Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Day Two of Switch-On/Activation

I've just poured myself a cold beer. Which is weird because I don't drink beer. Ever. But people keep leaving them in my fridge when they come visiting, and I don't like wasting things by throwing them away. It's still hot, I'm thirsty, and everybody sounds like a female. Beer is usually associated with males, so perhaps the reason I'm craving one is because I'm sick of hearing everything in female pitches.

The beer is going down quite quickly - hopefully it'll help me sleep as I haven't had too much of that lately either. I do get to sleep, but when I go to turn over, the wound hurts a bit and I wake up. So I never really get into a deep long sleep, and thats making me tired. I'm not grumpy though. In fact after tonight, I'm quite excited.

The reason? Well - I've just been on the phone to my Dad and his wife Delphine. I rang my brother's wife Beth and talked briefly with her. Then I rang my friend Nikki and had quite a long conversation with her. I went overboard then, and decided to ring everyone else, so rang my friend Bron (she really did sound like a chipmunk and I believe she's changed her MSN handle to 'Alvin the Chipmunk'), then I rang Elena and left a message on her cellphone, then Jeremy, my old audiologist who originally switched me on fifteen years ago. I wanted to hear if he still sounded like a woman. He didn't answer - but his message on his answerphone I heard very clearly. Unfortunatley he did still sound like a woman, so I left a message to say so, and I'll ring back tomorrow to see if he has macho'd up overnight!! Then I rang my friend Linda and had a short talk with her, organising to see her on Friday morning. Then I rang my friend Clare, up on the farm. She was by far the hardest to understand. Perhaps it was the line quality. It may be she just has been countrified, and has forgotten to speak like a city person!! I then rang Sally - and spoke with her. I would't say it was trouble free - but she was by far the easiest to understand. She sounded half human and half chipmunk. Perhaps I'm getting better with practise? Lastly I got onto Skype and rang my very good friend in South Africa. Tony actually sounded all MALE. Such a sexy deep voice. No chipmunk sounds either. It was bliss and I had no problem hearing him at all. I was rapt.

It's probably why I'm drinking a beer - celebrating with that as I have no champagne in the fridge.

Anyway - I went back to Audiology this morning for my second mapping.

As you can see from the above - there were some big changes. The threshold of just hearing didn't change much in the lower frequencies, but in the higher frequencies they did change quite a lot. The Comfort levels or the top band changed quite considerably, and I now have a large dyanamic range band in which I'm hearing. I've put yesterday's final map just below so you can compare easily without having to go to yesterdays blog. Aren't I nice to you all?

Yesterday, electrodes 7 to 22 were switched on. The software indicates that electrode 6 is in the cochlear and able to be used, as you can see from the photo below. The green lights are the electrodes that can be used.

However, when we tried to switch 6 on yesterday, I heard nothing from it. We wondered if in fact it was in the cochlear or not. We tried electrode 6 again today, and today I did hear something. But it took a some big jumps before the volume of that electrode increased for me, and when it finally got to something I could work with, I got a pain that travelled down my neck. We surmised it probably isn't in the cochlear properly, and it's stimulating some other nerve, so we switched that one off and we'll look at it again at a later date.

After I was mapped, I was given four programs. One a bit softer in case things became too loud. The second one the one I was currently wearing. Then one 3 stops louder. The last one 3 stops louder again. We broke at midday for lunch. I met up with Gayle at 1pm for some speech testing. However by 1pm Program 2 and 3 sounded the same, and program 4 was sounding a bit soft. So back into the mapping room where it was adjusted yet again. This time with three maps, one with my program 4, one 5 stops louder, and one 5 stops louder again. I'm already on the second program. So my brain is tolerating, getting used to, and wanting more sound very quickly.

I was given an aided threshold test after the mapping in the morning, and another one after the mapping 2 hours later to find out what I was hearing - and I have hearing right across all speech range - so that's very promising. It just has to stop sounding like chipmunks now. There were some changes albeit little ones between the two. Here's the first one..

And the 2nd one..

You can see the small changes (5db) in the middle - but the large change at the right hand side.

We then did some standard open set sentencing testing like yesterday. Yesterday I got 15/36 for those tests, however today everyone was blown away how I did. I got a cool 90% for open set sentences (94% in one, 86% in the other which gave an average of 90%). Wow - 2nd day and 90% - unheard of and very exciting. Gayle then decided to try in me in background noise as well, which was much harder but I still managed to clock in at 58%. Not too bad. Looking back at previous tests, they are similar to what I tested at in March 2005 with the old N22. (91%, 60%). Single word testing I did well today too. 29% on single words but 53% with words and phenomes combined. But the single word testing is really hard, and I've never liked that particular test.

So all up a very successful day today, and a rather exciting one. However, I just wish males sounded like males and the chipmunks would disappear. I just have to be patient. One thing I do notice is that when the map becomes quiet and I need more sound, the quieter the map becomes, the more chipmunky it sounds. The more volume I get, the closer to normal things start sounding.

The only downfall with the volume I'm needing for my maps, is that it's wanting quite a bit of power, which is compromising the battery life. So much so that it's not looking likely that I will be able to use a two battery controller, nor is it likely if I go much higher, that I'll even be able to use the BTE 3 battery controller processor - I may need to have the bodyworn processor for the amount of power I need. Disappointing as I was looking forward to the two battery controller so I could change colours on the processor with what I'm wearing. Something I really enjoyed doing with my old 3G for the N22.

Some people have asked me if because I'm an experienced cochlear implant user from the N22, is this making a difference to how I'm hearing with the new implant? I put the question to Ellen, my audiologist, but she is inclined to think that it's not making any difference as the two implants are totally different. The old N22 I had, had only one speech strategy, SPEAK. This ran at 250hz, and the only type of mapping that I could have was a bi-polar map, where each electrode was paired up with each other. Electrode 2 was with 4, 3 with 5, 4 with 6 etc.... My new implant is the Freedom. It has 24 electrodes (N24). Three speech strategies are available, SPEAK, ACE and CIS. SPEAK still at 250hz, ACE at 900hz and CIS at 2400hz. I've been programmed on ACE at 900hz as that's the one that has been clinically proven to be the best. The electrodes are monopolar too, not bi-polar, so each electrode works singularly in it's own right. Totally different to the way my first one worked. So basically - my experience this time is as a brand new user all over again. Fascinating stuff if you're into all that science!

Anyway - I'm definitely back in the world of sound!! Many thanks to Ellen and Gayle to getting me there!

Gayle on Left, Ellen on Right - Best team in the world!

PS - the beer is gone, straight to my head too!


Bron said...

Hehe! Being that I am a mad scientist sound engineer I think this is absolutely fascinating!

I really enjoyed my chat with you on the phone too. It's been a long time since I heard you on the phone and I got such a surprise. I am so pleased you are picking things up so fast. Does Kassia sound like a chipmonk too?

PS, I drink beer....

Paul said...

Robyn, great posts and great pics. Really informative and have pre-answered a lot of questions I'll have if I ever qualify for a CI! If you haven't already done so, you have a smashing carreer available as a photojournalist. :)

Paul (AKA LifeWrecked)

silverdorothy said...

Hi Robyn,
Sounds inspiring to me. Even chipmunks will be find its better than noise with out any sound (tinnitus?)

I havn't told anyone yet but yesterday ACC approved bi-lateral CI'c for me! Still tingling.

Anonymous said...


You've got every reason to celebrate, even with a macho beer. Chipmunk voices must be a heck of a lot better than nothin'. I'm sure you're elated to hear some sounds again, and as time goes on, the sounds will "normalize" with further mapping and brain adjustment. In the meantime, that's progress in a very short time, girl.

I'm sure your ear(s) are tickled pink. I raise a virtual martini in a celebration toast of your progress. Your photos are just wonderful, keep up the good work!


kw said...

I'm smiling and celebrating with you!!


Chris H said...

Hi there! I just found your blog thanks to David in the States who got his implant yesterday! So glad to see your's is working again. Hope they sort out the pitch problems so guys sound like guys ! Can't have them sounding like chipmunks! Not on! lol.

Chris H said...

Whoops! sorry, David is in Ontario, Canada actually!

Anonymous said...

Very educational..

.. I'm on the hop, but wanted to say "hi".

.. a great read and Ellen looks like my ex-physio.

:D Liz :wave:

kw said...

Hi Robyn~ I tagged you in my blog!