Showing posts from 2014

Cochlear Implants, Music, and Pitch Perception

I wanted to write a bit about music perception, specifically pitch perception with my implants.  I was a classically-trained musician for quite a long time during my youth when my hearing was more-or-less normal.  My pitch perception was relatively perfect, meaning, if you gave me a Middle C, I could re-create the entire 88 pitches in my head with very high accuracy.

When I got my first implant activated and started intensive music therapy on my own, using songs I know very well, the perception was quite inaccurate.  A specific example of this was using a guitar.  I would play various notes, and for the most part it "sounded like" buzzing during the first 2-3 months. After that, pitch started to come through, but a weird thing happened with the actual perception of each pitch:  I would perceive pitches as "different" going up and down a string, but there was also the presence of another pitch.  This is best demonstrated by a picture.

So essentially, the guitar stri…

Bilateral Cochlear Implants!

And on the heels of my 6 month update, I am happy to share that I got my second implant two weeks ago!

I will be getting activated on October 14, and I plan to spend the first 2-3 weeks wearing only the new processor in an effort to equalize the new side instead of letting my good ear be a crutch/hindrance.

I'm hoping my second activation goes as well as my first.  Fingers crossed!

Cochlear Implant - 6 month update

How are things going?
Overall, I could not possibly be happier with my CI.  It has completely blown away even my highest expectations.  I've been using essentially the same sound processing strategies (Optima P, ClearVoice medium, IDR 60) for about 5 months now, with minor tweaks here and there.  The only time I even bother to change programs, is when I am in a very noisy situation like a restaurant, and want to use UltraZoom which allows me to focus on sound in front of me.
How does music sound?
This is probably the hardest part to explain, and is somewhat philosophical because I cannot possibly know how things sound to other people.  As a child, I had only minor hearing loss, and I was an active musician with perfect pitch perception.  So I also don't know what it is like for people who don't have good pitch perception.
Another thing that makes it hard to explain:  music through my CI is both infinitely better and far worse than it was with hearing aids.  I have not been …

Post-Activation - 11 Day Followup

I've gone back for my second mapping.  I had a moderately long wish list and we got through everything.

I cannot stress enough how vitally important it is to understand how cochlear implants work, and what the tunable parameters are, and what each one does.  It makes far better use of our limited time together if I can convey what I need in "audiologist language".

First, I wanted my favorite program in slot 1.  No brainer.  HiRes 120, Clear Voice medium, IDR set to 60, using tmic only.

So next, we had to kill the RF lock issue I was having due to my thick skin flap and some residual swelling.  We did this by overriding the automatic RF power.  We made two copies of my favorite program, and set the RF power to 8 on one, and 12 on another.  SoundWave estimates I will get 7 hours from the large batteries on level 12 instead of 22 hours on automatic.  OUCH.  But it's better than dropping RF lock all day long.

Finally I wanted one copy of that program with UltraZoom, and…


Well activation day was today.  I've got to admit, there may have actually been more excitement and anxiety than with the surgery date itself.  At the end of the day there's good news and bad news, but almost all good news.

First, the bad news.  I sat down in my audiologist's office and we assembled the Naida's, hooked them to her computer, and SoundWave recognized the processor right away, but sat there searching endlessly for the implant.  We swapped processors, cables, head pieces, everything.  Searching never ends, and implant is never found.  This feeling strongly resembles flying by a cop at 90 mph.  Sinking, nauseous, kill-me-now feeling.

The surgeon had said the skin flap was *very* thick, so I already knew this was a possibility, but hoped I wouldn't be in some tiny minority.  Can I at least win the lottery?  Now there's a minority we all would like to become a part of!  Not going through a surgery to discover that the computer can't find your impl…


Lots and lots of healing.  The body is a pretty amazing piece of work.  I had a noticeable amount of swelling on the CI side of my face yesterday (day 2).  I don't really need any pain meds anymore--it just feels like a long-lived headache now.  I still can't chew properly because it seems the jaw muscles are very much connected to the muscles near the temple, and that region hurts like a bitch when I try to chew anything beyond yogurt/pudding.  Also the swelling in the ear area seems to be where a lot of the jaw action takes place, and that isn't pleasant either...

So day one was almost all sleep.  Day two, I was awake for roughly 5-6 hours total.  Today I have been awake for over 4 hours and still not drained.

All in all, I'm in surprisingly good shape.  Can't wait to feel completely normal again.  I feel the knock of boredom coming really soon.

Completely deaf ear is implanted

I had my surgery yesterday and got implanted with the Advanced Bionics mid-scala electrode. Surgery took about two hours, and pain in recovery was bad the first hour and I just felt miserable for a couple hours after that. I got home 6 hours after surgery ended and felt reasonably good by managing pain with Percocets. I'm not a back sleeper, so trying to sleep was a bit of a challenge. I slept mostly on my side and tried some on my stomach, but pain kept waking me. 
This morning I still feel okay with pain meds. I have to take off the compression bandage today so more to come.