High Fives Received

John Baich

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Bilateral Buzz – Power Up Day

October 19, 2009
posted by  John Baich


The stitches have almost completely dissolved and the staple extraction felt similar to finally reaching a distant but tender itch.


Although we did not measure my residual hearing, the blind tuning fork test confirmed that the insertion of the electrodes did not deafen me. I fell so lucky; you simply can't get better than two for two! Thank you Dr. Micco and your skilled team for making this happen. We'll measure how much hearing was saved in several weeks after the swelling goes down and the fluids dissipate from the surgical site.


Pam, my AuD and I spend a good half hour to forty-five minutes unpacking the Nucleus 5 from the shipping/storage case. They packed the system almost as tight and with as much invisible tape as my favorite aunt used for my Christmas and Birthday presents when I was a kid; she made just getting to the gift an all day event. You shouldn't have to worry about how your System 5 arrives, this thing could take a direct hit by a Mack Truck.


Finally, the base program is uploaded and written to the sound processor and then sound floods the nerve with new electrical stimulation; oh, that familiar yet odd sounding buzz as the brain tries to figure out what in the world is going on with these auditory nerves. Slowly the constant buzz fades into words as if spoken with an artificial larynx. Within five minutes I could clearly understand exactly what my AuD was saying with my eyes closed. Sure, the speech is still has completely synthetic sounding, but it will take time for the brain to map the sounds they way I want to hear them.


Once we fired up the right CI that I have had for the last 18 months things return to very normal, yet now, I can hear the effects of head shadowing when my left side that is new to the game hears the sounds more directly than the right. As I turn my head the sound quality changes significantly from new to old. Again, as the brain maps the sound image this will become less apparent, but it is the first proof that bilateral CI's are significantly better than being single modded.


It is way too early in the game to speak to being able to ascertain source sound directional information or spatial sound images; no 5.1 surround sound just yet.


The day at the office was somewhat uneventful other than exploring all the cool new features in the Nucleus 5. The only notable item occurred when my Director of Engineering stopped in to see how I was doing and then commented that it is going to take him some time to not focus on the flashing lights...WHAT? I bolt into the restroom, look into a mirror and sure enough I had turned on the visual sound indicator that is designed for parents and teachers to confirm that the processor is turned on. Okay...addendum to owners manual: Use visual sound indicators to 1) entertain small children, 2) add the finishing touches to that robotic costume, 3) use as warning device alerting oncoming drivers when walking on dark roads, or 4) use as a stupid party trick now that the lamp shade thing fails to encourage even a weak chuckle.


The remote control is AWSOME, period. The Right side is fully mapped with the all features whereas the left side is in basic learn to hear mode. The remote makes it so easy to select the proper sound processing map while on the run, all without drawing attention to your fingers mauling you ear and the processor while trying to find the proper map; obviously I am not too self-conscious (see paragraph above). Today, I walked into a very noisy restaurant, whipped out the remote, and bam had selected noise/directional program #3 with one touch while those around me were wondering if I had a new iPhone in my hand.


The jury is still out on the auto telecoil. I only tried it in the office and it worked great. Since I work in broadcasting, I am frequently around high powered broadcast equipment and heavy duty electrical systems. Once I can get back up on the 100th floor of Willis (Sears) Tower I'll let you know how the auto telecoil works in the real world of harsh electronics. The great thing is that this setting is very easy, one touch function of the remote. The back channel telemetry from the processors let you know everything that is going on. Give any guy a remote control and he'll have a smile on his face for hours.


Enough rambling, I am wrapping up tonight by listening only with my left side training the brain how to hear this new complex electrical stimuli that we're throwing at it.






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SharonC Cochlear Volunteer- Ambassador

November 20, 2009

Hi John what great detail. I love your "Give any guy a remote and he'll have a smile" boy you got that one right have a great day. -SharonC-
Shelley E -Cochlear Volunteer

November 20, 2009

John, thanks for the detailed post. My first Nucleus 5 was activated on Oct 1 and I'm doing so well I started to think about a second one. It's helpful to hear about your experience with the second implant. Shelley
Cathy M

November 20, 2009

Exciting to hear about your activation! Did you get a backup processor? If I get my other ear done my CI Center does give 2 processors so I will use the Nucleus 5 in both ears and keep the Freedoms for backup.
Karen (aka grammaK)

November 20, 2009

John, I enjoyed reading this post :) :) You have a delightful sense of humor and a good understanding of how all this stuff works to bring about better hearing! I'm not yet bilateral myself just having had the Freedom implant in July, but sure giving it some serious thought! ~Karen

November 20, 2009

Very interesting post John written by someone who obviously knows his way around sound. Talk about making an impression on your colleagues. Please continue to keep us posted on how you're brain learns to adjust to the bilateral experience. You're a great resource for those of us considering doing the same. Thanks! Ellen

November 20, 2009

Flashing lights, you are so phunny! Love reading the lighter side of your tales.
Sharon K.

November 21, 2009

What a fun post, John. Keep 'em coming ;o)
Michael T

November 21, 2009

Great Post!! I'm going bilateral in 2010. Jan 13th is the approximate surgery date pending insurance approval. Your post most certainly gives me some insight on what to expect. Thank you and please continue to post your progress.

November 21, 2009

pretty cool that you did not loose your residual hearing! I am enjoying reading your blogs!
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