Wednesday, October 1, 2014

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 able to effectively hear high frequencies for more than 20 years now, so to suddenly hear this entire range of music is insanely cool.  On the downside, low frequencies are sorely lacking through my CI, and clarity leaves a lot to be desired, especially in complex music.
My pitch perception is now better than it has been in about 15 years, and has improved slowly but immensely over the course of the last six months.

Can I talk on a phone?
YES!!!  To my great surprise, my iPhone is now the most effective way to communicate with people on the phone.  When I had hearing aids, I was only able to use high-quality speaker phones, and now they sound bad compared to holding my iPhone to my ear.

Challenges
Like hearing aids, CI's are not perfect and there are some very serious challenges that we face that can be confusing to people around us.  I can carry on a perfectly normal conversation with someone in a small room, and 5 minutes later find myself unable to make out anything being said.  The biggest challenges:
  1. Competing noise, especially other voices
  2. Rooms that have a strong echo
  3. Most TVs, radios, etc sound quite distorted

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