Activation day, finally. I had hardly slept the night before from the excitement of this day. We sat there in the waiting area and my palms were sweaty but I was so excited that day, it was finally here the moment of truth. I have had amazing moments in my life like the birth of my children, getting married and this one was no exception it was right up top along with those things. I had waited so long and it meant so much to me and my family to be there that day.
We were called in by the audiologist so we went to the audiology suite. Once I sat down I was asked some post op questions and these were recorded into my records. Once all that had been done and I had told her everything about how I was recovering over the last few weeks it was time to bring in the device, the cochlear implant came with a variety of equipment to help me with the maintenance of it, it brought different clips some for the hair and some for the clothes, this stops the device should it disconnect for whatever reason not to land on the floor and keeps it safe. I was given magnets, brushes, information leaflets, my charging box which works as a dehumidifier and is air tight once closed to protect the device once all the bits and pieces were explained it was time for the BIG device, my cochlear implant.
It was connected up to the computer and a file was created which would be my hearing profile for the implant. She asked me ‘ what are your expectations?’ and I proceeded to tell her that I knew that at first it would consist of sounds being beeps and little sounds until my brain learnt to use the signals of the device and turned them into words. She was happy with my reply as I knew it was a long road ahead with the device before I would be able to hear a lot of sounds, its today and I’m still learning new sounds all the time with the implant.
It was the moment of truth and on it went, she started talking to me and my eyes teared up and I started to laugh because of the nerves i had in me, I COULD HEAR HER!! She was talking to me and I could hear words and sounds coming out of her. I cried so many tears of joy, there was a lot of crackling and it was echoey but I could hear words, full on words. She asked my partner who was there to speak to me and I heard his voice talking to me. I just could not stop laughing and crying all at the same time, I was so overwhelmed by the whole thing and my nerves were just at an all time high. I could not ever describe well enough the happiness I felt at that moment, the joy it was something else entirely to anything I have ever experienced in my life. ( there is a short video below at the end of the blog to show my moment of truth).
After I had calmed down enough to proceed, the audiologist started working on tuning the device, which consists of listening to different sounds at different volumes to determine when the volume was at the right setting for me. There are additional settings that are out into the device which would need to be changed every 3 days at the beginning( now they are set settings). She also tested me to see the change in my hearing profile and went through everything again to make sure I was fully ready to leave. I would need to travel back to see her every 2 weeks for more tuning and changing of settings to improve the help the device would offer me. And with that my first day with the implant had begun.
After being with the audiologist it was time for the second appointment of the day and the second part of the entire process meeting the speech therapist. The speech therapist is to give you tools and homework to do during the process so you can get the most out of your cochlear implant device. I was handed a booklet which had different sections on different sounds that I would now be slowly learning to hear. This booklet has two columns, one where you write the day you first HEAR the sound whilst visually looking at it and the second column is when you RECOGNIZE the sound without looking at it, an example of this is hearing the clock in the room so I wrote the date down and a few days later when I heard it and said to myself oh that’s the sound of a clock I wrote that date since I had recognized the sound of the clock without looking at it. We then did some listening exercises where she would say a word and I had to say it back and then the same with some sentences. Once I was set up with that and had all these tasks and tools to practice covered it was done until 2 weeks time.
OUT INTO A NEW WORLD I WENT. But little did I know that this was only the beginning and my life was about to change on a whole different level. I was finally working my way back into the hearing world and I for one could not wait.
That first day had left me exhausted from all the feelings I had experienced so I did need a sleep after all of it as it was very overwhelming but I could not have been happier. And now it was time to go back home and share it with my friends and family but that would take another few days.