Thursday, September 13, 2007

Destination is merely a byproduct of the journey: Part II

The countdown is indeed dwindling down and I am beginning to get impatient, but not for the obvious reasons. The tinnitus has come back and I have set up a tent at Camp Unhappy. It sounds like a fish tank bubbling and I cannot tell which side of my head the tinnitus is coming from. It started on Tuesday and increasingly got louder. Yesterday when I woke up, it was just like old times. I could hardly hear a thing. This morning the noise was not so loud. It is just so aggravating. I was just so grateful for that little taste of silence for a couple weeks. I am not welcoming this noisy visitor with open arms again. Anyway, moving right along to your lesson of the day.

Let me copy and paste this to refresh your memory:

Activation involves the external part of the system, which is the processor that resembles your standard behind the ear hearing aid. The coil with the flat round disc at the end houses a magnet that will attach to the magnet in the implant that lies under my head. Whew, try saying that five times fast. Before I continue, for the record my processor will be boring beige. I am far too colorful with my hair and wardrobe to rock a colorful processor. Once the two magnets attract each other then my audiologist, Jennifer who is going to be my new best friend for the next couple of months, can get down to business and start programming the implant according to how I respond to the tones. Once the programming is complete, she activates me and slowly starts to turn up the volume to a comfortable level. At this point, I should be able to hear something. These sessions are called mappings that will be explained in detail as the countdown dwindles down.

When it comes to activation on Monday, the programming will be referred to as mappings. Two levels of sound must be determined in order to custom map the implant to my hearing loss. The first level is called a Threshold or T for short, which is when I can detect the softest sound at each frequency. The second level is Comfort, C or M for short. This is when I determine my loudest but most comfortable sound at each frequency. I believe they use what is called live speech burst to determine the levels. Once these two levels are determined, the audiologist will go through a process of asking me when two different pitches of sound are at the same volume. Somehow, that sounds tricky to me. If you are presented with, a low bass sound followed with a high tone and have to determine if it is at the same volume level. It seems to me it is easier said than done.

Once the T & C levels are determined and everything sounds the same to me, the audiologist will download the map to my processor and turn the volume up until I can hear. It will be at that most moment that I will be able to hear something.

The following could happen:
  • Best-case scenario is that I could hear everything just as natural as could be.
  • Everyone sounds like munchkins from Wizard of Oz, but I will understand speech.
  • I could hear sounds similar to R2D2 fighting in Star Wars as speech.
  • I could hear static.

Regardless of what I hear, it will be something more then what I currently have now. The audiologist might have to play around with the levels a little more depending on how I respond. That is mapping in a nutshell. Being mapped is not just a one-time deal. I have three more mapping sessions scheduled over a month and half period. As time goes on my brain will learn to interpret what the electrical pulses are from the implant as sound and it will become natural. When my brain gets use to one map, sounds will become softer which means my brain is ready for more volume. At that point, I will have to go back to the audiologist and have another mapping session to determine the threshold and comfort levels all over again.

Lesson completed! Class dismissed.


Jennifer said...

Abbie, I don't remember having tinnitus when I had my surgery, but then again, the nerves in that ear had been long gone for years. It started for me at activation...when my brain was trying to adjust to hearing on the left side for the first time ever...the right side threw a royal hissy-fit! I expect to have a lot of it with the next surgery. I am having a lot of it now in my "good"'s not completely dead yet, but it's trying, I think. I had to give up the hearing aid in April because I didn't have anything useable anymore but still have some mid-frequencies that still pick up if the noise is really loud (cabinet doors banging, etc). I think they're trying to go, though...because I hear fireworks all the time...sounds like my ear's exploding. I can't wait to be done with that!!! I feel your pain! :)

Cindy said...


I can hardly stand it!! I keep checking your blog for more news and nothing!

Write something!!! Please!!!