Dale’s Cochlea Implant is all switched on now…
And already it’s exceeding expectations.
Myself and Dale went to London today on a rather frustration 2 hour train train journey due to severe thunder storms which cause a lot of problems on the tracks on the express route. So after the initial worry that we would be very late for the appointment (which we ended up not being more than fifteen to twenty minutes late), we were seated in the audiologists room and listening – well, me listening, Dale trying his hardest to lip read as he was 98% – 100% deaf – to the instruction of the hearing and programming tests that the audiologist was about to perform.
If any of you have ever been for any kind of hearing tests, it starts off with them doing the ‘Beep Test’. Basically they play a series of beeps only the ‘testee’ can hear (in normal hearing tests you may be required to describe how many beeps you hear). Dale’s initial tests was just setting and adjusting the levels of his CI so that it was at a comfortable volume level where he could hear, but so it wasn’t too loud either. Then to jazz the tests up a bit, Dale was required to inform the audiologist how many beeps he was hearing, so that the audiologist could confirm he was actually hearing through his cochlea and wasn’t hearing ‘phantom sounds’ (although originally the audiologist said that the beeps would rise in pitch, she did jump around a bit without telling Dale or me, which to her pleasure and delight, Dale noticed). He then did a bit of ‘Listening’. This part of the tests is different to the ‘Beep Test’ as it requires hearing natural sounds rather than computer generated sounds.
And let me tell you, the improvement was absolutely phenomenal. Anybody who knows Dale and who has had conversations with him would know that he would very often ask you to repeat yourself, say it more slowly, as he would have difficulty hearing and lip reading. Since we got together (all them almost five months ago), the signal that he couldn’t understand what the person was saying, he would turn to me, if I was with him, so I could attempt to sign to him.
I’m not fantastic at sign language, but I can just about have a full conversation with Dale using only sign and no voice, which we have been doing for the last four weeks). Of course it helps because he practically knows ‘my language’ (a bit like having an accent but in sign), so I’m not sure how I would fair in front of other ‘stranger signers’. It also helps that neither of us know the full dictionary so we fairly regularly check our BSL Phone Dictionaries for the correct sign.
Well, Dale could follow along with what the audiologist was saying with next to never asking her to repeat anything. Although, it was quite evident he was trying hard to match lips to sounds he was hearing (it’s different signals his brain is now receiving, so he’s effectively retraining his brain how to hear).
The audiologist then left myself and Dale in the room to talk, mainly to see how my voice translated. That part didn’t go as well as I had hoped, but considering he had only had the CI for about thirty minutes, he had already done much more than what I expected. He couldn’t really hear my voice, which I think is due to the pitch that my voice is at (I think, if I remember correctly, he is able to hear higher pitches more than lower pitches). I remember quite clearly on our very first lunch date, Dale informed me that my voice was literally on the borderline of the pitch he can hear through his hearing aid.
We did manage to have a nearly full conversation with hardly any sign to aid, but it’s going to be homework for us two over the next couple of weeks and months.
When the audiologist returned to the room, she initially apologised for not facing me when she was talking and proceeded to ask whether I was able to hear her. I think she was quite relieved when I told her I was fully hearing. She became quite interested in how I came to learn sign and how long I had been learning it. I’ve never had official lessons or exams, but I did receive some free lessons from a very good friend signer and I used to hang out around deaf people quite a bit. I think my signing has seriously improved since dating Dale; how could it not? I’ve been dating an almost totally deaf guy for the last four/five months.
We also discovered that at the moment, Dale is unable to hear environmental sounds, like hallway chatter, busy streets and other stuff, which is expected. Wait, let me correct myself, he can’t distinguish and identify the sounds, but he can hear/feel the presence of sound.
Deaf people are more aware to sound vibrations than hearing people which was quite evident today.
When we got home (to his flat), we discovered he could hear quite a few sounds he’s never been able to hear before. He was very delighted to find out he could hear the sound of his leather wallet opening and closing. I poured myself a drink of Shloer, and he could hear the crackling of the fizz-bubble-things. He can also now hear the clicks of his TV remote buttons; he actually assumed that the clicks were coming from the TV, but when I informed him that there were no sounds coming from the TV but it was his remote, he was very surprised. I can’t wait to discover with him what sounds he can hear which he was never able to before.
Of course today has been full of highs…
And the highest of them all is that once, only once, Dale was able to hear me and reply to me with out needing to lip read. The sheer joy that brought me. It gives me so much happiness because I know what this can do for Dale. He had wanted this for so long and battled downer days when his hearing has dropped or changed, or when he hadn’t received a date for the operation way past the expected dates.
To think that a couple of months ago, we were worried as to whether he would actually be accepted for the implant, whether they would ever give him a date before I went back to Uni and whether I would be there for the turn on. But here we are and I’ve been through it all with him. My work have been great in giving me the days off so I can support him in the momentous events that are happening right now.
Also thanks to our readers,
It really is great to hear the feedback from you guys who read this. Some of you aren’t dating Asperger’s and are dating NT’s, but it’s still great to hear that you can still relate to what we write. Thanks for being on this journey with us and thanks for supporting Dale and I. We love each other and we (mostly I) love writing this blog, even if I have been absent for a while.
Thank you, Sleep Tight and We’ll see you in the next post!