I owe you all an update on how I’ve been getting on with the cochlear implant. It has been turned on for almost three weeks now and the prognosis so far is very good. I went to Guy’s Hospital in London for the switch-on not really knowing what to expect. After some diagnostics to make sure it was working properly, Terry, the audiologist in charge of my case, ran through the different frequencies that the implant can deliver. They were all functioning and I could hear up to 8000Hz which is more than I managed in my early teens and a huge improvement on the 300Hz or so that I’ve been functioning with recently.
The implant initially made everyone sound like R2 D2. All I seemed to get were bells, whistles and beeps. Despite this, I could understand my wife quite well, but that might be more down to empathy than hearing. Over the following few days I still needed my hearing aid in the other ear to get by but it also distracted me from the sounds coming from the implant. So, as I had a week off work, I ditched the hearing aid (big relief – it was uncomfortable and I hated it) and just used the implant from then on. Gradually, the R2 D2 sounds began to resolve into voices, especially while following the subtitles on television. I also found I could hear my three year old a bit better.
When I got back to work on Monday, it was clear that I had already exceeded how well I had managed with the hearing aids. Colleagues whom I had previously had enormous trouble understanding even when I was lip-reading had become much clearer. On Tuesday, I went back to Guy’s Hospital for the implant to be retuned (which is necessary as I get used to it). Terry also ran some comprehension tests. I scored 92% in the hearing while lip-reading test (up from 86% with the hearing aids) and 55% when not lip reading (twice what I had managed before).
Already, things are a lot better and I can expect continuing improvement over the next few months. Aside from feeling very tired from having to interpret all the extra aural information, the implant has been a huge blessing already.
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