I have not posted anything on my blog for a month and there is a good reason for that. I have been ill and had to take some pretty heavy duty pain killers for about three weeks or so. Taking these pills resulted in two things. First, I slept – a lot! And when you sleep, you don’t wear any of the external parts of your implant so I wasn’t getting the usual sound stimulation. And secondly my brain pretty much turned to mush so I also wasn’t thinking very well. In fact a couple of weeks ago I composed a very brief email to one of my clients and had to re-write it three times so it would make sense! A posting was not in the cards.
I’m fine now but have noticed that being without my external processor for so long has resulted in my going backwards a bit. I’m not hearing as well as I was before. Some of this is due to the normal fatigue that comes with illness, but the main reason I think is that my brain is out of practice.
So a couple of lessons for me. One, my audiologist is right – I do need to wear the external processor from the moment I get up to the moment I go to sleep. I generally do this but there are times when I really want to cut out the noises of life. Even though it is sometimes a relief to be in a totally silent world, it is not a good idea.
Another lesson for me – and this is a bigger one I think – is that the progress I have made in my ability to hear and understand sound over the past eight months is perceptible, even when I haven’t thought it was. The fact that I noticed a reduction in my progress from not wearing the processor for a few weeks actually tells me that I am aware of what I have accomplished. I do hope this makes sense! This is an important lesson for me at this stage of my development with the implant because the progress I make now is tiny and not always truly noticeable. So even when I feel I am not moving ahead, I actually am. My brain is getting better all the time at interpreting sound.
To add proof to this particular pudding, this morning in church, urged on by one of my friends, I decided to ‘test’ my ability to hear complex music with just the implant. To backtrack a bit, last December I tried this test for the first time. At that stage in my development, I was able to distinguish individual notes but not the complex sounds of a choral piece. While the choir was singing the anthem last December, I took out my hearing aid (which does allow me to hear some music) and just listened with my cochlear implant. There was no musical sound at all. All I heard was the choir speaking words. It actually reminded me of a Greek chorus because there was a cadence to the words. But no music. This morning when I tried the test again, I heard a little of the music the choir was singing. Tiny steps.