The Bionic Sound Project

this girl’s journey to sound

“You turned it up like WOAH!” Thursday, September 14, 2006

“You turned it up like WOAH!” – Mandy

I had my first mapping at school today. This morning, Mandy and I were joined by Catherine and Don (the other audiologists that I have worked with), who wanted to sit in on the mapping session. The majority of the CI students have Cochlear, and AB makes up about less than 1/4 of the population here (unconfirmed for 2006-2007), so we had to spend a bit of time getting re-familiar with the program.

The best part of the mapping session today…my brain is definitely ready to utilize the CI!

Mandy, Catherine, and Don were deciding how to best program me, based on my reports that I’ve been making over the last three weeks, and Megan’s reports/programs. The other part that they were curious about is why I had the lower frequencies turned up high, but not the upper frequencies. Speech clarity could be an issue because the upper frequencies were missing/not as strong as the lower frequencies, so they wanted to see what would happen with my brain, if we adjusted it.

So Mandy did speech bursts testing, which is the same as the “beep test” that Megan used to do, except it fired multiple electrodes at once. It was at this juncture that we realized that what I was hearing was soft to moderately soft. This explains why speech has started to sound more distorted over the last week, resulting in frustration for me.

I didn’t have to adjust the lower frequencies as much, but I really adjusted the upper frequencies, and I am pleased to report that speech is starting to sound AMAZING with the CI, in the few short hours that I’ve been programmed. It is also starting to balance out the hearing aid now, which is a great relief to me, because I was worried that I was going to have to go without the HA, because I should be listening with the CI, not the HA.

Don/Catherine both told me that one other person has mentioned the radio playing in their head. Apparently in the past, CIs used to have RF interference, but it shouldn’t be happening today with the newer models. And feeling like that I’m hearing in my non-implanted ear when I don’t wear my HA, has also happened to a few other people. So that’s some burning questions answered that I was very curious about! I was warned that these new programs may drain the battery even faster, so I need to continue with the battery log.

I hung out in the common area while they had their department meeting, because I had speech therapy 2 hours later, and tried to do homework, but was filling out paperwork instead. After their meeting, Mandy chatted with me while she ate her lunch. It was fun getting to talk about non-audiology related stuff. She’s so cool.

My exciting news from Monday…I was asked to be in a film that the school is making, and part of it has to do with Cochlear Implants and the shoot is tomorrow. Mandy just told me exactly what it’s going to be used for, and it wasn’t originally what we thought it was. Eeek. *nervous* We’re both talking about how we have to look extra-pretty tomorrow, because we are GIRLS who like to look good!


Advanced Bionics vs. Cochlear Americas Thursday, June 22, 2006

Needing to make a decision between Advanced Bionics and Cochlear Americas. So far I’m leaning towards Advanced Bionics, because I had decided on that back on March 13, 2005…So, as a result of the information that I’ve gathered (correct me if I’m wrong on anything)

HiResolution BionicEar System – PROS
– has one electrode array without a positioner (Freedom has a positioner…and the CDC has talked about an increased risk of meningitis in children post-implant with positioners, but this was in reference to pre-2002 implants made by AB)
– fires multiple electrodes at once (Freedom fires one at a time)
– reportedly better with music quality/tones (super important to me)
– batteries are the most-cost effective ones in the industry, and I’m a bit of an environmentalist, so this makes me happy.
– if i go river rafting or away from civilization, I can switch to an AA-battery which will provide power for 1.5 days (with the Power-Pak). For me, AA batteries are cheaper and easier to find than hearing aid batteries.

HiResolution Bionic Ear System – CONS
– the one major con is that the reliability can be of some issue as compared to Cochlear (~1% of implants fail)…but if it fails, AB will pay for replacement.
– not splash-proof (big negative, i love water!)
– not as many “extras” in terms of accessories (in my opinion)
– Cochlear seems more deaf-centric than AB (as in they understand their needs better)
– battery life is short compared to Freedom (will have to recharge it daily, and change battery twice a day with the 8-hour batteries)

The major reason I think I am going to go with AB – the sound quality. It seems like the audiologists/doctors that I have seen/talked to in both states have suggested that Advanced Bionics would be a better match for me.

Another important thing to note, Advanced Bionics has a new 120-channel processor coming out in November 2006 (hopefully). I did a search on this and found a beta tester’s journal about their experience with the 120-channel processor as compared to the Auria. They said that they were sad they had to give it back, and couldn’t wait for it to come out.

However, there is something to be said for the company (Cochlear) that was one of the pioneers of the cochlear implant, and also has the highest-number of implantees in the United States. They really laid the groundwork for all of it, so I give applause to them, and thanks for getting the ball rolling.

There is a third implant company called Med-El, but it is not for me.

Everybody has to do their own research and make their own decisions, but I think Advanced Bionics is going to be mine for sure.


Hearing Aid Woes, and CI stuff Monday, March 13, 2006

To make a long story short, my hearing aids are messed up.

Remember this entry where I talked about battery problems? Well I found out why today. I’ve had my hearing aids for about 8+ years, and the normal lifespan of hearing aids is around 3 years. They were awesome ones…the Widex P38s.

So, my options are that I need to either:

1. get them fixed (at a cost of $130 per hearing aid, with no guarantee they can be fixed)
2. get brand new ones (at a cost of $1,100 per hearing aid)
3. get one brand new hearing aid, get one fixed, and then get the cochlear implant.

The Hearing Aids/Cochlear Implants I’m Looking At (For My Degree Of Hearing Loss)
My only demand is that they *must* be compatible with my iPOD. Can’t live without it. And if I get a CI, I need to be able to plug both the CI and the hearing aid into my iPOD…I wonder how that’s going to work. :-/

Digital Hearing Aids

Oticon Sumo DM
Oticon Syncro 2 Power
Siemens Triano SP

Cochlear Implants

Nucleus Freedom
Advanced Bionics Auria
And a new cochlear implant is coming out this summer from Advanced Bionics that has 120(?) channels, as compared to the current implants that are 22-24 channels.

My first choice from when I went through the evaluation last spring was the Auria, and then the Freedom. I was already declared a “very good candidate” on March 24, 2005. I am scared to death, but at the same time, this might be something that I should do, especially since I have till the age of 26 to get nearly full coverage on the implant from my insurance company as long as I am a full-time student. The new genetic technology/hair-cell growth that they’ve got in the guinea pigs and chickens is still anywhere between 10 to 20 years off. And I realized that by then I will be 33 or 43…why wait that long? Especially since I have so many years ahead of me right now, in this moment.

Advanced Bionics is said to be better with music. And the new 120 channel one sounds really promising. But if you really want to listen to music, digital hearing aids are the way to go. I’m afraid to lose my ability to listen, recognize, and differentiate the sounds in music. I still want to be able to play the piano and the drums and be able to appreciate the full range of tones and sounds.

I spent nearly 4 hours at the Hearing Aid Shop today…first getting new earmolds…waiting 30 minutes for my appointment, then nearly 2 and half hours in the audiology booth doing testing and trying to reprogram my hearing aids, without much luck. Then he called my mom and talked to her about what was going on.

The normal battery drain is 1.5mA…mine was at like 3.6 and 2.7…which was really bad. And for the test, it was doing these things he had never seen, with sharp spikes and drops at each frequency point till it leveled out to what it’s normally supposed to do. And all those batteries that I kept replacing? They’re all good…practically brand new. We tested them in the charger.

I can barely hear in one ear, and the other one is okay…I finally switched them around, since I’m more left-ear-dominant (even though my hearing loss is greater in that ear), so now I can hear, but it sucks. I have to wait between 10 to 14 days to get my new earmolds. then I have to get a new audiogram, then test out the digital ones for awhile and see which one I like. After that, I can get started on the CI stuff. Oy vey.

Hopefully I can have the CI surgery this summer (with the Auria or with the 120-channel)…either at St. Joe’s, or Mayo Clinic.

In addition to all that, there’s screwup over the serial # of one of my hearing aids…apparently it’s listed as being on the shelf at Widex, and the one they have listed as me wearing now, I don’t even have on. And the first number (off of my records) belongs to another person. I need to call and trace back all my audiology records.


Cochlear Implant Evaluation Try #2 Monday, March 14, 2005

I also think I know which CI I want to get. The BionicEar Auria (This would be my 2nd choice (the ESPirit 3G)). There’s one more (i think, but it was just announced). Friday, I start the evaluation process again, so if I go through with it, I can *hopefully* have the surgery in June.