Having Monday off work threw my timing off on this post a bit. Or maybe just procrastination.
First - I have a new audiogram and CUNY, HNT and CNC scores for my right (CI) ear, but I’ll put that in another post so it will be easy to find later.
Big events of my third week with the CI:
Saxophone ensemble rehearsal and band on Tuesday. Well my battery died halfway through sax ensemble so I didn’t get much time trying it out. I’ve been going bimodal (HA in left hear, CI in right) for band so far, and my hearing aid is sounding a lot more normal than it did a week ago. This is a good thing and gives me reassurance that eventually the bimodal option will work well for me.
I am still wearing the CI alone most of the time as I’m told by my audi and others that this is the best way to adapt to the CI. Now that my hearing aid doesn’t sound awful in combination it’s a bit harder to convince myself not to wear it, but it’s become habit. I don’t even bring the HA to work with me anymore. I do put it on when I climb into bed at night though. The CI falls off when pillows are involved, and I like to be able to hear. I’m one of a strange crowd that sleeps with my HAs in. I do usually have to turn them down to avoid feedback though.
At work I have an informal agreement with my boss that he makes the phone calls and I write the emails. This works pretty well and I’m sure he would be as disturbed with my phone call attempts as I am with his email attempts (he writes the entire message in the subject line or worse, puts the important part in the subject and something totally unrelated in the body). Even so, he does call me into his office to sit and listen in on phone calls. This can be entertaining or maddening depending on my mood and how much I know of the subject of the call. I have to always remind him to try to turn to face me while on the speaker phone so I can at least lipread him to follow half of the conversation (once he turned the PHONE to face me, not helpful!). With the CI, and believe me, I don’t expect to understand a speaker phone any time soon, it sounds like beeping robots again. So I have quacking for his half and beeping for the phone half. If I had my own office I would be using the Cochlear telephone training to practice listening to the speaker phone. As it is, not sure my neighbors would appreciate hearing Rumpelstiltskin (this week’s story).
Thursday I had an appointment at UNC for a new map. This was 2.5 weeks after activation, so I was really excited to have things adjusted. I told her that certain sounds were making me cringe but that other than that things seemed to be going fine. She asked what kinds of sounds and I told her plastic bags from inside cereal boxes, my keyboard clacking at work, dishes being put away, but mostly plastic bags. She put me in the booth and based on my audiogram told me that unfortunately she wanted to boost the high frequencies some more as they were only in the 30-35 dB range (0-25 dB is “normal” hearing).
She hooked me up to the computer software and we created a new map by going through each electrode and turning the level up until I felt the level to be between “Loud but Comfortable” and “Loud”. All levels went up some. As we reached the upper four or five electrodes I started to notice a pulsing twitch in my right jaw area. It didn’t hurt, just a bit weird. So we didn’t turn them up beyond that point. On the 10th electrode my right eye was also blinking involuntarily and my whole face was twitching. She turned that electrode off (11 and 12 were already turned off due to shallow insertion of 20 mm).
I saw some of what she was doing with the software. Having those electrodes turned off does not mean I receive less of a frequency range. The frequencies can be adjusted in how they are spaced across the electrodes. For example, I noticed that my audi set up two of my programs (four available total) to only go from 250 Hz to 5000? Hz. The other two programs are set up for lower (maybe 80 or 40 Hz) to 7000 Hz. This explains why I thought the first two programs were better at canceling noise in the car. Less frequencies seems to equal less noise. And technically, the second programs with the larger frequency range should be better for music.
Med-El’s Opus2 processor has two coding strategies: HD-CIS and FSP (Fine Signal Processing). A coding strategy (very simplified explanation) is basically how the cochlear implant processes acoustical information (sound) and converts it to electrical pulses sent to the implant. If I understand correctly, Med-El’s HD is the older strategy and FSP is the newer one. The FDA has only approved FSP officially for people who have been activated for over 6 months and for those who are not acquiring language (i.e. kids). I was told to try both of them and see which I do better with, but not to switch back and forth rapidly as this will confuse my brain. I switch back and forth sometimes, but while the HD-CIS seemed clearer for speech at first, since I have gotten used to the FSP I like the sound of it better. (Here is a press release about Med-El’s FSP)
I’ve decided to ask my audi what she is hoping to accomplish with each adjustment she makes. I won’t ask her until after she lets me express my opinion though because I know how easily you can agree with a suggestion once it’s suggested (this wine smells like cherry, chocolate and coffee, don’t you agree? Oh yeah, I DO smell that!).
I wasn’t sure whether I should take my “briefcase” along to my appointment but I’m glad I did. We also ran into some confusion about who gets what color processor and accessories apparently. I had wanted a longer coil wire and a processor/battery pack that clips or pins to my shoulder as my 2nd processor. Instead I got two that were the normal BTE (behind the ear) set up for both processors. So we found one of those for me from the spares they had in the office, but I may have to give back a few extra pieces at some point. Not sure as she let me keep them for now. (I currently have 2 disposable battery pack things, plus the shoulder worn one, and two FM/input covers, and the rechargeable battery pack thing).
So, what am I hearing now?
The new Map didn’t affect me too much. My office at work is a lot less quiet than it was before, but turning down the sensitivity fixes that if I need to focus. Thankfully the cringing at plastic bags has gone away! Maybe it was related to that 10th electrode. Dishes are still painful, but I’ve gotten in the habit of removing the magnet to empty the dishwasher rather than avoiding that chore completely.
I discovered on the (looong) drive to and from NC that I could sometimes almost hear the bass to music with the residual hearing in my left ear. So that led me to turn the subwoofer up a few notches, turn the CI down a few notches and turn the radio up a bit. Very nice bimodal hearing that way, though it made the car shake.
I discovered that my own voice, when I sing (sing as in lalala, not sign as in with your hands), it sounds on pitch, and it matches what I can hear with my other ear (when I plug that side to listen). I’m not saying I can sing well, but it sounds decent to me. Still has a amplified sound that isn’t natural (like listening to yourself when you are speaking into a microphone and PA system).
On a related note, my sax ensemble played at a private party (hosted by our ensemble leader ) on Sunday. We only had four of us so the quartet music had a different sound than when there are seven of us. I thought a few times that I could hear the alto or soprano part (I’m the tenor) playing the same rhythm as me but as a harmony part - but then I’d realize that I was hearing myself playing my own part through the CI. Quite odd. I need to practice by myself and see if I can get used to that.
The wait to see the surgeon was very long but he said everything looks great and he doesn’t need me to make an appointment again, he’ll just drop by while I’m there. This is a Good Thing because he is always an hour or more behind schedule. He asked me if I was happy and I was non-committal, but the potential to be really happy is there. The roaring tinnitus is about gone and my residual hearing is still there (I’ll cover that in the other post about my latest hearing test).
I think that’s enough of an update! I have another Map scheduled for a week from Friday and then probably nothing until my 3 month appointment in 9 weeks.