Research Mapping Days 1 & 2

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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.

Initial observations—

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.

DAY #2

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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.

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9 thoughts on “Research Mapping Days 1 & 2

  1. Connie– This will be interesting to see how you do as the weeks go…I am looking forward to reading your blog about your new clinical maps and how they compare to the regular maps… This is really exciting indeed. Lisa

  2. It has been interesting. I will try to keep everyone posted as much as I can. Thankfully the research maps are good (vs my clinical maps) so this is easy. I just hope that I can remember to write down things as I notice them. Music has been the biggest surprise.

  3. Your writings intrigue me, as I have found that not that many people who have received a CI are able to put their experiences into words in a meaningful way. You do that well, and I am finding that helpful as I adapt to my own CI. I have bookmarked your site, and hope to continue to enjoy discovering how the Vanderbilt mapping protocol changes your hearing.

    It somehow seems counter intuitive that turning some electrodes off would improve the perception of sound quality, but hey! that’s what research is all about.

  4. Connie, when I first got my N24 , part of the clinical trial was testing me with many new maps. First I spent a few weeks with SPEAK on the processor. Then I came back for testing such as you have described so well here. Next they took away SPEAK and put CIS strategy on and sent me home to use for a few weeks. Well, I had gotten used to SPEAK and at first didn’t like CIS. They had me return, undergo testing and then the next step was adding ADRO. I can’t recall all the details, but eventually I had ACE strategy and was sent home to use ACE for a few weeks. The point was I kept track of my experience as you are doing so detailed here. Your blogging brings back memories of all those days with ever changing maps back. Some we so-so, some were better at music but not speech, some were utterly awful and I struggled to wear the required amount of time while working a challenging job.

    Connie, this is really interesting and I am enjoying every day you blog! Enjoy this time with your son and daughter in law too!!

  5. Connie, I’m excited that you’re bringing us along for the ride during your experience. It’s intriguing that music was improved after turning off that many electrodes. It doesn’t seem to make alot of sense unless some of the “chatter” from other electrodes is minimized/gone so the remaining ones are more attuned to those frequencies. I sure hope they give you some explanation as you describe the improvements or challenges. Thank you for doing this so all of us may benefit from it in the future.

    • Hi Ellen,
      I know human nature tells us it is not logical, however, remember when Freedom came out and there were faster processing rates and many thought that faster would be better. Eventually it was shown that most people preferred a slower rate so faster/more might not be better.

      The other way to look at this, something that I didn’t completely understand initially, is maybe two electrodes are stimulating the same area (and remember that does not even have to mean that it is two electrodes next to each other like say 19 & 20). So maybe the hair cells are getting signals from 2-3-4 different electrodes and these signals are confusing the situation. This is a simplification of the whole thing but I an no scientist.

      When I switch from my clinical map to the research map while listening to music there seems to be less confusion/mixing/extra noise (I don’t know how to explain it). It just seems like I hear the notes, instruments, bass clearer. I am not a music person and never was but I can’t get enough of listening to music since Thursday. ????????

      Other sounds are different too. I will try to write more tonight or tomorrow.

      Thanks for the comments Ellen,
      Connie

  6. Hi there Connie! Thanks for all you’ve been sharing with us – it’s so interesting! A few questions for you: Were you asked to wear just the processor with the research map alone at first, or was it okay to wear both your processors at the same time? Does the program you used before (that you said they allowed you to keep) have all the electrodes you used to have or does it have the reduced number? I was just curious if it’s possible to turn on/off electrodes on different program slots/maps or if turning them on/off affects ALL programs/maps. Do you now have a CIS map as your research map or are you using the same strategy you used before? Has your battery life changed with the electrodes off? Do you know which electrodes were turned off – were they high, low or middle frequency ones? Sorry for all the questions, just find this concept fascinating!

    • Hi Camille,

      I will answer what I know.

      Yes I can wear both processors at the same time. I think perhaps my other processor is serving as the control in this situation. I will go back in 4 weeks and the right side will be given the research mapping. I believe (I could be wrong) they will then put my clinical maps back in the left side. So now I have left side research maps and right side clinical maps. Then they will reverse–if I am understanding correctly.

      Slot #4 is my clinical map exactly the same as it was previously with 20 electrodes turned on (remember I had 19 & 20 turned off in my clinical map)–she left it there in case I was really unhappy with the research map. So to answer your question is is apparently possible to turn off electrodes in different slots/maps. For me this is exciting because if I don’t like this research map for voices but like it for music I could have the best of both worlds.

      My research map Slot#1 is ACE with ADRO (no other smart sounds as I don’t like them on my everyday program) only exactly the same as my clinical map other than the fact that I only have 15 electrodes working instead of 20 in my clinical map. I do not have CIS. Slot #2 is my music program just like it was with my clinical map but with the electrodes turned off, and Slot #3 is my focus/beam program just like it was with my clinical map but with the electrodes turned off.

      I have not noticed a change in battery life but then I have not been paying attention either. I will try to pay attention to it. I wouldn’t think there was much of a change but who knows.

      I do not know which ones are turned off–I forgot to ask but will see if I can find out. I do know it is a total of 7 (19 & 20 which were off before and 5 others).

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