Char's Cochlear Implant Journey
We have several other CI stories posted on this website, and all are
interesting and informative, especially to people who are considering an
implant. But this one is special to me, because Char is my wife of 35
years! We were fortunate to have discussed the whole process with many CI
recipients, so we knew what to expect. Still, there were some surprises
and lots of 'AHA!' moments!
Well I just got home from my CI activation. Never could I have imagined
what it would be like.
After she set me up with a lot of beeps to get the right volume, then
she said what do you hear now?
All the beeps were beeping, up, down all around. I could not figure out
what she was doing. I was confused. What was making the beeps?
She said she was. I said huh? It was her voice as she was talking to
me and I was lipreading her. I still did not understand. I was hearing
beeps, not her voice or any words at all. She said yes it was her
voice. Once I finally understood that, then the beeps became words -
Her voice, my voice, Larry's voice all sounded the same. A robotic
squeaky supernatural sound that was a bit unnerving!
You veteran CI wearers know what I mean! So, I could understand a few
words Larry said in the car without looking at him.
I am quite tired from all of this but it really is a big adventure.
Can't wait to see what happens next!
Debra McClendon, my surgery buddy who spoke with me last meeting gets
activated on Monday. We have been keeping each other company in emails
as our "wounds" are healing.
I have family here all weekend so it will be interesting how I do with
Thanks for all the encouragement and best wishes. So great to have a
second family like this one!
Ok, Day 2 after my cochlear implant activation.
I woke up in the morning and wasn't real enthusiastic about putting it
on. But I did of course.
You know that I first heard beeps that turned into robotic voices that
sounded all the same, no matter who was speaking. The same beeps (it
seems) turned into various environmental sounds also.
The morning of Day 2 was much the same. But, I had Larry put his hand
over his mouth and asked him to say something to see if could understand
I did! Now I can't do that consistently but it does happen. Still,
everyone sounded the same -- robotic voices devoid of any personality.
My son and his wife and five and four year old girls are here and we
all went to the swap meet. After a couple of hours, it happened that Larry
was talking and all of a sudden, I heard a bit of Larry mixed in with that
robotic voice! Wow, that was so exciting! Later on in the day, Larry's and
my son's voices became more like their own, although my daughter-in-law
Dawna still sounded like a robot. The grandgirls' voices surprisingly are
beginning to sound like their own. So this is BIG progress for Day 2.
1. I have to concentrate on the voices.. I don't have any sense of where
sounds are coming from.
2. I have a sense of hearing the Peter Gunn theme music in the background
and I am not even sure that I even know the Peter Gunn theme !
I thought I would want to keep my hearing aid in my other ear but
actually no, I use it very little. It is fascinating listening to all the
new sounds with the implant. Typing on the keyboard is a new sound right
now. I am hearing myself breathe. Oh, and I laugh a lot - (too much
maybe?). I will hear something and laugh and then hear myself laugh, which
sounds just like a witch cackling, and that makes me laugh more and by
this time people are staring at me......
Also surprisingly, this has not tired me out. What is going to be
challenging is next week at work. I have very heavy deadlines at work.
Someone reminded me this is just the first mapping of my CI. Each
mapping will make it better. I have learned it is better to have no
expectations and just enjoy (and laugh at) the bumpy ride.
Day 3. Yes, the milestones continue.
I am sitting here listening to a music box. It was sent to me by my
daughter-in-law's mother and stepdad just after surgery before my
I could hear it then if I held it up to my "other" ear aided with my
hearing aid. At least I thought I heard it.
Now, this evening, I play it over and over. The music is "A Whole New
World." It is delicate and beautiful. I carry it with me. I can hear it
also from across the room. I have not heard anything like this for many
Ok, will back up now to this morning. I am in my bedroom and I hear
something I can't identify. It is just a little thump that repeats itself
at regular and brief intervals. I look around, trying to find the source
of this sound. Finally I notice that the seconds hand of a small wall
clock is moving in synch with this sound.
I am very proud of myself, that I can hear the seconds hand on a clock.
As I sit here now listening to the music box and my tapping on the
keyboard, I ALSO hear the seconds hand of the clock here in my office.
This is very sweet. I hear all this without my hearing aid and the sounds
are better without it anyway.
Now we know that everyone has an individual response to a new CI. Debra
McClelland told me that some days may have progress and some days you may
go backward a bit. I told you that on Day 2, I started to hear the quality
of Larry's voice. Tonight though, as Larry and Dak, our son, and I were
playing some cards, I noticed that my voice was sounding a little bit more
like my voice, but Larry's voice took on a tonal quality that seemed a
step back. It didn't seem so much like his voice. But then I realized my
brain is sorting through all this and I am hearing different aspects of
sounds I heard yesterday. And then it struck me that I may be moving
closer to the true quality of Larry's voice and away from the voice I have
lived with so many years as I interpreted it through my hearing aids.
Ok one more thing. We were all out for lunch at our friends Bonnie and
Bill. As we all sat around the living room, all 10 of us, I felt quite
relaxed as we talked (I wore my hearing aid for this). It was more than
hearing better. It was just so......enriching..... to have so much
auditory energy in the room.
Don't think that I can now hear and understand everything. Not even
close. But I feel confidence in trusting in what is happening to me and
have given myself over to it. I feel very patient.
Thank you to those who have been responding to this hearing journal
with such encouragement and guidance.
Well, so much for Day 3. You will have to excuse me now as I get ready
to live Day 4.
Day Four: It seems a LOT longer than four days after activation!
I drove to work yesterday and turned on the radio. I was curious to how
music would sound since the music box was such a success. Ha!
With my CI, I could hear little ghostly voices (no words) and didn't
hear any music at all. When I switched on my HA in the other ear, there it
was, the music, plain as day.
The music box music is not complex, most music is.
At work I had to suppress the laughter. (You understand.) People
sounded so squeaky. I sat in my office and heard a lot of sounds I could
not identify. There must have been some lawn work going on outside my
office. I had to focus on the work I have to accomplish this week. I did
But in Day Four I did not feel I made any progress with voices or
speech. I don't expect progress at any given time remember, I just go with
This morning (Day 5), as I was getting ready for work, I wore only my
hearing aid in my other ear. Ahhh. It was good. Good sound. I went up to
the clock and listened for the seconds hand. I heard it. I relished the
sound from the TV, Larry's voice, the normality of it all. Ok, enough of
that. Time to pop that weird looking contraption to my head and get on
with it. So, you may ask, it the HA works so well, why did you get an
implant? The answer is my abysmal speech discrimination scores.
I tell you all this to give you some perspective. The only thing so far
that sounds better with my CI than my hearing aid is the music box. My
incision area is still sore. My ear is numb. I'm tired. Still, I know I am
in the baby steps stage of the CI experience. I really enjoy this
experience. This new auditory information and guessing games keep me
This may be my last communication for a few days unless something
really news-worthy happens. Who knows?