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Kirk S.

Hello from an American CI recipient in Japan

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Hello, All.
 
This is just a quick introduction. My name is Kirk. I’m a retired American journalist now living in Tokyo, Japan. I received a Synchrony I implant with a Rondo 2 processor in early January, with activation a few weeks later. All seems to be going well, so far, but I wouldn’t mind suggestions or guidance from Forum users regarding the mapping and rehab process, which I know is extremely important. I’ve had terrific care from one of the leading hearing specialists in Japan — in fact, an entire team of them! — and my audiologists are dedicated and hard-working folks. However, there is a significant language barrier with English and Japanese; and I am one of the very first patients in Japan with Single Side Deafness to receive a CI. As a result, we’re still struggling a bit to communicate what I’m actually hearing through my new CI, what I should expect, and how we should proceed. I still have somewhat functional hearing in my “good” left ear, so of course, my brain wants to listen through this ear rather than my new CI. For rehab purposes, I’m using a neckloop to send sound directly to the CI for two or three hours a day (audio books; Med-El and YouTube videos; recorded word lists; musical tones; etc.). I’m pleased that I can understand most spoken words through the CI, though sound quality is still rather garbled and “robotic.” Overall, my hearing feels more comfortable now that I’m getting sound from both sides rather than just one and I’m sure the sound quality will improve over time. I know that listening “mileage” is a key part of the rehab process, so I’m in no rush and I plan to keep working at it every day. If anyone has any advice or guidance about the rehab and mapping process, I’d be happy to hear from you. If you have any questions for me, please feel free to send them along. Thanks!
 
Best,
Kirk

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Welcome @Kirk S.!

 

I will tag you in the topic of what helped me with aural rehab in case you find something there that interests you.

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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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@Kirk S.

Thanks for your kind words.

Have you met other Med-El CI users yet in Japan?

 

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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!”)

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@Kirk S.

I am glad you joined the forum!

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Hi Kirk. Sounds like you are doing all the right things. In my early days audio books was the way to go.

angelsound .tigerspeech.com  was also great. 

Peter 

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Hi @Kirk S.

Welcome to the forum! I'm curious as to how your hearing is now. How does music sound these days? I recall that I played my favourite CD in the car for several weeks before it started making sense. The lesson is just keep immersing yourself in sound. Sooner or later our amazing brain sorts everything out. 

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Hi Peter,

 

Thanks for the note. Yup, I use Angelsound via Bluetooth direct to my CI almost every day, and I’m currently listening to Bernard Cornwell’s “Saxon Tales” series on Audible.  I can understand about half of the audio with my CI, so I usually follow along with the text. Not sure how much progress I’m making, but it’s only been three months since my activation so I’m sure I’ll get there eventually. Luckily, I still have reasonably good hearing on my non-CI side, so no complaints. 

 

Cheers,

Kirk

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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

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I found wearing an earplug in my “good” ear helped with my rehab. Still do that occasionally 3+ years in especially for music. I know what you mean by the good ear trying to take over😀

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Hi Kirk 

Reading along with listening makes a big difference. After a year some women's voices and childrens voices sound odd. Television and radio voices some times sound gravelly more so since my last mapping. But I can mostly understand them. For me perception happens in jumps, I suddenly realise that a sound has come right. I can hear my granddaughters voice over whatsapp now. 

Music is another story. Percussion and piano, so Bach Brubeck and Peterson. 

Flute and clarinet starting to sound like they make music. It's been an amazing year for me. I marvel at it every day. Everyday sounds are back to normal. 

Detecting where a sound is coming from is hilarious. My left ear is pretty useless except with headphones so music is getting better all the time with the headphones. 

So keep up the practice. 

Peter 

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Hi Peter,

Thanks for the tip... When you listen to audio books, do you primarily read the text and put your listening on automatic pilot as your read? Or do you listen first and then glance at the text as necessary?  I find that when I'm reading, I seem to hear  everything with almost perfect clarity. However, when I close my eyes and just listen, it seems like I actually understand only about half of what I'm hearing. So that makes me wonder if reading-first is really doing my hearing rehab much good. I suppose that you could argue that as I read, my brain is associating what I see with what I hear.  But I'm not convinced that's the best way to go about it.  I've played sports, practiced music and studied foreign languages for most my life and I know that while studying and practicing are important, PROPERLY studying and practicing are more important. If you or others have any thoughts on this, i'd appreciate if you'd let me know. Thanks!

Best,

Kirk

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@Kirk S.

This is what worked for me.

Listen and follow along in the book to a short passage.Then rewind and listen only to that same passage....more than once if needed.

As I progressed, I reversed this.  I listened only to a short passage.  Then went back and listened while following along in the text.  Then listened to the same passage again without the text.

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Hi Kirk

I too am SSD and am now 1 year since implant. I do all my practise plugged in to my computer to avoid the better ear helping.

It's interesting to hear you describe music - I too find piano the easiest to follow, but most other instruments are more challenging. 

I practise with choral too, which is hard, but I sing in a choir so that is important for me.

In early rehab days I found watching documentaries with captions (then without) useful as there was only 1 speaker to follow (as opposed to regular drama series which I progressed to later). And lots of angelsounds.

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1 hour ago, Kirk S. said:

Hi Peter,

Thanks for the tip... When you listen to audio books, do you primarily read the text and put your listening on automatic pilot as your read? Or do you listen first and then glance at the text as necessary?  I find that when I'm reading, I seem to hear  everything with almost perfect clarity. However, when I close my eyes and just listen, it seems like I actually understand only about half of what I'm hearing. So that makes me wonder if reading-first is really doing my hearing rehab much good. I suppose that you could argue that as I read, my brain is associating what I see with what I hear.  But I'm not convinced that's the best way to go about it.  I've played sports, practiced music and studied foreign languages for most my life and I know that while studying and practicing are important, PROPERLY studying and practicing are more important. If you or others have any thoughts on this, i'd appreciate if you'd let me know. Thanks!

Best,

Kirk

 

Mary Beth has it right for serious practice. But to enjoy the book read as you listen. yes if you can see the text the sound is perfect. If you have an android phone check 

https://sourceforge.net/projects/bendmyear

It's the sentences from angel. You only see the text if you display it. With the American accent, I have to repeat a lot of the sentences, but as soon as I see the text I can understand it. 

Sometimes when listening to an audio book the reader puts on an accent and I have to repeat the paragraph to understand it. 

Peter 

 

 

 

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@pdk is absolutely correct!  The way I described using audiobooks and the texts was for aural rehab practice.  It was not a way to actually enjoy the book!  In fact, I started with books I already knew.

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59 minutes ago, pdk said:

 

Mary Beth has it right for serious practice. But to enjoy the book read as you listen. yes if you can see the text the sound is perfect. If you have an android phone check 

https://sourceforge.net/projects/bendmyear

It's the sentences from angel. You only see the text if you display it. With the American accent, I have to repeat a lot of the sentences, but as soon as I see the text I can understand it. 

Sometimes when listening to an audio book the reader puts on an accent and I have to repeat the paragraph to understand it. 

Peter 

 

 

 

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. 

 

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@Kirk S.

LOL!  Spot on!

Choose a book you REALLY REALLY like!  LOL!

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Easy voice text reader works well. 

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On 3/11/2020 at 4:08 AM, Kirk S. said:
Hello, All.
 
This is just a quick introduction. My name is Kirk. I’m a retired American journalist now living in Tokyo, Japan. I received a Synchrony I implant with a Rondo 2 processor in early January, with activation a few weeks later. All seems to be going well, so far, but I wouldn’t mind suggestions or guidance from Forum users regarding the mapping and rehab process, which I know is extremely important. I’ve had terrific care from one of the leading hearing specialists in Japan — in fact, an entire team of them! — and my audiologists are dedicated and hard-working folks. However, there is a significant language barrier with English and Japanese; and I am one of the very first patients in Japan with Single Side Deafness to receive a CI. As a result, we’re still struggling a bit to communicate what I’m actually hearing through my new CI, what I should expect, and how we should proceed. I still have somewhat functional hearing in my “good” left ear, so of course, my brain wants to listen through this ear rather than my new CI. For rehab purposes, I’m using a neckloop to send sound directly to the CI for two or three hours a day (audio books; Med-El and YouTube videos; recorded word lists; musical tones; etc.). I’m pleased that I can understand most spoken words through the CI, though sound quality is still rather garbled and “robotic.” Overall, my hearing feels more comfortable now that I’m getting sound from both sides rather than just one and I’m sure the sound quality will improve over time. I know that listening “mileage” is a key part of the rehab process, so I’m in no rush and I plan to keep working at it every day. If anyone has any advice or guidance about the rehab and mapping process, I’d be happy to hear from you. If you have any questions for me, please feel free to send them along. Thanks!
 
Best,
Kirk

HI Kirk!!!!!Nice to see you here. Glad you were able to sign up and share your experience. Though you are far away the USA is still here for you!

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