Singing in the rain!

June 26, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Posted in Cochlear Implants, Language, Speech | 1 Comment
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Well, it’s been one hell of a journey to get to where I am now on the hearing front.  I haven’t blogged for a long time as I have been busy living.  Progress in the last 12 months has not been that noticeable but then I achieved so much in my first 2 years that I’m not sure I can get any better.

I don’t need any maps as I’ve found my sweet spots and when I went back for my annual testing last week they didn’t bother testing me as I’d scored 100% on all the test bar hearing in sound without lips which was 80%.

Any way……enough bragging………lets move on to the interesting stuff.

I have been asked by my hospital to trial the new NEPTUNE from Advanced Bionics!!  Now when it comes to taking the kids swimming or going on holiday my heart has always sunk at the thought of not hearing in the water.  These days could well be over.  The NEPTUNE is the ONLY waterproof cochlear implant device that lets you swim, go under water, shower……….or whatever takes your fancy with water!!  How amazing is that!!

I have it for 3 months to trial.  I’m due in the pool next week so will update on the swimming etc then but for now it is important to review this for an every day use aswell.

It comes in this snazzy little case

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Neptune (not water proofed)

  What you do is adjust your setting to what you feel is the best for a noisy pool environment and then replace the top section that has the dials on with a water proof cover.

 

It ends up half its original size and simply clips onto goggles or swim cap or other accessories such as an arm band that the unit sits in when swimming.

 

 

The Neptune (water proofed)

 

 

You then have a water proof headpiece that you use (you can see that in the main picture above).

It sounds a bit fiddly and there is the obvious down side of not being able to adjust the volume or programmes while it’s water proofed but this is all out weighed by the fact that it enables children, parents of children and any one who wants to hear in water the ability do so.

Now, in order to review it properly as to whether it can replace the behind the ear CI I have tried wearing it during a normal day.  There is a simple answer to this for me……..NO WAY.  I would need to clip it to a tie or collar and have a long headpiece cable flapping around getting caught on things.

If I was a lady with long hair then I would be able to clip it up out of the way but even then it would make it more awkward to adjust settings etc.

 

This makes much more sense for children to use full time as they often have body worn CI’s to start with any way and to able to interact at bath time and while swimming would be so useful.

The sound quality is the usual AB quality.  Excellent.  The mic is in the headpiece and I did wonder if that would affect sound quality but I have to say it is as good if not better than my Harmony processor.  It also has this new function which allows you adjust sensitivity. It works similarly to clear voice but you can adjust it manually depending on your environment.  Very useful.

Next stop the swimming pool!!  I will update you all then…….wish me luck………it might sound awful!!

I’m going down to…………la la land!!

July 8, 2010 at 7:17 pm | Posted in Cochlear Implants, Language, Speech | 9 Comments
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Yesterday (Wed 7th July 2010) was my 4 week mapping, hearing and speech test appointment.  This is my second visit since being switched on and I was looking forward to finding out how much I had improved since my last tests were done with just a Hearing Aid.

I knew already that I was achieving quite a lot with the CI but it is nice to see for yourself on paper and in numbers what your actual improvements are. 

How do I know that I was already doing well??  For starters I have been practicing with both the HA and without and as soon as I took it out I noticed very little difference in the sound quality I was getting in the CI.  If I did it the other war round and took the CI off just leaving the HA it was a massive difference!!  I can’t actually believe I have been struggling on with just the HA for so long.  No wonder I was alway tired!!  That leads on to the next point.  I no longer feel absolutely knackered all the time from concentrating so hard on what anyone is saying.  The CI is an amazing bit of kit.  It’s never going to be perfect……….but it’s a hell of a lot better than what I had.

What else has improved?  Well, even before my 1 week appointment I was noticing sounds becoming normal.  This has been taken on further now in the respect of sounds no longer sound robotic.  As close as to what I can remember sounds are pretty much spot on.  Some are still just noise (like road traffic), but not many.  Also everyone I know or meet sound like themselves again and not like the robots off the smash adverts (from the 80’s!! for you younger readers!!).  My girls are sounding like themselves too and not high-pitched cartoon characters on helium!!  Yay!!

For the last 2 weeks the TV has started to come through clearer.  If it is quiet I can now watch some programmes and not have to read the subtitles!!  I still need them on just in case I miss something but if it’s coming through now after such a short space of time then hopefully it will just keep on getting better.  The radio however is not as good.  Voices on there sound very tinny and high-pitched.  Music is coming through much clearer now and I am finding that my ‘old school’ dance albums are the easiest to listen to as the beat is so strong.  I recently discovered an old Cream Anthems album and stuck it on in the car and suddenly started hearing the title to this post quite clearly.  “I’m going down to………….la la land”!  Great tune!! 🙂  I must have seemed like a right boy racer blasting out the music.  I could feel the speaker vibrating against my leg so it must have been booming!! 🙂

My 4 week appointment started off with the mapping session.  This consisted of re-tuning my CI and turning the volume up on each electrode to new levels and playing around with the settings to get my best sound quality.  After these sessions everything sounds more distorted for a few days but I know this will settle down again after the weekend.

It was a bit mean, my audiologist told me, but they were going to do my speech recognition tests after my re-tuning.  I agreed it was a bit mean but got on with it anyway.  This test involves sitting in front of a monitor and watching a rather mundane man talk in sentences about anything from hobbies to the weather.  He sounds very droll and does not enunciate his words well at all!!

The first test (sound and picture) was with my HA & CI………..score……..98%  🙂

The second test (sound and picture) was just with my CI………score…….99%  🙂

The third test (just sound with subject prompts) with just CI………score……..95% 🙂

The fourth test (just sound, no subject prompts) with just CI………score……..92% 🙂

Just to make it clear the improvement made………..I only scored 7% on that fourth test before I had the CI!!!  🙂

Then I had lip-reading with no sound!!  This shows how bad I am at lip reading…………score…….23% 😦

Next test………all these tests………….. was a hearing test with the CI.  I was amazed at this result! Check out the picture below.  The lowest line is what I measured in my right ear before operation.  The high line is what I measure now with the CI!!  That is not far off normal hearing!!  Wahay!!  Not to get to carried away…………this is measured with just beeps.  It’s a lot different hearing beeps than hearing voices so I still have a long way to go. (Quick reality check there!).

My next appointment now is not for another 5 months although I can book in for any other sessions if I feel I need to.  It’s now just a question of doing my re-hab exercises (listening to music and Harry Potter audio books!) and just getting on with it!!! 🙂

Switch on update – day 15!

June 24, 2010 at 8:02 pm | Posted in Cochlear Implants, Language, My Cochlear Implant choice, Speech | 5 Comments
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Well the 2 weeks since my switch on have flown by.  I’ve been so busy with work and social stuff with friends and family that I haven’t had too much time to really think about my CI progress.

The initial switch on was a bit of a disappointment as you may have already read.  But in hindsight it wasn’t as bad as I thought and to be able to make out some music on my MP3 player after only 4 hours is pretty amazing.  After only 2 days though the volume on my CI had dropped so much that I was really struggling with it on its own as everything I was hearing seemed like a robotic whisper.  So I kept using my HA in my other ear and that seemed to boost the volume on both sides by giving me a stereo effect.  I definitely was enjoying that.  First time to hear something out of both sides of my head in over 10 years!! 🙂

The external unit itself is very comfortable on my ear but I was having a problem with the cable sticking out and getting it caught on clothing as well as offering something tempting for my girls to grab hold of!!  I have over come this problem by wrapping the cable around my external unit which shortens the cable perfectly to attach the magnet.  No more sticking out cable!! Yay!!

Before                                                                                                                                                              After

I went back for re-tuning and a volume increase after 7 days and boy did I need it.  This time my volume was increased a huge amount and my IDR was put up from 60 to 80. (Which apparently after only 7 days is pretty good).  I also got them to take off my loop setting and go with normal on setting 1, clearvoice medium and high on settings 2 & 3.  The loop setting was pointless as my recognition of speech was still so poor it was a waste of a setting.

After my re-tuning I found the next few days a real struggle.  Everything was so much louder and distorted that it was not fun.  Gradually though after 2 to 4 days the sound has become much more comfortable and dare I say…….NORMAL!!  Yay.  I still find speech really tough but people are sounding less robotic and more how I remember them. My little girls however are still like little robots……but sounding like very cute little robots………most of the time anyway!!

I have been using my CI more and more without my HA since my re-tuning and it has been fine most of the time.  Sounds are becoming normal.  I find when I have my HA on too I get two different sounds entering my head too.  Quite amusing I think at the moment.  A text message on my phone comes through in two different tones!!  It could be confusing I suppose but I’m riding along with it and enjoying it most of the time.

Social situations are still very tough and this is what I miss so much.  The world cup is on and we are having BBQ’s round at friends houses for the games and I miss joining in the banter with my mates & slagging off the commentators because they don’t know what they are talking about.  Having said that though my mates are being really good with me and not getting bothered when I say pardon or sorry, I didn’t get that!!  (Until they get drunk that is and still think it helps to get closer to my ear for me to hear them rather than letting me see their faces!!  No names mentioned Stu 🙂 )

I mentioned sounds are becoming more normal now.  Well, I have to say they are generally.  I still can’t make out the radio or the TV but other than that I reckon it’s nearly all there.  I noticed a squeak on one of our doors the other day and asked my wife when that had started.  ‘Months ago’ was the reply.  That’s nice……..squeaky doors again!! Yay.  Other sounds are the birds chirping, the owl in the evening twit twooing, indicators in the car, aeroplanes and helicopters overhead, branches rustling in the wind, cat meowing and purring………the list goes on!!  In fact, when I take the CI off now and just wear the HA the sound I hear is so poor it just shows how good the CI is.  I’m still frustrated by speech but I have to keep reminding myself it’s only been 2 weeks!!!

A quick mention of my tinnitus.  It’s still there 😦 but hardly noticeable when I’m wearing the CI.  As soon as I take the CI off it’s there straight away with that lovely washing machine sound!!  Ah well, at least it’s gone most of the time.  Maybe that will calm down in time too??!!

To sum it up………my hearing is loads better, I’m frustrated by speech and social situations, my girls are still robots although other people are sounding more like themselves again, environmental sounds are pretty normal now, music on my MP3 is about 70% now (compared with zero before!) and I’m going back to the hospital in 2 weeks to get re-tuned and tested again.

I’ve had my doubts about the CI but I’m definitely pleased I got it done!!  Roll on the next few weeks of improvement!! 🙂

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