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)


  1. Stephen,

    You do an amazing job of documenting the process in great detail - so helpful for those of us that have no other way to understand the experience.

    I feel for your frustration, but I'm amazed at how far you've come! (I know, easy for someone else to say...) but you really are making progress. To think that you've not had useful hearing in that ear for 30 years (if I remember right) and now you can identify many sounds - amazing!

    Thanking God for technology and praying for your perseverance and progress,

    Julie G

  2. Thank you, Julie, for your encouragement. Thank you also for your prayers.