December is a month of celebrations in our house! We celebrate the greatest gift of Christmas, we celebrate 4 generations of December birthdays (my mom, my grandma who is celebrating in heaven, my daughter, and ME!). A new celebration in December is that each year I will celebrate my Cochlear Implant Hearing Birthday! It is a time to be thankful for all that we have and are blessed with. It is a time to filter out the noise of everyday life and LISTEN to what is important and what matters in life.
With a lot of Birthdays to celebrate, comes cake and birthday wishes. With candles lit and Happy Birthday singing, it is time to close your eyes and make that birthday wish. The last couple weeks of hearing sounds is comparable to a birthday wish! I find myself closing my eyes and listening to the sound that surround me. I need to filter out the distractions of my environment and focus on what I am hearing. It has been about 2 ½ weeks since activation day and I am continuously amazed at how my brain adjusts to sound and makes sense of the world.
I have some real positives leading up to my follow up CI mapping appointment at Ohio State. I have gotten accustomed to wearing the cochlear implant. It has become part of who I am and I wake up in the morning and put on the CI and my HA. When I first put it on in the morning, it is still a lot of sound that is coming in that I am not used to. I compare it to going to a matinee movie in the middle of the day….it is really dark and the movie ends and you walk outside to the bright sunshine. Your eyes take a minute to adjust to this drastic change in your visual environment. Same thing with the cochlear implant. You go to bed at night and you are in a world of quiet, and the next day you put on the CI and you are suddenly in the New York City world of hearing. It takes a minute for your brain to calm down with all of the auditory input.
Some of my hearing discoveries:
- Filing my nails! This is a sound that I didn’t know existed.
- When doing laundry, I could hear the water filling up in the washing machine
- The continuous timer mechanism of the toaster oven as you toast an English muffin
- Josie (our dog) nails on the hard floor as she walks around the quiet house
- The keyboard on my phone when texting when the volume is really low
- People talking and getting clearer each day. The longer I listen to the same person, the more I realize that the chirps, beeps, and whistles are starting to turn into speech sounds like “t, sh, ch, f”. I still have a long way to go with these sound and dedicated to auditory therapy to continue to improve!
On Dec 17, I had my second CI mapping at Ohio State. I was excited and anxious to find out how I might have progressed. One of the main reasons that I made a decision to get a CI is because my hearing aid speech discrimination was poor in my left ear. In my mind, I had a BIG BIRTHDAY WISH that I would perform better with my CI than I did with my HA at this appointment.
Upon arrival to the appointment, my first request to Dr. LaPrete (audiologist) was to put me in the booth and do speech discrimination. She agreed but also reminded me that I am only 13 days out listening with a CI and my programming still is a work in progress. I agreed professionally, but personally I wanted to know that I was moving in the right hearing direction. I needed this validation. As the word list started, I closed my eyes so that I could intently concentrate on the recorded word list. My Birthday Wish came true! My speech discrimination scores with my CI surpassed my previous HA speech discrimination score. Small GREAT steps in this cochlear implant journey. During this appointment, Dr. LaPrete also tested for my cochlear implant thresholds and it is exciting to know that my CI thresholds are already significantly better than I was ever able to hear with my hearing aid. I still am having trouble hearing and detecting the highest frequencies with my CI, but these are also the frequencies that I have never in my life heard (even with hearing aids) and my brain needs to wake up to these sounds. I cannot stress the importance of auditory therapy as well as dedicated on my own auditory training that is needed. This is a continuous process, but love the small great steps that have been achieved.
As I close my eyes and make my birthday wish, I wish to continue to make sense of the noise in my world and focus on what matters in life. I am blessed with an amazing family, friends, and colleagues, and OSU CI team.
With all of the distractions that come our way during this holiday season, I hope that each of you can close your eyes, make a wish and listen to what really matters in your life. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of you.