Saturday, March 29, 2014

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 another copy with IDR set to 80 and ClearVoice set to low for listening to music and TV (next time I want CV off on this program).

Last night I was getting sore as the skin thins out from the pressure of the magnet, and was thrilled to find good magnet hold with only 2 of 5 magnets installed in my head piece!  Both the RF power required to hold RF lock, and the magnet strength required to hold the head piece seem to change day over day.  I imagine this will settle as all swelling subsides and my head gets used to having pressure from the magnet.

How is everything sounding?

  1. Speech in quiet is real awesome, though women sound more realistic than men.  Men all sound a bit like Kermit.  I think I need to boost M/T levels around 1000Hz
  2. Speech in noise is difficult, but combined with lip-reading it is workable for the most part
  3. Music.  Sigh.  For the most part music that is not overly complex has the best chance of sounding decent.  But then there's also a huge dependence on the vocals.  Anything with lots of percussion sounds good due to the large pitch range of percussion.  Rap sounds pretty normal.
  4. TV and Computers can be difficult.  I think it has more to do with the sound dynamics of the room, since hooking up to TV with comPilot sounds pretty excellent.  Need more practice.
  5. iPhone held to my ear is pretty workable.  Depending on the person's voice, it can sound quite excellent.  Speaker phones fall into the same category as TV and Computers for the moment.
  6. Rooms with a high amount of echo are a huge challenge!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Activation!

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 implant.  We put the maximum number of magnets in the head piece and it just barely stuck in place.

My audiologist called AB and she starts searching her parts bins, and pulls out this HUGE "Platinum Series" body-word processor that looks like some toy from the 80's (hereto forth known as The Relic).  Hooks it up to the computer and sticks the head piece on, and 30 seconds later I'm hearing test sequences and we're adjusting volumes across 16 channels.  Awesome, except the SoundWave software refuses to let her do anything with the Naida because it can't find the implant.

So the work around is to program The Relic (which doesn't support all the new features obviously) and then copy the program to the Naida while it's off my head.  Then we try that program and see how it sounds.  Essentially we have lost the ability to tweak in real-time, which really sucks.

Now for the good news.  Even with The Relic, when she first turned it on, I was immediately able to hear her voice--quite clearly.  And since I have heard her before I lost all hearing in both ears, I know that it sounds pretty accurate.  No Darth Vader.  No helium-sucking-kids.  No chipmunks.

I compare the feeling to the whole "3D pictures from the 1990's".  You know, those stupid pictures that look like random paint splatters, and after staring at them for 10 minutes, it suddenly turns into a 3D object, and the moment you look away and then look back, it has vanished again.

I hear a lot of noise that sounds like old computer modems, and then voices will jump out plain as day.  Then it kind of fades back into that noise.  I suspect as time goes on, that noise permanently becomes the clear voices.  We'll see...