Monday, September 15, 2008

A Year in Review - CI Scores

There, I was today at the Audiology Department of the Hospital University of Pennsylvania, sitting cross legged in the same chair that I sat in 364 days ago when I had my cochlear implant activated. Time is a funny conundrum of sorts because some people claim it is relative, others absolute but the fact of the matter is that it just – flies. My temperament was flickering with nostalgic moments of how just a day shy of a year ago I was reintroduced to the noisy world of sound. I still remember how I wanted to commit mass genocide of anything with the consistency of paper. I remember trying to harbor laughter when anyone – man, woman and child spoke to me as if they were practicing to become an extra in an Alvin and the Chipmunk movie. I remember how a helicopter dangled fifty feet above my head and heard not a thing. I remember my emotions running amok – one day I was on a high, the next I was depressed and one-second I would be savoring a sweet melody and the next I would frown at gosh awful noise. I remember my eye twitching because I was too hasty with my volume and I praise the day it was resolved. I remember people telling me to be patient and that I will eventually reap what has been sewn in my head. I remember all of tedious and trivial details as if it were yesterday and yet I can’t remember what I had for breakfast this morning.

It has been a while since I had a mapping, seven months to be exact. I have developed quite a few gripes over the past couple of months. I have completely maxed out on my volume. I still have the utmost difficulty understanding men and some women. I can understand women with no problem but that can be a bad thing because I understand them too well sometimes. When a man says bosom, it sounds like booze. When a woman says thirteen sounds like fifteen and vice versa. I used to be able to hear the airplanes from in the house and now I can't which is disturbing because I live right near a military base and there are constantly flying overhead. I used to be able to hear better in noisy conditions but I think that is due to my CI needing a tune up badly. Edelweiss sounds like anal rice or anal vice depending on who is saying it and lip reading doesn't help me in the least little bit. I walked in and plopped down and unleashed my tiny list of tasks to be tinkered to my dear audiologist.

Right off the bat, she raised my volume which was a dire improvement. With raising the volume, she raised distortion also. She flattened the lows and tweaked the high frequencies. I was able to hear the sizzle of the S’s and rushing air of the SH sound. It sounded nice and crisp. Amazing what just a little bit of tweaking can do. I am happy to report that Edelweiss now sounds like idle vice which is a drastic improvement over anal rice. Whew! It was time to go into the booth!

You will graphically see as I provided that when I was tested for CI, I bombed every single test with my left ear – zero’s across the board. Quite pathetic I know but what did you expect from an ear with no stimulation for over 15 years.

A month after my CI activation, I was plopped in the soundproof jail and I scored an average 44% on sentences in quiet. The harder test is the words which I scored 8% on, but I managed to score 33% on the phonemes. I get points for phonemes because that means I was able to guess part of the word. For example, the man in the speaker said tick and I said kick – I get points for ick. :)

Five months after activation, I got stuck in the jail again and I scored an average of 79% in sentences in quiet which was well – a 79% improvement. :) My audiologist Jennifer decided that I progressed enough to do the HINT (Hearing in Noise Test) test. She gave me the +10 HINT which means the voices was raised 10dB above the noise and I scored a pathetic 34% on that. Now my one year mapping results – I scored 79% on the sentences in quiet which is not a major improvement from my last test, but I was never one of those people that was aiming for 100% because all I wanted to was to hear something. I feel that I perform much better in real life and the following tests scores prove that. These are the result of the +10 Hint – 74% which is a great improvement from my last score of 34%. My audiologist decided to give me the hardest test – the +5 HINT test which means the voices is raised 5dB above the noise and I scored – 65% :)

Some of you might go, you went through surgery and got your head cut open and you can’t even get over 80% comprehension in quiet! When it comes down to it, I didn’t get the cochlear implant to hit hundred percent in a soundproof booth; I got it to gain anything over zero percent. I was happy with the 44% a month after activation and I am happy with 80% now. However, in all actuality these test scores do not reflect how I feel that I perform in real life. I can see how well I perform just by what I am picking up.

Patience is a beautiful thing when you have it and you definitely need it with a cochlear implant. I got 364 days of certifiable cochlear implant experience notched in my head and I can’t wait to see what tomorrow and the next day brings to me. Each tick of the clock leads to a more enjoyable experience. Put it this way, getting a cochlear implant is like making a fruitcake – it Is a lot of hard work but the longer it sits, the better it is and my bionic fruitcake has gotten better and better with time! :)

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

The Sounds of Music...

As it would seem that the older I get; the more avant-garde my moments of lacking comprehension seem to get. Either my superb lip reading skills have diminished in the past year or my brain is becoming particularly innovative when watching the zygomatic motion play an intricate part of shaping the lips in such a fashion that I am supposed to comprehend. Even though I have a cochlear implant, I still have incomprehensible moments of where I am left with a rosy kaleidoscope marbled across my face but this moment I must share with you all.

I was spending a lovely evening at home this past weekend, watching television and ooVooing with my bionic belle, Jennifer and my buddy Wayne from around the way. Mother dearest was doing her own thing looking through the online TV guide when she came upon the movie, The Sound of Music. I have never watched the movie but then again, like many movies, they were not available with closed captioning when I was younger. However, we live in a dawn of a new closed captioning era and all the movies I have been so wrongfully deprived of, I can now watch. The capacity of knowledge for the Sound of Music was limited but I knew there was a lot of singing involved from commercials. I made a general announcement on ooVoo that the aforementioned movie was coming on which prompted Jennifer to belt out to the tune of B flat, you guessed it - the Sound of Music. I thought I would have loads of fun with this serenading my two onlookers with my sounds of music, which I will vehemently admit is akin to the Tasmanian devil mating.

And surprisingly enough, I had managed not to butcher the Do Re Mi song when I did my amateur rendition. My mother started a conversation shortly afterwards about a doorbell that my cousin has that chimes after a song in this movie. However, I was having minor difficulty in understanding the name of the song.

“Abbie, I was talking to Patty one day and I heard her doorbell. It chimes anal rice!”

I'm pretty sure I heard that wrong.

“Excuse me?”

“Anal Rice, it’s a name of a flower.”

That’s an odd name for a flower and a song. I furrowed my brows and looked confused.

“Now, it’s a flower?! I thought it was a song.”

“Yes, its a name of a flower and the name of the song in the movie... Anal Rice”

That can’t be right. I’m totally confused. My mother grabs her laptop, starts surfing on the information highway to YouTube to bring up the mysterious anal rice song that doubles as a flower.

“Did they play it yet?”

“No, but here it is!” She presses play on YouTube and I clearly have never heard this song before.

“So this song is...?”

“Anal rice.”

Jennifer and Wayne are listening to this entire conversation. They could clearly tell by the look on my face I did not comprehend the mysterious song title.

“I’m sorry Mom; I don’t understand what you are saying.”

“Anaaaaal rice!” She learned forward, spoke very slowly here and enunciated every word while I damn near went crossed eyed focusing on her lips.

“Are you seriously saying anal rice?”

She flares backwards in hysterics. gasping for air and turning red. I figured she was okay as long as she wasn't turning blue. But it confirmed that she wasn't saying anal rice after all. After a few moments, she recollects herself and puts on her straightest face.

“An-nal rice.”

I shake my head. I did just not understand this. I type in the chat box to Jennifer and Wayne that my mom is talking about anal rice.

“I still think you are saying anal rice. IM it to me?”

My mom, still having a grand old chuckle, feverishly searches for a piece of paper and a pen. “No! I’m writing this out.” I knew she meant business. She wrote out the name of the song and/or flower and passed it over to me and it read - Edelweiss.

"You do know that it looks like you are saying anal rice." She mouthed into a mirror and confirmed that it did. Like I was going to make up that something looks like anal rice on the lips!

“Oh that makes more sense.” Shortly thereafter, Von Trapp family started singing Edelweiss. I listened but it still sounds like anal rice no matter who said it, sang it or screamed it. I can say that I successfully ruined my mothers perspective of the song. She decided to include the lovely doorbell owners in the loop via email...

Hello Stroh and Patty,

Let's call this "Fun moments with the deaf. :)

While talking to Patty one day, your doorbell gave off a very melodious tune of "Edelweiss". Now explaining to this to a deaf girl sans head hardware was rather an experience unto itself. Explaining to Abbie who was in lip-reading mode at the time about the flower and song "Edelweiss" has prompted this message.

From now on unto the time when the doorbell ceases to work, the tune of "Edelweiss" will be known as "Anal Rice" as the lip formation of this word looked just like I said exactly that!

With this little bit of mirth and love to all three of you, I bid you goodnight hoping this finds you all in good health.


I think my mom might be right, I am seriously over due for a mapping...