The Bionic Sound Project

this girl’s journey to sound

How The Cochlear Implant Works With An Apple iPOD Friday, January 19, 2007

Ian and Aphrodite ask how the cochlear implant works with the iPOD. When I first heard about it, I wasn’t sure how it would work either, but here it is.

Auria with T-Mic earhook, DirectConnect earhook, and cable

 

 

Auria with DirectConnect earhook, attaching the cable

 

 

Auria with DirectConnect earhook, attached to cable

 

 

The whole setup, notice the silver middle – that is the evil static-causing connector.

 

 

Mandy figured out that you could remove it and still play it (I take no responsibility if you do the same) NO MORE STATIC! I’m not sure what the purpose of it is, but I think it has to do something with grounding it against electricity.

 

 

What it looks like when I wear it.

 

 

The only thing I don’t like about it is that I have to change the earhook back and forth whenever I want to listen to music or participate in conversation. The only reason why I have to switch back and forth is because I’ve got my Auria programmed to listen to music alone, because with the hearing aid, I hated hearing all the background noise, as I felt it overshadowed the music.

 

With my hearing aids, I could just pull off the boots, or switch back and forth between microphone (hearing both music and the environment), or just music alone.

 

I’m currently looking into other methods of getting the sound to my ears, such as the HATIS Epic. When the Harmony comes out, the built-in T-Coil will eliminate the whole changing-earhooks and the use of a Y-Split for stereo sound.

 

Some ask, why use the Y-Split? It’s needed because I have two different cables, one for my hearing aid, and one for the cochlear implant, to get stereo sound. (don’t have a picture yet as the cable for the hearing aid is missing at the moment!)

 

Be warned, this method with the HATIS only works if you have a telecoil built into your hearing aid and/or if your hearing aid is programmed for it (if needed). I have a Siemens Triano SP digital hearing aid with a telecoil. I would highly recommend, as with any assistive listening device (other than the cochlear implant) to try it out before you buy it (if you can).

 

Personally, I can’t wait for the Harmony, because I’m tired of having to change earhooks, and having two cables of different lengths and colors.

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The Three-Month Checkup Friday, December 1, 2006

I had my three-month checkup today with Dr. M and saw Megan for a mapping session. It was at 1, but I thought it was at 11 instead and was there early. But it was 1 pm in NY time, so I get credit for that! But Dr. M was nice enough to see me anyway, and had me come back at 1 to see Megan.

Prognosis is that I’m doing great.

Megan changed the M and T levels, and gave me a program that will work in noisy situations. So now I have one for normal life, one for noise, and one for the iPOD.

I did show up with the kumquats, and she laughed. ^.^ Told ya I would bring you some, and I’m one who sticks to my words!

Got 42% on my listening test for speech in noise, which was better than what I got with the hearing aids, but could be better. (I’m a perfectionist). I had a hard time with the beep test, because I thought I was hearing a kind of prolonged high-frequency noise, so I wasn’t sure if I was hearing it or not.

The most interesting part of the visit was when I was talking to Dr. M about the vertigo episodes from October, where he said it could be a migraine. Not the typical migraine that people think of, as there are many types of migraines in different parts of the body, including the abdomen. So it could be a type of cranial migraine, I think that’s what he said.

Anyway, to avoid that, it involves watching my caffeine, chocolate, and yellow cheese(!!!) intake. Managing stress is also another key factor. But the cheese has to do with the dye in it, and all three come from a bean, and they haven’t figured out why it causes that. Caffeine isn’t an issue, as I’m not a coffee drinker and rarely consume soda. I do like chocolate, and cheese to a degree (rather picky though).

Heading back to school tomorrow for three weeks. I’m not ready for another quarter!

I hope the next quarter will rock academically, because I did extremely well with the Cochlear Implant, for my first quarter having it. I made the Dean’s List for the first time what feels like forever and got a 3.58 for the quarter. It was amazing, especially to get the A in that class I was struggling with in terms of access services. We’ll see what happens winter quarter, as I’m choosing to fly solo…

 

Photos From The Film Shoot on September 15, 2006 Friday, September 22, 2006

Mandy’s been bugging me about posting the pictures from last week online, so here they are!

On September 11th, I was asked to be a part of a project that the school is working on. It wasn’t till September 14th, that I found out exactly what the film is about. It’s going to be a recruitment video that is going to be sent out to 2,500 people, about the school itself. One portion of the video discusses services for deaf students, and the part that we participated in was the services that they provide for Cochlear Implant recipients.

 

Mandy and I, before shooting starts

(more…)

 

Initial Test Scores for Sound & Beyond Monday, September 18, 2006

There are moments where I miss the simplicity that hearing aids have when it comes to listening to sound in its wholeness, and hate the CI for not giving me that same access to sound. Then there are the rare moments where the intricacies of sound are revealed to me with the CI and revel in the amazement of it, and I fall in love all over again with the CI.

Listening with a CI is *NOT* a quick update or a quick fix to hear music or sound in its entirety. It takes lots of practice to get to that point.

The baseline test scores for S&B from Friday, 9/15
Consonant – 15%
Vowel – 35.42%
Food Words – 94%
Melody – 75%
Instrument – 61.1%
Animal Words – 98%

These scores help the program pinpoint where I should start and what I need to work on. Today, it assigned me to start with Level 2 for vowels, and Level 1 for consonants.

Unfortunately, this afternoon I was feeling frustrated and apathetic. While doing the consonant training, I had to determine which sound was the different one out of three, but had no idea what was being said. I can tell which one is different, more than 80% of the time, but it drives me crazy that I can’t UNDERSTAND what is being said.

It really bothers me that with some words, the only way I can differentiate is to compare how they “feel” and what kind of pulse is happening in my head. Sometimes I’ll hear a speech sound and then the rest of the word is a pulse. This is not what I expected sound to be like. But the point is that I have to train myself to listen to it and just got to keep working at it, and have PATIENCE.

I am also having problems with the sound dropping out, or gaps where there’s absolutely no sound (especially when its really noisy, it seems as if it’s overloaded the CI so no sound comes through), and Mandy realized that Megan had set the RF to manual. She changed it to PoEM, so now program 1 is with PoEM, and program 2 is same as program 1, but on manual. Program three is the same from last week, where we added gains in the high frequencies.

Today, I woke up at what I thought was 16 minutes before I had to leave for my class. I shot out of bed, and turns out it was only 7:17, but I still overslept by more than 45 minutes. I somehow changed the time on my clock instead of the alarm clock to get more sleep. As a result, I didn’t get to do my hair today, and it made it difficult in terms of wearing the CI (especially with wet hair).

In the book, AB suggests shaving around the part where the magnet is (which makes sense, but not necessary in my case as the hair’s already thin there) so the other option is wearing a headband.

I told Mandy it’s a good thing the 80s are back in fashion, because I would be in style with a headband. But first I need to get clothes that go with headbands! I love the 80s, especially the Hypercolor t-shirts!

But the one sentence I understood while waiting outside Mandy’s office, was her saying “thank you very much” as she hung up the phone.

 

“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!

 

Surpassing the 2-month mark, 1st day of Listening Therapy Monday, September 11, 2006

Yesterday marked the 2-month point since I got implanted. Some things have changed, and some things feel the same. I still feel as deaf as before, even though I’m hearing more sounds.

Felt dizzy for part of the morning, which progressed into a headache, (but after an hour of talking about quantum theory, blackbodies, and theories of waves/light at 8 am, you would get one too), which resulted in the suppression of the gag reflex, not fun.

I keep forgetting that I can’t move fast, and simple things like taking 3 flights of stairs, seeing things move rapidly, or going over a speed bump can trigger bouts of dizziness. Maybe it is a sign that I need to slow down once and for all.

As for my big lecture class, Mandy suggested getting an FM system (oh how times have changed from my stubborn resistance of the elementary school years). After last week’s “noisy” class, I’m more open to the concept. She did some research into the auditorium that I have class in, and unfortunately, it isn’t wired for it (the others on campus are), so I have to meet with the Dean of my college to get that started (it’s under their responsibility). I hate asking my teacher to wear another mic, since she already is wearing one for the hearing kids, or for anything else.

Mandy started actual therapy today, and boy was it different than testing, which was easy for me. We did categories of words in ABC order, and some of those animals we had never heard of before, such as Ibix, Numbat, Quokka, and we were like “WHAT?!?!?!”. Several I had trouble with because speech has been sounding funny to me lately, especially over the weekend. I was getting really frustrated on some of the sentences, because it sounded nothing like what I thought it would, or only got parts of it. And when you start having trouble with basic words that were easy before, that’s not good.

Mandy’s also started coming down on my speech errors, so one word I repeated wrong today didn’t come out the way it was supposed to, and sounded like a gross slang word that rhymes with Chart. Oy. At least she’s awesome about it lol. I know I get lazy with speech sometimes, I can say it, but I don’t always do so, resulting in embarrassing situations, or situations that were made worse (a.k.a. “what a big plane” incident).

By the end of the week, I will have a new/adjusted MAP. Catherine’s going to sit in for the first session. My homework (from what Megan told Mandy about our past sessions) is that I need to figure out which of the three I like the best and why, and come prepared with information. Each one has its own positives and negatives, so it’s hard for me to make comparisons, especially since it seems to change over time!

I’ve been asked to be involved in an upcoming project, but mum’s the word till I find out more/it actually happens.

Poetry class, my teacher was pleased with my poem. I actually ended up having to read both poems, and explain why I wrote/picked the one that I did. I scrapped the first one (which was a modification of a poem pre-CI), and kept the brand new second one (post-CI), and she wanted to know why. I tried my best to explain briefly that I cannot write poetry based on sound that I knew with my hearing aid, versus sound that I now hear with my CI. It’s a whole new dynamic, that allows greater material for creativity. Why write about the exterior shell, when there’s a whole new smorgasbord of details? I find it hard to explain how it’s different, but she understood immediately.

I was in the darkroom tonight developing with Sam, and I could hear the ratchet-ratchet as she wound her film onto the developing roll. I could hear the different noises that the tools made, clattering against the counter, all in total darkness and not having any visual clues. I felt like I was watching her work, but only through my hearing.

While she developed our film, I helped another classmate, Jen A., by modeling for her project. Matt W. saw us and came over to say hi. The three of us sprawled out in the grass, soaking up the last of the sunshine, as we discussed the upcoming projects for the week for class. Conversation turned to CIs, and since I’ve been back to school, I’ve loved the reactions that people have (especially hearing people with no prior knowledge about CIs).

But that’s a story for another day.

 

Mango…The Word That Just Won’t Die Monday, August 28, 2006

The word that just won’t die…MANGO.

Megan said she was going to send me a care package of mangoes to me at school. When I come back in a few months, I’m bringing her a kumquat just because. Maybe an onion. But it better not be a combo of mango and fennel. It’s a good thing we don’t have our own cooking show on the Food Network.

Had #7 today…spent close to 4 hours in there. First I had to see Dr. M. for my checkup. The blood is gone from my middle ear and my eardrum is not purple anymore, but it’s still swollen. He had Megan do a test to see if I have any residual hearing, and I don’t, but it’s probably still too soon to tell.

After that, instead of being in the auditory room, Megan set up in the same exam room that I was in the day I got activated. She had both computers, the programming one, and the Sound and Beyond one. She would tinker with my CI while I was playing with the program and listening to words, telling her what sounded funny as I was going through the exercises, but the picture of the rabbit in the food category is a terrible picture! I was doing pretty well, scoring between 85 to 96 percent with the CI alone. However, I started having trouble with some familiar words, such as cat. And while comparing programs, she would say “how does this sound? what time is it? mango.” just to rub it in because I hate that word!

At one point today, Megan was on a mission to find out just how much I am hearing with my CI, and help me see that the CI is working better than the HA and I’m hearing way more than I think I am.

88% with CI alone.
96% with CI and HA.
80 or 84% with HA alone.

Course, I was cheating because I could not hear the laptop very well with the HA, and had my head right next to the keyboard at intervals so I could hear it, until Megan made me sit up and stay put. :-p

The other thing that has been an issue with the CI is that it sounds good at first, and after a little while, it starts to sound bad (even while I’m still hooked up to the computer). Over a few days, I go from being able to hear voices within a room, to only being able to hear within one to two feet around me. I always thought it was because it was because my neuro-adaptation was fast, but that might not be the case due to what AB said. Kim said they had a patient like that, but that was a long time ago. We also experimented with the pulse width, and at times it would sound awesome, almost like the hearing aid, but there would be a bit of an echo. It’s very frustrating tinkering with the CI, because when one thing sounds good, another thing sounds bad. And there are times I don’t know how to explain it. Sometimes I feel like I’m hearing in my left ear as well, because the sound from the CI seems to “translate” to my left ear.

Megan got on the phone with AB and figured out a plan of troubleshooting. She also taught me how to put the magnet on correctly, in a way that doesn’t twist the wire. We ended up having to go into the bathroom to do that so I could see how she was doing it, and walked past a family that was there for a candidate consultation so it was a little funny. I could also hear people speaking, but couldn’t understand them, and Megan said it was because they were speaking Italian.

The Problem Of Missing/Changing Sound – Solution
1. Make sure wire for magnet is secure, and placed on head properly.
2. Change out T-Mic (possible moisture?)
3. Change Battery (possible low power?)
4. Dehumidify it (and I need to stay on top of making sure the crystals are yellow, cuz the moisture from the environment affects it too.)

I am still not used to the concept of older people getting CIs. My experience has been that younger people and children have CIs, but never people who are in their 40s or older. I’ve always seen them with little ITE hearing aids, or just deaf, while us kids have had the BTEs or the CIs. I’m going to have to get used to it.

Kim had to remind me today that I’m doing extremely well with my CI, and that I need to be patient. She reminds me of and sounds so much like mom, with the “no nonsense from you” talk, and knows just exactly how to get me to shush and stop to think, just like mom does. “How long has it been?” “And you’re getting a score of what?”…”3 weeks…and 96%.” “That’s pretty good.” So here it goes…..I’ve got three programs to experiment with for a week and a half to two weeks. It’s going to be a challenge to leave my CI alone and learn to appreciate it without any adjustments in that time period. Patience is NOT one of my virtues as Dad has reminded me.

Kim also told me that her patients seem to prefer Verizon for their cell phones, so that’s something to keep in mind. I’m hoping that my phone can make it until the full-QWERTY version of the Blackberry Pearl comes out in Q1 2007.

In NY news, I talked to Karen, and she’s going to talk to Mandy about how they can best work with me when I return. I’m going to miss seeing Megan, Kim, and Dr. M, but I will see them in a few months. I really don’t like saying goodbye, especially to people that I like working with. Sometimes it’s nice to finish what you started, with the people you began it with. And this is why being bi-coastal stinks…I can’t have the best of both worlds in one place. I always have to say goodbye to a group of people in each place and adapt to a new environment and time zone two times a year, and I hate it (especially when I have to leave my family).

Today’s Sounds List
– Recognizing clapping at a restaurant
– Mom coming up behind me at noisy restaurant and saying “Sweetie”, and me not paying attention

That was my first recognized word on its own, where I’m not paying attention, and able to understand it without having to think about it.