Skratch – no quantum leap


I have been impatient and dismayed the last few weeks due to little or no felt progress with the sound, or rather, speech perception capability with  my CI. But here’s the thing:

b_improvement It IS improving! Only now the improvement is unnoticeable on a day to day or week to week basis. But I could track it last week due to these reasons: my girlfriend bought an audio book to her 4 year old son, and played it in the car while I was driving. I could understand some of the words, and since it is for children, it is read aloud rather slowly, which is good for me. I estimate my understanding to about 30%, which is better than what I managed 1 month back…

And I’m not so tired anymore, and general frustration during conversation is going down 🙂

So, I’m in the process of REAL listening training with speech as the main input source. Sound books in the car will be the method, since there’s noise, and my brain is forced to try and lure the voice out of the messy sound environment that exists inside the car. Both passive and active training with audio books.

I have to work on trusting what I hear again! That is my main challenge; to trust what I actually hear…

trust Listening training with my audio teacher is progressing, we’ve identified three or four areas of difficulties for me. These difficulties lies in the fact that the sound is produced almost identical, with only the lip position to change. When I lip read, that problem more or less goes away, but my goal is to utilize my bionic hearing to the maximum, getting to a point where I don’t HAVE TO read lips. Random words are a big challenge, and I have to work on trusting what I hear again! That is my main challenge; to trust what I actually hear…

I’m getting anxious to get to a re-mapping session with my CI again, I’m sure things are changing, and a re map would make my speech perception better… But since the actual detected improvement is rather slow, I will be patient this time. Probably wait until the hospital calls me in on a regularly scheduled re map…

A bad, bad experience

I’m pursuing a new career these days, and have been preparing and laying the ground works for things bureaucratic. I hit a snag with my physician, she actually acted as my career counselor, rather than my physician! She categorically told me that my thoughts about becoming a social worker would be a very bad idea. I wonder where she got that notion from, and how she felt that that was her mandate? She doesn’t know me as a person, and according to my best friend who is studying to become a social worker himself, she clearly doesn’t have a clue about what a social worker can do. There are so many possibilities…

It was a surprise to get resistance from someone who has been helpful throughout my CI-process, and I had a very acute experience in that meeting with my doctor that I want to tell you about:

Stress-ConfusionChokeI came to the meeting being optimistic and up-beat. Had a feeling that things were rolling my way again. Then her reaction hit me like a freight train. I managed to stay cool enough to stop her from totally undermining my hopes, wishes and plans. I practically dictated the medical report in the end. But my emotions were in upheaval, as you can imagine, I felt very threatened and scared. It was plain uncomfortable, and I was really fighting to keep the adrenaline under control. STRESS!

In the beginning of the meeting, I understood her speech and did not have to ask her to repeat things (she has a foreign accent). But after the confrontation, and my stress levels went sky high, the regress in my ability to comprehend her speech was very noticeable! This was very interesting, because the change happened in a controlled stable sound environment, and it was so pronounced! While my stress levels were high, the tinnitus was like a thick muddy blanket over her voice. This sensation can be compared to putting a vibrator to your ear while someone is talking, I guess. In my case, this “vibrator” is so strong that it nearly takes away my ability to comprehend speech at all. I’m then back to lip reading again…   Very interesting experience!

Tinnitus mastering course

Tinnitus affects me much more than I imagined! Good thing I’m in a tinnitus mastering course… I just started it, and the focus is on mastering the stress, which in turn enables the tinnitus. Later I will train on mental processes, repressing the tinnitus notion via thought. I’m already good at it, but with the proper mental tools, I can become a master…

AND I have received a calling to the hospital, who wants to examine me for CI no 2! If all goes well, I’ll be a bilateral CI user around summertime 🙂

Clouds are slowly giving way to open air, sun and beautiful sounds!!!sunshine climate.jpg

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Sound 5 month post-activation + testing binaurality

I know I aired some frustration in my last post two days ago about not being able to track any progress (sound wise). This lack of detecting progress is partly my own fault, I haven’t been up to speed about my listening-training. To my defense I have to say I’ve been swamped in everyday life and taking huge life-changing decisions 🙂

music Well, today is Sunday, and first I sat down with an episode of Fringe, with my new headphones (product link). Today I think the deep raspy voice of “elderly Walter” came through better. And upon this small revelation, I concentrated more on what I really hear, rather than working on understanding the speech. I think small subtle sounds are breaking through easier than before. I’m getting more usable information! I guess this means my brain is becoming better at sorting out the information feed it’s getting.

Then I put on Spotify, while still wearing my headphones, and started playing a re-mastered version of Nina Simone’s “Live at the Town Hall”. Instantly I found her voice accompanied by the piano a pleasant experience :-)  This was a nice CI-moment: Instant enjoyment in music I essentially haven’t heard before (-:

The piano sounds better when played with an accord. The vibrant co-existence of the various tones is also getting closer to becoming like I remember it with my old hearing. Our brain obviously has an ability to combine several tones, thus making the multi-toned sound a unique sound, being bigger than the sum of its parts, so to speak) In short the sound seems to become more natural!

I think not training every day also has its mission: Today I could detect some real progress, and I really needed that experience 🙂

nina simone While Nina Simone plays, I decided I will try on my hearing aid for the first time since re-adjusting them to deliver 20 dB less sound than they used to. I think my left ear is craving for stimulus, and the tinnitus in that ear is really really bothersome.

So, before I put in my hearing aid, I want to remember how it’s like without. I have only faint notions of some bass-sounds. With music, if I crank up the volume a bit, I think the software in my processor automatically reduces the sound energy being delivered to my cochlea-based damaged hair cells. Thus, I can enhance the experience of the deepest bass in my left naked ear.

Most importantly: it’s mono.

Binaural again (stereo)

I tried going binaural a couple of times before, shortly after CI-activation, but the hearing aid was unrealistically, out-of-this-world loud! Hearing aid has now been adjusted to my new reality. I can still understand words being spoken with only my hearing aid, but all other ambient sounds are missing. Nothing. And voices are thick, muddy and muffled. It resembles to mumbling.

Well, show must go on, and I put on the music… Binaural for the first time. I write down the impressions as I listen…

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Bad “hear” days and other things

Happy New year everyone!

frustration3 I am a bit frustrated these days, and that frustration has several sources. I feel a bit stagnated and stuck, I can’t track any sound improvement. On the contrary I feel like sliding backwards every time I’m a bit tired. It is like this: when I’m tired, my brain has less energy, less stamina, and the automatic sound processing deteriorates noticeably. I’m having some of those bad “hear” days, these days.

Other reasons for frustration are personal reasons due to me looking forward to move together with my girlfriend, but have to wait for other parties (paper mill stuff) in order to realize it. And the last prime reason for my frustration is that it is absolutely freezing these days (below –4 F / 20 C), and I can’t find all my winters garments as I’m living at two locations simultaneously and both are a mess at the time.

Alway look on the bright side of life!

But on the bright side of life (as Monthy Python likes to sing about :-)  ), chaos and challenges is almost always a good thing. A new order rises from it, bringing new perspectives and a feeling of a fresh start.

I’m not constantly working as hard as I used to, in order to understand speech. (I think I manage that part about not working too hard quite well these days, partly due to the seasonal darkness and feeling of powerlessness.) I’m focused on resting up…

A big life altering decision – a new career

One big important thing that I recently decided upon, was that I’m going to pursue a new career. I’m going to put the IT-career on the sideline, keeping it as a bi-income via my own company, and as a hobby. The IT-knowledge will be useful to me no matter what.

This new career involves me first going back to school for 3 or more years. That fills me with both anticipation and fear. Looking forward to new input, knowledge, making new acquaintances, experiences and fearing the situations where I can’t cope in terms of lectures, meetings etc. Will it, as before, be too much for me to overcome?

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