Yesterday I went to my two year activation follow up. I was feeling some trepidation on the way because I left my six months follow up devastated at the results. My emotions and expectations had been very high, and unrealistic that day. Even though I knew that it might not be what I had hoped, my heart wanted more. I scored low that day. While I understood that it was early yet, and I had much work to do, that we were still tweaking my programming it was still devastating.
So this time I kept my expectations in check, and came home quite pleased, and stoked about one particular test. After my AVT session where we verified how much I’d progressed in my speech discrimination. Despite sporadic use of the processor due to chronic headaches, and an infected tooth (caused me to grind my teeth), I still responded almost perfectly.
I cannot hear f, th and s, sh, ch, c, k only moderately well; but can hear the rest of the speech sounds. These sounds are in the high frequency range, which we are still working on gaining access to, and my brain still needs training on recognizing them. We are still working on gaining better distinction between similar sounds like c and k.
Then it was time to see my audiologist and do the sound test and speech discrimination test. With just the CI, and no hearing aid, I comprehended about 32% of the sentences. This was understandable due to the amount of high frequency speech sounds. When I put my hearing aid in, my speech discrimination jumped drastically, by 36% to 68% accuracy. That’s huge in my book. The same occurred with the word speech discrimination test. I even felt more confident than I had at my six month follow up.
Then she showed me the audiogram of the sound test we had started with. It was not what I had thought I would see. I had expected a mild-moderate range of improvement. Instead: it was normal to mild range, which had me stunned. I never expected, or dreamed that the cochlear implant would yield such a big gain in my hearing. I would have been satisfied with a mild to moderate level.
Below are four images. The first one is the audiogram of my left ear from January of this year. I don’t have one of the right ear before it was implanted, however it was virtually the same, but a tad worse, so we implanted that ear.
The second audiogram is the implanted right ear, and the current level of hearing I have with the cochlear implant. You can see that it is ALMOST an across the board level of hearing, around the 20db range. At 2000 MHz and higher, it drops to about 30db range.
The other two show the speech banana, showing where speech sounds and environment sounds fall on the spectrum, and where the different levels of hearing loss fall on the chart.
Although my hearing with the cochlear implant is almost normal, it does not however mean that I comprehend speech like a hearing person. All it means is that while I may hear those speech sounds, my brain still needs to be trained to recognize them. As previously mentioned, the higher frequency speech sounds are still difficult to hear, and distinguish from each other. However, with lots and lots of practice and training, I might get there.
Having never heard these sounds for forty years, I’d say it’s an amazing result, for only two years since my activation. The future is bright, and full of promise. Future advancements in the processors may one day allow me to achieve better. For now, I will take yesterday’s results, and run with it.