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CI-activation log no. 5 – first week – Impressions and thoughts

Posted Sep 15 2009 10:13pm

I should be resting, but have so much to share, I need to unload a little :-)

First of all, thanks to everyone who leaves comments and messages! The comments are all read and appreciated! It’s just that it takes a little effort to answer then, and right now I’m in survival mode… Nothing but the most essential gets my time these days. I will get back to your comments with intelligent responses when my brain has become a little more accustomed to the new world of sounds ;-)

One comment made me think; it’s impossible for someone who hasn’t experienced it themselves to understand exactly what this process of learning to hear again through the CI does to me…

I want to try and explain this to all those of you who has normal hearing:

You might have heard about the use of sound in military/international intelligence agencies’ torture-techniques in order to “soften” human beings before interrogations or in situations where someone has occupied a building etc. The sound is in those instances used to reach certain goals: to demotivate, confuse/disorient and cause fatigue via sleep deprivation, in order to reach some psychological effects like depression and anger (in order to make the “subject” loose control of him or herself). Like many things military, the euphemism they use to describe musical torture is “acoustic bombardment”.

Acoustic bombardment has reportedly been used in such a way that the detainee has been chained to the floor of a container and the music /sounds has been turned on. Imagine the acoustic and the psychological effects of said situation on that detainee…

OK, now try to imagine having to live with sounds that are just as loud, and just as strange as Metallica is to someone who has never heard Metallica before. You are the only one who can hear these sounds, and there is no way for others around you to “listen in on it”. There was no way out of that container for me, until I got the CI surgery. And the process I’m in now is in some ways even worse than the hearing I had before the surgery. Now everybody’s voice is unintelligible and everything I hear is just as hard to understand. Imagine that the sounds you hear today all of a sudden has been kind of inverted like a photographic negative! Everything that sounded like normal speech, deep tones and dark voices is now garbled; thin, light and squeaks, really high pitch.

It’s like getting slapped really hard in my face every time I hear a voice. Especially if the volume is a little loud, I cringe inside. It’s downright unpleasant and painful, on the verge of making me nauseous and feeling like I’m going to faint…

The container doesn’t only play loud, it plays so loud that it distorts the signals to my brain. I can hear every little sound, like the wall clock ticking 3 – 4 meters away from me, the water dripping, my own breath and so on. At the same time I hear sounds that my brain don’t understand yet, like this metal-cutting saw-blade, sounds like wind howling around a corner of a house in a storm, crackling of a bad radio.

In other words:

cacophony

–noun, plural -nies.

1. harsh discordance of sound; dissonance: a cacophony of hoots, cackles, and wails.
2. a discordant and meaningless mixture of sounds: the cacophony produced by city traffic at midday.
3. Music. frequent use of discords of a harshness and relationship difficult to understand.

If you can imagine this, (it’s literally impossible, but I hope you get an idea!) and then try to imagine that you’re supposed to be “normal” around other people. Smile and be happy!!
Respond rationally to all rational and irrational emotions to people around you…

I think that what I’m going through is the hardest thing I ever did, and I’m full of awe for the people who has done this before me and I do not find it strange that it is overwhelming for many individuals who reportedly “give” up and resign (i.e. stop training and trying to make more use of the sounds provided by the implant). If you don’t have a lot of knowledge, motivation and/or energy, I can very well imagine that the road back to the world of the hearing is too rough and long!
(In the aspect, I’d like to point out that it is essential that CI-operated and newly activated individuals get a thorough package of follow up by professionals in order to learn to hear and understand speech again!)

Psychologically this is a challenge, of course, but I know this will improve over time, so I just have to make do with what I have right here and now! And I know that people close to me also have a harder time being around me, and for that; I wish to say thank you for your patience and good will towards me! (I might need even more of it (patience and goodwill), and for that too; thank you from the bottom of my heart!)

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