The past couple of days have been a little bit exhausting but extremely rewarding. I continue to discover new aspects of sound. The single biggest adjustment so far has been that my right ear is getting far more input than it ever used to. I mean, it's gone from being used for extremely muted sounds and helping me keep time while dancing all the way up to near equal work with my left ear. That's created an imbalance that my brain is working to compensate. On top of that, the hearing aid in my left ear is helping the CI in my right ear make connections between sounds, but sometimes, it still takes a bit. My hearing aid only really deals with low-frequencies as I have no usable hearing in the higher frequencies. It's a mah-ve-lous piece of technology that takes high frequency sounds and moves them to lower frequencies. But it's imperfect and I still can't perceive all of them. Enter the CI. Dat baby is picking up all the high frequencies and it's doing an excellent job of picking up all the high frequencies. So, I hear a sound with my right ear and my left ear tells me what it is about 60% of the time. If it's not in line of sight, I have to go hunting for it. Once I lay eyes on it, there's a mental *click* and then next time I hear it, with or without my hearing aid, I can identify it. So, I'm well on the road to being able to identify/discriminate sounds. And I have no doubt that, eventually, my beloved left ear, who has served me well all of these years will become secondary until I get an implant in that ear, whenever that may be.
One benefit of a CI that I didn't anticipate? After I get out of the shower, I don't have to wait for my ear canal to dry to avoid infections. WINNING! Just slap it on and go!
Yesterday towards the end of the day, I distinctly heard a co-worker's voice as a voice and not as Tweety Bird! That happened at least twice before I left for home. Probably happened three times but I couldn't track down who was talking to be sure the third time. And didn't really care by that time, to be honest. 😅 So, I get home, take the thing (and my hearing aid off) off for about 15 minutes of blessed silence and then I put it back on, without my hearing aid. Wife, about the same time, turns on a book on tape...and I was able to recognize that. About an hour later, I took it off for the night. Yea, I know, I need to wear it as much as possible but hey, I wanted a break.
This morning, when my wife crawled out of bed and decided to acknowledge me, I only had my CI in as usually I don't put my hearing aid on until I get to work because the ear canal is wet. And I had a bit of a jolt to realize that when she talked to me it was her voice, not Tweety Bird! OMG. OMG. OMG. I was so excited! Tee hee!!! I was just getting ready to head to work and was puttering around and she put on some music on her phone. I was able to recognize it as music and not rhythmic bird noises!
I went and got breakfast and while doing so, I just listened for voices (not speech). It was hit and miss with no rhyme or pattern. I did notice that the quieter the environment, the more likely I was to be able to distinguish a voice out of the background noise. So, my brain is starting to filter a little bit and let me "tune in" on what I want to hear.
When I got to work, that's when things really got interesting. Every sound I noticed and couldn't identify immediately, I went searching for it. My co-workers who saw me likely think I was a bit crazy. LOL...I'd stand up and stand stock still, listening. I still can't tell which direction sound is coming from. I'd wait for the sound to happen again and then I'd move to what I thought it was and wait for it to repeat. This included people. So it was maybe a bit startling for Charley to suddenly stop behind someone who was speaking/doing something and then just say nothing at all. Come to think of it, I may have behaved a bit creepily. LOL! I guess it's great that I don't have any female co-workers seated in my work area. 😂😂😂
My favorite place for sounds right now? In my car. In my car, I can have my hearing aid on and my CI in and my radio/phone as loud as I need it to be. And between the two, the blanks are slowly starting to fill in. I'm realizing why some of my instructors choreograph the way that they do or ask me to do something at a certain point in the music that I just didn't comprehend. There are avenues of play and opportunities opening up in music that I've never had access to before. 😍😍 Oh the possibilities! Oh the headaches I can give my instructors (I'm giddy with glee at the thought!!!).
Also in my car, I'm in a "quasi sound proof" room, so I can turn on a Youtube video and "listen" as a bit of real world practice with much less background noise. Yea, yea, I know I need to practice with all the background noise. Having to go to work, I don't get a whole lot of choice in that. But it's beneficial to control my environment a bit, especially when I feel myself tightening up due to stress.
Something I also need to address: I can hear more sounds but that doesn't mean that the sound is intelligible or meaningful. By having the CI surgery, I've entered into a process that will take time, energy, and effort to be successful. When I say I "hear a voice", it means that I recognize a human sound (speech recognition), not that I actually comprehended what was said. After all, I've never had that ability so I don't know what it's like. I've always combined lipreading with speech recognition to do what I do. It will take, at best, several months before I start to get any meaningful speech comprehension without lipreading. It could take a year or two before I can understand people in a group (if that is something that my brain can handle). It may be 2+ years before I can talk on the phone unaided. But...speech comprehension (as opposed to speech recognition) is not my goal. I AM going to put in the work to acquire speech comprehension. But being able to hear/enjoy music is and always has been the primary goal. And that is slowly but surely becoming a reality. My wife shared a very apt analogy this morning: everybody has been speaking Russian only I didn't know everyone was speaking Russian. Now, I have a device that let's me recognize that everyone is speaking Russian. But I still don't know Russian so now I have to learn it. Tee hee...
On to a technical piece! Below is a screenshot of the app on my phone that allows me to control my CI. I have 4 programs to progress through before my first real mapping. I have 2 weeks from this past Tuesday (11/12) to get through all 4. Well, I've not done even a week yet and I'm on program 3! Woot! But each time I "level up" Tweety Bird comes back. Thankfully, each "level up" introduces a new aspect to Tweety Bird's noise. Not sure how to explain it any better than that. :D
Sounds I've identified over the past few days:
2. car horns
3. buzzing fluorescent lights
4. watch clicking when it vibrates
5. a couple of percussion instruments in music (specifically, I can now distinguish between a couple of types)
5. squishy shoes
6. someone sitting heavily in a chair
7. throat clearing
8. snuffling 'cause snot
10. talking under breathe (stop mumbling!)
11. vocal tics. You hearing people are neurotic!
12. various types of high heels on the floor
13. doors opening and closing (without seeing them)
14. the "whoosh" of air going in/out when you open a door to outside
15. people LOVE to play with adjustable chair arms, don't they??😂😂😂
....and so many more! whee!!!
Thank y'all for all of the support and coming along with me on the journey! Y'all have definitely made this an easier process than it could have been otherwise. Y'all are excellent peeps! 😍