Saturday, February 02, 2008

Bilateral Cochlear Implant Anniversary

A year ago today I went under the knife again to have my second cochlear implant surgery. What a year it has been! I truly love hearing in surround sound and am forever thankful and grateful for the opportunity to hear this well in my lifetime!

Today (Wednesday) was an interesting day. I participated in a research study for a graduate student at the University of Tennessee (Knoxville) in the Audiology department. I had to answer some general questions about my hearing history and my implants. Then she put me in a chair inside a sound booth. And attached five electrodes/sensors to my head and earlobes. I had to be very still and watch the movie "Finding Nemo" with close captioning and NO SOUND. The sound that I did hear in the booth was the word "she" repeated over and over THE WHOLE TIME! Imagine hearing "she-she-she-she-she-she-she" constantly while trying to watch TV . . . at varing levels of sound. When we started the test, she kept stopping and asking me if I was comfortable. I told her I was fine but she wasn't satisfied with her readings or whatever on her computer. She kept turning down the "she-she-she" volume and finally I told her that if I was at home trying to work on something and the TV was too loud, I would ask for the volume to be turned down. So, she turned it down a little more. It went up and down several times during the test. When the volume got louder, I could feel my heart racing faster. We took several breaks during the test so I could move around a bit, drink some water, etc. I was not allowed to move at all or cross my legs during the test. At one point my neck, shoulders, arms, and fingers got numb! The test lasted for about an hour (and I didn't get to finish the movie!) The student was very glad for my participation and I was happy to help. I got paid for doing it but I told her she could keep the money. She is looking for more participants in the Knoxville, TN area so leave a comment if you want to help her with her research project.

On Monday, I went to the same department for a mapping session for my cochlear implants. Last week I started having to replace my batteries EVERY day instead of every 2.5 days like I normally do. I sent in an order for batteries right away because I was running low FAST! I also sent an email to my representative at Cochlear about this wondering if I got a bad batch of batteries. She said it was probably my map or processor and advised me to see my audiologist. Luckily I already had my appointment with Julie set up weeks in advance. Julie did not want to map my processors because she was concerned that I had a defective one. It is still under warranty and she contacted Cochlear Corporation to order me a new one. In the meantime, I'm using a loaner processor. I could tell a difference in the sound right away when I started wearing it. It was as if someone turned the light on and the sound became clearer and crisper. BUT I'm still changing batteries once a day. Something still isn't right. Julie will let me know when the extra processor comes in and I'll get mapped before our insurance runs out next month. (Still working on that issue and it has consumed quite a bit of my time!)

Someone asked me if I was hearing new sounds and I had a hard time answering that. What I hear sounds so normal and complete that I don't really pay attention. But, I do notice the sound of the fan when the heat kicks on, the clicking of the ceiling fan in my office, the rising and ebbing sound of the rain on the roof, the pitter patter of the dogs' feet when I call them, etc. I also love the sounds of silence, too, early in the mornings - clocks ticking, birds chirping, the coffee maker making my coffee, certain people in this house (I'm not naming any names!) slurping their drinks, the dogs breathing or snoring under my desk, computer keys clicking, the increasing sound of the cars going by as they go to work, school, etc. I'm doing better on the phone but still have a phobia about answering it. I can hear and understand more and more phrases on the TV & radio. Life is good. I have no complaints!

Now, excuse me while I go finish "Finding Nemo" . . .

(Note: I've added a link on the side bar for my favorite posts that were buried in the archives. Enjoy!)


Jim said...

I have friends who have either success or no success with this procedure. I am not qualified to to get this since I can hear fairly well.

Thanks for your update.

Hugs, Jim

Abbie said...

Laurie, I couldn't sit there for that long and keep absolutely still. If I try to do that, I get the imaginary itches all over the place :) I'm interested in what the findings are though!

and I wanted to wish you a hearty and happy anniversary to your ears :) I wonder what the next year will bring... It gets better and better!

Hetha said...

Congrats to you on the big anniversary! I read somewhere recently that there are only about 1300 bilaterally implanted people in the U.S. at this time. You're part of a lucky few!

I'll be interested to find out what is going on with your processors. We've gone through 3 freedom processors in one year. They aren't exactly the Titanic of implants the way I thought/had hoped, but Cochlear is very quick at replacements luckily. I just hope this stops happening once our warranty runs out.

Sam said...

Congrats on the 1 year anniversary! I am not sure if I could sit through cartoons for an hour while someone tortures me with "she-she-..." but I give you credit!

Jennifer said...

I can't believe it's been a year already! You've done so well...and I'm so proud of you! :) (((HUGS)))

Shari said...

I hope your new processors will last a lot longer.

I would not have been able to sit still that long. I need a recliner. :)

Congrats on the "civersary". One year already. Really, only 1300 are bilateral?