30 September 2008

Meeting an Implant Recipient

As part of the process the Cochlear Implant people recommend that prospective implantees meet other people who have been implanted. They try to match you to someone in similar circumstances or similar background, but everyone is different
It's a way of allaying fears and misconceptions prospects might have and broadens the real knowledge of the intended recipient.

There are two I will meet.
One fellow is a IT consultant and there'll be more about that later

The other, if I remember the story correctly, is a girl who is under-10 deaf since birth.
She is now able to play the trumpet. And her father took up the trumpet too so he could play with her! How's that!?

There'll be more as it comes to hand

28 September 2008

Getting an Implant, What's Involved?

The mechanical side goes something like this.
A Sound Processor is fitted like a hearing aid behind the ear. This captures sound and coverts it to a digital signal, like my hearing aids do.
The Processor then sends the digital signals to an internal implant which contains an electrode array.
The internal implant then stimulates the hearing nerve directly, via the electrodes, bypassing the natural eardrum and other structures in the outer ear and inner ear.

During the surgery a little coil is inserted into the cochlea [Wikipedia link]. It spirals around within the cochlea itself. It's very small! This coil carries the electrodes which stimulate the nerve.
During the same surgical session, the part which is mounted under the skin on the back of the head is also put in place. You see the outside part of that on the back of people's heads.
The operation takes about 2-3 hours, or 5 seconds if you're the recipient!

Why do it?

At this point in time, I have NO hearing. None. Tinnitus doesn't count, although I have PLENTY of that!
I can't speak to you one-to-one easily, you have to write me notes. I can't hear music, birds, surf, cats meowing. I can't hear that car that's about to run me over.
OK we can do text via the internet and I can have a phone call via the NRS [excellent service]. People have said it's a blessing in disguise - maybe it is for five minutes but I think it's potentially dangerous, both physically and mentally!
Anyway - that's why I'm doin' it.

Sydney Cochlear Implant Centre
Wikipedia, about [Cochlear Implants]
National Relay Service

19 September 2008

Cochlear Assessment #2A

I met with the Senior Audiologist on Friday 19 at SCIC HQ
Thank goodness for the Health Advocate, acting as my ears. Even so, the organisation seems very welcoming for people in my predicament.
We went thru the physiological aspects of the implant, with an actual bit of someone's skull! The little bones and the tunnels. Very awe-inspiring. Very.

It appears that my situation is good for the implant. I'm in the queue
Once the implant is implanted, via surgery, there'll be a healing period before switch-on [seems they have a term for this], when the implant is activated.
Then there'll be approximately six months of adjustment, both the implant and me I expect.

Waiting on the next appointment

15 September 2008

Cochlear Assessment #2

The second appointment, when I'll meet my co-ordinator and support team has been scheduled for Friday 19 September. The appointment will be held at the SCIC HQ at Gladesville Hospital, coincidentally where I lived for a time in the 70s. Too many coincidences in this cochlear business.

05 September 2008

Cochlear Assessment

Today I had the assessment to see if I am a candidate for a cochlear implant.
The procedure went like this. The cochDoc inserted an electrode directly into each inner ear one-at-a-time and stimulated each one. Amazingly I could hear the sounds generated, mostly sounding like crickets or frogs and I had to say when the volume was increased/decreased, and rhythm within the sounds.

When he stimulated the left ear it induced a sense of dizziness, apparently that means my balance centre-the labyrinth is intact.Therefore, they will leave this side and implant the right side.

Waiting time? Seven months.

What can I do? I need to be able to hear what you say [make it interesting], and the higgledy-piggledy birds and function as a [relatively] normal human being.