What happened with the “recruitment”?

I got this question from a reader (Candy):

Kim’s post send me here, and I really like your post.  What gets me amazed is that I do have that problem some of the time and I never knew there was a word for it!  😉
Do you have implants now? and, if so, does it helps get rid of recruitment?  If it does, then it would be a good reason for me to get it and stop procrastinating!  😉

Instead of answering Candy directly, I think everybody who has read my original post about the phenomenon called “recruitment”, also deserves to see my response:

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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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What I hear (or what’s left)

It would be a good idea for me to put down some kind of status as to how my hearing is these days (as a baseline):

Without my hearing aids I can barely hear:

  • My son singing at certain notes at the top of his voice (gives me echo-effect on that frequency until I hear new sounds)
  • A tractor right outside my windows (5 meters away)
  • Only the bass from music

keep-silence With hearing aids in quiet surroundings I hear:

  • Well enough to understand spoken words with the aid of lipreading (better if my head is clear and rested)
  • When really silent: a noisy refrigerator, traffic noise outside the building, an airplane or helicopter in the sky. I get a “white noise” sound from running water.
  • My external hard-drive – the spinning disks vibrate into the wooden table.
  • Other peoples voices in the room, but cannot understand without lipreading.
  • Familiar voices on the mobile for short conversations and messages. I most often have to repeat and ask for confirmation. It’s border-line.
  • Other peoples footsteps in same building, maybe a slamming door.
  • Static noise from electrical FM-devices like my Phonak Smartlink

With hearing aids in a “quiet cafe” surrounding I can hear:

  • Spoken word if not more than 1 meter away, but I have to concentrate really hard
  • Other people speaking, but cannot make out what is said.
  • Music, but only in the form of unrecognised sounds…

 With hearing aids in noisy surroundings I hear:1728

  • All sounds are garbled and mixed in an impossible soup of noise
  • I can extract a voice from 50 cm away if noise isn’t too bad, and I know the subject and the person (if I’m used to lipread whomever, it’s a better chance of understanding)
  • Cars and trucks travelling at high speed close by me
  • Dogs barking loud

When waching a movie with sound directly into my hearing aids I am dependant on captioning. Environmental sounds like running water (splashing), wind blowing, birds chirping etc are lost completely. Spoken words are not understood at all without captioning (dialogue is most often switching and camera angles changing too fast for lip-reading to be effective enough).

Music has lost it’s magic during the last few years. I can sense the rythm, and hear most of the bass and drums. Percussion is completely gone. Perception of vocals depends on type of music and what tone the voice has. Guitar has disappeared slowly last few years, now it’s not “swinging” at all anymore…

I wrote down this, because I want to use it to compare later when I get the CI (my personal baseline).

The sum of 2007 – Happy New Year!

As 2007 soon is history, I feel it is appropriate for me to sum it all up for myself.

Even though my hearing is coming to an end, there are, however, sounds to look forward to. And that is the CI-sound! Still have to wait for it, but in the meantime, I can take care of myself and prepare myself as best as I can.

The year 2007 gave me many good things:

  • I started really believing in a better life for myself.
  • I learned A LOT about myself and life in general.
  • I’m much more self-confident in my role as a father to my beloved son.  
  • I consolidated my relationship to my great, great super girlfriend. Thanks for being in my life, honey!!!
  • I had the opportunity to spend time with my girlfriend 😉
  • I learned a lot more about CI, and I’m even more certain that it is what I need.
  • My health improved a lot from reduced stress.
  • I did a fair share of traveling and had a lot of activities. I’ve been busy, all right 🙂
  • This blog has become a good thing for me, I also made new online-friends from it 🙂
  • I discovered that my knee(s) probably need surgery so I can exercise again. (too much pain lately). It’s a good time to fix such stuff now, as I’m waiting for CI anyway 🙂 Just hope I don’t have to wait too long for the knees to be fixed either…
  • I made a lot of new acquaintances in the CI-community, for which I am grateful…
  • My life seems to fall into place now, as opposed to a little more than one year ago, where I felt everything fell apart…
  • Took care of my eyesight (new lenses and new glasses)
  • Relationship with family improved overall.
  • I learned to cope with my tinnitus, it’s almost soothing sometimes
  • I’m reading books on a steady basis again! For many years I have been so tired/fatigued that my ability to concentrate was very poor. I used to be an avid reader of everything, and now I’m on my way back 🙂
  • I’m sleeping well again.

The year 2007 gave me a few downturns too:

  • CI surgery is still in the blue as for a fixed date
  • The music’s over for now. I get no more pleasure from it (only occasional glimpses), only more fatigue and “head/earaches” 😦 
  • Speaking of fatigue; my battery is still worn these days, it takes long time to charge and very short time to empty… But it has improved a little, and that is to me good news, really! I feel the tide turned in 2007.
  • Trouble walking stairs both up and down, thus disabling me to exercise rigorously, which was supposed to have been my project number one this year (in preparation to CI-surgery). Even swimming was painful… Will be fixed soon I hope…
  • The tinnitus became a factor that I had to deal with. It is slowly increasing in force (louder and louder), but luckily it’s a steady tone, rather than the chaotic concert it was at first…. It’s more prone to appear when I’m tired, so it’s a signal for me too, to slow down or turn off my hearing aids for a break…

All in all, 2007 was a good year for me. Happy New Year, everyone!!!

Status update

Tinnitus is still there, disturbing concentration and sleep. The left ear seems to want to join the debate as to wether the hair-cells in my cochlears are about to wither and die or not… For the time being, the tinnitus is bearable because it’s inaudible during the time I wear my hearing aids (HA). But I have noticed times when the tinnitus breaks through even when I wear my HA. So the signs is that the tinnitus will not subside or fade, on the contrary…

Fatigue is still severe and limiting my activities on a daily basis. However, I have now organized my life in order to have less activities, and it feels good. I get more ability to initiate things I want or need to do. I still have to do a job regarding my own mentality towards the fatigue (how I cope with the feeling of being “empty”), but having said that, I have now eliminated most possible external causes for the fatigue.

Bilateral CI-operations are still my number one priority in the long term. In short term it is my son, girlfriend, family and myself. As for the CI, I do research, talk to people, evaulate back and forth. I have also checked out the status of stem-cells research of regenerating hair-cells in the inner ear, and the conlusion is that it is indeed exciting and promising, but not plausible to expect within the next 10 – 15 years. That rules out stem-cell therapy on my part. If I by getting bilateral CI-implants ruin the possibility of stem-cell regeneration of my cochlear hair-cells, so be it. I live now, today! That will be for the next generation of deaf and near-deaf.

Deaf I mentioned music in a posting yesterday; The music’s over – for now… Since I started this blog, the time spent listening to music has declined automatically and quite evenly as I started reducing the strain on my ears as an experiment. It requires too much concentration of me to listen to music anymore. Before I could get a kick out of music even when relaxing. Today I need to really focus and also have the lyrics in order to “get” something from the song I’m listening to… After a very short time it starts to feel like my head has been through the washing machine…

(Reminds me of “It’s all gone – Pete Tong” – a movie about a DJ who looses hearing)

Symptoms from too much sounds:

  • Pounding and pulsating sensation in head (brain?)
  • dizzy (I’m even getting troubles with balance if I overdo listening),
  • my counscious level is reduced (like I’m sleepy but I’m not),
  • concentration has diminished (harder to follow what people say to me, I concentrate harder),
  • cognitive skills reduced drastically (I know this thanks to my un-scientifically measurement method using Su-Doku)

and…  I suspect I’m getting mild migraine from time to time, even though that could be related to the fact that I quit nicotine permanently 18 months ago. My brain is perhaps still adjusting to the fact that my blood-vessels are getting sound and healthy again. The migraine-tendency could be caused by dilated blood-vessels in my brain, and if this is the case, those pains will subdue soon… Prone to light-sensitivity, I also turn down the intensity of lights.

On a personal level, my life is good, I enjoy being a father, and have a wonderful girlfriend with whom I can spend time. My family is close to me, and somewhat engaged in my condition. Friends still keep in touch with me. I’m feeling active and engaged, working on several “projects”, including this blog and fixing up my apartment and helping my mother and stepfather with their recently aquired small-farm. I keep in touch with former employers, and have moral support from them, have several contacts in the near-deaf-community and so on.

The Doors – When the music’s over

Recently I have stopped listening to music on a regular basis. This saddens me deeply, and I feel it will be fitting to take a moment to mark the transition to real deafness with a piece of music made of a band I truly enjoyed listening to: The Doors. Even more befitting is the song I selected… Hope you enjoy it more than I am able to!

(Mind you, I will be able to hear music again if the CI-operations go well!!!)

Lyrics:

Yeah!

When the music’s over
When the music’s over, yeah
When the music’s over
Turn out the lights
Turn out the lights
Turn out the lights

When the music’s over
When the music’s over
When the music’s over
Turn out the lights
Turn out the lights
Turn out the lights

For the music is your special friend
Dance on fire as it intends
Music is your only friend
Until the end
Until the end
Until the end

Cancel my subscription to the Resurrection
Send my credentials to the house of detention
I got some friends inside

The face in the mirror won’t stop
The girl in the window won’t drop
A feast of friends
“Alive”, she cried
Waiting for me
Outside

Before I sink into the big sleep
I want to hear, I want to hear
The scream of the butterfly

Come back, baby
Back into my arms

We’re gettin’ tired of hangin’ around
Waitin’ around, with our heads to the ground
I hear a very gentle sound

Very near, yet very far
Very soft, yeah, very clear
Come today, come today

What have they done to the Earth?
What have they done to our fair sister?
Ravaged and plundered and ripped her and bit her
Stuck her with knives in the side of the dawn
And tied her with fences
And dragged her down

I hear a very gentle sound
With your ear down to the ground
We want the world and we want it…
Now
Now?
NOW!

Persian night, babe
See the light, babe
Save us!
Jesus!
Save us!

So when the music’s over
When the music’s over, yeah
When the music’s over
Turn out the lights
Turn out the lights
Turn out the lights

Well, the music is your special friend
Dance on fire as it intends
Music is your only friend
Until the end
Until the end,
Until the end