Fun, Fun, Fun till the audie took the map away (aka last few days of left ear research map)

Sirus radio is giving free programing for two weeks so I am back to listening to Margaretville thus the title this week’s post (Beach Boys one of my favorites).  I must say though Margaretville provided me with my first unpleasant music experience since receiving this map.  I don’t know why but the version of Take Me Home, Country Road they played was terrible.  I told Britni that Dr. Labadie must have forgotten to give me the WV component of this map—I need to find a copy of the John Denver version.

Speaking of home–I wanted to share this picture from my garden.  The hosta in front of the figures is called June.  I planted it because my mother’s name was June and it makes me feel like she is right there with my two kids (adults now of course).  Hope you enjoy it.

Back to the business at hand–my last post resulted in a couple of interesting conversations. 

–The first was when my friend Camille emailed me about my comment about my singing voice.  I obviously missed my objective because I was trying to be funny.  Camille, however, asked a valid question.  Did my voice sound different to others with this new map (something I never thought about asking).  Let’s face it if our map is off then we may change our voice to accommodate what we think we should/do sound like.  I remember people telling me after I was activated with my first CI that I really lowered my voice.  People are always surprised when I tell them I am deaf and say “but your speech is so perfect.”  My answer of course it that I have had a lot of practice—not that could tell from this blog.

So my assignment from Camille was to see what others thought of my voice with the research map.  I first asked Mike and he looked puzzled—why would you sound different.  I then explained Camille’s theory and he assured me that I sounded the same.  I asked a couple of others and received the same reply.  So no the map has not changed my voice which is a good thing because it tells me that my voice sounds good/normal to me with this map.

–The second was when Guy, a fellow recipient, asked me if I felt that I had a meaningful improvement overall with the research mapping? The simple answer is that music is awesome so if you consider that meaningful then yes.  His question got me thinking though.  What is meaningful and what choices would I make if I had to.  Would I give up music for speech, absolutely; would I give up hearing in noise for clearer tv understanding, probably not; would I give up telephone for music, tough one; and would I sacrifice voice quality for understanding, absolutely.  To me these are all meaningful issues and I am thankful that I do not have to make any of these decisions or give up anything.

Last two weeks observations—

The WOW moments are subsiding.  I have grown into this research map and am declaring it a success.   Interesting that at almost exactly the two week mark into this research map things no longer sounded high pitched (even less so than my clinical map).  This is exciting and when I add the benefit of music sounding awesome it is a double bonus.  This ear has always been my “weaker” ear (was my stronger ear pre-implantation) but with this research map I feel like it is getting closer to my other ear.  I am sitting here as I type watching the Boston/NY hockey game with only the research ear on.  I can clearly hear the announcers as they talk and understand the players as they are interviewed between periods.  I could probably have done this with my clinical map only on my left but feel like I am not straining as much to hear the tv—I don’t have to pay attention/concentrate as much.  There is a difference, dramatic maybe not but positive for sure.

Side note about rehabbing our ears (something I did not do with second ear as much).  A few weeks ago I had an interesting conversation with a cochlear implant audiologist.  She told me that she felt that cochlear implant success was 80% the recipient’s hard work and rehabilitation and 20% the audiologist’s mapping skills.  I, like most of us, adore my clinical audiologist and still credit her with a lot of my success so this 80/20 theory was a hard sell for me. I know that I did not work as hard with this left ear as I did with my first implant (got lazy) so maybe the 80/20 theory is truer than I think.

I have continued to switch from my clinical map to the research map in certain situations to see the difference.  I truthfully cannot think of a situation where my clinical map was better.  I have used the research map in restaurants with and without focus/beam.  With my clinical map I almost always resorted to focus/beam in restaurants when just Mike and I were dining but have tried to leave the research map on my everyday setting.  I did change it to focus/beam at a graduation party over the weekend.  I was at the far end of the gathering and other than those sitting across from me all the noise was behind me.  The focus/beam setting was better in this situation although I might add it was outside so that too changed the dynamics.  I certainly would not want to give up focus/beam but I can see how I don’t need it as much with the research map—bottom line hearing in noise has improved.

I am looking forward to spending a couple of days at Mark & Britni’s house–poor Mike has to stay home and hold down the fort there.  Now that I have some experience with this research mapping I am anxious to see how I do.  They have very high ceilings, hardwood floors, and an open floor plan—all things that make hearing more difficult.  I know I was missing some things when I was there last time so this will be my final environmental test.  Let’s hope I pass with flying colors.

It will be interesting to see how much my scores change when I am tested this week, exactly 4 weeks after the remapping.  I hope I can get a copy of some of the results to share with you.  I realize that I am not going to see dramatic changes given my clinical map scores are pretty good but hopeful for some improvement.  Having said that, I also feel like the “test results” aren’t always the true measure of how I feel about a map—something I have cautioned others about.  Just because someone says they scored 99% in the booth does not mean they perform any better than someone who scored 65%–it is the real world where the results are important.  Even if Thursday’s results say I am hearing worse with this research map, I think it is better and given the choice I will keep the research map.

I also hope to find out if electrodes 19 & 20 would have been left on had I not had them turned off in my clinical map.  If the study would have left them on, I might in the future try to experiment and turn them back on at levels that do not cause pain—oh the options are endless my poor audiologist.

I believe the next step for me in this project is to have my right processor remapped with the research strategy.  It will be interesting to see how many electrodes will be turned off.  My right ear is what I consider my better ear (but was my weaker ear pre-implantation).  I am not sure if at this point I get to keep the left research mapping or if I have to go back to my clinical map and test only the right ear with the research map.  Should be an interesting few days.

Thanks for listening to my chatter.  Will report back sometime next week.



6 thoughts on “Fun, Fun, Fun till the audie took the map away (aka last few days of left ear research map)

  1. Connie-Thanks for sharing. I’ve always wondered if my singing voice changed with mappings. When music sounded better-was I singing on key. Unfortunately-I don’t have someone to check that-but I haven’t gone back to my church choir because I’m afraid I would be off key-or at least flat when I sang. I just sing along quietly in church-and loudly when I’m alone and enjoying some of the oldies or Christmas tunes.
    I did some research where they said I was able to match pitches-from one ear to the next-but that doesn’t mean what I’m hearing or trying to duplicate what I’m hearing that it is on key. As you said-I would give up music for speech in a heartbeat-but it has been such a big part of my life-it’s hard sometimes.

    • I actually was never much of a music person and never played an instrument or was in a choir. This music stuff is a new fascination for me. Hey try going back to choir you never know you might be just fine. I can’t even read music.

  2. It sounds like you’ve had an overall positive experience with the new map, Connie. Your perception of enhanced music understanding/enjoyment alone would make it worth your participation in the study. Because you are a higher end CI user, this finding shows that there can be room for improvement in perhaps unintended ways. People with otherwise successful CI experiences might pursue trying this mapping process if they felt music enjoyment still leaves more to be desired. I think that with remarkable advancements in speech understanding technology and strategies over the past decades, people’s hopes (and often expectations) are for a broader hearing experience with their CI’s and music appreciation is high on their lists. Regarding turning back on those two electrodes that caused you pain to see if lowering the comfort levels would make a difference, keep in mind that they might never be stimulated if the level is much lower than those of the other electrodes’ settings. Your maxima will only stimulate as many electrodes in millisecond sweeps as its been set for and if an electrode(s) is set very low it typically won’t be caught in the sweeps. I was going to say that it can’t hurt to try but then maybe it would (smile). You might want to ask the people at Vanderbilt if those two electrodes would have been targeted to be turned off anyway because of their location – being in the wrong place might be a reason for the discomfort you experience when they are activated.

    • I am just catching up and answering you and Lil. I actually have some answers to your comments in the next blog entry that I have been working on. The two electrodes were not trageted to be turned off by Vanderbilt so I am guessing they saw nothing unusual in their placement but again I have no specific information about this from those that made the decision about which to turn off. I’ll post the new blog tomorrow with test results.

      Thanks for reading and always enjoy your enlightening ideas.


  3. HI Connie– I am enjoying your blog tremendously. It will be interesting to see if you get to keep your research map when they program your right side or Do that side independently and then both sides together at a future date to see how you do…

    • Lisa I just answered your question with a new post. Thanks for following–I am beginning to wonder if it is worth the effort to keep posting but your message lets me know that at least someone is enjoying it. Thanks!!!

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