I don’t know if it is just me or what but I feel like I am struggling with my regular programs so this new strategy will be an interesting experiment. Maybe I am just ready for new processors (waiting for N6) or maybe I am just being too hard on myself. I have my questions ready for the audiologist and a lunch date planned with a friend after the session.
When I arrived at the Bill Wilkerson Center at Vanderbilt I was greeted by a 5-6 page questionnaire to fill out while I was waiting for my appointment. Lots of questions about how I feel I hear in certain situations and about my hearing history. Andrea (the audiologist) then called me back and asked a few more questions and explained the testing that she would be doing. I was tested first with my left implant only and then with my right implant only—no bilateral testing. She did HINT test, CNC, three sounds asking which one is different (don’t know the name of this test—it got progressively harder), and the consonant recognition (I did well on this). The purpose was to see which was my “weaker” ear. I knew going in that my left ear was the weaker—interesting my left ear was my better hearing ear before I received my cochlear implants. I didn’t ask for the scores but testing confirmed that my left ear was the weaker and is the one that will received the research strategy first.
Andrea obtained my mapping recommendations from the research department and proceeded to change my maps. Basically all they do is turn certain electrodes off. On my left side I already had 19 & 20 off because they caused pain when stimulated. After looking at my pre and post operative CT scans the decision was made to turn off 5 additional electrodes. No other changes were made to my maps and she was kind enough to leave my clinical everyday map in slot #4 as a crutch. I still have ACE processing strategy with ADRO only as my everyday program in #1, Music #2 and Focus/Beam #3 but all three of these have the 7 electrodes turned off. She asked that I return in 4 weeks to be tested again in the left ear with this research strategy.
Initially everything was loud but not uncomfortable. Sound was a little “off” but I could understand words fine it was just the quality was not up to par. I went to lunch with my audiologist friend and the audiologist who did the testing and mapping—talk about pressure to hear. Lunch was in a noisy area, however, I did fine and enjoyed trying out my new ear.
Music—absolutely the biggest difference. I could not believe how crisp and full the radio sounded. I was just fascinated with it and could not get enough of it. I always thought I heard music fine (not blowing away great but OK) but it is so much clearer with this program.
GPS—the lady giving directions was a bossy as ever, but I had no problems understanding her.
Mall—fine, it was not very busy so the environment was not exceptionally difficult.
Home (Mark & Britini’s house)—was the most challenging. They have very high ceilings and hard wood floors so it was no surprise that things might be harder. I just noticed that I missed some things at dinner when the three of us were chatting (like WVU vs BW for example). Britni tried to make me feel better by telling me she didn’t say it very clearly. I attributed it to the surroundings and still getting used to the map. It always takes me a few days to get used to any new map.
Went to Pancake Pantry for breakfast (check it out if you are ever in Nashville—great variety of pancakes and right down the street from the audiologist’s office). It is a very noisy place and I had no problems hearing the waitress, however, it was not a real test because I was by myself and didn’t really need to carry on a conversation.
After breakfast I went to Centennial Park and walking towards the park I was amazed at how the birds sounded. Now, I hear birds with my clinical map and have heard birds since I was first activated, but for some reason this was like hearing them for the first time all over again. I don’t know why but I was just awestruck. It was almost like being activated all over again and first discovering a sound. I don’t know what was different about these birds but they really caught my attention. I smiled—it was like being a newbie again.
It was a very windy day and when I was in a parking lot I noticed the wind noise. It was the same experience as the birds. I have heard it before but learned to ignore it with time after my initial mappings but this time it was different. It caught my attention and was different albeit a bit annoying.
I obviously don’t have an explanation for the bird/wind experiences but having the electrodes turned off changed how I am hearing them.
Dinner—Mark and Britni took me to dinner for my birthday and this was a real test. I usually switch to focus/beam in restaurants like this, however, I wanted to see how I did using my everyday program. The restaurant is in an old brick building with high ceilings and we were seated in the balcony next to an open staircase. We were also seated next to a large group. It went pretty well—it was not perfect but conversation flowed well. I think maybe I was a bit nervous and put pressure on myself to make it work. In hindsight I should have gone ahead and used focus/beam.
So that is it for the first two days. Will update next few days after I get caught up here at home.