Am I still deaf?

48762755 - question mark.Yes, of course I am.  My medical ID card says it clearly.  “The owner of this card is profoundly deaf, but can experience hearing sensations with the help of the implant system”.

I also signed up to “yes, I know I will still be deaf” as one of the expectation management aspects of the information programme at the Cochlear Implant Centre before the operation.  Quite rightly, staff needed to be sure that we potential implantees understood that this was no miracle operation.  There would be a long process of rehabilitation and brain training, and we wouldn’t ever hear like hearing people do.

But what does “being deaf” mean?  Continue reading

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Yorkshire woman with hat problem

puppy with sore jawSometimes, 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

A cochlear implant programming problem

47015865 - opposite adjectives noisy and quiet illustrationMaybe 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

TV without subtitles?

woman watching TV

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

Curlew, care homes……

85612769 - curlew, on the grass, during the winter, close upCurlews 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

Are you a hider or a flaunter?

My prize for the most infuriating newspaper ad about deafness is the one for Hidden Hearing Ltd – “Pensioners stampede for new hearing aid”.  Really?  I don’t think so.  How to patronise retired people in one easy lesson?  Possibly.  Company has no copy writers over the age of thirty?  Quite likely.  Or perhaps it’s just me and I lack a sense of humour.

pensioners stampedeThe point of the advert is to promote one of the tiny, in-the-ear-canal hearing aids that are totally invisible when worn.  They literally fit right down inside your ear, with nothing at all showing in or on the visible bits.  Sadly, they are only suitable for people with the milder levels of hearing loss or I’d have put my name down.  But the debate about the pros and cons of “invisible” hearing aids crops up quite often in the online deaf/hearing loss community, with a lot of people arguing that “invisible” equates to “something to be ashamed of”.  Why should we be ashamed of our hearing loss, they say?

I can see both sides. Continue reading