The Bionic Sound Project

this girl’s journey to sound

Susan, Webinars, And The Emergency Vet Thursday, November 30, 2006

Tuesday, I saw Susan for listening therapy. She was near the end of the “webinar” for the new Advanced Bionics Harmony processor, so she brought me back to her office so I could see what it was like. It was interesting watching and listening to the webinar, and seeing some images and testimonials for the Harmony. I love how AB is using technology to bring the information out to the masses.

Susan also mentioned an term called “auditory closers”, and that’s something I want to look into, because it has to do with a combination of the brain’s processing versus the actual listening of what is being said. That’s one reason why I can figure out what is being said, even though I may not have heard everything that was said in the sentence.

I had a bit of trouble with some sets of sentences, and not so much with others. It’s interesting how the same sentence, said in different ways, can make more sense as compared to repeating it. I like it when I get things correctly, but they like it when I’m challenged by it!

Wednesday, Susan was talking to Megan and I came up in the conversation, and it was discovered that there was an miscommunication in the scheduling, so I will be able to see her and Dr. M on Friday instead of waiting till January. Yippie.

Wednesday night, we had a freeze warning for our area, and my poor 14-year-old dog fell in our pool. She was already showing the symptoms of not feeling well, but after the pool incident, she definitely was very sick, so we took her to the emergency vet. She’s going to be okay, but she’s a very sick doggie. It was both interesting and sad being at the emergency vet, because it was a listening sound adventure for me.

I felt awful listening to the poor dog that kept howling and crying because it was in a lot of pain after it got attacked by two other dogs. The cochlear implant gave me the beginning and end of the howl, whereas the hearing aid just picked it up and ended it at mid-howl. I could hear the emotion in the howl, which really tugged at my heartstrings, because I wanted to help ease the pain for the poor dog. I could also hear the different howls, barks, and yips from the different dogs, and it turned into a game of figuring how how many dogs were speaking at once, and differentiating between the “voices”. It really wasn’t a game, but we were waiting for quite awhile, and I was interested in what I was hearing, as it was a new environment.

My mom commented that it was interesting that I was hearing all these sounds and bringing it to her attention, as she never really thinks about it, as it’s all white noise to her. However, it depends on what it is, and if it catches her attention or not. So we got into a discussion of how hearing people filter out the sounds, and it was interesting to hear about it.

I could also hear the employees talking, and was figuring out if it was a male or female voice, the chair scraping on the floor as it was pushed back, a drawer being closed, and I was identifying all these sounds from inside the examination room, and my mom was confirming what I was hearing for me. However, I did hear one person laugh, but couldn’t tell if it was male or female.

So yeah, it was an interesting night. I’m just glad my dog is going to be okay, and I hope that other dog survives as well as the other sick animals there.

 

First Time On The Salesfloor With The Cochlear Implant Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Monday was the true test of having a CI and being at work. Instead of dealing with customers one-on-one, I was out on the salesfloor, where customer interactions are random. They assigned me in seasonal, of all locations, since that’s where all the holiday stuff is located. Most of my shift was spent running back and forth between the backroom and the floor, getting things for the guests, and helping them find what they needed, while working on the pulls and restocking the shelves with Keely (about 8 carts and two tubs worth).

I understood most people, but there were a few, especially in the beginning, that I couldn’t understand, and I’m sure it was a combination of poor speech on their part and nervousness on mine.

While I was on my last break, one of the supervisors at the store sat down with me and told me that they wanted me to go out on the salesfloor with a walkie from now on. The reason for this is so that I can call for help when I need it, and they’re willing to work with me on this to find a method that works best for all of us.

I’ve come a long way from the days when they weren’t sure about putting me out on the salesfloor, preferring to keep me up front cashiering, to today, where I have been trained in several areas, and they’re willing to put me on salesfloor AND send me out there with a walkie.

However, Saturday, when I was cleaning up at the end of my cashier shift, I was reminded once again how rude and ignorant people can be. I was kneeling to get more plastic bags, and it was really busy (read: noisy), and the next thing I knew, I saw a hand jerk in front of my face, snapping their fingers at me to get my attention.

My first thought was “What the heck? Why are you snapping your fingers at me? I’m not a dog.”

The joys of educating people who don’t want to be educated, and give you a “whatever” look, when you explain that you didn’t like that, and it would be better to tap a person on the shoulder.

 

Playing The Piano Thursday, November 23, 2006

Tuesday I saw Susan for auditory therapy. She said that I had basically finished the book, as it goes up to Level D. When I last saw her in August, I was getting 60% on the sentence tests with the keyword in the sentence. 3 months later, I’m getting 70% on the sentence test without the keyword. Magic.

Driving back home from therapy, I was listening to the radio, and heard a song that I thought sounded like it would be one of Christina Aguilera’s. I looked down at the text playing on the dash, and it was “Hurt”. I haven’t listened to her new CD that much, especially in the last few months, because I’ve been all over the place with music, trying to get a wide exposure to different genres (minus Country). So it was cool to recognize it based on the music/vocals.

Wednesday night, I sat down at my piano, as we had just moved everything from the first floor back into the house on Tuesday. The tile and the painting is done, and the first floor doesn’t echo anymore. The CI really loved the echoes (not), especially when my dog is barking. Fingers poised, I excitedly anticipated what the piano was going to sound like, as I have been waiting for this for 3 months.

Pressed the keys for my favorite chords, the measure by how I rate a piano’s sound, and was pleased. Started playing some of the songs I knew and was in good shape.

It was when I took off the hearing aid to play the piano with just the CI, that I was shocked. I was just absolutely disappointed in how it sounded. The richness, the warmth, the emotion of the music didn’t come through at all. I could hear the thunk-thunk as the keys pressed down, or the hammer striking the tightly-wound wire inside the great belly of the beast.

There seemed to be a lag or even an echo when playing. I played several songs and my heart grew heavier by the moment, as there is no way that I could play the piano with just the CI by itself. I felt like it had gone through electronic filtering and I was only hearing bits and pieces of it. There were some notes that came through with the CI and others that didn’t. It felt like an electronic version of music.

Maybe it will resolve the more I play the piano, but even when I was first activated, music didn’t quite sound like this. I hope the Harmony will resolve this issue with playing the piano, because if it doesn’t, this may be the one thing that keeps me from ever going bilateral.

Tomorrow is Black Friday, and then we are having our small Thanksgiving dinner after I get home from work. Hope you all had a enjoyable Thanksgiving.

This year, I’m thankful for the Cochlear Implant, and for everybody who made it possible. I’m thankful to all the people who have been a part of this journey, and helped me to get where I am today, and continue to do so. That’s my thanks for this year.

 

My First Day Back At Work Monday, November 20, 2006

Today was my first day back at work since May. I was supposed to work this summer, but due to complications with the cochlear implant surgery, I wasn’t able to return to work in time before school started again. It was also my first time back as a cashier in what seems like more than a year. Next week, I’m back on salesfloor, which makes me happy, since I am the kind of person who likes to keep moving on their feet, running all over the store.

I’m pooped, and I’m not sure which one is more tired, my body or my ears.

It was absolutely noisy, even with today’s start of the Holiday season and hours. I enjoyed hearing some of the noises, and the others I absolutely detested. Babies crying/children having tantrums was at the top of my list of sounds I hated hearing. It hurts. But it was interesting hearing the variation in the “cry”. I also heard how kids can reallllllly draw it out to exaggerate/emphasize their point and get everybody’s attention, especially when they start screeching. Shopping carts crashing together in the cart corral was second. Third was people dropping things that made a loud “boom!”.

I’m kind of not looking forward to Black Friday, because I know how insanely noisy it is, and today wasn’t that busy, but my implant/ear is already sore, and is quivering in fear at the expected noise level of Friday.

My Sounds Of Today

– hearing a guest say to me “have a nice day” when I wasn’t looking at them, and realizing that I heard every syllable distinctly! If it hadn’t been so busy, I probably would have hugged the guest, hehe. Just kidding

– while on break, hearing a coworker depositing the coins into the soda machine, making a rattling descent, then finally the coins dropping into the coin return slot. And this was 10 feet from where I was sitting.

– the detail of the printer/register tape when it prints/cuts the receipt.

– being able to locate the direction of the “boom” of things that customers dropped.

– the weirdest was this “littlest pet shop” or whatever it was called. It was a plush puppy dog that made dog noises. I was holding the box, and I heard this whining noise and couldn’t figure out where it was coming from, until the box started howling, and I was like…oy.

It reminded me of that “Oopsie-Daisie” doll that I had as a kid, that several adults absolutely hated, because the doll would crawl a few feet, “fall down”, start crying, then get up and start crawling again, only to repeat.

I don’t even want to get into the other dolls I had, especially the one you had to shake in order to hear the noises it made. But my favorite was “Cricket” and the one I called Pinkie Baby (brand name: Baby Talk). But I was definitely the queen of toys that made noise, and if they didn’t, I usually would find a way.

The start of my shift was interesting, as I got reacquainted with some of the people I used to work with 2.5 years ago, before I transferred to the store at school. Now I’m back to where I originally started.

It was the first time I had met my team lead, JD, and he knew I was deaf before I even told him. I asked him how he was able to figure that out, because I usually fool people, and he said he has experience working with people with disabilities, but that my speech was very good. He himself is a Little Person, so it is always nice to work with people who understand the challenges you have to face, even if our challenges are all different. Needless to say, working with him was absolutely amazing today, because I didn’t have to explain what I needed from him in terms of communication and assistance.

That’s the one thing I appreciate about both locations, we have a diverse workforce. Even if I sometimes have to challenge their expectations of what a deaf person can and cannot do, and get the opportunity to do the jobs that require some degree of “hearing” ability, it is still awesome.

 

The First Update On Sounds I’ve Heard While At Home Sunday, November 19, 2006

Here’s the brief update of the last 3 or so days that I have been home.

Flying was okay, no major problems there, but I really appreciate the separation and clarity of sound that the CI gives. However, my inner ear didn’t seem to like flying that much, as I felt a bit separated/off-balance when changing planes and when I arrived at home.

Mom says I seem to have a little bit of trouble understanding her or not hearing her as well as I did in the past. I’m not sure if it’s an adjustment period or what. But it too, shall pass.

She did say that my speech sounds so much better than it did before. As a matter of fact, when I answered the phone with my standard “hello, hold on please”, and handed the phone to my mom, it was my godmom on the other end of the phone. She asked my mom “who was that? I didn’t recognize who it was.” She said my speech was so clear, but she couldn’t understand what I was saying because I talked really fast. (Sorry, Karen! I know I’m supposed to slow down!)

Here’s what I’ve been hearing since I’ve been home.

11/17/06 – the cat (Benny) giving himself a bath. He’s noisy when he licks himself, making this kind of slurping/gulping sound. I can’t describe it. But I was like, holy cow, you’re that noisy when taking a bath? I could also hear him purr without being next to his head.

11/17/06 – hearing the music from the itty-bitty speakers attached to my iPOD playing in my room upstairs, while walking around downstairs.

11/18/06 – the very beginning of the quiet growl that Pippen makes before she goes into a full-blown hiss, and the details that make up her hiss/growl language. I also got bitten (more than once) while trying to cut the mats out of her fur, before she finally peed on me. *sigh*

11/18/06 – hearing Pippen hiss at the dog, before she smacks Elizabeth and tells her to mind her own business. I could hear it, but couldn’t see it.

11/18/06 – the “rhhhk-rhhhk” of the nail file as mom was filing her nails while we were watching a movie. It was driving me nuts! Haha.

11/19/06 – hearing the hydroplane boats at Firebird Lake in the distance (just barely, and only if it was absolutely silent). The lake is about 15-20 miles away from my house. It sounded like a very low “mmmmm”. However, while typing this as my mom’s on the phone, I just heard the bigger boat clearly. My eyes widened, and Mom looked over at me and said, “yep that was the boats.”

As for my guinea pig, he just came home from being boarded at the vet yesterday morning, and I haven’t really had time to see what he sounds like. He was really cute though, when I put him on the floor to run around. It was safe to do so, as the entire first floor is empty, and we are still doing work downstairs. Right now, he doesn’t want to get up and greet the day. He’s usually very vocal in the morning, but not today. We checked on him to make sure he was okay, and he ran out of his house, and as soon as we set it back down, he ran back into it and went back to sleep. I think he was worn out from running around downstairs.

I wasn’t able to get an appointment to see Dr. M and Megan for this break, and have to wait till January! But I will be able to see Susan, and I am excited about that!

I go back to work tomorrow and that’s going to bring a whole new plethora of sounds for me. Whee!

 

Auria vs. Harmony Compatibility Saturday, November 18, 2006

Filed under: 120-channel processor,advanced bionics,anticipation — Allison @ 4:29 pm

Woke up this morning to an email from Advanced Bionics. This is the first official communication from them regarding the Harmony Processor (also known as the 120-channel processor).

The attachment looks a little wonky on my sidekick, but I copied and pasted as I saw it.

I’m so excited to see what’s going to happen with the Harmony, however, I’ve gotten comfortable with the Auria. I do have to keep in mind that as with any piece of technology, there will be a transition period, and this applies to the Harmony as well.

More later on being home and the different sounds. Life is good! 🙂

EDIT: the information has been removed, and will be added later.

Link To The Compatibility Chart

According to the Compatibility Chart, the Harmony will be compatible with all Auria accessories with the exception of the Auria Firefly (CI-5720), Auria AA Power-Pak (CI-7400), and the System Sensor (CI-5820)

According to the website, it says that using the above three items will:

  • Using the Firefly and System Sensor with the HarmonyProcessor may result in false diagnostics.
  • If the AA PowerPak is used to power the Harmony Processor, the processor’s LED Status Indicator may incorrectly indicate a low battery.
  • In rare instances, using the AA PowerPak with the Harmony Processor may result in tripping the PowerPak’s fuse.

.

 

Going Home For The First Time Since August Wednesday, November 15, 2006

I am oh so VERY excited. Today I am going home for the first time since August 30th!

I’m actually at the airport right now, waiting to board my flight, and killing time by posting from my sidekick. Going through TSA was much easier this time, probably due to the high volume of deaf people that live and travel in this city.

Today, the weather couldn’t be any more perfect…51 degrees, bright blue skies, and sunny! I’m looking forward to the weather back home even more…79-82 degrees!

I finished the fall quarter with my last final this morning. This quarter was an interesting one for many reasons, but most importantly, I survived with a cochlear implant.

I’m so excited to go home because I cannot wait to hear what sounds there are back home. I want to know if I can hear the sounds of my dog, cats, and guinea pig. I know my guinea pig makes whistles, squeaks, wheeks, and a whole host of high-pitched noises, but I really can’t hear it unless he’s right next to my ear. Mom says that he calls when he’s hungry, wants attention, or hears the refrigerator open. And then I have my three cats, one which growls and hisses at everything (we don’t get along), the other likes to have “conversations” with you, and the third likes to quietly announce her presence when she jumps up on the bed, commanding your attention, otherwise she gets mad and jumps down. I want to hear toenails clicking on the tile, the clomp-clomp-thump of my three-legged cat as he walks around, the bells jingling on their collars, and the sound of my dog snoring, which always cracks up my mom.

I can’t wait to hear the sounds that my house makes. I want to hear the noises that happen in the neighborhood (especially the kids at the park, which the people on my street can hear).

It is going to be a mind-shock for me because I only got to experience being home for the first 2.5 weeks with the CI, and my brain didn’t understand what it was hearing. Now it’s almost 3.5 months later, and what is going to be different? Am I going to be catching on to what my mom says in conversation even better than I did with the hearing aid? I’m just bursting at the seams thinking about it.

I was talking to Kathy the other day at work about going home. She warned me that I need to be patient with my family, especially my mom. As a grandmother herself, she cannot imagine what it must be like for my mom, away from me while I’m experiencing all these new sounds. My mom has been there with me every step of the way, and she is very, very, very excited to see me and how I am doing with the CI.

Next week, I start up again at my old job (that I didn’t get to work at this summer, due to the complications after surgery), and I’m excited. It’s going to be stressful, with the holiday shopping, Black Friday, and cranky, stressed people. But it doesn’t bother me because I’m more interested in seeing how much the CI helps me in the work environment, working in customer service, and hearing the noises that make up a retail store. So here’s my new test!

Working on seeing Susan at least once or twice while I’m home and continuing with my listening therapy, plus seeing Dr. M for my 3 month checkup, and importing my current MAPs into Megan’s computer.

Ending on that note, that reminds me, I need to go buy a kumquat. 😀

 

My First Workout and Being Grossed Out Saturday, November 11, 2006

Wednesday, my sound discovery was hearing a classmate of mine cracking her thumbs about 8 feet away from me during critique.

That afternoon, I found out that I won’t be able to get the support services that I want for my major class next quarter. After much conversation, Anne and Sheila both recommended that I not do it, as I’m not ready to be independent with the CI. So I had to rearrange my winter quarter schedule. *grumbling*

It just further resolves my desire to work harder at it, but it doesn’t help when I’m not in the mood to work with Sound&Beyond. I went to lunch at the Commons, after picking up my replacement 18-hour battery from Mandy. Ran into MK there, and we talked about planning for the Holiday Party. Rockin’ The Holidays is probably going to be the name.

Friday was my 4-month anniversary of getting the CI. It was also supposed to be my last session with Mandy for the quarter, but it got canceled. It has been rescheduled it to Monday. We are going to do testing to see how much hearing I’ve gained in 3 months, and also check the T-levels.

Friday wasn’t a good day, as it seemed like everything happened at once, so I was in a bad mood that night, especially after my camera stopped working near the end of my final project photo shoot. My other friend Matt convinced me to go to the gym and work out to relieve my frustration. It was the first time I had worked out since getting the CI, and I went for a 35-minute 2-mile run. It felt SO good, especially when you cross over the plateau between pushing yourself, and feeling unstoppable…the second wind.

The real kicker came in after I headed downstairs to the pool to do some laps. It was the first time I’ve gone swimming underwater since surgery, so I was excited about starting that again. I miss swimming 2 to 4 miles a day, as I used to do that every day in high school, swimming for the nationally ranked #2 girls high school swim team. I wasn’t sure how doing flip turns would affect the CI, but I found out the hard way when I got out of the pool.

My ears hurt a little bit in the pool, but it was nothing compared to the disrupted sense of balance. I was having a hard time staying upright, and felt like I was falling over (to the left). The lifeguard was looking at me strangely, and I do have to admit I probably looked like I was drunk because I was using the wall for support while walking back to the play pool, and stopping every few feet.

I think I’m going to skip on doing flip turns for awhile.

After swimming for a few hours, we went to watch Final Destination 2, which I hadn’t seen yet. I was grossed out by the death scenes in the movie, but it was made worse by the detail of the SOUND in the movie, when I actually watched the death scenes. I could tell the difference because I dove under the blanket when it looked like something gory was going to happen, and I could hear it and felt sick to my stomach! Maybe I won’t wear the CI when watching these types of movies, because the detail of the sound is just more than I ever expected. Eeeeewww. P.S. Mandy, the first movie was the best, this one is just icky.

To make up for the ickiness (lol, I sound like Jen G.), I put in Looney Tunes, and we watched cartoons. I got such a kick out of hearing the sound effects, but didn’t stay awake long enough to fully experience the broad spectrum of noises! But that’s my new plan, to go back and watch some more Warner Brothers goodness, especially my Bugs Bunny!

 

Who Designed Advanced Bionics’ Auria? Friday, November 10, 2006

Filed under: accessories,advanced bionics,information,links,media,research — Allison @ 10:56 am

I used to be an industrial design major, so I check out what’s happened in the world of design every now and then.  I’m interested in the medical products divison as I worked on a team project for a competition that had to do with healthcare.

IDEO is the industrial design company that everybody dreams of working for. It has been referenced through multiple fields of study throughout my college career, not just the design classes, but in my Organizational Behavior class as well.

So, while surfing the web, I was surprised to find out that they were responsible for the design of Advanced Bionics HiRes Auria.

Advanced Bionics HiRes Auria: Silver, Medical & Scientific Equipment

Contact: Scott Underwood, IDEO, 650.289.3409, scott@ideo.com

Credit: IDEO and Advanced Bionics

People with sensorineural hearing loss who have cochlear implants (electrodes surgically implanted in the coiled chamber of the inner ear) must use sound processing devices to hear. This system offers customizable covers that snap on and off to either mask or decorate the device, for both children and adults. Programs for different sound environments are accessed with the flip of a switch and the unit can be configured to work with various audio inputs, power supplies and microphones. The system also comes with ear hooks to make the fit more snug.

  • The device also has a visual confirmation that the processor is working with the implant.
  • There is a version specifically for children.

Learn more about IDEO, check out the following links:

IDEO’s official website

Wikipedia Entry

BusinessWeek Article on how IDEO is changing the way businesses innovate

 

Tape, Paper, Scissors Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Today’s in-class demo was cool. Not because of the techniques we were learning, but because of what I could hear. I was enthralled with the discovery of different sounds.

When the room was silent, from a distance of 15 feet or so, I could hear the “thrrrp” of the masking tape as strips were torn off. The “nnshhhhhttt-nnsht-nsssht” of the scissors cutting through the posterboard. And the “crrkthhttttt” as the two halves separated from each other.

I’ve been able to hear it with the hearing aid, but only if I was the one who was wielding those items and making the noises. The tape was especially cool, because I’ve never heard the sound of it ripping off. Pulling it off from the roll, yes, ripping off, no.

I couldn’t hear it with the HA from that distance, but I could with the CI, and the sound was much more detailed than I remember with the HA. I almost wanted to ask him to keep going with the different tools, because I was having so much fun listening to it.

I did notice that the CI did not pick up the squeaking of the chair that Sam was sitting in, but the HA did.

I saw the doc today about the two episodes of the room-spinning, and he said to keep an eye on it. There are so many factors involved in it, that it’s hard to determine if the CI has any effect on it. The fact that the episode only lasts less than a few seconds, and has no precursor to it, doesn’t help much along with the fact that I do not have an history of passing out.

If there was a problem with the CI, it’d be more likely that it would be of a longer duration (like after my 1st surgery). Because the eardrum looks fine, there’s no change in listening, and the CI is still working, it’s hard to say if the CI has anything to do with it.

It could be stress. It could be eating on an irregular basis. It could be lack of sleep. It could be for totally random reasons.

He did say that I may I need to get on a regular sleeping pattern for the week AND the weekend. That should help with my balance system to keep it in check. How many times have I heard that?

One thing that felt so weird during the exam was when he was pressing on the internal part. I could feel my eardrum moving back and forth. He said it was because he was increasing the pressure in the inner ear when he was pushing down on the implant.