Sunday, August 16, 2009

No Two Ears Alike- Part 5: A Comparison

This is a series of "flashback" blog posts on my journey through going bilateral. To read the other posts in this series, click on the following links.
So, I'm going to write a comparison between my left (new) ear, with info about my right (old) ear . Some of it is stuff I have already talked about, some is stuff that I vaguely mentioned, and some is information that I am just now sharing.
Old: Easy as pie, but slightly dizzy for the first 2 or so days.
New: Terrible. Horrid. I was dizzy for at least a week, and in a lot of pain. Also had/have issues with the scar healing. It took me about two weeks to feel like myself again.

Residual Hearing*
*I have not officially gotten my hearing tested unaided since getting both implants, but will do so and post the results in the near future. This is just what I have observed:
Old: Seems to be a good bit of residual hearing in the low frequencies. In that ear I can sometimes hear my dog barking (if I am really close by), doors slamming, my iPod turned all the way up using my Bose headphones, and voices if you speak/scream loudly in a low-pitched voice. I can also hear loud clapping.
New: Appears to have some residual hearing in the high frequencies, weirdly enough! I don't think I am completely imagining it, but anything is possible. I can hear the high-pitched beep/ticking of my Sonic Alert portable alarm clock faintly if I hold it right next to my ear without anything blocking it. When I went back to school before it was activated, we had a fire drill and I could hear the alarm in that ear.I can't hear much when I turn my iPod up all of the way, but some things that I have heard are someone smacking gum (so strange) and my sister will come up behind me and scream in a high pitched voice, and I can hear it. She just thinks it is so cool!
Side note: My hearing fluctuates, so I'm not sure how long this is going to last. Some of these sounds I could not hear before I was implanted without my aids in, so it's pretty weird. I don't mind it though!

Old: I would get it occasionally (it was very quiet) before I got implanted. Once I got my CI, it went
away completely
New: Never had tinnitus before, until I woke up from surgery with an extremely loud roaring sound. It has since progressed into a steady, loud, chirping. It beats to my pulse- if I was running around, it gets faster. If I'm just laying down, it gets slower. I only hear it without my processor turned on.

Old: I kept a log on Microsoft Word of my activation experience and all the new sounds I am hearing. I have not updated it since November of '07, but it is 14 pages long! It's really cool going back and looking at it, and I encourage anyone to do so if they are not already keeping some kind of blog or journal! I also think my writing has matured a bit since then... Here is an excerpt I wrote in it shortly after activation,

"When I was first activated everything sounded like beeps. It was weird, but it quickly got better. Within an hour everybody sounded like Mickey Mouse on helium! When my sister laughed in a dramatic low pitch it sounded so high that it was impossible to imagine! However the next day I was able to understand many things without lipreading. Then people began to sound like Donald Duck. It was pretty funny, I have to admit! The next day, people started to sound like a robot mixed with Donald Duck. The more I practiced with the implant, the better it got. Starting the day of my activation, I listened to music with just my implant. At first it just sounded like a cacophony of sound, but if just got better and better. Within 2 days I could understand the lyrics of songs. About a week or a week and a half after activation I bought an iPod since mom “misplaced” the other one. Once again, the more I listened to it, the better it sounds."

So there's how I got my blog name! More about that in another post.. And the "misplaced iPod" comment- my mom took up my iPod after my hearing got worse (which I think was a very cruel thing to do!) because she was afraid it would further damage what I had left. She promised me I could have it back once I got my implant, but by then she had forgotten where she'd hidden it!

New: Sounded like wind chimes at first... Progressed pretty quickly. I was listening to music and talking on the phone (with my AV therapist, not my friends- that's more of a challenge!) within 3 or 4 days!

Old: Oh my word. A complete and utter disaster! The static was so annoying, and the batteries die every 10-15 minutes because I use a really,really strong map on that side. I've deemed the FM hopeless for that ear, and even my audiologist has said there's really not much else we can do to make use of the FM better on that side.
New: Static at first, but went away once we found the right FM. I haven't tried it in the school setting yet, but I have my fingers crossed for the start of school next week.
Note: Yes, I am only going to wear an FM boot on one side. I'm hoping it will also allow me to hear what is being said by the rest of class, if the sound coming through the mic only reduced on one side. We'll see- I'm cautiously optimistic.

Staying On
Old: My ears look pretty much the same, so I'm not really sure what the deal is! I guess my right ear is just floppier! The processor is constantly falling off of my ear when I'm doing everything from just sitting there, to baking, to running around, and it was a real pain when it fell off when we were doing a group obstacle course where we were all standing on a wire trying not to fall off at a camp I went to this summer. It was a camp for kids with hearing loss, and the "counselors" were audiology/SLP students, so someone picked it out of the dirt, and handed it to on of the students, who tried to simultaneously balance herself while putting my processor back on my head. The problem was she was on the other side of me and couldn't see my ear, so it took a little while-- and then fell off again! The magnet stays on fine, though (until the processor drags it down to the ground as it falls!)

New: Stays on, no problem! I was pleasantly surprised, because I did not want to deal with two things constantly flying off of my head!


Old- After I got activated, I apparently started playing really quietly. Which is not a good thing, considering I'm already a pretty timid player!

New- Went through the whole "playing quietly" period again. My violin teacher thought I could tell better when I was in or out of tune, and did more auto-correcting. I guess he's right, I never really noticed it...

Old- I began pronouncing the soft sounds that I had not heard or said in a while. "House" became "House" again, instead of "how". The /s/ and /x/ sounds came back into my speech!

New- Suddenly I began getting comments left and right about how my speech sounded so much "crisper" and "clear". It was kind of an awkward conversation to have, but I guess I can give the credit to my new implant!

Note: My speech really wasn't all that bad before, really! Sure, it wasn't perfect, but you couldn't tell I had trouble hearing just from the way I spoke (until you asked me a question and I answered it completely wrong- ha!). I will have to record myself speaking someday and put it on here...


Old- Much better than it was with hearing aids. No more distortion distortion. The first song I heard when I was activated was by KT Tunstall, who I later found out, interestingly enough, has a deaf brother with a CI! I didn't think music could sound any better.
New- I was proved wrong! Listening in stereo using my headphones is soo much better! It's so cool to be able to listen to each instrument and understand the lyrics

Anyone out there?!
That's all for now, folks! And lurkers- please don't be afraid to come out of your shadows! I don't bite! I can see how many people visit my blog per day and it doesn't nearly match up with the number of comments! While I get plenty of comments on the Community (which is a great resource for anyone looking into or that has CIs, and I recommend you visit!) y'all here in the blogger world seem to be slackin'! I'd like to hear what you have to say, even if you just want to leave an anonymous comment- fine with me! So come on guys, something-anything! Just let me know that I'm not talking to myself!
In Summary- 8/19/09
I was asked to give a summary of all of my thoughts on being bilateral, and I thought that was a good idea, so here I go. Basically, 2>1! I had a significant amount of residual in my unimplanted ear using a hearing aid before going bilateral, but I have found that having two implants makes a world of difference, rather than an implant and a hearing aid. I feel like I can hear more of the subtleties of music, and I don't struggle nearly as much in noisy situations. I have found that while my two ears are completely different, they complement each other beautifully. I prefer my newer ear over my older one, and find it better for talking on the phone. If anyone is contemplating going bilateral, my advice would definitely be "Go for it!" but also understand that your journey is not going to be exactly the same the second time around. Upon first getting a second implant, there is not as much of the "WOW!" factor since you can already hear sound. However, it is much easier and less fatiguing being bilateral, and I highly recommend it!


  1. Hey, you know what the #1 rule of blogging? Here it is: No fishing for comments!!

    Ha ha jk! Great read, though.

  2. hahaha Nabeel :) I understand that people can't leave comments every single time, but come on, every now and then would be nice!
    Glad you liked it!


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