Monday, March 19th
I come to the centre in the morning, but it turns out that the speech processor programming — the first time my implant is going to be switched on — is at 2 pm. There is a group of new Nucleus Freedom users, three grown-ups and some children with their parents. Before the switch-on we have various examinations and meetings. First we get the big boxes with our new toys. I am the only person who wants to a black processor. We are to make ourselves familiar with the device and all its accessories, and to read the manual. I can’t wait for the switch on. In the meantime I meet the speech therapist, the doctor (I can go swimming, finally!) and I learn one very important fact: I have not lost anything. My audiogram for the left ear is pretty much the same as before the surgery. Praise to Professor Skarżyński.
Finally the appointment with the engineer W. He turns out to be a young, easy going person. He explains what he is doing and answers all my questions. He tests the device. Everything is OK. So — we switch on the signal.
At first — nothing. Nothing?
Suddenly I say:
’I have vertigo’
’Right at this moment?‘
’How about now?‘
’Yes, I feel it again’.
This way I realize that this is my new sensation from the implant. It has nothing in common with the sound. It is as if someone was hitting me in the head with something big and soft every time there is a sound. It is not unpleasant, just very, very strange.
During the following tests I ‘hear’ some sounds as sounds, though. Surprisingly, these are pretty high sounds, not the low ones which should be expected. The engineer says that in the cases of a profound hearing loss since birth it can happen that the part of the brain responsible for hearing starts doing something else. He tells me about a 18-years-old girl who during the first months after the implantation felt the sounds as twinges. She started to hear sounds after a few months.
For the initial adaptation I get four programs, every one a bit “louder” than the previous one, and I am to change them every hour. I get used to every setting quite fast and the vertigo diminishes slowly. Anyway, I feel that this vertigo is a kind of illusion, because I don’t seem to have balance problems. I am to wear my hearing aid on the other ear. I switch it off from time to time to concentrate on my new sensations. I react to various sounds. It is very strange when I knock the table with a pencil and I have vertigo. This is really an illusion, because I don’t have any problems with my balance. I feel dizzy and confused anyway. W. is hearing clanks and squeaks, the same as the majority of the newly implanted. I think I would like to hear squeaks. All in due time, I think.
At 6.42 pm I notice that when I rub the microfone with my finger, I hear this as a sound. It is soft, but a sound for sure. The first one I hear with the implant, apart from the tests. I rub the microphone all the evening to check if this is not an illusion.
Tuesday, March 20th
I get four new programs for the processor in the morning. This time I am to change them every two days. The engineer says that the next set-up is in a month and that I shouldn’t expect too much in my case. I know this all: that I am no more three years old, that the effects are hard to predict. Nevertheless, I am going to make out of my implant what I can.
The speech therapist gives me a set of exercises I am to do at home with someone. Just like 25 years ago, when my mother practised with me a lot and I was trying to avoid it in every way. But now these first months are very important. I should practise using both my implant and my hearing aid on the other ear. It seems that at this stage this is conditioning, like with Pavlov’s dogs.
This evening, after leaving the hospital, I clearly hear the rustling of foil behind my ear. I hear also — very softly — when my mother says “shhhhhhhhh” and other rustling consonants.
Note: something happens inside. When I have my processor turned on, I actually hear worse with my other, aided ear. Something like an interference. This is fascinating.
Wednesday, 21st March
I have vertigo from typing. When I drive, I turn the hearing aid off and I listen to the sounds from the implant. I hear some noise, and a little bit of my own voice when it is really loud (alone in the car on the road I can shout all I want), from time to time I hear the sound of the passing vehicle. I think I have heard the sound of coins clicking on the table in the grocery store.
I notice all this with my hearing aid switched off. When it is on, I hear most of these sounds as usual and I hope that my subconsciousness is doing its job to tell the corresponding parts of my brain that there is a sound.
When I take off the processor for the night, I have a bit of vertigo after losing contact with the magnet.
My friends ask me how it is going:
[yacoob] I hope that it will meet your expectations, I cross my fingers for it :))
[cyborg] I will need it ;-)
[yacoob] is there some critical thing more to do?
[cyborg] brain reprogramming.
[yacoob] our technology does not allow for this yet…
[cyborg] no, this should be the effect of stimulation.
[yacoob] sure it will, but wouldn’t it be more convenient to load a patch?
[cyborg] yeah ;-)