I’ve had some incredible moments these past six months. These include but are not limited to:
- The first time I heard rain.
- The first time I localized which direction sound was coming from.
- The first time I heard the difference between hearing with 2 ears vs. one.
- The first time I heard voices instead of beeps.
All of these moments filled me with such happiness and awe when they happened. Even now, when I think of these moments, a big smile comes to my face. These moments were incredible– I’ll never forget them.
You know, I almost decided not to get a second cochlear implant. I honestly thought I was hearing as well as I ever could with the one implant and I didn’t think a second one would add anything new to what I was already hearing. Boy, was I ever wrong! There was a lot that I was missing before. Rain, for example. I never heard rain clearly until this past June.
With two ears, life is less tiring. I don’t have to use as much mental energy throughout day just to hear. With two implants, I can hear much better in background noise and I don’t have to concentrate so hard on people’s voices during conversations. Lipreading is still a big part of my life but I don’t find myself constantly running through mental word libraries to fill in the gaps I fail to hear. Now it only happens occasionally. As for actual sounds, they sound richer and more natural. And loud. I had no idea how loud the world was until I started hearing through two CIs. To this day I’m still getting used to it; although, I could live without those ridiculously loud motorcycles 🙂
Not only do I have a better appreciation for sound, I also have a better appreciation for silence. Sometimes, the best part of my day is waking up and making my breakfast without hearing anything but silence. The silence is so calming and relaxing, I actually forgot on a few occasions to put my CIs on until almost halfway throughout the day. This is a stark constant to earlier this year when I viewed silence as “the big elephant in the room”. Now that I know just how loud the world actually is, taking off my CIs at the end of the day feels like heaven. Being able to switch between the two worlds; sound and silence, is without a doubt, my favourite thing about being a CI-borg.
Having two CIs does have some downsides, although I believe that these downsides are largely, if not, entirely, in part to the fact that my brain is still getting used to hearing with two ears. The main downside right now is that some sounds are simply too loud. Today in class, I was overwhelmed to the point of tears when the girl sitting beside me on my left side, turned behind in her chair to talk to her friends. Her friends were sitting in the row behind us on my right side and the room was really noisy so she had to talk loudly for her friends to hear her. The only problem was that she was talking right near my left CI, which was processing everything she was saying. My brain couldn’t handle all the noise on my left side and it felt like her voice was resonating within my head. Thankfully, lecture started a few minutes later so everything quieted down but if it hadn’t, I would’ve had to take off my CI for about thirty minutes to calm down.
A similar thing happens when I’m doing the dishes at the end of the day. Hearing pots and pans clang against the sink while I’m washing them makes me cringe because it’s too loud and high-pitched. Like I said in my previous post, my brain has no idea how to process high-frequency sounds so when I’m tired, these sounds become almost unbearable. I either have to take my CI off or do the dishes the next day during the afternoon when my brain can better handle these sounds. However, these are only minor things that I’m sure will gradually disappear over time once my brain gets used to how loud everything is.
My mom asked me three months ago whether I felt I had made the right decision in getting a second CI and I told her that I still needed some more time before I could answer that question. Deciding whether or not to get a second CI was one of the toughest decisions I ever made. Now I know, without a doubt, that I made the right decision. I absolutely love being bilateral.