Thursday, May 04, 2006

Girl's Day Out

Laurie, Susan, & Lydia

Last week I had a "girl's day out" with two of my CI friends. I left the house at 8:30 a.m. and returned home at 9:30 p.m. so it was a very long day. It wasn't your typical girl's day out but was refreshing and rewarding nonetheless! In one of my last few entries I talked about meeting Susan for lunch (her blog is on the right, by the way) and how we discussed going together to a different audiologist to have our CI's mapped. Well, we invited another friend, Lydia, (who got her CI 15 years ago) because she seemed to be struggling with her hearing and was getting stressed and worn out in many situations. We met at Susan's house in Knoxville, drove 2.5 hours to Johnson City, had the most delightful lunch at a little barbecue place and had our CI's mapped by Jayne at Mountain Region Speech and Hearing Center. You should have seen us in the car - we all had our microphones connected to our CI's (it helps to cut out the car noise so we can hear each other's voices) and had them going every which way!

Our three appointments took up the whole afternoon and we were able to watch each other get mapped. Jayne was WONDERFUL and very knowledgeable and understanding about each of our situations. Lydia got mapped first and had the most drastic changes to her CI. Jayne also suggested that her processor may not be working right so she got on the phone right away with Cochlear and arranged for a replacement unit to be sent to her since it was still under warranty. The smile on Lydia's face was so priceless after she was done. She said that this was the best map she has EVER had since she got her cochlear implant. She was one of the first people in Knoxville to get a CI and had been going to Memphis to get mapped. I've had several emails from her since then and she is hearing so much better and is not so worn out by the end of the day trying to hear. She can already tell an improvement in her hearing, especially in background noise. The following is an excerpt from one of her emails:

"This is the best mapping I have ever had! Lewis had yet to repeat himself. I had a manicure today and heard Korene so great and there was a hair dryer going nearly beside me. It did not bother me. Also, I was sucking up Molly's dog hair with this electric broom I have which is so loud that I have always taken my hearing off. Well, it still was way too loud but it did not bother me as before. While it was running I switched the program on the CI to the old one and it about blew me away. It was so loud and harsh. I cannot believe it. Also, I was in Kroger and could understand the cashier talking with me and usually have bluffed my way though it. Have had no problems on the phone and could understand my dear mother-in-law with the soft southern accent. She is making an appointment for my father in law to see if Jayne can help him hear better with his hearing aids. What a blessing this is. I have not understood this well in all my years of being mapped. I am going to Jayne from now on and think we should make a threesome every six months at least to get remapped. I have had very few things that I could not understand and have kept a pad with me to record to tell Jayne. I figured I will be going back first of next week to get my other processor. I really would like to wear this map in so many situations so when I do go back, I will have some good feedback for her. How are you doing with your new map??????? I loved every minute of being with you. I think you are doing awesome and I can understand you really well. Love and hugs, Lydia"

Lydia's letter is proof how important a good map and audiologist is. The three of us will probably get mapped as a threesome from now on. Lydia says that Johnson City is "next door" compared to Memphis even if she has to drive 2.5 hours.

Susan was next and she had some changes too, to her map. An email from Susan also tells me that she is hearing better after our session. She was not back in the environment that normally gives her trouble but did notice some changes for the better. For example, she was walking on her treadmill at home and thought she would try listening to the TV at the same time. It was similar to what she experiences doing clinicals at the hospital, trying to hear soft voices over a motor sound. She said she did fairly well, understanding a few words her own and using captions to check herself. I haven't heard yet how she is doing at the hospital this week.

It was very interesting to watch what Jayne was doing on the computer as she set up the beeps and tones and mapped Lydia and Susan. My previous audiologist never let me see what he was doing nor did he explain things to me very well. The girls were very surprised that I had never seen a "map" on the computer after being mapped. I was next and we discovered that the autosensitivity mode was never activated on my CI. Bill had told me that he turned it on but he never did. Jayne turned on the autosensitivity settings on our CI's and we are hearing better! She left some of our old programs on our CI's just in case we weren't happy with our new settings so that we could have something to fall back on. Lydia is going back next week to get her new processor. I might send my spare processor with her so that Jayne can put my new map on it and take the old maps off because I am quite happy with how I am hearing.

Ever since then, I've had some more CI moments. On Friday as I was mending Marissa's prom dress, I could hear the thread going through the fabric as I sewed. And, the other night I heard the oven timer from upstairs! The last time I heard it was in the TV room. That is progress. Yesterday I heard a bird singing outside with the windows closed. So, it is getting better and better all the time.

Haven't heard anything yet about going bilateral. I've completed all the tests and requirements and am waiting for the doctor and insurance company to do their part. Got an interesting form from Dr. Merwin's office last week asking me to sign a patient release form so that another agency can have access to my medical records and insurance book. This must be someone who is working as an advocate to deal with the insurance company on my behalf. So, it seems like they haven't forgotten about me. I've been following Michael Chorost's blog (also on the right) because he is fighting his insurance company for a second cochlear implant. He has the same insurance company we do so I am watching him VERY closely! See his April 6th entry - very interesting and informative. He is an excellent writer.

I will add more to this entry later and will post some pictures. Am currently on a business trip with Steve in Atlanta and do not have access to my computer. Hope you are having a wonderful and blessed day. Every day is a gift from God. Treasure it.

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