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Activated today with amazing results!


Michael Goldberg
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Update on Michael's Cochlear Implant Activation.

I am a low bass singer with low frequency hearing loss in both ears.  In June of 2021 I lost most of the remaining hearing in my right ear and decided to receive a Med-El Cochlear Implant with a long electrode array to aid in hearing low frequencies.  I'm participating in a clinical trial through UCSF (https://clinicaltrials.ucsf.edu/trial/NCT04506424) to see if the use of CT image-based frequency maps, beginning on the first day of CI activation, will improve user performance in the areas of speech and music perception, as compared to the use of default programming settings.

Today my Cochlear Implant was activated/turned on.  In my left ear I wear a Hearing Aid, but my right ear is now a CI, the Med-El Sonnet 2 - a behind-the-ear processor.  Later I will also be receiving a Rondo3, both covered by my insurance, but starting off for now with the Sonnet.

My activation went amazingly, surprisingly well, very untypical.
Med-El represenative called me a "rockstar" because I'm one of the few who can understand speech clearly upon activation.  I went in prepared to just hear chirps and whistles and static and beeps, planning to spend the next year training my ear/brain to interpret the new signals.

Much to all of our surprise, I could hear and understand speech very well immediately. I wondered if possibly I was being unduly influenced by my good-ish ear, so we put ear plugs in, had me face my good ear away from the audiologist and Med-El rep, and continued to converse.  Audiologist started testing me with simply single syllable word recognition but soon abandoned it when it became obvious that I was hearing very well, better than with my hearing aid in the other ear.

One of the first things I noticed was that I could hear my own voice and I sounded like a bass again! With my strange low frequency hearing loss (due to Meniere's disease) it most affected my ability to hear myself speak or sing.

The CI is currently at about 90% volume, and sounds are much louder in my CI ear than with my other ear with the hearing aid. 

Another thing I noticed a short while after activation was that I was very relaxed while speaking with the audiologist and the Med-El rep.  I didn't realize how much effort I've had to put in to listen to conversations, but I did know that I became very tired out trying to listen in meetings, etc.  So it was very notable to me that I could feel so at ease while carrying on a conversation - I bet I could even half-listen and still follow the gist of the conversation, something I've not been able to do for quite some time.  Before my CI if I wasn't completely focused on the conversation I would miss a lot.

I hear lots of electronic chirps and other artifacts but for some reason speech is very clear.
Running water from the tap sounds very electronic. Typing keys on the keyboard produces high pitched chirps. Clinking silverware or glasses when loading/unloading dishwasher is unrecognizable as high pitched beeps or chirps.

But, I can understand speech!

Although I had only been activated for 20 minutes or so, when the audiologist turned off my CI to finish programming it, I immediately missed it.  I wanted that CI turned back on as soon as possible! Did not like the dead sound/feeling from my right ear when it was off.

Got in the car to go home, immediately had to turn the radio volume down on the news station as it was too loud for my CI. I could hear and understand everything spoken on the radio.

I'm figuring out how to use the AudioLink bluetooth accessory to stream youtube audio from my PC directly to my CI. Pretty cool.

So amazing results for first time activation - not the usual outcome.  Very greatful.

Lots of electronic chirps and other artifacts in my hearing, but as Louise, the Med-El rep said, today is the worst day of hearing that you will have with the CI - it only gets better from here. 

Some additional details about my activation:

Had some unusual issues - when the audiologist was setting the volume for each of the electrodes, several of the electrodes in the higher frequencies caused me vertigo and I felt an unpleasant buzzing sensation regardless of the volume.  I'm not sure what parameters the Med-El rep and the audiologist had to tweak but they got it to where I could hear the higher tones without vertigo or discomfort. I'm told this reaction is not common but is not completely unknown either. Louise, the Med-El rep, gave guidance as to what parms to tweak.  The higher frequencies have a lower volume now than the lower frequencies, but it's a start.

Men's voices sound lower when streaming through the AudioLink to my CI. When listening with both ears they sound fairly normal (with lots of extra digital chirps) except much clearer than prior to my implantation.  I'll need to play around more with the AudioLink and the Med-El AudioKey 2 app.

Piano pitches - haven't played a lot with it (too many goodies came in my Med-El bag and I got distracted), but some pitches in my CI have a .. undertone.. about a third lower.  When I whistle I sound like I'm harmonizing with myself.  Some piano pitches are lower than what I hear in my non_CI ear, other  pitches sound about right.

Today was a long day - went back to work right after activation so haven't really had lots of time to experiment with music, etc. Just reading through the manuals and trying to figure out the accessories.

I look forward to learning and hearing more in the days and weeks to come.

Michael
 

20220201_212508MedElSonnet2Processor.jpg

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  • HearPeers Heroes

Wow that's a terrific start!!!! Better than most. Yes those chirps and beeps will go away over time too.

Congrats!!

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  • HearPeers Heroes

Also I know what you mean about missing it. I cannot bear to be without mine at all. I feel so capable and 'normal' with it on and relatively helpless without it. And I still have a good ear on the other side but it's that noticeable!

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@Michael Goldberg

Such a terrific start!  Very exciting!  Thank you for sharing your activation experience.  I can’t wait to read your next update!  Enjoy your journey.

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Fantastic start! It will change so much over the next week. Very similar to my experience except that all of the voices were very high pitched. A week in they are still a little high pitched robotic versions of themselves. If I had to guess every day when you get up more things will sound normal. Thats what has happened to me. Most environmental sounds are now normal. I prefer my implant to my hearing aid already because I can carry on conversations. Are your bass sounds deep? Mine are not.

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  • 2 months later...

@Jason77My bass sounds are quite deep. When I stream just to my CI everyone sounds more on the bass side. Nothing sounds tinny or high pitched to me at all.

 

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That’s awesome. Mine are deep and I really love the way it sounds. I have not tried streaming to my implant at all as I do quite well without streaming. Nothing at all sounds tiny to me. It’s very natural. I love drums and bass guitar!

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amazing start.  I got activated a few weeks ago and working hard on rehab. 

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i have high frequency loss like most I think.  low frequency I can hear very well through CI but high pitches I haven't heard for 30 years are an adjustment.  I really want to hear flutes and violins again.  its coming.  

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Grats on your activation! Omg yes the kit has sooo many goodies lol. Best thing is to find a contsiner you like and store all the back up and replacement stuff then see whats left lol like christmas!

I am 7 mo. Activated and now to the point that i can identify what is missing, trying to focus on what needs rehabbing and what to talk about next visit. I am retired so have time to experiment. This is my first spring, the environmental sounds are totally amazing so speech is secondary to me right now, lol.

I look forward to your posts and wow moments!!!

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