Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Year One

Well. I've survived my first year with the CI. I can't quite believe it. When I went in for my one-year follow-up appointments yesterday, my surgeon walked into the room and marveled, looking at my chart, that time had passed so quickly. Sitting in that chair where I had sat, both when anxiously considering getting a CI and when anxiously wondering what would happen when it came on, I had to agree wholeheartedly.

So, one-year remapping with my audiologist: check. Speech recognition had improved since last time, and I felt more confidence in what I was hearing. Progress. At this point, the goal isn't necessarily giving me more volume - I've stabilized at roughly the point I was at six months ago - but optimizing the balance and input of the BTE to the electrode array. We stayed with similar settings to those I already had (same IDR and similar levels of stimulation), but already the changes have left me startled by the sound quality in my environment. Sounds that I'd thought were familiar (myself typing, myself swallowing, chairs scraping across the floor) seem to have shifted. They're different, more prominent, more raw. They feel new all over again. I'm wondering if this process is one that will never end - shaking things up, then stabilizing, then shaking them up again.

Perhaps so, because the learning curve continues. It might not rub my nerves as raw as it did last summer, but neuroplasticity doesn't come without breaking old ways and old molds over and over. If anything, that's what the last year has taught me, irrespective of hearing. I've experienced the world in new and astonishing ways, ways that had previously lay outside my realm of imagination, and I've discovered a flexibility and a strength and a curiosity that I didn't know I had. It's been quite a ride from that first day one year ago, that seemed so chaotic and that I remember so clearly. I'd like to reflect on it more fully at some point. But for now - a thumbs-up for hearing!

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