Wednesday, February 29, 2012

4th Mapping

Cochlear Implant Mapping and Progress

Yesterday, I had my fourth mapping on my cochlear implant. I should have written about it yesterday. I seem to be more excited about the new sounds when I am leaving the audiologist than I am the next day. Today, I am already starting to feel down.

The volume has gone up. That is good. I don’t think it was enough, but the audiologist disagreed. I wish she had increased the power more.

I am closer to understanding speech. I am getting sentences instead of words in familiar speech recordings. Sounds are a little clearer and cleaner.

I have four programs. I will use them progressively. Each one will be used for approximately 21 days before going to the next. My next mapping will be in 80 to 90 days.

Natural Hearing Improvement and Progress

My other ear’s hearing seems to be returning. It is still not as strong or as clear as my implanted ear, but the progress is faster. I hope to be back to holding conversations and listening to podcasts in a month’s time.

A Prayerful Encouragement for Today

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that God will make all things right as I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life and
supremely happy with Him forever in the next.
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Hearing Progress

My hearing is improving steadily. I wish I could pinpoint a time when I will be hearing well again, functioning normally, using the telephone, and listening to music. My best guess is April.

Quick Cochlear Implant Update

My comprehension of sound continues to get better with my CI. My next mapping is scheduled for Tuesday. I expect that the volume will be increased a bit and the clarity to improve. It will be a three month mapping, so I hope it is a good one.

Two Words, One for Each Ear

My right ear hearing made a big jump on Thursday. So much so, that I was hearing peoples voices with just my hearing aid. It’s all weird sounding and hard to make out, but I did an experiment.

I closed my eyes and asked Loaise, my wife, to say one name or another. I turned off my implant and listened and responded. I got it right!

I then turned off my hearing aid and my implant on. Eyes still closed, I listened and responded. I got that one right too!

So, I heard and understood a word with only my cochlear implant, and with only my hearing aid.

By the way, this was the first word I heard since going deaf on January 20th. I am ahead of schedule on getting my hearing back, when compared to my deafness in 2008.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Change Comes Slowly, But It Comes.

Some days I start to wonder if I am making progress at all. I listen and realize that without lip-reading or subtitles, I just can’t follow speech. I think, “Shouldn’t I be getting more of this by now?”

Then I realize, that it wasn’t long ago that I was happy be able to understand a word as I was lip-reading. It wasn’t long ago that I was surprised to hear a word I was reading on the subtitles.

The change over time in the sound of a cochlear implant is slow and almost impossible to notice. But every once in a while, you perceive something that you had not noticed before.

  • I realized that I am asking people to repeat themselves less.
  • I noticed that I am forgetting that I am deaf when I am alone, because background noises are almost normal now.
  • I realized that my comprehension struggles now are becoming more related to volume than to clarity.

These are things you can’t notice from one moment to the next, but over time. The change comes slowly, but it comes.

It’s Like Character

As we strive to build our character, get rid of bad habits, develop new good ones, become more patient, speak more graciously, we don’t really see the change from one day to the next, but over time.

I can look back over my life in the last year and see clearly if I have become more like the person God intends for me to be, or if I have fallen back in to being just a product of my environment.

Granted, building character is a bit more active than waiting for clarity of hearing, but is a process that can not be rushed in any real sense. Well, with one major exception. The Bible says “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, old things have passed away, all things have become new.”

The history of the world is full of stories of the rottenest scoundrels repenting and turning to Jesus. Instantly, they were changed.

Jesus cured the deaf he encountered instantly, too.

God is good.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Little Black Wire

The little black wire that connects my speech processor to the magnet which sends signals to my cochlear implant has a small tear in its housing. I was warned by the audiologist that many CI wearers are damaging their cables.

The MED-EL kit contains a back-up wire and another one which is much longer (I think). I am going to change out my wire so as not to damage this one any more. Maybe I can find someone who works with electronics who has some kind of glue or something that can fill in the gap.

Anyone else have this problem?

Monday, February 13, 2012

R$ 45,552.81

I got this in the mail today. Glad it’s not a bill. This is just one more reason to be thankful to God in all things. He provides. When I moved to Brazil a decade ago as a missionary, I knew it would be with a humble life-style. I also knew that one day I might need this expensive surgery. In another profession, or even as a pastor in the USA, I probably would have putting aside a little each year for when the time came.

The letter simply asks for an evaluation of the hospital. At the bottom it says:

Total amount paid by SUS for your treatment: R$ 45,552.81


Friday, February 10, 2012

My 100 Day Progress Report

On September 27th 2011, I had a cochlear implant surgery in Juiz de Fora, Brazil. I was implanted with a MED-EL Sonata TI by Dr Evandro Ribeiro de Oliveira. My surgery was paid for through the Brazilian national health system.

I was activated on November 4th 2011. Readers of this blog know that the immediate results, while exciting, were a bit of a let down. For some people, hearing with comprehension is instantaneous. I was not one of those people.

Tomorrow marks 100 days since I was activated.

I’ve hit a few meaningful milestones since that time.

My entire first mapping was a disappointment to me. I was able to hear nothing but a cricket chirping sound for very loud impact sounds, and I heard a humming sound, once. That’s all I got in the first 30 days.

My second mapping was exciting. The power was turned up and I was getting all kinds of sound information. Noise. Mostly the sound of metal banging against metal or coaches whistles. Everything had the same sound. It was also too loud, all the time. However, it was sound. The second 30 days was just meaningless sound.

For my third mapping I tried to be proactive. The clinic does not do a good job of describing the rehab process, what to expect or how implants work. With this frustration, I studied up on the internet and tried to take the lead. This probably led to a third not-as-good-as-it-should-be mapping. In any case, it is the map I have now and it is a 60 day mapping, the next will be for 90 days, I think.

The major development is that I lost my natural hearing in my right ear 21 days ago. I went deaf again. This forced me to rely on whatever I could get from my implant. In these past weeks my comprehension has improved greatly.

  • I hear at about 60 decibels.  ‘
  • I am starting to understand speech. Not clearly, but consistently.
  • I can sometimes understand my son in the dark.
  • I can understand parts of familiar recordings.
  • My sound environment is getting familiar.
    • I can tell if someone opens a door or closes it.
    • I can hear if water is running.
    • I can hear myself typing, sometimes.
    • I can hear footsteps.
    • I know when someone is talking, sometimes who.
    • I can hear a word here and there on the TV.
    • Fewer things sound like banging metal and whistles, now.
    • Many things are starting to sound “right”
  • I function much better with the implant on, than with it off.

So, 100 days in, I am happy I have the implant. I am not where I want to be with my hearing. Improvement is consistent, and promising. I expect that by 130 days, I will be understanding speech.

(I am filing this report a day early, as I won’t be online tomorrow)

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

I *Heard* That!


First, an analogy. If the sound of speech were received as handwritten notes, the sound of the speech I hear with the cochlear implant is like a note written in lipstick, rather than a pen. It’s thick, imprecise, and doesn’t fit the style guide of normal speech. Still, you can sometimes get bits of the message.


I still rely on lip-reading, but I am finding myself feeling like I need my Cochlear Implant to understand. There is a lot of meaningful information coming in now, and some words… real words, in conversations.

The volume is still way to low for most things, though. Looking forward to getting that bumped up in the next mapping.


I plugged the CI directly into my cellphone last night to practice listening. I put on Matthew Chapter 2. “Wha Bla Bla Pa Bla Wha Bla The Voice of one crying in the Wilderness, ‘Prepare th’ Wha Bla Bla Pa Bla Wha Bla”

What was that! I *heard* that! I did hear that!

I was able to get a word or two here and there as I listened. Still not enough for comprehension, but getting there. It is change I notice though. Good change.

Without My Cochlear Implant

When I take my CI off, I can now perceive some sound in my aided ear. If I clap my hands next to my ear, I hear it, faintly. When I scream, I hear myself, faintly. I think my hearing is coming back, a little at a time.

Next audiogram in a month.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Getting Closer to Understanding My Own Voice

I still don’t understand speech. If I am watching subtitles, I can kind of follow along. When I am lip-reading, the sound helps a little, sometimes. If someone is talking but I can’t see their face, there is no chance I will understand.

Last night, however, in the dark, while I was telling my son a bed time story, I could hear my voice and it sounded kind of funny. It was a voice though.

I am surprised, actually, at how these past couple of weeks have been sounding. When I was eleven years old and had gone suddenly deaf, I heard sounds similar to these when my hearing started coming back.

First, my voice was the sound of multiple voices that didn’t really come across very well. That was happening to me last week.

Then, there was a funny sounding voice that reminded me of a man inhaling helium. When I was eleven, I laughed at the sound of my own voice, probably to the point of being annoying to my family. That was the voice I heard my story in last night.

I wonder why it is this way?

The cochlear implant is still much different sounding than that natural hearing, much more garbled and noisy, but there is something about trying to hear speech that brings back memories.

I look forward to hearing again soon.

  • Cochlear implant active for 95 days, now.
  • Deaf again for 18 days, now.

Friday, February 3, 2012

I *Think* I Hear

Right Ear

I wear my hearing aid in my deafened ear for a few hours each day. When I get alone somewhere, I try screaming as loud as I can and whistling as well. With my cochlear implant off, I concentrate on what I might be registering with my aided ear.

I think I am picking up a very faint sound with the whistling. With my voice, I am not sure if it is me hearing something or just imagining that I am. I should have another hearing test next week. I’ll post the result here.


Left Ear

With the cochlear implant, I am noticing changes in the way things sound. I don’t notice them daily, but weekly. Some things are starting to sound “right.” A lot of the abstract sounds are taking their places in the sound environment and I can, at least, find the source of sounds more easily.

My next mapping will be at the end of February, so my volume will be stuck at only hearing things over 60db for a while. The clarity should continue to improve and this will be greatly beneficial.


Spiritual Ear

I want to hear what God the LORD says, because he promises peace to his people, to his godly ones. But they must not go back to their stupidity.  Indeed, his salvation is near those who fear him, and his glory will remain in our land.  --Psalm 85:8-9

The other night, I was praying. My prayer was basically this, “Lord, I don’t really care if I never hear another word in this world. I want to hear, but the one I really want to hear is you. Give me strong spiritual ears, so that I can hear your voice and do your will, and live for you.”

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Learning How This Thing Works

I had another appointment at the audiologist yesterday. We did an audiogram of settings 3 and 4 on my processor. I am going from memory, but this is about how they look.

X = program 3 and O = program 4


That is a measure of volume. This, evidently changes with mappings, and should improve. Clarity, on the other hand is all in my brain. That comes from me. So I am just waiting for it to get clear.

Yesterday, while watching a one-hour program on TV (Person of Interest), I caught 3 words. Each time, out of the noise, bang! A word I could hear and understand. Hopefully this will happen more and more frequently.

Oh, and by the way, to make a cool audiogram like this for free, go to