail but for now..... I'm tired. I am working tomorrow so calling it a night early.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

First Week Back At Work

I made it! LOL There are two problems with working. One is I have to wear safety glasses. The other is my energy level is not where it needs to be. The RX safety glasses I normally wear are out of the question. With the swelling (which is getting much better) I can not handle having the "arm" of glasses on my right side. So, what I have done is, I am wearing my regular glasses that I have removed that arm and putting generic wrap around safety glasses over them. These are light weight plastic and bend easy so no pressure. I also had to get a strap to hold them on! Sorry, no pictures! LOL This is a busy time at work and everyone is working 12 hour days. No way can I do that! I did get them to put in my note to return to work with 8 hour days max. The funny/sad part is all this week I have been in bed before the others have been done working. It has been exhausting. By 6pm I can't go anymore so I am real curious as to how next week will go. I did email the nurse and ask if I could get a note for next week but I got no response. I have really been discouraged by the lack of response from this CI center. They know email is my only means of communication with them but still I get no response.

Next week is activation. Yes, I am very nervous! I have no idea if I will hear voices or just beeps but I do know I will have sound again. I am so hoping I have made the right choices because there is no changing things now. 5 days to go....

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Post-Op Visit Yesterday

My post-op visit went well. They tested my implant and all 16 electrodes are working so that is great news! I am healing nicely but still have some swelling which is to be expected. This is the reason we have to wait 4 weeks before being activated. The neatest thing was to actually get to see the Neptune! OMG it is so small, I was shocked. The pictures do not do it justice. I will be going to another BEA meeting tomorrow which will be all about the Neptune. I can't wait! There are so many choices to make. Colors, cable lengths etc. and it is so hard to decide without knowing what you might like better. So many places I can wear this so I need to get the right cable lengths for where I will wear it but I don't know. I am hoping that tomorrow's meeting will answer some of those questions for me.

I am really getting nervous about activation now. I have no idea what I will hear when they turn it on. My hopes are so high and I am trying hard to keep my expectations low but that is so hard to do. Hearing anything will definitely be a blessing but I am worried if it all sounds like mush, how will I handle wearing this and listening to that. 12 days to go until I find out.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Day 9

I guess this is not as easy as I thought. *sigh*
I really felt pretty good. Not much ear pain although some swelling and is tender but that is expected. I've had no balance issues or dizziness. No jaw pain or nausea and all my food tastes just fine. Ok, I do understand I just had surgery. The surgeon said it was ok to return to work if I felt up to it and I did. It didn't take too long to find out that I am not ready yet. Here is how it all happened...

On Tuesday I returned to work. I have to wear safety glasses and that was a problem. I had thought about this briefly (I should have thought about it more) and got some moleskin to pad the incision wear my glasses would hit. After trying multiple things, I gave up after 4 hours deciding there was no way I was wearing those glasses. Too much swelling and way too tight. When I got home I got busy trying to come up with an option. I did find one and it worked. I worked 8 hours on Wednesday. I was very tired at the end of my day but I was expecting that. So we get to today. I woke up this morning with a lot of pressure around my eyes. Getting ready for work I noticed that I am developing 2 black eyes! Now, bruising of the face/neck area is normal after this type of surgery but I have had none until today, 9 days post-op. That seems a little strange to me. I worked 2 hours before I gave it up for the last time. I am taking next week off. I did email my surgeon 9 hours ago and have gotten no response so I assume I am ok. I have an appointment with him next Friday the 13th and will see what he says then.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Day 6 Post-Op

To sum things up so far...
Day 1 and 2 were painful and I got little sleep. Day 3 and 4 were better as I was able to take Advil and slept a lot both days. Day 5, I actually put clothes on instead of PJ's and went to my brother and SIL's for dinner. I took no Advil this day and felt good but tired. Today day 6, I woke up with pain in the ear again. I have been planning on returning to work tomorrow but now I am second guessing that. The pain is easing up so perhaps it was because I was lying flatter than I should.

I have learned a lot this time around. I hope to be able to do this again for my left ear and if/when I do things will be a bit different. I did have one of the best surgeon's in the country doing this procedure and I am thankful for that BUT if he refuses to listen to me then I will have no choice but to go elsewhere. I do not blame him for his "tight rope" on pain pills but I am not the average bear here. I will not go through the first couple of days again without pain meds I need. There is another top notch surgeon in Miami so I may be heading there for the second one. We shall see.

I also learned to tell the hospital the day of surgery what not to give me for pain after the procedure. I am thankful the syringe was labeled and I saw it or it would have been much worse. All in all this procedure was not too bad but I think the next could be better.

I am going to drive for the first time today. Just a short trip but I need to see how it goes before I attempt work for 8 hours.