Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Houston and Back Home Again
Wednesday,  July 31, 2013

Today was a long, but good day!  We spent last night south of Houston and had a relaxing morning.  Ron went out and found a Shipley's Donut shop for me!  He is so thoughtful!  We stayed at the motel until about 10:00 and then headed on into Houston.  We shopped at a Wal-Mart (along with all the parents and kids selecting school supplies!), then the Lifeway Bookstore (formerly Baptist Bookstore), near the place we were going for my appointment, and finally to a Walgreen's, before heading to my 12:30 appointment at the Houston Ear Research Foundation.  My audiologist, Sherri Taxman, was delighted with my continued progress in my adapting to the Cochlear Implant. 

We discussed a variety of issues from assorted sounds I do and don't hear, to the correct equipment usage.  She explained a lot about the challenges in hearing music with an implant.  I have 22 channels in the implant for hearing sounds (we thought it was 16).  These replace the 30,000 tiny hairs that transmit sound in a healthy ear.  Consequently, many tones sound the same.  She explained that if you sit at a keyboard and play each key, with the implant, several in a row, will sound the same, then one will sound different and the next few following it will sound the same.  Does that make sense?  She had some suggestions on how to improve the ability to enjoy music again, but it will take a lot of work and a lot of time.  She said one thing is to listen to only one instrument or one soloist singing a song.  After I can get that, add additional sounds.  There is a program developed by one of her patients (a professional musician who lost his hearing and received an implant) that Cochlear sells to help people improve the music listening skills.  She said these skills also help in noisy situations where there are various sounds all at once. 

She did some tone testing in her office and reprogrammed the sound processor.  Now I have different programs: one for everyday use, another for noisy situations, the third for focusing on one speaker in a noisy room, and last, one that is called a music program, but actually deals with multiple sounds, keeping them from becoming overwhelming.  I will switch between these programs with the remote control.  She had suggestions for dealing with certain difficult listening situations.  We also talked about wearing the sound processor to the beach (I had done that with fear and trembling).  She said, by all means, do it.  She even showed is a special Zip-Lock bag to put the whole thing in, while still wearing it, when I think it might get wet.  These bags come by the box, but she let me buy one piece to try it out (at $5 per baggie, I am not sure how many I want!).

Then she took me to the sound proof booth for testing.   Here I sit as Sherri prepares for the testing.  Below, you see her through the window.  Today I was not "wired for sound", I was only being tested with what I could hear with the sound processor I wear every day, through a normal speaker in the corner of the room.
She explained that since I had done so well on the test last month, that she had to come up with a much harder one to check the level of ability today.  When you take a test and get everything correct, it doesn't let them know the limits of your ability.  Only when you start missing some, can they evaluate that.  Today I listened to many sentences read by four different readers: 2 men and 2 women.  They would take turns reading.  She warned me that the sentences might sound peculiar and not really make sense, because they don't want me to be able to "guess" at what was said.  After the test, she said she was delighted and that I was still her star patient with 95% on this test.  She said she has patients who have had the implant for 10 years who can't do that well on this test.  I laughed and told her the only strange sentence was the one that said: "He seemed to drink excessively following the hamster's death." (Or something like that!) 
I was able to show her how the Kindle Fire works for the Immersion Reading and she brought in a couple of other audiologists to see a brief demo on it and they all thought it has great potential for some other patients.  I hope others can get help using it.  I am enjoying mine.  Sherri thinks it can especially be helpful to implant patients who live alone and don't have a lot of vocal input each day.  I think she is right!
We finished up with a few more questions and then scheduled the next appointment for the end of September.  Sherri is a pleasure to work with and we could have stayed all afternoon, but I think we already had her behind schedule for her next appointment.  (oops!) 
The plant nursery nearby had marked all their stock down more and we found a nice variety of plants for the yard; we got about 11 plants for under $20.  Now if I can just find time to transplant them! 
This is one we paid $2 for a couple of months ago!  We have had great success with their items.  Of course Ron has really been taking good care of them for me every morning and I am afraid when I take back over this chore they may all die!

With the plants in the car and the temperatures soaring, we needed to head home and not make stops leaving the plants to sizzle in the car.  We made a couple of quick stops on the way back and arrived home just after 9:30 this evening.


  1. I'm so happy for you! But it is very evident that you are working hard to make the transplant successful. So good that your and Ron's lives are leveling out and getting back to normal. (Even if you are having to go back to work instead of staying home and quilting!)

    1. Because of my elbow, I didn't get quilting done when I was home. Yes, things are a little more stable now. Enjoying that!