Activation Day came and went without too much excitement. As we were driving home from the appointment, I told William that it hadn't been as exciting as I'd expected. I think that's because I knew what would likely happen and (this part is encouraging) my brain and my ear knew what to listen for already. That makes me hope that the learning curve won't be so steep on this second go around.
The appointment started with one of the clinic's doctoral externs, whose name I can't remember. Amy was finishing up another appointment and joined us later on. The extern started setting up the equipment and showed me my new processor (the external component of the implant).
Turns out I was wrong about what will happen when I upgrade. For now, I have a complete processor kit, just like the kit I got back in October, with two processors and a plethora of accessories. I'll wear the processor that was activated and had to promise not to open any of the other boxes in the kit. When the upgrade is available, we will send the entire old kit back to get the upgrade kit. I just have to say that the company is pretty trusting with this arrangement, considering how many thousands of patients across the US are waiting for the same upgrade.
So, the extern handed me the processor and had me figure out how to put it on. I spent about 5 minutes trying to find the spot where the processor's magnet would attach to the implant's magnet. I have too much hair! Sheesh. But really, the other difficulty is that there is still some swelling from surgery one week ago, and that can also affect the connectivity. I hope the swelling subsides soon. We finally got it sorted out after putting a stronger magnet on.
By this point, Amy had joined us, along with yet another extern who was there to observe. I felt a little like a specimen on a microscope. Amy explained how the mapping process would work, which was no different from any of my previous appointments for my right ear's processor. The extern played a series of beeps, and I had to listen. If I could hear them, then I had to count them, anywhere from one to four beeps. So, we did this for a while, and I again felt like a specimen responding to stimulus under observation. William and Amy were having a highly animated conversation that looked much more interesting than what I was doing. I could've eavesdropped but didn't since I wanted to give my full attention to the beeps. (Lab specimen).
Finally the mapping part was done, and Amy said that they were going to turn it on. So, they did! And I could hear little tiny sounds. I emphasize that they were tiny. The only reason that I knew they were sounds is because I remembered my first appointment, and how I had a magic moment when I realized that I was hearing for the first time. Amy started talking, and right away I heard her voice. It was very faint but distinctively Amy's.
With all the exciting stuff out of the way, Amy turned to William and said, "Now it's your turn to talk." Then it was William's turn to feel like a lab rat! So, he started talking about our vegetable garden, and I provided feedback about how he sounded. (Not terribly intelligible, which was not his fault.) Poor guy eventually got drowned out by my explanation about the current state of the garden and then subsequent questions and other funny gardening stories from the audiologists. Who knew there was so much to say about eggplant and okra? I bet William didn't!
Despite all of this, Amy was encouraged by how I was doing, so she had me and William do another experiment. He covered his mouth and listed colors one by one, and I had to guess which color he was saying. Ugh. Too hard! I think that I heard "purple" and "yellow," and the rest were too hard to distinguish. "Black" and "white" sounded too similar to tell them apart. Funny, no?
And that was pretty much it for the appointment. I thought it went well, even though I've pretty much gotten the routine down by now. My homework is to go without the processor in my right ear for an hour or two and to practice listening with my left ear alone. I'm also supposed to practice turning the volume up incrementally to increase my listening tolerance.
I go back in two weeks for more fine tuning. The miracle continues to unfold slowly.