Sometimes, with cochlear implants, there are side effects. You are warned about them before the operation and they form part of the consent process – “yes, I am aware of the following possible side effects……” Frankly, I’d have signed anything at that point, so desperate was I to get an implant. Well, almost anything…….
In my case there have been a few small things.
The area around my ear and my upper jaw were quite bruised after the op, which made chewing on that side of my mouth tricky to begin with and a big, luxurious yawn quite painful. This lasted for a good few weeks, but gradually improved and has now gone. Continue reading
Maybe problem is too strong a word. Hitch maybe? Glitch perhaps???
In the spirit of full transparency it is time to report on a glitch.
In late March I had a programming problem. What goes on at programming (or mapping) sessions at the Implant Centre is that an audiologist first tests your range of hearing for each electrode (the quietest sound you can hear at that frequency and the loudest that is comfortable).
Testing for the quietest sound is much like any other hearing test. You are given a buzzer which you press when you detect the tiniest, tiniest glimmer of a sound, somehow distinguishing it from the tinnitus. You know the routine….feverish concentration, furrowed brow…….. Continue reading
Recently, I’ve been having a bit of a brain-training holiday. I felt like I just wanted to spend some time enjoying life with my new implant; doing things I’ve not been able to do for some time, enjoying new sounds and going to noisy places.
It’s interesting talking to other people with implants about their experiences. A man I met recently had had his for four years. Listening to music had been very important for him before his hearing deteriorated so he had spent lots of time post-implant on music-listening practice. As a result, he said he really enjoyed it – most types, from classical to more popular stuff. He’d practiced hard and was enjoying the results. On the other hand, he still struggled to hear in noisy situations, whereas I’m already very happy with my brain’s ability to filter speech from noise. Continue reading
On Tuesday I attended a music workshop at the Cochlear Implant Centre; yet another part of their excellent rehabilitation programme. Four recently-implanted-people, plus some relatives, spent a couple of hours with the two Speech and Language Therapists, Jill and Lynne, listening to various pieces of music and talking about what we might do to help the brain make sense of it all. Continue reading
Curlews first. A couple of weeks ago the guys from Med-El were back with us for another filming session, the last for several months; they are returning later this year for a “one year later” session and then we’re done. Nigel and I were sitting on the settee, talking about how things were going, three months after switch-on, when the subject of curlews came up. I don’t think that particular clip will get into the final version because Nigel said “have you heard curlews yet?” and I said “no, not yet”, which is not very thrilling for a film. But now I have.
This morning at 8.30 it was ferociously misty when Izzy and I set off for the moorland above our house. The higher we got the denser it became. So dense, in fact, that I missed one turning on the moor and we blundered off in quite the wrong direction for a while. And then I heard curlew, loud and clear. Continue reading
The thing that worried me most about going on holiday with a cochlear implant was airport security screening. I was confident that my improved hearing would stand me in much better stead on the holiday itself, but what if I didn’t HAVE a functioning implant because something had gone wrong at an airport?
Would it set off the security alarms? Could it be damaged by the security screening? Should I switch it off on the plane? Too much browsing of the internet had unearthed a series of horror stories, including tales of problems at our departure airport (Manchester). Someone wrote about having a big argument with the screening staff at Manchester, resulting in security guards being called. Help! I just want to go on holiday, not have a run-in with officialdom. Continue reading
Listening to the radio was nowhere near the top of the list of things I hoped to be able to do post-implant. I’d not been able to make any sense of the radio for years, but I didn’t really miss it much. Some things you just put to one side, and forget.
But listening to short bursts of the radio was one of the first homework tasks I was set by the Speech and Language Therapists at the Implant Centre, so I decided to always have the radio on in the car, even if I couldn’t understand what was being said. The theory is that even speech you can’t decipher is useful practice for the brain. I discovered, much to my surprise, that I could almost immediately make some sense of news broadcasts (enough to follow the main themes if not every word) even over road noise.
A few weeks ago I was walking back to my car in Skipton, after attending a lecture on an aspect of local history. It was dark. It was raining. I was wrapped up in fleece and raincoat. And I’m telling you this because it’s a little scene burned in my memory. Suddenly I thought “this is who I am”. Not the fleece and raincoat particularly (although you more often than not need those in North Yorkshire) but because of that startling and stunning sense that I was recovering the Vera I am used to being, who had been so distressingly missing in 2017.
On holiday in October, with a group of people I didn’t know, I had tried to explain a couple of times how I was feeling. I’d said I felt like holding up a placard saying “this is not who I am” because the tearful, quiet, uncommunicative person they were seeing didn’t feel like me at all. I wanted to tell them it WASN’T me. I wanted to tell them what I was REALLY like. Continue reading
A very good book about someone learning to hear with a cochlear implant is Hear Again, by Arlene Romoff. In it the author talks about the first time she heard someone behind her in the supermarket say “excuse me”. Of course, for years and years people in the supermarket would have been asking politely that she move out of their way but she would have ignored them. She would have been completely oblivious that anything had been said at all. So that first time she heard the words and moved smoothly out of someone’s path was a hugely significant moment. Continue reading
I am very bad at checking the pressure of my car’s tyres. I know this is short-sighted and no doubt costs me a lot of money in terms of unnecessary wear and tear. However, I have a deaf excuse. I’ve been telling myself for years that the problem is that I can’t hear the “beep” letting you know that your tyre has reached the requisite pressure. Not my fault that I don’t do it, then. Just another big hassle for hearing loss people.
So, a few weeks before the implant operation, when I went out to my car and saw that one of the rear tyres had deflated quite significantly, my heart sank. Continue reading