Music To My Cochlear Pt. 2

Truthfully, I never caught on with the rap music scene when I was growing up. Throughout the 2000s, when everyone was going crazy over Nelly and Ludacris, I never fully understood the hype. Not that I had any issues with hip hop songs coming on the radio and other people’s Walkmen. I just never became a huge fan of it. I was more into easy-listening music like Blink-182 and The Killers. Though there were a few rap songs that were catchy, I was never able to fully appreciate the genre, until recently.

A couple months ago, ‘Till I Collapse by Eminem came on my Spotify radio at the gym, and the music was hitting me in ways I’ve never heard before. Although I’ve heard this song many times before, I was actually enjoying it on a different level. I had a moment where I suddenly realized that I didn’t have to understand every single word to fully appreciate it. So, I slowly put more and more Slim Shady into my daily music listening. This has been an excellent development with my CI. Like I said before, parts of my brain that have never been used before have been active since the Cochlear got turned on. I became increasingly intrigued with the way rappers tell their stories through unthinkable rhymes and timely catch phrases. It’s an entirely unique way of storytelling, whether or not you can relate to the lyrics. It’s like reading a whole new section of books that you thought never read, but you unexpectedly get hooked on. After getting familiar with Eminem, I started listening Childish Gambino and Chance. I can only imagine the list will go on from here on out. It’s unreal how much music that I’ve been missing out on all this time!

It’s been almost a year since becoming active, and I still see new changes come into my life with the CI. It’s really great seeing how much I’ve been missing out on and being able to savor it now. At some point next week, I’ll be sure to post up a one-year reflection of my first year with Cochlear. In the meantime, I’ll leave up one of Eminem’s songs on here for you all to listen.

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The Deaf Star

One experience that has changed for me since getting the Cochlear implant is going to the movies. Not just because I can now hear how annoying the bag of candy sounds when I crumple it up, but that I can pick up on a lot more dialogues and sound effects. The other night, I went to see the new Star Wars movie “Rogue One” with my buddy, Tyler. It was my second movie since being activated with the first being “Suicide Squad” back in August. Although, Suicide Squad probably wasn’t the best movie to test out the Cochlear (If you haven’t seen it, don’t). Plus, my Cochlear wasn’t as adjusted back in August as it is now.

As for Rogue One, the movie contains an amazing score by John Williams and all the cool laser blaster and spaceship sound effects that we all love. With just hearing aids, I did not hear as much of the dialogue, only picking up about 40-50 percent. Last night, I picked up on 80 percent of the conversations! It was definitely enough to not ask Tyler a million questions afterward about who said what. The only thing difficult was trying to pick up on the talking when the character speaking isn’t on the screen (Ex: Trying to listen to someone talk over the radio). Plus some of the aliens’ accents are hard to pick up on, but that I can deal with. Also, if you haven’t seen it, you definitely should drop whatever you’re doing and go. Rogue One gives all of us Star Wars nerds the satisfaction of being enlightened on an unknown gap of the storyline from the galaxy far, far away.

As for those thinking that I should try out a closed captioning device, I have had my fair share of experimenting with them in theaters while growing up. I just haven’t really had a successful occurrence with one while seeing a movie. So while it works for some, the hassle isn’t worth it for me. Although I do watch everything else at home with the good ol’ CC on. My roommates get a kick out of how the subtitle writers implement some of the sound effects.

At this point, 8 months into the CI, I may need to get another adjustment with the audiologist soon. In the movie theater, I tried to adjust my device to turn it up even more then I realized that I’m at my maximum settings. I don’t want to jump to conclusions just yet, but I may be ready for an upgrade sometime in January. So stay tuned, and may the Force be with you!

 

Raindrops

The other day, I was sitting in the living room watching Netflix with one of my roommates and turned off the TV. Both of us being lazy, we sat on the couch browsing through our phones before getting up. I started hearing some clicking noises and didn’t think much of it at first. Being used to the city noise, I thought it was some construction going on down the street. Then as time went on, the clicking noises would not stop. I got irritated with it and decided to look outside. I found that there was no construction going on- it was pouring rain. I stood there wondering how I could hear raindrops so well from inside the house. Oh yeah, that’s right- I have a Cochlear Implant.

The thing is, I can now hear raindrops INSIDE my head. It’s hard to describe. With the CI, my ears have been able to stimulate my brain more than ever. I am hearing with my head rather than my ears, just like any other able-eared person. When I had hearing aids in both ears, my brain worked extra hard to process whatever sound was amplified into my ears. The CI, believe it or not, works more naturally with my inner ear so that I am hearing the same way as everyone else. Again, as stated in an earlier blog post, the implant processes, rather than amplifies, the sound.

Even after 9 months of being activated, I am still picking up on new improvements with the right ear. It’s defintely exciting!

Music To My Cochlear

I’m going to start out with the cliché saying that music is an influential part of my life. It goes for anyone because music help us process all of the feelings and meaning in life. So yes, music is awesome.  When I got the Cochlear implant turned on, I didn’t expect it to become a more meaningful element in my life because it was already significant enough. The changes came to me slowly in the past few months and took me a while to recognize them. I found myself cooking more often since I would always play music on speakers. I found my taste of music expanding more then ever. My roommate is a big Elvis and doo-wop fan and I found myself enjoying that type of music even more. Not that I didn’t enjoy it before, but it the rhythm and sounds are more catchy to me then before. Even some songs I didn’t like before I was get a big “A-Ha!” moment realizing why people like that song so much. Music is literally making more sense to me now more then ever!

Before the surgery, sounds were heard through the ears of hearing aids. Now I get this unique combination of hearing aid and Cochlear elements to enjoy different sounds with. Although through my Cochlear, music sounds a little distance, but the components of the songs would reach my brain subconsciously and I think somehow my brain is appreciating the sounds on a whole new level. For example, the basic beats of songs are more clear to me now then before. As for lyrics, I still have to look up a lot of the words to understand it. Though we never know, my cochlear may hit that point one day when I wouldn’t have to look lyrics as much. Just like what I’ve said with my brain not working as hard to listen, music is coming to my brain more naturally. Not necessarily that the electrodes are processing the most natural sounds but the method of listening to music is more organic. This grants me the ability to appreciate music more deeply then ever in my life.

Another thing that I started to experiment with is my sensitivity setting. Thanks to my speech path friend, Mandy, for reminding me about this feature. With this setting, I can adjust how far my Cochlear can receive information. So if I increase the sensitivity, I would hear more things further away. Decreasing the sensitivity would allow me to hear sounds closer to me more clearly. For example, I would decrease sensitivity to hear a group of friends in a noisy restaurant. So after playing around with this feature, increasing the setting does help the music “feel closer” to me. Though it’s still not there yet but that may something to consider increasing next time I visit Maegan!

Some of you may already have known that I was at the Coldplay concert in Philly over the weekend. Let me just say that it was AMAZING. The sights and sounds were a once in a lifetime experience. If you could, I would highly recommend seeing them live. Even if you don’t like them. I experimented with turning off my hearing aid and leaving the Cochlear on and it’s was a little distance even with the sensitivity setting all the way up. Then again, all of the sounds are being processed to my brain more organically and I could literally feel the music all inside my head. So, I don’t think it’s about the volume being on the same level as my hearing aids. The music did sound like it’s more inside my head with the Cochlear whereas the hearing aid sounds like it was coming from outside my ear. Looking back on it, this concert was definitely a great experience to test out my new way of hearing!

 

View of the stadium as the band started playing Charlie Brown!

Going forward, as I adjust more with the implant, it’ll be fun to monitor how well music works with me amongst hearing other things. I will be sure to keep everyone up to speed with music in future blog posts to come!

Back In Action

Hi all! 

I apologize for being off the grid lately. I’ve hit a point where my improvements are slowly progressing and I’m not noticing the difference as much anymore. It have been a slow process and that’s expected at this point. It’s been a little over three months since activation and I’m feeling great about my implant. There are still bumps on the road every now and then but what is life without challenges??

Before my surgery, I used to wake up in the morning and put on my hearing aids immediately before I get out of bed. When I got the Cochlear activated, I would take my time in the morning to put them on because it sounded so different and uncomfortable. Now, I recently noticed that I would put them on at the same time as my hearing aid. This is a big deal because this means my brain is starting to get used to the sound going through my inner ear! 

Another thing I’ve noticed in the past month or so is that my brain isn’t working as hard when I’m listening to other people. With hearing aids in both of my ears, it would take a lot of effort and energy focusing on what my hearing aids are feeding me. However, with the Cochlear implant, the information is already inside my head (literally). So, my brain is processing the sound more naturally and effortlessly. With that said, it’s exciting to think about how well I hear six months from now!

Sometimes when I turn off my hearing aid to exercise my brain with the Cochlear implant, I noticed that it’s picking up on the natural sounds very well. I can have conversations with people in noisy environment a little better than before. The only thing that I’m still struggling with is digital sounds, which is mostly music and TV. For example, last night, I was on my back deck with a couple friends while there was music playing. I could hear my friends clearly but the music on the speakers were very distance and hard to distinguish. So hopefully my brain will catch up with the digital sounds going forward!

I will be seeing Coldplay this weekend so I’ll be sure to give you guys an update again soon on how well I hear them with the Cochlear!

 

On The Upswing

I was recently out at a crowded bar with a group of friends. There was everything you would expect in a bar that goes against hearing anyone. Tight spaces, loud music, and even louder voices. Of course, I’m used to being in this type of environment. I had both units in my ears, my hearing aid and Cochlear sound processor. I decided to try something that I haven’t done at the bar: I turned off the hearing aid to see what the Cochlear implant could do.  It wasn’t as overwhelming as I thought it would be. I could actually hear my friend/roommate Dan talk to me without having to lean in! I would still hear all the sounds going on, but the processor helped me distinguish Dan’s voice from everything else. This also applied to talking to the rest of my friends there. It was a huge changeover for me to hear other people in this kind of surrounding. This was one of the most significant distinction I picked up since having my Cochlear turned on. The mic is also working very well for me, the hard part is getting people to hold it at a different positions than how people held my old mic but we all will get there.

Another time where I could tell a difference is when my friend noticed that she was talking to me with a softer level. She mentioned that she would always speak up when talking to me but realized that she didn’t have to anymore. My audiologist, Maegan, even noticed that I’m speaking differently with better speech. So, not only am I telling the difference, but my friends and family are! Though my Cochlear is not exactly there yet, so far I’ve experienced enough positive changes to be happy with my decision.

There have been moments where I would still get overwhelmed with certain sounds. For example, living in a city, I would occasionally hear sirens. When I had hearing aids in both ears, the sirens never bothered me. Now, whenever they drive close by, they would actually hurt my ear and I’d get irritated. Then I realize that’s the point, right? Doesn’t everyone’s ears hurt when they hear the sirens? So glad I can finally be in solidarity with all the functional ears out there. Though to tell you the truth, I would just take off my Cochlear if the fire trucks gets too close (😉).

As for music, there are certain songs that wouldn’t process well in my ear, but my brain is still adjusting. I haven’t been able to plug in music to my Cochlear like regular headphones just yet. The sound is still distance and not all of the features in a typical song is going through. Hopefully when I get more turned up next week at the audiologist, the music will be closer to my level of comfort. Maegan recommended that I may have to do some sound therapy on the Cochlear website. Stay tuned.

Magic Magnet

I have gone through an immense amount of change since the first few days of having those overwhelming wind chimes inside my head. The wind chiming definitely went away and the relatively normal sounds came back. A lot of the new sounds I hear takes a minute for me to realize where the sound is coming from. In the first week, I would get tense from hearing cars driving by or by simply listening to certain music in the car. Though it got easier each day! I was very surprised to hear birds from inside the house. It was something I had to get used to since my initial thought was that theres a bird in the house. Another cool discovery I made is that I can hear people talk with at lower level. So while I get overwhelmed with normal level of sound I can pick up conversation through a softer voice!

I had an another adjustment done with Maegan and Sonya, on Friday the 1st, for the 2 week update. We went up one level at a time to see if I don’t get overwhelmed with the sounds in the room. It felt like a game of chicken because theres a moment of silence in my Cochlear ear before I hear the next level. We went through five or six levels before I started to cringe at the sound of my own voice. After the update I went into the testing booth to see how much more I can hear. Maegan had me do the test where if I hear a sound I would press the button. It’s difficult sometimes because there would be time that I would think that I’m hearing something but then decide it’s all in my head. Then it would turn out that it was an actual sound. Afterwards, the test result showed that I can hear up to around 30-35 decibels while regular ears can hear up to 20 db! So now it’s all about learning to understand what those new sounds convey and getting used to what people sounds like.

If you haven’t seen me yet since my Cochlear was activated, here’s one cool thing!

The magnet attached to my processor can hold stuff for me! This has been a lot of fun to play with. And you know what the best part is? It doesn’t hurt to have the magnet on my head. So cool.