Sunday, March 19, 2006

Day Three; "How's Your Hearing?"

I continue to feel better and better. I am so pleased, and I appreciate the good wishes and prayers on my behalf! God is good, and this is so cool! I was able to eat three regular meals today, which was lovely in itself. And...everything tasted okay! I mean, it might not taste quite the same as usual, but at least it tasted good! Water is still really odd tasting, and it is hard to drink it. But I know I really need to stay hydrated as part of the healing process. So, I drink odd tasting water. Life could be a lot worse, eh?

A number of people have asked me how my hearing is now. This tells me that I have some explaining to do. I won't know how my hearing is until the external portion of the device gets hooked up and programmed. Right now the internal part is just healing. It can't be activated without the external part. And even once activated, the internal part is silent--dead, actually--without the external part. Only the external part has a battery, which, when connected by the magnet through my skin, will also power the internal part. IF my incision is healed enough, I may even be able to get the external part hooked up on Friday (3/24) when I get my staples out. Otherwise I will go back in on the following Wednesday (3/29).

Once the external part, called the processor, is hooked up, then it must be programmed. This occurs in several stages. At first, the audiologist only turns on a portion of the 24 electrodes, maybe eight. Since my brain has never experienced electrical stimulation of the auditory nerve before, it is a whole new and strange experience. It is overwhelming enough with just a few electrodes turned on! The first time, we will figure out what is a comfortable threshold for those electrodes.

Then after a week or so, I will go back in for another programming session. These sessions are called mapping sessions. The audiologist and I are creating a map of what electrodes are to be set at what level of stimulation. Also, additional electrodes are activated each time, until some mysterious "appropriate" level is reached. As my brain grows accustomed to the electronic stimulation, changes keep needing to be made, until things stabilize.

From what I understand from reading other people's stories, it usually takes at least 3-5 sessions to get things set. Even then, I may want to go back in again after several months to do further refining of my map. And I can keep going back as much as I feel I need to. And, "It's all included in the purchase price."

So, now you know the answer to, "How's your hearing?" It's still really weird. I cannot hear through my left ear. At all. So, I can't hear as well as I could last Wednesday. It's only temporary, until hook up, but it's definitely worse. That is hard to manage at times. I really need to focus on speechreading and concentrating all my effort on understanding what is being said.

Talking on the phone is awkward because I can just barely hear my voice. The reason for that is because I change the setting on my hearing aid to "telecoil." This setting allows me to hear only what is being sent through the headset using an electromagnetic signal, and cuts out any background noise. However, since my voice is "background noise" and my other ear no longer picks it up...I can hardly hear my own voice. That is rather disorienting. So, if you call me up, and we both get frustrated that I can't hear...that's part of why. And I can't read your lips over the phone! :p

Please let me know what other questions you may have--I'm sure others have the same questions, and using this blog to answer them will help others, too.


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