CI activation is one of those things where doctors tell you to try and keep your expectations as low as possible. Things will be awesome eventually, they’ll tell you, but don’t expect too much up front.
So off we went this morning, trying to be as non-excited as possible for an event that I have described to co-workers as turning on my wife’s hearing for the first time since she was six.
We got my wife’s CI done through Denver Ear Associates. They have an excellent reputation, and deal with all kinds of people with all kinds of hearing problems. Which makes it singularly fascinating that their waiting room still runs on the “We’re going to call your name until you come up” theory. This works better than you might expect in a room full of people who need hearing aids and CI, but it seems like maybe they should get those waiting buzzers for restaurants that blink and vibrate.
My wife has often been annoyed that her hearing aids automatically get her target marketed as being 70. It doesn’t help that she loves scooters. The two wheeled riding kind, not the old lady in the grocery store kind, but the internet assumes that if you have hearing aids and own a scooter, you’re old.
The waiting room backed that up. Our presence there dropped the average age by a good 15 years. That includes the college-age girl there to translate for her Russian mother, a fact which I later realized was totally missed by my wife, who has been known to ask “Does that guy have an accent?” during a movie when a character is speaking French.
Then we did some paper work. All the things get registered with the Advanced Bionics. So if Erin is ever found murdered in Washington, DC with no identification and has her body shipped to the Jeffersonian to solve the case, they can totally look her up by serial number.
The actual activation started with deciding how hard the processor should stick to the side of my wife’s head. It’s a delicate balance. You don’t want it to fall off if you nod. But on the other hand, you don’t want it to rub straight through your skin to the magnet on the other side. Which evidently does happen, although not very often.
Then the processor was plugged into the computer and the audiologist started playing beeps. They make the beeps louder or quieter until you rate them as a 6 on their little laminated scale. If you’re a little kid, you get a way more awesome scale featuring monkeys, but apparently we’re too old for that. Some of those beeps were higher pitched than my wife has heard in 25 years. So that’s super-awesome.
Actual speech, though? Not so much. She can hear kind of an extended pitch change, sort of the “doo doo doo doo doo” from Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Certain noises generate a distinct beep, like me burping. But mostly, she says things sound like she’s in an old school Nintendo game.
Which naturally prompted me to break out in the Mario Brothers theme song. Which, with the added electronicness from the implant, apparently sounds perfect.
Small victories. But, hey. They’ll get better.