The Bionic Sound Project

this girl’s journey to sound

Phonak MicroLink MLxS FM System Monday, January 22, 2007

Today’s goal was to get the FM System to work with the cochlear implant. This time, Catherine helped us fix it, and it worked on the first try!

I have the Phonak MicroLink MLxS FM system, along with the audio shoe (T-SP) for the Siemens Triano SP and the earhook (iConnect) for Advanced Bionics.

The boots/earhook look and feel humongous, so one of the issues is cosmetics versus being able to hear. I admit I’m turned off at this huge bulking monstrosity that’s perched on my ear, but after learning what it can do, it’s amazing and may be worth it.

I can hook it up to a stereo/television/computer/ipod and walk around my apartment, wireless up to 100 feet depending on which “cable” is used. The signal strength depends on which cable is used as the antenna is located in the cable. There’s also an option to use it with a cellphone, through BlueTooth, but I didn’t pay attention to that, as my hearing isn’t for telephone use.

Last night, I tried it out on my own at the apartment. It was after quiet hours, so I hooked it up to my computer, and I could hear the music from anywhere in the apartment, loud and clear. The best part was being able to do everyday activities, without having to worry about cords, dropping the iPOD, catching it on something. TOTAL FREEDOM. I could have used this last year, without having to freak out about my iPOD falling out of my pocket and into the tub of chemicals when working in the darkroom.

I can see how this technology can be manipulated…such as hooking it up to my iPOD, putting it in my backpack, and listening to music during really boring lectures (like I would ever do that). But the fact that the technology exists is what is so exciting to me. Nobody else knows that I’m listening to music but me.

I think my mom is going to be very excited about this. No more music blasting through the house when I’m at home. 😀

The only negative to the system that I can see so far, other than the cosmetics is that it cannot be used on an airplane while in flight. It operates on a radio frequency, and the booklet says “do not use on aero planes”. I also get static with it, but I’m not sure if it’s a microphone issue or a channel issue. The FM receiver can be changed to different channels, so if you’re in an area where wireless loops are available, you can change to that channel. But if you’re nearby, and have it set on that channel, you may not get the information from your area, due to interference.

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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.

 

The Post-Activation Entry Monday, August 7, 2006

4:54 PM: I want to cry, yet at the same time I’m happy, but right now I’m extremely frustrated.

What sucks the most is that my mom’s voice (one of my favorite familiar sounds) is driving me absolutely insane, and I wish she would just shut up because it’s giving me a headache and it really hurts my head because I’m getting shocked constantly. Her entire life with me, she’s always had to talk loudly so I could hear her. I’ve been trying to train her this summer to not yell/talk loudly, because with my new hearing aid, it’s not necessary to talk as loud. And now with the cochlear implant, it’s not just the volume of her voice, it’s also the way it sounds. Anyway, we got into a fight over different things/miscommunication because I was taking my frustration out on her, and finally told her (not very nicely) that “I didn’t want to listen to her anymore because she was hurting my head”. Needless to say, that got her really upset, only to later end up with both of us crying together, talking it out, and getting over it.

I’m upset because all I hear is static static static unless somebody real close to me is talking. I absolutely *HATE* putting the implant on because it really shocks me as soon as the magnet hits the internal part, and the whole thing SUCKS. I hate feeling the pulsing feeling on my head. It tends to come and go, but it was intense at times, especially with the loudness. I turned it down all the way, and I’m still having shocking.

But the good news is that for somebody whose audiologists and doctor didn’t expect to be hearing human speech on the first day, much less within an hour of hookup, I can hear SOME of it. And I got some words correctly without using lipreading. But I definitely have a loooooooooong way to go.

But my problem with the words is that I’m missing definition. It’s like it’s either hollow, muffled, or the tops/bottoms/beginning parts of the words are missing. And it’s like I’m hearing the very core of it, but not the rest of it to have any identifying details.

I’m just frustrated between the static, the pulsing, and the shocking of my head, and the sound of sounds, plus the missing information, and I’m just thinking….this is going to majorly SUCK for awhile. And I just want to cry right now…out of frustration, tiredness, and pain.

The good news is that Megan said I could come back tomorrow, Wednesday, or Thursday to play around with my implant some more, instead of waiting till the 15th. I will also get three processing programs then as compared to one, so maybe that will help with the sound sounding like !&#$.

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*sigh* It’s almost 2 hours after I’ve left the office (~3 pm) that I’ve gone into full-blown sobs and tears. It’s the cumulation of too many emotions….happiness/sadness, frustration/excitement, hope/disappointment, all competing with each other. It has been a month…if not more than that, of anticipation and waiting. Of having surgery twice and bottling up my emotions due to my reactions to everything that has happened since then. And eventually I had to crack. Today’s events just happened to be the trigger point.

My poor cat Benny was practically being drowned in my tears. He was getting covered in everything that was running off of my face, and he just had a bath yesterday. I was hugging him as I was crying, so unfortunately, his fur was absorbing all the wetness.

One of my fatal flaws is that I set my standards so high. I need to learn that it’s not always a contest, and you don’t have to be the best. And this applies to the whole post-activation process. I leave today with the knowledge that I am hearing words without lipreading within 2 hours of being activated, and if I can do that, this is only a sign of things to come. That’s pretty good.

One baby step at a time…it’s not going to happen all at once. Dad was trying to remind me of that fact today during the activation.

Now I feel better, but boy do my eyes, face, and sinuses hurt. I don’t even remember the last time I cried like this…I think it was 2004, but I am not a crier, and rarely cry. This has been one intense day.