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I'm getting excited!!!!

Posted Oct 01 2008 9:19pm

Vanderbilt called yesterday to confirm my appointment...Yay! :) I've been told that the only holdup might be if my processor doesn't arrive in time...I think my audie had it ordered but it seems that she didn't have it in hand yet. Advanced Bionics is pretty good about getting things places very quickly if need be so I'm not going to worry too much about that...I think it'll happen :).
I'm excited....but this is so different from the first time around.
I've been lucky that I've never had to be totally without hearing. The first time around, I still had some hearing left in my "good" ear...not much, but enough to get by. The first CI felt more like a gamble than anything...would it work? You have to remember that I had NO hearing in that ear for 30+ years...then had a horrible vibrotactile response during my testing...so I honestly didn't know whether I'd even GET hearing. That was all I hoped for...that I'd get SOMETHING.
Something, I got...but it wasn't at all what I expected. When Susan hooked me up to her computer and started playing the beeps, I didn't hear anything. I looked over at her, and saw the look of expectancy on her face, and thought..."oh no...I'm supposed to be hearing something...what's wrong?" She turned it up a bit, and then I felt it. It felt a bit like a pounding migraine headache without the headache...it had the same "whomp, whomp, whomp" sensation. As she went louder, the pounding sensation intensified. I told her, "I wouldn't say I'm hearing anything, exactly....but I'm feeling something." She smiled and said something to the effect that that was good, that was something.
She turned it on a few seconds later, and everyone hesitantly started talking. I had no perception of SOUND...it wasn't like anything I'd ever HEARD before...it felt like a jackhammer was going off in my head. But the jackhammering coincided with people talking...so my brain was sorting out, at least, that there was information coming in.
When we left there we stopped for lunch at Don Pablo's. Honestly? I wanted to just lay my head down on the table and take a nap...the pounding was so intense and I felt totally discombobulated. It's a really loud restaurant, anyway...concrete floors and brick walls and metal ceilings...it was waaaaay too much. Factor in that I, being the optimist, had allowed Susan to set my sensitivity levels too high...thinking that my brain was so sharp and so fast that surely I'd be a pro at this hearing business straightaway...also, I didn't realize at the time how incredibly stressful the sound would be, and didn't think that the vibrations would bother me as much as they did. Boy, was I wrong...at the end of the first several days I felt like a guitar string stretched too tight...prepared to snap at any moment.
My first experience with actual hearing came quickly...that afternoon. We came in from Don Pablo's, and I announced that I was taking a NAP. I was experiencing severe sensory overload and needed a break. There was a metal coathanger on my bed, and I picked it up and tossed it to the foot of the bed...where it collided with a package of light bulbs, and there was a distinctive "tink". Well, I grabbed that coathanger and nearly beat those lightbulbs senseless listening to that sound...it was the first sound that I can actually remember "hearing", as opposed to just feeling it in my head. Over the next few days and months, my brain slowly went from interpreting every sound as a jarring sensation to allowing me to perceive sounds as actual sounds, although they still, for the most part, sounded nothing like I remembered them. I tried wearing my hearing aid with the CI, but that didn't usually work....they didn't play well together...the sounds were too different and the information that I was getting from them together just didn't mix well. I had more headaches and more stress that first few months!
A year later, I have no hearing in my "good" ear anymore. I am completely, at this point, dependent on Thing 1 for ALL my sound. A year later, I can say that I've surpassed my own expectations with my first CI...they were honestly very, very low. Music doesn't yet sound like I remember it, and there are still some sounds I can't pick up well, and I can't understand voices without looking at the lips that go with them, usually (Occasionally a few words will break through, and it's always a big deal..." I heard that!! Wow!" ). But I have many, many friends that say that it took them months, years even, for sound to sound familiar and comprehension to come easily...and I realize that I'm doing great for someone who had NO hearing at all in my implanted ear...it's just short of miraculous.
With Thing 2, my expectations are different...because this time I expect SOMETHING. The first time around I just HOPED that something would happen...but didn't DARE to EXPECT it. This time, I can breathe much more easily about that...Thing 2 lives in an ear that had hearing as recently as March, and has never shown any kind of vibrotactile response. I expect hearing this time around :). After that, my expectations are still low.
Everyone's experiences are different: some people are able to call their family members on the phone a couple of days later, and some can't hear helicopters when they're right over their heads (she can hear them now!!!!!). Depends on the brain, how long the ear's been without sounds, and several other factors. I would love to think that my brain will zap right through and I'll have superhero hearing in days, but the reality is that there's just no way of knowing. However, I've MISSED my right ear...and I'm ready to get it back...no matter what it sounds like. It'll get better over time...that's pretty much a given...and now that I've learned that hard lesson with my first ear, I'm ready to get started on the second!
Oh, and how do I feel? I feel pretty good. I did some housework today and had to stop a few times and rest when the vertigo got out of hand, but overall, it wasn't bad. My incision is practically healed. I have decided that my surgeon must have used something different to stitch with this time around...the first time around they popped out through the skin and itched and drove me crazy....this time they've come through hardly at all...I keep waiting for them to do that and cause trouble, but they haven't. It looks great. So it's ONWARD TO TUESDAY!!
For those of you that weren't here for the first go-round, and need a crash course on what in the world we're doing, check out this link...it's long, too, though, so I practically guarantee that if you read it, too, this will be the longest blog visit you've made today ;).
Headed to bed...that's what I get when I sleep in too late on Saturdays...I stay up too late on Saturday nights and can't wake up for church on Sunday mornings! Oy!
Love y'all...... :)

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