What a difference that first mapping makes!
I went back in to give my audiologist my concerns and she reassured me that this process would take time and that my experience with the implant upon activation was not only normal, but would get better. As if to demonstrate, she mapped me out again, and almost instantly voices sounded much more human.
This time she activated volume control on my implant, turning it up to a point that sounded...really clear.
Don't get me wrong, my audio experience is still far from perfect. I cannot distinguish some sounds from the background noise still...but the background noise itself is incredibly lessened.
Today I was able to hear the radio with some clarity for the first time since before middle school. "Electric Avenue" came on, and after a while I was able to recognize it and then follow along with it...the clarity it came through with was astounding! Unfortunately not every song comes across like that, but I beleive it will improve over time, possibly with subsequent mappings.
It's a lot to take in, not just the actual experience of hearing in a new way, but the material governing how to work the equipment and the things that it is possible to do with them. Maybe a year from now I will be completely comfortable with my implant, plugging it into my cd player or computer speakers and not having problems with anything except for the occasional?
Ate out at Joe's Crab Shack. I definitely recommend it, if just for their drinks. OMG, so good! Was tempted to order more than one just to try out another of their tasty looking offerings!
Over the past several weeks, my physical condition has steadily improved. I re-gained much of my sense of taste, I no longer have sensations in my teeth or "phantom helmet" feelings in my head, ect. My ear is still numb in the upper part of the lobe, and skin has been peeling terribly, but everything else seems fine.
Today I went in to the audiologist's office for activation of my implant.
Let me tell you, it was not what I expected.
Upon activation, I was met with an enormous wall of sound. It was just noise. It still hasn't completely gone away. Everything sounds soulless and fake, as if heard through outdated vocaloid equipment filtered through poor speakers. I could not tell a lawnmower from running water or blowing wind. A vaccum cleaner and the air conditioner sound the same. Voices were soulless and robotic, but are starting to get better.
What concerns me most is my music. I realize that this is only day one and that I will need to continue using my implant, but so far I am unhappy on the verge of being upset with how poor my experience with this has been. I could hear better than this before I went in for surgery.
That said, there have been some improvements. Voices, despite no longer sounding human, appear to have more articulation and so, are easier to understand. I can hear things that I could not hear before, such as rustling clothing, blinker lights, clicking ceiling fans, my Nintendo 3DS. Implant puts way too much emphasis on some things. In spite of this, these things do not sound natural or particularly coherent.
It's like wearing a hearing aid that gives different pitches of electronic warbling to represent different sounds. I know I am hearing something when I bash out this post on my keyboard. But the sound effect my implant has chosen to represent this with is incorrect.
I am going to have to keep telling myself to give it time. More time, I need more time.
I refuse to accept this as my final life experience if it does not change. I'd rather die than not be able to hear and appreciate music like I used to. I knew this going into the surgery. I was hopeful, if not entirely optimistic, but damn. I didn't think my experience upon activation would be worse than it was with my hearing aids.
Perhaps I am being too harsh; too hasty in my judgement of the device. I am angry right now...at myself more than anything, but there is another reason I'm writing this, aside from venting and fishing for the opinions and experiences of others...The Audi tells me that over time, things will begin to sound natural, and that I will eventually be getting more use out of the implant.
If she is right, then my view toward my implant should change over time. I want to leave this here, my initial first-take reaction, so that I can gague my progress with making sense of this miasma of suck that my implant is giving me. I want others to be able to see this too, since I had some hearing when I first went in for this surgery, and I know what things are supposed to sound like, and I want people to have this honest look at it from this perspective of my first day active.
There are many overwhelmingly positive experiences from many chochlear implant users across many different websites. It's easy to get a bit taken in by them. Well, here is one that says "Do not expect much from your first day." Here is hoping subsequent months see some improvement, otherwise I probably won't live to see 40.