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.
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.
Today I went in for my second mapping, two weeks after the first. Since the first activation I have been just using my implanted ear. It hasn’t been as bad as I expected and have been able to talk to people except in places like the grocery store or noisy places. I rely on lip reading but can follow most of what people say I think. Actually, I need a lot more exposure but I’m off work for the summer. I was excited that I was able to skype with my mother-in-law and understand her. I can have a conversation with Tony on the phone but not other people. But today, I was able to use the telecoil ear hook with my iphone and facetime with my son and follow him. Yeah!
So, for the tests from today. She gave me the Hint (easier sentence list), the one they give you to determine implant eligibility. I did 15% before the implant and today did 82%. She was encouraged with that so gave me the AZ-Bios sentence test. This has more realistic speech everyday speech. The people talk faster and there are men and women speaking. I did 46% on that. The woman were clearer for me. My audiologist suggested we use this as a baseline to start with in two weeks. I’m hoping I can do better. Also, my speech reception threshold improved from 60 db. to 30db in my implanted ear. With the tone test before the implant I was able to hear in the moderate range but couldn’t pick up high tones. Today, I was able to hear all the tones in the mild 30 db range. So, overall my audiologist thinks I have done great. I’m excited and hope it continues to improve. I’m going to a 60th BD reunion with a bunch of high school girl friends this weekend so it should be interesting if I can handle that without an aid in my right ear.
Today they increased the volume on all the sounds. I found out that two of the 12 electrodes are not being used since I can’t hear them. They apparently are on the outer edge of the cochlear so didn’t make it in far enough for me to hear. She said they are the high frequencies and this is common and she isn’t concerned. There is no point in getting upset since its in there and I can’t exactly push it in further.
I was able to understand my audiologist today using just my implanted side after she increased the volume. I also was able to pick up sounds she made behind a black screen. I heard the words ice cream, hot dog, baseball and then me tried some from my art classroom, glue stick, paint brush, paper, scissors….. I got most of those too. So, I actually scored better than I would have if I had my hearing aid on since I couldn’t understand most speech with that aid alone.
I have 4 extra settings to increase the sound over the next two weeks. I’m back at work tomorrow and since I work in a very noisy art room my audiologist told me to just keep my aid alone or the implant and aid if I want. Then in a few days we’ll done for the year and I can use just my implanted side for the summer to practice with.
I was able also to pick up a few words on the radio driving to the hospital, small steps yet big steps too.