Tuesday was my second “mapping” – additional programming and testing of my cochlear implant. Over the last 2 weeks I’ve basically had one program that I could adjust the volume on with the goal of getting used to hearing with the CI.
We made more adjustments and set up 5 programs, each with different settings. The last program is for my waterproof processor, so it will have limited use. The first 4 all vary by some element. Most importantly, I am now only using the cochlear implant and not the hearing aid that I have for my right ear. This will push the progress of the implant forward.
It’s very difficult for people that don’t wear hearing aids or have any experience with a cochlear implant to understand all of the programming that is needed. I think most people think of it as being more like eye glasses – do the examination, testing, get the glasses, put them on, see well. Programming of hearing aids and cochlear implants is COMPLETELY DIFFERENT!
My cochlear implant has 16 electrodes. The mapping process, or creating maps, is actually creating programs that help optimize my access to sounds by adjusting the inputs to each of those 16 electrodes. We start out by adjusting my M-Levels. Those are the points as which I am comfortable hearing for each of the 16 electrodes. From there we discuss what different hearing environments I will be in and we create a program with settings for that environment. There are features where the microphone will pick up sound from a 365 degree radius or just zoom in on the area immediately in front of me. There is a feature to block out wind noise and another feature to automatically dampen loud noises when they happen. It’s so amazing.
We did more hearing tests and my results were a little better than they were 2 weeks ago – progress.
Yesterday I was in a meeting and noticed for the first time that some voices sound like I remember them. This was a first for me. Before voices all sounded very computer-like, very unnatural. I was told that it would take some time for voices to appear “normal”. I’m very excited – it’s a major milestone!