This week I was cleared to be healed enough to receive my device. As exciting as this is, my journey to better hearing is in it’s infancy.
After the surgical site is healthy enough to handle a magnet, I got the processor which tells the implanted device in my head which electrical pulses to send. You may have seen these on other people. It looks similar to a hearing aid, but with a cable attached to a circular disk farther up in the hair. Because I’ve been blessed (or cursed depending on the humidity) with large hair, you can barely even see it even in a high bun. If I wear my hair down or in a low bun, like I do for many work days, it’s practically invisible.
Less than a week after receiving the processor I can hear no conversations. Imagine hearing a beep, ding, pulse and/or hum for every sound instead of words or music. It is beyond frustrating. I have to teach my brain to hear electronically vs analog. Right now I rely on lip reading to reassure myself of the dings my 4 year old is producing. I attempt to follow along with a familiar movie with subtitles and pretty much fail continuously. How do you force your brain to hear beeps instead of the sounds your other ear is telling you? If I don’t force this my brain could quite literally give up on the right side and never learn.
The best method I’ve found is to stream sound directly into the device while reading the words being streamed. Using Audible to ‘hear’ the book while having the book in front of me has given me baby step progress. At first I could only tell the cadence of the reader and had absolutely no idea which word they were saying. If I miss a word or read ahead accidentally I would have to disconnect Bluetooth on my phone and turn the speaker on for my left ear to find the place in the book. Then I would have to reconnect and try again. This would have 2-3 times in a single paragraph.
I can confidentially say that it is slowly getting better. Although I don’t know the words being spoken to me I can usually find my place if I get lost in a book. I can almost recognize the set of words based of vowels or the length of syllables in a sentence to get me back on track.
The fun and entertaining part of this is being surprised at noises. My cat scared me half to death with his meow. I had never heard those tones. I was so angry hahahaha. Is this what he really sounds like? Is he really angry and I’ve misunderstood him for the past 7 years?!? Probably.
Has anyone else had a journey like this one? Had to relearn how to walk or talk or read?