Tag Archives: Cochlear Implant

Going Bluetooth

I currently wear a Widex Senso on my left ear. It’s a power aid that hasn’t had any advancement in eight years. Yes, eight years. Neither has any other power aid on the market (at least that I’m aware of). So basically from the dawn of the digital hearing aids (after they switched from analog), power aids have NOT changed one bit. I gradually accepted it because when it came time to upgrade five years ago, I got yet another Widex Senso: The exact same brand, model, everything, just an little newer!

I blame cochlear implants. When every doctor or audiologist is pushing people to switch to cochlear implants, there isn’t much of a market for power aids. This is frustrating for me. I’m sure it’s even more so for those who can’t get a cochlear implant or choose not to for whatever reason.

So you can imagine my excitement when my audiologist tells me there’s a new power aid on the market with NEW technology! (I’ll get back to this) Not only that but it’s BLUETOOTH. It is a Phonak Naida.

I have been thinking about getting a Smartlink with my cochlear implant, which is approximately a cool 2k. It’s both bluetooth and FM compatible. For a little extra, I can get a boot for my hearing aid and be all hooked up bilaterally. However if I get the Naida, I don’t have to pay extra (and I’m overdue for a new aid anyway)

As far as the technological aspect goes, the Naida allows you to hear “S” and “SH”. With power aids, that has to be turned off. Often with severe-to-profound hearing the high frequency receptors in the ear are so severely damaged that they often cause distortion when stimulated. The distortion is enough to screw up what you can hear. With the Naida, sound is actually condensed onto the lower frequencies which means you can hear those sounds now, they would just stimulate different receptors.

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FYI

“You shall not insult the deaf” is in the third book of the Torah and third book of the Old Testament – otherwise known as Leviticus.

Just don’t do it… it’s not permissible by God. I don’t want to hear any more about some guy banging a deaf person on the head because the deaf person didn’t hear him. I don’t want to hear any more about the deaf person who gets denied a job even though he’s the most qualified individual for it, simply because he’s deaf. Please and thank you.

This article brought up one of many perspectives on Cochlear Implants – how some deaf people feel like there is nothing that is “broken” and thus no reason for something to be fixed. It also argues the other side – i.e. why it would be permissible. Keep in mind that it’s in accordance with Jewish learnings.

The CI & the Phone

Today I decided to call a friend up on my cell phone. I’ve been having a difficult time with the cell phone – worse than I thought it should be, and have generally been avoiding it. I decide I would do something radical and try hearing with my implant. That didn’t work so well. I heard the first two sentences, but not well since it wasn’t louder than the background noise. I turn it to T-switch which makes it worse. I finally just switch it over to my hearing aid. I’m playing around with the implant while I’m doing this. I decide I would just turn it on with the setting that reduces background noise. So I have my cell phone pressed up against my left ear, my hearing aid side, and my implant on my right ear. Lo and behold, I’m understanding her a lot better. Not only that but she reveals to me that she’s no longer having to yell into the phone for me to hear her. I am some how able to improve my understanding of her by using my implant that’s on the opposite side of my head! How that works, I don’t quite get… but it works.

Wow… just wow. I am so glad.

Listening Therapy

I worked on some listening therapy tonight with my husband and “Making the Connection” (a book) from Advanced Bionics. It was really interesting what I did and did not “get”. My worst phrase by far was “Bye-bye”. I guessed anywhere from “satellite” to “formaldehyde”. After much repetition and more goofy guesses, I was finally able to get it. I swear… I won’t be able to tell that people are leaving! I will probably be too busy looking up to the heavens or in a FEMA trailer.

I did the best with sentences and even got “purple monkey dynamite”. **Disclaimer: THAT is not in the book – my husband used his creative license and threw it in there. You can tell this is probably one of his favorite phrases… and you would be right.

The Weeks Turn into Months

It’s been quite the interesting one month and so weeks since activation. Updates have been pretty few and far between. I will attribute this error to my trails and tribulations of having a cochlear implant. My 20-plus years of being profoundly deaf are making this process a slow one. However, none-the-less, things are progressing!

I have visited the audiologist every two weeks since activation. Our hour that we spend together consists of about 30 to 40 minutes of questions and discussion and only about 20 minutes going through the actual adjustments. At each appointment I am given only two types of tests. For the first one the audiologists gives me sets of beeps and goes through each main frequency level starting at the low frequencies and working up to the higher ones. He asks me to count the number of beeps in each set. When this is done, he gives me a chart with a bar. On the left side of the bar there’s a marker that says “first hearing” which means this is when I first hear something. The next marker to the right is “soft”, then “medium”, then “loud but comfortable” and finally “too loud”. Our goal is to find a volume I can listen to on each frequency for long intervals. There are really no marks as far as development goes. The experience is different for each patient. The audiologists go at a pace that is comfortable to the person using the device.

As far as my experience goes between the appointments: it was pretty awful at first. As I said before, I was given eight programs, each a little louder than the previous. I was asked to gradually turn up the volume – at my own pace. Each appointment was like this. This proved very stressful the first few weeks. I was faced with countless headaches and even nausea. I even was sick with a cold for a week (although I am sure this is not the fault of the implant – just one of those things that comes with being human). I would often leave the implant off for long periods of time. I felt guilty about this a lot – which is probably the real reason for my lack of posting. I knew I needed to wear it to get anywhere, hearing is not something that can just come to you. You have to work at it. Practice really does make (almost) perfect when it comes to hearing.

Then last week everything changed. Instead of my usual two weeks, I was given three weeks before my next appointment. I breezed through the programs in a week and a half, much to my amazement. With my volume maxed out, I think I finally had a chance to just focus on hearing rather than having to deal with the constant change and the headaches that went along with it. Then one day I decided I wanted to see how far I had come. I could hear little things and understand noises here and there. That however, isn’t what I want from my CI. I can get that easily from my hearing aid. I wanted to understand speech. So I turned off my hearing aid, leaving my CI on. I was in the car and decided that I would plug in a Grammy Nominees CD. These were songs I knew fairly well and before long, tears were coming to my eyes as I jammed along to (believe it or not) Britney Spears and Kid Rock. I could follow along in the songs! This was great. I have not heard a thing out of that ear for 23 years and I’m following along to music!!!??? It was really amazing. That was a real starting point to real hearing rather than just some gorram noise.

I think I am blessed to be able to use my hearing aid to the up most of my abilities and do well at it. It created “memory” for my left ear. Even though I had a rocky start, my brain knows how to interpret sound from a 23-year-dysfunctional ear that’s receiving some type of electronical stimulation that it has never received in its life. I am in awe how “plastic” our brains are, simply in awe.

After that moment in the car, I really began practicing. On the way to work, I started listening to talk radio with just my cochlear implant. I don’t pick up much, but I know I heard “The Dow Jones is up by (36?) points” and “south (of the lake)”. At a later date, I picked up “United States”, “frustrating” and “President Bush’s” – though not consecutively in that order. I also finally got my book in the mail, and am listening to the audiobook as I read. I just finished today and plan to try to listen to the audiobook again on a road trip for work on Wednesday. Since I know the topic and most of what was said, I bet I could pick up quite a bit.

Today’s visit to the audiologist was a bit different than the others. My audiologist programmed my CI to handle environmental sounds rather than it being a way of rehabilitating my brain. I was given four programs. The first was for everyday events, the second took advantage of the directional microphone which is programmed to focus on sound in front of me, the third was programmed to reduce background noise and the fourth was designed to listen to music. I didn’t understand the fourth one other than it’s supposed to pick up more sounds and heighten background noise since the CI can’t tell the difference between background noise and music. Oh joy. I think I’m avoiding that one.

One thing that was interesting that I learned today. There are frequencies that the cochlear implant can “hear” that no hearing aid can pick up on. They’re the higher frequencies after where the hearing aid will “drop off” in audiogram. Wow. I wonder what they sound like and how it makes sounds different.

This all is a pretty fast leap from when I felt “head throbs” as my first introduction to CI hearing. Things sound less like bells and more echoy overall now.

P.S. I love the violin solo in “Circle of Life” from Lion King. It is gorgeous!

Meningitis Shot Panic

My shot was scheduled for May 29 at 4 p.m. I would absolutely refuse to go into surgery without this shot.  So you can imagine my horror when I got home on Sunday night (from a trip to Texas) and found a note in the mail that said my appointment was CANCELED! Turns out the lovely state of Louisiana decided to send my doctor to jury duty. Grr.

So I spent my lunch break on the phone with my doctor’s office, trying to emphasize how important this was and how much I needed my shot, like now. The problem was that they didn’t know if (a) they had the shot and (b) the nurse could give it to me. So of course, they had to call back later. They finally did and my shot is scheduled for this Wednesday a.m. Whew. That gives me a two week breathing room so if all doesn’t work out as planned, I have two weeks to make it right (whereas May 29 would only give me six days).

Mappings Scheduled

My first mapping is on June 16, the date after my birthday. 🙂 The audiologist also has me coming in on June 17 and June 30.