As of today, I've almost reached the six-month mark since I got my CI turned on (minus two days). I have my six-month remapping appointment later this week, and I'm excited to see what progress I've made and what the sound quality is like afterwards - especially since it's already so good.
But six months? Wow. My experience of the world has been transformed since those days in late June. My hearing aid sounds downright depressing now, and the dynamism of the CI is like being continually seduced. Let's face it: I'm addicted to sound. And whenever I'm feeling discouraged or just plain short-circuited (like when life starts sounding too chaotic - i.e., almost every day), I need only look back to that time to appreciate how far I've come. Six months: a heartbeat, and yet an immeasurably long stretch. It's impossible to compare my perceptions then to my perceptions now. My horizons have broadened, my sense of the possible has exploded. Yet, these days, I get the sense that I'm approaching a new threshold.
Let me expand: my brain, in its absorption and data-gathering over roughly 26 weeks, has reached the point where it can observe and interpret sound considerably well for where I started out. Except that relying on auditory information is not its natural instinct. Noise has never made sense to it before now, and so its innate tendency is to rely, as it always has, on sight. Since I've gotten home from being abroad, I've discovered that, when my parents or other family members intentionally speak to me from where I cannot lipread, I can understand them. I can do it! How astonishing. But this is only after much repetition, only after I forcibly shift gears and coerce that long-deafened brain of mine to listen. It can do it, it just believes that it can't - and, when lipreading is the faintest shadow of an option, it automatically seems to tune out noise and choose to watch instead. My mind is like a computer: in its long history of programming, sound input has been an invalid command. Now that the CI makes listening possible, the hardest part is going to be convincing my brain to trust what it hears, to actually use those long-neglected pathways.
So, I'm teetering on the brink of using my ears and not my eyes, and this process has been ridiculously difficult because it requires a literal reprogramming of my experience. But yet, the sensation of having a conversation (however predictable and simplified) and actually hearing and understanding has been... mind-boggling. In all senses of the word. I have to repeat what I've heard to myself as if to prove that it was real, that it sprang into being from a mind not my own, that it makes grammatical sense. It's happening! I just need to teach that brain of mine to believe in sound as clear, accessible, trustworthy - as much as sight. The ground is not going to crumble beneath its feet. This is an unprecedented challenge, and after twenty years it is is bound to be difficult - but here's to having arrived at the point of subtle mind games, rather than being-hit-over-the-head-by-a-blunt-object ones!