Last Monday, I woke up… everything was pretty normal.
I took a shower, got dressed, and grabbed my Cochlear implant… I walked down the hallway, got the battery, plugged it in, turned it on… attached it to my head… and then I heard this HUGE MASSIVE TREMENDOUS ROARING sound that almost floored me. I thought I was in the midst of a nuclear explosion, or a helicopter was hovering over my house.
My eyes bugged out as I looked around trying to ascertain the source of this HUGE sound… then I realized… that’s the heater.
So I opened the utility doors, and there was nothing wrong. It was running normally. So I said out loud “what the F%%#?” and my own voice sounded like I was bellowing at the top of my lungs and then some.
The heater shut off, and I whispered to myself, almost to my cats… “what is going on?”… and it was still like I was yelling.
I thought… okay… this will pass. I turned the volume down to 1, and the microphone pickup down to 1… it was STILL TOO LOUD, but manageable.
I went into work… and worked my typical crazy Monday… having the pages behind me tearing tape (sounds like a Jet crashing into a 300 ft deep pool of Jello with glass), crumpling paper/wrappers (sounds like Metallica amplified to 14)… by noon, I had a massive, splitting headache and went to the MEI office…
There was NO ONE available to speak with me. So we set an appointment for Thursday afternoon. Which meant I was going to have to deal with this freaking sonic boom of sound for the nest 4 days.
I went back to work and the tinnitus started to hit me… it was hitting me because I turned down the mic sensitivity to 1, and my brain was in “where’s the noise? I know there’s more noise? Gimme it all, you sweet bastard!” mode. Yes, my brain swears like that. so I had to kick the sensitivity up until the tinnitus went down… and I started slamming down Tylenol to subside the headache.
I went home that night, and walked around very gingerly… avoid all manner of noise, but I still went for a 1 mile walk in the evening… and it sounded like I was randomly run over by garbage trucks without mufflers (it was really just lil’ Focus’s and Civics and crap driving by… good lord).
Long story short, for the next three days, I listened to the world at sonic boom. The sounds were so loud, I found myself involuntarily cringing from the simplest sounds… the fan on my computer, the tape, teh paper wrinkling, the sneezing, the doors slamming… and sound of my Flash drive and Cochlear remote clinking together… shit, the sound of spit in my mouth when I merely opened by jaw a millimeter.
Thursday afternoon, they give me a baseline test. This creates some sounds to see how your nerves react. It creates what might have been the loudest sounds I have EVER experienced in my life. I have near constant tinnitus at this point from the barrage of noise to go along with… and this isn’t my normal audiology/otologist either… She determines that my baseline was so far off the program in my Cochlear that it didn’t make sense. My cochlear was amplifying as much as 35 decibels ABOVE my baseline.
I’m like.. wait… WHAT? My hearing IMPROVED?
No, just my sensitivity to sound. It doesn’t mean improvement. It means a shift in how my brain perceives sound. It could be because my cochlear has been programmed at 250 pulses, and my brain has decided this is just too “easy” or too slow. I hate when my brain makes decisions without consulting me… in any case, the audiologist set me up with a new program base don 900 pulses a second, which creates a terribly “inaccurate” sound to me that is sharp and bereft of warmth… very strange that only if I start speaking like Mickey Mouse does my own voice sound “loud”.
So now I’m “back to the beginning” to locate my baseline again. All the improvements I’ve had in comprehension are out the door because my ability to perceive sounds from the cochlear has shifted… the new baseline must be located.
Anyone tells you that a Cochlear Implant is easy? It ain’t.