My little wind problem!!

April 30, 2011 at 1:30 pm | Posted in Cochlear Implants, My Cochlear Implant choice, Speech | 2 Comments
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It’s almost a year since my switch on and about 7 months since my last post.

I have learnt to adapt to my CI very well but I still have problems in group or noisy situations.  One of the problems I have recently solved seems so simple I wonder if anyone else with a CI has done the same?  The problem is WIND!  It is a problem that all CI users have and it is really annoying if you are outside on a breezy or windy day having a chat and you are constantly interupted by this gush of wind which completely kills off anything you might hear at that point.

More recently I have been doing a lot of cycling to train for a charity bike ride.  I find the wind when cycling really annoying and actually can be a safety problem as traffic noise is harder to hear.

Well, not one to sit back and take it I have been doing some research and it appears there is nothing on the market for AB CI users to stop this wind problem.  I cant quite believe it and I am happy if anyone can correct me on this.  I have therefore found my own solution and I have been testing it out.  Not to be too smug……….but it works brilliantly!!

It’s called a ‘windjammer’ and is a little sponge microphone cover that you see people on TV using on their lapel or tie microphones.  I contacted a local manufacturer and asked for their advice.  After sending the a picture of my CI they were able to recommend their smallest ‘windjammer’ for me to try.  It cost me about £10 for 5 of them and they work brilliantly!!

Now this solution will only work with Advanced Bionics CI’s as they are the only ones with a mic in the ear.  You also have to be 100% in the ear mic or you will still get some wind noise from the aux mic on the top of the unit.

Problem solved!!! 🙂

Roll on the summer and BBQ’s and more wind!!!


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!!! 🙂

‘Ticka ticka ticka ticka ticka’

June 13, 2010 at 8:37 pm | Posted in Cochlear Implants | 9 Comments
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So it’s been 4 days now since I got switched!  Here is a quick update on what’s been happening on the hearing front!!

The day after my switch on I had to carry on as normal so no real time to get used to the new noises.  In order to cope with that I have been wearing my hearing aid and CI at work and then when I get some time to myself just using the CI.  It seems to be working out quite well as when I wear both I suddenly go into stereo sound.  At first it wasn’t anything I could really make out but over the last few days the CI sounds have been getting just a little bit clearer and I am re-discovering sounds that I haven’t heard since I lost my hearing last year.

So what have I been hearing and knowing what the sounds are?

The list is quite long so I’ll just give you the best bits – footsteps, the kettle, the microwave, the toilet flush, water running from a tap, traffic noise, my mobile phone text alert, the land line dial tone, my cat purring and my Grandmothers carriage clock ticking!!!  That was the odd one.  I struggle to pick up louder sounds and then suddenly I can hear this ‘ticka ticka ticka ticka ticka’ noise coming through my head!!  I didn’t belive it was the clock at first and thought something maybe wrong with my CI so I made sure nothing was on in the house to make any noise and went and stood next to the clock.  Sure enough…….’ticka ticka ticka ticka ticka’!!   That ticking used to annoy the hell out of me when I could hear normally……….I love it now 🙂

What can I hear that I can’t quite understand?  This generally is anything that involves talking…….like the radio, the TV, the telephone etc.  I can hear them all now better than before but it is just noise at the moment.  I managed to ring my wife on the mobile phone and had a basic chat with her for a minute or so.  I could work out most of what she was saying but she was keeping it very simple……….’how are you?’ and  ‘what are you doing?’

I have also been plugging into my MP3 player.  Music is not as I quite remember but to go from nothing to something is great and gives me real hope that in a few months time I may be able to enjoy some tunes again!!

What’s next then?  Well, my volume on the CI has reduced so much everything seems to be a whisper at the moment.  This is normal apparently as you brain gets used to hearing again.  I have a second re-tuning appointment on Wednesday where I will get my volume turned up.  I can’t wait for that as everything should start to sound a bit clearer again.

Ha ha………as I’m sitting here typing this (I can hear me tapping the keys too!) I can hear it again!!!

‘Ticka ticka ticka ticka ticka’  🙂

More news after Wednesday.

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

Speech, Language & Psychology test

February 7, 2010 at 3:41 pm | Posted in Speech | Leave a comment

Since my last post I have had my last few tests before the dreaded final decision appointment.  The day started badly when we got held up in a traffic jam on the M5 and ended up being an hour late for my appointment.  I was so late that they said I had missed my first part and had to go straight in to see the psychologist who wanted to assess my state of mind!!  Well having been help up for over an hour you can imagine my state of mind was not the best.  Still, I went in and chatted for about 40 mins and she quickly came to the conclusion that I wasn’t depressed!! 🙂  I could have told her that 🙂

Any way…….seeing as my speech is still very good she went to see if the speech therapist could squeeze me in as the feeling was that this part of the appointment would not take that long.  Thankfully they did (squeeze me in) and I was taken in to a quiet room and asked to repeat some sentences and single words without being able to lip read.  I actually did quite well on the sentences and she explained that my brain was very good at picking up a couple of words and then guessing the rest!!!  Clever brain!!  Are you reading all my old school teachers!! 😉

So, the day ended ok in the end and and I am now all nervous about my next appointment on the 12th Feb (next week!) where I will be told finally if I get the CI and which side to operate on.  I am worried that they are going to turn round and say I dont need the operation for some reason………so fingers crossed and update you soon 🙂

Tests for Cochlear Implant

February 3, 2010 at 9:12 pm | Posted in Cochlear Implants | 5 Comments
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Its been a while since my last post and this is purely down to a hectic couple of months!
Since my last post on CI’s I have had two more appointments for tests which are required as part of the CI process.  The first was my CT and MRI scans on my ears.  These are mainly to see how healthy my cochlear’s are.  If they are in poor condition i.e bone growth then it may reduce my chances of getting good results from the CI itself.  I dont know the results but I assume as I have been hearing most of my life that they should be in reasonable condition.
The second test I have had was last week and that was a ‘Balance test’.  This test was much more in depth and required me to do a few funny things.  I had images of standing on one leg and hopping up and down……………and for some of it I wasn’t far off.  First of all I had to stand with both feet together and close my eyes.  Easy peasy Open-mouthed.  Next I had to stand with one foot in front of the other, heel to toe, and again close my eyes.  This one I did ok with but its not easy.  You try it!!
Then I stepped into the world of one of my own clients!  Doing gym work I quite often get my clients to do silly things as part of their exercise routine and in this case I was asked to stand up with my arms stretched out in front and march on the spot for a minute with my eyes closed.  I felt a right plonker!  Any way when I opened my eyes I had turned slightly to the right……….but not much……..which is a good sign.  This test shows which side you are weakest on for balance.
After this I was sat on a bed with some amusing ski type goggles on and asked to follow a red dot with my eyes.  The goggles had cameras in so the Doctors could study my eye movement.  That was quite good fun Tongue out!  The next and final test wasn’t!  I had to lay down on my back in complete darkness and have hot and cool water pumped into one ear at a time for 20 seconds.  This had the strangest effect of making me go realy dizzy.  To the extent I thought I was going to fall off the bed!  Sick
Apparently that is a normal result so although it wasn’t enjoyable I’m glad it’s over and I’m now another step closer to my possible CI.
My next tests are next week and this is speech, language and phsycology tests.  I have no idea what to expect with this one.  I assume it is mainly for those who have been deaf for life and can’t speak well.  The phsycology bit is probably to do with my state of mind and my realistic expectations for the operation and following switch on.  I will up date you on this afterwards.
Then comes the big one.  I have my ‘FINAL DECISION’ appointment with my surgeon on the 12th Feb.  In this appointment I will find out the results of all my tests and be told if I can have the CI.  If I can then, with the surgeon, I will have to decide which side to operate on and which CI brand to go for!
One step at a time…….Smile

Deaf enough for a Cochlear Implant

February 3, 2010 at 9:08 pm | Posted in Speech | 1 Comment
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Its now been 4 months since I lost the hearing in my left ear ( I lost the hearing in my right ear 10 years ago).

After being put forward to see the Cochlear Implant team in Bristol I was initially considered to be ‘not deaf enough’ to meet the criteria that is required for implantation.  Literally 2 weeks after that first appointment at Bristol Southmead Hospital my hearing dropped again and I was called back to Southmead for a ‘retest and review’.

That appointment was last week and it appears that I now meet that criteria.  The criteria that I am talking about are set out as a guideline by NICE (The National Institute for Health & Clinical Excellence).  If you want to read the guidelines then click HERE for the NICE guidelines.

At the appointment it seems that I had only failed on one part originally………..the hearing test.  This time I passed with flying colours so to speak and went on to meet my specialist, Mr Robinson.  He was very nice and discussed with me my hearing loss history and whether or not he felt an implant would improve my quality of life.  I felt he was quite curious with my hearing loss because it was so unusual for someone to get a sudden loss in one ear and unheard of for both ears.  Most cases seem to be a gradual loss over a number of years………….not hours as in my case.

I also felt that he was quite sympathetic towards my own personal situation where I have two children under the age of 2, am only 36 years myself so  plenty of life left in me (hopefully!!) and the fact that I am self employed and rely on good communication skills as a major factor in my business.

Next on the agenda for me are scans on my ears to make sure my cochlear’s are in good enough condition to take an implant.  That should be in the next 4 to 5 weeks (Great………..around Christmas time  Party)

Once those are done it will be decision time on which ear to implant and when to do it.  I will then join a long list of people waiting for an operation and am expecting nothing to happen until May / June 2010 if I’m lucky.

In the mean time I have decisions to make on which make of Implant to choose from!!

There are 3 I can choose between :-



Advanced Bionics

These three products seem to all be great………….but I will have to do some major research before I make my final decision!!

More updates in a few weeks after I’ve had my scans etc


Hearing loss update……..

February 3, 2010 at 9:00 pm | Posted in Speech | 1 Comment
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Its been over a week now since my hearing dropped further and its amazing how much can happen in so few days!!

Apart from trying to work, I have had a few visits to my specialist (who never turns out to be my specialist) as well as my audiologist for more hearing tests and re-tuning of my hearing aid.
It appears that my profound hearing loss is now even more profound than before.
This news along with the news that I don’t meet the criteria for a cochlear implant was a bit of a shock to take.
I can, apparently, hear to well for a CI Sarcastic
I have added an example of a profound hearing loss audigram so you can see how low my hearing has got.
Basically……up until August 2009 my hearing was near the top of the graph.  Now as you can see it is pretty much as low as it can go.
This isn’t my exact test result but it is pretty close.  (Ignore the red line………)
This audiogram shows a profound hearing loss
I have been called back for a ‘retest and review’ with the CI team in Bristol for the 20th November 2009.
We will see then if I am deaf enough to move forward towards possibly hearing again and getting a bionic ear!!
The journey continues!!Smile

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