Lately I've been growing frustrated (again) by the fact that my listening progress doesn't feel like it's moving as fast as I'd like it to. This perspective challenge has been present all along with the CI (where am I going? how have I improved?), but it arises and recurs in waves. There are days in which I feel unbelievably optimistic, and others in which what I want hovers out of reach. About to graduate from college, I look out at the "real world" and all the things in it and often feel intimidated, since communication can still seem like a barrier. Of course, success is possible anyway, and I've gotten better at getting creative in the last few years, but the fact remains that some things are still not straightforward.
Yet, this morning, I had a session with my auditory therapist in which I voiced some of the above insecurities. In controlled situations, the listening progress is there, but it often feels slow. We talked a bit, and then she flipped back through her file and pulled out a piece of paper. On it were written my goals for the CI from a year ago, or maybe a year and a half. They were as follows:
1. Recognize more individual words based on sound alone
A million times yes. It really depends on the good old auditory memory, but the fact that I can now hear a word and know what it is, based on listening, is amazing.
2. Be able to have base-level conversations in quiet with a familiar voice
Yes. Although this often doesn't apply to the real world, I've known for a while that if I sit inside with either of my parents or someone else familiar, I will be able to hear, understand, and respond to the things they say to me.
3. Hear and recognize more high-frequency sounds than I used to
Definitely yes. It's astonishing, how much I've started taking them for granted.
4. Encounter fewer situations in which people ask me, "Did you hear that noise?" and I reply, "No."
Yes! I can't remember the last time this happened. More often, it's the reverse: people ask me if I heard that noise and I internally tilt my head and laugh and then say, "Yeah, I did." Like, duh, my CI is awesome. Or I actually do tilt my head and listen and say, "Oh! Yes! That's a cool new noise!"
5. Feel more comfortable and confident in a group
This is probably the only one for which my answer is "not so much." There are just too many variables, although various strategies have helped me cope better in groups than I used to - including knowing my limits and being able to engage and disengage as necessary.
Number five notwithstanding, these are all things that I found unimaginable two years ago. Looking back on that progress is empowering, even if, as my therapist pointed out, of course the goal that I'm always subconsciously thinking of, that I'm seeing around me, that I'm wanting each day, is to sit at a table with a group of smart, engaging, talkative hearing friends and understand their rapid-fire conversations and join in like a pro. But sometimes it's better to measure progress from the ground up. These are some hefty peaks scaled.
Reality check: achieved. For now.