Today was my 2nd day with the implant turned on, but my first full day with it. I have done better about wearing it almost all day and much more without my hearing aid on. I also had another mapping appointment (programming) first thing this morning.
I was so excited about the no restrictions that I woke up with (what I thought was) plenty of time to wash and dry my hair. Why was this great, you ask? Well, for the first week after the surgery, I couldn’t even get the incision wet except for one day when I was supposed to wash it twice. This is VERY hard to do when you have to wash your hair everyday and when you have as much hair as I do! Many days I just walked around with the antibacterial ointment in my hair because it was near impossible to wash out on my own. After 7 days, I was able to get the incision wet and wash it, but still could not get water in my ear canal. So I went the next 2 weeks only washing my hair every other day, at night, under the tub faucet. So to be able to shower and wash my hair like a normal person was pretty great! 🙂
I decided to change my morning routine and dry my hair first so I could put on the processor and listen to the sounds in the room. Big mistake. I ended up rushing out of the hotel and being ten minutes late to my appointment because I was testing out all the sounds I could hear. The water sounded mechanical, when I made coffee and tore open the sweetner and creamer packets and shook them, they sounded like bells. I tried to make everything quiet in the room so I could listen to the sounds I made while I was getting ready, so I turned off the a/c and muted the tv, but there was still a sound that wouldn’t go away. Since it just sounded like warbles and bells, I couldn’t figure out what it was to save my life. Finally it dawned on me that the fan in the bathroom directly behind me came on and stayed on when you turned on the lights. I turned this off and voila! Silence! Everything I did after that just sound like chimes. Putting makeup containers away, anything was chimes. After I realized that time was flying by and I was going to be late, I had to make myself rush and get to my audiology appointment.
This appointment started with me describing the previous night’s sounds and the sounds I had heard that morning. We did the same short testing we had started with yesterday and then hooked up my implant to the computer and I put it on. Since I still was struggling to hear speech, we went back over the previous day’s tests and started at the volume we were already set at with the different frequencies and turned everything up louder. Then, to help with the speech volume, we did another test/setting, and I had to listen to 2 different sounds (they were tones at different frequencies) and tell if the second sounds was quieter or louder and continue until the two were at the same volume. This. Was. Hard. I finally finished that, just fingers crossed that I had done it right). Then we played around with the volume, trying to make speech louder. I left with two more programs. There are two different ways to process sound, therefore two different programs. I have to compare the two programs and see which I prefer. So I currently have four programs with the same settings, but two volume levels. The hope is that I’ll be able to decide on a program type before my next appointment on the 19th and that I’ll be able to progress to the louder volume.before then as well. This seems impossible at the moment, but who knows what the week will bring!
So far, sound is weird. Voices sound a little warbly sometimes, but mostly like cartoonish robots or aliens. If I have a visual and it’s slow enough, I can sort of make out the words. Sometimes I can understand a word without the visual, but rarely. After the new mapping, water running sounds more clear and less mechanical. Paper rustling and ripping and the dog’s toenails tapping on the floor are much louder. At one point, I was sitting on the couch and all was quiet. I noticed a very soft, high pitched noise that I couldn’t figure out. I got up to investigate and as I walked into the kitchen, it got louder. It ended up being the sound of the dog drinking water, which sounded more like clinking as I got closer and it got louder. I’m able to tell more if I’m hearing a voice or not, though it’s still very unclear and I am not always right. Music sounds mostly non-sensical, though on some of my iPad apps, I’ve noticed that the piano sounds ok, so I may find some piano music I have and listen to that. Tomorrow I may try to start working on listening to words without a visual, although I won’t go into it with high expectations. People will probably think I’m crazy for a while, because if I hear a noise I can’t recognize, I will go investigate or make it happen again and again, with and without my hearing aid turned on. Oh, well. There are worse things! 🙂
I have been wondering a lot today what it’s like for my students who get implants but have never heard before. What does it sound like to them when they first get it turned on? How do things sound to them as they hear all these new sounds when they don’t have anything to compare it to? Probably we will never know the answers to these questions!