So THAT’S What a Miracle Sounds Like!

5-13-05

So THAT’S what a miracle sounds like!

My entire family traveled to Baltimore with me to attend my first activation at The Listening Center. My appointment was for 10:30 A.M. Since I have not been sleeping well for weeks, I had the family there early needless to say! In spite of my showing up a little after 10:00, my audiologist came right out to greet me and brought the four of us back to her office.

She asked if we had any questions. As I have read every single post and story that I can get my hands on about cochlear implant activations, we all felt like experts really! With no questions needing answers, she brought out my cochlear implant. She spent considerable time showing me how to put it together. It’s a little bit more complicated than a BTE hearing aid, so I had to get out my pockettalker and neck loop in order to catch all the important details. Now I COULD ask hubby about the details later, but you know how men are! They don’t think about the details usually!

The implant processor felt a lot heavier than my BTE, but with the ear hook it fit comfortably enough. I’m sure I’ll get use to it. My audi told me to slip the coil with the magnet on it up past my ear until it connected with the implant magnet under my skin. I was getting ready to ask, “How will I know if it’s in the right place?” when SNAP! There’s no mistaking a magnetic connection! She then told me that she was going to turn it on, and do a series of tests of pure tone beeps. She asked that I disconnect my FM and turn the BTE off. Within seconds I heard a static-like sound on the left side. I can’t really say the sound was coming from my ear, because the sound was BEHIND my ear. But I could tell it turned on! I sat up straight pretty quickly and my family all sort of looked at me strangely. I saw later on the video that my eyes were as round as saucers! Grin! I dutifully raised my hand every time I heard the beeps. At one point, however, the pitch was very high – higher than I can ever remember hearing! I suppose it’s been awhile since I’ve heard high frequencies. So I said, “Wow, that’s high….” but my mouth dropped open. My voice sounded so strange! I said as much.

My audi asked me to hold on a minute, and she clicked on some things on her computer screen, and then began talking to me. Her voice sounded like a woman’s voice, with just a bit of a ‘tin’ in it. Not really robotic, but rather like she was talking into a tin can. I discussed this with her, but every time I opened my mouth to speak, I stopped cold – with my mouth ajar! Folks! I am SOOO southern sounding! LOL! I had no idea I sounded so southern! I don’t really know how you can stand it! Grin! Then she had each member of my family speak. My husband, Terry, sounded much as I remember, but he does a lot of “close talk” so I think I remember his voice well. I was so shocked that he sounded “familiar”, as I had really expected him to sound like Mickey Mouse, or Darth Vader! It seemed to be a common theme for male voices, so I was pleasantly surprised his voice sounded like Terry – with just a bit of a tin-like tone to it.

Then my audi asked my son to talk to me. I held my breath on this one. I haven’t heard Chris clearly in YEARS. He is 14 now, and I have the most difficulty with his voice compared to other family members. I normally catch only the harsh consonants with him. To say I was surprised to hear him is an understatement. He said, “Hey mom, what’s up?” His grin changed to concern pretty quickly, however, when I burst into tears! Oh great day! The last time I remember hearing him this clearly was kindergarten and he was in speech therapy three times a week for a speech impediment. Where had my little boy gone? Eight years and hormones had considerably changed his voice! Yes, he too, had the tin-like echo to his voice, but it was so deep and clear! I don’t think he knew whether to pat my shoulder or run for cover! My audi handed me a tissue, and I tried very hard to get a “grip”, and smile for everyone. I hadn’t heard my daughter yet. But before we could get to her, my mouth hung ajar again! (I may need to see a doctor as my jaw has hit the floor so many times today!) I kept hearing something that actually sent a chill up my spine. I glanced with concern at my audi and hubby with a huge ‘question mark’ on my face. They could tell I was hearing something, but we were all really stumped about what it was. It sounded like paper tearing; at least, that’s the only way I can describe it. We searched around the room for a minute or two trying to figure out what it was. We gave up and turned to my daughter, Kyersten. Right before she said, “hello”, it hit me like a ton of bricks what I was hearing – and I’m pretty certain I squealed. Since everyone’s eyebrows went up, I’m fairly certain it was loud!

“I’m SNIFFING!” I managed to get out, “I’m sniffing”! I pointed to my nose with my tissue and demonstrated again with a really goofy smile on my face. In hindsight, I must have looked half-nuts. Like everyone doesn’t know where a sniff comes from? Ok, friends… I don’t recall sniffing sounding like that! How in the world do you talk and sniff at the same time? How do you carry on a conversation with someone who IS sniffing? Smile! Talk about distracting!

By this time, my daughter lost all patience I believe. After all, who wants to come in second to a sniff?

“Mom, I love you”, she said rather quietly. But I heard it! Very clearly too! I turned to her and repeated it to her. And yes, by this time I was pretty much a wreck again! She continued…

“You look really nice today, Mom. I love you in that dress!” I almost fell out in the floor! Her voice sounded very clear as well – yet again with only a small tin-like echo to it.

To make a two hour story quite a bit shorter for YOUR sakes, my audi went throw word recognition and short phrases. She asked me questions with her mouth covered. I got all but 2 right! I kept trying to peek around the screen she had in front of her face though! My brain still thinks I have to see to hear and understand! It was really incredible that I could understand the questions with her mouth covered.

We left the listening center and headed for the car. The family hoped I’d hear the elevator ding – but I’m not ‘dinging’ right now! Smile! I expect things like that to come later. We ate lunch at the inner harbor at the Cheesecake Factory. It took us a really long time to get there because I kept standing still “listening”. Terry finally trekked back to where I was and took my arm.

I’m going to have to journal everything I’m hearing, or rather learning to hear. I don’t want to bore you with all the details! But I will share one more thing – I heard a mallard duck quack!

Denise Portis
©2006 Hearing Loss Diary

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