I have been making steady progress with my cochlear implant since it was activated several weeks ago. I have moved from understanding two-syllable words to being able to respond to short questions. And I now hear the chimes when the subway door closes and the sound of a steel drum played by a busker as musical notes not noise, albeit an octave lower – all using only my implanted ear.
However a week or so ago I was in church and noticed that my implant seemed to overpower my hearing-aided ear, which is the one I still rely on to understand any situation involving more than one person. It is great that the sounds from the implant are becoming more prominent. But they are still pretty terrible. People still sound like Darth Vader and when I sing I now hear my voice in the implanted ear more than my hearing-aided ear and it is not pretty! I love singing but think I will let it go for a while. And I don’t always hear full words yet, only pieces. To show you what I mean, I do a number of sound exercises on the computer to practice hearing with my implant. One of the exercises showed the word ‘watermelon’ on the screen. When the computer voice pronounced this word, I heard ‘wahmah’. It is still a huge challenge to understand just with my implant.
So here I am with my implanted ear overpowering my hearing-aided ear with sounds that don’t always make a lot of sense. I know this will improve over time but at the moment it is very frustrating. Someone suggested that I just take off the external processer and have a rest from these sounds. But the brain needs this practice if it is to learn how to clarify the sounds. So I keep my processor on and persevere. I have been told that it could take a year for everything to fall into place. I’m beginning to believe it.