Has it really been only 5 months??!

November 8, 2010 at 9:51 pm | Posted in BBC See Hear, Cochlear Implants, My Cochlear Implant choice | 10 Comments
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I’ve been telling people recently that I’ve been switched on for about 8 months or so!!  Is it really ony 5 months??!!

Since my last post I have braved the airports with my CI and managed a great family holiday understanding spanish waiters and african sunglasses and flashing lights salesmen (you know the ones………..sat on every footpath trying to flog you stuff!!)!!  I have discovered a new job though.  All I have to do is buy some crap, print some cards off saying I’m deaf, wander round to restaurants and leave said crap on tables along with deaf card and get people to buy said crap from me!!  🙂

The holiday was great and there were no problems with the airport scanners.  I just said I had a CI and they waved me through and gave me a manual search.  The plane was fine and with the CV medium setting I was able to converse quite well considering the noise.  I am also glad to say that there were no mishaps with dropping any CI’s in the sea this time.  🙂

Phone calls are now much easier amongst friends and family and it’s nice to know my folks can pick up the phone to have a chat rather than text or email

I did have a ‘moment’ last week when we were moving out bedroom around when I came across some note pads.  I opened them up and there were the written half of my conversations with Vicky when I first lost my hearing.  It’s 15 months now since that dreaded day and I must admit those notepads brought it all flooding back.  It’s still hard to believe that only 15 months ago I could hear normally (albeit with one ear).  Thank goodness for the CI though!!  I couldn’t imagine what my life would be like now without it.  No way I could hold conversations via notepad!!!  ‘Moment’ over 🙂

Onwards and upwards I say!  What’s new this week??  Oh yeah fireworks!!  Great noise!! They sound normal apart from the high pitched ones which tend to turn the CI off !!  I wanna hear them!!!

I also had a new client in the gym today and was chatting away when I asked her if my assistant had told her that I was deaf.  I got the impression that she didn’t believe me at first…………which is nice………..but I still like to explain that I will need to see faces  to understand fully what is being said.  Especially in the noisy gym.  Still,  she didn’t think I was deaf and we’d been talking for about 10 mins!! 🙂

Roll on the next 5 months!!! 🙂

PS………if you have read this far then you will be interested to know that my BBC update programme will be on the 1st December, BBC2, See Hear, 1pm.  Should be a laugh…………..I had to do some acting for this one!! 🙂

The big ‘Switch On’ !

June 10, 2010 at 8:55 pm | Posted in BBC See Hear, Cochlear Implants, My Cochlear Implant choice | 13 Comments
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Today is my first full day as a fully fledged Cyborg.  It has been a long hard journey to get to this point today and I wish I could say that it is all smelling of roses right now………but I can’t……….not yet anyway!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still very positive about the whole Cochlear Implant journey but today it feels like my hearing has taken a step backwards in some respects as well as a step forward in others.  For someone who has had normal hearing for most of my life it has been hard to keep my expectations in check.  No matter how hard you tell yourself not to expect much, you can’t help but have that secret hope buried deep down that suddenly everything will be normal again.  I’ve told so many people exactly that, that maybe I forgot somewhere down the line to tell myself!!

For those of you who don’t know, this is what happens at ‘switch on’.

Firstly you are attached with your external unit.  In my case I have the Advanced Bionics.  You sit there and are asked to listen for some beeps and to tell them to stop turning it up once the volume seems loud but comfortable.  They did this for all the 16 electrodes in my head.  I was pleased to say that I could hear them all.  Although it was the strangest sounding noise I have ever experienced.  I can only describe it as ‘controlled tinny robotic sounding tinnitus’.  Not horrible tinnitus but right inside the head where tinnitus seems to lurk none the less.

Then, once the levels have been set, the audiologist switches you on.  Sound immediately flowed into my right hand side in a very mechanical way.  Exactly what I had expected or what I thought I’d expected because this is something that, no matter how you describe it or read about it, you just cannot understand until it actually happens to you.  Someone I was talking to today compared it to child-birth!!  Before all you ladies start sending me evil messages it was only a comparison in the fact that you can never know what child-birth is like until you actually experience it for yourself!!  I for one will stick to the CI switch on thank you very much!!! 🙂

So.  What can I hear now?  Well, on activation I very quickly began to pick out voices.  Not very clearly and nothing I could really understand but voices none the less.  Everyone did and still does sound like they have been sucking on helium balloons before they speak!!! 

Voices are definitely the hardest to work out.  I can however hear random things like…..me typing this……..and the kettle and microwave.  I could hear the radio in the car a little and managed to work out a song that was playing.  You’re the one that I want……ooh……oooh……oooooh!! 🙂  Yes it was dodgy local radio but I haven’t been able to control the radio for a while!!  I’m looking forward to getting talksport back on soon!!!

I am strangely finding that I can pick out music better than expected.  I came straight home with my box of gadgets you get with the Implant and went straight for the MP3 player.  Plugged straight in and managed to make out Pink Floyd and Red Hot Chilli Peppers!!  That was only after 2 hours activation!!  I haven’t had the chance to try it again yet today but I’ve been told not to rush it as I don’t want to overload the old brain.

I have been back to work today and found I need to use my Hearing aid in the other ear to improve my communication.  Again, I have been told to try to use my CI with and without the HA so I am sat back at home now with just the CI.  I must admit though it is tempting to use both as suddenly I find I’m hearing in stereo for the first time in over 10 years!!!  I like that a lot!!!  Even though it is still mainly noise I’m hearing………at least it’s in stereo!! 🙂

Did I start this post sounding a bit negative??  Now I’ve just read what I have typed I realise that actually it has been a really positive switch on!!  See what writing a blog does for you!!  I am already finding that I want more volume but will have to wait until next Wednesday when I go back for a re-tuning session.  Patience Graham!!

Oh…….yeah……..I can hear the dial tone on the telephone!!  I rang my wife on it and could clearly hear that she said something…………no idea what………..but hey………..that was only after 4 hours switch on!!  See this is getting better by the minute!!

Right.  I’m waffling now so I’m gonna sign off with the best part of all.  I can hear my little robotic girls!!  They will sound more normal in time but hey ho………one step at a time!!! 🙂

Quick operation update………..

May 15, 2010 at 6:23 pm | Posted in Cochlear Implants | 18 Comments
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Well, I’m back from Hotel Southmead in Bristol feeling pretty good at the moment.

I went in to hospital on the Wednesday afternoon as my operation was scheduled for 8.30am the following morning.  It was a farely restless night as you can imagine but the morning came round quite quickly and I was visited by my surgeons registrar to go through the formalities before the op.  Whilst we were talking, all the lights went out in the hospital and then straight back on again.  He joked with me about it not being a good sign and it appeared he was right.  A builder in the area had managed to cut through a major electric cable and forced the hospital on to its emergency generator!!  Great.  Although it would have been safe to carry on with the op the policy is, and quite rightly so, that all operations would be put on hold until the main power was back up and running.  Well after another 4 hours of waiting I finally got taken down to theatre and before I could say anything other than ‘ make sure you do my right ear!!’ I was waking up in recovery wondering if they had actually done anything.  Then I felt my head and realised that it was all over.  Nice!

The whole thing was filmed by the BBC and took about 3 hours.  My surgeon was very happy with the results and I was informed the next morning that the they had managed to insert the electrodes the whole way into my cochlear, that all the electrodes were working and my inner ear was already being stimulated ready for sound on my switch on, in about 4 weeks time.

How do I feel now?  Well, the pain is fine.  Nothing a few pain killers wont cure.  My neck and jaw are a bit stiff but considering I have had a whole drilled into my skull I’m pretty amazed at the lack of pain.  Not that I want anymore!!!  I’m not complaining!!

The worst thing, apart from the tights they make you wear, has been the tinnitus, which is way worse and sounds like a train rumbling through my head.  My balance has been a little dodgy but that is improving after every little sleep I have.  Just need to remember to move slowly!!

I have been told that I do not need to go back again until my actual switch on appointment so now it’s a question of sitting back and recovering and waiting for that switch on appointment to come through the post.

Beam me up Scottie!!

May 4, 2010 at 2:50 pm | Posted in Cochlear Implants | 1 Comment
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Well, I had my pre-operation appointment last week and it is all seeming that much more real now!  I’m going to finally get my Bionic Ear!!

I have been making lots of CI friends online over last few months and one of them has had her implant switched on around 5 weeks ago now.   She had the same surgeon as me at Bristol Southmead and lives very close to the hospital so we decided to meet up before my appointment to compare notes.  It was a really good and helpful meeting and for two deaf people we managed to have a great converstion without the use of any signing (which is lucky because I’m pants at that!!) or writing things down!!  She is doing really well since switch on and it was great for me to actually see how well she was doing.  It has really made me feel positive about the operation and following switch on.

With the operation looming I have been getting lots of good luck messages from people and everyone is looking forward to me hearing again.  I find myself having to say to everyone that ‘fingers crossed it will all go well……..but……….any success I have will not be immediate and it will take another 6 months or so before I get the full benefit’.  It will be like starting from scratch again and my brain will have to learn how to hear again with electronic assistance.  I am keeping my expectations at an all time low but in the same breath hoping that things will return back to some sort of normality in time!!

The positives I have are that I have good speach and good memory of sound so hopefully my brain will know how to translate the beeps.

The negatives are that the side I am having the implant done on has not heard a dicky bird for over 10 years!!  It will be extremely wierd to get noises into that side of my head!!

At the moment my wife and I are on automatic pilot as to where to sit and what side to walk on so as to help with conversation and we will now have to change sides………..sounds simple enough but when you have been positioning yourselves in a certain way for so long it will take some getting used to.

After my meeting with my CI friend I went off to the hospital for my appointment and met up again with the BBC who want to film every aspect of my CI process.  Although they had contacted the hospital about the filming and been told it was fine no one had informed the poor lady, Tina, that they would be filming!!!  The look on her face when the camera showed up was a picture 🙂

Anyway, the appointment went fine and my blood pressure and heart and lungs etc were all working fine and I was given the go ahead for the operation.  I was informed that my surgeon would be Mr Robinson ( the top honcho) and given all the information I needed for the operation.  It should take about 2 hours.

The clock is ticking and it is only 9 days now until the operation!!  Although not nervous now I know I will be on the day.  I am a bit of a control freak and I think the worst part for me is the fact I will not be able to overlook the operation and say ‘careful of my facial nerve & go on try and get the electodes in a little bit further’!!

Oh well, the BBC will be filming the operation so you should all look forward to seeing the inside of my head…………..not that there is much to see!! 🙂  I will get that joke in now before anyone else decides to!!

I will begin my planning now for my role as a real life CYBORG in the next Star Trek movie!!  Beam me up Scottie!!

Good things come to those who wait…..and wait…and wait

March 15, 2010 at 7:49 pm | Posted in BBC See Hear, Cochlear Implants | 7 Comments
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Quite a lot has happened since my last post and it has all been quite hectic.

Firstly……..I got the good news I wanted and have been given the go ahead for the operation.  Woopeee.  I go into hospital on the 12th May and have the operation on the 13th May and hopefully I will be back home on the 14th May.  Assuming everything goes well and I heal well I should be ‘switched on’ between 3 to 6 weeks later.  I can’t wait!!  Good timing for the world cup!! 😉

A lot of people I have been talking to about it are assuming I will come out of hospital and be able to hear again!!  Er, no!!  The op is to implant the device that will send the sound to my cochlear.  I still need to have the external processor ‘switched on’ to allow the clever stuff to happen.  Remember, I will always be deaf.  When I sleep at night and have a shower etc……..I will not be able to have the unit on so I will not be able to hear.  As long as the device works when I wear it I think I can cope with that!!! 🙂  If you want to have a listen to hear what I can hear at the moment then have a look at this link.  I showed it to my wife and she said; ‘they’re just mumbling……I cant work out anything they are saying!!’  Welcome to my world 🙂

 Example of  High Frequency Hearing Loss

On my return from the hospital I had a letter in the post from Access to Work allowing me a budget to improve the acoustics in my gym and therefore improve my ability to hear my clients.  Great news.  I honestly don’t think I could have kept my business going forward without their help.  If you work for someone then get your employer to contact them because they could help with all sorts of assistance in improving your ability to work.  Likewise if you are self employed contact them yourself ( I got my wife to phone) and they will assess you to see if you qualify for help.  You don’t know if you don’t ask!!

Next in my crazy world came my starring role on the BBC’s See Hear Programme.  I was kind of dreading this but they actually did a really good job.  If you missed it then have a look on the BBC iplayer.  My eldest daughter, Lucy, seems to want to get on camera as much as possible 🙂

Now I have to sit around (chance would be a fine thing!) and wait for my operation.  Two of my online CI buddies have just had their operations and I am really looking forward to their ‘switch on’.  As part of my research I wanted to be as prepared as possible and one of them sent me a link to an actual operation!!  So I watched it.  At the time I wished I hadn’t but now I have had time to take it all in I’m glad I know what exactly they will be doing to me.  Have a look if you want.  After the jump click on high resolution as it seems to play better.  Happy viewing.  Click here for the Implant Operation.

BBC See Hear programme

February 11, 2010 at 8:58 pm | Posted in BBC See Hear | 7 Comments
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Well tomorrow is my final appointment with the Hospital before I (hopefully) get the go ahead for an operation to turn me in to Lee Majors!!  I think that’s how to spell his name!!  Any way………the Bionic Man to those who don’t know 🙂

Apparently the BBC have been following my Blog on the sly and a few weeks ago contacted me to see if I would be happy for them to feature my hearing loss story on their See Hear programme.  I was a bit shocked initially.  I mean,  my blog isn’t really that good compared to so many others I have come across and I don’t have much time to update it as often as I want to either.  Anyway, I agreed thinking it would just be a small bit about my blog and I wouldn’t have that much input!!  Ha ha, silly me!!

So far we have filmed at my gym, at my house and tomorrow they are coming to the hospital to film me after my appointment.  I am not looking forward to seeing me on the TV but as I have roped my girls in to it too it should be quite amusing!!

On a more serious not, if there had been a programme about 6 months ago that I could have seen that showed someone going through a similar time as me I would have found it very helpful.  So hopefully someone will find it useful and it may help them realise things do get easier and there is light at the end of the tunnel!!

On a less serious note……..I wonder how much I should charge the BBC??

Oh……..if you want a giggle at me and the family then check out the TV programme on BBC 2 10th March.  Dont know what time it will be on but you can check it all out on their own blog nearer the show date here http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/seehear/

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