Monday, April 19, 2010

New Mapping

The morning of my 18- month 20-month mapping (my mappings are two months behind because my audiologist was on maternity leave last summer) was going to be a long one.

Why? Because I was asked to participate in a research on bimodular people like me. Bimodular means that I wear a hearing aid (HA) in one ear and a cochlear implant (CI) in the other. How effective is it? How much of a difference does it make?

My first appointment was with the researchers. All I had to do was repeat sentences I heard on a recording of a male voice. No sweat. I’m used to this kind of testing. During parts of the testing, I had to wear just the CI or the HA or both. I did not catch everything with the CI or with the CI and HA together, but I know it was a lot better than just the HA alone. I don’t know if I will get results for that testing.

The testing was done and I was given a $10 gas card and a sticker for free parking at the hospital. (The hospital had a huge parking ramp.) Since Hubs just dropped me off to go pick up something and come right back, the parking fee wasn’t a lot, but we can use the ticket for the next trip.

Then I was placed back into the waiting room to wait for my mapping appointment. I hear a voice call my name. I look up and expected to see my audie, but it was someone else. She said she was a student working with my audie. I’ve seen this before with wither audies. Every once in a while, I’ll meet a student interning with an audiologist. . The student said that my audie was on the phone in another area and will be right back.

I was told I could skip the recorded, “repeat after me” tests because I just had it with the researchers. (Yay. Happy dance.) But,….yep, there’s a but…..I still had to have an updated audiogram. This is the tone test with various high and low noises. I just had to raise my hand any time I heard them. The sounds go in the normal to really soft range to nothing.

I told her I was wondering if my hearing in my right ear had gotten worse because I couldn’t hear as well as I used to with it or was it because my brain got used to the hearing levels I got with my CI.

So, we did the tone test. She tested me with my right ear without my HA and then without my CI. My audiologist never did any testing without my CI on, but I didn’t say anything except that I wouldn’t hear a thing without my CI on. She tested me anyway. Suddenly I got this dizzying sensation, like I had a sudden weight putting pressure on my head. I blurted out, “It makes me dizzy.” She apologized and stopped.

Then we went back to the office. I asked the student if my hearing declined in my right ear. She looked up my old records and said it’s about the same. So that just tells me that my brain is so used to hearing with the CI that I can really notice how “bad” I’m hearing with my HA ear.

My audiologist returned. I ask about her baby. Wow. Almost 10 months old already. J

We talk a bit about baby stuff and we move on to the mapping.

Again, the student was doing the work, getting some practice. I had to tell her if certain tones were too soft, comfortable, or too loud. They find that medium and adjust the CI. She tells me she’s ready to turn it on. I listen. It sounded like I was in a closed room. My audiologist asks me if it was “too hollow”.

“Yes,” I nod. “That’s it.”

The student does some more adjusting, changing some of the mapping with a few clicks on the keyboard. It’s all digital, literally, with fingers (digits), too. (Sorry, couldn’t resist the pun.)

It sounded a bit better, still a little hollow.

The audie asks if it was “just different.”

Again, I nod, “Yes, it’s…different.”

I didn’t know if I liked it.

The audie suggests that I try using the new map for a week and see how I like it. One processor will have the new map while my back-up processor will have the old map. Either way, I can return a processor via Fed Ex. If I didn’t like my new map, I could return the processor with the new map so it could be returned to the old one or return the other processor with the old map to change it to the new map if I liked it.

It’s been four days now with the new map. So far I like it. I think I am going to return the processor with the old map on it.

Oh, one more thing….she told me that from my audiogram results of my right ear, I could qualify for another CI. (What doesn’t make sense is that it’s been the same, why didn’t they say that before?) A part of me wants to go for another CI. But, do I want to go through the hassle with my insurance company again? And would they allow a second cochlear implant?

I have a lot of thinking to do…a lot of research. For one thing, the Nucleus Freedom is being replaced by a new one, the Nucleus 5 model. I am happy with my Freedom processors. The N 5 just got approved last fall, I think. So far, a new rechargeable battery is pending. I love my rechargeable batteries. And then there’s the FM receiver thing again. If I were to use the N 5, I would have to get a new FM receiver.

So much to think about….


At Mon Apr 19, 07:12:00 PM , Blogger Beth said...

You do have a lot to think about. Take your time and do it carefully!
You have made such progress - and you still retain that amazing sense of humour! ;)

At Tue Apr 20, 12:39:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it's great that you got to be part of the study. :) It seems so minor to us, but that data is so useful to researchers!

I never even thought about the fact that there's a new processor out now -- it will be interesting, if you do decide to go bilateral, to see what the audiologist says about which model to go with.

As for your insurance company, they may be more open to approving another CI now that a couple of years have passed and more studies have been done on the benefits of being bilateral. I have my fingers crossed for you! :)

~ Wendi

At Wed Apr 21, 09:03:00 AM , Blogger hillgrandmom said...

All the best in your decision making Shari.

At Fri Apr 30, 04:20:00 PM , Blogger Becky said...

Wow...all the technology is so amazing! And that you get to participate in a groundbreaking research study is pretty cool, too.

If you think that an additional CI would make it better for you, then I say go for it. If the thought of the implant procedures and the battle with the insurance company seem like more than you want to mess with right now...then wait a while.


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