Three weeks post-activation

Life moves on.  No time for bad ears.

Life moves on. No time for bad ears.

CI sound is becoming more natural:  the clinks and clanks disappeared when I wasn’t thinking about them, the cowbell is no longer attached to every sound, and noise has stopped wearing chain mail in my head. Although there is still an extra hum of reverberation and problems with understanding, CI sound is getting better.

Gloria Buckley, my hearing aid audiologist.

In order to help my good ear keep up with my former bad ear, Gloria, my audiologist (for my right ear), increased the volume in my hearing aid.  (Thank you!!)  See how many people it takes to help one person hear?  I’m fortunate to live in a place where such a talented and devoted team is available to me.

Then just when I was thinking I was hot stuff in the hearing department, Linda, my auditory-verbal therapist, asked if I was ready for some phone training.  (Helen Keller is lucky Annie Sullivan didn’t have a cell phone).  Linda  called me from another room in her office and my CI ear had to answer the phone all by itself.  The exercise was difficult and stressful and demonstrated there is listening practice to be done!

My Personal Hearing Festival is in full swing and here are the highlights:

My dental hygienist talked to me from behind her mask.  Before, without exception, whenever she wanted to speak to me she had to lower her mask so I could read her lips.  This time, I understood every word she said and she never once lowered her mask.  What’s more, we chatted a lot.  But here’s the kicker:  my blood pressure was improved (it had been running high).  Can I credit my improved hearing with lowering my blood pressure?

I can hear the faint jingle when shaking a broken light bulb near my Rondo.  I. Am. Not. Kidding.

My eight-year-old niece spoke to me in her little girl voice and I understood her.  On the other hand, my four sons who have been “under the radar” for years have found it necessary to lower their volume around me.

Who knew birds made such a racket?  They were so loud I thought surely I would be able to hear them without my CI device, but when I took it off, the birds went away.  On the other hand, I can still hear the frogs at night without my CI.  Had to remove my hearing aid and go completely deaf in order to concentrate on my reading.  (husband had to hear frogs all night).







Two weeks post-activation

Website PHOTO Linda (1)

Allow me to introduce Linda Daniel, my audio-verbal therapist. Think: Annie Sullivan.


I can’t decide if I’m in recovery or on a honeymoon; perhaps both.   The novelty of hearing so much sound is not wearing off and the idea that it could get even better keeps me working at recovery.

I spent the weekend at my son’s crew regatta in Tulsa hanging onto my husband for balance.  Walking on uneven river bank I was reminded of the Carole King song, I feel the earth move under my feet–but not in a good way.  It’s as if my vision is processed through a hand-held video camera: first I move my eyes and then, an instant later, everything inside my head follows.  And then back again in the other direction.  But let’s consider the bright side:  three weeks ago I would have made sure my husband walked on my right–so I could hear him with my good ear.  Now I make sure he is on my left–so I can hear him with my former bad ear, which is now, in many ways, my new good ear.  What’s a little temporary vertigo compared to that?

I understand now why activation is normally scheduled for three weeks after surgery. After only two weeks, the scar behind my ear is too tender to wear my sunglasses, so wearing a behind-the-ear processor would be painful.  Lucky me, this is a non-issue for my Rondo, but I am using a stronger magnet (number 3) to keep it securely attached to my still-swollen scalp.   The head needs time to heal in order to accommodate the devices.

My personal Festival of Hearing continues and here are some highlights of the week:

  • I met with Linda Daniel, (see photo above), an audio-verbal therapist who knew as a small child that she wanted to work with the hearing impaired, facilitating communication between mothers and babies born without hearing, and helping children and adults adjust to their implants.  Imagine Annie Sullivan working with Helen Keller.  For me, working with Linda is like having a personal trainer for hearing with Linda encouraging me to do listening exercises (which is like doing sit-ups) and me doing them as long as she is there to encourage (enforce) me.
  • I went to the Dallas Symphony, a little apprehensive, afraid that concerts my husband and I enjoy would no longer be feasible since I’ve heard music is not so good through a CI.  To my delight, I could hear the flutes.  Music is better.  After only two weeks, music is good.
  • My first Girls Lunch I was excited to demonstrate my improved hearing and show my friends how much easier communication would be going forward.  Unfortunately, lunch happens in restaurants where we have group conversations–two things that will always be troublesome for me.  So, while a girls lunch is always fun, it was not the best place to impress my friends with my new ear.
  • Everyone sounded a little snarkier to me this week, the result of too much bass in my “map” (I sound like I know what I’m talking about…) which Leslie, my audiologist, corrected with a click of her mouse at my two week appointment.
  • I’ve noticed that I am refusing to say the word ‘what’ and this is causing a little trouble for me.  I’ve told myself the word ‘what’ is for people who can’t hear, and now that I’ve been auditorily transformed, I want to erase that word from my vocabulary.  When someone speaks to me and I don’t understand, instead of saying ‘what’, I say nothing and wait it out.  Some people, faced with silence, automatically repeat themselves, others don’t.  I confessed the whole thing to Linda Daniel (my audio-verbal therapist) and she reminded me that cochlear implant hearing is not a replacement for normal hearing.  I still need the word ‘what’.

I know I need to get over myself.