I’m progressing well with my hearing capability, and 4 weeks after my 6 month tune-up, we’ve seen and detected some real progress in my capability to distinguish some really similar sounds. Similarly sounding vowels can be hard to distinguish when accompanied by certain consonants either before or after that vowel.
She has many lists of similar sounding words. On these lists are pairs of words with just the one vocal that varies. She speaks both, and then repeats one of them. I then say back the one repeated word, as a control. Mind you, I am a lip reader, and listening to words without the aid of lip reading is a hard thing for me to do 🙂
“De-learning” lip reading
For me this training has as much to do with learning to trust my hearing and not use my lip reading skills, as it has to do with actually hearing correctly… I’m de-learning lip reading to some extent! My brain can now utilize the hearing and let my eyes (and brain) relax a little bit more, but it needs a little help to get there 🙂
What we did during the first session after the tune-up, was to go through this one specific list. It felt hopeless, and I struggled with almost all of them. That was a kind of a baseline for me, I knew it would be better in time, but knot how much better. In the following 4 sessions we started off with that very same list.
The feeling of success
And last week I managed all the words, rather effortlessly (they are too difficult and random to memorize). That was such a sweet moment 🙂 Really sensing, feeling and getting proof that I’m doing some real progress. That, I feel, is really important to me these days. To keep going for the best I can get… I’m not quite there yet, where I want to be, but she told me that I’m already doing better than most cochlear implantees. At the same time, she said that I’m the one who decides what the limit is. My goal is to be World Champion in hearing with CI. 🙂 No reason to be less ambitious.
I find the sessions very useful, because what I need the most right now, is to start to trust what I hear again. If the spoken sentences doesn’t match my own expectations (or experience or intuition), I doubt what I heard, and are thus “hard of hearing” again. It’s like my brain is taught to be deaf, and refuses to take the sounds for what they are. And now I have to teach it to become hearing again 🙂 I can understand why my brain still is distrusting the sounds I receive, after all those years of near deafness.
How my brain is wired
I also discovered a third interesting thing about myself and how my brain is wired. In these lists where she reads pairs of similar words to me, there are sometimes words that are names, numbers or unusual forms of words. My brain works out based on some parameters. In this instance, with the lists of words; I look for phonemic similarities in a database much like a dictionary. But the way I look for words is by way of writing. So if a odd variant of a words appears, I struggle, because my brain wants to have confirmation from my database. I hear correctly, but are unsure because the odd word doesn’t fit the pattern (i.e. plain words). If one of the words in a pair is a number, I look for the confirmation in a dictionary, and come up short, since the spoken word is a number, which is NOT in my “words” database. (it is in my “numbers” database. 🙂 )