In November 2017 I wrote on my blog that after five years with my cochlear implant I was still hearing new sounds. I am delighted to share with you that even though it is now two years older, my brain continues to adapt and helps me hear sounds in environments where there was a lot of difficulty before. Let me tell you about it.
Earlier this year I gave a presentation to a group of about 50 people on a long-term project that I and a team had been working on at the church I attend. We were in a room that is probably the most difficult of all the rooms at the church to hear in and half-way through the session we turned the (very noisy) air conditioning unit on. As luck would have it, it was one of the first warm days of spring.
In addition to a brief update on our work, we arranged for small group discussions plus feedback and questions from the floor. I was very anxious about the latter two elements.
My business before I retired involved facilitating training sessions, but they were mostly with groups of a size I could manage – usually 12 to 15 people. And I always set up the room so I could walk around and get closer to each participant to lip read more easily. This time, not only was the size of the group four times what I was used to, but the set up was several rows of chairs facing the front to accommodate the numbers in the room. So the only people I could safely lip read were those in the first few rows.
I was so anxious about this that I enlisted a member of our project team to take care of getting the ideas from everyone down on paper as I was concerned that I would not be able to hear them. I do have an F/M system that acts like a microphone but the range is limited and would certainly not reach the back rows.
Well, quelle surprise! I not only heard remarks from the back of the room; I also heard some asides which are generally softer. It really didn’t sink in until a few days later when I was reviewing the ideas from the event and realized, “I heard this.” I honestly didn’t think I could manage with this large a crowd. Now I know I can!
I have had my cochlear implant for seven years now. I am 74 years old yet my brain seems to think it is 21! For all of you wondering if it is possible, as the saying goes, to “teach an old dog new tricks”, I can tell you without doubt that it is. To the cochlear implant crowd reading this blog, especially those of you new to this experience, take heart!