The Bionic Sound Project

this girl’s journey to sound

9-Month Test Results Monday, May 21, 2007

May 18, 2007

 

Overall, I’m rocking the CI with an 20-30 dB hearing loss. The little circles indicate that I can’t hear ANYTHING in my CI ear without the CI. It’s kinda scary not being able to hear anything, but only feel it when it gets to that loudness. Mandy circled it to indicate where I could first feel it. Being completely deaf with no response, scary scary scary. The most exciting news came with the test results, especially with the Early Speech Perception Test, which, in Mandy’s opinion, is the best indicator of how well the CI is working, because it tests similar words, with different vowels and consonants.

  Fall 11/13/2006
(~3 months post-activation)
Spring 05/18/2007
(~9 months post-activation)
CID Sentences List #8 30% 70%
Cochlear Screening
Level D (Top Level)
31/36 (words) 8/10 (sentences) 33/36 (words) 9/10 (sentences)
Early Speech Perception Test
Category #4 (Top Level)
5/12 11/12

Here’s the link to compare with the test results from 1-week post-activation. Huge change.

NOW CAN I PLEASE GET MY HARMONY??!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

 

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…

 

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.

 

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.

 

Use Your Head Sunday, September 17, 2006

While at the lake today, I learned two very important things regarding the CI.

1. Don’t do a header with a soccer ball.
2. Running to catch a frisbee is difficult, especially if you dive for it.

The CI bounces around on the ear or falls off. I had to grab it (yay for awesome reflexes) before it hit the ground.

I need a way to get it to stay put when I’m running around, and still be able to hear. This is going to be important, because I am going to be playing in the IM Soccer league with PHouse, if we get approved. It will be difficult to run up and down the field with an all-hearing team, and only have one hearing aid, and not be able to hear them if they are calling to me.

Mandy called AB on Friday to ask them about replacing the magnet for the headpiece, by adding an extra or stronger magnet.

It’s difficult for me to wear the headpiece under my hair, cuz I tend to tuck my hair behind my ears a lot, and when I do, it knocks the headpiece off. I can’t put it on the outside of my hair because it is thick, and also fine, which makes it slippery.

The AB rep said to not put another magnet on (so I can wear it over my hair), because it would cause irritation and not provide a good “lock” (connection between the headpiece and the implant), and they don’t recommend that route. Instead, I should wear my hair up, cut it short, or shave a little spot where the headpiece goes.(!!!)

I really need to become more adept with styling my hair, and am at a loss of what to do with it right now. Even though I have the XX chromosome, I’m not one of those girls that played with makeup, hair, and clothes growing up. I was very much a tomboy, preferring to get dirty than to be girly.

Last week, I had to do speech testing with Karen to establish a baseline for improvement. The last time I had speech therapy was about 2 years ago. She gave me my results on Thursday, and discussed what I need to work on.

Results From Speech Testing 9/14

Fisher-Logemann Test (single words)
% Consonant Error = 24/67 (36%)
% Vowel Error = 0/16 (0%)
% Total Error = 24/83 (29%)

Clarke Sentences
98% = 4.7 Intelligibility Rating
(1 being lowest, 5 being highest)

Rainbow Passage
Sample of narrative speech reflected more errors than read speech, and errors were:

er (first), /s/ (mostly in the medial and final positions, and in blends)
st, nd, ns, ks
sh, ch

Words that contain nasal sounds also tend to sound too nasal. Carrying the nasality over to adjacent sounds.

Strengths
Overall very good intelligibility
Communicates ideas and opinions clearly
Excellent lipreading
Highly motivated
Highly intelligent

Skill Areas To Work On
Improve selected consonants and blends
Encourage better self-monitoring and self-correction at the conversational level
Practice a slower speaking rate
Monitor and encourage relaxed communication interactions.

The theory is that with the CI, it will be easier for speech because you can actually hear the speech sounds, and as you get more familiar with speech sounds, you will be able to incorporate them into your own speech, and correct yourself.

 

Music Is Life Friday, September 15, 2006

I have never been able to recognize music – classic tunes that everybody can recognize just by the notes or by humming.

Today, Mandy started me on the Sound&Beyond program, to test me with the vowels and consonants to establish a baseline. After I finished that, I was allowed to play with the program, and did musical instruments first, which I did okay with, 61.1%.

She then suggested I try out the melody portion, which I didn’t know about/did not do with Megan. It had songs like Ode to Joy, Amazing Grace, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Wedding March, Alphabet Song, This Old Man, Baa Baa Black Sheep, Happy Birthday, Rock-A-Bye Baby, and Beethoven’s 5th.

I expected to do poorly, because the only songs I can recognize are my favorite songs by major artists that I listen to frequently. The ones I’ve been listening to over the years, on repeat, starting in 6th grade. There is no way I have ever been able to sit down and be able to tell you what classic tune was being played at the moment.

Then, after I got my digital hearing aid, I was able to start figuring out what band it was, but not the song, unless it was a favorite song of mine.

Now with the CI, after today’s test, I was proven wrong….

I got a SEVENTY-FIVE PERCENT accuracy, out of 16 questions, on my first try, without any practice or training beforehand.

Some of the songs were played in different keys, and I think I picked up on it (need to verify with Mandy on Monday.) Mandy said that the sound was pretty quiet coming from the speakers, so that was another surprise for me. Then I surprised her/confused her when one song I was positive was the “ABC Song”, and started singing along with it. She had to listen to it closely, and it was actually “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”, played in a different key.

I guess it goes to show that classical music training and playing the piano made a difference. I have a much better sense of timing and rhythm now. I also don’t have to bang the keys as hard in order to hear it, and my playing has improved (according to my mom). I learned to understand and appreciate the musical scale, chord progressions, style, tempo, harmony and melody.

Thank you Aunt Flossie, for giving me your old piano, and paying for my lessons, back in 1991. It really paid off. 15 years later, I’m still playing on that piano.

Thank you to my piano teacher, Deborah Preach, for being willing to teach a deaf kid how to play the piano, for 5 years of lessons, and having a lot of patience with me to learn and appreciate it.

Thank you to Mom and Dad, for taking me to piano lessons and waiting until I was done. For putting up with my playing, as terrible it was at times, and for my obsession with the chord combination of E-B and E-A, in middle C. Not to mention the times I tried to compose songs, and was obsessed with finding the perfect sound, just like Beethoven.

Thank you to my family, for all their encouragement and support, even when I played badly. For putting up with my constant love for music and indulging me, even when it was blasting throughout the house, often on repeat.

And look where I am today, first time ever listening to this, and I got 75%!

Maybe now I can finish teaching myself how to play the drums (thanks to Helen’s christmas present a few years ago, an electronic drum kit), then get started on learning how to play the saxophone, hammond b3 organ, harmonica, and experiment with vocoders/synthesizers. I’m not exceptionally skilled with guitar playing, and I didn’t like playing the violin when I was in 3rd grade.

More later about the last two days, as it’s Friday night, and I want time to myself to relax. I’ve been on the go all week with 7 am-1am days, and tomorrow’s my all-day photo shoot, plus there’s a picnic at the lake on Sunday with PHouse.

 

First Therapy Session with Mandy Friday, September 8, 2006

Today I had my first session with Mandy at 1 pm.

Catherine sat in for the first part of it, and we talked about my CI, and what I had done back home. It was kind of an “intake session” as I am new to their department as a CI user instead of a candidate. Catherine brought up somebody else who had a blog, Tina Childress, who has talked at the school, and is an audiologist who just became a bilateral CI user.

Catherine asked me if I was available on Tuesdays for the CI class, but I have scheduling conflicts and tried to work around it last spring, but no luck. I really wanted to take it, but hopefully they will offer it again Winter quarter. I think it would be highly beneficial for me, as I believe that the best way to make the most progress with the CI is to learn as much as you can about it, and to practice practice practice. You can’t just slap it onto your head and be done with it.

Then it was just Mandy and I, and we talked about my goals with the CI. What did I want to achieve with the CI? I was not sure, as I came into this meeting with an open mind, and no expectations and was going to just let them tell me what we were going to do. I learned back in August, after activation, that I need to relax and just go with flow, and have no expectations. One month later, they ask me what my expectations are, and I don’t have any!

My goals that I came up with today are to be able to use the phone, to make music sound like the HA if not better, to be able to follow conversations in group settings such as with my friends, to be independent of using other people to voice for me/tell me what’s going on.

Mandy then did some tests on me to establish my listening skills with the CI (same tests that Susan had done), and I breezed through all of them, scoring 100%. Her eyes were widening in amazement with each test that was done, and she finally said, after a few moments of silence “I am totally amazed. That has never happened before with others. I’m going to have to brag about you.”

I have trouble distinguishing vowel sounds (which I knew, as that’s where Susan and I had left off), and didn’t do as well as that. They were words that all started with a “B”, such as bed, bat, ball, bird, bee, book, boat, and so on.

So, Mandy now has a lot to do over the weekend to come up with a plan of therapy for me. She is also going to call Susan to get her listening therapy notes, and Megan to find out how she wants to approach the mapping for me. Mandy’s giving Megan control over the mapping sessions, since I’ve done several with her, and the last session I was told to leave the CI alone for awhile, and get used to the program I have. The reason for this is so that my brain can understand the stimulus for sound and adapt to it, instead of a changing stimulus for the same sound.

I also need to start working with/buy “Making The Connection”. Catherine already has the sound files loaded as a MP3 so I can upload them to my iPOD and use them for listening practice. Next week we will find out about the different software programs from AB and Nucleus, as Catherine wasn’t aware of needing a person to help with feedback with the program (unless I misunderstood Megan, as she prefers Nucleus’s program over AB).

I really need to buy a new iPOD, as it’s too small, and the earphone jack is loose, causing static when something is plugged in. That’s going to be one of my big items on my christmas wish list for this year (hint hint to my family).

My current baby is a 20GB 2nd-Gen one from Christmas 2002, that has been absolutely AMAZING, withstanding years of heavy use and abuse. I have 40+ gigabytes of music on my computer, and my iPOD does not hold everything that I want it to. And now there’s more stuff I got to add to my iPOD…some of my old music is going to have to get sacrificed to make room for listening therapy.

I still need to go find a Y-split so I can hook up my hearing aid and CI headphones. Mandy’s going to switch out my bilateral HA cord for a monaural cord, so I don’t have the other one dangling anymore, while I’m listening with my lone HA.

 

The final session for summer 2006 – saying goodbye Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Today it really hits me that I’m leaving and no longer working with Megan, Kim, or Susan (for a long time). I had my last therapy session with Susan, until Nov/Dec., if not till summer 2007. And I was just starting to get comfortable and settled in too.

Susan said she was going to be sure to tell Karen to pick on me about Mango. I already beat Susan to it, by telling Mandy and Karen to beware of certain people suggesting mango for a therapy word!

Today, we did the usual round of sentences and words where I looked at the paper, and told her which one it was. Doing pretty well with it, but it’s not real life. Then a new test for me! Category/Keyword, open set. We did entertainment for the category, and several different keywords (whatever was given related to entertainment (i.e. emmys – “did you watch the emmys on sunday night?”)). She would tell me that she was going to say a sentence related to entertainment, using one keyword. I had to repeat it back what I heard her say and where it was in the sentence. I was getting 60% for my first time, and able to repeat it back. The brain is a funny thing…you hear something, and you know it’s not right, so your language system kicks in to make it right. It’s amazing.

Pretty good for 3 weeks. But I still have a long way to go, and for the other test, have trouble differentiating between similar sounding words, and if they sound the same or are different. That was my reality check for the week, because I did badly on that one.

So yeah, Allison, you’re doing amazing with the CI for three weeks’ time, but this is just the beginning of a long hard road ahead. As Coach Seaquist used to say…“keep on swimming.”

Next Stop On The Tour: Mandy, Karen, and a whole new world of sounds, people and experiences. I fly out tomorrow. Oh boyee.

 

Post-Activation…One Week Later (Mapping Session #4) Tuesday, August 15, 2006

I am OH so VERY excited. Although, probably not as excited as Megan or Mom was. I don’t think I’ve seen Megan that excited. Today was definitely an awesome day, because not only did Christina Aguilera’s new CD come out today (which I now have in my possession *squee*), I also got some test results with my CI (even more *squee-worthy*).

The answer to last week’s programming riddle: program 1-pulsing, program 2-sequential.

I now have two new programs, and they are getting to the point where they are starting to sound like my “natural hearing”, but faint. There’s still much more twiddling to do with these, but I am confident KNOW that I will reach that point. Even music is starting to slowly sound better.

After programming, I got to do a pure-tone audiometry test in the soundbooth with my CI, testing program 1, then 2. And I have the results of the audiogram. The vertical column measures how loud a sound has to be in order to hear it. The horizontal column is the frequency (or pitch) of a sound, going from low to high frequency.

 

6/22/06 – professional results

 

This is what I can hear with digital hearing aids. The sounds in the “speech banana” is around where normal people with normal hearing can hear it. This is with my hearing aids, and I still can’t hear the high-frequency sounds, so I am sorely lacking in that department.

 

 

8/15/06 – professional results

This is what I can hear with Program 1. My lower frequency (to the left) sounds have improved slightly, but my high frequency sounds have shot way up. I can now hear F, Sh, Th, K, and some others.

 

8/15/06 – professional results

This is with Program 2. This one is a bit louder than P1. Same results as P1, but with a few minor variations in the higher frequency.

Overall, you can see how I’ve changed, going from a digital hearing aids, to using a CI and the results I’m getting one week later. It’s just absolutely mind-boggling and incredible to me, to be able to hear all these high-pitched sounds that I wasn’t able to hear before. I am very excited, happy and looking forward to what’s next!

As soon as I got those results, I went to surprise mom at work, and her face just totally lit up and she was so happy! While walking back to her desk, she was showing the results off to her co-workers, and everybody was amazed, heh. We then went out to lunch with her co-workers (since it was lunchtime when I arrived), and it was my first time in a restaurant since I’ve been activated. I could hear the differences in people’s voices (at our table), and knew if a different person was talking. I could hear speech sounds with the CI that I wasn’t hearing with the HA. Words were fuller and had more detail (but still didn’t make sense to me).

I also had my first speech therapy session with Susan at 3:30 this afternoon. I am going to have to learn to differentiate between similar words but with different sounds/placement. The other fun thing I will learn to work on is tone of voice without using facial/body cues. Gotta start small, then work my way up! Right now my brain is waking up, learning to interpret what all these sounds are that are coming in, and then eventually will start putting some sense to them. It’s kind of like learning how to walk, except you’ve never walked before.

So far, everything is fantastic. I have no regrets. Everything that I went through in July, was well worth it for what I’m getting now. The only negative I have right now is that my incision is itching like mad and starting to become red. We were going to try to switch it to the other side of my head to give my ear a chance to heal (and get the itchiness to go away), but the cable for the headpiece isn’t long enough to pull that off.

I’m starting to wonder if I’m already getting used to this program, because things are starting to sound really quiet once again, so I may be making a trip back to see Megan sooner than later.

Starting today, my hearing aid has started to give me an attitude. I think we have a raging case of jealousy right now, and an unwillingness to coexist peacefully.

New Sounds List
8/14/06 – the word “Now” while listening to Harry Potter.
8/14/06 – hearing benny purr with CI, and realizing it that I couldn’t hear it with the HA.
8/15/06 – differentiating between voices at my table, while in a restaurant

 

Recognizing Sound (with my new Hearing Aids) Thursday, May 11, 2006

Monday, I had an hearing test with my new hearing aids…my sentence comprehension with my old hearing aids – 48%.

The new hearing aids – 74%.

Over the last few days (especially today), I’ve become more adept at recognizing songs, or even recognizing the artist (even if it’s a song that I haven’t heard before). Like earlier today, I was like “oh that sounds like Oasis”…and it was.

I’m also listening more in class to my classmates speaking, instead of relying as much on the interpreter.

Now I wonder what will happen if I do decide to get the CI. Will I once again miss the cutoff because I’m doing too well with the hearing aids (like what happened back in 1997)? They said the sentence comprehension test for the CI is different than the one that I got. So we will see how that affects my eligibility.