Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Another Step towards Speech Recognition

In normal circumstances, I still can’t understand much of the information that comes into my implanted ear. I also have trouble “hearing over” those sounds with my aided ear. If communication is urgent, I have to switch my Opus 2 cochlear implant processor off.

I am training my ear to hear in controlled environments. What seems to be the most useful exercise for me at the moment is hearing an audio text and reading it at the same time. I can not understand speech by itself, but I can now accompany the audio of a written text. I can read along and not get lost!

The easiest text for which one can find audio is the Bible, and that is what I am using. Here, for example, is Matthew chapter 2 on Youtube. I can follow along reading on my e-sword electronic bible.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Word Recognition

I am getting closer to understanding speech with my cochlear implant. There are still too many high pitched whistle sounds, but they are getting softer. This means my brain is starting to understand the stimulation. Anyhow, when the audiologist tested me with just the implant and not the hearing aid. I was able to select the correct word she was saying while looking at three options in front of me.

It wasn't clear enough to understand, but it was clear enough to recognize which of the 3 words she was saying or not saying.  That's progress.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Carol of the Bells

A few days ago, I posted on facebook asking friends to suggest good instrumental Chrismas music for me. Rebecca, a friend of mine who went to China with me back in 1999, suggested Carol of the Bells, by Manheim Steamroller.

I was pleasently surprised at all the sounds I could hear in the song. It is musical and not noisy. The neatest thing is, that I can pick up on things in the song with my CI that I could not hear with my hearing aid. I am enjoying listing to music with the implant.

My audiologist says that I should be working more on speech recognition than music appreciation, and I will do that. For now, it is all about discovering sound. It's a pleasure.

Friday, December 16, 2011


I still feel overcome by the amount of noise I hear. I am making an effort to not change the setting on my processor unless it is absolutely necessary. Communication is harder (you have to go backwards first to go forward). I get tired, both physically and emotionally.

A little encouragement from the Bible, today.

People say, “God doesn’t pay attention to us. He doesn’t care.”

But how can you say that? Don't you know? Haven't you heard? The LORD is the eternal God, Creator of the earth. He never gets weary or tired. His wisdom can’t be measured. He gives strength to those who grow tired and increases the strength of those who are weak.

Even young people grow tired and become weary, then stumble and fall. Yet, those who wait with hope in the LORD will be renewed. They will soar on wings like eagles. They will run and won't become weary. They will walk and won't grow tired.

-From Isaiah, towards the end of chapter 40.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Visit to the Audiologist

I went to see my audiologist today. I confessed to using the new program setting less than I should, because of the noise level. I told her about playing the keyboard and hearing the lower octaves and the higher ones being noise. I told her about crinkling paper being louder than speech. I asked if we could reduce the high pitched sounds and increase the low pitched ones.

She said that my experience with sound is compatible with my last audiogram and that she would not adjust my program, nor let me move on to the next one on my remote. She explained that the higher frequencies sound loud because my brain doesn’t really know what to do with the stimulation. We practiced two syllable words and I learned some new exercises for training my ear and brain. I felt much better after understanding why stuff is so loud.

It was a good meeting. I am progressing.

Now, I wonder if I can hear a dog whistle. I am looking for a pet store tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Jamming on the Electric Piano

Okay, I have a confession to make. I have not been using my Cochlear Implant on my new noisy setting very much. The noise level is too loud and makes sound comprehension extremely difficult, even of things I should hear in my right ear. When my CI is on, I can no longer understand people speaking.

I am using the new setting in quiet places, but even then, I am overcome by sound. It is not so loud that it hurts, but it is like listening to clanging cymbals and blaring whistles all the time.

I got an idea for a controlled test. I cranked up the electronic piano program on my laptop. With my cochlear implant plugged in, I played through the scale on a few different instruments. Here is what I discovered.

Out of the five octaves available, for most instruments, I could hear the scale correctly on the lowest two octaves. The top two octaves were noisy and indistinguishable. The middle octave was good for some instruments, but noisy for most.

On the lowest octave, I can play songs like “Mary had a little lamb” and appreciate the tune. The instruments do not sound right, but they are in the right key. Strangely, the one that sounded the most “correct” was the one called “synth voice.”

I don’t understand CI programming, but I am going to talk to my audiologist about reducing the higher pitches. Even the crinkling of candy wrappers is astoundingly loud. The high pitches swallow up all the meaningful sounds. They mask everything. The lower frequencies are meaningful, but seem too low in volume and can’t compete with higher pitches.

Anyhow, another week, more improvement. I am pleased.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Bit Too Much Noise

This week has been full of noise for me. It is actually too much. I’ve become exhausted. I am switching between last week’s settings and the current one, because I can’t handle noisy places for very long.

I love the stimulation of sound in my implanted ear, but it does give me a headache after a while.

I can identify footsteps and telephone ringing without seeing them. They are loud and distinct. They don’t sound right, but I know what they are.

Not much news today.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Yesterday I had my second mapping on my cochlear implant. Wow. Now,there is noise everywhere, and everything makes noise. Loud noise! This is exciting and overwhelming at the same time.

The first thing we did was an audiogram. My sound detection barely registered. We then talked about the experience and I was hooked up to the machine. I have video of this, that I will post soon. I found my new maximum comfortable loudness level. It is much, much higher than what I had. I no longer feel physical problems with the sound stimulation.

So now there is so much stuff to hear. It is louder in my implanted ear than in my aided ear. It is such a fun experience. Everything is noise. I can’t identify much, but there is so much there. It’s exciting.

Practically it is like this: Imagine that you are watching TV and the volume is a comfortable low. You can hear and understand most everything. Suddenly, someone turns on the stereo, and puts the volume on the maximum level. The stereo is not set to any particular radio station, so it is just noise. The noise is so loud that it is hard to hear and understand the TV. That is what the implant is doing for me right now. On the other hand, it’s just fantastic, because I never knew about that stereo before!

I am enjoying this, and for me, this is a major, major breakthrough.

Monday, December 5, 2011

A Philosophy for the Newly Implanted

Each new sound as a little gem waiting to be polished. The banging/buzzing/clicking/chirping sound whenever a noise is made will gradually turn into a million more meaningful sounds.

Right now, I am discovering the gems. Hoping to start the polishing soon.

In just a little while, I will go to my second mapping.