It’s been a long while since I’ve posted here and so much has happened. I keep a mental list of things that I want to write about because it’s all so exciting to me yet I’ve just not taken the time to sit down and put it on paper.
Before I decided to take the leap and undergo the procedure to receive a cochlear implant, my audiologist tested my hearing comprehension level with my hearing aids. I went into a soundproof booth and sat in a chair facing a thick glass window that looks into another room where the audiologist sat.
The first test she performed involved tones. I would take one hearing aid out and she would run through a series of beeps and tones to detect how much I could hear. Upon hearing a tone, I would raise my hand. I heard low tones and medium tones up to a certain point but the high tones would peter out almost immediately, which is not surprising as we already knew that I have a high-frequency loss in both ears.
The second test was centered around words and sentences. Again, I would take out one hearing aid and then switch as the audiologist shielded her mouth and said short, one or two syllable words to me. I would try to repeat them back to her and failed miserably with both ears. This was also not surprising because the aforementioned high-frequency loss made it impossible for me to pick up the beginnings and ends of words. Sounds like “ssss”, “tttt”, “shhhhh”, “ppp” or “nnnddd” were loss on me. All I could hear is the middle part of the word and that was likely a vowel which sounded like a tone with no beginning or end. A hamburger without the bun to complete it.
If a word has more than one or two syllable, I would try hard to think of what the word could possibly be but it was luck of the draw at that point. And I had very little luck in the sound-proof booth. In fact, none at all because I scored a big fat zero on that test.
Fast forward to six months later. After six months of slowly adapting to the strange new way of hearing that a cochlear implant brings – the odd trills, the quirky atmospheric hums and clangs, the sudden jolts and the soft, stealthy pings, I scored a whopping twelve percent. This number will go up as I continue to practice with the aid of apps and audio recordings that sound out words and I listen carefully. “Run”, “nun”, “pun”, “top”, “pop”, “mop”, “ran”, “tan”, “land”, “sand”….
For a person who has lived a lifetime of relying upon lip-reading to help make sense of those vowel sounds -to bring clarity to a whole word, this is enormous.
What’s fascinating is that I’m now at the point where I don’t hear as well without the implant’s external device on and activated. I’ve come to rely on it for a more comprehensive understanding of sounds around me. I’m suddenly hearing the rice cooker we’ve had for more than five years beep when it’s done. I hear the screen door creaking when it opens. The cat’s meow is a scratchy squeak.
And the best part is the birds. The birds are driving me absolutely nuts! And I love it!