Wednesday, March 26, 2008


After another trip to the optician, I think the soreness from my glasses is now solved. The tenderness on the top of my ear is still an issue, but a thinner moleskin on the T-mic is helping. Such a minor thing, yet we little-eared people need to pass on our trials and tips. If only some other parts of my anatomy were also little!

Monday, March 24, 2008

2nd Mapping for 2nd Ear

I expected that I would see my audiologist this morning for a second time for my second mapping on my second implant. Not so, because she called in sick. (Do you think I’m enjoying the “ssound?) Michelle, my audi for today, has a different approach to initial mappings than Lisa and changed all 3 programs to 50/50 (50% T-mic, 50% processor mic) with each one differing in volume only.

She raised the thresholds on each pitch and encouraged me to wear the new Harmony by itself in order to mature that “baby” auditory nerve. Apparently, the emerging research is indicating that progress is much faster with the second ear if the primary, older one is set aside for a time. It is now predicted that the sound will be comparable after 4-6 weeks of solo work but would likely take 2 years if worn together. Wow! That's worth setting the wonderful surround sound aside for now.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Can You Hear Me Now?

No one would ever describe our church, St. Andrew's Chapel, as contemporary in style. We don't have a plexiglass pulpit, large screen monitor, or "worship team" of electric guitars on stage to lead us in praise songs. There would never be a skit or mini-drama as part of the Sunday service, and no applauding after a soloist or choral piece. St. Andrew's is classical Reformation faith in practice, complete with formal robes, candles, and a string quartet. Gerry and I love the quiet reverence and emphasis on worship.

Why am I sharing all this? Because when my beloved pastor, Dr. R.C. Sproul, mounted the pulpit to begin his Good Friday sermon, he did something very uncharacteristic and the congregation responded in a manner I will never forget. Watching this short video clip always bring a tear to my eye and a catch in my throat:

More serendipity

My serendipity today was an unbelievable sight rather that an unexpected sound. On a whim and for a change, Gerry drove home from "our" Wendy's by turning down a dirt lane to see if it would be a shortcut. We've lived here nearly 6 years and never checked this out. Not more than a few blocks from our house, sitting on an old wooden arbor, was a baby barred owl! Now there's a face that only a mother could love. In all our years, neither Gerry nor I have ever seen a wild baby owl up close and personal.

Ah . . . serendipity.

Dry and Store

This is the dehumidifier that has kept my C1 processor dry, clean, and safe from a playful dog and many rambunctious cats over the years. Gerry once commented that the unit has quite a hum for 10 minutes or so when it's sanitizing and a soft motor noise all night. Of course, I only turn it on when my "ear" is inside, so how would I know? Well, by getting a second ear, that's how. I put my C1 away this afternoon so that I would have a long stretch of time working my "new" ear and viola - - - a motor noise. "What's that sound, hon?"

Friday, March 21, 2008


I've always liked the word serendipity; it's a fun word, sorta like zippity-do-dah. When you are thrilled by the unexpected, when you discover or observe something by "chance" that is exceedingly special - that's serendipity!

I was thinking about dates today and about a plaque I'd seen in a catalog that read: "Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away." (The same catalog had another that said, "Sometimes I wonder, why is that Frisbee getting bigger? . . . and then it hits me", but that one didn't have the same effect somehow.) I like the fact that my:

  • 1st CI surgery = Sept. 19 - the day before my mom's 74th birthday

  • 2nd CI surgery= Feb. 19

  • 2nd activation = Mar. 17 - the day before my brother's 57th birthday

It had not occurred to me before my activation day that I would be "turned on" on the Monday before Easter and that this would mean that I would be engulfed in the robust choral music of Holy Week right out of the gate. Easter is so early this year, and because of leap year, it's one day shy of being as early as it could possibly be in a three-century period, Gerry says. (I'm married to a math tinkerer)

Tonight the choir did a marvelous arrangement of the spiritual, "Were You There . . ." and I could hear even the softest ooo's and mmm's. I never dreamed that my new Harmony processor and my trusted Clarion CI working together would give me this kind of music experience on Day #5!! This Easter is indeed about resurrection, even the resurrection of my dead ear.

Ah . . . serendipity!

Concert in the Parking Lot

Our church parking lot is surrounded by tall, deciduous trees and bordered by a retention pond on one side. Did you know that from 6:00 - 7:00 pm scores of birds give a free concert? You don't need a ticket, just a car with the windows rolled down and TWO ears that work!

The birds start "tuning up" about 6:05 and by 6:20 they are singing their little avian hearts out. I couldn't actually see the musicians among all the lush foliage, but their lyrical serenade floated in from both sides of the car and carried me away to glory!

What I couldn't fathom tonight was why the other early arrivals for our Good Friday service were either napping in their cars or reading the evening paper, seemingly oblivious to the Carnegie Hall performance that was all around them!!

Maundy Thursday

Last night, I wrote across the cover of my church bulletin: "My first bilateral church service". While the string quartet played and people meandered in for our Maundy Thursday service, Pastor Parsons (yes, that's really his last name!) came over to where I was seated along the center aisle, knelt down, and asked, "How does it sound?" All I managed to do in response was to get all misty-eyed and point to my note on the bulletin. He grinned from ear to ear.

As you probably already now, Maundy Thursday, also called Holy Thursday, is a service to commemorate Jesus' last supper and the institution of the sacrament of The Lord's Supper. Maundy comes from the Latin, meaning commandment (Come to think of it, I guess that explains the origin of the English word mandate.)

It was truly a Holy experience for me - - - I had no idea that our choir was that good. Who knew that they use such dramatic crescendos and decrescendos for emphasis, that their big sound fills the whole sanctuary!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Temporary Downside

My tiny ears often complain of too much baggage. My eye doctor straightened the temples of my glasses so it would grab the side of my noggin' above the power slim battery, but my ear is still not happy! Maybe my skin will adapt with a bit more time?

Day # 3: The Promised Land

I cried today - - - twice! First, while sitting in the car at the mailbox, listening to the CD, A Thousand Voices. Track 7 is a beautiful organ arrangement of the American traditional classic, "The Promised Land". I heard the melody line all the way through and it was gloriously filling my whole head! How apropos that the first instrumental piece to flood me with wonder was so named.
" I am bound for the Promised Land "

I teared up again this evening at the mall. I had gone with Gerry to choir practice at church, only to discover that there was no choir practice. We had missed hearing of this schedule change due to Easter week. With unexpected time on our hands, I suggested we case out the nearby mall for music boxes, wind chimes, or any musical instruments before heading home. We located a piano store on the directory and headed for the second floor.
Fortunately, we had the store to ourselves and spoke to the proprietor about wanting to hear a "real" piano played by an expert. He directed us to one of his computerized player piano models, chose a CD, and hit the play button on his remote. This poor, unsuspecting salesman had no idea that I had grown up listening to and loving the piano duo of Ferrante and Teicher and that track 1, the theme from "Exodus", would cause both of his potential customers to dissolve into tears! Oh, my . . . the fidelity, the memories, the stereo . . . there are no words. Can you believe the irony - Exodus. And the next piece was another favorite, Born Free!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Surround Sound

I am thrilled beyond words and completely exhausted from my first day of surround sound!! God blessed me above and beyond what I could ask or think. To understand speech right out of the gate was miraculous to me, albeit a bit strange-sounding and demanding that I look at the person. My activation day eight years ago with my first CI also gave me speech understanding, but it was a robotic noise that did not sound human. Today it was "people talk" right from the get-go, and there was a difference in the sound of each person in the room: Gerry, Dad, Mom, Lisa (my audiologist), Barbara (an audi in training), and me.

I now can understand why those who go bilateral find it hard to go with the newer implant only (I've been advised to do so as much as possible in order to awaken and train those dormant neurons of mine that have been inactive for decades). The stereo sound is truly incredible with 2 cochlear implants!!! It's kinda like taking a deep breath and experiencing an instantaneous unplugging of all your blocked sinus passages and the whole world comes alive with full sound. When I have them both on, everything is louder and it seems like 2 voices speaking at the same time, the new ear receiving a slightly higher pitched version of the person speaking. I guess my brain is processing it all but hasn't learned to blend yet, bilateral but not binaural.

It's so hard to answer the question of what the Harmony 120 sounds like when it's first turned on, but my best attempt is to say that people are down in a deep galvanized well, giving voices a distant, clank-y quality. Gerry, whose voice is often described as a rich, robust "radio" baritone, is sounding a tad higher pitched than "normal" with a tinny, buzzy follow-up. As I type this tonight, sound is already changing and improving. Experience tells me that it will get better and better. Oh, the wonder of technology!

Surprises on Day # 1:

  • I preferred 120 over HiRes. The audi says that's probably because of my music background.
  • The kit comes with more "standard" equipment than my Clarion kit years ago, such as a charger car adapter, travel case with built-in dri aid, patch cord, and spare T-mic. Thank you, AB.
  • When doing the initial mapping, there was no need to determine threshold for each frequency, only the upper volume comfort levels, and no need to sweep each pitch to match the loudness.
  • Since I have always done so well with high frequency sounds, I didn't expect that things that are high-pitched would have additional sounds. For example, walking on dried leaves, the start-up sounds of my computer, and the water boiling in my kettle all have more definition and "extra" sounds that were not there yesterday.

The differences for me in C1 and Harmony on Day # 1:

  • Lighter weight on the ear
  • Smaller battery (since I ordered the slims for my tiny ear)
  • Ability to distinguish between voices
  • Hearing half-tones on a piano keyboard
  • Second map is scheduled for a week later, rather than the next day
  • Better hearing of voices in a noisy restaurant

Activities on Day # 1:

  • Visit with my optician to straighten the temples on my eyeglasses to accommodate the new processor
  • Lunch at an Italian restaurant - crunch of bread was so much louder
  • Continued with our current book-on-tape in the car en route from Mom and Dad's to home - fine with both, but not enough speech understanding with the new one alone (sound too distant and tunnel-y and too much road noise)
  • Heard beeps from the cash register while using the restroom at a Circle K mini-mart. My goodness - - - and I was at the other end of the store!
  • Experimented with a piano keyboard - could hear every note and a lot of the vibrato and harmonics that "trails" each note
  • Listened to a bit of TV - - - great to realize that I understood without reading the Closed Captioning if I saw their faces and if they spoke at a normal speed.

Minor adjustments to make in daily living already:

  • switched batteries for C1 from right side pocket to left to accommodate storing new battery pouch on right
  • No need to always walk on Gerry's right side
  • Less need to worry with seating in restaurants because no longer have a deaf side. Yippee!!

I am overwhelmed. An early Easter for me, the resurrection of my right ear.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Clean as a Whistle

My incision after only 2 weeks. Wow, CI surgery these days is really minimally invasive. Today was my post-op appointment. Everything looks good, both inside and out, says my surgeon. Only 12 days until activation!