Sunday, June 29, 2008

How is CI Hearing Different?

From an online friend:
How does the implant hearing compare to hearing with your own native hearing structures?

well, the hearing is very different, especially at first. The auditory nerve is being stimulated by impluses from an electrode rather than by the waving motion of the little hairs in the cochlea, The brain has to figure out what the blazes is going on. It's pretty amazing how fast it figures it out.

Last time, at first, voices were all a high-pitched monotone, but that adjusted over the course of even just the first few days and I could begin to hear some intonation and begin to tell men's voices from women's voices. I've been told I was very lucky and many people do not understand speech on the first day. I did.
The prayer time at my church was a beautiful time, and a precious gift. Jay invited anyone who wanted to stand by me, lay hands on me, pray for me, to come and join us in the front. The people that came are all people I have also prayed for and loved dearly. The warmth and love and compassion and support standing in their midst was unspeakable.

Thanks be to God!

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Good Questions

A response from one of my friends:
How long will you be in the hospital? Which hospital? How long does the physical healing part of it take, as in the incision and back to normal activity? How long before you can use the implant?

- Last time I was in a 9AM and out by 5PM. This time I am supposed to be there by 8AM.
- I'll be at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in downtown Chicago; my surgeon's name is Dr. Alan Micco. Last time he let me hold his hands in mine right before surgery and pray a blessing on them. I will do that again this time.
- The surgery itself takes about an hour and 45 minutes (last time it took an hour and a half, but this time he has to get the implants to sit symmetrically on my head, so that takes a bit longer...).
- Last time, if I remember correctly, I took pain meds for only a day or two. Bandage came off after 3 days, I think. Eight days later I drove myself over to school to BE the show and tell (which was SO much fun), then drove downtown to get my staples out and get activated.
- "Getting activated" is when I start using the implant, when Pam Fiebig, my audiologist, puts on the external part and gets it to "talk" to the implant. She starts programming it and my brain begins the major process of learning how to interpret an electrical signal as sound. This time, that is scheduled for July 11th. I will go back frequently to reprogram the processor as my brain adjusts over time. It's an amazing and fascinating process! I could "watch" my brain learn how to hear again, watch as it learned to interpret what used to be familiar sounds and make them "sound" familiar again. At the beginning, I could watch the process happen over the course of days, hours, or even minutes within a conversation with someone. Last time I was able to understand speech immediately upon activation; that is not always the case. Everyone sounded like a high pitched robotic monotone, but I could tell between men's and women's voices within days.

I love questions, so shoot them my way and I will answer as best I can, and post them here.

Come watch the progress with me!


Four Days to Bilateral, and Counting

Twenty years ago I had normal hearing. I am now something like 95% deaf. On July 3, I will get my second cochlear implant. This technology is so amazing! With the first cochlear implant, my other ear went from 4% word comprehension, before the surgery two years ago, to 96% after rehab work. So I have great hopes for the effectiveness of the electronics that will enable me to hear again in the second ear. I am excited and see so much promise and God's gracious provision to help me cope with this disability. On the other side of things, I also need comfort for the final loss of my natural hearing. After the surgery I will have zero residual hearing. Of course, I have no guarantee I wouldn't lose the rest of it anyway, given the way my loss has progressed. But I am terrified of that prospect. It's also a loss in being able to listen to the full range of sound of music--orchestral, choir, popular music on the radio. My music perception continues to improve with my implant, yes. And I know that it will take time for the new implant. And, from what I've been told, hearing with two implants is more than the sum of the parts! I'll keep you posted.

When I had my first surgery in March, 2006, my pastor had me come up to the front of the church for prayer. And we did the same thing today (Sunday, Jun 29). More about that later. I need that more than ever this time. I very much appreciate your prayers on my behalf as well.

I am grateful for my family, my friends, my church and my online communities. You are each a blessing to me!