Hook Me Up
I’m on a little music kick now, so I thought I’d show everyone how I use my MP3 player with my cochlear implants.
If I’m just sitting at the computer or whatever and want to quickly listen to music, I can put headphones on. These work really pretty well and are actually easier to use with CIs than with the hearing aids I used to wear. My hearing aids had a microphone on top of the hearing aid case (which sat on my ear — they were behind-the-ear hearing aids), so I used to have to actually hold the headphone in place so it would rest on top of the hearing aid. I couldn’t let go or they would slip off, unless I was wearing the really big, totally-cover-your-ear kind of headphones. Earbuds were totally out, obviously. On top of the aggravation, I only heard things in my left ear because my right ear was totally deaf. I’d never heard anything in stereo before.
With my CIs, I use an earhook called a T-Mic. Here’s a picture of how the T-Mic fits on my ear:
The T-Mic curves down into my ear and places the microphone in the ear canal area, so I can wear headphones as they are meant to be worn, and the sound is easily picked up. I also hear in BOTH ears now, and I’m finally realizing how cool it is to hear certain instruments/sounds in each ear instead of hearing everything through my left ear only.
Last weekend we wrestled our treadmill up from the garage and set it up in Eric’s old room. I really wanted to get back on the Couch to 5K program which we had started over the summer, but I can’t handle running outside in the freezing cold, snow and ice. So I fired up the treadmill, grabbed my MP3 player and headphones, and started walking. After about 2 minutes, I shut the treadmill down and walked out of the room. It was so loud, the sound of the treadmill humming and my feet jogging along, I could barely hear the music. I can only turn it up so loud before it starts to sound distorted. So I went to Plan B, and this is how I always listen to music now when I’m on the treadmill. Are you ready? It’s a little involved but the end result is pretty cool!
First I had to convert my MP3 player to work with my Direct Connect cables. This is something that Advanced Bionics offers for people who have their brand of cochlear implant, and it lets us connect directly to a battery-operated device like an MP3 player. The sound goes right from the MP3 player into my brain, eliminating the need for headphones. (Side note: I’m sure other CI manufacturers have something similar — I just happen to know the most about the Direct Connect since it’s the one I use.) 🙂
The Direct Connect is actually two cables – one plugs into the device, and has a connector on the end for the second cable, which ends in a small earhook that doesn’t have a microphone like the T-Mic does. It ends up being really long!
Since I have bilateral cochlear implants, I need to be able to connect two Direct Connect cables to one device. Dave happened to have an adapter that fit my MP3 player, so first I plug the adapter into the headphone jack of the MP3 player. The adapter has two openings, so I plug a Direct Connect cable setup into each of those two openings.
This is what it looks like, all connected together – I stretched it out to full length, and you can see it goes the entire length of the kitchen island!
Here’s each end of the above setup:
Now I need to get my cochlear implants ready, so first I take them off:
Then I remove the T-Mic earhooks (they twist off):
Then I put the small earhook on each CI, so the two CIs are connected to my MP3 player:
I have a case that I pop the MP3 player into (and tuck some of the extra length of cord into, so it’s not hanging down) and that can hook onto the waistband of my pants. It’s a little big (it’s actually the old case for my PocketTalker listening device) so I’m on the lookout for one that fits better.
I asked my audiologist to give me a program for the Direct Connect that gives me about 25% microphone and 75% Direct Connect – that way I can still hear if someone is talking to me while I’m using my MP3 player. I do still hear a little of the treadmill, but the sound is GREATLY reduced. The Direct Connect puts the sound right into my head without as much distracting background noise like the headphones were.
This is what I look like, all Direct Connected to my MP3 player:
It’s a little convoluted compared to just popping headphones on, but the end result is so worth it!!
By the way, Sabrina is also a big fan of the treadmill: