Monday, March 06, 2017

Let's Hear It For My New Ear


This may not seem like a particularly important photograph to you. It is simply an old man with white hair and a bit of a silly grin on his face. But look closely, and what do you see? Nothing! Precisely,  For the first time in thirty-odd years there is nothing lodged behind his ear; no wires dangling here and there, no visible signs of his undoubted disability. It is the new me with my new hidden speech processor.

The first speech processor I had some twenty years ago was a plastic box of batteries, computers and wires that attached to my belt and which was inked by wire to a microphone lodged behind my ear. Over the years the speech processors have got smaller and smaller and the software programmes within them have got cleverer and cleverer. My latest processor is just a little larger than a 50 pence piece and sits under my hair on the side of my head. It has programmes within it that constantly monitor the sound around me, decide what is background noise and reduce it in volume thus allowing me to concentrate on important stuff like listening to the latest episode of The Archers.

Since I was given the new processor last Thursday I have been slowly getting used to it. It is difficult to explain how a completely new sensory devise shifts everything a little: things sound a tiny bit different, your hearing works in a marginally different way, and there are new buttons and switches and programmes to get used to. Here are just a few things I have discovered in the few days since I received my Cochlear Nucleus Kanso processor.

- The biggest fear with a device so small which is only attached to you by a magnet, is that it will fall off at some inappropriate moment such as when you are walking past a drain or when the dog is feeling particularly hungry. I could get a stronger magnet, but the danger with that is that over time it will wear through the skin and my brains will leak out.

- If I shake my head too vigorously the implant has a tendency to fly off, therefore I am trying to avoid situations where I need to express indignant disagreement. All statements about how wonderful life outside the European Union is bound to be for Britain are now met by me with a pitying scowl.

- Whilst a hat remains an implant wearers best friend, extra care has to be taken when putting them on and taking them off to avoid casting your ear into space. The best solution I have discovered is a significant bowing of the head before taking your hat off so if the processor falls off it will fall off into the waiting hat. This makes it look as though I have just met a member of the royal family and I am undertaking a particularly obsequious bow.

- The bluetooth connectivity means that I can now walk the dog and have music streamed straight to my brain. Whilst we are used to meeting walkers and joggers seemingly singing and talking to themselves as they pound the streets, we can usually check their sanity by searching for the tell-tale speaker buds in their ears and cables to their smart phones. No such evidence is available in my case and therefore people are left to draw their own conclusions about my sanity.

- One clever attachment (the phone clip) allows me to voice dial on my mobile phone, but the sensitivity of the necessary command takes a bit of getting used to.  Yesterday whilst out walking I sneezed and phoned a friend.

I am sure I will quickly get used to all aspects of my new ear and start to take it for granted. What I will never take for granted is the brilliance of the scientists who designed and developed the technology, the skill and dedication of the medical team that fitted and maintains my implant, and the fabulous National Health Service that made it all possible for me. Let's hear it for all of them.

14 comments:

  1. Hooray! I literally laughed out loud when I read about the sneeze effect. Ah, modern times! The butt dial has been succeeded by the sneeze dial.

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  2. That's really great! I'm sure your wife doesn't mind a bit if you bow to her before taking off your hat! haha....

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  3. How absolutely wonderful Alan! I'm so happy for you. I'm glad your sense of humor is now extended to the very delicate and new gadget which has extended your sense of hearing...all senses are great for us humans!

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  4. I'm sure the GLW loves the extra curtsies and bowing!

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  5. Well done the NHS! And well done too for seeing me 3 times a week for the last 3 weeks, taking several blood and urine samples and getting the results back impossibly quickly, and changing my prescription 7 times in an effort to get me fit and well. It's wonderful to have them when we need them. But (I am feeling a little thick just now) how come your head is magnetic?

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    1. That doesn't sound good, Georgina. Hope they sort it out.

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    2. When they did the initial operation twenty years ago they inserted a magnet on my skull under the skin. It is always a little tricky if I walk by one of those large fridge doors as I can quite easily attach myself to them.

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    3. Thanks Jane. no it isn't really but not dead yet.... nor attached to the fridge door either thank goodness!
      another new pill last night and another visit to the Dr tomorrow. If I'm lucky I get to go on holiday Thursday.

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  6. What an amazing device. I'm happy you've got it.

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  7. How exciting. I can relate to the care required in formerly carelessly casual dressing. I must not knock my hearing aids askew when I thrust on sunglasses over glasses and hearing aids.

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  8. Hurrah! The marvels of technology never cease. I expect you will soon be blog-writing as you walk.

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  9. That's such good news, Ali! Don't let Lucy eat it.

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  10. Love your writing style Alan - many thanks for this insight ... I'm "on the waiting list" for a CI here in South Wales, having met all the audiology requirements. It's just the funding (and the Surgeon's schedule) holding things up. Consequently I'm doing all the research I can into (a) the procedure, and (b) the available choices of processor, because I understand that part of the selection will be down to me!! As far as the waiting time is concerned, if I can get the CI some time this calendar year I will be happy. Anyway, very best wishes to you in your continuing journey. I have a blog on Facebook which details the ups and downs of my journey so far, along with a risque story or two!!! Take care - - - - Peter Lakin

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