A steeper mountain to climb

Bless me father, for it’s a full week since I last posted. It’s been two weeks since my switch-on and while all is fine, I’m realising I have a bit more of a mountain to climb than I thought in terms of reaching the optimum benefit from this CI. Of course, what everyone has been repeating to me more or less ad nauseum since I got the implant is that it takes time (by everyone I mean my audiologists, other CI implantees, well-informed relatives and my wife Sorcha. Even our four year old Ana chipped in once).  But being the impatient person I often am, this reality hadn’t quite sunk in until my first mapping session on Monday 13th, one week after switch-on.

Jacki switched me to two faster programmes than the one I had been on since switch-on the week before. Then afterwards I did the same speech recognition test as I did pre-op, and in which I had only gotten 14%. What did I get now? 20%. While Jacki assured me this was OK, and not to expect too much (it mainly serves as a baseline for future tests, to measure your improvement as the months go on), I was hoping for a bit more, so I was slightly disappointed. Some people seem to do very well straight from the word go, while others can take many more months, even years before they reach a stage where they can get scores of 80pc or higher in the speech recognition test.

It seems hard to believe at this stage that I will reach those kinds of heights,  over the last few days of working at my listening rehabilitation (basically someone reading out stuff without me lipreading them and trying to recognise what they say, as well as things like listening to audiobooks), I sense a small improvement in recognising speech. The odd word here and there. Hearing with the implant alone is still hard, but the two together is much easier.

The other thing is that I’ve belated realised I’m hearing those beeps and squeaks that I thought I didn’t comprehend in the hours after my switch-on, but which I now recognise as er… beeps and squeaks. Jacki tells me I probably need some further tweaking to my programmes.

So all in all, no miraculous progress; more of a slow burner. The brain needs time to rewire itself, after all.

While I’m on the subject of rehabilitation, I learnt a while ago that many CI programmes would not have included any aural rehabilitationtraining- at least in the past. In other words, implantees would have gotten the implant, gotten switched on, and then were more or less left alone to figure out how to get the best from the implant. I’ve a strong feeling already that my rehabilitation programme as directed by Lesley at Beaumont Hospital, while it seems a slow, often boring and ponderous business, will be hugely important on my journey back to serviceable hearing.

But in the meantime, everything else is working as it should, which is really reassuring, particularly given the news of the Cochlear (which makes the implant hardware) recall recently. Onwards and upwards.


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