After spending two months with my cochlear implant, it feels natural to me. I put it on when I wake up and take it off when I go to sleep and it gives me the confidence to go into places and situations where I know it will be difficult to hear. Everything went smoothly over the past month if you skip over one or two exceptions which I’ll call adventures. Here is what happened:
My Further Adventures in Hearing
I arrived at a meeting of the Cochlear Implant Support Group alarmed to discover I was not wearing my device. The battery had died as I was preparing to leave home but I didn’t have time to change it. Did the device fall off when I changed my shirt? But I didn’t change my shirt. Maybe when I brushed my hair. Still sitting in my car, I looked in the rear view mirror and couldn’t tell if my hair had been brushed or not. I sat there debating the relative merits of struggling to hear a lecture on the link between hearing loss and dementia, or retreating home and taking the rest of the night off.
I decided this was a lecture I needed to hear.
In the last months before my implant surgery, when my hearing was so bad and my isolationist impulses at an all-time high, I almost became a person who would rather stay home than fight the losing battle to hear. Turns out, isolating myself was the closest I came to positioning myself to be a candidate for the link to dementia. The other links are having a genetic predisposition, and suffering from cognitive overload (what point was I trying to make?).
As it turned out, prior to leaving home, I had removed my device and placed it on my desk in order to change the batteries, when I was distracted. This happens a lot but I have diagnosed it as a senior moment rather than the dreaded link to dementia…
But that was not my only adventure this month…
I got greedy.
At my last session with my audiologist, instead of being conservative about volume, I kept going. It didn’t hurt, so why not crank it up and discover my true upper limits? I instructed my audiologist to keep adding volume until I couldn’t stand it and then went back down one level. My audiologist evened out the pitches, talking to me all the while so I could test my new “map”. It seemed fine.
I walked into Medical City’s atrium just as a herd of attack dinosaurs were passing through which turned out to be one crying baby. This was my first clue I’d demanded more volume than I could handle. Nevertheless, I pushed on, confident I could make this work, remembering how quickly I’d busted through programs of increasing volume in the beginning, and ignoring my audiologist’s observation that I had probably reached the point where I wouldn’t be adding much more.
Outside the hospital was better although my turn signal sounded like it was coming from a place inside my left eyeball and the road noise sounded like I was driving directly beneath the Death Star. Later, driving to the lake house with my family, they kept forgetting to WHISPER and someone in the back seat kept CRINKLING a chip bag that made a sound like shredding glass. Although I thought I had made it clear that my husband’s seatbelt reminder beep was driving stakes through my skull, he let it happen a second time!! By 5 pm when I was close to strangling everyone within reach I conceded defeat and removed my device. Once I recovered, I discovered ways to lower volume and increase the sensitivity bubble so that I could wear it again.
My dear audiologist came in early Monday morning for a re-do and I solemnly swear I have learned my lesson.
My Personal Festival of Hearing continues:
I talked with a person behind a counter. Small talk. I continued to talk with her because it was easy. I could hear her without straining and struggling. It was something I haven’t experienced from small talk in a long time: pleasure.
Listening to the radio showed me my CI can hear women’s voices better than men. My experience with hearing aids was always the opposite.
I attended a Med-El workshop and met Scott Hansson and Keri Reynolds. I learned that there is a good way to train my CI ear and a not-good way to train. They gave me lots of resources and I’m going to go “workout” as soon as I finish this post.