So, obviously I’m not any better at keeping up with this blog than I am my old (and abandoned) blog! It’s been 3 ½ months and I hadn’t even realized it! Since my last post, a fair amount has happened. I went back to the surgeon January 9th and was released from any more follow up appointments. YAY! I noticed while I was meeting with him that I could understand him SO much better than I had at my past appointments. He has a foreign accent that I can’t place and accents have always made it more difficult for me to understand the person speaking.
That same day, I had another mapping appointment. Things were tweaked and the volume went up quite a bit! At first, it actually ended up being too loud, especially in noisier situations. I always turn the volume down now in the car, but by now I find I am able to tolerate the volume more in most other situations. I still have to turn the volume down in the car if I’m listening to music. The 2 sounds, music and road noise, are just too much. The day or 2 after the mapping appointment, I noticed that I could hear a sound in my classroom when most of my students were out at a related arts class and I just had my preschoolers in the room during their nap time. I asked my coworker and found out that it was one of my preschool students snoring! I had known that she snored some (I just thought it was sporadic, but apparently it is an everyday thing), but before I had to kneel down real close to her to be able to hear it. For a while after that, I didn’t really notice any huge changes. In fact, all my changes and improvements have been very small, nothing huge. I attribute this to the fact that I did have some benefit from hearing aids before the surgery, though not a whole lot. But basically, I wasn’t completely deaf in that ear before the surgery, so I think that has made it so that I don’t have huge changes in my progress. This past week, I really noticed a few new things. One day, I was standing in the cafeteria, several yards away from the kitchen area, and heard a faint noise that I couldn’t recognize. Sometimes I swear I hear phantom noises, like my cell phone vibrating when it really isn’t, so I thought that’s what it was. I asked the interpreters standing there with me and they said that it was the ovens in the kitchen buzzing. Apparently they go off every day while we are in there waiting for the kids to finish eating breakfast! I don’t know if it was just quieter that morning or if I just have been adjusting or what, but it was kind of cool to hear a sound from so far away! I also heard my iPad chime with a new e-mail from halfway across my classroom. That was definitely a quieter situation (if you don’t count the snoring from the preschooler).
I still struggle a LOT with noisier environments, but again, I have noticed improvements in those situations, too. I went to dinner with my family in January and we were at a noisy restaurant (aren’t they all, though?). There was one point in time when I had my face turned away from my mother, who was sitting on my right side (the implanted side). She said something and I realized that I actually had understood what she said. That was pretty cool!
Last night I worked at the Prom of the Stars in Knoxville. My battery died and I realized I had left the spare batteries at my parents house, so that left my semi-one-eared (if that makes any sense). It is amazing how much clarity the implant adds to sounds. On the way to the prom, I rode with friends. I sat in the back seat and was surprised that I could understand my best friend, who was sitting in the front seat, without ever seeing her face. I definitely missed a few things she said, but I pretty much got everything by context clues, by what I did understand. After we left the prom, which was pretty much immediately after my battery died, I couldn’t understand a word she said and she ended up having to text me the plans for the rest of that evening. I went home and picked up my batteries, which helped a LOT.
I’ve been asked many times since the surgery if I regret having the surgery or if I’m happy that I had it. I definitely don’t regret it and never have. I still have a ways to go before I am where I want to be. I don’t think I’ll be there by the time the first year is up. I also don’t have plans to get the other ear implanted any time soon. Maybe one day, but for now, I am happy with what I have and happy to work on that. There are a lot of pluses to having a cochlear implant, but there are some minuses, too, and I am content to just have the one and not bother with 2 yet, if ever. There is a definite sound difference between the implant and the hearing aid. I feel I am adjusting well to that and mostly it doesn’t bother me. Music is sounding better as time goes on, but still sounds better with the hearing aid as well, and I don’t want to give that up right now.
Well, there is my update! I didn’t put any of the testing results from the last appointment in this post because I want to ask for a copy of the report before I do so. Also, while the testing results show a huge improvement and I do think testing is important, it’s not real life and therefore doesn’t hold a ton of importance to me. I have another appointment in a few weeks, so hopefully I’ll have more to post then! (And maybe before!!)