Another Day, Another Mapping

My third mapping was on Thursday (Sept. 4).  I’m halfway through my weekly mappings now – they go through Sept. 25 and then I’m not sure how often I’ll be going.

It’s really different now, waiting in a waiting room.  I usually don’t bother to read a magazine because Krystine comes to get me just a few minutes after we get there.  But I’m much more relaxed now, not as “on alert” as I am without the CI’s.  It’s still habit to keep the doorway in view, even out of the corner of my eye, but I think I would be able to hear her saying “Wendi?” even if my back were to the door.  Amazing!

This mapping once again started with me listening to tones and increasing volume, if I needed it.  It seemed like I only listened to 4 or 5 tones and she was done.  I did mention that my left processor has been randomly shutting down.  If I slide the battery off and slide it back on again, then it’s fine.  But I do get the solid red light that is a warning that there’s a problem.  I’ve read that this happened to other people on the power saver mode so I might mention that to Krystine this coming week.  Even after I mentioned it on Thursday, it still happens now and then.  It didn’t start happening until after my second mapping (in the office) when I was finished listening to the tones and she gave me the CI back.  So I think something happened at that time.  I’m not sure if she put the power saver mode on before or after the processor started shutting off randomly.  In any case, the power saver mode hasn’t changed my battery life at all so I really don’t mind if she takes it off…especially if that solves the problem with the processor randomly shutting off!

We did the tones and volume for both ears.  When she has me go live with both ears, it’s always way, way too loud.  I have to have her turn it down quite a bit.  This time I had her leave it a little louder than I normally would have, because I’ve noticed I get used to the volume pretty quickly.

Apparently I’ve been using HiRes-P (with the electrodes firing in pairs) all this time.  I could swear she told me I was using HiRes-S (electrodes firing sequentially) after my activation was done!  In any case, she put a HiRes-S program in the bottom (P1) slot, my usual HiRes-P in the middle slot (at the current volume) and a HiRes-P program with a bit louder volume in the top slot (P3).  I’m assuming I’m still using 100% T-Mic because she didn’t mention otherwise.  She told me to switch back and forth over the next week between the HiRes-S and HiRes-P to see what I thought.

She did have me test to make sure the programs were all in the proper position because last week, my programs were reversed!  It was supposed to be quietest on P1, regular volume on P2 and loudest on P3.  After a day or two I realized things sounded quieter when I went up to what was supposed to be the louder program.  No wonder things sounded so amazingly loud when I first put my CI’s on…I would put them down to P1 first thing in the morning, and that turned out to be my loudest setting!  I asked Krystine about it and she checked and yes, they were reversed (for which she profusely apologized).  I was just glad that I could sense the differences and not just take it for granted – it was kind of gratifying to find out I was right.  😆

Once we finished getting the volume for both CI’s set and I was comfortable (although whew, it was loud!) we went to the booth for me to get my first hearing test since I lost all of my hearing in April.  I wish I’d gotten a copy of this test!

I was really, really nervous and stressed when I went into the booth.  She had me sit without headphones in the booth, with both CI’s on, and press a button when I heard something.  She said it wouldn’t really sound like a tone, more like a noise.  Most of them did actually sound like tones though.  What I tended to do was click when I heard the first tone (which was pretty loud) and then I would hear a second very faint tone almost immediately after the first loud one.  I never clicked when I heard that – it sounds like an echo to me, almost.  I would wait until I heard it again, so I could be sure I was really hearing it.

I started holding my breath because everything was so, so loud with this new mapping and I felt like the sound of my breathing was keeping me from hearing the softer sounds.  Then I would have to gasp and take a big breath, hoping that there no tones being played while I was doing that heavy breathing.  😀  It was crazy!

After a bit she had me take off my left CI and just wear the right.  I was trying to regulate my breathing and stop holding my breath, because it was making me more nervous and distracting me.  The process of taking my CI off and getting settled helped me to just start breathing normally and try not to freak out so much.

After my right ear was tested, I put the left CI back in and took off the right so she could test my left ear.

The test was all done in tones, with no sentences … at least, I never heard any sentences!  😉

Once we were done, we went back to the mapping room.  Krystine got my old hearing test and marked my current results so we could compare.  Obviously I expected a huge improvement from my last result, which was pretty much just a line along the 110/120 db mark for both ears.  I was surprised to see that this audiogram also showed my last test wearing my bi-CROS hearing aids – I don’t even know when I had that test, to be honest.  I didn’t remember ever doing a test with my hearing aids on!  It had to have been back in 1993 when I lost my hearing in my right ear, I guess.

If I’m remembering correctly, the line for my left ear (with the hearing aid on) was around the 60 db mark.  My right ear hasn’t been helped with a hearing aid since before 1993 so I don’t think it was even on this paper.  But…with my CI’s on, I test around the 40 db range with each ear!  Krystine said that basically when I have my CI’s on, I have what would be classified as a “mild” hearing loss.  I went from profound, totally deaf, to “mild”.  Amazing!!

I was surprised to find out, though, that even with the CI my right ear still dropped off to around the 90 db range in the high tones (I can’t remember where exactly, maybe between 2000-4000 hertz).  Krystine said it’s possible my hearing nerve was damaged in those higher ranges, or maybe it will even come back in time.  This surprised me so much because my right ear is the one that seems to hear in treble…I feel like I get high pitched sounds so much better with that ear.  I guess maybe it’s just that I notice them more with the right ear, since I haven’t heard them with that ear pretty much ever in my life.  Who knows?!

Krystine did mention that if I ever had to just wear one CI, for whatever reason, she recommended wearing my left CI because it does hear all the ranges, from low to high.

After reviewing the audiogram, she told me we were going to try some more sentences.  Oh man, I really hate doing this!  It is so stressful, and I don’t know why because she’s very laid back about it.  It’s not like I get slapped on the hand if I get a sentence wrong!  We went through about 3 pages of sentences, and I got maybe 3 or 4 wrong.  Then she read 3 or 4 paragraphs and asked me to paraphrase what she said – not repeat word for word, but just give her the general idea of what the topic was.  I got all of those right…and then we were done.  Thank goodness!  🙂

She seemed really happy with my progress, and I’m personally thrilled.  It is so strange to be able to actually understand what someone is saying without reading their lips!

On the way home I tried out the HiRes-S program because everything was just so, so loud on the HiRes-P setting.  HiRes-S was extremely quiet though – I had mentioned that to Krystine when I tested it in the office but it’s set at the same volume the HiRes-P program is.  She did say that if I preferred HiRes-S, she could increase the volume for me.  I’ve switched programs in different settings – in the car, at home, watching TV and shopping in a store.  It’s different…it sounds more high pitched but much, much quieter.  I definitely don’t hear as much with that program as I do with HiRes-P.  I have to increase the volume with the volume knob to be able to hear much at all with it, and so far I definitely prefer HiRes-P to HiRes-S.

I did start getting some pain on the left side of my head that evening – in the area where the magnet attaches.  It was a weird pain, that felt like needles stabbing me if I rubbed my hand in that area.  It didn’t hurt otherwise though.  I wasn’t sure if it was from the haircut growing out (I got another buzz cut right in the magnet area last week) or if it was because I’m using that stronger magnet and maybe the swelling has gone down now so it doesn’t need to be so strong.  I rubbed my head where the magnets attach on both sides and there’s a huge …well, lump sounds a little dramatic, but there’s definitely a bump that I can easily feel.  I’m not sure if this means the swelling has gone down now and I can feel the implants better, or what.  I did switch to one of my backup headpieces yesterday, since that has the original magnet inside.  It did attach to my head but it kept falling off.  Finally I just gave up and put the original headpiece (with the stronger magnet) back on.  I’ve been putting it on top of my hair to give my scalp a break, instead of pushing my hair out of the way and attaching it right to my skin.  Today (Sunday) it feels better so that’s a relief!

I’ve been periodically trying the phone but it’s still nearly impossible for me to hear, even with the amplifier all the way turned up.  I can catch a few words but that’s it.  I told Dave I think the reason I have so much trouble with the phone is because I’m hearing with just one ear instead of both.  As I mentioned in my last post, my performance with both CI’s is just tremendous, but it’s far less impressive if I’m just using one ear.  I tried the phone on my right ear (which was truly strange, since I haven’t put the phone to that ear…ever, really – I think I’ve always used my left) and that wasn’t any better.

Next I tried listening to a CD with headphones on.  I’ve been mainly hearing music through the TV and it sounds very buzzy and weird.  If it’s just one instrument I can hear it well and it sounds very pleasant.  If it’s more than one instrument plus a vocal, it pretty much sounds terrible.

I put a Depeche Mode CD in my computer and listened with headphones.  Although it’s not perfect and not exactly as I remember it, it was really much better than I expected it to sound.  I had to keep myself from crying, to be honest – this is music I’ve been listening to since the mid 1980s and for a while there I never thought I would hear it again!  I realized I was hearing certain instruments in certain ears.  I’ve never heard anything in stereo so I’m not sure this is how it’s supposed to be.  I asked Paige and she said she never noticed that before.  But I could distinctly hear certain sounds in my right ear and other sounds in my left.  I heard tones and notes that I’ve never, ever heard before in these songs!

Finally, while the volume was nearly taking my breath away even as recently as yesterday afternoon, now it’s settled down to a normal level.  I’m almost able to put the volume knobs back at 12:00 (they’re around 11:00 right now).  It’s so weird how my brain adjusts even though at first it seems like I’ll never be able to tolerate the volume!  My own voice is usually what’s unbearably loud.  Dave was listening to the TV through headphones today and made a comment that I wouldn’t be able to hear the TV, since the headphones were connected.  I said, “Oh no, I hear it.”  He checked and checked, and then realized I was hearing the sound as it came from the headphones (which were on the coffee table).  He couldn’t believe I could hear that!  I couldn’t tell what they were saying, but I definitely knew it was the TV.

AMAZING.  I love my CI’s.  Have I said that lately?!


About wendiwendy

I'm a real-life bionic woman.

Posted on September 7, 2008, in Cochlear Implants & Hearing Loss and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. I got cracked up at your description of the testing…I hold my breath, too, since I sound so LOUD and I keep thinking I’m not going to hear one of the tones!!
    I’m glad you love your CIs. I love mine too…aren’t they life-changing?


  2. Wow Wendi,

    You are making wonderful progress and absorbing so much.

    It is funny, I have always disliked the testing too because even though it isn’t a pass fail kind of thing, I felt like a failure. I have attempted to push myself past that though and I have participated in every study that I have been asked to do which has forced me to deal with that anxiety. I do remember when I had to make myself breath though. The first time my results were so bad the audiologist gave me pictures to look at for cues. That was before the wonderful CI days.

    I love mine too.


  3. Hey Wendi,

    I’m so glad that your liking you Cochlear Implant. It’s amazing on what the C.I can do for you! I’m loving mine and it has changed my life alot.

    I’m so please with you progress, keep up with the good work. it will only get better and better!

    anyway, keep blogging as i’m loving your post!



  4. Hey Wendi, I am so glad (happy dance) that you are doing so well with your CIs. Wow. Hearing the voices from the headphones. Glad you found out where they were coming from because if I were to hear voices and not know where it was coming from, I’d freak out and think it’s in my head. (Winks.)

    The hearing level is at 40 dB already? For some, it takes three months or more.

    I hate those tests, tones or word/sentences. I just hate to FAIL. LOL.

    I think the feeling’s mutual; the CIs love you, too. 🙂


  5. Wendi, That is fantastic that you can hear your name being called without having your eyes glued to the door! That’s Amanda’s hope as well, that she will nonchalantly respond to her name, “Yes, you called?”

    Volume…big issue all around. Hold your breath for audiograms. And Jen (Sweetpea), too. And Glenice and Shari hate the tests, too.

    Amanda has been so used to hearing nothing ALL HER LIFE that she seems thrilled to even be able to raise her hand at all.
    Katie-Louise is probably in the same boat as Amanda. “Oo-oo, another opportunity to raise my hand!”

    You love your CIs? Really? I had NO idea! Wow! Keep telling us! And keep on telling us why too. I, for one, love to hear the specifics.



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