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Kirk S.

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  1. Like
    Kirk S. got a reaction from Megan L. in November HearPeers Virtual Coffee Chat   
    I’ll be there! Sorry I missed you guys this time. Hope you had a great chat. ... Things area going reasonably well at the hospital. With some luck, I should be home on Friday. 
  2. Like
    Kirk S. got a reaction from Joan in November HearPeers Virtual Coffee Chat   
    I’ll be there! Sorry I missed you guys this time. Hope you had a great chat. ... Things area going reasonably well at the hospital. With some luck, I should be home on Friday. 
  3. Like
    Kirk S. got a reaction from Mary Beth in November HearPeers Virtual Coffee Chat   
    I’ll be there! Sorry I missed you guys this time. Hope you had a great chat. ... Things area going reasonably well at the hospital. With some luck, I should be home on Friday. 
  4. Sad
    Kirk S. got a reaction from Kylie in October HearPeers Virtual Coffee Chat   
    Hi Mary Beth. Just a quick heads up that unfortunately won’t be able to attend the HearPeers Virtual Coffee Chat next weekend. I had a hearing test and appointment with my otolaryngologist today and the results were so bad that he ordered me straight into the hospital. It appears that my left-side hearing (the “good side”) suddenly crashed badly over the weekend (after beginning to weaken a couple weeks ago) and my doctor wants me in the hospital straightaway for daily tests, observation, treatment, etc. Maybe surgery, too. He said I should plan on being in the hospital at least a couple weeks. He said he and his team still haven’t been able to figure out what’s wrong (probably several things at once) but he said it’s clear that my hearing is steadily weakening and that we need to do something different. As you may recall, I’ve been taking Prednisone (cortico-steroids, as I’m sure you know) for quite a while and that seems to have helped, but my doctor said today that that approach appears to be at the end of it’s usefulness. Ironically, my cool new Rondo 2 still hasn’t proved effective yet and the COVID-19 crisis has delayed my plans to visit the States to work with experienced, English-speaking audiologists to get that sorted out. So I’m kind of between a rock and hard place. But my doctor and his team are considered the best in Japan and I have full faith in them (especially since the folks at MEEI have endorsed everything they’ve done so far) and they work with Med-El all the time, so I’m sure they’ll sort things out eventually. In the meantime, Japanese hospitals are not bad: well run, well staffed, good food. Can’t complain. I’ll let you know how things work out. In the meantime, please give my best to all at the HPVCC next week! Best, Kirk
  5. Like
    Kirk S. got a reaction from Mary Beth in October HearPeers Virtual Coffee Chat   
    Oh, that’s exactly the kind of advice I need over here, Mary Beth. Thanks! I have an appointment with my new audiologists next week Friday, assuming I’m out of the hospital and I’ll pass it along. Hopefully they are experienced enough to do that. 
  6. Like
    Kirk S. got a reaction from Mary Beth in October HearPeers Virtual Coffee Chat   
    Hi Mary Beth!  Thank you for the note and kind thoughts. Yes, actually, things are going a bit better, though it looks like I’ll remain in the hospital through next week. They put me on a course of heavy cortico-steroids and (mostly) bed rest and it seem like that has more or less stopped the damage to my “good side” for the time being. My left-side lower tones (125Hz and 250Hz) had dropped to -70dB and -65db, but have clawed back up to 55db  and 60dB, respectively, since Monday. The mid-tones had not dropped quite so bad, but have leveled off and have climbed up an average 5db. That’s not great, but better than to continue free fall. Luckily, 2000Hz never wavered from -20dB, so I have retained some minimum functional hearing (my new CI is basically still non-functional at this point). My doctors are still stumped as to the cause and/or causes of the recent crash. There are good reasons to believe I have a perilymph fistula, and they are considering surgery. But some of my symptoms don’t fit that diagnosis and I’ve already had two fistula surgeries, with no clear sign of success with either. A competing or.complementary theory is that I developed a steroid deficiency, which kicks in whenever my oral intake of Prednisone drops below 5mg per day, or so. Trouble is, the Prednisone prevents my hearing from worsening, but doesn’t boost it back to a normal level. Sort of like holding the car from sliding over the cliff, but not getting it back on the road. The doctors are pretty sure that the hair cells are all good, because my hearing returned to virtually normal for a long time after my left-side hearing crashed back in 2017. Plus, no one really knows what serious bomb/concussion damage can do to electrical transmission along the auditory nerve, so that might be part of the problem, too. So I’m kind of like a science project. My doctors are considered the best in Japan (one of the younger guys plans to do advanced studies and teaching at Harvard’s MEEI this year if the COVID situation stabilizes), but they say they’ve never run into anything like this or read anything in the medical literature about it. The plan now is to stay in the hospital for another few days or a week, remain on heavy steroids and see what happens. Hopefully, continued slow improvement. Japanese hospitals are pretty comfortable: well-staffed, well-run, low cost. And best of all: Great Japanese food! Best to all, Kirk
  7. Sad
    Kirk S. got a reaction from Nikki in October HearPeers Virtual Coffee Chat   
    Hi Mary Beth. Just a quick heads up that unfortunately won’t be able to attend the HearPeers Virtual Coffee Chat next weekend. I had a hearing test and appointment with my otolaryngologist today and the results were so bad that he ordered me straight into the hospital. It appears that my left-side hearing (the “good side”) suddenly crashed badly over the weekend (after beginning to weaken a couple weeks ago) and my doctor wants me in the hospital straightaway for daily tests, observation, treatment, etc. Maybe surgery, too. He said I should plan on being in the hospital at least a couple weeks. He said he and his team still haven’t been able to figure out what’s wrong (probably several things at once) but he said it’s clear that my hearing is steadily weakening and that we need to do something different. As you may recall, I’ve been taking Prednisone (cortico-steroids, as I’m sure you know) for quite a while and that seems to have helped, but my doctor said today that that approach appears to be at the end of it’s usefulness. Ironically, my cool new Rondo 2 still hasn’t proved effective yet and the COVID-19 crisis has delayed my plans to visit the States to work with experienced, English-speaking audiologists to get that sorted out. So I’m kind of between a rock and hard place. But my doctor and his team are considered the best in Japan and I have full faith in them (especially since the folks at MEEI have endorsed everything they’ve done so far) and they work with Med-El all the time, so I’m sure they’ll sort things out eventually. In the meantime, Japanese hospitals are not bad: well run, well staffed, good food. Can’t complain. I’ll let you know how things work out. In the meantime, please give my best to all at the HPVCC next week! Best, Kirk
  8. Sad
    Kirk S. got a reaction from Mary Beth in October HearPeers Virtual Coffee Chat   
    Hi Mary Beth. Just a quick heads up that unfortunately won’t be able to attend the HearPeers Virtual Coffee Chat next weekend. I had a hearing test and appointment with my otolaryngologist today and the results were so bad that he ordered me straight into the hospital. It appears that my left-side hearing (the “good side”) suddenly crashed badly over the weekend (after beginning to weaken a couple weeks ago) and my doctor wants me in the hospital straightaway for daily tests, observation, treatment, etc. Maybe surgery, too. He said I should plan on being in the hospital at least a couple weeks. He said he and his team still haven’t been able to figure out what’s wrong (probably several things at once) but he said it’s clear that my hearing is steadily weakening and that we need to do something different. As you may recall, I’ve been taking Prednisone (cortico-steroids, as I’m sure you know) for quite a while and that seems to have helped, but my doctor said today that that approach appears to be at the end of it’s usefulness. Ironically, my cool new Rondo 2 still hasn’t proved effective yet and the COVID-19 crisis has delayed my plans to visit the States to work with experienced, English-speaking audiologists to get that sorted out. So I’m kind of between a rock and hard place. But my doctor and his team are considered the best in Japan and I have full faith in them (especially since the folks at MEEI have endorsed everything they’ve done so far) and they work with Med-El all the time, so I’m sure they’ll sort things out eventually. In the meantime, Japanese hospitals are not bad: well run, well staffed, good food. Can’t complain. I’ll let you know how things work out. In the meantime, please give my best to all at the HPVCC next week! Best, Kirk
  9. Like
    Kirk S. got a reaction from Mary Beth in October HearPeers Virtual Coffee Chat   
    Hi Mary Beth. Thanks for the invite. I’ll be there. Looking forward to it! Best, Kirk
  10. Like
    Kirk S. got a reaction from Mary Beth in Cool new additions to OTOPLAN   
    Hi Mary Beth!
    Thank you for your note. Yes, as a matter of fact, I do like road trips. That was my Plan A for New Mexico: Stay in Santa Fe, then make a quick 60- to 90-minute trip to Albuquerque every week or two for CI appointments, mappings, etc. There’s lots of hiking, biking and skiing in Santa Fe, which I really like, plus the food is great, so I could pass a few months like that pretty easy, even if my wife was stuck back home in Tokyo. Plus the COVID outbreak in New Mexico seems manageable; there’s literally plenty of room there for social distancing. But so far, I haven’t been able to find a top-notch audiology/CI center in the Santa Fe/Albuquerque area. I’m hoping MED-EL USA will come through some recommendations. The University of New Mexico in Albuquerque is pretty big, so you’d think they’d have something useful there. But otherwise, the distances out West are pretty daunting for solo road trips: 6 hours to Denver, 8 hours to Phoenix, 12 hours to L.A. Not much fun driving alone that far ...By the way, Nikki wrote me a very nice reply today and she seems pretty sold on Chapel Hill. But I never really liked the American South and I think I might get bored out of my skull sitting in North Carolina for a few months waiting for my next CI appointment. I’ll let you know how things go this week, and please let me know if you have any other ideas. And don’t forget to start saving for the Tokyo Olympics next summer: It’s just a 14-hour flight from New York! 
    Best,
    Kirk
  11. Like
    Kirk S. got a reaction from Mary Beth in September HP Virtual Coffee Chat   
    Hey, Mary Beth. Count me in, of course. Here’s an idea: Why don’t we suggest that everyone start the meeting with a cup of coffee, tea or whatever they drink wherever they are (although Heaven knows what Kylie and her friends drink in far-off Perth — probably beer!). That’ll keep it friendly, social, convivial. Slurping allowed! Kirk
  12. Like
    Kirk S. got a reaction from Mary Beth in How to find an audiology/mapping center in the U.S.   
    Thanks, Mary Beth! That’s very helpful. I was already thinking about Vanderbilt and Chapel Hill, so I’ll put those high on the list. I’m still hoping to find a location where I currently have friends and where there are outdoor activities. I do a lot of skiing in the winter and hiking and outdoor sports in the summer, so Santa Fe would an ideal place for me, especially since some old friends are retired there. Unfortunately, there don’t seem to be any top-rated ENT/Otolaryngology departments or audiologists in Santa Fe or Albuquerque (which is just an hour away). Presumably, they have some native English speakers there so that’s an improvement over Japan! ...The Med-El folks in Tokyo have not been very helpful in finding an audiologist for me in Japan— but I think that’s mostly a cultural issue. They don’t want to risk offending anyone’s current physician or audiologist by recommending someone else. It seems like the Med_El folks in the U.S. are the same (they just refer me to the Med-El Japan folks!). I’ll let you know if I have any luck. Thanks again for the help. See you on the phone chat next month. Best, Kirk
  13. Like
    Kirk S. got a reaction from Kylie in Very interesting read   
    Hi Mary Beth.
    Thanks for this. Yeah, I sorta thought that programming was a lot more systematic than seems to be the case. “Guess-and-check approach based on subjective patient feedback”!??? Yikes. “Guess” is not a word that you want to hear (no pun intended) when you are talking about medical care. Well, good luck to the Vanderbilt team...  
    By the way, I took your advice and asked to see a different team of audiologists here in Tokyo. The new team seemed to think my most recent mapping was a disaster, so they recommended that we start over from the beginning and re-set everything to basic “activation” levels. So that’s where I’m at now. I’m supposed to go back next week and do a little fine-tuning. I don’t suppose the new Vanderbilt study will be done by then, so I guess we’ll use the ”guess and check approach”!   Look forward to seeing you and the gang on Sunday.  
    Best,
    Kirk
     
  14. Like
    Kirk S. got a reaction from Mary Beth in August HearPeers Virtual Coffee Chat   
    Hi Mary Beth. Count me in. Thanks! Kirk
  15. Like
    Kirk S. got a reaction from Jewel in Very interesting read   
    Hi Mary Beth.
    Thanks for this. Yeah, I sorta thought that programming was a lot more systematic than seems to be the case. “Guess-and-check approach based on subjective patient feedback”!??? Yikes. “Guess” is not a word that you want to hear (no pun intended) when you are talking about medical care. Well, good luck to the Vanderbilt team...  
    By the way, I took your advice and asked to see a different team of audiologists here in Tokyo. The new team seemed to think my most recent mapping was a disaster, so they recommended that we start over from the beginning and re-set everything to basic “activation” levels. So that’s where I’m at now. I’m supposed to go back next week and do a little fine-tuning. I don’t suppose the new Vanderbilt study will be done by then, so I guess we’ll use the ”guess and check approach”!   Look forward to seeing you and the gang on Sunday.  
    Best,
    Kirk
     
  16. Like
    Kirk S. got a reaction from Mary Beth in Very interesting read   
    Hi Mary Beth.
    Thanks for this. Yeah, I sorta thought that programming was a lot more systematic than seems to be the case. “Guess-and-check approach based on subjective patient feedback”!??? Yikes. “Guess” is not a word that you want to hear (no pun intended) when you are talking about medical care. Well, good luck to the Vanderbilt team...  
    By the way, I took your advice and asked to see a different team of audiologists here in Tokyo. The new team seemed to think my most recent mapping was a disaster, so they recommended that we start over from the beginning and re-set everything to basic “activation” levels. So that’s where I’m at now. I’m supposed to go back next week and do a little fine-tuning. I don’t suppose the new Vanderbilt study will be done by then, so I guess we’ll use the ”guess and check approach”!   Look forward to seeing you and the gang on Sunday.  
    Best,
    Kirk
     
  17. Like
    Kirk S. got a reaction from Mary Beth in IOWA phoneme test   
    Thanks, Mary Beth! It was great, great, great talking with you and the rest of the group tonight (today, your time!). It’s been a rather discouraging four-plus months since my activation, so it’s reassuring to know that a different set of audiologists might be able to help. I’m not hopeful that international travel restrictions will be eased anytime soon — my guess is six months, earliest — but we’ll see. In the meantime, I’ll start working on the Iowa test asap, and I’ll look up Kylie’s audiologists to see if they have anything online. That should at least give me something to work with when I see my audiologists here in Japan next month. The online chat was great, so thanks so much for putting it together. I hope we can do it regularly. You can tell me about the latest thing you’ve seen on Broadway (although that might be another six months, too)! Please let me know if there’s anything I can do for you from here in Japan — it’s a great country, despite the language barrier! Best, Kirk
  18. Like
    Kirk S. got a reaction from Mary Beth in HearPeers First Ever Video Meeting was a success!   
    Both are fine,  thanks. FYI, there's a +13-hour difference between New York and Tokyo. So, 3pm Saturday June 6 in NYC is 4am Sunday June 7 in Tokyo. I might not be at my conversational best at that time of day.  What time did you hold your first video meeting? 
  19. Like
    Kirk S. got a reaction from Mary Featherston in HearPeers First Ever Video Meeting was a success!   
    Hi Mary Beth. I'd love to join next time. I teach a class once or twice a week via Zoom at a university here in Tokyo, so I'm used to video meetings. Soooooo much more convenient (and safer nowadays!) than traveling across town. I haven't used Google Meet yet, but I have a Gmail account, so I'm sure I can sort it out easily enough. There's a 13 hour difference between Tokyo and NYC but I'm used to working all hours so no problem. Looking forward to seeing you all soon. Kirk
  20. Like
    Kirk S. got a reaction from Mary Beth in HearPeers First Ever Video Meeting was a success!   
    Hi Mary Beth. I'd love to join next time. I teach a class once or twice a week via Zoom at a university here in Tokyo, so I'm used to video meetings. Soooooo much more convenient (and safer nowadays!) than traveling across town. I haven't used Google Meet yet, but I have a Gmail account, so I'm sure I can sort it out easily enough. There's a 13 hour difference between Tokyo and NYC but I'm used to working all hours so no problem. Looking forward to seeing you all soon. Kirk
  21. Like
    Kirk S. got a reaction from Mary Beth in Hello from an American CI recipient in Japan   
    Great advice, everyone! Thanks!
    So, the official "Mary Beth/Kirk Spitzer Default Approach to Audiobooks" should be something as follows:
    1. Audiobooks are for aural training, not (necessarily) for literary fun
    2. Start with a book you know (and preferably like) 
    3. Listen and read a passage simultaneously; re-wind, and listen only. Repeat as needed.
    4. Next, listen to a passage only; then re-wind, listen and read simultaneously. Repeat as needed.
    5. Re-read steps 1. and 2., then resume with steps 3. and 4.
    Anyone have any audiobook/narrator recommendations? I'm currently working on the first book in the Saxon Tales (The Last Kingdom); anything by Robert Cornwell is great, but the narrator for The Last Kingdom has a bit of an  "olde English" accent. I'm looking for a narrator with a nice, clear, middle-range, middle-aged voice. Not too high, not too low. 
     
  22. Like
    Kirk S. got a reaction from Mary Beth in Hello from an American CI recipient in Japan   
    Hi Jewel,
    Thank you for the warm welcome.  I hope you are well. I know the coronavirus is hitting Jamaica hard, like everywhere else. I was sad to read that Sam Clayton Jr. died. I’m old enough to fondly remember the ’88 Jamaican bobsled team.
    Honestly, it’s hard to say how my hearing is now. Overall, it’s probably a little better, but not much. Of course, it’s only been three months since activation and I know that rehab can be a long, slow process. So I’m just working at rehab every day and trying not too expect too much, too soon.
    The good news is that I’m definitely hearing a lot of raw sound through my Rondo 2. Any sound that I hear with my left ear, I also hear through my right-side CI. This is providing a “balance” to my everyday hearing that I haven’t had since I lost my right-side hearing 10 years ago. As a result, my overall hearing experience is much more “comfortable” than pre-CI. I’m happy about that.
    Unfortunately, most of the sound that I hear through my CI is still quite garbled. I can tell the difference between a person’s voice and an idling car, for example, but I can’t clearly understand what someone is saying, nor can I can tell the difference between a car or a truck or any other kind of machine. Nor can I tell where any particular sound is coming from.
    As for music? Well, the short answer is, Music sounds bad when I’m listening solely through my CI (connected via Artone), but good when I’m not.
    I spend a couple hours a day doing rehab with my Artone, and it seems to be helping. The Artone does a nice job of sending sound from my iPad, iPhone, etc., directly to my CI. I can hear speech speech reasonably well – maybe 50 percent? – but it all has a “mechanical” or “robotic” quality.
    Music, of course, is the toughest nut. When I’m listening through the Artone, all of the stringed instruments sound exactly the same, and all the wind instruments sound exactly the same – and they all sound terrible! It’s very hard to discern any tune or melody.
    Oddly enough, piano doesn’t sound too bad. I’ve spent a lot of time playing simple notes and scales on my iPad piano app, and my perception seems to be slowly improving. I was listening to Ladyva’s “Quarantine Boogie” the other day and I could actually tell what she was playing. I think it’s just a matter of repetition until my brain “gets it.”
    We’re pretty much locked down here in Tokyo, so I’ve only seen my audiologists once since my activation. Hopefully coronavirus outbreak will ease up here in another month or so and I’ll make the trip across town and we’ll see what they think.
    In the meantime, I’ll keep working at my rehab and look for slow, steady progress. Thanks again for your note. Let me know if there’s anything I can do for  you or the rest of the CI community.
    Best,Kirk
  23. Like
    Kirk S. got a reaction from Mary Beth in Hello from an American CI recipient in Japan   
    No, not yet. I asked my doctor if he had any other American or English-speaking CI patients in Japan, but he said No. My doctor speaks excellent English (he did a research project at the University of Nebraska), but surprisingly few people in Japan speak English or any foreign language. Japanese is an extremely complex language, very different from English or other Western languages, so it takes a huge commitment of time and effort to learn. Since 98 percent of the population in Japan were born and raised here (as well as their parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, great-great-grandparents, etc., etc.) there’s little incentive to do so. I study Japanese regularly, but even after living here 10-plus years, I still can’t converse in Japanese very well. Especially so after I began to lose my hearing. Hopefully my new CI will make a difference. In the meantime, I think my best bet for “community” will be the Forum. Let me know if you have any ideas on that. Thanks! がんばりましょう! (“Ganbarimashou!” Which translates roughly as “Let’s all try hard to do our best and good luck to everyone!”)
  24. Like
    Kirk S. got a reaction from Mary Beth in Hello from an American CI recipient in Japan   
    Thanks, Mary Beth! As a matter of fact, I’ve watched your “Getting the Most Out of Your Cochlear Implant” video a half-dozen times. It’s one of several videos that I watch repeatedly via my CI/neckloop as a way to work on and measure my progress. The video is very well done and you have a nice message. Let me know if there’s anything I can do for you from here in Japan. Best, Kirk
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