Tuesday, April 21, 2009

21st April 2009

Today I upped myself to Program 3! Lisa has given me four programs to adjust to over the next two weeks before I head back to Brisbane. We did think I would change up to a program every 3 days or so, but I'm finding what I can hear is way too soft!
That part of my brain is slowly waking up.... I love listening to music and taking off my new leftie, then putting it back in place, all the while continuing to listening. I've since been told, that 'wholesome' noise that I can hear is stereo! So THAT'S what it's all about! Simply awesome!

Monday, April 20, 2009

My history...

29th March 2009
I received my 2nd implant on Monday 23rd March 2009. My first implant to my left ear occurred in April 2002. I wish I could find my notes! From memory, I recovered from my left implant quickly and only recall tiredness from the anaesthetic. The switch-on for my left ear was televised nationwide on A Current Affair. The magical moment back on that day, was when my daughter Courtney started giggling behind me. It was music to my ears! The day I was switched on I was also able to recognise spoken speech with no lip reading and could also hear on Alan Keir’s mobile phone. It has been a wonderful learning curve, recognising different sounds again and my working life has gone ahead in leaps and bounds. I have no regrets!
My hearing impairment occurred when I had measles at 7 years of age, my temperature was high and this resulted in nerve damage to my cochlears. I’m lucky – it could have been worse like meningitis. I recall getting my first hearing aids in Grade 2, absolutely hating them and refused to wear them. I always went to a mainstream school but when I was 14 I went to a Deafie school in Adelaide for 3 months. Here I learned some sign language but I was way ahead of my peers – sitting in Yr 11 classes when I should have only been in Yr 9. It was here that hearing aids were introduced to me again and I quite liked them – the flushing toilet sounded awesome! But....hearing aids soon turned out to be the bane of my life! They whistled for numerous reasons, got itchy and sweaty in summer, and for me, they were quite useless – some people can use a telephone with a hearing aid T switch, I could not.
Before getting my first implant, I went along to a Deaf Social club in Brisbane to hear (well you know what I mean) of others experiences. There was positive feedback from people who had received them, yet some people who were born deaf were very anti-cochlear. I think the positive feedback that I received and the reading material given to me by Dr Parker guided me into making the right decision to have it done!
A cochlear implant for a suitable applicant definitely gives a better quality of life. I have no doubt that without my implant I would not be employed in the position I am today and being given the opportunities that I get, my quality of life in regards to my children would not be as enjoyable for me (ok.. they are very noisy!), I can take advantage of my T switch and enjoy movies, musicals, use the telephone to call family who live far away, and despite all this, I can still remove the external piece and have a damn good sleep!
I have found that my lip reading skills are not as good as they used to be. I really need to concentrate when lip reading and sometimes I’ll give up and say “hang on, wait until I get my ear on” (The family now call the external piece my ear!)
It is now a week since my right ear was implanted. I have not recovered as well this time. This time around I have a fair bit of bruising that goes from my right ear to my shoulder. The pain this time has been almost unbearable! Though I think I’ve gotten over the worse of the pain, every now and then I get a thumping headache over the right side of my face and while my inner ear no longer feels like it is going to explode, I get the sensation of something being in there – perhaps like a bug in your ear and I desperately want to get a cotton bud and scratch at it! The tiredness is what bothers me most at the moment. I guess it must be side effects of the anaesthetic, but there have been times these past few days that I have been very weak and have even struggled to use my voice.
Another side effect is my sense of taste. With the first implant I complained to Dr Parker of a numb tongue. It was discovered that the left side of my tongue now has no taste sensation. With the second implant Dr Parker reminded me of the risks involved as he would need to get between two nerves close together, one being for your sense of taste and the other your facial nerve. When I woke from the second implant and had some ice, I was immediately aware that the right side of my tongue was numb. I have not felt disheartened by this at all. I had a choice of hearing in my right ear, having my face droop or losing my sense of taste. My sense of taste is at the bottom of that list, I’ve had no chocolate cravings all week (and those who know me know I am addicted to chocolate) so I may even lose a few kilo!
The journey for me – (and other implantees!) is not yet over. My right implant is to be switched on in April, and may require a few mapping sessions (tuning) before the quality of sound suits me. I look forward to this exciting experience!

Right CI switch on

20th April 2009
It is now 4 weeks since my operation and it took 3 weeks for me to feel that I had recovered properly! What a ride!

Just when I thought I would never feel normal again, the date of my switch on was looming ahead of me and today it finally arrived. I didn’t feel anxious until a couple of days before – wondering.. what if it doesn’t work – after all, I have had no nerve stimulation for close to 26 years in my right ear and even then it was only a brief stint with a hearing aid, before that it was about 7 years since I had really had any hearing in that ear, which makes it 33 years since I had had any proper nerve stimulation on my right side.
Before switching me on, Lisa (the audiologist at the Mater Public Hospital) tested the electrodes. What a relief to see they were all working, now I could sit back and look forward to hearing sounds. After Lisa tested to see the softest sounds I could hear, she told me she was going to turn me on. I could hear a series of dings straight away – it was so weird! This startled me – I don’t recall that happening with my first implant. The dings continued when ever someone spoke and I realised each ding was a sound. Courtney, my daughter was playing with shapes behind me and each time she moved them I was hearing a series of dings. I asked her to talk to me about what she was building and it was Courtney’s voice that started to make the dings sounds like words. I did really well with Lisa doing speech recognition for a series of simple words; however, I feel I still have a long way to go with my right ear. I’m confident it will improve quickly as I train my brain to figure out what certain sounds are and even though this has been a very different experience than my left ear, some aspects are still the same such as placing the processor on for the first time after having it off, it gives the brain a bit of a shock and I think Ohmigosh... but this usually settles for me in about 30 seconds or so.
I put a CD on in the car and played around with my ‘ears’, listening with both, removing my new right one for a minute or so and then putting it back on while the music was playing. The difference was awesome. Its not louder, it just seems more.... wholesome... I’m at a loss as to what is the correct word!