Just the Beginning

We know that many of you are excited to know how things are going with Dave’s activation two days ago on Monday afternoon, August 15th. Overall, it is clear that it is going well, but it is hard to put our finger on and quantify exactly how well, or how much better is Dave actually hearing?

Although we feel very grateful at this point that Dave CAN hear again (Praise God!) and that he CAN distinguish voices (Praise God!!), we are still a bit hesitant and feeling out this new experience. We’ve realized that the full impact of this change will only become clear to us, moment by ordinary moment, as we notice and marvel at things that Dave now hears that before were impossibilities.

So here is a brief rundown of some of those “hearing moments” that have struck us in the past twenty-four hours. Although it would be difficult for us to concisely conclude exactly how well Dave is doing with the cochlear implant, we believe that these examples will make the results more tangible for us all to grasp.

Day 1 – 1st Mapping Session

As Dave began to share in his last post, “Mixed Emotions,” he was able to distinguish voices and understand some speech essentially right away when the audiologist activated him. The children’s voices sounded very high pitched, my voice and the audiologist’s voices sounded like a high pitched Minnie Mouse, but interestingly enough, Dave said that both his mother’s and his father’s voices sounded mostly like themselves. Whenever I would say something to him, he’d respond to me with a grin: “Okay, Minnie.”

“Oh, boy. This could get really old, really fast,” I thought. “I hope I’m not going to be relegated to being Minnie Mouse the rest of my life!” Dave joked that he should get me some mouse ears; I told him only if he takes me to Disney World. But we both agreed that his ability to hear “Minnie Mouse” is better than hearing “no mouse” at all, so to speak. I simply looked to his mother, whose voice he could hear normally, shrugged my shoulders and said, “Well, I guess I just haven’t known him long enough!”

Amy, the audiologist, explained that it is very normal for voices to sound high pitched because the cochlear implant is able to give Dave high pitch frequencies that the hearing aide couldn’t. Over time, she assured us, voices will sound more normal again. Phew! At least he’s hearing us! We all agreed on that.

Then during the second hour of the mapping session, Amy ran through some informal speech tests with Dave. For most of the tests, he was given multiple choice options of the words or sentences she was saying, and she spoke behind a black screen she held up so that Dave could NOT see her lips or even most of her face. Although it looked like he was working hard to concentrate and sort out what he was hearing, Dave essentially aced the tests, almost perfectly repeating the words or sentences she said. On the last test she gave him, he was even able to repeat simple sentences to her without any written options in front of him.

Right there, we were all thinking: WOW! Dave was able to understand Amy WITHOUT using his microphone and WITHOUT lip-reading. Already this was a clear marker to us of how WELL Dave was doing within about the first HOUR of being activated. WOW! God has been good to us!

Day 2 – 2nd Mapping Session

It was clear by the time we returned to Amy the next day that Dave was clearly ready to hear more. He said he could hear voices, although they sounded a bit suppressed and muffled. Amy went through the electrodes adjusting each one’s low and high thresholds based on Dave’s feedback. While his low thresholds didn’t shift much, all of his high thresholds moved up significantly. Here is a picture of what it we saw; showing the 22 channels with the upper (red) and lower (green) thresholds. Electrode Mapping

The 2nd picture shows the electrode with the 22 points on the wire with all of them being active.

Electrode Picture

When Amy turned his cochlear implant back on with the new programming, I began to see my husband getting excited. His eyes lit up and he grinned at me, “Hey, you no longer sound like Minnie Mouse!” Thank God for that! Good bye, Minnie!

Overall, Dave said that voices sound louder and richer, more normal-like. Yeah! Throughout this mapping session, Dave was able to fairly easily communicate with both me and the audiologist, even if Anna created a little bit of background noise. He even noticed her saying “Daddy”! J

Dave has become very playful with sounds, almost like a little child discovering what sounds everything makes. He walks around knocking or banging lightly on things. He himself will talk at different pitches and volumes, or even sing, to see what his own voice sounds like. In the mapping session he had me shake the box of toys Anna was playing with to test out if his map was set too high, and as we left the Mayo today, he ran over to the piano in the lobby and started playing “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”  With a big grin he said, “I can hear it!” We paused to take a short video and then continued walking out the subway level to the parking ramp. Dave was about 20 feet in front of me but still managed to hear me say, “We need to take the next left.” As he disappeared around the corner, his mother, Trudy, who was walking in between us, looked back at me with surprised eyes and a big grin, saying: “He heard you!”

On our way home, we stopped through the Taco Bell drive through because we had two sleeping girls in the van. While ordering, Dave could hear the employee through the speaker well enough to know that she was saying “2 Beef Combos” instead of “2 Bean Burritos” and corrected her!

To top it all off, on the way home in the van, Dave was able to hear me and carry on a conversation without needing to look at me or use the FM microphone! For a numbers of years now, we have had to use the microphone to communicate in the car, and in the last couple of months, not even the microphone was good enough, so we had just given up talking in the car. Regaining this ability is huge!

As we turned onto our road, it began to pour, and Dave said the rain pounding on the windshield sounded like a percussionist playing the chimes.

When we finally had the kids settled into bed, and the house was quiet, I was cleaning up in the kitchen and Dave was fiddling with the contents of his huge cochlear implant briefcase. Suddenly I heard him exclaim: “Karin, I can hear it!” I turned to see him sitting in the computer chair with his implant plugged into his phone. “Hear what?” I asked.

“The audio Bible! I can understand the audio! And it’s clear!”

This is truly awesome! Ever since we moved to the country and Dave’s commute has increased, he has lamented the fact that he wasn’t able to productively use his commute time to feed himself the Word through listening to the Bible or sermon recordings. Well, now he can! Hallelujah!

Already by day two, the cochlear implant has given Dave back the ability to hear his family member’s voices, and best of all, to hear the voice of God through the Word of God. It just doesn’t get any better than that!!!

…And this is JUST the BEGINNNING!!!

To GOD Be the Glory!  Smile!

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