Last week I went up to Sunnybrook for an mapping and rehabilitation appointment. I love that my ear is being rehabilitated, it was bad and now it has being given the chance to be a better ear, as long as it does the work it will be fine.
At my appointment we went over the phonemes, the eeee, oooo, awww, mmmm, sshhh and ssss sounds. This is where Amy repeats those sounds while her face is hidden – so no lipreading – and I repeat what I have heard. I mixed up a few oooo and mmmm sounds, but not many. We also went over some lists of words that sound similar, I did pretty well in these too but mainly confusing k and s sounds or not hearing the s sound at the end of a word. These are the high frequency sounds that I am not used to hearing.
After this Amy tweaked the settings some more and switched on the last and highest channel. She then adjusted the other frequencies by increasing the volume on some so that the low frequencies are now getting closer to all being the same volume. The high frequencies are still at lower volumes but they are at my highest level of tolerance – for now. Each visit they are turned up a little.
When I listened to the sound of the new map it sounded richer but it had less clarity. This was because of the balance between the low and high frequencies. Each time I have left a mapping session feeling that I didn’t really like the new map and that it would take time to get used to, and each time it doesn’t take any time at all.
I haven’t really been listening to music much at all and still have silence in the house when I could be playing some CDs. It’s just habit really. One piece that I do listen to is Holst’s Planet Suite. It’s my yardstick for showing me how much more I can hear. The increasing detail and number of instruments, the higher frequencies, the other notes that are there compared to what I thought was there. It’s fascinating. It’s also emotional on many levels for me. In one of the pieces, Neptune, there is a choral section that becomes more and more silent. When I was searching for a reference I found this very relevant quote from his daughter “unforgettable, with its hidden chorus of women’s voices growing fainter and fainter… until the imagination knew no difference between sound and silence”.
Amy and I talked about the psychological effects of hearing again via a cochlear implant. Some of the feelings that I have had include immense joy, thankfulness, anger and resentment at some things from the past, questioning how life would have mapped out without hearing loss. Not that I would want to be anywhere else right now. The bad stuff in life gets you to a good place quite often. If my life had been different then I wouldn’t be sharing my life with MLM, and I wouldn’t wish for that.
It’s barely 3 months since my CI was switched on and the improvement is phenomenal, many times better than before. Of course it all depends on where you start, I think I can hear brilliantly until I realise that I have missed something, or can’t hear because of background noise. Someone else coming to this level of hearing from being able to would feel disabled, I feel enabled.