This week I had another mapping. Its been a year and a half since my second Medel implant. From the previous tests it seemed the right ear was not performing quite as well as my left. That was surprising since my right ear had been my stronger ear. After the single word test however the right ear scored 70% and the left ear 48%. My audio said my left ear wasn’t catching the soft sounds of the consonants, always the harder ones for hearing challenged folks. That however was at 10 DBL below the last test 6 months ago. So, the score looks bad but it is because it was at a lower volume. So my audie went to work on my processor and had me back and forth in the booth about four times. I could tell she was really working hard and impressed with her interest in booting me up more. Ultimately she did improve my hearing score in the left side by boosting some of the settings in the processor.
She wanted to impress on me that she has few patients that score 100% on sentences like I do so I’m still doing really well. She even called me her Superstar! The trend in testing now is to push folks scores in those lower DBL volumes. The single word tests are hard for me and I want to yell at her to turn the darn volume up. So many of the words are challenging while the sentences are easier to put into context.
Over all a good visit and I’m lucky to have such a conscientious audiologist.
Last week I had my six month mapping. We worked more on balancing the sounds on both sides. My left side seemed more dominant and since the sound is different its a little tricky figuring out if its louder or if its just the bass sounds that I seem to hear more of. For example low sounds are stronger. In my classroom I have a overhead ventilation system and my left ear picks it up more than the right.
We also went through all the individual sounds and I decided which volume was most comfortable for me on both sides. When I asked my audiologist if my right ear didn’t tolerate as much volume as my left she didn’t say yes or no. She said that you can’t measure the sound in volume because it is being delivered by electricity. Maybe as “more is not better?” I haven’t really gotten my head around it yet.
My testing went well and seems to have plateaued. I’ve added the evaluation sheet. Basically I am still up from 15% to 85% on my newly implanted ear. Together both ears scored 92% on sentence recognition and 72% on single words. I get 85% on phonemes which means I get the sounds of the single words.
I really feel like I made the honor roll yesterday! I went in for my two week visit and my audiologist decided to test me for sentence recognition. First we played with adjustments. The newly implanted ear is still higher pitched than the other ear so we tried adding some bass to it. It gave it more resonance in sound but I still have the original and another setting to play with. We went into the booth to try sentence recognition. My previous score with just my right aided ear was 15%. With my newly implanted ear alone I scored 83%. She even asked me if I had my other hearing implant on but I didn’t. My last sentence test with the left implanted ear was 79% so I’m wondering how that all happened so fast. I was able to use the telephone on my new ear too today but it needs more volume. Never the less I could hear what they were saying.
It has been almost two weeks since the initial activation of my second implant. When my audiologist first turned it on I heard a lot of very high pitched sounds. Her voice was really squeaky and there were a lot of other sounds that made me think of Christmas. I was probably associating it with Christmas movies. She told me it was not unusual and that the brain would adjust. The sound is still high pitched and Mickey Mouse but I can have a conversation with the people in my house using just the newly implanted side. My theory is that the electrodes in the cochlear probably aren’t positioned exactly in the same place so when they are fired they are both stimulating different parts of the cochlear. Combined with my other implant the two sounds seem to blend. I remember my first implant sounding like a kazoo but definitely not as high pitched.
Since I chose MedEl I am also testing out the Rondo to decide if I want to have two of these or one free Rondo and the traditional behind the ear device. They both sound the same right now and the Rondo is very light and comfortable. I tend to knock it off sometimes especially when I have to pull something over my head. If I had short hair I might consider using the Rondo on both sides. The Rondo comes with 3 disposable batteries which last about 4 days. I figured it would cost over $300 a year for batteries while the behind the ear device uses rechargeable. However, when they need to be replaced they cost about $100 apiece. For now my rechargables will last another two years and I have a 5 year replacement warranty on them.
On Jan 21st I had my second implant. Today is day 3 since the surgery and I have been surprised at how well I feel. I remember taking a nap the first couple of days last time but haven’t needed to this time around. After the first night which was pretty daunting between the pain and a -20 degree temperature outside the pain meds became a huge help and I ended up sleeping well later into the night.
I feel pretty fortunate to have gotten this surgery. Two weeks before the scheduled date my insurance wrote to say they were denying the request. The surgeon had a peer to peer review with the medical director and they ok’d the surgery on Friday before the scheduled Tuesday date.
The surgeon told me that the second implant, once activated, doesn’t have as profound an impact as the first. I’m anxious to see how well it works in the classroom since my right side had become basically deaf. The surgeon feels it will help a lot with background noise.
I now have a date for my second implant which will be in January. I get to pick the new Rondo or stay with my current Opus2 processor. The plus is that MedEl will give me an extra processor so actually I’ll be getting three as part of the promotion for Rondo. I decided to go with two Rondos and one extra Opus2 so I have that in case I prefer the Opus2. Getting the second implant is definitely a nervous choice but better than not hearing stuff on my right side now. Also, I feel a little guilty because I do hear a lot better now since my first implant. I have been trying to get as much information about the Rondo as possible but it’s only been out since this past spring.
This was a busy day with a long series of listening activities then a visit with the surgeon for my one year and 2 mos. checkup. I’m hearing the sentences a little better now but things are basically leveling off. Without my hearing aid on and just using the implant I am scoring about 80%, like a mild hearing loss. I still have trouble with the test that says: Ready: baseball, Ready: duck, etc. I get about 50% but of course she has the volume very low. With my hearing aided ear added I get 64% and 82% of the sounds which means I make a close guess. Her reasoning is that she wants it to be like everyday conversational speech. My audiologist is very happy with all my scores and so am I. The other news which didn’t surprise me is that my right ear now is severely/profoundly impaired. When I was tested for sentences with only my aided ear I only got 20%. I also attribute this to brain chemistry, just my theory. My brain has gotten so use to using my implanted ear that my right ear is not getting any practice anymore. My audiologist suggested I go for another implant and my surgeon was very encouraging about the idea. He said that I’m a very good candidate and that I have done very well with my current implant which is a good predictor. He also said that they like to do bilateral implants within a close period of time. Apparently your brain and hearing pair up better than if you want 10 tens years between implants. I wasn’t totally surprised at this opportunity but didn’t think it would happen quite this soon. So, I’ll be using the next couple of weeks to think about this but will probably go for it. I think its a great opportunity. I just need to acclimate myself to the idea of surgery.