My First Post-Activation Check-up

by Rebecca J on 2012-11-02

This morning at 10, I had my first post-activation check-up with Amy and Ashton at Austin Ear Clinic. We started out by reviewing the difficulties that Iʼd been having since the implant was activated: inability to distinguish between noises (like a cabinet door slamming and footsteps sounded the same), constant buzzing in my ear even when the processor is turned off, and muffled voices. Amy thought that the buzzing was a sign of my long-out-of-use auditory nerve being kicked back into gear.

From there, Ashton started doing the same tests that she did at my activation appointment. First, while the processor was turned off, she tested the electrodes in the implant to make sure that they were still working. Everything was fine there.

Next, she tested how my range of hearing had expanded over the last week. She started to play beeps at various volume levels and pitches and had me count how many I heard. Some of the beeps were very, very quiet, almost where it was more of a buzzing sensation in my jaw than an actual sound, and some of the beeps were more audible. That test was designed to test how low I could go. (Ha.) I could tell that it was easier for me to distinguish and count the separate beeps at this appointment.

The next test was a new one to me. This one was to determine how loud I could go. I had a little chart that had a Likert-type scale, ranging from “Off” to “First Sound” to “Soft” and up to “As loud as I can handle ALL DAY LONG” and “Uncomfortable.” No guessing on the number of tones. I just had to indicate how loud the separate beeps were by pointing at the chart. I noticed that the higher pitched beeps were harder to tolerate.

So, we did all of those beeps until Amy and Ashton were satisfied. They had a whispered consultation about how to program my processor according to the test results. Then Amy said, “Letʼs turn it on and see how things sound.” She said, “It might sound a little different from what you were used to over the last week.”

And then they turned it on and waited. Amy said something, and I could immediately tell that everything sounded SO MUCH BETTER. I could hear a voice that wasnʼt nearly as muffled but there was still some background noise, possibly from the laptop fans in the room. Then Amy explained that they had put two programs on, one “regular” and one “noise.” Then she switched to the noise program, and her voice sounded EVEN BETTER. It was like night and day difference in how much more intelligible she sounded.

For the last part of the appointment, Amy had me go over her word lists. It was similar to what William and I have been doing at home, you know, the homework that reduces me to tears. She read off a list of grocery words, like oatmeal, lunch meat, milk, orange juice, etc., so I could hear what they sounded like. She read them one more time and then covered up her mouth and had me guess the word as she read.

I donʼt want to brag too much, but I pretty much rocked this. There were a few words that I didnʼt get right on the first try, but there were no words that I couldnʼt eventually figure out with more listening. “Apple” was one of the words, and I didnʼt mistake it for “lemon.” That was huge. Amy even said a few times that she was impressed with how quickly I was able to discern words, after having my new programs turned on for just a few minutes.

I would say that appointment was a huge success. Iʼm actually excited to do my homework now that everything sounds louder and clearer. Yay!

My next appointment is on November 10. Amy said that after that appointment, the processor should be set pretty close to the volume level that it will stay at for the longer-term.

Also exciting: Amy said that she would do a guest post for this blog! So, I have some ideas, but Iʼm curious to know what my readers would like to hear from an audiologistʼs point of view. Suggestions, please!