Tinny radio rocks!

It’s been just over four months since I was activated, so time for an update.

I knew that my soundscape would change as soon as I got the implant, but even after four months, it’s still changing.

If you’ve read previous blog entries, you’ll remember that I struggled to settle into a program that I liked or that sounded normal enough. Since my third mapping, in December, things had been much better. A few weeks after that, I felt that things, once again, weren’t improving an awful lot, and then it dawned on me that I hadn’t really experimented much with the sensitivity control on my processor. I had been gradually turning up the volume as I got more used to the electrical stimulation, and reached a point a few weeks ago where I think it’s now high enough. Then I started cranking up the sensitivity and – wow – it made another huge difference.

As you might expect, one consequence of cranking up the sensitivity is that various little sounds all around the house have become more prominent and instantly recognisable (as opposed to having to take a second or two to figure out what they were): the clicking of mobile phone keypads or a computer mouse, the soft hums of the gas boiler and the fridge, the rumble of cars’ tyres as they pass our front door etc etc.

I maintain my bicycle well, but it has, all of sudden, developed a cacophony of rattles and creaks that was, at one stage, unnerving to the point where I wondering if I would make it home on a couple of trips. My car, a noisy enough yoke, is the same, all clunks, rattles and whirrs – slightly worrying to my new ears because I’m planning on moving it on. Only my deep, enforced familiarity with the mechanics of this 37 year old car car reassures me it’s working perfectly fine.

But more usefully for me, talking on the phone is now a lot easier, even to the point where I have recently made a few of short, perfunctory calls to people I had never spoken to before and, in a couple of instances, people I didn’t know!

I can hear most of what is said in a short news report on the radio, but it still requires my complete concentration, as opposed to being something in the background you can tune in and out of.

In general, my implanted ear is now even more dominant than before, a sensation that reinforces itself when I hear anything that’s remotely loud, such as the doorbell, which is now identified as a tuneless, low-pitched dong-dong rather than ding-dong.

That’s the downside, in a way — the sound quality isn’t exactly high fidelity. For instance, group conversations in the house with visiting friends or family is a bit like trying to tune into a tinny radio – albeit one that’s turned up very loud. In fact, everything sounds a bit like I’m hearing it through a tinny radio.

But the important thing is that, after just four months, I’m not just hearing everything, but understanding more and more of it every day. I wouldn’t be without it. Tinny radio rocks!

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