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I have a lot of work to do this time of year, but wanted to post my first thoughts on this TED video.

First – no captions yet! gah! I can understand the main speaker, but the video clips aren’t clear enough to hear.

Second – I’m entirely happy with my two CIs. It’s been almost 2 years since the second one was activated and this is definitely my new normal and I wouldn’t go back to hearing aids if given a chance.

Third – I’m still playing saxophone in the sax sextet and in the band. We often play music in the house from Pandora, usually classical or jazz. Music I know well sounds the same as I remember it (because I’m remembering it), music that’s new to me starts out a bit muddled but becomes clearer with repeat listening (kind of like band, but there I’d expect it’s people learning their parts instead). I hear different things than I did with just hearing aids. I hear less of myself, and a little less of the people on either side of me. More of the trumpets, much more of the percussion, and Piccolos! There are definitely moments of beauty and emotion.

That said, you’ll see in this TED Talk video that cochlear implants are designed for speech and don’t do a very good job with music.

Embed code not working, so here’s a link to the video:
 http://www.ted.com/talks/charles_limb_building_the_musical_muscle.html

As happy as I am with my CIs, I really do agree with this video.

If you watched the video you’re probably wondering what I thought of the sound clips.

There are some sound clips in the video that portray music which sounds badly if you have normal hearing… I can’t really tell it sounds bad, in fact, the first clip of the MIDI file with pitches moved a semi-tone – sounds the same to me as the original. The trumpet clip vs violin – very similar, the violin had more vibrato, both sound a bit synthetic to me still – like the trumpet sound on electronic keyboards from the early 1990s. The clips of the Usher song, well, I can tell the difference between those… not sure either one sounds great, the second lacked percussion which seems more like a hearing aid issue than a CI issue.

I’m curious to hear what others think and encourage those with CIs to watch the video and then share here or in the comments on the TED page.

Originally published at Sarasera. You can comment here or there.

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So now it’s 2011. I received my first CI in April 2009 and the second in late December 09 – so I’m officially over a year being bilateral. It’s been great. Life is good and pretty much what I’d call normal. I can hear a lot better in many situations. I find myself having one-on-one conversations in very noisy places (a Wine Guild holiday party with about 80 people in a small space – Don had a headache when we left from the noise!). I still participate a lot more if someone’s talking to ME specifically. One-on-one conversation guarantees this, but I’m finding that it happens more often now as a side conversation than it used to. For example, at lunch with a group of five people, I can switch between the main conversation and talking to someone next to me and usually not be too lost when I go back to the group. I catch enough so that I can be filled in with a quick ‘what was that?’ or ‘who were you talking about?’ It used to be a lot harder to catch up to a conversation like that.

I’ve discovered a lot of new things in some of the songs I’ve listened to for years. Usually it’s a high-frequency solo filling in what used to seem to me to be just a boring spot. A harmonica in Billy Joel’s Piano Man… Some kind of flute or pipe in Moxy Fruvous’s Johnny Saucep’n… Hey I bet I can hear those tinkling things at the end of Dreamed A Dream… haven’t given that a good listen yet, but they were one of the things I remember feeling the loss of when I first lost my hearing in 1993. (Time for new music?)

I’m still playing in the 90-piece concert band and the 6-member saxophone ensemble. It took a few CI mappings before the trumpets playing too loud stopped making my face twitch from the first CI. Speaking of mappings, I haven’t been to UNC for an appointment since last year, I think mid or late March. I could probably use one, but don’t have anything specific that needs tweaking.

Another thing that’s amazingly easier than it used to be: having a conversation in the car in the dark. At least with Don, I don’t get many opportunities to test this with other people.

So all is going really well, and there’s generally not a lot that seems exciting enough to bother blogging about. That’s a pretty good testimonial!

HLAA Convention 2011I just saw that the HLAA convention is in Washington, DC this year. I’ve never been but it always seemed interesting, so I’m going to plan to attend since I’m only 2 hours away. (I used to work in Crystal City and we always walked for coffee at the Starbucks in the Hyatt that’s hosting the conference.) I know it’s way out in June, but let me know if you’re going.

Originally published at Sarasera. You can comment here or there.

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Let’s see how I do with my last post’s list.  I’m going to take CI/hearing topics today.

1. 4 months with CI

That’s right.  I was activated way back on May 4th.  I’ve been in for just 3 mappings since then at 2 weeks, 1 month and 3 months (though all were a bit late).

My audiogram has remained hovering around 25-35 all the way across.  I think it is low because my maps are still getting a bit louder each time and they do the test Before I get a new map.

I still prefer the Med-El FSP (Fine Structure Processing) versus the HD-CIS program.  My audiologists still insist that I keep trying both.  So one of my program slots is still HD.  They both sound good to me, so it’s just a matter of what I am used to.  Music sounds more musical in FSP.  FSP may also work better with background noise.

On being bimodal (that’s CI + hearing aid), at my 1 month map my audiologist said I could start wearing my hearing aid again whenever I wanted to, but suggested I decide one way or the other and stick with it.  So I have been wearing both all of the time. Thankfully my CI and HA are working together now.  Originally the CI was canceling the HA out and I couldn’t hear anything at all through it.  It was strange and scary that even with the CI turned off my HA didn’t sound “right” after the implant.

One thing this has really reinforced for me is that Ear Molds Suck!  My unimplanted ear with the hearing aid is always going through a cycle of scabby, sore, gooey, sore, dried out, scabby, etc.  I think this is worse because I have been swimming at the gym once a week.  My implanted ear is perfectly normal. No ear mold is a nice thing.

At my 3 month mapping I was tested wearing both the HA and the CI in noise.  I scored in the 90s.  With just the CI I scored in the 70s.  So it’s helping in noise, or maybe the second set of sentences was easier.  It seemed a lot easier.

When making my next mapping appointment (6 months, in November) they suggested I see my ENT just in case I want to talk about implanting my other ear.  I agreed to this because there are monetary insurance related reasons for doing it in 2009.  I’m trying not to let that influence my decision too much.

2. CI #2?  2 CIs versus 1 CI and 1 HA versus bilateral EAS

I’ve seen a lot of articles claiming that a CI + a hearing aid gives you the best of both worlds when it comes to sound, especially music.  I’ll agree that this has been my experience.

We went out dancing at a club in Washington, DC last weekend.  Instead of the normal bass that sounds the same with or without my hearing aids, the CI was adding the rhythm section to it.  It was a nice effect and helped me appreciate the faster beat that’s on top of that boom boom boom of the bass.

I asked my audi about CI+HA versus 2 CIs and she suggested I contact a researcher.  Small world, he was someone I had emailed with last spring.  I owed him an updated.

His answer was that you can’t make any kind of decision without knowing exactly how well you’re doing right now.  Just CI, CI + HA, HA in implanted ear + CI + HA.  But his gut feeling was that Two CIs are great for localizing sounds, but One CI and One HA are better for lower tone quality and hearing in noise.  He also said that they have been very impressed with  CI + bilateral hearing aids.  But that 25% of people who preserve residual hearing after implantation are still losing it later on.

In the end he asked if I’d be itnerested in visiting the Mayo clinic for some research at some point, so I’m waiting to see if that gets set up.

My own feelings, the CI provides SO MUCH sound, and it does not sound bad at all.  It sounds very normal apart from the timbre of music sounding different than before.  If I can get use from a hearing aid in the implanted ears that would be the best of both worlds… but we will see.  Technology is always changing too.

3. Music lately

With bimodal hearing music sounds better than ever.  My hearing aid ear picks up the sounds I’m used to hearing and the CI adds the higher sounds I’ve not heard in years.

Some singing voices still have a bit of a chipmunk-like tinge to them – not in pitch, just in quality.

The sound “Oooooooo” never sounds right.

Some instruments have a harmonica-like tinge, or a squeaky violin timbre.

Sometimes listening to a single instrument, or playing my saxophone alone, I will hear double.  The HA and the CI have different qualities and in some frequencies my brain doesn’t automatically blend them into the same single sound.

For a while I couldn’t hear the difference between two notes that were a half-step apart when I was playing.  This resulted in many jabs from the people sitting next to me.  I seem to have gotten over that now.  I need to do a listening test to see how my pitch recognition has improved.

I also bought a pair of t-coil headphones of the type that stick behind your ears.  I think the quality of the sound on these is better than the sound that comes through my Med-El direct input cable. Not sure.  Maybe a richer sound.

10. Using the phone, for work, for home, CapTel

I’ve never been a fan of the phone.  At some point I will probably decide that it makes my life at work easier to use it… but the way things are now, my boss loves to make phone calls and so he does that all day while I type reports on the computer (something he “can’t” do, he writes things by hand and the secretary types them (even though she isn’t really a secretary)).

I still call the Cochlear listening line to see how things are sounding.  This week one of the lists was impossible.  Ought, It, Ash, Own… yikes.

At work I have an old school CapTel phone set up with 2 lines, but the ringer is turned off and I don’t take incoming calls.  If someone leaves a voice mail I will call in to see what it is.  If I could get the new CapTel that works with our digital phone lines and the internet I might be able to see caller ID and that would be excellent.  I hate not knowing who is calling – it makes it impossible to predict the conversation.

On another note, I love my Google Voice line.  The transcription doesn’t work perfectly, but it highlights the text as it plays the recording so you can try to follow along.

Originally published at Sarasera. You can comment here or there.

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Where does the time go?

From the Monticello Naturalization Ceremony on July 4, 2008

July 4th weekend my parents stopped to visit us here in Charlottesville.  I had a band concert that Thursday night and another on the morning of the Fourth of July at Monticello.  It’s always moving to see the naturalization ceremony conducted.  Last year the guest speaker was the president (which one? not important. ;) ) and security was tight. The helicopters flew right over our house to land at Monticello and the band had to be there hours and hours early.  This year was much more calm.  My parents and I actually drove ourselves and parked at the visitor center.

By the end of that concert a lot of us were quite burned out on marches. Especially Sousa!  But the audiences were very appreciative.

IMG_1611.JPGIt wasn’t very hot here that weekend, but we decided to spend and afternoon hiking around Sugar Hollow reservoir which features several good swimming holes.  I ended up not swimming.  The water was cold!  But the hike was lovely and the crowd of people swinging on the rope into the water was entertaining

More music happen that Monday! CASE played a gig at a local assisted living center.

After my parents left I only had 3 days of work before my “long weekend” trip to Maine with Don to visit his family.

His family lives in the area known as Down East Maine.  We had an easy and short flight from Charlottesville (CHO) through Philadelphia to Bangor.  All together it was only 3.5 hours from take off to getting the rental car.  Amazing.  I’m used to trips taking at least 6 hours and usually more.  Once we arrived in Bangor we still had 2 hours of driving to get to where Don’s family lives, but that is a fun part of the trip.

It was about lunch time so we stopped for… lobster rolls!  Of course!  There’s a road side ice cream stand snack shop that looks just like the ones you’d find anywhere else, except they have the Maine specialty.  So good.

We also stopped at a grocery store and stocked up on wine.

Don’s family own a camp on a small lake that is about half an hour from their house.  The camp is fully equipped, just isn’t insulated enough to be used except when it’s warm outside. I love coming up here because it is just so beautiful and peaceful. The sun rises at 5:00 am and the camp has a clear view straight North which means this time of year you get sunlight most of the day. Early to bed and early to rise is the motto when we’re there and sleeping in means staying in bed past 7!  I was also asleep by 10 every night.

We visited the beach, watched lots of sunsets, swatted mosquitoes, and of course, ate more lobster.

IMG_1747 IMG_1751 More Maine Lobsters

On a hearing related note, everyone up there seemed to be talking very loud all of the time.  If I wasn’t 2 months post activation with my cochlear implant I don’t think I would have been able to cope.  As it was, taking off my CI and hearing aid to go swimming did not bother me At All.

IMG_1681 IMG_1682

Nieces and Nephew – Aren’t they cute? :)

Don’s dad is planning on getting hearing aids soon. Apparently he has been turning the TV up louder and louder and was told he should have his hearing checked. I’m curious to see how he does with them. I won’t be surprised if he enjoys slipping back into silence quite often.

So we swam in the lake every day in Maine. I took my shorty wetsuit and the kids picked on me about looking like I was going diving.  But hey, I stayed much warmer than in previous years.  When it’s barely 70 degrees out and the water is about that temperature it’s nice to have some extra warmth.

IMG_1629

Now we are back home and I have just three weeks until my next fun adventure. In the mean time I’m waiting to see how many trips I can be sent on for work in that time. One, Two, or hopefully None.

Originally published at Sarasera. You can comment here or there.

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I can’t get myself to start typing this because I’m listening to music on my iPhone (built in iPod) and I’ve managed to load lyrics to almost all of my 1500 some songs.  If I type then I can’t read along and the lyrics get lost.

Music is sounding pretty good, even with just my CI.  The bass is a bit tinny… the vocals quite squawky, chipmunky but not high pitched. I can recognize Frank Sinatra as Frank Sinatra (very low voice).

Songs that I know really well sound the best. For the curious this includes all the songs from RENT, a few Moxy Fruvous CDs and a couple of Phish songs… But not the Damien Rice album I bought right before my surgery… and not any of the albums that came from Don’s CDs.

I’ve noticed in band as well as in recorded music that sustained notes will have a very accurate pitch, but short notes sound monotone.  If I know the song I don’t notice this too much though.  When the band plays a scale it sounds very monotone because the tones are far from pure with 90 of us playing at one time.  This takes me back to 5th grade band though and the first time we ever heard a band from sitting within the band… it was a new experience.

The Sound and Way Beyond aural rehabilitation DVD has a lot of music practice exercises.  I can’t hear the difference between notes closer than 2 semi-tones.  This means that when I’m playing in the wrong key I don’t notice at the first wrong note. But I use a million visual cues in band. I watch the fingers of the people next to me, I watch their toes, I watch the director, all while reading the music.  No wonder I miss the key change!  I’ve made a point to pay closer attention to them after missing every single one at one rehearsal.

Also on the Sound and Way Beyond DVD is a listening exercise that would be tricky with perfect hearing – it plays 2, 3, 4 notes and you have to choose what they are on the staff based on the starting note.  It would be better if you could experiment until you found the right interval by ear rather than getting just one guess and a right or wrong score.

Another music exercise involves identifying different musical instruments, but you’re supposed to be able to tell from one note if it’s a trumpet, piano, violin, etc.  I don’t know how good their recordings are.  I can hear the difference between them all, but I can’t easily pick out which one it is with just one note to hear, except maybe the piano.

I listen to music every day on my way to and from work in my car but of course that has a ton of background noise too from being on the road.

Bass is still a bit thin and rumbley rather than musical. I’m working on setting up a bilateral / bimodal headset. I ended up with 2 med-el direct input cables on accident somehow so instead of buying a bilateral one I’ll probably buy a $2 dual connector/splitter from radio shack and plug both into that. For some reason my FM system won’t consistently switch to direct input anymore, but I might be able to use it via bluetooth for my iphone now.

ETA: Ironically, one of the worst sounds for me right after activation was saxophones…  I have a ton of saxophone ensemble recordings that I know very well.  I’m happy to say that they are sounding Great now.  I’m currently listening to Beppo’s To Ballard by The Tiptons (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-159j-epkI) and it sounds almost as good as I remember.  Not a long memory as this was my newest CD…

Originally published at Sarasera. You can comment here or there.

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I finally got around to taking some photos of my cochlear implant and accessories.  It came with a lovely briefcase in the color I had chosen (reddish).  The Opus2 consists of, from top to bottom, the ear hook, the processor which attaches to the wire going to the magnet coil head piece, and to the power pack.  The power packs hold the batteries and can be exchanged to hold either rechargeable or disposable batteries.  Then there is the cover that slips over the power pack and batteries.  This cover can be just plastic, or can contain a 3-prong direct connect plug at the bottom.

Here’s a link to the photo album if you can’t see the slideshow: Med-El Duet2 on Flickr

I love that I don’t have to be stuck with one type of battery or another. The rechargeables are great but only last about 10 hours.  If I ever get out camping or sailing or somewhere away from a normal outlet then I’ll be happy to be able to use disposable batteries during that time.  I’m told that 3 disposable batteries last about 3 days.

I also use the direct connect cable a LOT.  I’ve just finished reading and listening to The Count of Monte Cristo and highly recommend the original version even though it’s really long.  Leaving the cover with the direct connect plug on it makes the processor longer and heavier behind my hear, but I don’t notice it much and it’s nice to be able to plug in to my iPhone whenever I want to without switching the parts.

Lastly, I think it’s funny that they made such a big deal out of choosing the color I wanted and then gave me all six colors as covers.  You can see that one I’m wearing has a bit of black in the middle of it.  This is the rechargeable power pack being black and the processor and cover being red.  I think it’s cool.

Originally published at Sarasera. You can comment here or there.

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I was really looking forward to a new Map since most people seem to get a bunch of them right away after their activation and here it had been 16 days before I got my first new one.  Even so, and even after 15 years of hearing tests, I was nervous about the testing they would put me through.  I even told my audi, please, no words or sentences today? Just beeps?  Right.

So she tested my residual hearing first with ear inserts. My right ear (implanted) is still not quite back to a normal tympanogram and I can feel some fluid in there still. It’s only been 3 weeks since surgery, no surprise. So there’s still a chance more residual hearing will come back to that ear, hard to tell yet.  It is already a lot better than when they tested it 5 days after surgery.

The beeps with the CI were played through a speaker in the corner of the booth and were harder than I expected.  I suppose a hearing test is always hard since you have to struggle to hear the quietest you can hear. I still have tinnitus which makes listening for the beeps harder than it should be. Tinnitus always seems louder during this testing than any other time.

ci-2-weeks-audiogram

After creating this new audiogram my audi asked me to do some sentences for her. Pretty sure she said “just try” and well what am I going to do? Refuse?  The voice was a very strong male and the sentences were a mile long some of them.  This was my first “CUNY” test.  I wish they had done it before so I could compare.  The next test (”just try one more?”) was HINT sentences which I had done before. I was surprised at how quiet the voice was and I missed the first few sentences completely before I got into it. With sentences I usually get something so I was surprised that I couldn’t hear a single word in some of them.  I still scored 34%.  My HINT scores pre-CI for that ear was 16% (though with both ears it was close to 60%).  And then one final test, the single syllable CNC words. I managed to get 8%.

The funny thing about the CNC words especially is that my database is broken.  You see, I always take a guess at the word. Even though each word sounded like ‘blah’ to me, I would guess (except ‘cute’ sounded like cute).  I had a database of words in my head that matched each ‘blah’ that I heard and I usually scored 20% or so.  Now, with the implant, the ‘blah’ that I’m hearing is more like ’sqckt’ and I don’t have any idea how to guess that word!  I’m hoping that my hearing improves enough that I don’t have to come up with a new list of imaginary words for my database, but time will tell.

I really try to avoid seeing the lists for any of these tests at all costs for fear of skewing the results.  Any time they start the HINT test with the list that begins with ‘The boy fell from the window’ I ask for a new list.

Originally published at Sarasera. You can comment here or there.

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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.

Originally published at Sarasera. You can comment here or there.

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This is one of my favorite videos about cochlear implants - especially the part about the damaged hairs and when a hearing aid won’t help… After the ‘how it works’ part there are three testimonials from people who chose the MED-EL brand. I’m sure every brand has people willing to go on camera and oooh and ahh over their implant. I had to break it into 2 parts to get YouTube to accept it. The subtitles got a bit fuzzy too, I hope they are legible.

Also apparently the sound on the 2nd video is the same as the first. I don’t know how that happen unless Quicktime didn’t crop the sound when it cropped the video. I might be able to fix it, but until then, turn the sound off and read the subtitles.

Originally published at Sarasera. You can comment here or there.

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IMG_9327

Yes, folks, don’t hate me, but I was activated yesterday, barely 5 days after surgery. It seems pretty common to activate that soon with the MedEl implants, but I’m not exactly sure what factors into the decision on how long to wait. After Don told me that the surgeon originally told him we could remove the bandage after the weekend I was debating all weekend about keeping the appointment Monday. What if they didn’t do anything except take the bandage off (which I could do myself?). It seemed too soon to do the activation and I didn’t want to drive 4 hours each way for nothing… Thankfully I got an email from the audiologist around 9 am saying to come, that they were really busy but would have time to activate me! Into the car we went, leaving a little before 10. We got there around 1:15 and had lunch at Chipotle arriving at the hospital at 2 on the dot. Then waiting and waiting and waiting. Is it just UNC or do a lot of families go to the ENT office together? After waiting in the waiting room for over an hour I was taken back to see the surgeon. He just slid the bandage up over my head. Don told me I had some tape or a bandaid behind my ear still. My ear itself doesn’t seem too numb, this is good because apparently that can last a long time. The area of my head behind my ear around the incision is definitely numb though. The surgeon was very curious about my residual hearing and got out a tuning fork which I couldn’t hear at all. I’d guess it was 1000 Hz - pretty high. The musician in me needs to ask more questions. :) I could hear it in my unimplanted ear ok though. He took me right off to find the audiologists and do a hearing test. Thankfully it seemed like they were just finishing up with the person before me, so the wait wasn’t long. The AuD student who works with the audiologist took me and tested my hearing. First the tympanogram - totally flat. I can tell it’s stuffed up and that confirmed it! It should subside in the next few weeks. Even with that much stuffiness (fluids or swelling or both) I could hear at, and I’m guessing as I didn’t have my glasses back yet (another story) 250 Hz at 70 and 500 Hz at 100 and maybe the 750 and 1000 were still there around 120 dB too but I’m not sure. The audiologist explained to Don that that meant I would be able to tell if something was crashing around me. I find it funny how little importance they give to the low sounds sometimes. :) She was curious and also tested the hearing in my unimplanted ear - she’s a researcher and very curious it seems - it was the same as before. We talked about cochlear implant research and how she’d love to include me as one of her guinea pigs. I said absolutely, might as well be useful to others if I’m driving that far for an adjustment. I do find it fascinating myself. If it didn’t mean tons more school I’d think about being a hearing researcher… funny how UNappealing that idea was 15 years ago. Oh well. That out of the way, I got a short demo of the CI processor itself and it was time to stick the magnet on my head and turn things on. The actual process is pretty simple - the computer screen has what looks like a sound equalizer / mixer board with 12 slides, one for each of the electrodes. I only have 10 electrodes so when we got to the last two there was no sound and we shut them off. (Only 10 as the surgeon wanted to save my low frequency hearing which is at the deepest part of the cochlea - so when he got 10 inserted he stopped and didn’t go any deeper). I was surprised that each pitch came in so clearly. Very distinct notes - like pressing down on a synthesizer key. They ranged from medium high to super super high. I haven’t heard anything that high in years. I was supposed to tell the audiologist the loudness on a scale of 1 to 10 with 8 being maximum tolerable, or something like that. I wasn’t really sure what max tolerable was and she was cautious about going up too high. There was no pain from the noise, no pressure, not like turning the volume up too high. It would be more like twitching inside your head or feeling dizzy I think. We didn’t go up that high yet. We did all 10 and then she said she was going to turn it on. She’d already made me turn off my hearing aid. Ever since then, the only way to describe things is like a Sci-Fi sound track. I wish I had watched more SciFi so I could tell you what things sound like exactly, because I know I have heard these sounds before… The rest of the next hour or so was spent lipreading Meg as she explained all the gear I was getting. I can’t believe that one tiny little processor (ok, two as they give you a backup one) needs a huge box with brief case. Everything is in it’s own little box. Batteries, cables, different covers for everything. The packaging is insane. Combined with lipreading I could understand the beeping coming from Meg as long as she was the only person talking and she kept it fairly slow. If Don commented something from across the room it became a mess of beeping and twittering, usually because he’d make Meg laugh. Without lipreading it was pretty much just beeping. Right after I was turned on the audiologist was there and she started reciting the days of the week while I lipread her and repeated them back. Really simple of course, kind of like lipreading lessons where you can’t hear anything, except I could hear her beeping like a robot or a synthesizer, a synthesizer set on robot voice I guess. After going through the days of the week a few dozen times she had me close my eyes and keep going. Yes, I could hear the difference between them. It was all beeping, but even with beeping Wednesday sounds different than Tuesday sounds different than Monday. They were super impressed, Don’s still going on about it. ;) No big deal to me, as my brain was just matching up beeping with familiar words, but I guess, a lot better than hearing nothing right? One thing I’m going to have to be careful about is being annoyed at people who think everything is fantastic or amazing or whatever. I try to explain what I’m hearing and how different everything is and they just say that must be awesome!! How wonderful!! I was not deaf before, people. I’ve heard sounds my whole life. If you heard sounds like I’m hearing now you would think you’d lost your mind. Seriously. But things are going well. I dreamed about a baby alien beeping in my head. It’s hard not to laugh at how funny things sound. Mostly I’m overwhelmed. Overwhelmed and totally fascinated at the same time. I’m finding Twitter a good place to post my thoughts - these blog posts tend to become a ramble after a while. :) <p><a href=”http://tweetpaste.thingamaweb.com/embed/21363/” mce_href=”http://tweetpaste.thingamaweb.com/embed/21363/” target=”_blank”>View sajego&rsquo;s tweet</a></p> <p>

Originally published at Sarasera. You can comment here or there.

sajego: (Default)

I’ve been poking at things all day. First it was a nice glob of dead skin that loosened up in my implanted ear. Probably a cross between surgery and just not wearing an earmold for a few days.

Then my bandage started sliding down over my eyes and my hair is slipping around it in many placed. Like a little girl who wears the same braid for a few days, it gets messy.

Well just now I was running my fingers along my scalp above the bandage and hey, there’s a bump here. That’s weird. It’s definitely not matched on the other side.

Turns out that’s the implant. I’d guess it is an inch or so above the top of my ear but I can’t tell because the bandage still covers my whole ear. I guess I didn’t realize that it could be so far above the incision and my skin was stretched down over it.

Well I guess they did something to me after all. Though Don’s response to that is “I could put a lump on your head!”

Originally published at Sarasera. You can comment here or there.

sajego: (Default)

I wrote this the night after my surgery before going to bed. I wanted to get it all out. Now, I don’t really feel like editing it, so you get some stream of consciousness rambling. :)

Read the rest of this entry »

Originally published at Sarasera. You can comment here or there.

sajego: (Default)

When I took the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam in October 2007 I requested special accommodations. I didn’t know if I would need them, but figured since the process to request them was in place I might as well try it. What did I ask for? I asked to sit in the front row so I could see the exam proctor easier and also requested a copy of any instructions so I could read them. Simple enough, you’d think.

When I got to the exam nobody knew why I didn’t have a seat number on my admission ticket. They finally found the head proctor who brought me to the front, and had me sit at a table In Front Of the front row. It was so far to the front that it was practically Behind the Podium! I tried to tell them I wanted to sit in the front row, not in front of the front row by myself, but they couldn’t let me do that since all the other seats had been numbered and assigned ahead of time. They said I could move my table wherever I wanted, but that was it. It was a nuissance and embarrassing and not helpful at all since I was straining my neck to see the person reading the instructions when she was next to and behind where I was sitting.

I’ve actually found that the 2nd row is usually the best place to sit because people avoid the first row and the speaker wanders back behind the front row.

Anyway - why am I thinking about this now? Because I’m taking the Principles and Practices of Engineering exam (the PE) in 2.5 weeks and I just got a phone call message from someone who wants me to call him. “please call me regarding pe exam in april and special seating my name is adam” was the message I got. This is despite the fact that all the exam paperwork says that accommodations must be requested for Every test you take separately. I didn’t request anything and seeing as how it went last time I don’t plan to. I don’t need to hear them drawl on about the exam. I suppose since they contacted me I should share what I’ve written here and help them improve their process for next time. It’s just a pain to be singled out on a day that you’re nervous about facing an 8 hour exam anyway.

ETA: Not to mention I had to provide a letter from a medical professional in order to get special seating last time!

Originally published at Sarasera. You can comment here or there.

sajego: (Default)

I was messing around with Google Docs today and decided to make a Google Docs Form that could let anyone who wanted to share their audiogram and see how it relates to others. Then I started playing with Google Docs charts and came up with a way to display the data. I found lots of limitations, like I had to make the dBs negative to have the scale go from top to bottom instead of bottom to top.

Not sure what my plans for this are, but feel free to fill out the form. :)

http://www.sarasera.com/?page_id=144

Originally published at Sarasera. You can comment here or there.

sajego: (Default)

Benefits of EAS

Originally uploaded by sajego

This chart is from a paper I just read. It basically shows that in their study people with a CI benefited quite a bit from using a hearing aid in the unimplanted ear, even with hearing only at 125 Hz.

Originally published at Sarasera. You can comment here or there.

sajego: (Default)

I was looking for a good ‘what is a CI’ video and came across a press release from last week that talks about Med-El’s new SoundScape listening practice.  I don’t have my headphones with me at work today, but it looks like it would be useful and fun.

http://www.medel.com/US/Rehabilitation/sound-scape.php

Originally published at Sarasera. You can comment here or there.

sajego: (Default)

In the past few weeks since I started this blog and really started looking for other CIers to connect with I’ve been amazed at how many people are in the same place I am.  Surgery dates a week before mine, or people visiting the same CI center I am.  People who went ot the same college as me, or people who have shared a similar existence.

Different experiences too.  Two people I talk to on IM are at opposite ends of the spectrum.  One is a girl who is hearing and wants to be (and will be!) part of the Deaf Community.  The other is a guy who is oral, knows no sign, and yet doesn’t think CIs are a better solution than hearing aids.  I know you’ll both read this :) so, thanks for being a friend and sharing my moments with me.

For the first time in my blogging history I feel like making a “blogroll” list of people I not only read, but connect with.  I always felt that we all have RSS readers, why do we need a blogroll?  And yet, I want to share not just my story, but the story of my new friends with other readers.

It feels like we’re all part of some class or grade. Those of us getting our first CI now are the incoming freshmen. Those of you who have had yours for a while are upper classmen. Bilateral CI users are a different class, and children with CIs will be the AP students by the time they are old enough to read and write blogs.

Sometimes I have felt left out of the whole CI thing happening.  I saw connections like this formed among people of last year’s class or the year before.  It’s amazing that it’s me now.

Originally published at Sarasera. You can comment here or there.

sajego: (Default)

I read these sometime last fall I think:
http://www.hearingresearch.org/Dr.Ross/CI-one.htm
 http://www.hearingresearch.org/Dr.Ross/CI-two.htm

I was also particularly interested in his experiences with a CI to hear music. Unfortunately it wasn’t that encouraging.
You can find those and all of his articles on hearing loss here:
 http://www.hearingresearch.org/ross.htm

Originally published at Sarasera. You can comment here or there.

sajego: (Default)

Here is the audiogram from my CI evaluation at UNC on March 2nd.

audiogram2009-03-02

It clearly shows my right ear (Os) versus my left ear (Xs).  And shows that above 2000 Hz there was no response.  That’s one change in the last 10 years - I used to have a response at 3000 Hz.  (Edited to add: Maybe not, the only audiogram I have that shows a response at 3000 Hz was in 2006 when he tested down to 120 dB).

Also to note, the (Ag) marks are With my hearing aids.  Normal hearing would be anywhere from 0Hz to 25Hz.  I think my hearing aids could probably be boosted a bit to help with the ranges that I can hear.  It seems like needing 50dB at 1500 Hz and 65 dB at 2000 Hz isn’t helping me a lot.  I’m planning to get someone to adjust my left hearing aid for me following surgery, and the right one too if I have any residual hearing left in the implanted ear.  I think I can wear the shoulder / sports CI processor with my current BTE aid to see if I like how that sounds.  If I do prefer that setup I will look into an in the ear aid to use with the CI processor - or maybe the FDA will approve MedEl’s DUET and I can get one of those instead.  Doesn’t seem likely to happen for a while though.  Anyone have any updates?

As for speech discrimination, the audiologists didn’t include my bilateral scores on the sheets they gave me.  They said this is because they were too high on HINT sentences in quiet (I think 60%).

For individual ears they included these results:

speech1

speech2

Originally published at Sarasera. You can comment here or there.

sajego: (Default)

This looks like a really great set of listening activities - http://www.hearingjourney.com/Listening_Room/Teens_and_Adults/Listening_Gym/index.cfm?langid=1

I like the idea of being able to call a number and listen to a recording to practice using the phone.  I’m glad that the professional engineering exam that I am taking will be completely done before my surgery.  I have enough distractions from studying for the exam already.

Originally published at Sarasera. You can comment here or there.

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