It's been 5 days since I've gotten the hook up, and I have only just scratched the surface. Here's what went down since activation day.
More or less the same as Wednesday, the day of activation. Replay after replay of Road Runner cartoons. Beep-Beep, Beep-Beep! And what's really a series of beep-beeps without a million whistles? Good times!
Friday began the next step. I met with my audiologist and did some more "mapping." He did a few volume adjustments, in addition to adding three new program settings. The first program is Hi-Res S (which means the electrodes are fired sequentially), while the second program is Hi-Res P (the electrodes are fired in pairs). From what I have gathered, neither is more superior than the other. Since Hi-Res P has electrodes firing in pairs, the sound input is stronger and more immediate. But strong and fast does not necessarily mean high in quality. What is best is merely personal preference. By next week, I'll need to determine which of the two I'm most comfortable with, and then he will build on that particular setting. The third program is strictly telecoil in the Hi-Res S setting. Telecoil means I can hear sound via a special signal and use my ear hooks (specially designed headphones that can pick up this signal) so I can use my ipod, DVD player, or any other media player. Telecoil is also used for telephone, but I'm not there yet with my CI. Not even close. I believe all of these programs are 50/50 T-mic and microphone, but I am unsure. I requested my audiologist to send me program reports, and I'll be getting them shortly.
After my visit, I experimented with all 3 programs interchangably, especially number 3, with listening exercises on the computer and an episode of Glee. Glee sounded junky - like everyone in the cast had a cold. Voices sounded extremely nasal, and the music was muffled. Sound effects were louder overall - the rustling of paper, the keyboard clacking, etc. The beeps and whistles were decreasing as muffled voices and music were beginning to take form. Since the overall sound was louder, it was starting to compete with my hearing aid. I had difficulty functioning with both the HA and the CI at medium-high levels. I knew I needed to work on favoring one or the other until both units are able to work together.
Needless to say, I was exhausted after assaulting my ear with all of these sounds. There were so many differences with all three programs and I was overwhelming myself by trying all 3 too quickly. I have decided I will alternate program 1 and 2 every other day. This will leave me with a full day of experimenting with a single program, before trying a different one. I will do this for the next week and a half, alternating days, until my next mapping session (on the 26th). Program 3 can be used only via telecoil, so I will use this while on the bus or during breaks at work - listening to books on tape or watching DVDs or doing listening exercises. I will attempt to use program 3 a little bit each day.
Program 1 only, which is Hi-res S. The only thing I adjusted on my processor was volume. I had experience at the mall, at a restaurant, and in my home when it was both quiet and chatty. In all situations, I tried turning off my HA for several minutes, picking up sounds through my CI only. Though I am still unable to make them out, I was able to pick up voices and music. Ryan's voice was the closest to "normal." Most impressive to me was the sounds of ice clinking in the glass in the loud restaurant. Very crisp and clear. I never would have picked that up with just my HA in that ear.
This was a comfortable setting. While I am still struggling with dual competing sounds - one from my HA, the other from the CI - I was beginning to feel at ease with having the CI on me. I had it on all day long, and didn't experience headaches or overwhelming whistles and beeps. I kept everything on a softer volume level so I can get used to the sounds coming in. Of all of the days I've had my CI, it was the least "mechanical."
Program 2 - Hi-Res P - and boy is it stronger! It's very disorienting, and I must say that I don't love it right now. I kept it on all day but found myself lowering the volume a lot. The sound of doors closing, babies crying, me chewing on food were all followed by echos and the occasional whistle, even at a lower volume. The sound of my voice was extremely powerful, but the sound of other voices were very very soft. It was tough finding the right balance.
One unique moment was when I was sitting in the relatively quiet living room and Mara was clipping Ryan's nails 10 feet away from me. The nail-clipping sounded like it was happening right next to me. That was cool. However, it didn't sound like snip-snip-snip, as it sounds through the HA. It sounds more like clink-clink-clink. It didn't quite sound normal to me, but the fact that the sound existed is a good sign!
The Week Ahead
The week ahead will more or less bring me the same results, I'm sure, as I alternate between the two programs. I have a quiet work week ahead of me, so I'm not sure how much environmental practice I'll have. Today, I'm back to Program 1, and it's definitely softer and more comfortable than Program 2. But let's see what the week brings us.
To Be Continued....