Today I popped on my CI and drove out for my first session with an auditory therapist since September. I'd been into her office once or twice over the summer when I flew out for remappings, but due to being gone for so long I hadn't been on any kind of directed program. Go out into the world and figure out the sounds in it! That was my task.
And, in many ways, it will continue to be my task for a while yet. CI rehab, if nothing else, is very individually motivated. I was pleased to find today that I've achieved a slew of milestones since July and September - things that were hard or impossible for me then are easy now. (Or, if not easy, then possible. That's still encouraging!) I could identify all of the major speech sounds, something which brought back memories of sitting in my house in July getting frustrated over "ah" and "oo" and wondering if this contraption would ever make sense. Ah, YES. Sentence and word identification, provided that I had a closed set, also turned out to be a relative breeze, even without a leading phrase for minimal-pair words. Open sets are still a struggle, not unexpectedly so, but I'm picking out bits and sounds throughout the sentences I'm given. (This is something I've noticed in everyday use, while sitting where I cannot lipread a person - I can catch the common words like "and," "but," "or," "I mean," "you know." Of course, this doesn't help very much with the sentence at large. But it's something!)
We also discussed brain and listening development up to this point and in the future, talked about the interaction between hearing aid and CI (which continues to evolve), thought about issues in quiet versus noise (still one of my biggest challenges), plus came up with some strategies for dealing with everyday situations and continuing my everyday listening practice. Every day that I wear the CI is practice! I need to remember that; all along I've been hard on myself for not doing enough structured listening. But my brain does pick up on meanings and nuances on its own, I still don't know how. One example: I was told today, and have been told by countless people at other times, that my speech has really noticeably improved since the CI. It's not that I spoke poorly before, just that my enunciation has smoothened out, become more regular, and my clarity and volume is the best it's been. Now, this is nice to hear, but it's not something that's happened consciously. I don't think more about my speech now than I did seven months ago. It's just my brain automatically and subconsciously correcting old habits to correspond with how I hear other people talk. How wild is that?
Finally, one of my big takeaway points is that, moving forward, building self-confidence will be key. Once I believe that I can do something, once I relax and smile and take it in stride, then listening comes easier and easier. This entire process of disproving my two-decade-old convictions is quite strange... But how wonderful to have a day where everything falls into perspective!