The Bionic Sound Project

this girl’s journey to sound

Harmony Info and Hearing Things That Hearing People Don’t Notice Monday, December 4, 2006

Today was the first day of the quarter. I did errands and had a therapy session with Mandy. First I stopped to see Karen about scheduling speech therapy for this quarter, but to no avail. Mandy’s going to be playing speech therapist AND audiologist.

While working out my schedule in Karen’s office, she was typing away at the computer, eating a cracker, and I heard something which sounded like somebody hammering in the distance.

“Karen, do you hear that noise? It sounds like somebody hammering.”

“No, I don’t, I am eating crackers though. That may be what you’re hearing.”

“No, that’s not it, there definitely is a noise that sounds like faint hammering.”

So she stops everything she was doing, and listens for a few seconds.

“I still don’t hear anything.” and after she said that, she leaned down and picked up her bag that was pressing against the buttons of the tape recorder on the floor, making the “hammering” noises that I was hearing.

“There is absolutely NO way that you could have heard that.”

“Yeah, I did hear it. It sounds like ‘thnk-thnk-thnk-thnk’.”

“That is so incredible. It’s just unbelievable what you are hearing. I don’t even know how many decibels that was, but I couldn’t even hear it myself, and it took me a few seconds to figure out what it was! It’s a low, low, low frequency sound, almost silent, and to pick that up, wow!”

So, I went over to see Mandy since it was time for my appointment with her, and Karen told Mandy what happened with my sound discovery, so both of them looked pleased.

I’m going to be seeing Mandy 2x a week for auditory practice, and not seeing Karen for speech therapy, because of all the schedule problems from last quarter, and my final class schedule wasn’t definite until today, and everything’s booked. As a result, I’ve decided to fly solo this quarter without an interpreter for my major class. My teacher does know some sign, and has experience teaching all-deaf classes, and is willing to work with me in his class without an interpreter. It’s scary, but I’m up for the challenge. I just hope I don’t fail, because it is a 5-credit hour class out of 12 credits.

Mandy got back from the audiology conference that was in Buffalo this weekend, and true to her word, she showed me all the stuff she got at the conference, that had to do with the Harmony.

If I thought Megan and Dr. M were excited about the Harmony and what I am going to think of it, Mandy is way more excited about it than they are, and myself. She wants to get started with the Harmony…NOW. Hehe.

So far I’m the only active patient of hers that is going to be getting the Harmony (especially in January) and what I had to hear about the Harmony was pretty interesting.

Among some of the features of the Harmony:

– Built-in programmable LED light that will give system status for different things. It will be like the Firefly for the Auria, but most operations will be programmed to either light up for a short time, or permanently be on during operation.

– programming with the Harmony will be similar to programming with the Auria, but it will be one-click. It will convert the MAPs from HiRes 90 to HiRes 120 with a single click of the button. When I go in with the new Harmony, all it has to do is get my MAP from the Auria, and convert it with the click of the button.

– Users with the Platinum Sound Processor will be able to use the HiRes 120 processing strategy. This is a great way to determine if they like the strategy enough to upgrade and switch to the Harmony. With the Auria, there is no way to test out the HiRes 120 to see if you like it, except for getting the Harmony.

I’m really happy I got my cochlear implant in July, because I will automatically get to start with the Harmony and HiRes 120 processing immediately. I don’t have to wait several months to take advantage of the HiRes 120 Fidelity, as it will be much stronger and powerful than the Auria.

The patients who are getting implanted in January and beyond will not be able to take advantage of the Harmony’s benefits immediately. Apparently, the FDA is recommending that all new patients start off with the HiRes 90 processing/programming strategies (which is the Auria’s capabilities), then switch to the Harmony’s HiRes 120 capabilities 3 to 6 months after activation.

Now that I know what my Auria can do, and sound for the most part is normal, I’m ready to take on the Harmony and reach the next level with my hearing!


The prevalence of CIs over Hearing Aids. Wednesday, August 2, 2006

This past weekend was interesting. I went to Deaf Professional Happy Hour on Friday night to meet up with some old friends from school, as well as other people who live here in this area. Saturday was a big pool party that was a combination fundraiser for the traveling deaf softball team and a goodbye party for two deaf girls that were going off to grad school.

The most interesting part of it was that in the group of people that I was talking to, everybody but two had cochlear implants. It’s amazing how many people have been getting implanted, especially within the last 3 years. We were all trading implant stories, and so far, I’m the only one who had a bad time with the surgery/had to have it twice.

I remember the days when meeting a person who had a cochlear implant was something that was somewhat rare and unheard of. In fact, the first time I had a friend with a cochlear implant was my freshman year of college. In 1997, I worked at the oral deaf school that I attended when I was a little girl. I was a counselor for their summer camp program for deaf kids and their siblings. It was amazing, the number of them that were implanted and doing extremely well with their implants, as compared to my generation (at the time) who were still hearing-aided.

The other funny thing was that when I met up with P.J. on Friday night, we found out we had the same doctor, and were comparing notes. He asked me if i was “that girl who had a problem with her implant and had to have surgery twice” and I asked him if he was the “young man who reacted strongly to being activated due to one sound he had never heard before in his life”. The deaf community is way too small, with all of us going to the same doctor, haha.

P.J. was telling me about his post-activation experiences, and all the sounds he was hearing at the bar (that I couldn’t hear/pick out with my new digital hearing aid), and I was very impressed. He also told me a funny post-activation story about when he came home, and he heard this “ding ding ding” coming from around the house, and stopped. It kept coming and going, and driving him crazy. Finally he asked his boyfriend what that noise was, and his boyfriend told him that it was the bell on the cat’s collar. P.J. said that he wanted the bell removed from the cat immediately. It was funny how he told the story.

Found another website that is geared towards wireless accessibility. Sent an email off to Nokia to find out about their phones and the difference between HA+CI compatibility. It’s frustrating because some of the websites, like Motorola, have no information on accessibility, nor can I send them an email without being a Motorola customer.


Actual Implant Surgery Video! – *GRAPHIC* Sunday, July 30, 2006

Actual Implant Surgery Video – WARNING: GRAPHIC

And just because I *had* to…(thanks to Jen)


Cochlear Implant Surgery Part Deux Wednesday, July 19, 2006

It’s been confirmed as of this morning. I’m having my cochlear implant surgery again this afternoon.

They’re going to take my implant out and redo it. If that doesn’t work, they’re going to put a new implant in.

But this explains all the dizziness that I’ve been having (I’ll explain later with a medical picture). I just hope I don’t barf up blood like last time.


It’s Been Done – Surgery! Thursday, July 13, 2006

I had my cochlear implant on Monday, July 10th. I’m fine, but I had a really rough time with it, and ended up staying in the hospital for almost 2 and a half days. I’m at home now, and I’m doing okay, but not that great. I’m making this entry very short and will update more later.

My surgery was around 7 am, and I didn’t get moved up to a hospital bed until around 2 pm, I believe. I was very sick and having a lot of trouble with post-anesthesia issues.

Here are some pictures from my experience (on Surgery Day and the two days afterwards)


My Dad and I at Good Sam around 4:50 am




After Surgery Update Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Just a quick post since I’m not coherent (but the most coherent I have been since coming out of surgery).

I’m alive, I made it.

I’m hoping/probably going to stay here an extra day, because I have been soooooooooooo sick. Between a bad reaction to the anesthesia, and the fact anytime u have surgery done on the inner ear, it affects your balance/makes you dizzy. Between those two, I’m having a lovely time.

Much thanks to Alex for the suprise visit and the beautiful roses you brought me.

I’m getting really tired now, so talk to you later.

P.S. I was mad last night when they brought me “real” hospital food, and I wasn’t able to eat any of it. Man, the chocolate mousse, bread, milk, mashedpotatoes, green beans, and salad I wanted. Heck, everything but the mystery meat.

Not looking forward to breakfast, since I hate breakfast, haha.


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.