Friday, August 1, 2014

I am Bilateral!

Hi! 

I apologize for the late update, but it will be a long post. =) 

Thursday, July 31st was the big day to turn on the Nucleus 6. I waited about 3 weeks! Steri-strip is still on but hopefully it will fall off soon. I did get a call from the office saying that my appointment with the surgeon was cancelled for next Thursday so I'm hoping to hear back and reschedule. Actually, I had three missed phone calls from the office and they had to call Mike and let him know they were trying to get a hold of me. He had to explain that I don't talk on the phone and most importantly, it won't be anytime soon that I will be able to. Maybe someday. I just find the whole 'talking on the phone' complicated for me. 

Mike and I woke up around 7AM and got ready. We stopped by Dunkin Donuts to pick up some coffee on the way. You know I can't function without coffee, haha. We arrived a hour early so we had time to sit around and relax. We also grabbed a egg sandwich from Einstein Bro's in the cafe at the hospital. We also waited for my parents to come and meet us for the appointment. We didn't have to wait long to meet with the audiologist. The appointment took about at least 2 1/2-3 hours long. 

First time it was turned on: 


Mapping process started - basically to determine softest to loudest I can handle. What I heard were sound exercises (ahhhh, ooooh, mmmm, shhhh, sssss...) and beeps. No pain! But I did develop a headache soon after. My brain was on sensory overload and trying to comprehend on what to do!


Then the process of figuring out the words I am hearing - where the audiologist covers up her mouth and says a simple word, such as baseball, toothbrush, cowboy, popcorn, airplane, and hotdog. These words are easy to hear and know what they are when I have both implants on. But with the new one, it is difficult. It takes a lot of work to figure out what word I am hearing especially when I can't read lips. 



This may help for those readers who are following my blog to understand this and why I need to do this. Your brain has two sides for hearing/auditory information. The one ear is already trained but the other side is not. Both have its own pathway to the brain and the brain has to learn to recognize what sounds are what and what words are what with the new ear.

When I can't simply understand a word:


Completely NORMAL! No need to get nervous. So right now, I am unable to figure out the words I am hearing. I only hear sounds but very, very muffled/static type of sounds. It will take me quite a while to get to where I want to be. I plan on working to improve and train my brain to recognize things. Thankfully I will have all the help from family & friends to get me where I want to be. I also have my first appointment set up to meet with a doctor in the speech therapy department at a University Hospital location. That will be in about two weeks. Meanwhile, I have made up of 6-7 sheets of different words to help me to go ahead and prepare. I want to start right away and see where I will be in two weeks - I hope to accomplish at least something! 

Good news is: my audiologist is very happy with my progress even if it was only the first time. What I've done exceeded her expectations so that is good! It's still the beginning...  Adter the appointment, I fell asleep. It is definitely exhausting and a lot of work. It may not see like that from the outside but it is. It'll be all worth it whenever I get there. I can't wait for the day when I finally hear or make out words clearly. I am going to need TONS of paitence!

So, I've noticed and am excited about: I have realized that when I was listening to music on iTunes earlier with only the left cochlear implant (the original one I have) - I've noticed a major difference! It seems like my brain is working harder to recognize the words. Now, music is a lot more clearer when I have both implants on. It's amazing how I am able to hear the words better, but I still do look for the lyrics to read along. But the point is, when I hear it without looking for the words, I force myself to weed out the words I can hear in a line and try to write it down. I seem to get more words out than before. I'm going to practice with this and get better at it. So that's very good! 

Here's pictures to show you what I have:

The bag that has everything I need. It looks like a suitcase. 



The inside of the bag: 


 
(My remote to control the programs, sensitivity, and volume - it is pretty cool and so handy to have in my purse! I will always have this with me. I find it useful. 


"1" is program one. It is what I start off on. In a day or two, I will graduate to "2" as it will be a little louder. It should be interesting! The audiologist wants me to constantly wear the new implant and just train myself while I can until my next appointment with Dr. Megerian, whenever that is. 

So I have been on "program 1" and doing what my audiologist wants me to do - stay on that and make sure to go from volume 1-5 and end up at 5. After a couple days, I can switch to "program 2" since it is louder so we will see how I do! I don't want to rush myself and allow my brain figure out what it's supposed to do. 

I had Mike help me with the speech therapy last night. It was interesting. We did the basic names like baseball, hotdog, popcorn, airplane, cowboy, and toothbrush. I want to get myself to recognize these words! We also did names - from my name/my family to Mike's family.  That's gonna take some work too. I didn't do that well but it'll take time. 

Anyway, I will update more when I can! I just want to say thank you to everyone who's supported me throughout the journey. I'm so lucky to have great people around me! 

Take care!
Rachel