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CI-activation log no. 7 – day 12 – first re-mapping and feeling of first real breakthrough

Posted Sep 23 2009 10:17pm

Wow, has it really only been 12 days since I walked out from the hospital fitted with a new bionic ear? It feels like a much longer time ago, and so much has happened! Both in my inner self and with the CI-hearing!

small-yard-water-fountain I hear trickling and splashing water from fountains very good, and I have noticed a significant “sound shadow” if I turn the non-CI-ear towards the sound source. In that “Sound-shadow” the sound disappears almost completely.

bird_twitter_full Yesterday I heard a bird twitter for the first time! (I probably have a recollection of that sound from early childhood, because I had strong suspicions what that super clearly defined sound was :-) it couldn’t be anything else!) I asked my girlfriend, and the next time the twitter came, I gave her a signal, and she nodded with a big smile :-) It was birds twitter from outside all right! That was a wonderful CI-moment! Now I look even more forward to go to Sweden again next week and just discover more of mother nature’s sounds! (and listen to my old 80’s-vinyl!!! My son is going to be SOOO annoyed by his fathers thirst for his old music!)

But, HEY! I’m getting ahead of myself here! Before that beautiful CI-moment, I was so lucky to be able to get a quick new mapping-session at the hospital. Kudos to the CI-team for being so flexible and giving me a new session with only 4 days’ notice! (usual takes 14 days) This time I got a sound-fitting from a new guy (my regular was sick), and he tested my threshold for each of the 16-electrodes (I think it was). I came to that session with two clear goals: increase sound level overall, and to get a better feeling of that much missed bass.

The missing bass has been really noticeable when I listen to my favorite Mötley Crüe songs: “Shout at the Devil”, “Girls, Girls, Girls”, “Kickstart my heart”, “Same Ol’ Situation” and “Smoking in boys room” (I’m THIS close to be able to grasp the harmonica-part in the “Smoking in boys room”!). I retrieved my car’s subwoofer from almost three years of storage, and has been experimenting with the sound settings both on the car’s stereo and on my CI and in combo with my hearing aid. Hearing aid is not used for music, the recruitment-problem is just too much; sure, the bass is wonderful on that ear, but everything else is just muffled, distorted and just… LOST  :-(

Speakers-738120 The subwoofer taught me a valuable lesson: I can “hear” the bass through my body. My hearing aid-ear (with the hearing aid turned off, and earpiece blocking the natural airway into the ear canal and the ear drum) actually used the bass-vibrations I got from the subwoofer and blend it in with the sounds I got from the CI. I suspect my whole body “hears” those thumps and “phat” beats. It’s also the issue of bone transferred vibrations to take into considerations :-)   If the sound pressure is big enough (i.e. enough dB), I guess the vibrations get strong enough to be transferred into the cochlea by other means than through the ear-canal…

Also I have been playing with the iConnect, and that contributed to my understanding of the phenomenon regarding the sensations in the bass-frequencies. The bass was totally missing when listening to the same songs from my mobile (Nokia N82 with jack-plug, very useful :-)   ). When the sound input to my brain are 100% digital, it’s brutally truthful too… No other aids like air vibrations, or sound residue from the remaining deaf ear. Or unconscious lip-reading, with built-in context guessing plus sentence construction for that matter.

The songs I listed above, are so well known to me, after listening to them a million times in my youth and throughout the years. They still give me a kick, even if only hearing 20% of it :-) (or are just beginning to) I have found them extremely useful for training and identifying which sounds I get and which sounds I don’t get. Vocals have improved, and high pitch has improved. The missing part was the bass…

I threw the 16-electrodes-program out. Bye, bye. It doesn’t sound good at all, already, so I have absolutely no need for it, except maybe for later when I want to assess my 16-electrode hearing again… But that’s not for another 6 months or maybe even a year. (if ever)

Program 1 is my primary program, and this time we raised the bass and the mid-level frequencies as a result of the single-electrodes-test. The high pitch (is this the right phrase?) was left as is, since I get those sounds really well. After that we raised the overall levels quite a bit, I imagine (will get the documentation later).

Program 2 now has increased bass-levels. I have strong suspicion I will use that a lot with my mp3-playing mobile phone…

Program 3 has increased levels for high pitch sounds. This will be used for training purposes (increase my ability to take in as much high pitch sounds as possible, since this part is what really makes my head tired, and it’s the sounds I have lost in the last 10 years.)

OK, that was the re-mapping session. Now for the real results:

Music is beginning to sound real again! I could detect (through the iConnect), some of Tommy Lee’s beats now. I still miss Nikki Sixx’ bass, clearly defined, but hey, it’s only been 12 days! I’m not complaining, but I know where I want to go and what I want to get. Even Mick Mars’ guitar is starting to emerge from the sound wall!
Best part of all; I’m getting a feel of harmonies in the music again! Sounds and instruments working together where the end result is far greater than the actual sum of the combined instruments…

I am now able to understand, with the aid of lip-reading, sentences spoken by my girlfriend! Haven’t tried it really hard today, been too much else going on, some work that needed getting done, cranky kid in the house, listening to birds twitter and all :-)

motley_crue_logo In all fairness to Mötley Crüe; it is a coincidence that I happened to have their music on both my mobile phone and on mp3 in my car. It’s simple, energetic music and with Vince Neil’s rather boyish voice that breaks through the sound wall from the instruments is perfect for me to train my bionic hearing on. Will keep working with Mötley Crüe for listening training until I get sick of the songs. They have been, and will always be a big part of my musical life.

Aaahhh, I look so much forward to revisit music again! It’s certainly coming alive! Right now it feels like my brains’ got some rusty, creaking parts that only needs greasing! Good thing I like mayonnaise, diary butter and the fat greasy parts off the chicken, fish, pork/lamb chops or steak:-)

I’m definitely on the right track! And perhaps now I can concentrate more on training for the verbal understanding to increase.

This is the point where I for sure can say that my decision to go for CI was a good one! All the pain, all the obstacles, all the waiting, all the crying, all the frustration, all the anger, all the angst, all the hardships has been worth it. I did the right thing!

Today was a good day :-)

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