Michael Chorost explains the concept of Cochlear Implants.

The Author of “Rebuilt”, Michael Chorost was recently captured in a video interview published on YouTube. I found his explanations so elegantly put, that they should be viewed by everyone interested. A lot of information, but at the same time, very elegantly put and easily understandable.

Hope you enjoy these: it’s divided into four videos, and 1,2 and 4 are captioned… (don’t ask me why the third isn’t captioned, I don’t know)

Part 1
Part 3
Part 4

CI-activation log no. 7 – day 12 – first re-mapping and feeling of first real breakthrough

Wow, has it really only been 12 days since I walked out from the hospital fitted with a new bionic ear? It feels like a much longer time ago, and so much has happened! Both in my inner self and with the CI-hearing!

small-yard-water-fountain I hear trickling and splashing water from fountains very good, and I have noticed a significant “sound shadow” if I turn the non-CI-ear towards the sound source. In that “Sound-shadow” the sound disappears almost completely.

bird_twitter_full Yesterday I heard a bird twitter for the first time! (I probably have a recollection of that sound from early childhood, because I had strong suspicions what that super clearly defined sound was 🙂 it couldn’t be anything else!) I asked my girlfriend, and the next time the twitter came, I gave her a signal, and she nodded with a big smile 🙂 It was birds twitter from outside all right! That was a wonderful CI-moment! Now I look even more forward to go to Sweden again next week and just discover more of mother nature’s sounds! (and listen to my old 80’s-vinyl!!! My son is going to be SOOO annoyed by his fathers thirst for his old music!)

But, HEY! I’m getting ahead of myself here! Before that beautiful CI-moment, I was so lucky to be able to get a quick new mapping-session at the hospital. Kudos to the CI-team for being so flexible and giving me a new session with only 4 days’ notice! (usual takes 14 days) This time I got a sound-fitting from a new guy (my regular was sick), and he tested my threshold for each of the 16-electrodes (I think it was). I came to that session with two clear goals: increase sound level overall, and to get a better feeling of that much missed bass.

The missing bass has been really noticeable when I listen to my favorite Mötley Crüe songs: “Shout at the Devil”, “Girls, Girls, Girls”, “Kickstart my heart”, “Same Ol’ Situation” and “Smoking in boys room” (I’m THIS close to be able to grasp the harmonica-part in the “Smoking in boys room”!). I retrieved my car’s subwoofer from almost three years of storage, and has been experimenting with the sound settings both on the car’s stereo and on my CI and in combo with my hearing aid. Hearing aid is not used for music, the recruitment-problem is just too much; sure, the bass is wonderful on that ear, but everything else is just muffled, distorted and just… LOST  😦

Speakers-738120 The subwoofer taught me a valuable lesson: I can “hear” the bass through my body. My hearing aid-ear (with the hearing aid turned off, and earpiece blocking the natural airway into the ear canal and the ear drum) actually used the bass-vibrations I got from the subwoofer and blend it in with the sounds I got from the CI. I suspect my whole body “hears” those thumps and “phat” beats. It’s also the issue of bone transferred vibrations to take into considerations :-)  If the sound pressure is big enough (i.e. enough dB), I guess the vibrations get strong enough to be transferred into the cochlea by other means than through the ear-canal…

Also I have been playing with the iConnect, and that contributed to my understanding of the phenomenon regarding the sensations in the bass-frequencies. The bass was totally missing when listening to the same songs from my mobile (Nokia N82 with jack-plug, very useful :-)  ). When the sound input to my brain are 100% digital, it’s brutally truthful too… No other aids like air vibrations, or sound residue from the remaining deaf ear. Or unconscious lip-reading, with built-in context guessing plus sentence construction for that matter.

The songs I listed above, are so well known to me, after listening to them a million times in my youth and throughout the years. They still give me a kick, even if only hearing 20% of it 🙂 (or are just beginning to) I have found them extremely useful for training and identifying which sounds I get and which sounds I don’t get. Vocals have improved, and high pitch has improved. The missing part was the bass…

I threw the 16-electrodes-program out. Bye, bye. It doesn’t sound good at all, already, so I have absolutely no need for it, except maybe for later when I want to assess my 16-electrode hearing again… But that’s not for another 6 months or maybe even a year. (if ever)

Program 1 is my primary program, and this time we raised the bass and the mid-level frequencies as a result of the single-electrodes-test. The high pitch (is this the right phrase?) was left as is, since I get those sounds really well. After that we raised the overall levels quite a bit, I imagine (will get the documentation later).

Program 2 now has increased bass-levels. I have strong suspicion I will use that a lot with my mp3-playing mobile phone…

Program 3 has increased levels for high pitch sounds. This will be used for training purposes (increase my ability to take in as much high pitch sounds as possible, since this part is what really makes my head tired, and it’s the sounds I have lost in the last 10 years.)

OK, that was the re-mapping session. Now for the real results:

Music is beginning to sound real again! I could detect (through the iConnect), some of Tommy Lee’s beats now. I still miss Nikki Sixx’ bass, clearly defined, but hey, it’s only been 12 days! I’m not complaining, but I know where I want to go and what I want to get. Even Mick Mars’ guitar is starting to emerge from the sound wall!
Best part of all; I’m getting a feel of harmonies in the music again! Sounds and instruments working together where the end result is far greater than the actual sum of the combined instruments…

I am now able to understand, with the aid of lip-reading, sentences spoken by my girlfriend! Haven’t tried it really hard today, been too much else going on, some work that needed getting done, cranky kid in the house, listening to birds twitter and all 🙂

motley_crue_logoIn all fairness to Mötley Crüe; it is a coincidence that I happened to have their music on both my mobile phone and on mp3 in my car. It’s simple, energetic music and with Vince Neil’s rather boyish voice that breaks through the sound wall from the instruments is perfect for me to train my bionic hearing on. Will keep working with Mötley Crüe for listening training until I get sick of the songs. They have been, and will always be a big part of my musical life.

Aaahhh, I look so much forward to revisit music again! It’s certainly coming alive! Right now it feels like my brains’ got some rusty, creaking parts that only needs greasing! Good thing I like mayonnaise, diary butter and the fat greasy parts off the chicken, fish, pork/lamb chops or steak:-)

I’m definitely on the right track! And perhaps now I can concentrate more on training for the verbal understanding to increase.

This is the point where I for sure can say that my decision to go for CI was a good one! All the pain, all the obstacles, all the waiting, all the crying, all the frustration, all the anger, all the angst, all the hardships has been worth it. I did the right thing!

Today was a good day 🙂

CI-activation log no. 2 – day 1 and 2 – 1st auditory self assessment

These values that I test on myself are values based on this resource: http://www.phys.unsw.edu.au/jw/hearing.html
The scores are from the chart on that page.

The sound-level on my laptop HP HDX18 will be set to the value of 74 every time I do this test. My CI’s volume wheel is set to exact the middle position (turning all the way down reduces sound volume by 20% and turning up increases 50%!). Then I have the same test-settings every time. “Wire” means that I use a direct connection between the computers jack-plug-outlet and my Advanced Bionics processor. No sound pollution possible.

Every level of registration is a notion of sound. That means that I do not necessarily detect the difference in tone/frequency. Green is where I hear the sound (yet so far all the sounds sound mostly the same, i.e.. a very thin squeaking tone or beeep), red is only a short beep, blip, bip or ding.

( I can hear  violin of my own breath, broken glass of paper being crumbled and a ding every time one of my fingers hit a key on the keyboard!)

If anyone know of more sound-test or sound-generating resources on the internet, I’d be grateful for any tips!

Date of test: 07.09.2009 (1,5 and 6 kHz is the frequencies of my tinnitus, hard to hear the test-tone)

Program 1. (stronger low pitch, weaker high pitch, 120)

Freq. 30 Hz 45 Hz 60 Hz 90Hz 125 Hz 187 Hz 250 Hz 375 Hz 500 Hz 750 Hz 1 kHz 1,5kHz 2 kHz 3 kHz 4 kHz 6 kHz 8 kHz 12kHz 16kHz
No wire -9 -6 -9 -9 -18 30 -27 -42 -45 -51 -48 -27 -48 -48 -45 -27 -42 -6 -3
Wire -27 -24 -30 -21 -15 -57 -66 -75 -84 -75 -78 -63 -54 -78 -72 -72 -69 -27 -27
08.09.09 -21 -30 -27 -24 -18 -60 -69 -75 -81 -75 -72 -60 -57 -78 -75 -63 -63 -27 -27

Program 2. (Flat profile, 16 electrodes)

Freq. 30 Hz 45 Hz 60 Hz 90Hz 125 Hz 187 Hz 250 Hz 375 Hz 500 Hz 750 Hz 1 kHz 1,5kHz 2 kHz 3 kHz 4 kHz 6 kHz 8 kHz 12kHz 16kHz
No wire -6 -3 -6 -6 -18 -27 -21 -33 -42 -42 -42 -30 -36 -36 -39 -36 -42 -6 -6
Wire 0 0 0 -6 -6 -51 -69 -75 -75 -75 -72 -60 -60 -60 -63 -51 -54 -27 -27

Program 3. (Flat profile, 120)

Freq. 30 Hz 45 Hz 60 Hz 90Hz 125 Hz 187 Hz 250 Hz 375 Hz 500 Hz 750 Hz 1 kHz 1,5kHz 2 kHz 3 kHz 4 kHz 6 kHz 8 kHz 12kHz 16kHz
No wire -6 -6 -6 -6 -12 -27 -21 -36 -39 -42 -45 -30 -27 -39 -54 -36 -42 -9 -9

CI-activation log no. 1 – day1 1st impressions

OK, finally activated!I’m only one hour into my CI-era, and I sit at a hospital canteen-table next to my good girl, Mette. Her hand is lying warm on my thigh, relaxing me.

I start off very easy, all my sound settings on the Advanced Boinics computer programme “Soundwave” are set at the bottom. It seems I’m able to pick up auditory nerve signals very good. Meaning that I’m sensitive to them. That’s a good omen in my book.

I’m very conservative in terms of setting the sound too loud, many thanks to Abbie who wrote a post about overdoing that part meaning to be offensive. It ended up with her getting an overload.

But in the 15 minutes from my audiophysicist said that now was the time for my first venture out in the audioworld with my new cyborg ear, I discovered that I had maxed out the volume already. So before we went out the door, he made a second programme with an overall higher volume. I have now had that programme on and the volume wheel has been cranked to max. Looking forward to get back to adjusting in more details at noon today (45 minutes from now 🙂  ).

Will be exciting to see if all frequencies are just as good, or if some frequencies will need more/less amplification.

Sounds I get now is just morse-code. It literally sounds like morse code. My own voice is like bip-bip-beep-bip-beep-beep.
Sounds I have received as morse code so far are voices. My own voice, Mettes voice, and the audio physicists voice, and faintly other peoples voices. Cars, trucks, trams and buses don’t give me any sound sensation through my auditory nerves. When I closed my eyes I could sense the sound of the powerful sit-on-top-drive-like-a-car lawn-mower 10 meters away through the air-vibrations hitting my body… No auditory response there.

I had my first-CI-moment: I detected the sound of my own shoes! It came through like this beep – – – beep – – – beep…..  I stomped my feet, and yes, there it was; beepp — beepp.

It’s a strange sensation, it’s almost like a submarine sonar giving off it’s ping sound: PING! ——  (and the weaker echo comes back: bip). Feel like I hear what’s NOT there instead of hearing the actual sound… I know intellectually that it’s my brain trying to make sense of the input, but I have a need to express these sensation in words, I want to remember them and share them…

I found other CI-users  explanations and variations in sound sensations very interesting. And because I read them, I have been very well prepared today. I’m not afraid, I’m just curious on how my adventure will turn out to be, and I enjoy every new discovery, such as the beep-beep of the chairs being moved here in the canteen. I had morsecode telling me that some sound was being emitted, and I looked up at the guys at the next table  and they were laughing loud.

Yes, my CI is already doing me a service. It can tell me that there are sounds out there.

The tinnitus is roaring constantly, but the morse-code is louder.

I’m tired already, every bip-beep makes me feel slightly nauseous, on the verge of making me dizzy. Think I’m doing pretty well so far. Beeps come in from all sorts of sources, and I detect the beeps and bips.

Time to give myself a little break.

Revisiting old demons (emotions) part I


Post-surgery day 7. A good day. Dizzyness has significantly decreased.

Today I want to dive into a very heavy subject: psychology. Or to be more precise: the psychological impact of hearing dysfunction in the social context.

I might begin to generalize, and if someone reading this should feel I’m plainly wrong, please feel free to leave a comment. I’m always open for arguments, and I might even edit my post if need be.

I had a very strange day yesterday. I feel my physical shape is improving rapidly and started yesterday with daily chores like the dishwashing (we have no dishwashing machine yet) and laundry for the first time post-op. Of course, I got tired really quickly, and the dizzyness didn’t make it easier to do things. First part of day was good and up-beat.

The latter part was more downbeat, and in an attempt to analyze myself I will tell you about an episode that gave me much to think about (yes, this is the therapeutical part of my blog ;-)  )

settlers We sat down for a game of “Settlers of Catan” in the evening, and things weren’t going my way, gamewise, so I became a little grumpy (I don’t like to loose…  “shocker” :-)  ) and I felt my opponents were conspiring against me. Then, during the game, I caught my opponents talking about what I had done in my last operations (in order to figure out what kind of cards I might have on my hand). I confronted them with this, did I hear correctly? And I got an immediate confirmation. That fired me up immediately. I got angry, and asked them not to do that, and that it was deeply unfair, since I could not follow their conversation properly. They tried to tell me somethin more, but in my I-was-right-about-my-suspicions offended game-rage, I brushed them off. What I failed to learn at that time, was that the conversation that had actually taken place, was a mock-conversation. One was thinking out loud, and the other made mock comments.

After the game I made some obviously unwelcome comments (still being angry, and feeling victimized by a unfair conspiracy that I believed at that time to have been acknowledged and apologized for) about the game strategies of my opponents. The result was that I hurt some feelings and we had to work our way through my misunderstandings. (I react strongly on unfairness, and therefore also have great compassion for others when I’m being unfair to them)

circle4 After understanding and acknowledging the REAL situation, and that I had been somewhat mistaken, I had the visit of what I call my old demons; the emotions called: SHAME, EMBARASSMENT, GUILT, SADNESS, HUMILIATION, SORROW and REGRET.

(this post got too long, the next part will be published tomorrow.)

Day 5 – From dull to sharp – in many ways

Day 4 and 5 post surgery has been real “improvement” days. The worst pain from the incision has given way to more itching. It feels good in the way that I can feel it healing up nicely 🙂

ouchThe first pains was kind of all-over-pains, now they’re sharper and more precise and local.

The nights are a bit restless, since I wake up several times because of the pain both from the wound itself, as well as pain from the inside of my ear and discomfort from lying in unfamiliar postitions (more pillows etc). BUT, I sleep thorougly well, and even quite long into the morning. Usually I wake up when my girlfriend gets up or her son (4 years with ants in his pants) comes into our bed (very early!). Not so these days. I guess I sleep quite heavily. That is so nice, it’s been years since 🙂 On a sidenote; usually I sleep with a mouthpiece in order to prevent sleepapnea and common snoring (gives me sore throat). That has proven too painful these post surgery-nights, since one of the muscles attached to the skull and jaw-bone has been cut in 3 places (parallell to the muscle fibres as I understood it, in order to make room for the receiver underneath the muscle). It has been no problem using it for chewing, but the muscle has been swollen and therefore shorter than it usually is, thus resulting in too hard a bite and too much strain while using the mouthpiece. I slept just fine without it, no problem there 🙂

37018 Yesterday (and the days before) I found some strenght to do a little “chores” on my new over-the-top-bought-for-the-occasion-laptop (Norwegian link here), getting up to speed on both the Tour the France (watching live camera transmission of the last stages on the internet) things near and dear to me (Facebook etc) as well as catching up on e-mail and such. I planned before the surgery that I could be staying in bed for quite some time (up to weeks all depending!) and needed a decent tool for getting back into work while being bound to bed. (it is also very nice to watch movies on :-)  ) It was a smart decision on my part. I’m feeling I have purpose even though I’m “chained” to bed. I do as much as I can. And I can do much more with this tool than I otherwise could have… It’s kind of what makes us human; the ability to foresee and plan something  :-)  (feeling very clever now hehe)

young-couple-walking-in-the-park-thumb253841 First decent walk outside was yesterday in the evening, but a 100 meters and then sitting on a chair for an hour or so playing a boardgame was too much. I had headache (like normal headache) and throbbing pains on the side of my head when I went to bed. It took a considerable amount of time and a couple of painkillers before I drifted off to sleep… I didn’t take a walk today. Last nights experience scared me a little.

It dawns on me that I have really undergone major surgery, even though I suspect the eminent professor Claude Laurent who operated on me has used a new incision technique which is less intrusive and traumatizing method of inserting the implant (than the previous C or S-shaped incisions).

sagittal_CI The incision is straight and goes right behind my ear. The magnetic receiver underneath my skin has been placed almost directly above my ear. I expected it to be placed further back, but after pondering the “new” location I have come to the conclusion that it is probably better than having it further back. Real-life experiences will tell in time :-) 

(the image to the right has been taken from otosurgery.org and shows an implant that is located slightly further to the back of the head than it is in me (I believe))

These days I feel as if the reciver part of the implant (the biggest piece) is pressing my skull (above my ear) to the extent of being uncomfortable. I have no doubt, however, that this sensation will disappear given time.

Right now I have a rather sharp pain inside my ear. This pain emerged on day 3/4 when the pain from the fleshwound (incision) subsided slowly. I guess it’s two-sided pain; one part from the hole inside my inner ear (the surgery and the insertion of the electrode) and the other part from internal pressure due to swollen tissue, clotted blood etc. (I was snotting blood the first two days)

Tinnitus is back to “normal volume” (which I’m kind of used to) after having rather load fits on rather frequent occasions the first days. The only thing tiring now is that I have to lsiten to the tinnitus all the time. Look forward to activation! (waiting for letter from hospital about date for that one!)

Unstable-Walk-1-1024x768 Dizzyness is unchanged, I can’t turn my head much in any direction before everything “swims”. Just changing the weigth on my two legs is enough movement of my head and the vestibule in my inner ear for things to become “fluid” for me. A nasty feeling. I guess I have a slightly better understanding of what sufferers from Ménière’s disease have to endure… It’s as if I’m severly drunk without the effects of alcohol… Kind of…

Right now, the dizzyness is the biggest issue for me, hindering me in everyday chores.

I was off the painkillers from day 2, but have taken them as needed, not much anyway.

Jennifer re-activates her first CI today – true bilateral at last?

My fellow CI-blogger, Jennifer activates her re-implanted 1st CI today. I’m so excited for her, and quite optimistic. All signs points to a successful activation today. (I can afford to get my hopes way up for her 😉   ). She really deserves to luck out, since her first attempt was more or less a disaster, and she has had discomfort on that ear for almost TWO years!

Visit her blog and wish her good luck today! Or check out her initial reports if you saw this a little late  🙂

My best wishes for you, Jennifer!!!