Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell Rock! One-week post activation and what a world of jingle bells and many more sounds abound! In my last blog, I shared about ACTIVATION day and my perception of sound initially. Lots of beeps, whistles, chirps, and feedback. I am fascinated that with just one week of intentional, dedicated, full time use of the cochlear implant as well as auditory training my brain is creating a whole new network to make sense of the multitude of sounds and speech that I have never heard before.
As an audiologist, I understand that when someone initially gets activated with a CI it will take time to make sense of hearing. Audiologists and speech language pathologists who work with individuals with hearing loss recommend listening therapy in order to train the brain to make sense of all the new sounds and speech. I can personally attest that I need a lot of listening training to make sense of all the chirps, beeps, and whistles. When I decided to move forward with the cochlear implant, Dr. Denise Wray (auditory verbal therapist, mentor, colleague, and friend) immediately volunteered to help with auditory training. We have completed three in person sessions; my speech perception continues to develop and be refined with each session. I appreciate the continuous benchmarking and diagnostics of my listening skills as each session continues to challenge me to train my CI and listening brain. I also have been able to acclimate to successive CI programs giving me more access to auditory information (moved from program 2 and now on program 5). I quite frankly must brag that my bionic ear (and brain) are progressing much quicker than I anticipated. For all the parents, possible CI candidates, CI candidates, and professionals out there; know that I have kept a mindset of discovery for hearing and making sense of sound for the first time. Each day the CI sounds gets a little more focused and clearer, but the key is to have the mindset of intentional, dedicated, full time use of the CI so that it becomes more natural and part of who you are! I am sure that I am going to be learning more and more about the refining process, but one of my initial goals was to dedicate myself to full time use of wearing the CI during my waking hours. I did have to take a little listening break the first few days, but after about a 20 minute break, I was back on ready to listen and learn.
With that being said, I have had many discoveries and risks over this past week to challenge my bionic CI ear. Here are a few of the highlights!!
- I had to take the dog collar off Josie when we went for a walk because the metal dog tags were annoying me, hence I have never heard dog tags clanged together
- The turn signal in the van is audible! I could always see the light flashing knowing it was on, but it is audible too!
- I heard the sound of freezing rain hitting my windshield as I was driving! (Ohio winter is on its way!)
- My feet making a crunching sound when walking on salt that has been freshly strewn on the icy road
- The carts at the grocery store are loud and squeaky (and quite annoying!). Does anyone spray these things with WD-40?
- I took the risk and tried using Bluetooth Connect device with my CI on the phone. Stunned myself that I was able to talk to Troy and my colleague Jessica on the phone! It took a lot of energy and concentration, but with predetermined topic, I was able to decipher speech. They both sounded very robotic but knowing that I went from only being able to hear chirps and whistles, to being able to talk on the phone for a short period of time was a risk that I am glad I tried.
- Christmas and Holiday MUSIC!
Jingle Bell Rock! Music is the most enthralling discovery for me over the past week. As an audiologist, I understand my audiogram and know what I was missing on paper. Now, I am so fascinated by how much sound that I was missing. I have never been able to decipher lyrics in songs, but I do know the words to many of the popular holiday favorites. These are the songs that you sang and maybe even went caroling and everyone had the lyrics written. What a perfect time of the year for me to get activated as I love listening to Christmas and Holiday music. The audiologist in me loves to experiment with my cochlear implant ear and my hearing aid ear while listening to music. In the car, I keep investigating what it sounds like with my hearing aid only, what it sounds like with my CI only, and what it sounds like together. I discovered that music sounds like I am listening through a frequency splitter headphone (not sure if this is such a thing, but it is for my bimodal ears!). In my hearing aid ear, I hear music from about 125-500 Hz. In other words, I hear the bass (tuba/drums/guitar/etc) and can hear male voices. In my cochlear implant ear, I perceive hearing from 750 Hz-6000 Hz. This means that for the first time I am hearing female voices, horns, flutes, violins, and the upper keys on a piano/keyboard. It is fascinating to hear these favorite songs in a whole new way. Jingle all the way!
As we enter the holiday season, it is the bright time, the right time, to discover the sounds of the season.
Reflections of Second Mapping at Ohio State (12/17) and More Hearing Discoveries!