My name is Tim McKenzie. I'm a musician (acoustic guitar) and was identified as an implant candidate 3 years ago. I wear two hearing aids and am now seriously considering a “one implant/one hearing aid” set-up. As part of the process of deciding whether to do this I’m extremely eager to connect with other musicians (acoustic guitarists, in particular) who may have a similar set-up, if any (i.e., one implant/one hearing aid).
I am 66 and began wearing hearing aids, off and on, 15 years ago. It was then I learned that my hearing loss likely started as result of bacterial meningitis when I was a young teenager …from which, it was thought, I had managed to recover unscathed. Word is now that, in addition, the meningitis may have caused bone growth (ossification?) in my cochlea, perhaps rendering the CI option moot. A scan will be conducted to check this out.
My speech recognition is poor (just under 20%), but if folks speak to me slowly, I find I am still able to converse face-to-face, one-on-one in a quiet situation. (Strangely, this is true even when the “mute” program on my hearing aids is active?) But, with the slightest background noise or more than one person talking at time, I’m pretty much out of luck.
When playing music with others (an increasingly difficult situation) I need the hearing aids on in order to hear my own guitar, but then it can sound tiny, brash,sharp, etc. In addition to very noisy situations, I sometimes use the mute program on my hearing aids when playing my guitar alone because, with the residual hearing I do have, the sound is so much “warmer” and “natural” ...even without the mid- and high frequencies.
I’ve read up on both the Cochlear Nucleus and the MED-EL Synchrony devices and find MED-EL’s emphasis on reaching further into the cochlea to enhance not only speech recognition but music appreciation to be compelling.
My poor speech recognition is a tangible and isolating burden but, as I mentioned above, I am still able to “get by” if the situation is just right. It’s just that I don’t know that I could “get by” without being able to play music. I’m not tone deaf (in fact, I play at a fairly high level) so I’m encouraged to think that with one implant and one hearing aid (thus retaining the residual hearing in the aided ear) that I might still be able to enjoy some of the natural sound of music (and my own guitars in particular) while eventually becoming better able to recognize the spoken (or sung!) words of my grandchildren in particular …and everybody else.
But I also have read enough to understand it may be naïve – unrealistic even - to hope for such an outcome. I will deeply appreciate any advice or experience any implanted musician - or anyone really in this forum, really - may be willing to share regarding their experience with hearing music.
p.s. Happy Holidays!