My 12th-year Audiology Review…
So I had my 12th-year audiology review this week…considering all that I had discovered and what I had learnt about the cochlear implant experience from different people, I was really looking forward to this review. It was the perfect opportunity to present all the questions I’d been gathering up from all my findings and more so, I was eager now to find out how I could fully optimise my cochlear implant experience. If you have read my first post you will know that I have been feeling I’d somewhat cheated myself out of an incredible experience with my cochlear implant.
How did the review go? Well, it was good; in terms of hearing without lip-reading, I scored 25%; in terms of hearing with lip-reading, I scored 95%…yay me…
I asked about programmes for training my brain to listen to optimise the use of the cochlear implant etc. and my audiologist (who has known me for 12-years since I was first implanted) said they have been watching me over the years and are really happy and impressed with how I have progressed and did not think my brain can further be made to listen as my auditory system went through a period of inconsistent use of hearing aids after I lost my hearing and the ‘nerve connections’ were weakened. But after I was implanted, some of those connections got kicked back to life though they were no longer as good as what they may have been if I’d for instance worn my despised hearing aids all the time after losing my hearing…oh well…they never told me that bit at that time…lol…but would it have made any difference in getting me to wear them consistently? Hmmm…we’ll never know.
Anyway, for my peace of mind as I said I’d like to TRY anyway to train my brain and see what happens, she referred me to a speech therapist who will email me at some point to book a couple of sessions with her. From there, the therapist will be able to direct me on the right path to take based on her assessment of my listening/speech skills because the programmes for training the brain to listen are not paid for by the hospital/NHS – I would have to foot the bill myself so they want me to be fully informed and confident about going down that route by getting some guidance from the speech therapist.
Before the review began, a PhD student from UCL came in to tell me about a clinical study she is conducting to determine if cochlear implant processors can be adapted to improve speech recognition. This sounded exactly like what I needed! God bless my audiologist – she’d had the foresight to email the student the night before to tell her I was coming in for my review the next day and that its possible I might be interested in taking part. Basically, during the clinical study, they will make changes to my programme that are intended to improve pitch discrimination based on my discrimination abilities and evaluate this with speech perception. The study will be completed within 2-months. Apparently, people who have already taken part in the clinical study have reported positive improvements in their hearing. I am trying not to get too excited but really, really looking forward to this! I have never been so happy to offer myself up as a guinea pig for clinical study before! My first session is on October 20th – I will keep you guys posted via this blog in case you are interested!
I am always excited and expectant whenever I have an audiology appointment coming up because I never know what positives will be discovered or that I will leave the hospital with. Sometimes there are new gadgets available to help with everyday living (the last one I received which I carry with me all the time is a listening device that allows me to listen to music on my phone or iPod – when I had one – with or without background noise! It’s perfect for commuting when I want to get lost listening to my audio Bible or listening to music on the way to work). I do love my CI gadgets!
This time, although there were no new gadgets available (boo!) my processor has been tweaked so that it has Telecoil functionality and I can tune-in to the loop system in any building that has it! E.g., at cashier counters in the bank, train stations, etc., I can simply flick a switch on my processor and it will tune-in to the loop system (if the system is on and working well) and all I will hear is the voice of the cashier or the TFL staff! Background noise will be eliminated! I’ve always been kind of envious of some cochlear implant users who had Telecoil functionality on their processor. Now I do and I am grinning like that fat cat that got the cream, cheese and a whole buffet of dairy produce! Lol! Thank God my mobile phone also allows me to make good use of this new function!
I volunteer in the Projection team of my Church’s Multimedia department so I would have been super-excited to try out this new function on the loop system at church but I recently got told it doesn’t work! Hopefully it will be fixed soon and I can see how much more of the Pastor’s voice I can perceive when background noise is eliminated.
One final change I also left the hospital with was that my standard programme changed and now sounds seem clearer after my audiologist shut down one aspect of the sound mapping to reduce the impedances. I will see how I do with this change overtime but so far I have no complaints and I’m loving it.
It’s good to hear!
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