Wednesday, July 2, 2014

July 2, 2014

Activation of My Cochlear Implant
One Year Ago Today
July 2, 2014

One of the things the doctor, the nurse, the audiologist, and the many articles I read all cautioned me about was to not expect too much when the Implant was activated.  The activation is done by the addition of the sound processor, coil, and magnet as the external hardware that transmits the sounds to the cochlea.  I kept explaining this to my friends and family and told them that in the beginning I might hear beeps and pings, or voices that sounded like R2D2 from Star Wars or Alvin from Alvin and the Chipmunks.  In my head I knew all those things, but I am sure I was not really prepared to hear those sounds.

When we went to the audiologist on the morning of July 2, we didn't know what I would be hearing, but I am sure I actually expected to hear voices saying words.  I figured they might sound high-pitched, or a little strange, but I was not truly prepared for beeps and pings.  As much as I had tried to prepare others, I don't think in my heart I was prepared.  I don't know how I would have reacted if that is what had happened.

Ron was there with me and we went into the office of the audiologist, Sherri.  She showed some of the equipment (I had been told not to unpack the things in the suitcase filled with items) that I had been given the day of the surgery.  Sherri did some testing with sounds: is this one higher or lower, is it louder than the previous one?  Then she began to speak and I began to respond to her statements and questions.  She was totally in awe of how clearly I could hear and understand what she was saying.  I was delighted, but I also was getting what I deep down inside, expected to hear.
Sherri then left the room so Ron could talk to me.  He had to wipe some tears before he could talk.
Of all the photos I have posted on this blog in the over 375 postings I have done, I think that this is almost everyone's favorite photo.  It clearly shows Ron's delight that I could hear!  I love that guy!  And from this photo, I think it is obvious that he loves me.  49 years and still counting.

Both of us were so thankful that I could hear fairly normally.  Voices were a little high pitched.  Over time they have come to sound as I remember them sounding.  There are times I still have to ask someone what a sound was that I heard but couldn't identify.  Sherri had told us that would happen and that I should always ask so my brain could start learning what the sounds are.  Often at work I will hear a sound coming from the showroom and will ask Ron what it is.  I am often totally surprised by his answers.  Many "noises" don't sound the same as they used to sound.  We spent all morning with Sherri and were  very pleased with the outcome.  I went to see her again the next day and finished the programing and mapping of the device.

After a quick lunch, I had an appointment with Dr. Chang, my surgeon.  He came to the waiting room and called me into his office.  I got up and followed him to the examining room and on the way, he expressed surprise that I had understood him when he called me to his office.  He asked when they had activated the device.  I told him 3 hours before.  He turned to Ron thinking I had not understood his question.  Ron assured him I had and that it had only been activated that morning.  He was so pleased that my success was outstanding.  (Me, too!)

Ron stayed busy texting the kids with the good news and calling family and friends.  There was much to praise God for and to thank Dr. Chang and Sherri for, since all were part of my return to the hearing world. 

What is it like now, a year later?  Dr. Chang from the first visit told me, "You will never hear normally again."  He is right.  I hear a lot.  I understand a lot.  I miss somethings that are said.  I don't understand all that is said.  Just tonight I had my daughter-in-law repeat several things several times before I understood some things she said.  And in the end, a few I never did understand and just gave up.  That frustrates me, but I just can't understand some things.

Today I carried on a long conversation with a customer.  I couldn't do that before the surgery.  This lady is particularly interesting in that she had come in while I was deaf and Ron waited on her telling her what was going on with me.  It turned out her sister had just recently had surgery with Dr. Chang for a different type of hearing loss and praised him highly.  It was nice to hear that from someone who knew of his expertise.  Today I asked about her sister and it turns out she is scheduled for surgery on her other ear soon with Dr. Chang.  I could hear her tell me all about this.  I could converse with her.  I could hear my customer tell me she had recently gotten hearing aids herself (after she kept having to ask her sister to repeat things). 

I continue to learn ways to help the hearing.  Tonight at supper with my mom, I did better than I have lately.  I tried a different program on the sound processor.  I do usually select the places we will go to eat and constantly seek quiet restaurants.  In a home at a party, I will look for a quiet corner.  I no longer want to be in the middle of things.  (Too noisy).  I was blessed yesterday to go to breakfast with a friend and we were the only customers in the place for the first hour or so of our visit.  It would not have been nearly as nice a morning if we had been in a busy, noisy place.  Tonight at supper, we had a room all to ourselves.  That works for me!

People ask if I still hear music.  Yes.  It is ALWAYS there.  It is much quieter - more like "elevator" music: soft and pleasant.  A lot of the time it just sounds like group humming.  Tonight it sounds like a choir softly singing When We Walk With the Lord.  If it were a recording and there were 10 volume levels, it would be at a 1.   One day last week it was loud for about an hour, but that is all.  The other loud noises I would sometimes hear are mostly gone.  Once in a while they show up, but again, for short periods of time. 

This morning I spent time in the yard.  I don't always wear my sound processor out there first thing in the mornings.  I think maybe I love the quiet time with the Lord in my garden.  It does add new meaning to the expression "Quiet Time".  Today I had on my sound processor.  I heard the birds chirping, I heard one as it flew, making a lot of noise with his flapping wings.  I even heard the bees buzzing around this hanging basket, and they were tiny bees!  I heard the water on the waterfalls and fountains in the yard. 
It has been an amazing year!

1 comment:

  1. I am so thankful this was available for you ! The picture of Ron when you first heard him is priceless !!!!! I'd like a print---poster size.