The Bionic Sound Project

this girl’s journey to sound

Recognizing New Music Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Filed under: happy,music,sound discovery,sound identification — Allison @ 6:59 pm

So I’ve had some fun music recognition over the last few months.

The two songs – Charlie Puth’s “We Don’t Talk Anymore” and twentyone pilots’s “Stressed Out”.

After leaving a mapping session one day, and driving home while listening to 97.5, I heard the words “We Don’t Talk Anymore” on the radio. Granted, I missed part of the speech sound, but I recognized it right off the bat and was singing along to the “We Don’t Talk Anymore” part.  It was so cool…first time I’ve heard that song!

As for twentyone pilots’s “Stressed Out”, I fell in love with this song the first time I heard it.  I used the Shazam app to tell me what song was playing.  Since then, I’ve caught it on the radio multiple times and instantly recognize the songs, INCLUDING the alternative versions of it (Tomsize Remix, Live Version).  Nine times according to Shazam.

One night I was at work, and we had the radio on, and I came back to my coworkers and instantly recognized “Genie In A Bottle” by Christina Aguilera.  Of course I was excited!

Loving the Naidas!


Vanderbilt University Cochlear Implant Mapping Process Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Allison @ 9:12 pm

Vanderbilt University Cochlear Implant Mapping Process

A friend shared this with me on Facebook today.

Vanderbilt University is conducting a study using a new mapping strategy for cochlear implants, with dramatic increases in the quality of sound.  Read the article for more.


Advanced Bionics Neptune Processor Monday, June 4, 2012

With the announcement of the waterproof, swimmable Neptune sound processor, I am beyond excited about this. I have been waiting years for a hearing aid that was able to withstand water, and strong enough for my hearing loss (and still waiting). And now we have a cochlear implant processor that can do it? AMAZING.

I have been following the news around the Neptune, and while I am not sure if I will qualify for an upgrade, as I already have the Harmony. The Neptune is is definitely a huge step forward in Cochlear Implant technology.

However, after thinking about it for awhile, the ability to hear in all environments slightly scares me. I’ve gone my entire life without swimming with hearing aids on (other than that unfortunate incident at the babysitter’s when I was five). I vaguely remember the feeling of “WOW! I CAN HEAR”, as I climbed out of the pool and my hearing aids died their quick, waterlogged electrical death.

Throughout my life, as a water baby through and through, logging countless hours in the pool as a child growing up in the intense heat of a Phoenix summer, and as a competitive swimmer for one of the nation’s top high school girl’s swim teams, I’ve made it by without hearing. In high school, one of the highlights of my life was a five-day whitewater rafting trip down the San Juan river. There were people who signed, so I wasn’t alone, but I still spent time on the water in silence. All these years, and I’ve made it through my aquatic life, without hearing sound.

Now to think…what will it sound like to be swimming, and hearing the noise of the water as you are surrounded by others? Of playing Marco Polo, and being able to participate with the hearing children at daycare? Of hearing the bird calls while floating down the San Juan in a ducky boat? Of not being afraid of being thrown in the pool with my hearing aids on. Taking kayaking lessons and having the full experience of hearing the teacher’s instructions on how to do a roll to get one upright. Of floating outside today in my pool, in silence, enjoying the blue sky and sunshine shining down on me.

There are pros and cons to the Neptune for my personal use. To hear while wet is a foreign concept to me.

I think today’s kids who have this chance to fully participate in the life aquatic are extremely lucky. Thank you, Advanced Bionics, for creating this swimmable processor.


MAP session for the first time in a year and a half Thursday, December 16, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Allison @ 11:23 am

Today I learned that going at least once a year for a MAP session is necessary. My audiologist, Kim tells me that daily life can slowly corrupt the MAPs in your CI. Static electricity is the culprit.

Since I’ve graduated from college (May 2009), I haven’t done anything with my cochlear implant, except wear it in my daily life, which is why I haven’t been updating here.

It’s been interesting having a very hands-off approach to tinkering with my MAPs (one of the benefits of going to a school with an on-site audiology department) and just living my daily life without having weekly access to a audiology center.

Over the last few months, Mom has noticed that I haven’t been hearing as well, and my speech has been deteriorating. Also, she’s frustrated with me because usually by the time I get home, the batteries are dead, I don’t want to “listen” any more for the day, or I take a nap, so I’m going without sound in my ear. She doesn’t get to have the benefit of living with me with my cochlear implant, because when I’m at home, I want quiet.

My problems have resulted as a shift from my listening environments. I was going from a school environment to a work environment. My work environment consists of listening to the floor buffer in the morning (very loud, it makes my head hurt every time he races by), of shopping carts and equipment crashing into each other, of babies crying and kids throwing a temper tantrum (those really get on my nerves), and people dropping stuff on the floor. So by the end of the day, I’m tired, I have a headache, and my ear and skin around the magnet is sore.

Several arguments about it later, she finally made an appointment and I was back in to see Kim, and tinker with my MAPs. So off we go on Tuesday to the audiologist. I came home from work thinking my appointment was on Wednesday, but it was actually Tuesday.

Before I left NY, Catherine made a CD for me with all my MAPs and relevant history so I could give it to Kim. Well, I couldn’t find the CD with all my programs and Kim didn’t have my history on the computer. The problem was that Kim couldn’t download my MAPs without resetting my CI and losing my programs, because there was a new version of the SoundWave program. Luckily, the on-call audiologist at AB came to the rescue and we were able to get my programs downloaded without erasing them.

I could instantly tell the difference between the program in my CI and the redownloaded one, and how much crisper and clearer it sounded.

Mom came with me, and she noticed that after my program got redownloaded and throughout the session my speech was rapidly improving. I wasn’t making more of an effort, I was my same old Allison self…so yes, being able to hear the speech sounds, even without consciously being aware of it, does make a difference in being able to replicate those sounds when speaking. Mom said a sentence before the program and I had a hard time understanding what she was saying, but after the new downloaded program, I was able to understand everything she said, without being able to read her lips.

As always, I present a challenge for any audiologist, and Kim is no exception to this rule (Thank you to every audiologist who has ever had to do a MAP for me). Where I was in January 2007 (extremely powerful) and now was a huge difference, and I still wanted less power. This is confusing because she couldn’t figure out why the big difference (key word: MORE POWER) between now and then, other than I wanted my CI to be more like my hearing aid, with lots of low frequencies, and not a lot with the high frequencies.

I’ve been wearing my CI with the volume in the 7:30 position (it should be at the 12:00). I still feel like I listen more with my hearing aid ear, instead of my CI ear. So, my new assignment is to wear my CI with the volume at 12:00, and turn down the volume on my hearing aid. In order to reap maximum benefit with the CI, I need to be listening more with the CI than with the HA ear. “Use It or Lose It” is basically what it is.

I need to go back in a month or so for follow up, since it’s been so long, and we made some changes with my MAP. I’m currently rocking it with Fidelity 120, with a narrower IDR, and my sensitivity level has been reduced. Electrode 3 has been reduced so that it goes nicely with the curve in the program range instead of being a big spike, which could be responsible for some of my issues.

Went back to work yesterday with my new program, and I was in bliss. The floor buffer wasn’t like a oncoming train running me over, the shopping carts weren’t like a cymbal being crashed on my head, and the babies crying were not like a needle being pierced through my brain.

Guess I’ll add that to my list of annual doctor’s appointments: physical, dentist, eyes, gyno, and now MAP sessions since my CI is not “new”.


Debating the Fidelity-120 processing Monday, May 17, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Allison @ 10:44 pm

Woke up this morning to snow of all things.  Lovely.  But I got to listen to the skrrrrit-skrrrrit of brushing the snow off of my car and scraping the ice off the window.  That was fun.

I popped a tape into my car radio, and “Macarena” came on.  I listened to the entire song first without Fidelity 120, and then with it.  My brain is now confused, because it goes against what I had decided yesterday.

I liked “Macarena” with Fidelity-120 processing much better.  The bass was much more true, and the sounds had more of a roundedness to it.

Sitting in class, listening to what’s going on, I find that voices still sound rather distant, like they’re in a tunnel.

I’m slowly starting to return to a sense of normalcy with hearing.  It’s not a fast process…my brain still needs to get used to all this stimulation.


What? I can’t hear? But I thought I was! Friday, May 1, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Allison @ 4:00 pm

Today I had listening therapy with Laurie. I got set up with the CKatz system and was doing the test for it to establish a profile for me.

After listening to the warmup sounds, I started the test, with both my hearing aid and my cochlear implant on, and had to identify all the consonants. I was doing okay, and then I started getting everything wrong. “Incorrect.” “Incorrect.” “Incorrect.” the words kept flashing up on the screen.

Hmm, I thought to myself, there’s something odd here. Are they getting harder, or can I just not understand anything anymore? After getting like 20 in a row wrong, I said “Okay, there’s something odd here.” So I turned off my hearing aid and clicked “next”. No sound. That’s when I figured out that my cochlear implant battery was dead. Great.

It’s one thing to have a map that’s quiet until my brain readjusts, and it’s another thing to be listening with both the hearing aid and the cochlear implant, and not being able to know that the cochlear implant has a dead battery. I was extremely humbled by the fact not only is my current program quiet enough that I can’t tell that it’s not on, but that it’s powerful enough for me to be able to pick out the speech sounds that my hearing aid is in no way able to detect.

Having a cochlear implant really changes how you hear speech. It was incredibly powerful to me, to have that realization hit home again just how amazing the cochlear implant has been for hearing speech.


Speech Therapy Videos On The Web Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Allison @ 1:39 pm

Had a impromptu speech therapy session with Karen and another student of hers today.  While I was there, she reminded me that the videos of the two of us are up on the website, so I got to see them!

Here’s me talking and working at speech therapy (for those of you who are curious what I sound like!) (Three Videos In All)

Voiceless fricatives and coarticulation
As students view the spectrograms they can clearly see the energy distinctions for the /s/ and /sh/ and coarticulation.

Contrasting sibilant fricatives and affricates
Students can see the differences between the continuancy feature of /s/ and the stop plus the continuancy feature of /ch/.

Consonant blends
Students can clearly see and listen for both phonemes as they practice consonant blends.

Courtesy: NTID Speech and Language Department

If there are any problems with the video, let me know, and I will upload them myself.


First Day Back At School With The CI Monday, April 6, 2009

Filed under: 120-channel processor,itching,listening,observations — Allison @ 3:39 pm

First day back at school with the cochlear implant on.  It’s very…interesting.  I’ve been switching back and forth between using Fidelity 120 and the regular programming.

Irritated with myself because my alarm clock didn’t go off this morning, so I missed seeing Laurie.  I didn’t wake up until Marvin jumped up on my bed, pushed his way into the crook of my arm, sitting on my shoulder, and stuck his wet nose in my face, while purring madly.

I have to turn up the volume on my CI when I’m listening to it with Fidelity 120, as it’s softer and more distant.  But so far, I think I like it better without Fidelity.  I listened to Steve and Sheila talking over the weekend, and tried to get an idea of what voices sound like.  At this point, everything is very mechanical, but it’s just the edges of sound that’s bugging me.

My ear is hurting and my skin is getting very itchy, but I’m trying to suffer through wearing it for as long as I can.  Can’t wait to get home and take it off…but I have a feeling that it will be coming off before then, as I have to finish my Flash animation for my class.


Heart-Stopping Moments Friday, April 3, 2009

Had my appointment with Catherine today.  And we came up with a plan of action.

  1. Borrow the battery from them, to see if it reduces the itching/redness, and if it’s my batteries that are causing the problem.
  2. If that doesn’t work, try out a body processor.

So that’s where we started.  We went into the CI booth, plugged me into the computer, with the intention of changing my MAPs because I cannot handle the intensity of the old MAPs after a year of inactivity.

So here I am, hooked up to the computer, watching the screen, and the first thing I see is red over the internal part.  Everything was recognized and green, except for the internal implant.  Checked it again, made sure everything was connected properly.  No luck.

It was time to call Advanced Bionics for troubleshooting.  Catherine found the “dummy” internal parts, and tried it with their processor.  Everything worked.

I held my breath.  This was not looking good.

We took my processor and attached it to to the dummy.  It worked.

I started to cry.

Crying because my internal processor wasn’t working.  Crying because at the thought of having to go through a third surgery in less than 3 years.  Crying because maybe that’s why my CI wasn’t working back in January.

Catherine picked it up to take it off, and then the computer recognized the internal part!  It was a loose wire.

Talk about a heart-stopping moment.  A huge sigh of relief.

So now I’m sent home with MAPs that are more than 100 points below where I was, and with my IDR reduced to 60 from 75.  One has Fidelity 120,and the other doesn’t.  I’m going to try both, as Mandy said in her last notes that I may do better without Fidelity 120.

30 minutes into wearing the CI, my ear was red and itching, and Catherine confirmed it by seeing that there was a red spot where the CI was.  So now it’s time to find a solution.

It’s amazing how quick the brain adapts to using a CI after not wearing it for so long.  I’m missing it…..and feel like I’m re-experiencing activation day all over again…in the sense that I’m discovering sounds that my hearing aid definitely did not pick up on.


I’m Back Thursday, April 2, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Allison @ 5:55 pm

Back…and going to be wearing my CI for the first time since….last spring, really.

Correction, I’ve made a few attempts to wear it over the summer, and most recently,  in January, when I had a dinner date.  I wanted to be able to have a conversation in a loud restaurant, with a person who was hearing and did not know sign language.

It was a disaster.  The sound kept cutting in and out.  I kept adjusting it.  Finally, I sat with my hand over the magnet, elbow on the table, wondering if it was my hair that was causing it to possibly slip off, or if it wasn’t strong enough.

Finally I just ripped the processor off my head in frustration, and said “to heck with it.”  First, having surgery twice.  Then the rashes/redness, the itching, not being able to see Mandy, and now the processor wasn’t working properly.  What else was going to go wrong?  Maybe I was just not meant to have a cochlear implant.

In short, I gave up.  Nobody seemed to care, so I stopped caring.  Course, other things were going on in my life at the same time which didn’t help the situation.  Lack of support from the people I needed and craved it the most was one.

After several trips home visiting family, and fights with my mom over my lack of using the CI,her disappointment with me for not wearing it, and the fact that I hear much better with the CI, than with just the hearing aid alone.

Graduation looms in 7 weeks.  So time is running out.  So I took action.

I made an appointment today, and was able to get in and see Catherine tomorrow.  I’m not able to see Mandy, as she’s had no room for me for the last year.  I’ll be working with Laurie next, starting on Monday, to ease myself back into this whole CI thing.

Let’s see how it goes.

edit: the correction is that my mom was upset with me because she felt like I was not wearing my CI because I didn’t want to, not because of the issues I was having. If I had made an effort to resolve the problem, with no luck, and then finally made the decision that it was not worth pursuing anymore, then that would be a different story.