Breaking the Silence

…of this blog, that is. It is true-it has been a long and eventful week, and it has taken a while to process.

I know that Lindsay will write about the experience of being turned on first hand, and that’s the more important post to be reading, but it has been an emotional week for both of us. Because it’s the beginning of a journey for her, and in turn for me, too, and everything around us is a part of it: the newly-experienced sound of Penny the dog sneezing, a more specific noise attached to the simmering of onions in a pan, and so much more.

She was very nervous on the way to the hospital. More nervous, really, than she was when she got the implant itself, which was a three hour invasive operation. The operation was something that she could quantify: you go in, have a surgery, go home, recover. But the activation of the implant, and whatever changes/additions this much simpler process would bring, was unknown, and therefore more frightening. But my wife is a practical person. She doesn’t make decisions lightly, and takes all changes cautiously. She didn’t go into this process with expectations, which gave her sort of a level playing field to work with.

But she was surprised by what happened when Mickie the Audiologist turned on the processor for the first time. She did cry, a little – perhaps partially from the overwhelming experience of hearing sound internally for the first time in a while. But she also had sort of a mini panic attack brought on by the new signals sent to her brain. And afterwards, leaving the doctor’s office and heading out into downtown Chicago, she seemed stoned… unable to concentrate, distracted by everything. We immediately went to Big Star for margaritas.

She was worried that she hadn’t been honest enough about the initial mapping, and she had asked Mickie to set it too low, because the implanted ear seemed quiet and muffled compared to the ear with her hearing aid. But as the week progressed we decided that it was just different, not worse. It’s still different. My theory is that she’s hearing more dynamics in the sound, compared to her hearing aid which simply magnifies any and all sounds. And my other theory, that she has been sort of imagining sounds – the noise that shaking a box of sugar cubes makes – might be true. “That’s different than I expected!” she said, shaking vigorously.

On that first day I just wanted to look at her. I just watched her as closely as I could, as if by watching her every move I could glean some idea of what she was hearing and of what she was going through. I wish more than anything that I could be inside Lindsay’s head this past week. I’ve rarely felt more unable to help her with something. I know that the first frequency mapping has to be flat so that she can get used to the device. And I know that there is such a long way to go for her to make sense of these new sounds. But it drives me crazy that I don’t have the ability to suggest “you need more mids in that mix” or agree that “yes, those high frequencies are a little harsh”. If they are. She’ll have to figure those things out for herself, in her own time.

Next? More adjustment of the processor, more getting used to the device. More listening and asking questions. I asked her the other day whether I was allowed to be excited when she noticed those onions simmering on the stove. It’s her time to ask questions and I don’t want to be pesky about all the small changes I see when she’s going through so many big changes in her own head.

But she said yes, I was allowed to be excited, and I knew that she was excited, too.


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