Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Clarity's Disappearing Act

Since I last wrote, several people have inquired, "So... how's the hearing?"

It's been an interesting two weeks.

I noticed a pretty significant and positive difference following my last mapping appointment.

Day 6 with my new program, on Easter Sunday.  It was a happy day; my family realized I was responding to people without directly looking at them.

I found myself understanding people without having to look at them--not everything, but at least some words from time to time.

I found that high pitch sounds were recognizable, that with each "shh" and "chh," it no longer felt like someone was flicking the side of my skull with a rubber band (a very welcome change, indeed).

One of the best developments, appearing almost overnight, was the shift in my energy.  Since my surgery, I've been very bitter and frustrated to not experience wanting to jubilantly jump out of bed in the morning; in fact, this year I have needed more sleep and "rest time" than ever before, and frankly, it annoys the hell out of me.  I have life dreams to accomplish, after all!

Prior to surgery, other recipients and audiologists had told my husband and me that once I  had my CI, "Jeff would have trouble keeping up with me."  After years of exhaustion trying to hear, I prayed for some relief.  I've yearned to wake up effortlessly, ready to seize my day free from worrying about situations that would require increased concentration or effort to understand.  Following the latest mapping, I found I was less tired, waking up easier and feeling more like myself than I have in years.  It was AWESOME.  Of all the changes, THIS was hugely gratifying to me.

I also seemed to be hearing much better in noisier situations; in fact, during an afternoon at a restaurant, I realized how well I was comprehending despite the background chatter surrounding my table on all sides.  It was that day- one week following my mapping appointment- that I told my coworkers how happy I was with my new hearing, how well I was understanding people,  and that certainly, I was well on my way to bigger cochlear implant achievements.

Then just like that, the clarity disappeared.

At first, I honestly thought I was wearing the wrong processor.  I have two; one contains my previous program (in case I didn't end up liking my new program), and one contains the new and improved version.  The quality of my hearing had returned to such a muddled state, I honestly believed I had mistakenly been wearing the wrong one.  I was surprised to realize I wasn't.

Then I figured I must just be having a couple of bad days.  Just like sometimes our pants don't fit as well as they should, or there's no other choice for our hair than to be gathered in a ponytail, I just figured I was having a bad hearing day or two.  But the days turned into a week.  Something else seems to be going on. 

There are brief moments of clearer speech recognition, but those moments are overshadowed by the exhaustion I'm feeling once again to focus on the people speaking to me.  Along with the drop in clarity has been a loss, once again, of my energy.  It's a setback that has hit me far too quickly, and while I could curse and kick things and drink a lot of martinis, I haven't even given thought to such behavior because there must be an explanation.  There has to be.

Today I'm still baffled by how I could have one week of great hearing and then such a sudden change.  Is it my remote control?  Have I so quickly adjusted to my new program that I already need some tweaking?  Was I too cocky about my new hearing, and is God putting me back in my place?  Is someone working on my program from afar, say via "the cloud," and messing with my head?

I honestly don't know, but I'll be investigating with my audiologist to find answers.

So how's the hearing?  Unpredictable.  But in many ways, so is this journey.  I've found in the moments I least expect, I may not be hearing, but I'm listening.   In this confusing time, I remain open to receiving some lesson- whatever it is.  I'll pick myself up and start again.


  1. NUTS!! We have to wrestle your way into that Vanderbilt study!

  2. It IS nuts, Teresa, but at least I'm getting used to the many ups and downs of this journey. This morning, for example, I was at a breakfast event and hearing wasn't so bad. That was an UP. Starbucks drive thru wasn't so bad. Another UP. I just wish I was able to identify WHY the hearing isn't consistent, especially if it's within my control to make changes.

  3. I totally understand your experience. I just had my cochlear implant processor attached and mapped for the first time. I had too much expectations, but well, all sounds are like twits. I am hoping I get to hear more clearly as time goes on. I will be reading your blog as you share your wonderful experience. By the way, I love the way you write, and the fact that you have lived an active life despite not being able to hear.

    1. It's been so long since I've checked into the blog. Seriously, a 6 month delay in response is rather pathetic isn't it? But I wanted to thank you, Chera, for writing and for your kind words. I hope you are getting clearer and clearer as your journey progresses.

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