nashlean at mail.med.upenn.edu
Tue Aug 27 10:10:19 EST 1996
lazybum at cottagesoft.com wrote:
You have a really cute email address. :-)
: Here real soon, like in the next 30 days, I am set to have a cochlear implant
: done. I do have tennitus, and not real sure what to expect out of this. Not
: sure if the tennitus will get worse, or maybe get better.
In general, the tinnitus gets better with an implant, at least on the
implanted side. I still have a bit of the high-pitched symphony in my
non-implanted ear, but not in the implanted side. It is a nice change of
pace. Some folks have a transient increase in volume of the tinnitus
that then disappears, which is annoying cuz it is so loud you can't
really think clearly, but this goes away in a few days.
I bet that you're alternately excited, nervous, scared and apprehensive.
The head is a serious place to go digging about but please believe me
that the surgery is relatively minor. I was out of the hospital in a bit
under 36 hours and I've known of folks who got out of the hospital the
same day. You're going to have a rather substantial bald area and plenty
of stitches from the surgery, but this goes away as the hair grows back.
In addition, the period between having the surgery and getting hooked up
is a bit stressful. You're so full of anticipation that you can drive
yourself nuts wondering "how well will I do? How long will it take
before the benefits carry over into my life? EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE" It is a
long 6 weeks.
: I'm also looking forward to "hearing" from people thats had this done, I'd
: really like to know what to expect, things I can an can't do. I really would
: like to see how those thats had this done like it, both good and bad sides.
Well, scratch scuba diving from your list of pasttimes. And you'll have
to be really gentle with blowing your nose after the surgery. I feel
that there are several things that you can do to maximize what you get
out of the implant:
1. Go into the mapping sessions with your audiologist (programming of the
speech processor) with a sense of fun and exploration and
experimentation. Try variations "just to see what it is like" if the
standard programming doesn't sound decent. Some of what you hear
will be absolutely terrible, some will be neat, some annoying,
and some distracting. But some will also be really cool. Remember
that CI sound is NOT like hearing aid sound. It is not amplified
sound, so you won't have distortion. You need to put some faith
in the audiologist at the outset especially if s/he has lots
of experience and has a good feel for maps that optimize
speech recognition. It may sound too quiet to you (compared to
HAs) but you'll be amazed at how much less background noise you get,
and how much more speech sound you get from the implant.
2. Be nice to yourself after surgery and during the first several months
of wearing the speech processor. I can't emphasize this enough.
You need to minimize your stresses as much as possible because
you will learn an entirely new way to hear. It takes a while
for the sound to make sense initially (especially if you've been
deaf for 20 years, like I was pre-implantation). Try not to
beat yourself up if communication is difficult, if you get tired
easily at first (it can be sensory overload in some ways), and
if you can't make sense of sounds for a while. Learning to hear
with the CI is an ongoing process for me, and I've been hooked up
for a good 8 months.
3. Prepare those around you for the experience. Tell them that you're
getting a Bionic Ear, that the technology isn't perfect but you're
hoping for an improvement. Also explain that you'll have to
rely on them to be patient with you after hookup. Include those
around you in the implant experience -- ask them the sources of
noises (I was so surprised when I heard a mouse squeak that I
dropped it and had to chase it to get it back in the cage) and
see if they'll spend a little time with you helping you learn to
identify words without visual cues. If you "sell" the implant
as a really fascinating, potentially life-changing experience
people are really interested in sharing the journey with you.
I found that getting my friends and co-workers and family "into"
the experience really maximized my performance early in the
development of speech recognition, not to mention improving my
4. Get the audiologist to do auditory rehab exercises with you, and then
do the exercises at home as much as you can. By the same token,
more than an hour a day in auditory rehab stuff is tiring and
annoying, so do it consistently but don't make it your entire life.
You had a life before the implant, you'll have a life after it, too.
If the audiologist isn't into giving formal rehab, email me
privately and I'll give you some suggestions.
I was very successful early on -- I was using the telephone 2 weeks after
the initial programming and no longer require interpreters in lab
meetings or lectures. It is not perfect -- I'm still hard-of-hearing but
I can recognize music that I heard in my childhood, and I can even
identify musical styles of the different artists that we listen to in my
lab. Not to say that I actually like rock.... but I can tell who is
playing now. I listen to news programs on the radio. I've listened to
political commentaries, call-in talk shows, all kinds of stuff while
doing experiments. It has been a life-altering experience and I'm
grateful that I did it. That is not to say it is for everyone, and I do
know folks who have not had as much benefit as me, but if you're a strong
candidate it is pretty much a given that you WILL hear more with the CI
than with hearing aids.
Keep us posted! We're rooting for you!
MEN (Michelle Nashleanas)
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