Time to wind up the cochlear implant posts, or at least time to wind up the regular reports on progress. I’ve just gone past the six month milestone and been effectively discharged (no more appointments with the audiologist for another year, unless something unexpected happens). Time to move on.
The six month appointment was quite relaxed. I was happy with the last programme I’d been given, so no changes there. My hearing thresholds were tested again (the quietest sounds I can hear). My ability to hear sounds at one of the frequencies is still below the theoretically optimal point. Research shows that cochlear implant users who can hear sounds quieter than 35 decibels (25 to 35 decibels being the ideal range) tend to do better at speech comprehension, so the audiologist is aiming to boost the signal from the electrodes in the implant until that point is reached for each frequency. In my case, however, boosting that one frequency any more than it already is results in worse speech comprehension, rather than better, so we mutually decided to let things stay as they were. I am hearing just fine in so many situations; let’s leave it at that.
Here’s the point I’ve reached, on an audiogram, before and after implant. 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 →
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.
The 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?
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 →
Back in the early summer of 2017, when I didn’t know I was going to get an implant, I did a lot of thinking about what I was going to do. An implant was my plan A but, having convinced myself that I wasn’t going to qualify, I needed a Plan B. Continue reading →