Saturday, May 16, 2009

Mapping #4, Gonna Fly Now!

So much has been going on in my life and with my implant in the last few weeks that I'm a little bummed I didn't try to blog along the way to catch the small stuff. However the illness I mentioned was my husband's and required a long hospitalization, but he's home and on his way to recovery now. We are blessed that he doing so much better. If you are the praying type, we would appreciate if you would add James' continued recovery to your prayer list.

Even though my attention was really elsewhere, I've made quite a bit of progress recently with my implant, and I'm really excited. I made some notes after mapping #4 (April 28) so I can probably summarize the day pretty easily, but it's the days after that I wish I had kept more notes on. However, I can hit the highlights of that particular big day... the day I felt like I'd finally run up my own gazillion steps and could see the future a little more clearly.

The day began with one of Houston's infamous floods that subsided quickly, but it was a big mess on this Tuesday. Many schools and businesses were closed for the day. I had made arrangements for Aidan to go to daycare and was hoping both the daycare and the HERF (Hearing Ear and Research Foundation) office would be open so I could get this mapping done. I was ready because the mapping I had at the time was feeling very limited, and I was ready for a big tune up! Luckily the roads were passable where I was going and both places were indeed open.

When I met with my audiologist, Michelle, we went into detail discussing what was going on. I told her I was just a little frustrated by how sloooow my progress was, and then I would mention, "oh by the way, I can hear if Aidan is crying or laughing through a closed door at nap time" (which kept me from opening the door if he wasn't and distracting him) or I would say, "oh, and by the way, I heard the rain outside my window and then I heard the rat a tat tat sound of the rain when I opened the back door" (as opposed to the steady roar with my hearing aid.) Finally after a few "oh by the ways" she just looked at me and told me I was just an outside the box case, and that my progress for my type and history of loss was really nothing to sneeze at which made me feel better. I told her that I've always felt "outside the box" when it came to my hearing loss because I could compensate (*cough* fake) my way through anything, but with the cochlear implant it was kicking my booty! (can't believe I just said "booty"... is that more PG than "butt"?..probably not..) After a pep talk from her, I was feeling much better. I swear my audiologist is like a special ed teacher that inspires her students to graduate with honors. ***Insert Rocky theme song here***

Michelle did four progressive maps, each slightly louder than the other for me to work my way through. She also told me normally I'd come back in the 3 months for the next appointment but since I was going to see my family in Tennessee in June for a wedding, she was willing to do a mapping 7 weeks later before I left and do the different types of programs including the one for music.

She tested with beeps. I'd raise my hand as I heard the beeps. I got hard to test like I always do because my ears start ringing as soon as I hear high pitches and play tricks on me straight through testing. However, she did a neural test as well, and the computer did all the work checking out my brain's reaction to sounds. I really need to research that further to understand how that happens. I just loved that I had to do nothing. My neural test closely matched my beep test, so I didn't look like a total clown. Those two tests were used to create my mappings.

Michelle pulled out papers and a box and started rifling through them and WOW, was everything LOUD! I was fine with it though. I wanted the boost, but it was something of a shock and it wasn't like it was going to cause more nerve damage. *smile* We did a booth test after that, and it was just amazing how much I could hear. Of course I'm referring to beeps and whistles and such, not speech. There's still a long way to go, but my brain is processing this information well.

As I was leaving the building I noticed how the world seemed more "open" and more sounds were coming through. When I got to the car, I played the Faith Hill song I always play after mappings or whenever I turn up my processor. I was able to turn my map up to the third program already and tolerate it fine. The sound was amazing. It was much more like listening with my hearing aid, but with the added benefit of high pitched frequencies and instruments I could almost pluck out of the to complement what I was hearing in the left ear with my hearing aid. Even starting the car, hearing the music, and the traffic on the freeway while paying the lady at the toll booth as I was exiting the hospital was liberating and not even too overwhelming. This is the day I finally saw the potential in my cochlear implant and truly became excited.

I picked up Aidan and took him to the library to get some new books to read at bed time. He ran to the toddler section and the noise level was crazy loud. I looked around, but no one was even reacting. I thought libraries were quieter???? Of course toddlers with puzzles and puppets aren't going to be little angels, but I really did not know how loud the kid section of the library is. However some child started banging on metal shelves, and Aidan walked over and copied that child. Before I could pull him away the librarian was on MY case about my child. Hey, it was the other kid, lady. Sheesh. (Okay, my kid isn't blameless... but still. ;-)

That evening, I watched American Idol going back and forth between my third and fourth mappings. Just a few hours later and I had maxed out my new mappings. I did have to adjust to Aidan rolling his car on an end table while I was watching tv. That was startling and annoying (especially when he would be at his loudest any time anyone was singing. How does he know these things? He has uncanny timing.) Hearing him talk was even crazier. In the car I easily knew when he was talking. It was almost like he was sitting right beside me and not in the back seat with the windows down. This was a great day.

More updates to follow on another post.... :) I'm not done yet.


  1. Thanks for sharing the news. Keep us up to dated with your progress. Also how does it compare to HAs?

  2. The CI is like jumping in a time machine in the early 1900s and landing in middle of the 1980s.... really colorful, loud, confusing, and technologically superior. Even though the place you came from was not without it's own amazing new advances, it still had a long way to go. The adventure only gets better each day you're there.

  3. All I can say is bummer we don't live in the same city! I'm just glad we found each other's blogs. :-)

  4. Thanks for explaining. How much louder do you hear with CI than HA? I have no objective figures, just your subjective experience. I still wonder how much benefit CI will be for me, I have only 70-75db loss at 250Hz and my audiologist says he can get me down to 15db when he reprograms my HAs. Could a CI let me hear louder than that? My audiologist doesn't think id be a CI candidate since im not deaf enough.

    I have read many other CI blogs and those hearing at only 40, 50, 60db with HAs definately hear louder with CI since they get 25-40db, depends on the person. I am learning all I can about CI and want to thank you and others for sharing your experiences. How can I compare other's experiences to what I could expect with CI?

  5. I totally agree, Kelly! It would be awesome if we lived close to each other!

    DD, I'll try to answer your question the best I can in regards to my experience. I hear much more with a CI than I ever heard with a hearing aid. My last audiogram was at mapping #4 (the one on this blog) at program #2. I was on program #3 which was louder than #2 by the time I left the building that day and on #4 (the loudest program at the time) immediately after that. I've since had another mapping to increase my range of sound and really increased what I was hearing. It had just as much to do with increasing the clarity as it did with raising the volume, and I adapt to new volume levels quickly (so they don't seem as loud as they do originally.) That said my last audiogram has me consistently across the board from 250Hz to 6000Hz between 15 and 25 db... not too shabby when you consider I've had a lot of tweaking for the better since then. It's truly a gift, and I can't imagine hearing aids ever giving me anything remotely similar to what I'm getting and going to get with a CI in my lifetime. FWIW, on paper I didn't lose much of my residual hearing in surgery, but honestly, my residual hearing doesn't contribute anything substantial to what I can hear now. I hear a completely different way and no longer have to worry about nerve damage. For the first time in my life I know that time is my friend and my hearing will only get better. The hardest part is probably the shock in the mornings of adjusting to this new world. Even when it is quiet, there's still things to hear now. Everybody's experience is different. I have really enjoyed getting the high frequency information from the world around me. It's just fascinating trying to absorb it all, and supposedly it gets much better months from now. I don't know if that helps, but numbers on a paper only go so far in telling the story.

    I hope your audiologist is able to give you what you need at your appointment.