Funny C.I. Moment: Am I Having an Auditory Hallucination?

It’s been a while since I last posted about my hearing journey. Over a year, in fact… yikes! I apologize to any one who has been waiting for an update. Since my last post, I have found it hard to come up with new blog posts, which eventually led to a lack of motivation on my part to update the blog. However, I have a funny C.I. moment to share with you so hopefully sharing this moment is the jumpstart I need to get back into writing. Since it is has been over a year since my last update, it is only fair that I give you all a quick update on my progress before sharing with you a particularly funny C.I. moment from about a month ago.

Quick Update:

Speech is still difficult to make out with the new implant alone but it is slowly improving. Speech testing in October 2015 revealed that I currently have a word discrimination score of 69% in quiet conditions, which is fantastic considering the circumstances. Unfortunately, my word discrimination with my other implant has dropped from 86% to 65% in noise. My audiologist and I are uncertain as to why there has been such a significant drop in my word discrimination score, as my hearing thresholds for that implant have not changed since the last time I underwent testing. Since the internal implant is almost 16 years old, it may be an indication of the implant heading towards internal failure.However, it is too premature to make this assumption because I have not experienced any other signs of internal device failure (e.g. no popping or static noises heard, no tingling sensations felt in the face or implant area). We’ve decided to keep an eye on it and if I experience any additional difficulty hearing in noise, I will go back in for another MAPping. On the bright side, when I have both implants on, my overall word discrimination in noise improves from 65% to 75%. If I ever needed any proof that I have gained benefit from receiving a second C.I., this is it! Most C.I. users, including myself, will report that the one of the biggest challenges they face on a daily basis is hearing speech in noise­. A 10% increase may seem small but for a C.I. user like myself, it is a massive improvement! I can instantly hear the difference in volume and clarity when I put my second implant on after I have put on my first. I have probably said this time and time again, but two ears are without a doubt, better than one!

Now that I have given you all a quick update, we can now turn to the main reason I am writing this post, which is to tell you all about a strange but very funny C.I. moment I’ve had recently. To be honest, I think this may be the strangest C.I. moment I’ve experienced to date­. It may even surpass getting stuck to the table leg of my high school desk! 🙂


A cochlear implant with an F.M. receiver plugged in (the receiver is the small grey booth).

It happened about a month ago. I was heading to a lab meeting right after a class and in a hurry, I turned off the professor’s F.M. transmitter before I left class but left my F.M. receivers on, which were plugged into the end of both of my sound processors. As I passed a big lecture hall on my way to the meeting room, I heard a brief amplification of sound and then someone talking clearly about economics. The amplification of sound is indicative of the F.M. system being switched on but the confusing part was that I had turned the F.M. transmitter off. I looked behind me to see if there was someone talking about economics to a friend but there was no one close enough to allow me to overhear a conversation that loudly and clearly. Since I was approaching the meeting room by then, I quickly shook it off as nothing and forgot about it until a few hours later.


The F.M. transmitter that my professors wear.

A few hours later, I was heading to a volunteer commitment on campus when the same thing happened again. There was the same burst in sound amplification, which was quickly followed by someone talking loud and clear. This time, what I heard, was nothing related to economics. Instead, I heard a woman giving very vivid descriptions of witches being burned in Salem– these descriptions included what the witches were wearing, how they were burnt and chained to the stake, the names of the witches, the dates and times etc. Looking back on it, my reaction is kind of silly but I freaked out and instantly thought that I was having an auditory hallucination. It was late at night, no one else was around and there were no nearby classes going on (trust me, I checked). I also checked my F.M. transmitter again, just in case I hadn’t turned it off after all, but it was already turned off. Finally after a few long moments of freaking out, I decided to turn off my F.M. receivers and once I did that, I instantly stopped hearing the vivid descriptions. Further confirmation that it was F.M. system behind this strange experience and not me going crazy was achieved when I switched my receivers backs on. Sure enough, once I switched them back on, I heard a continuation of the vivid descriptions. My F.M. system has a feature called “F.M. Sharing” that enables multiple different F.M. receivers to be synced to a single F.M. transmitter. This is useful for when there are multiple students using F.M. systems in the same classroom. When this feature is used, the teacher doesn’t have to wear multiple F.M. transmitters because the students can sync their F.M. receivers to the same transmitting channel and use the same F.M. transmitter. I have never used this feature before but it is most likely the reason I heard those descriptions. By coincidence, my receivers must have been synced to the same channel as another F.M. system being used in a lecture about the Salem witch trials.


House M.D

Perhaps what makes this experience even funnier was that the weekend prior to this all happening, I started watching House M.D. and earlier that afternoon, I finished watching an episode where House treats a patient who experiences frequent auditory hallucinations. That episode was fresh in my mind when this whole thing happened so when I started hearing vivid descriptions of witches being burnt, I instantly thought I was having an auditory hallucination. I’ve had a lot of weird C.I. moments but this one just takes the icing on the cake. I swear there is never a dull moment when you have cochlear implants!


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