Retirement

Tomorrow I retire.  It has been an amazing job.   I remember my first day on the job when after a little training I was assigned my task—help you hear.  Those first magical words we heard–“can you hear me.”   Mike, Debby, and Dave all smiled, perhaps not totally realizing what a team we would make.     Those first days of our working together–the toilet flushing, music in the store, the fountain at Easton, clerk at the hotel and even the waitress at dinner–wow.    And that was just the beginning.  Eventually the work was so engaging that we brought another helper along and together the three of us performed admirably.

We meshed, we worked and eventually work was more about living than working.  We have made so many friends who work together for the same goal.  Rosemary and Justin at the first Celebration in Orlando, Suprya our CI daughter, the Columbus & Dayton crews (Margie, Dan, Sheri, Diane, Helen, Karla, Robin, Tom, John, Tracey, & more), and many others who we have never seen but share the same task.  And last but by no means least who could forget our CI sisters (Camille, Carol & Lil) who we share so much with–we never could have done the job we did without them. They were there for us in the early days and still remain some of our closest comrades.

Then there is the research trips we have done starting with that first trip to Seattle—traveling by plane alone, using a cell phone for the first time, maneuvering O’Hare, and then finding our shuttle and hotel.  What a feat after not even being on the job a year.  Then to our latest trip, ironically through O’Hare as well where we encounter cancelled flights, rude ticket agents, lost luggage, and a 1:30 am cab ride.  We are so appreciative of all those to do the research that allows us to do our job so well.

We have enjoyed sweet sounds–the I love yous, the excited sound of an announcement of a proposal or a baby on the way, a new love of music and even using the phone.  Even the simple sounds we have heard—television, Ipod, water, dryer signal, turn signal etc.  There also have been the miserable sounds—those of a divorce announcement or a lost baby.  But all in all we have worked hard to do a job.

So tomorrow, after 8 years, three months, and 7 days I retire.  There has not been one single day we haven’t produced sound since that amazing day in November of 2005.  I hope that my replacement serves you well but always know that I will be waiting in the wings if you need me in a pinch.

Love,  Your Freedom Processors

 

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“Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)”

“Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road
Time grabs you by the wrist, directs you where to go
So make the best of this test, and don’t ask why
It’s not a question, but a lesson learned in time”

aka Last Vandy Visit

First I want to give an update on an experiment that I promised to try in my last post.  As those of you who have been reading the blog all along know, music has been the surprise of this whole experience.  From the minute I got in the car after the research mapping on the left side music has been amazing.  I wanted to see what would happen if I used the research mapping on the right ear only for music and how different it was when I used two research mappings vs one research and one clinical and lastly two clinical mappings.  One of each is very good and if it never got better I would have been a happy camper.  The music is clear and sounds wonderful, however, two research maps takes the music to another level.  I liken it to when you go from one implant to two, it is not twice as good but certainly an improvement.  I certainly am glad I experimented a bit before my last appoint at Vandy.

Another thing that has been talked about was that perhaps some of the electrodes were not balanced thus the sssssy sound.  There was no balancing done at Vandy—they merely turned off the electrodes that were chosen.  If this mapping had been in a clinical setting, rebalancing the electrodes would have been an option and who knows maybe that would have made a difference.  I suppose I can have that checked next time I am in for a  clinical map—my poor clinical audiologist is going to hate to see me coming as I have a few other ideas I would like to try as well.

Last Wednesday I had my last round of testing at Vandy.  It has been five weeks since I received the research map on my right ear and it was time to see what the tests would show.  Since the testing was not till 3 pm Mike and I did a little site seeing in Nashville and visited Belle Mead Plantation.  Belle Mead’s history is interesting because their “cash crop” was not the usual cotton, tobacco, or wheat that is usually associated with plantations in the south.  Their “cash crop” was race horses—Secretariat was actually a descendent of one of Belle Mead’s horses.  If you are ever in Nashville, check it out especially because after the tour they do wine tasting—who knew muscadine grapes (grown in southern US) are known for their high antioxidant qualities—makes great wine too.

Here is a picture of me sitting on the porch of the house– IMG_0451

Upon arriving at Vandy for the final testing I knew what I was going to do.  Mike confirmed my suspicions too when he made the comment one day that I couldn’t hear well at all.  He never says much or criticizes my hearing or lack thereof especially since he lost his hearing in one ear in a matter of minutes five years ago.  We both learned a lot after his loss—I learned to adjust for his single sided deafness and he learned to appreciate what I go through especially in noisy situations.

Before the testing I explained to Andrea the audiologist my experiences over the last five weeks and told her I was struggling.  She did indicate that others have mentioned that the research maps made things sound high pitched so she was not surprised at my complaint about the ssssy sound—something that I did not experience with the left research map.  I honestly don’t ever remember having a map that made me hear my own voice so poorly at times.  It was not all the time but I would often find myself putting my hand to my mouth because I thought I sounded funny.  Perhaps the high pitched sounds are coming through in music?

I was tested again using the same tests from previous visits.  Even as we were testing I could tell that I was not hearing well.  Sentences in noise were a problem for sure (the other tests like single words were harder to tell if I was getting them right or wrong).  One thing I noticed on my own was that female voices were clearer in noise than the male voices.  Unfortunately, the test results do not take into account whether the speaker is male or female as I would have been interested in knowing if my observation was correct.  When the testing was over Andrea also told me I was missing the ends of words as well so it was not just the sentences.  This follows along with my observation that I was hearing more of the ssssy sound at the end of words.

Before I make further comments about the scores let me first remind everyone about this right ear with my clinical map.  It is a very strong ear—if you look at my integrity testing it is almost straight across and my t and c levels also are almost straight across which gives a good even dynamic range.  I heard and understood speech immediately with this ear and have not looked back since that day almost 8 years ago.  I do especially well hearing in noise with this ear and even on one occasion while testing at one of the universities I tested better than some normal hearing people.  It has been mentioned to me that I must have optimal placement of the electrodes in this ear and the auditory nerve must be very strong.  I fully realize it is not a “normal” hearing ear but it does pretty darn well.

When I tested in April at Vandy with this ear using my clinical map, I scored 97% in hearing in noise under the most difficult condition.  Basically there was not much room for improvement in this ear and frankly I had more to lose than gain.  Unfortunately, with the research map I did in fact lose rather than gain.  I knew it while I was testing and Andrea confirmed it dropped.  I don’t know what the drop was but I can tell you it was enough to make a noticeable difference in how I was hearing in my every day life.  Needless to say I was ready to leave this research map in Nashville.  I did, however, choose to keep it in my P4 slot for music.

I was disappointed for not only myself but for the researchers that it did not work as well as it did in the left ear.  I will probably mess up the results curve but then no one ever said I was a conformist and I realize that researchers to learn from those who don’t do as well as others.  Only goes to prove even in the same individual the ears can be very different.

I had lots of fun visiting the Vandy clinic and everyone there is wonderful.  It is an amazing facility and the care and concern the whole team has for their patients is amazing.  I was disappointed that I did not get to meet Dr. Robert Labadie, the principle researcher, however, I hope to in the future.  He and his team are dedicating their lives to helping make life for implantees better and I hope they know how much I and others appreciate them.  The opportunity has also given me some special time with my son and daughter-in-law.  They provided wonderful accommodations and there was never a dull moment with the two dogs and a cat.  Not many daughter-in-laws would be willing to put up with their mother-in-law visiting once every 4 weeks for 4 months.  Thanks Mark and Britni.

Here is a picture of the dogs and cat.
003 IMG_0452

One last note.  Someone mentioned in a comment that they heard that the research will be coming to other clinics around the country.  I asked about this and was told that as of now it was only going to be done at Vandy (there was a small group done one other place but they were the exception).  So if you are waiting for it to come to a clinic near you that will probably not be happening any time soon.

Drum roll—–

So for those of you who have hung with me through this long post, I have some news.  The project has been opened to non-Vandy recipients.  Here is a link to the information and all the necessary details:

http://www.vanderbilt.edu/CAOS/manage/files/Image-Guided-CI-Research-Recruitment-Criteria3.pdf

Have fun and be sure to let me know how it goes.

PS To Yesterday’s Post

I forgot something when I wrote yesterday.

In an effort to turn down some of the ssssy sound, I have been experimenting with turning down my sensitivity.  Especially with this right ear, I seldom mess with volume or sensitivity but I thought I would give it a try.  Turning down sensitivity did help the sssssy sound, however, it also did exactly what it is supposed to, it lowered all the sounds I am hearing.  I then tried turning up volume with the sensitivity down and that helped but it still was not to my liking.  Doing all of this made me also realize that in the instance of this ear, my over all sound level has been lowered by turning off the electrodes–something that I did not experience on the left side.

For many lowering the over all sound might not be a bad thing, however, I like (and perhaps have just gotten used to it) lots of volume. I grew up in a home with a hearing impaired mother so we were used to speaking loudly so I like it that way.  If you will remember, I have only ADRO on my everyday program unlike many others (especially newer recipients).  I know several people who were activated 7-8 years ago before the combination smart sounds came out and they too prefer ADRO alone for their everyday program.  Adding other smart sounds to my everyday program suppressed the sound too much for me.  Another factor that might be coming into play is the fact that I have Freedom processors so my microphones are different than the N5 microphones.  Makes me wonder if when I upgrade to the N6 if I too will want something else put on with ADRO for my everyday progam.

I think if there is a lesson learned it is that one size does not fit all and the more things we try and the more educate ourselves as to the possibilities the better our opportunities.  I fully suspect that when I upgrade to the N6 I will not like them initially but certainly I have learned our brain is a very pliable organ (even at my age) and we do adjust.  Even this Vandy map on the right side is something I could live with if I had to but might not be my preference in a few weeks when I go back.

Time will tell.  Thanks again!!!!

Ear Two–3 week observations

Gosh I didn’t realize that it had been three weeks since I posted.  Things have improved, however, there is still a ssssss quality.  A couple of Sundays ago, while I was supposed to be concentrating on the message of the Gospel/sermon, I found myself listening for the ssssss.  It helped me realize that it was in deed the s sound rather than the sh or th that I initially thought.  It is more pronounced at the beginning and end of a word than in the middle.  I also think it makes a difference what letter preceds and follows it.  In going back and looking at the Gospel for that Sunday I remember that the words sin and loves were very ssssy (wonder if there was a hidden message there), but the words ceased and suppose were not.  I suppose I should have made notes after mass so I could remember better.

That same Sunday we went to dinner for Father’s Day and it was a struggle to hear my son.  He does not speak very loudly, however, until this mapping I did pretty well hearing him.  It was a busy restaurant and that added to the difficulty.  The ear has improved since that Sunday 10 days ago.  At that point I was still catching myself thinking that I was talking funny but I realized today that I don’t notice it as much.  I also today tried for the first time to use this ear (right) for the phone—something I have not been able to do since getting the Vandy map almost 4 weeks ago (remember it was a disaster when I tried to use it on day 1).  My husband called me on my office phone and I could in fact hear and understand him—I was delighted.  My right ear has been my phone ear for almost 8 years—it was not my phone ear pre CI and was my weaker ear pre CI so getting used to using the left ear has been interesting.  At this point I feel like I could probably use either ear equally as well—one phone for each ear.  NOT.

Music is still the joy of the entire experience.  After 8 phone calls, I have restored my Sirus radio subscription (imagine a family having two Chevrolet cars—they put it on the wrong car and then no one told me to turn off my blue tooth phone when trying to activate the radio signal).  Happy to be enjoying Margaritaville again.  I have tried to see if one Vandy ear and one clinical ear sound different than two Vandy ears (always leaving the left on Vandy since that is the one that just blew me away with music).  There is a difference but as of now I can’t explain it.  Over the next few weeks my mission is to play with the ears and music.  I also want to try just the right ear with the Vandy map and music to see if there is a difference.  So Jimmy Buffett here I come–too bad I can’t experiment in Key West on the beach.

If I were asked this very moment if I was going to keep the Vandy map on the right, the answer would be sort of.  At the moment, I am thinking about asking for my clinical maps back in 1-3 and keeping the Vandy map in 4.  Now don’t hold me to this as we all know it is a woman’s prerogative to change her mind.  I have a few weeks to think about it—this round is a little longer due to vacations and 4th of July but maybe that is not all bad either because it is forcing me to give this ear more of a chance.  I think it is really important to remember that this is my STAR ear.  From day one it has performed beyond anyone’s expectations so expecting something to be better is a bit unrealistic.  It may happen when I do the testing in a couple of weeks (there is room for the test scores to go high—just not much).  From an everyday standpoint this map is not on par with my clinical map.  Will improvement come in the next few weeks—we shall see—I do know that it has improved in the last 10 days or so.  It is no secret that I have been struggling with this Vandy ear and there have been times when I have been really frustrated.  I has, however, in some ways made more humble because it has reminded me that I didn’t always hear so well.

Sorry no pictures.  Busy week.  Thanks for reading,

Connie

 

 

Test Week & New Ear Observations

Thursday I visited Vanderbilt for my left ear testing.  It had been exactly 4 weeks since I received the research map so I was anxious to see what the dreaded sound proof booth would have to say about the experience. The testing was done on the left ear only to compare with my clinical map testing that we did earlier in May.  Again single words (CNC), consonants (ba, da, ta, etc), sentences in quiet and noise, and the three sounds played and tell which of three sounds is different from the other two–I need to find out the name for this test (it gets progressively harder the better you do—I do this a lot during my research trips).

The study has spoken–I did improve.  I did not get specific numbers for all of the tests as we were a bit pressed for time but the only score that was less than 90% was the hearing in noise at the most difficult condition.  Four weeks ago with my clinical map on this noise test, I scored in the mid 60s (I believe she said 67%), Thursday I scored in the mid 80s with the research map.  I think the significance of this score is that it was a unilateral test.  Past research has shown that bilateral implantation significantly improves hearing in noise for cochlear implantees so I am pretty happy with my  unilateral score.  I will be interested to see if they test me bilaterally with the research maps when I return next month.  Andrea (Vanderbilt audiologist) did do some additional bilateral testing Thursday with my clinical maps so perhaps that is the intention for my next visit.

Someone last week asked me if I had noticed a significant improvement with the research map and from these tests results I would say there was a significant improvement.  Of course I am a firm believer that no matter what the sound proof booth tests say, the tests the real world brings are what is important.  We don’t live in a sound proof booth and need to hear in our natural environment.

I have gushed for weeks now about the sound of music with this map but I also knew that if voices were not clear enough for me I would not keep the research map.  I did learn that I could keep the research strategy with the electrodes turned off for music and go back to my clinical strategy for everyday use, however, I wasn’t sure I wanted to do that and wondered if my ear would be able to adapt to switching between the two strategies fast enough to be of benefit.  I have found, however, that there was some improvement with the research map in my ability to hear in noise and hearing in other situations was as good if not better.  At the end of my appointment Thursday, I was given the choice to keep the research map or go back to my clinical map.  No surprise, I chose the research map.

Final note on the left ear.  As I mentioned before, electrodes 19 & 20 have been turned off since my activation 6 years ago.  I asked Andrea if I had not requested that those electrodes be turned off would the researchers have turned them off.  The answer was no, it was not part of their plan for me.  I find this interesting and hope to do a little experimenting at some point in the future.  I am hopeful that turning them back on at lower levels will give another boost to my hearing.  The possibilities are endless and I again think that having 22 electrodes is a huge advantage.

Next came the new research map in the right ear.  This one is presenting a challenge for me.  I have electrodes 1, 2, 7, 9, and 21 turned off.  There has been lots of conjecture that I must have pretty much optimal placement on this side as my results were excellent from the beginning—the hours of rehab I did on this ear have helped as well.  From the moment the audiologist turned on this research map on Thursday it has been “different.”  As soon as I left the audiologist’s office, I called Britni (my daughter-in-law who is the ENT resident) to see if she had a few minutes so I could stop by and see her before I left Nashville.  My right ear has always been my phone ear so I put the phone up there and expected to carry on a conversation.  Nope—did not happen at all.  I had to switch to my left ear.  First surprise for right research ear.

After the appointment, I was driving to Louisville to meet Mike for a couple of days of R&R for the two of us and I stopped for lunch.  I immediately noticed that the waitress seemed to have a lisp or a sh/ch/s/th quality to her voice.  Was it the southern accent I thought.  Nope, the voices on the radio had the same quality I soon realized.  When I met up with Mike my first reaction was “have you been drinking”—it was 3 in the afternoon.  And it was not just drinking that I was thinking but drinking too much.  Of course I knew better and realized that his voice too has a lispy, loose dentury, s/sh/ch/th  quality to it.  It is the map.  So with a sigh I realized that getting used to this map was going to take time but I am determined to give it my all albeit a bit disappointed.  I could of course take the easy way out and turn to P4 (my clinical map which was left in as a crutch) but I will not do it unless I get desperate.  My brain has to adjust and I will forge ahead.  I am, however, hoping that it does not take weeks to adjust.

As the last two days have evolved I have been trying to listen more carefully and I am now not sure whether it is a sh/ch quality or a s/th quality.  I am now leaning more towards the s/th.  So all of this got me thinking—not necessarily a good thing.  What Hz is responsible for the sh/ch (1500-2000 Hz range) sound and the s/th (5000 Hz range) sound.  Here is a picture of an audio gram showing the Hz for specific consonants/vowels etc. audiogram

Here is a diagram of an array in a cochlea (of course we don’t know how close to mine this is):
cochlea-array

Here is a diagram of what area of the cochlear is responsible for which Hz:cochlea-Hz

Here are my unscientific thoughts.  Because electrodes 1 & 2 are now off (and are possibly laying in the 5000 Hz area), I am wondering if they were getting interference with others further in the cochlear (meaning other electrodes were actually stimulating this area too) and I was never getting a clear signal in that 5000 Hz zone—the s/th sounds.  Or another thought is, could electrodes 7/9 been crossing over and interfering with the electrode in the 1500 Hz zone—the ch/sh sounds.   I have always felt, and testing has affirmed that I have trouble picking out the th sound.  It is also my understanding that I am not alone with this th problem.  So words like that and fat or they and way may sound alike.  I suppose in reality maybe even “normal” hearing people have trouble with these. I will continue to be on alert and see if it is the sh/ch or the s/th that sounds different so stay tuned.

Enough of my uneducated theories.  If I were 25 years younger and much smarter I might start working on a PhD in this stuff but this is much more fun and takes a whole lot less education and I don’t have to worry about answering to anyone about my theories.  It is also much more fun than doing household chores which I am avoiding.

On a positive note —  Do Wah Diddy Diddy by Manfred Mann is the song of the week.  I caught myself making a fool of myself in a store just singing and dancing away while listening to it.  Thank heaven no one I knew was there.

Will update later—thanks for listening to my amateur explanations.  I am determined to see my way through this experiment and will update later.  I need to get some things done this week so this blogging stuff will have to wait.

Happy June all,

Connie

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.
garden

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.

Connie

Research Map Week 2

I thought I would start out by showing a picture I ran across a few days ago.  It is a picture of my children (twins) on their birthday in 2004.  I think it might have been the last time they were together on their birthday (they live 1,100 miles apart) and work and school make it difficult to celebrate together.  The picture sort of takes me back when I look at it, not only because they look so young but it was also the time in my life when I was desperately looking for a way to hear better.  It would be another year before I actually received my first implant.

IM000648

Research map update–again I ask that you please not contact Vanderbilt as yet about the study.  If you read my previous entries, you will see that they are not ready to accept a large group of people as yet.  As soon as I hear any word on opening it up to others I will post.  I certainly do not want to make more work for the people at Vandy and I feel like I would have to quit blogging about this if they were getting lots of inquiries again.  Thanks!!

I think I must be settling in with this map as I have not had as many aaaah moments the last few days.  It seemed like the first 5 days or so were reminiscent of post activation days where we seem to pay attention to/notice every sound.  One new discovery is that my bedroom door squeaks.

I tried my neck loop and iPod with just the research ear Tuesday.  I was at the gym and time goes much faster listening to a book.  Sound quality was great although a little high pitched.  I asked the audiologist at Vandy which electrodes were turned off and she said:  7, 9, 11, 12, 14, 19 and 20 (19 and 20 were already deactivated in my program prior to my Vanderbilt visit because they caused pain upon stimulation).  I have always suspected that the reason this ear hears more high pitches is because I have had those two lower pitch electrodes turned off almost since activation 6 years ago.  Maybe I am just trying to justify sound to myself.

I did an experiment this week as I was typing up a document.  I put the processor on my clinical map and typed away—single processor only.  After a few minutes of listening with my clinical map, I changed back to the research map to see what the difference was.  I figured this was a pretty stable “sound” that I could use to compare—I am a pretty consistent typist and have heard this sound for a long time.  There is a noticeable difference.  The clinical map has more of a muffled/muddied sound than the research map.  I know I used pretty much the same words to describe the difference in music—I guess typing is just another form of music to my ears.  I suppose that it is good that I am consistently experiencing the same thing rather than being all over the map so to speak.  I am also trying to use the phone with the research map (I don’t normally use this ear for the phone).  My daughter thought I was doing fine when we spoke on Mother’s Day and I concurred.  I will keep practicing and intend to try Cochlear’s Telephone with Confidence website to easily compare clinical map and research map.

This week we went to a different church for Mass Saturday night.  It is a bit older than last weeks and thus I don’t think the sound system or acoustics are as hearing friendly.  The priest there is a former engineer—interesting story he decided in his 30s to give up his career and enter the seminary—and still has that engineer voice; additionally the problem is that he uses a wireless device and sometimes when he turns his head the microphone does not pick up the sound well.  He often talks about his childhood in his sermon and this week’s story telling was no different, however, this time I heard all of it.  Now don’t get me wrong I usually hear enough to understand the point, however, this week I don’t think I missed a beat even the nuances of his dry sense of humor.

The music was great again this week, however, I was disappointed in Mike’s response to me about how things sounded.  I asked him if my singing voice sounded any better with this new map and as gently as possible he brought me back to reality and told me NO.  I guess one thing this research map is not doing is improving my singing voice—so I guess that means no Grand Ole Opry performance for me on my next visit to Nashville.  A few friends have suggested some music/songs for me to listen to and I will download them this week to listen to them on my iPod in addition to a few new books I have.

I am still trying to find situations where noise is a problem.  I have not used my Focus/Beam program like I usually do in restaurants and seem to do well with just the Everyday program.  I can think of at least one occasion where Mike did not understand the waitress and I did so that is good. I hope to make it over to the mall (sounds like a good excuse to shop) to test it out and will seek out a few other places as well.

I think the beauty of this whole Vanderbilt experiment might be (in the future) that I could possibly go in and say gee this sounds a bit high and they could look at the electrode situation and say ok well let’s change out one particular electrode for another.  Or maybe I could turn on 19 or 20 with lower T & C levels and add some bass (I do not like them turned on at lower T & C levels with my clinical map—things sound better with them off rather than lowered).  I realize that technically any audiologist could do that at any time (and I know some people who have electrodes turned off on different programs for different listening environments), however, if this research pans out it certainly would make the whole situation a little more scientific from the start.  Rather than just going in and saying OK let’s try this or that, the initial map would be better from the start.

So I have two more weeks with this map.  As it stands now if given the choice I will probably keep it and perhaps in the future ask to have some minor adjustments made.  I think that I am still getting used to it and the sound is fine albeit a bit high.  It will be interesting to see how I test when I return to Vandy in two weeks.  When I tested with my clinical map I did 94% in CNC words and was told that I did well on all the others as well.  Since I started out at 94% there is not a lot of room for movement so perhaps I was not the best person for this experiment, however, I am still honored and grateful that they asked me to participate.

Thanks for reading!!!    Connie

PS  Here is a picture of my other “daughter”–Sadie.  IMG_4605