Tuesday, July 14, 2009

No Two Ears Alike- 1

Shame on me.

I started this blog exactly a week after my second implant was turned on fully anticipating to document everything and completely failed to even mention that I was bilateral. Oh well, let's hope you figured it out from the picture at the top of my blog!

I think it's time you hear a little about my left ear, don't you? My left ear was always my "better" (better being relative) ear. There was never a huge difference, and I was always told that it was such a small difference it shouldn't matter. Well, it felt significant to me! Especially when we managed to switch up my hearing aids a month before my first CI surgery ( don't ask...you'd think after nine years of having hearing aids this would be a mistake that would never be made, but it's not so!) further exaggerating the difference between my ears. I figured it out soon enough, but even when the aids were in the correct ears, I always felt like I had to turn my left side towards people to hear a little bit better. It had quite a bit of residual hearing, so wearing a hearing aid on that side and an implant on my right seemed ideal.

So why did I decide to get a second implant? My hearing hadn't dropped any more, and I could still understand some speech. The thing is, when I got a taste of what hearing with one CI was like, I wanted to be able to hear that well in both ears! For those of you or your kids who still have some hearing in their unimplanted ear, let me show you my left ear's hearing test results at my evaluation for a second implant...

The blue line is (or should I say was) my aided hearing. The purple line is my unaided hearing. Unaided, as you can see, I had a pretty typical severe hearing loss. Aided, it looks very similar to how my unaided audiogram looked when my hearing loss was first diagnosed when I was three and a half, although not as much of a dip in the highest frequencies and it was probably slightly worse in the lowest frequencies.

As far as speech understanding goes, here are my results (once again, left ear only):

HINT- 60dB (no noise) average- 79%

CNC Monosyllabic Word Test average- 24%

HINT (with noise): 0%

I know there are some people thinking, "why would you give up your residual hearing when you can score 79% on a sentence recognition test?"

First of all, I didn't end up losing all of my residual hearing after all (a whole 'nother post, as soon as I get more info!)

And 2nd of all, because. The HINT test is sooo not real life (well without noise, it sure isn't!)Notice how much lower my word recognition is, and you'll see how good of a guesser/"fill-in-the-blanker" I really am! I also knew it could be much better. I wanted to improve my hearing in noise, which was currently awful even with my CI and HA together. (0% for my right ear alone, and a pitiful 21% for both ears) With a CI, hearing is just so much easier. Even my audiologist commented on how most of the time with my right ear alone, I was relaxed, leaning back in the chair, and just saying the answers with ease. Then when we went to test the other side, I kept leaning towards the speakers, squinting my eyes, and having to pause to try and think and "fill in the blanks" for each of the sentences.

If you're wondering, here were the results for my right, implanted side:

HINT (no noise)- 98%

CNC- 80%

(audiogram of my right ear will be on the same one as my post-bilateral CI results) No, these results are not perfect, but I'm happy with them! They actually have changed very little (maybe 5% higher) from a month after my 1st CI was activated, interestingly enough.

Okay, okay, enough about the testing. I had my surgery for my second implant on the Monday that my spring break started, and I fully intended to be back at school the following Monday. After all, after my 1st CI surgery I was up and happy just two days later. Well this time was completely different. For starters, I was the last surgery of the day. Or one of them. It wouldn't have been that bad if the nurses hadn't done every SINGLE thing in their power to get me out of the hospital ASAP. I felt like I'd been run over by a truck, and came very close to screaming "I'LL PEE WHEN I WANT TO PEE! JUST LET ME SLEEP!" :-P. The surgery was quicker than my other one, a little over an hour, and the anesthesiologist commented how the electrodes just "slid right in."

When I woke up from the surgery, the first thing I noticed was the roaring in my ear. It was crazy loud, and drove me nuts. When I got home, I rested plenty and woke up the next day. For the entire week, my ear and head were throbbing. I couldn't stand up without being hit by a harsh wave of dizziness, and when I managed to walk I was extremely unsteady. The roaring in my ear had transformed into a steady chirping noise that was in synch with my heart beating. This was not how it was supposed to be! I'd been warned about all of the side effects, but I didn't think they'd actually happen! I definitely wondered, "what did I get myself into?" multiple times in that week of misery.

The dizziness eventually went away. The pain came and went. The chirping? I still have it to this very day, but only without my left processor on.

To be continued...

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