The Bionic Sound Project

this girl’s journey to sound

Ear Thermometers And Cochlear Implants Saturday, December 30, 2006

Met with Susan on Wednesday. I’m averaging between 60-80% on the categories. I do better with sentences than words…go figure. Got quite a kick out of coming up with words for the New Year’s category.

The other thing that was interesting was that using the ear thermometer in my CI ear reduced the temperature by two degrees.

So, the temperature in my right ear reads at 98.3, whereas my left ear (non-CI ear) reads at 100.6.

Yay for being sick. I’ve effectively lost my voice as well, so I’m incommunicado for the moment. It’s just as well, since all the adults are sick, after the germ-bombs were sick all at the same time.

Time to rest some more.

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The Christmas Post Wednesday, December 27, 2006

I still have yet to write about the CI Holiday party, but that will come once I get the pictures ready.

Flying home was good. My ear wasn’t happy, as I’ve been having stabbing pains and itchiness. Also had several attacks of dizziness in those prior weeks.

On the flight, I was able to understand “the current temperature in Pittsburgh is forty-four degrees” “thank you for flying us airways” “we are now preparing to land” over the announcements.

When we landed in Phoenix, I was grateful to a guy who recognized me from the flight, because he was able to listen and help us find our bags. We had been waiting and due to the holiday crush, somehow our flight didn’t make it onto the baggage claim board, so we were waiting for 30 minutes. By the time we found out where our bags were at, there weren’t very many left, and the carousel was stopped. Oy. But if it hadn’t been for him, I would have thought they were just very behind in unloading, since we were sitting out on the tarmac for 25 minutes due to the disruptions of flights all over the country because of the blizzard in Denver.

Christmas Eve was nice. I don’t know what I was worrying about, with meeting new family members, but everything was just fine. I worry about how kids handle a person that is deaf, and I think it stems from the fear of being ridiculed or made fun of when I was growing up. But it was all good.

We went to the 8:30 christmas eve mass, all 16+ of us, and it was too far for me to see what the priest was saying, so I just listened. I understood “our father” and “celebration” out of the entire sermon. It was easier to follow along with the music, but I preferred listening with the hearing aid than the cochlear implant, because music is just sounding weird lately.

I have the same issue with playing the piano. I really hate playing with the CI because it just sounds….blech. But I did notice I picked the optimal ear to get implanted in, because the right ear can pick up the higher frequencies on the right side of the piano, whereas the left ear is better at delivering the lower frequencies with the hearing aid.

I got a new iPOD for Christmas, and I am just thrilled. I can’t wait to get back to school so I can upload my entire music library on it.

Well, that’s it for now. Time to meet with Susan. Have a very happy holidays!

 

Susan, Webinars, And The Emergency Vet Thursday, November 30, 2006

Tuesday, I saw Susan for listening therapy. She was near the end of the “webinar” for the new Advanced Bionics Harmony processor, so she brought me back to her office so I could see what it was like. It was interesting watching and listening to the webinar, and seeing some images and testimonials for the Harmony. I love how AB is using technology to bring the information out to the masses.

Susan also mentioned an term called “auditory closers”, and that’s something I want to look into, because it has to do with a combination of the brain’s processing versus the actual listening of what is being said. That’s one reason why I can figure out what is being said, even though I may not have heard everything that was said in the sentence.

I had a bit of trouble with some sets of sentences, and not so much with others. It’s interesting how the same sentence, said in different ways, can make more sense as compared to repeating it. I like it when I get things correctly, but they like it when I’m challenged by it!

Wednesday, Susan was talking to Megan and I came up in the conversation, and it was discovered that there was an miscommunication in the scheduling, so I will be able to see her and Dr. M on Friday instead of waiting till January. Yippie.

Wednesday night, we had a freeze warning for our area, and my poor 14-year-old dog fell in our pool. She was already showing the symptoms of not feeling well, but after the pool incident, she definitely was very sick, so we took her to the emergency vet. She’s going to be okay, but she’s a very sick doggie. It was both interesting and sad being at the emergency vet, because it was a listening sound adventure for me.

I felt awful listening to the poor dog that kept howling and crying because it was in a lot of pain after it got attacked by two other dogs. The cochlear implant gave me the beginning and end of the howl, whereas the hearing aid just picked it up and ended it at mid-howl. I could hear the emotion in the howl, which really tugged at my heartstrings, because I wanted to help ease the pain for the poor dog. I could also hear the different howls, barks, and yips from the different dogs, and it turned into a game of figuring how how many dogs were speaking at once, and differentiating between the “voices”. It really wasn’t a game, but we were waiting for quite awhile, and I was interested in what I was hearing, as it was a new environment.

My mom commented that it was interesting that I was hearing all these sounds and bringing it to her attention, as she never really thinks about it, as it’s all white noise to her. However, it depends on what it is, and if it catches her attention or not. So we got into a discussion of how hearing people filter out the sounds, and it was interesting to hear about it.

I could also hear the employees talking, and was figuring out if it was a male or female voice, the chair scraping on the floor as it was pushed back, a drawer being closed, and I was identifying all these sounds from inside the examination room, and my mom was confirming what I was hearing for me. However, I did hear one person laugh, but couldn’t tell if it was male or female.

So yeah, it was an interesting night. I’m just glad my dog is going to be okay, and I hope that other dog survives as well as the other sick animals there.

 

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.

 

The First Update On Sounds I’ve Heard While At Home Sunday, November 19, 2006

Here’s the brief update of the last 3 or so days that I have been home.

Flying was okay, no major problems there, but I really appreciate the separation and clarity of sound that the CI gives. However, my inner ear didn’t seem to like flying that much, as I felt a bit separated/off-balance when changing planes and when I arrived at home.

Mom says I seem to have a little bit of trouble understanding her or not hearing her as well as I did in the past. I’m not sure if it’s an adjustment period or what. But it too, shall pass.

She did say that my speech sounds so much better than it did before. As a matter of fact, when I answered the phone with my standard “hello, hold on please”, and handed the phone to my mom, it was my godmom on the other end of the phone. She asked my mom “who was that? I didn’t recognize who it was.” She said my speech was so clear, but she couldn’t understand what I was saying because I talked really fast. (Sorry, Karen! I know I’m supposed to slow down!)

Here’s what I’ve been hearing since I’ve been home.

11/17/06 – the cat (Benny) giving himself a bath. He’s noisy when he licks himself, making this kind of slurping/gulping sound. I can’t describe it. But I was like, holy cow, you’re that noisy when taking a bath? I could also hear him purr without being next to his head.

11/17/06 – hearing the music from the itty-bitty speakers attached to my iPOD playing in my room upstairs, while walking around downstairs.

11/18/06 – the very beginning of the quiet growl that Pippen makes before she goes into a full-blown hiss, and the details that make up her hiss/growl language. I also got bitten (more than once) while trying to cut the mats out of her fur, before she finally peed on me. *sigh*

11/18/06 – hearing Pippen hiss at the dog, before she smacks Elizabeth and tells her to mind her own business. I could hear it, but couldn’t see it.

11/18/06 – the “rhhhk-rhhhk” of the nail file as mom was filing her nails while we were watching a movie. It was driving me nuts! Haha.

11/19/06 – hearing the hydroplane boats at Firebird Lake in the distance (just barely, and only if it was absolutely silent). The lake is about 15-20 miles away from my house. It sounded like a very low “mmmmm”. However, while typing this as my mom’s on the phone, I just heard the bigger boat clearly. My eyes widened, and Mom looked over at me and said, “yep that was the boats.”

As for my guinea pig, he just came home from being boarded at the vet yesterday morning, and I haven’t really had time to see what he sounds like. He was really cute though, when I put him on the floor to run around. It was safe to do so, as the entire first floor is empty, and we are still doing work downstairs. Right now, he doesn’t want to get up and greet the day. He’s usually very vocal in the morning, but not today. We checked on him to make sure he was okay, and he ran out of his house, and as soon as we set it back down, he ran back into it and went back to sleep. I think he was worn out from running around downstairs.

I wasn’t able to get an appointment to see Dr. M and Megan for this break, and have to wait till January! But I will be able to see Susan, and I am excited about that!

I go back to work tomorrow and that’s going to bring a whole new plethora of sounds for me. Whee!

 

Going Home For The First Time Since August Wednesday, November 15, 2006

I am oh so VERY excited. Today I am going home for the first time since August 30th!

I’m actually at the airport right now, waiting to board my flight, and killing time by posting from my sidekick. Going through TSA was much easier this time, probably due to the high volume of deaf people that live and travel in this city.

Today, the weather couldn’t be any more perfect…51 degrees, bright blue skies, and sunny! I’m looking forward to the weather back home even more…79-82 degrees!

I finished the fall quarter with my last final this morning. This quarter was an interesting one for many reasons, but most importantly, I survived with a cochlear implant.

I’m so excited to go home because I cannot wait to hear what sounds there are back home. I want to know if I can hear the sounds of my dog, cats, and guinea pig. I know my guinea pig makes whistles, squeaks, wheeks, and a whole host of high-pitched noises, but I really can’t hear it unless he’s right next to my ear. Mom says that he calls when he’s hungry, wants attention, or hears the refrigerator open. And then I have my three cats, one which growls and hisses at everything (we don’t get along), the other likes to have “conversations” with you, and the third likes to quietly announce her presence when she jumps up on the bed, commanding your attention, otherwise she gets mad and jumps down. I want to hear toenails clicking on the tile, the clomp-clomp-thump of my three-legged cat as he walks around, the bells jingling on their collars, and the sound of my dog snoring, which always cracks up my mom.

I can’t wait to hear the sounds that my house makes. I want to hear the noises that happen in the neighborhood (especially the kids at the park, which the people on my street can hear).

It is going to be a mind-shock for me because I only got to experience being home for the first 2.5 weeks with the CI, and my brain didn’t understand what it was hearing. Now it’s almost 3.5 months later, and what is going to be different? Am I going to be catching on to what my mom says in conversation even better than I did with the hearing aid? I’m just bursting at the seams thinking about it.

I was talking to Kathy the other day at work about going home. She warned me that I need to be patient with my family, especially my mom. As a grandmother herself, she cannot imagine what it must be like for my mom, away from me while I’m experiencing all these new sounds. My mom has been there with me every step of the way, and she is very, very, very excited to see me and how I am doing with the CI.

Next week, I start up again at my old job (that I didn’t get to work at this summer, due to the complications after surgery), and I’m excited. It’s going to be stressful, with the holiday shopping, Black Friday, and cranky, stressed people. But it doesn’t bother me because I’m more interested in seeing how much the CI helps me in the work environment, working in customer service, and hearing the noises that make up a retail store. So here’s my new test!

Working on seeing Susan at least once or twice while I’m home and continuing with my listening therapy, plus seeing Dr. M for my 3 month checkup, and importing my current MAPs into Megan’s computer.

Ending on that note, that reminds me, I need to go buy a kumquat. 😀

 

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.