Sunday, April 12, 2009

First Bilateral Mapping...

This week has proven not be superfluous but surprisingly productive towards the end. The first couple of days, I would be sprawled out on my recliner, cupping my chin in my hand and staring into space wondering why in the HELL everything was plinking. People plinked. My dog plinked. She was plinking all over the house. I was ready to take her plinking fuzzy butt and have her deplinked. The leaves plinked. The wind plinked. My breathing plinked. Paper plinked. Staplers plinked. It was a plinkerific mess for the first couple of days.

As each new day dawned, the chipmunks have gone into hibernation and the robotic voice synthesizer has come out to play. The plinking began to lessen leading the way to the subtle phonetic nuances to enter the foreground. Of course, this wasn't entirely clear to me until I picked up the phone and heard a series of numbers correctly. First, I thought that I got them wrong but I listened with my old ear which proved me wrong. I was hearing nothing but plinking, and unknowingly I was understanding more than I thought. I took me several weeks to understand numbers with the old implant. The last time I could understand anything on my right ear on the telephone was February 22, 2007.

Naturally, my optimism levels rose. I decided to tests my brain out to see what else it was hiding from me. I had the LING sounds read to me, and I guessed all but one correctly - EEE. In the beginning I thought there was no way I could start auditory rehab with everything beeping, boinging and plinking but with my newfound discovery, I threw myself into it. My first "lesson" is Twilight by Stephanie Meyer. I downloaded the audiobook on my ipod and plugged myself in via the Direct Connect cord. I could tell that it was a woman narrating the book, but in real life I had difficulty discriminating between a male and a female. I was not expecting much - a phoneme or two, but much to my surprise I was sporadically picking up broken sentences. I was throughly confused when I closed my eyes to understand real live speech, I felt as though I wasn't picking up diddly squat. But, when I had myself plugged into the Ipod I was picking up strings of words. I've deduced that my brain is playing tricks on me.

This whole week I had the chance to adjust to HiRes - P. In the beginning, it offered me less plinking than HiRes - S. So, I stuck with P all week but on my way to my first mapping this morning, I put the ear buds from my Ipod into my ear to listen to Twilight and noticed that I was picking up a lot more road noise than I liked. I decided to cycle through the programs to see whether the other two could filter out the road noise. I was pleasantly surprised that when I used HiRes-S at how well it filtered the road noise. I was even more surprised at how well I was understanding - far superior to what HiRes-P was giving me. At the last moment, I decided on HiRes-S as my speech strategy.

As I was waiting in the waiting room, I sat a good 20 to 25 feet at a distance from this secretary who was brandishing a very shrilling piece of machinery - a stapler! I was dying listening to every time she felt the absolute need to fasten some papers together which happened to be every ten-seconds. Then my audiologist came and rescued me. First, she performed what is called a NRI test which measures the nerve response to electrical stimulation. I didn't have to do anything but sit there and look out the window watching clouds roll in. This gave us an indication of where the volume should be and it was right in the ballpark.

My main issue was the robotic voices and certain high pitched tones such as staplers, dishes, and squeaky doors, paper and numerous others were causing me to brace for the auditory attack. It doesn't hurt, but it just makes me acutely alert that they are there! So what my audiologist did was raised the volume and added some gains in the high and the lows frequencies. As I expected, we could not map out the robotic voices but we got them tamed. My brain will acclimate in the coming months. This took just a half hour, I was out the door and on my way home. Once I got home, I crashed...

Since it has been a few days, I can make an honest assessment of the mapping. My voice sounds like Darth Vader which is really testing my ability to have a conversation without laughing. I can tell the difference between a man and a woman's voice. I noticed that while I am reading along with the audiobook, the frequency that I am picking up sentences is increasing. Yesterday, I was driving with a friend in the passenger seat and I could understand him without reading his lips even when night descended. Since my first implant was on my left ear, there was always a degree of difficulty with hearing people in the passenger seat but that has become easier.

For me, this bilateral process is like waiting for a flower to bloom. I know the seed has been planted. I'm watering the seed by wearing it by itself as much as I can. I'm fertilizing it with auditory rehab. I'm providing the necessary light by venturing out into different environments. For I know that this cannot be rushed and all I can do is wait. I'm just thankful that I don't need a green thumb for this. :)

9 comments:

Paula Rosenthal said...

Abbie, great description of life at the beginning with a second implant. It really takes hard work! It took a long time for my 2 ears to synchronize, but as you know, passage of time makes things a whole lot better. :)

Laurie said...

Abbie,

You "plinking" make me laugh! You are doing quite well! You just have to find your "happy medium" - a program and volume/sensitivity that works for you. I have a program for road noise just so I can hear anything car and switch to my regular programming for everyday sounds.

I can't wait to read your next post! Happy Easter!

PinkLAM said...

This post cracked me up! I just got my second implant turned on last week, so I can definitely relate!

I'm brand-new to blogging, but you can check out my blog at
cacophonytosymphony.blogspot.com

:)

Anonymous said...

Abbie, good afternoon from Abu Dhabi. You made me laugh too with your exhiliarating verbose. I am getting excited at your plinking environment. The fact that u can hear in the dark, and distinguish numbers well means u are up to the best soon.
Wow, i wished I had not waited and plunged into bilateral last week....Zubair

Sam said...

What was all that plinking about!!?? Glad to hear you're progressing along! It gets better as you plink along happily!

Ulf said...

Go Abbie, go! :-)

Bright Family said...

Thanks for posting in such detail! It is great to hear experiences from an adult's point of view since our little people do not yet have the ability to describe what they're hearing. Interesting!

Happy hearing!

Bionic Wombat said...

Classic description of bilateral mapping - good on you and keep up the good work

Nabeel said...

Hey Abbie, excellent blog! I enjoyed reading about your experience... someone pointed me to your blog when I wrote about a nurse telling me that I'm not supposed to blow my nose after the implant surgery :) Yes, I'm getting my first implant on April 29th. Anyway, I'll check back every now and then!