An Emotional Journey to Bilateral Implants | Part VI

It’s been just over a month since Kate’s second surgery, and only 3 weeks since switch-on. She has been putting a lot of effort towards training her new ear!  

How has she been coping in the last few weeks?

Ben & Kate _ 1 month Pre Op Trip NZ

Three weeks since switch-on:

Writing that, I can’t believe it, and it makes me feel better. I was feeling down about it today but then I realise that it has only been 3 weeks since switch on and I’m reminded that it is still early on in the journey. It’s easy to lose perspective when you are living it every day.

I am finding that voices are still very robotic and distorted. While I try to practice listening with just the new ear, I feel like I need to shake something out of my head, gauze… fairy floss… or something crazy like that. It’s as if there is something inside my brain that is not making it crystal clear, but I am so close. It’s very frustrating.

The surgery site has healed up really well however still a little tender. It doesn’t feel quite normal yet I guess but I’ve had no problems at all.

Today as I drove to work, I practised listening to the news on the radio again with just the new ear, and then found it too tiring and slightly upsetting because of how distorted everything seemed. I can’t tell the difference between male and female voices – they all sound deep.

But then music comes on, and it sounds how I remember music, though the lyrics are hard to understand because of the voice distortion. The fact that music sounds normal is the most incredible thing – I am hearing the deep low tones that I was so worried I would miss from my hearing aid. It sounds like the hearing aid, only better. I don’t actually get these low notes in my other CI. It’s like each ear is picking up different elements of things. And it sounds good! Really good! I am so surprised that music sounds great this early on.

I think I’ve come to a turning point – now I can’t really bear to switch off the second CI, even though I am finding it tiring wearing the two together. Location of sound is proving to be interesting. My brain is having trouble believing that it’s hearing out of the other ear properly. So I’ll hear something clearly in my new CI, but my habit is just to turn to the side of the old CI, thinking it’s from that direction. Each day I try to practice listening, and find I am even having to ask my kids which direction things are coming from, and ‘what sound is that?’ – even with the two devices on together.

Last night I had an intensely disturbing dream. I was out bushwalking with my 3 year old daughter Avienne, and we were up on a plateau in the Blue Mountains. I had forgotten to wear my new Cochlear™ implant, so I was only wearing my old one. And suddenly I lost Avi in the bush, I could hear her frightened calls for me, but I couldn’t see her. I told her to stay where she was, and I tried my hardest to find her. I strained my ears listening, trying to find which direction she was, and I just couldn’t. It was getting darker, and I could sense her voice getting further away. I was plunging through the bush, but no matter how hard I tried I just couldn’t tell which direction she was, and I was panicking. The dream ended there, and it was one of those stress dreams that showed that I subconsciously realise that directionality is not a mundane thing, but actually so important.

The explorers: Arlin and Avi

Hearing highlights this week

I’ve made a second phone call through the new CI by itself – to my mum this time! And I could hear her – I had to concentrate so hard but we had a conversation! I was so happy, but when I hung up, instead of the normal elation I’ve been feeling, I felt like something close to tears. It’s such a simple thingto use a telephone. Something most of us take for granted. There was something sad inside when I felt like I was finally able to hear in that ear again, and that I had left it for so long.

On the weekend Ben and I were walking through a busy farmers market, full of people and noise and I heard what I thought was Ben saying, very clearly, “So where are we going?”, and I answered, “I’m not sure, maybe we should go over here to get coffee.” Ben looked at me and said. “I didn’t say anything … I think you overheard that guy over there!” And about 5 metres away, in the middle of this crowd of people, was this guy talking to his family! I had overheard him and it had appeared so close, I thought he was next to me. I don’t think that would have happened with only the one ear.

It was a pretty amazing moment.


Views expressed by Cochlear recipients and hearing health providers are those of the individual. Please seek advice from your medical practitioner or health professional about treatments for hearing loss. They will be able to advice on a suitable solution for the hearing loss condition. Outcomes and results may vary. All products should be used only as directed by your medical practitioner or health professional. Not all products are available in all countries. Please contact your local Cochlear representative.

Cochlear, Hear now. And always and elliptical logo are either trademarks or registered trademarks of Cochlear Limited. D1255107 ISS3 AUG17 Cochlear © 2017 All rights reserved.

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