Friday, April 03, 2009

Bilateral Activation

My new ear was activated yesterday and the results were very promising. When my audiologist plugged me into the computer, I could have sworn I heard something – a surge of electricity but at that point my audiologist didn’t even touch the volume control. As my audiologist gradually turned up the volume, I watched her lips emit an artificially high-pitched voice. When the volume reached a tolerable level, I actually HEARD but I didn’t understand her talk where with my first ear; I wasn’t blessed hearing any type of vernacular. Naturally, my response was giddy since she talked like a chipmunk. :) It was difficult to keep a straight face while trying to effectively describe what I was hearing.

Once we fiddled around with the new ear, they decided to throw the old one back on to see whether I have a sense of balance auditory wise. I immediately had to turn the volume down on the old one. I could tell that I was hearing in stereo because the auditory input in each ear was dramatically different. My old ear was well, my old ear. My new ear was beeps, bongs, whistles. After a few minutes, my old ear decided to become the dominant ear. Once it did that, it somewhat canceled out some of the beeps, bongs and whistles.

No one took pity on the deaf girl because they started ripping paper, banging on the table and tapping their nails. The entire activation took less than an hour. My audiologist didn’t have to explain anything to me since I am a seasoned pro with the implant business. :) Since I went through this process already, I was very conservative volume wise. With my first ear, it was my initial instinct to amp up the volume because that is how you hear with a hearing aid. This time around, since I know what I know now, I know that you can’t rush it. Your brain will tell you what it wants, when it wants it. I was fitted with a Hi-Res Paired program with Fidelity 120, Hi-Res Sequential program with Fidelity 120 and a Hi-Res Paired noise program with Fidelity 120. I get to cycle through each one for several hours to see which one I prefer. My audiologist strongly suggested that I leave my old one off as much as possible to give my new ear some time to play catch up. Joy. :)

After activation, I walked out of the hospital with my slot firmly in position for Hi-Res Paired program with Fidelity 120 and unknowingly walked into the world according to Super Mario brothers. All sorts of beeps, buzzing, and bongs just pulsing away in my head. It sounds all futuristic but emanates the past of the arcade games from the 80’s.

Just driving home was a trip having the wonderfully iconic BOING of Super Mario powering up as I drove over every bump on the road. The only thing that really stood out is when I yawned a good healthy yawn – it sounded like a very horny orca performing their mating call. Feel free to YouTube that. I had noticed that I was unable to hear my blackberry chirp or croak when someone sent me a message. A few hours later, I could hear it. When I first got home, I couldn’t hear my dog’s toenails click clack against the floor. A few hours later, I could. I must have walked her up and down my 15 foot hallway about twenty times to hear it. I’m sure she thought I had gotten lost in my own house. :) I can tell when someone really has a good laugh. That is probably the only thing that I can pick out right now. BUT, I did pick up that there were some drums playing on the television.

I learned a little something about bilateral mappings – it wears you out. I mean my mappings for just one were a bit tiring but two – Oy! I’m not a napper by any means because I’ll sleep when I’m dead. But I buckled under pressure and took a twenty minute snooze.

This morning I decided to give Hi-Res Sequential program with Fidelity 120 a whirl – at work. I am sitting here with my hair down cleverly disguising two cochlear implants - the new one attached and the old one with the coil hanging just in case I need to use the telephone. it looks like a very ugly earring. Instead of listening to the world dictated by Super Mario Brothers, I am on the Galactic Republic listening to the auroral radio chatter of R2D2. When someone talks, it is as if R2D2 has a hyperactivity disorder – different beeps, bloops, and whistles randomly and furiously. And I am supposed to figure those out. :) I am listening to rain and it sounds like when Sonic the Hedgehog is collecting a whole mess of rings. When I walk down the hallway with my heels, I feel as I am walking with the weight of an elephant because it is very loud.

All in all, I am thrusting myself into the noisy world starting from scratch – hearing everything for the first time – again. I forgot how much I loved this process. :) Everything that I am hearing, coincides with a sound immediately. That pleases me. The toughest part about this for me is leaving my old ear off but I will remain diligent. My next mapping is next Friday on April 10th and that is when the real fun begins. For now, R2D2 and I are going to be buddies for the next week.


Sam said...

Congrats and welcome to the bilateral world! It will get better as time passes! Looking forward to hearing about your "WOW" moments.

Bob VE3MPG said...

All the best in your new "stereophonic" journey Abby. Take care,


Anonymous said...

Hey Abby,
It sounds like your off to a wonderful start in the "Surround Sound" world. Hope you and R2D2 have a good week. Congratulations!!!

CDM said...

ok I really had fun reading this blog entry. Woooo! Was definitely a very good read. I'm always curious as to how each individual hear when they are first activated.

Ulf said...

Love your writing, Abby! And love how you are able to make your experience very vivid to me!
Congratulations on becoming bilat! Two thumbs up from me and I'm monitoring your blog 24/7 now ;-)

Loreene said...

Thanks for the update and I enjoy the way you write. Glad that the new ear is hearing things! I look forward to reading about your progress in the coming months.


David said...

Congrats Abbie! I am so happy and excited for you!


Mary Koonce said...

Good descriptions of your new, emerging sounds! You're on your way!

Bionic Wombat said...

exciting times ahead - wait till everything levels out and more balanced, it sounds unreal

Laurie said...

A wonderful "first" stereo post! You are doing great! You are brave to just leave off the 1st ear. I couldn't do that and only wore my "new" ear in the mornings. I needed two ears right away when I went "stereo." Can't wait to hear more!

Samantha said...

YAY! I'm so excited for you! :)
Your description of the yawn cracked me up! :P And it was funny when you mentioned how you left the coil of your old implant down for just in case... I do the same for when I need to talk on the phone (on my HA side) in a noisy place, and I always feel weird cuz it looks like some odd earing hanging from my head!! haha

Anyways, Congrats! That's awesome that you're able to recognize some sounds after a few hours of having it!

Pass, from HLAA said...

Dwear Obee,

Bweep doo thwip dwear CI verrop perpeep! Tic bweet dwoor froop! Obiwan woot bwee pwowd!

Fwend owf R2D2

Unknown said...

Hi Abby, It is wonderful reading your comments about you new ear. I truly enjoy the Abby way of describing what and how you hear, also, your detailed experiences with your audiologist. In the beginning I use to think it was because you had a great audiologist, now I believe it is the terrific team work between the both of you. Keep doing what you do best Lady Abby. Hugs from your Jersey Buddy LadyBionic

kim said...

I'm just checking in on ya. Glad all is going well with that second implant. You have a funny way of describing things. R2D2--huh?

Askungen said...