Pacific Northwest Cochlear Implant Club Newsletter
The official newsletter for the Pacific Northwest Cochlear Implant Club.
Volume 8 Issue 3 Spring 1999
REBIRTH OF SOUND
As the century cones to a close and at the age of 77, I have found that miracles are a reality. I can hear again! Fifty years ago I started to lose my hearing primarily as a result of flying those noisy aircraft during W.W.II and for several years thereafter. Thus began many years of coping with various hearing aids in my right ear while my left gradually lost all capability to sense sound. Until June of last year I was able to cope with the use of the most powerful body aid on the market. But soon it became obvious that if I wanted to continue to be a social creature, it was time to examine cochlear implants. So I fought the I-5 battle driving from Olympia to the Seattle VA Audiology Clinic where Nancy Cambron, my wonderful audiologist, after much testing, pronounced my eligibility as an implant candidate. She arranged for a comprehensive physical exam which included an MRI scan of my ear's structure and further exams at the UW clinic supervised by Dr. Gates who would be my surgeon at the VA hospital. The surgery went smoothly. I now have an implant behind and just above my left ear. I was amused to see in an x-ray of the device that I was now a living bionic man. Coming from the implant was an internal wire leading to my cochlea and winding through it with 24 attached electrodes which would directly stimulate the hearing nerves which travel to the brains hearing centers. Incidentally, we chose the left ear for the implant because I was still able to function somewhat with the residual hearing. At this point I would wait 30 days for healing to occur so that the external devices could be attached and programming (mapping) of my external processor could begin.
Then, it was on the 4th of January 1999 at the VA Audiology clinic that Nancy opened a huge black zippered case which contained many wires and devices such as the external device which is held to the internal implant by a magnet and transmits FM sound waves, a microphone which fits over the ear, the sound processor which is placed in some handy place such as in a shirt pocket or clipped to a belt. Wait, there's more; a battery charger, a remote mike, TV and radio hook up cables, and a whole bunch of spare parts.
When Nancy finished attaching the external parts it felt like the time I was about to take my first solo airplane flight. I was shivering with anticipation. But Nancy soothed me, cooled me down, and started to make the computer make funny noises and blink it's myriad of mapping lights. I gave her feedback on the various funny noises and blinking lights that spewed out of the computer. Soon she fiddled with some of the buttons on my processor. It was then that I knew that another bionic creature had been born! The left ear had risen from the dead! A miracle had occurred! Nancy's voice was coming through at a good volume and I understood her every word! But Wait! While I understood the words, her voice was a dead monotone with no color or texture which may or may not be corrected via future programming and my own individual efforts. Further programming is already scheduled for another ten periods over the next three months. I hasten to add that I do hear words but no color nor texture and, as a result, some meaning is lost. The speech reception is very unnatural without the accompanying inflection and tonality. So, I have a lot of work to do to enhance the nuances of speech.
I am certainly not complaining but am really enthused over the new sounds which are pouring into my brain. I am confident that my neurons, axons and brain centers will slowly learn to ignore certain non-essential sounds and allow the important sounds to flow thru unimpeded. It will be interesting to follow the course of improvement through the electronic mapping corrections coupled with the innate capabilities of the living and malleable neuronal structure within the brain. I feel that I must be patient, knowing that purposeful and continuing stimulation will add more and more color to the aural input and cause extraneous noise to be reduced. One day I hope to read the newspaper in peace. Right now it's like being in the middle of a crackling forest fire. My wife helps my rebirth by reading magazine articles to me. But I miss a lot of words when the grandfather clock starts to bong the hour. And how do I calm the roaring sound of the turned on faucet or the flush of the toilet. The first time I heard it I thought the thing was exploding. And then there's that silly bark of our little dog. He sounds like a cow mooing from within a barrel. Well, I have a lot of work to do to bring myself back into the world of normal hearing. But the day will come when I won't be afraid of the grandfather clock nor the turning on of the faucet. I'll learn to love those sounds. Ask me if all the work is worth it and I'll tell you, "You bet it is!" Anyway, Nancy was very pleased with my initial response and I'll never forget the twinkle in her eyes and the smile on her lips during my first activation. Nor will I forget the amazed look of delight on the faces of my dear wife and lovely daughter when we first conversed.
By Constance L Brenner
Hi. I'm Constance from an Eastern Washington community named Republic. From ages 4 years through early thirties my uncorrectable hearing impairment grew until I finally reached the profoundly deaf state. During those earlier impaired years I wore hearing aids which allowed me to communicate well enough to be educated in the public school system and later to become employed.
I had been working approximately ten years when my hearing began to fail completely. Through the kindness of co-workers I was encouraged to continue working in another capacity where I would not need to assist the public as often. I continued to work for an additional five years or so.
Meanwhile, though I was learning already about cochlear implants, I was not being encouraged to seek that procedure as a solution to my particular problem. Hence, I spent approximately twenty-two years convinced that cochlear implants were only for other deaf persons. I was becoming lonelier in my extended large family but was determined to cope- There was little effort to reach out to the deaf culture because we had no close friends or family in that society.
In 1997 a niece of my stepfather who had recently become deaf in one ear, and had little remaining hearing in her other ear, obtained a cochlear implant from Dr. Neil Giddings of Spokane ENT and it brought her hearing (to-date) back to nearly 80%. She confided her success to her uncle and my mother and the push was on to encourage me to at least try to determine if I could possibly be assisted. Having nothing to lose I finally consented to check it out.
I couldn't believe it when after all the tests and examinations were completed I was actually determined to be a potential cochlear implant candidate. Uncertainty continued to dog me, however, (After twenty-three years would I actually be able to learn how to use a new kind of sound?) and it was early in 1998 before I finally decided to take the plunge.
We are very pleased with Dr. Giddings of Spokane ENT who performed my cochlear implant surgery, and audiologist Laura Ortmann, who has guided me through the process of re-learning, re-recognizing and remembering how to hear. I heard my first sounds in twenty-three years in April, 1998, those old familiar "beeps" of the audiologists tests, and I thought to myself, "I can do this-" A month later in May, I heard my husband, Curt, asking me if I could hear him. Of course the sound was strange and different. But, I could immediately perceive the .'sameness" I remembered of his distinctly familiar voice. And several hours later that same day I heard the voice of my sixteen-year-old daughter for the first time ever. Its been a delightful, though not entirely trouble-free experience since those first new/returned sounds.
I call my S-Series Clarion speech processor my "sidekick". It has certainly earned its place in my life. I can use the phone occasionally, though I'm still hesitant to try whenever I have difficulty. But I'm told this skill can be acquired with practice, practice, practice.
Tonight, for the first time in many years I attended a Christmas cantata with my family. All the familiar carols were followed and sung with ease. I was even able to harmonize "Silent Night" along with the melody of my daughter's voice, (Incognito - I'm not brave enough to try too much too soon. But I enjoyed the private moment.).
In the familiar words of that old classic Christmas Character, Bob Crotchet: "Merry Christmas, Everyone."
[Editor's note: Her story came just before Christmas.]
Child 3 1/2 Yrs. Old
Receives Clarion 1.2
By Tami Fanning, Everett, WA
Chase Fanning (31/2 yrs.) was implanted in January 1997 at Deaconess Medical Center in Spokane WA. by Dr. Neil Giddings. Chase has a Clarion 1.2 implant.
Chase was diagnosed with a profound sensorineural hearing loss at the age of 13 months. He was born profoundly deaf-cause unknown.
Chase received no benefit from hearing aids, therefore the implant was the only option for us. We chose the Clarion because it was the most recent in technology and had less hardware.
We decided to go with the Oral approach because at the time we were living in a small area where few deaf children resided. we wanted Chase to use his new hearing to it's fullest potential. Our thought was "Why get an implant if he is not going to listen and only rely on lip reading?" With the implant Chase hears well in the speech range so we knew he could learn to talk. The oral approach has enabled Chase to listen in noisy situations as well as understand what we are saying when we are not looking at him. Our area had no services, therefore my husband and I decided to start Chase in the "Listen and Talk" oral school in Seattle, WA. in April of 1998. Our School District flew us over once a week for an hour therapy. After six weeks of flying and a summer to gather our thoughts we decided to move to Everett, WA in August of 1998. The move allowed Chase to be involved in the "Listen and Talk" play group and two hours a week of therapy. Chase is now communicating verbally with us as well as his Teachers and peers. God has truly blessed Chase with wonderful teachers and friends. It has been a long road but very much worth it. We look forward to watching our son grow and learn as well as hearing his "beautiful voice".
Enjoying Nucleus 24
By Tom Cunningham,
Lake Oswego, OR
I am doing quite well with my Nucleus 24 implant. I am using both the SPrint body worn processor and the ESPrint ear level processor. I usually wear the ear level instrument because it is so much more convenient and less cumbersome when I play tennis or engage in activities like building a greenhouse etc. I find it is adequate for most situations but is very sensitive to moisture. I helped my son-in-law with harvesting on his small Christmas Tree farm last week when it was raining a lot. Although I wore a wide brimmed hat to protect the instrument, it kept on cutting out.
I use the body worn instrument in other situations such as a dinner group or in a conference. I use the little microphone to help capture the speech of different people around a table. It is quite effective. I have also discovered that it us great for conversation in the car. I can give the microphone to my wife when I am driving or have the driver clip it onto his shirt when I am a passenger and understand most of what is said in spite of traffic or motor sounds.
The day after I had my first mapping we went out to celebrate our granddaughter's 12th Birthday at a Mexican Restaurant. I could pass the microphone around the table and get most of the conversation. The granddaughter, Katie said that the best birthday present that she got was "I can talk to OPI ( grandpa) again". That made my day.
I am still recovering my stability from the vertigo effects of the operation. Although I am now able to charge after a tennis ball I still can't play a decent game of singles. It is still a little difficult to pick up and carry a load of firewood without staggering, and I do a comical dance when I am behind the lawnmower.
To say the least I am well pleased with the results of the operation. I can feel confident to talk with people. I still have problems with understanding television or in Church and with music, but I can function well in most everyday situations.
Another Nucleus 24
By Eleanor Sukraw
Klamath Falls, OR
I had the implant October 14th in Portland by Dr. David Wilson at St. Vincent Hospital.
I returned to Portland on December 1st for the processor. That was a trial in itself as I had been using a hearing aid since I lost my hearing due to surgery which was very necessary two years ago.
My audiologist, Tina Workman MS CCC-A, fitted me with the processor and two programs. I returned December 17 and Tina fitted me with the Esprit speech processor much in advance of 3-4 months usual time. I was an exceptional patient. (Thanks you Tina). She has since moved to the University of Washington with the Cochlear Department.
[Editor note: In the congratulations column in the last issue I had stated that Eleanor was implanted by Dr. Black at the Good Samaritan Hospital. That was incorrect. I apologize for the error.]
All Went Well
By Charles R Grove Lynnwood, WA
I was implanted with a Nucleus 24 by Dr., Gates from the University of Washington at the Veterans Hospital in Seattle, Washington on Nov 2, 1998. I was 74 years old at the time.
The Veteran's Administration specialist was Nancy Cambron ,M.S.. CCC-A (Audiologist). She prepared me in her excellent manner for all -phases of the procedures. On November 30, 1998 she turned on the equipment and programmed the processor. Thanks to her infinite patience all went well.
The history of my loss may be of interest. I had middle ear infections in the winter of 1953-1954 and in spring I found I had considerable loss. I had also been subjected to numerous periods of loud noises prior to that. In 1954 I was sent to Walter Reed Army Hospital in Wash. D.C. and both ears were operated on.- I had stapes mobilizations and received plastic parts. Results were not what was expected and I had to use an aid. In l961, also at Walter Reed, I had a second operation on the left ear, They called this a stapes-on-window. I gained some hearing but still needed an aid. While stationed in Turkey I was sent to Wheelus Air Base in Libya in 1966 for a second operation on the right ear. The surgeon installed a stainless steel wire held in place by gelatin. I heard so well that I did not need an aid. Then in late 1970 while swimming the tight drum ruptured allowing water in the middle ear. I lost all hearing that ear. The aid worked fairly well in the left ear until 1997, but gradually hearing and definition got worse For about 1 and 1/2 years my wife had to write things out for me to understand. A third operation on the right ear at the Hospital did nothing for the right ear. Then I was told I was a candidate for the implant.
[Editor's note: I met Charles right after his first mapping and was amazed at how well he understood.]
With Clarion I Can Hear
By Frances Czamecki, Atkinson, NH
This year my Christmas Greeting to friends starts with "I bring you tidings of Great Joy." I can hear! It's hard to believe that 7 weeks after "hook up" I have such a range of hearing. I even feel guilt in admitting it has all happened so quickly. I know it often takes new implantees much longer to hear what I am now hearing.
TV - I can hear most of it (no captions) but still have to see the speaker. The Telephone - I talk daily to my daughter and can hear 95% of what she says. Sometimes I get really courageous and answer the phone, not knowing who will be on the line. If I get en trouble, I ask them to call back and leave a message on the answering machine. Music: Oh, how I have missed Christmas music these past years. I am listening to an old familiar tape (seven weeks ago it was just sound all running together). Now I hear each distinct melody and most of the words. (Still some distortion.)
Best of all is Conversation: Talk, talk, talk - in the car, with the family, in the restaurant, at the breakfast table, at the "Opera House" , Grandchildren's long involved stories. It is a rebirth, a second chance to live again in the "hearing world." I am so very, very grateful to the latest technology, the implant expertise at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Hanover, NH and to the friends and family who encouraged me to "go for it."
It is so scary but as I was rolled into the operating room I thought of what our family physician had said, "What have you got to lose?" Yesterday I asked my husband, "Do I bore everyone with all my talk about the implant and my wonderful hearing?" and he said, "Oh no, dear" and his head slumped over and he started to snore. Ha, ha, ha!
I'm so happy - on "cloud nine" and looking forward to all the "Holiday sounds" I haven't heard in years.
Now before your head slumps over and you start to snore, I'll close.
Another Nucleus 24 User
By Alison Turner, Raleigh, NC
Wanted to let you know that all systems are go! I had the hook up on Friday, Carl was with me and a great support.
Right now I am a little disappointed, especially with the quality of the sound and especially with Carl's voice. If he really ever sounded like this I don't think I would have married him!! I probably need some degree of re-mapping. I got royal treatment--my audiologist , an audiologist from Cochlear Corp, and a woman called Patty
Parker who works for CC and you may know her. No media, thank God, I could barely survive as it was exhausted!
I've already felt a lot better about the cochlear than I did on Friday. I nearly told the girls "you can keep it." Like Bev Biderman. But since that I've hears some remarkable things! Like listening to speeches by a woman and a man from the House of Reps. With speech-reading and the implant I heard every word.!! And this was still the first day! I could not understand another speaker who kept his head down, but I would NOT have got that much of the others with my hearing aids. Also heard our clocks ticking from several feet away, could not hear that before unless right up close. So there is a lot of upside coming my way. If only the bells and whistles and waterfalls would go away and my voice come back to me from outside my body.....
Congratulations to Sam Bodner, 2 year old son of Lisa Bodner, Vancouver, WA. He was implanted at Kaiser Sunnyside Hospital by Dr Schleuning from Oregon Health Science and Dr. Lawrence From Kaiser. He received the Nucleus 24. His Audiologist is Arlie Adams at Tucker Maxon Oral School in Portland.
Congratulations to Evelyn Busick-Jacobson, Bainbridge Island, WA. She received the Nucleus 24 at Virginia Mason and received her processor this week. Surgery was by Dr. Douglas Backous and Carol Brazil is her Audiologist.
Congratulations to Elizabeth Eisenhood, Seattle, WA. She will received the Nucleus 24 and is scheduled for Surgery at the University of Washington on February 11th. Dr. George Gates will do the surgery. Sue Sanborn, Ph. D is her audiologist.
Congratulations to Jane Laidlaw, Largo, FL. She was scheduled to receive the Clarion December 3rd.
Congratulations to Eve Nickerson, Portland, OR. Eve has had her Nucleus 22 removed and replaced with a Nucleus 24. Surgery was by Dr. Black at Good Samaritan Hospital in Portland. She is scheduled to receive her processor this month.
Congratulations to Willy Paine, Kirkland, WA. He has received the Nucleus 24 at the University of Washington by Dr. George Gates. He is scheduled to receive his processor this week. His audiologist is Sue Sanborn Ph.D.
Congratulations to Bob Williams, Sublimity, OR. Bob will be coming to Seattle to the Veterans Hospital to receive the Nucleus 24 on February 1. His surgeon will be Dr. George Gates and his audiologist will be Nancy Cambron.
Congratulations to Cecil Washburn, Kennewick, WA. He has the Clarion Implant. Surgery was by Dr. Neil Giddings and his audiologist is Kami Fehlig.
From Nucleus 22
to Nucleus 24
By Margo Klug, Hartford, MI
It has been a glorious holiday season for me with my new N24 implant. My world is once again bursting with sounds that delight, soothe, make me cry and otherwise enrich my world. Isolation with people and my environment is now history for me. Let me explain.
In 1989, after over 11 years of total deafness, I was implanted with Cochlear Corporation's N22 at the age of 37. It enriched my world tremendously until electrodes started failing in 1997. By this summer of 1998, communication with people had become difficult and I often had trouble recognizing environmental sounds. My audiologist at the University of Michigan recommended that I be re-implanted. The idea of re-implantation did not scare me as I could envision myself becoming deaf once again if more electrodes continued to fail and that seemed far more scary than another surgery. My husband and I are fruit farmers with a farm market at our farm. Communication with customers had become difficult and by early fall my ability to use the phone in our business was becoming too difficult for me to respond appropriately to questions asked on the phone with strange voices. Voices had become more muffled and less clear. It was frustrating for my family and friends to communicate with me. It was frustrating and fatiguing for me as well. It took what seemed like forever for insurance approval, which was 3 months.
On Nov. 13, 1998 I had re-implant surgery. Dr. Steve Telian put in the new N24. I had a remarkably easy recovery. Fatigue from the anesthesia seemed to be clear by about 10 days, I had no dizziness or balance problems. The incision was considerably smaller and less uncomfortable than the first surgery. The area of numbness was primarily on the tip of the implanted ear and above the receiver and that too was smaller than the first time. I was truly amazed. Being totally deaf for 26 days prior to activation was an interesting experience. Lip-reading only was hard but I knew that it would only be temporary. It made me realize how absolutely special and blessed cochlear implants are when my world was silent.
I definitely was ready for activation on Dec. 9th. I kept my expectations low as I knew it would take my brain time to readjust to the new implant. I was surprised by all of the accessories that were included in the briefcase that came with the N24. Way back in 1989, the only accessories that came with my N22 was the battery charger, batteries, dry-aid, processor pouches, and auxiliary microphone (which I didn't find useful). This time, there are more cables, such as for TV/stereo, walkman for portable cassette player, a telephone adapter, auxiliary microphone (which I find useful), various aides for testing purposes, a choice of 1 or 2 battery compartments, extra
cables for the speech processor and transmitter coil, in addition to similar equipment like which had come with my first implant. That part alone was just great and made me feel that Cochlear Corporation had truly made great strides in being able to meet the needs of new implantees.
I was surprised at how different the new system looked. The microphone, cords, transmitter coil, and of course the speech processor were all different from my old system. None of parts of my old system except the batteries were compatible with the new system. I had thought perhaps that my old microphone and coil could be backups to the new system but they aren't.
I was amazed at the flexibility in programming the N24. As I worked through the programming with my audiologist, I kept looking at the computer and was astounded at the changes in the software from the N22. My first impression at once again being wired for sound was my feeling speechless at hearing my audiologists voice. I remember turning to my husband and daughter and asking them to say anything so I could hear their voices. Mine seemed unreal and although voices had a hollow sound to it, I felt like celebrating as the longer I talked with those around me, it dawned on me that my comprehension was already better than it had been prior to surgery. To once again not to have to look at a face, and although I didn't get all the words right, it was much, much better than I dreamed it would be. I was overwhelmed when multiple maps were put on this new N24 processor and as I looked at all of the buttons, I knew it would take time to become proficient at using it, but that was ok.
I left the audiologists clinic with my feet not touching the ground. On the trip back home, I was surprised when I heard the motor sound when my husband adjusted the outside mirrors (a brand new sound!!) and when a Christmas tape was played in the van's tape player, I grew more and more excited as I recognized the Christmas carols. Granted, at that point, the music was not beautiful but just being able to recognize music was such a thrill. I had given up my music for several months prior to surgery as music had sounded so horrid. That night, I called my Mom to let her know how everything had gone and was truly dumbstruck at how much I was able to get out of the phone conversation even though her voice sounded so hollow. I found that in those first days all voices had a hollow sound and I also had to get used to how everyone's tone of voice was at a different pitch.
Once home, I had a ball listening to sounds around me. I often sought out sounds. When we went Christmas shopping, I found myself going to the Christmas supplies area and listening to all of the animated Christmas decorations, ringing bells and totally reveling in the sounds around me. I felt like a kid in a candy store who gets to sample all of the goodies!! By about the 6th day, voices had normalized which surprised me as I felt it might take a month as in the past it often took that long when I upgraded from one speech processor to another. A week after activation, I was back in to see my audiologist where my levels had changed and new maps were made. I will see her again in mid January and it will be interesting to see what will happen then.
Using some of the adaptive equipment has been interesting. I wasn't sure that I would like the walkman or TV/stereo cords as they don't cut off the microphone but I really find that to be great. It is nice to be listening to music and also be able to carry on a conversation or hear the phone ring (imagine doing two things at once!!). If I plug in my old walkman adapter (which is from Audex), the microphone is once again cut off so I don't use that one anymore. At this point, there is no FM cable. I tried using the walkman cable with the FM system when I went to the movies, but it was not compatible, but imagine my delight when with adjusting both volume and sensitivity controls, I found that I was able to understand the movie "You've Got Mail". Whether this is true for all movies without using an FM system, only time will tell.
I continue to be amazed at this new system. I am hearing new sounds (such as the sound of drinking water out of a bottle and then letting go, the sound of my mouse on my computer, the smacking of my 3 week old nephew's lips, and other sounds). It will take time for me to become proficient with this new digital wonder! So far, the only drawbacks I see are the size of the digital display which I think would be hard to see for some who is visually impaired and how I wish it had an indigo light in it for use in low light situations.
I also miss the BEAMformer (which is not compatible) and the noise reduction features it has. This new system has an auto-sensitivity control which helps in noise but is not as good as using program 3 or 4 in the BEAMformer. I will need to ask my audiologist if a map could be designed for use in noisy environments when I see her next. I cannot tell you anything about the ear level processor as my center only orders the package without the ear level due to the cost. If I want an ear level processor, it will cost me $3,000 which is not realistic for me.
So, I feel very blessed with my new N24 system and being re-implanted. It is hard to describe in words my sense of joy of once again being surrounded with the sounds of life. I'm curious about the future with this new implant. I'm already looking forward to the next appointment with my audiologist and seeing what changes if any will take place. My family is celebrating daily right along with me as my ease in communication is once again the norm!
Another Nucleus 22
to Nucleus 24
By Moira Eicholtz, Tacoma, WA
Some years ago I attended a hard-of-hearing conference in Portland, Oregon. Being a cochlear implantee of some years standing I was happy to show off my implant to two visitors at the Cochlear display. The Cochlear representative ushered them away. She made no bones about the fact that she did not consider me an ideal poster girl for their products. My implant had been done on the cutting edge of the science and was too prominent. The processor was large and bulky - unlike the more recent one - the MSP.
I was rather hurt. I was quite proud of my "bump" and my ability to function on only 11 electrodes. Besides I had been totally deaf - not like the others who had residual hearing at the time of implantation.
Now, I have the N24 and I suppose am again at the cutting edge of implant science. However, though my present implant is a bit hard to find when centering the coil on the magnet, my head is now a network of bumps and scars, and though I now have all of the electrodes in and functioning I still would not qualify as a poster girl for Cochlear. I still don't "hear" music and, so far, am able to converse on the phone only with my audiologist and another person who always shouts at me, anyway.
I do believe, though, that I am better proof than most that their product works. I have gone through more surgery and trauma than anyone else I know in order to stay in the world of sound.
I lost my hearing in 1980 (in a surgical procedure.) It was not a silent world, however, as I was plagued with horrendous tinnitus. In 1984 I was told about the cochlear implant and went through the surgery for it in May of 1985. Around June I was "turned on" for the first time. I ,was issued the WSP #1 - a bulky, heavy processor.
The first sound I "heard" was the click of the switch as the audiologist turned her computer on. No other sound has ever sounded as wonderful since. What awful sounds and wonderful - were produced that day ' I couldn't stop laughing at how much people sounded like Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. My 13 year old daughter cried when I asked her to talk to me.
My second processor was the WSP #2. I kept the loaner as the "new" one was used and in awful shape. That lasted me for 7 years. The cables for the WSP were very thick - and fragile. I went through one every few weeks. The headset consisted of a metal band and a circular microphone. It cut into my scalp. The WSP fell apart. I was holding both it and the cables together with strapping tape.
I was issued with the MSP. Hated it. My brain could not readapt to it. Besides it was designed for the implant with the magnet. I did not have the magnet in mine. I left it at the hospital. By the time Cochlear came out with adhesive patches to let me wear the MSP the hospital had misplaced my MSP. So I was given a Spectra. Hated that, too. I went through a great deal of angst in connection with that Spectra over the next few years.
In October of last year I was hospitalized with a severe ear infection. During treatment it was revealed that a growth had wrapped itself around an electrode. I had to wait a year for the decision to be made to remove the old implant and the growth. A very frightening year but the uniqueness of my condition, and the challenge it presented, proved to be in my favor.
In October of this year Dr. Gates of the University of Washington told me that not only would he replace my implant and remove the growth he would put in the N24. He offered me the choice of having it done within two weeks - or waiting a month. I chose not to wait.
Most implants take only an hour or so and can involve just an overnight stay. Because of extreme scarring from my previous surgeries (I have had two involving my first implant as well.) and other complications it took over 8 hours. I came out of it looking much worse than I felt. Very little pain for so much surgery. This was done at Madigan Army Medical Center by Dr. Gates and a very large team of doctors. I was quite spoiled with attention (they have come a long way!) I haven't suffered much discomfort since - more what I term odd sensations.
I was hooked up less than a month later. Despite my "experience" it was like starting all over again. I believe I have run the gamut of sounds others talk about; quacks, squawks, honks, whistles, etc. It's always been different with each processor. Eventually, though, they come together to make reasonably understandable "speech." As with the other processors I get considerable relief from the tinnitus when I am turned on. I still need some "fine tuning" though.
I do have all the electrodes in this time ( a remarkable feat because the doctors had a hard time finding my cochlea.) The processor is much sturdier than the Spectra was for me. It has buttons and a small screen that displays the different modes it uses. It can hold up to 4 programs. I was offered the ear level model but opted for the one I have as it has more features and can be updated more readily. When you change the programs it emits a series of beeps to indicate which program you are on. So far the advantage of more than one program has been being able to decide which one sounds best without too many trips back to the hospital for maps. (I accidentally changed a program when I leaned against a sink. What a fright as I thought I'd damaged it.) It also beeps when the battery needs changing.
When I go through metal detectors that made my previous processors "buzz" they produce no interference with this processor. It comes with two different battery backs. One holds two batteries and the other one. I am a small person and prefer the single pack.
At only about 6 weeks of being "hooked up" I am not qualified to notice a great improvement over what I
had before. I gave my Spectra to the U-Dub for reissue and my old implant went back to Cochlear for research.
From Inneraid to Med-El Processor
By Alva Lowe, Worland, WY
My hearing problems began when I was about fifteen and there was not much help available except to avoid earaches and keep the wax flushed out of my ear. Ten years later I was searching for help with Casebeer Brothers in Butte, MT. They gave me encouragement and told me one day I would be wearing my hearing aids in lovely large earrings. Then I heard about the staplendectomy which would help solve my problems. Unfortunately the doctor did two stapes operations on the same ear within three months, which took more strength from the audio nerves.
I was referred to House Brothers in Los Angeles and after a third stapes to correct the second one, I was able to get along with dual hearing aids which were attached to my glasses for several years. Then the hearing disappeared almost completely. I needed to carry pen and tablet every where in order to communicate for twenty years. I was resigned to living in the quiet zone.
My niece living in Salt Lake City was doing part time work in Dr. James Parkin's office and learned about the inner aid surgery and how successful it was. She wrote a very enthusiastic letter encouraging me to check into it. Naw. I had all the experiments I wanted and said I am not interested. But my husband made an appointment for me to see Dr. Parkin and associates to test and see if I was a candidate for cochlear implant...unknown to me. He invited me to go to Utah with him to see our kids and I learned about the appointment the day before. Well, I went to meet Dr. Parkin with the attitude of "well, if it makes my husband happy" and "they are only going to check, so no fret."
By the time all those tests were over, I was mentally ready for surgery, but we had to wait for testing evaluation. Dr. Parkin did the surgery in Oct. 1966 and early Dec. 1966 1 actually heard my own voice for the first time in about forty years. They laughed at me when I said, "Hey, that's ME talking."
I used the Symbion processor for about eight years but by then it was clearly not meeting my needs. In the Pacific Northwest Cochlear Newsletter I kept reading how happy people were with the 21 channel implant so Dr. Parkin and I did some more testing and studying. And we both arrived at the same decision that I could do better by staying with the six channel implant.
In the meantime I had gone to Duke University to help test the Med-El processor the crew there were developing, so when Dr. Dorman was able to find one of these new processors for me, I was ready for any new help that I cold get. And how happy I was to get back into conversation and into life again. I hear between 80 and 92% of conversation and in good situations-no background noise- I seldom need remarks repeated. Often I can understand people talking 'behind my back' although I do rely on lip reading to a good extent. But that is a life long habit.
This is a new processor but it has such wide potentials and can be finely tuned to personal needs in volume and tone so that deep voices, high voices, children voices can be understood more easily. I am really grateful for all the advancement all the researchers have made in recent years and look forward to enjoying the results of their successes.
Do you know of someone who might benefit from an Implant? Ask them if they would like to receive this newsletter. We try to publish the true story of what it is like. (Warts and all.)
Piano Teacher Wants
Hello. My name is Dean Frazier and I am a piano teacher. Recently I began teaching a 6 year old boy who has had a cochlear implant for the last two years. He is a smart, active, energetic young man. I look forward to our sessions together, and I am dedicated and determined to make sure that my student has the best possible experience when it comes to learning music. Since this is my first time teaching someone with a cochlear implant, I feel I have a lot to learn. Would anyone out there be kind enough to write me and tell me your experiences with music? What things can you hear? What things can't you hear? Does listening to music help you to hear other things in other ways? Are you taking any kind of music lessons now? And if so, are there any challenges you are having that are a direct result of your implant? Any and all information will be greatly appreciated.
Thank-you everyone so much.
8730 16'h Ave. NW
Seattle, WA. 98117
Virginia Mason Offers Support Group
The Listen for Life Center at Virginia Mason Medical Center is beginning a monthly support group for adults and parents of children with cochlear implants. The group is open to individuals who already have an implant or may be considering a cochlear implant in the future. Immediate family members are also welcome. Each meeting will offer an opportunity to meet others in the community and share experiences, concerns and questions. Dr. David Fordyce, Ph.D. will help facilitate the support group meetings.
The first meeting is scheduled for the evening of Thursday, January 21, 1999 from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. and
will be held at the Virginia Mason Medical Center in downtown Seattle. Please RSVP or ask questions at, The Listen for Life Center at Virginia Mason Medical Center by calling (206) 341-0948 (voice), (206) 223-6362 (TT) or e-mall us at, Lsnforlifegvnunc.org.
[Editor note: Attention Implant Centers: If you have some activity that you feel might be of benefit to implantees or those thinking of an implant, please let me know and I will publish it if space is available. Cut-off date for the summer newsletter is April 1.]
Spouse Support of a
By Dennis Clardy
I volunteered to be a moderator for a "spouse support of a implanted mate." at the CICI July Convention. Could you put a little article in your next mailing for some suggestions from others that I can use in the Panel discussion? Any help would be appreciated.
[Editor's note: Dennis can be reached via e-mail:
Clardy_consulting@email.msn.com or regular mail: PO box 627, Buhl, ID 83316
Son 3 1/2 has Clarion
by Zella Drinkard, Medical Lake
My son Logan is 3 1/2 yrs. Old and has had his Clarion CI for almost a year now. He is doing great!! He received his implant from Dr. Neil Gidding at Spokane ENT. His Audiologists are Kami Fehig and Laura Ortmann. Everyone at the Clinic is wonderful, and so caring. They are always there for you. We had a problem with Logan's mappings because he has a fluctuating hearing loss that for some reason affects his mapping at times.
By Zella Novotney, Spokane
I got the BEAMformer when it came out. Have had wonderful success with it. It took me a while before I learned to turn it off and start from one again. If I sit with my side to the TV and try each of the settings I can tell a difference in each one.
[Editor's note: Cochlear Corporation will be issueing replacements for most of the one that are out. When you receive yours, if you will let me know if it is different or the same as your present one and how well you like it. I will publish you information in a future newsletter.
Marsha Simons-McCandless MA. Salt Lake City writes: Just a note to let you know what a wonderful service your newsletter provides to implant patients and those considering candidacy. As an audiologist working with CI patients, I am able to share with families the life altering changes the CI provides. Your newsletter helps others less familiar with this technology to see what an impact a CI can have on one's life and one's family.
Carol Randall M. ED, Seattle writes: Thank you Gordon for your dedication to keeping all of us informed through your newsletter. I read it with joy and pass it on to my clients.
A Processor That Beeps
[Editor's note: I am not going to reveal the persons name that presented this article.]
I kept hearing this beep - beep sound - only when my processor was on and only in the house. (Not in car, etc.) It kept on for a couple days before I called the hearing center and complained about the processor. At first she suggested something around the house, but I said "no, that couldn't be" and convince her. So she ordered a new processor. That very night my daughter came by and said "Why are you sitting here with the smoke alarm beeping?" Did I feel silly!!!
Unaware of Newsletter
Benita Yunek, Sandpoint, ID writes: I've not been aware of this newsletter until I received a copy from my audiologist Kami Fehlig in Dr Giddings Office in Spokane.
[Editor note: Thanks Kami. I have heard from many of your clients. If your implant center gives you a implant packet, when you first inquire about the implant, and it does not include this newsletter, please recommend they make copies of this newsletter and place in the packets. Many of you have informed me that you proceeded because of the stories you read in this newsletter. This newsletter does not promote any one brand or any implant center. We want our readers to make their own choice.
Gordon L Nystedt
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