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CI-activation log no. 2 – day 1 – 2nd tuning session and the trip home

Posted Sep 08 2009 10:15pm

While waiting for the audio physicist, we sat face to face with a girl whom we also had seen the day after my surgery. She was due for surgery that day, and anyway, we started talking, and turns out she was activated today too. We had a good laugh about the Morse-code beeps and bips. Similar experience, with different implants, since she said she had Med-EL. Then all of a sudden I heard sound while she was talking about three meters from where I sat. I had to ask, did she use her voice? And, yes, Mette confirmed for me, she did use her voice. (I could not detect sounds from her sing-language interpreter). Another CI-moment :-)

After the first break, it was time for the first CI-tweak.

But first I wanted a kind of an overview of what the tweak possibilities are. He told me about these programmable features in the Advanced Bionics software:

1. The regular frequencies, which is where the “basic” tweaking mainly is going to happen.

2. Switch between regular 16 electrodes and 120 virtual frequency bands.

3. AGC – Automatic Gain Control. If some sound is deemed too strong, the software cuts the sound down, in order to avoid unpleasant audio feeds.

4. Microphone Gain. It is possible to tell the microphone to enhance for instance the high pitch, before going to processing. This is the least likely feature to modify. It’s almost never adjusted, my audio physicist said.

I asked if I could try the 120 frequency band program to hear what it was like. I liked it better immediately because it sounded more right and richer (my instant impression). Instead of the very distinct and robotic-like Morse-code sound, I instantly got more variations in the sound of a voice. More melodic, kind of.

I have three programs with me today (all have AGC enabled):

1. Flat profile (all frequencies are on the same level, quite low; equal strength), 120 channels.

2. Flat profile, 16 electrodes.

3. Enhanced bass, weakened high pitch, 120 channels.

After these tweaks, he then sent us home after a brief chat and quick test with the audiologist. I am able to distinguish syllables. I can hear the difference between one, two and three or more syllables… That is certainly something concrete! Grasping the syllables is the basis of understanding verbal communication.

Ok, what sounds have I picked up on my way home from the hospital?

First new thing I noticed in the car was the sound of my foot letting go of the clutch-pedal. Another beep, or, actually the sound is more like ding now… I had to set the gear in free and try several times… Ding, ding, ding… Next thing I noticed, turned out to be another CI-moment, I could detect sound from the blinker! Wow, I haven’t heard that blinker sound since around the time when I learned to drive a car, at the age of 17, 20 years ago! Ding- ding-ding. These were faint, but they were there!!!! Mette looked at me in bewilderment; what the hell are you up to? Why do you turn your blinker on and off all the time, and what is that about the clutch pedal?? Poor girl :-)   The person driving behind me probably didn’t understand much either :-)

We stopped by a shopping centre, I needed shoes to wear on the training centre I just started in. Indoor sport-shoes. Not much to get from crowd or street noise yet. Just a steady siren. When I remove the magnet, the siren stops, it’s dead silent. Putting the magnet back on, a beep, 2 seconds of silence, and then the siren again. I’m definitely getting sounds in there!

Mette tried to call me from behind, but I’m not that good yet, didn’t detect her voice from behind yet.

Next sound revelation came when we picked up Mettes 4 year old son from kindergarten. I carried him on my back, and while lying on my back he started singing. I actually picked up some kind of melody! I had to check the reflection in the car-window to see that he actually sang, but indeed he did!!!  That was a great CI-moment! And the first sound that I actually could find something pleasant in!

Later, while we sat in the car waiting for Mette to do some grocery-shopping, he sang some more, and this time I watched his lips while he sang. It sounded hilarious, I had to smile and laugh :-) But again, it was definitely in the category of melodious sounds!  I think it sounded like a very rusty violin being played badly. Way cool! While he sang, I turned up the volume, and switched between the programs. I’m too fresh out of the box to remember what program was the best, but I think it is program no. 3. Which I have now.

Many sounds are now sounding like broken glass in a plastic box being shaken. Even my own voice. I like the fact that the sounds keep changing character in my own perception, it means that my brain is constantly learning and testing new modes in order to understand the auditory nerve inputs. The sound quality is evolving and also improving! Very promising first day so far!

I have decided to go with the 120 frequencies right off from the start. I am aware that I might use a little longer to perceive sounds, but on the other side, it might take longer to get the 120 sounding good if I learn the 16-electrode program first. At least that’s the way I’m thinking now… Open for re-evaluation of that standpoint on a constant basis…

Now It’s time for me to start some auditory self-assessments… I just found some very cool internet-resources. That’s for my next blog-post :-)

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