Next week Paige goes for her college orientation – the same orientation I struggled through with Eric four years ago. It’s an all-day event where the students attend one session and parents attend another; the kids sign up for classes, learn more about their major, etc. and the parents also learn major-specific information as well as go on campus and residence hall tours, attend topic-specific presentations of our choice – it’s really informative but it’s also a LONG day!
I missed 90% of what was said when we went with Eric (before my CIs, after I lost all my hearing). Even in the small sessions where I could lip read, the speakers would pace and walk around, other parents would ask questions that I completely missed – it got to be a little boring because I was just sitting there in my little tinnitus world, listening to my beeps and noises and getting pretty much no information save for the things printed on paper.
Dave’s hearing has been declining and he’s got a new hearing aid coming in on July 5th. Ironically, he is really depending on me to be his ears at this orientation because his background noise program is messed up and this is a really noisy event with hundreds of people. So we were a little alarmed this morning when I realized one of my T-Mics is basically dead.
The T-Mic (not to be confused with t-coil or telecoil) is the part that holds the processor on my ear – there is a microphone in the tip, which sits inside my ear so that I pick up sounds in the same place a hearing person does. (Most hearing aids and CIs have microphones on top or in the back of the processor.) Here’s a picture so you can see what I mean:
The T-Mic is the part curving over and into the ear.
I put my CIs on this morning and realized the sound was really, really muted in one ear. Just to check, I put one of my backup T-Mics on and BAM, I was hit with a wall of sound. It’s super-hot here in Illinois this summer, and we have tons of fans going. I wasn’t really noticing the fans that much so far this summer, and now I know why…I was barely hearing them! I was kind of horrified to realize how much I had been missing. I put the suspect T-Mic on my other ear, just to check, and again I could barely hear so I was confident it was the T-Mic and not some other part like the headpiece or processor.
Then I decided to switch my other T-Mic out, just for kicks, and wow…again, it was much louder with my backup T-Mic. I would say I’m getting about 60% sound with that other T-Mic (and maybe 10% with the really bad one). At first everything was so loud, even on my background program which dampens sounds like fans, that I kept my semi-defective T-Mic on. It just hurt my head too much to have all that constant noise. But after a while I noticed the ear with the good T-Mic was adjusting, and I decided not to be an idiot…I switched to my backup T-Mics on both ears so I could get used to a normal level of sound again. It’s amazing how the brain adapts so quickly!
It’s definitely time for a new mapping — almost 2 years since my last one – and I also want to have ClearVoice added to my processors now that it’s finally available in the US, so I’m going for a mapping in 2 weeks. (A mapping is when I get connected to a computer while I wear the processors, and the audiologist sets the volume and sensitivity levels of the electrodes as I respond to the sounds.) ClearVoice is an improved background noise program, and it should really help quiet the noise of the fans. I was hoping to get in before the orientation but no such luck. At least I have backup T-Mics and I should be completely used to my new level of hearing by Tuesday, when we head off to the university.
Since my warranty on parts is expired, I need to submit claims for replacement parts to my insurance — something I’ve actually never done. I’m hoping my audiologist can help me out with the proper procedure so I don’t screw anything up!
In non-hearing news, Paige is now officially graduated from high school, we’re coming along with our house projects (right now the downstairs is getting repainted, new drop-ceiling tiles and a new floor), and our candle business successfully made the transition from candles with wicks to wax melts only, which has really helped free up time for fixing up the house. It’s hard to believe that this time next year, we could potentially be in Michigan (if the housing market improves and we can actually sell…fingers crossed!)
I’ll update again after my mapping, and we’ll see if I can’t manage to write a little more frequently than every 4 months. :-)