Are Cochlear Implants Experimental?

Are cochlear implants experimental devices?

I more or less have always been a CI candidate. They were definitely experimental the first time I was considered to be a CI candidate in the early 1980s since they weren’t even FDA approved at that time.

They were still considered experimental in the 1990s.

Are they still experimental devices?

I don’t view my CI as an experimental device per sec. Maybe it’s because I’ve seen all the changes/improvements there have been over the years. However, on the other hand as my CI surgeon told me…there’s no way to know the outcomes/side effects that a CI may have after 20 years because it hasn’t been around that long. Then again I’m more used to the idea of a CI than the general population because I grew up knowing about CIs. Or, is it experimental in the sense that no one really knows what the long-term results will be for me?

Hmm….. I’m just curious as to if any CI users view their CI as an experimental device? The reason I’m bringing this up is because it seems like anti-CI people are still hanging onto a statement made in the late 1980s/1990s saying that CIs are experimental devices. They really like to emphasis this point.

When does an “experimental device” stop being experimental?

Also, does anyone know the total number of CI users worldwide? The only number I could find is 100,000 (as of 2006) and I’m not sure how reliable that number is. Another number I found that seems to be quoted a few times is 59,000 worldwide which just doesn’t seem right to me.

Either way, even though it sounds like a large number….it really isn’t when you stop and think about how many people are in the world. There has been a huge growth in CI users since 2000 and if anyone could point me in the right direction as to where I can find out how many CI users there are in both the U.S. and worldwide….that would be awesome!

The Troll

Every time I go over to D’s place I hear this constant clicking sort of noise in the TV room. For the longest time I could not figure out what in the world the sound was. It seemed like every time I got ready to ask D would be in the middle of a conversation or someone would strike up a conversation with me.

It started bothering me the other day when I was at home working on something. I finally e-mailed D randomly in the middle of the day asking if he knew what I was talking about. He had no clue what I was talking about and referred to it as the troll who lived in his house.

We finally figured out it was his wall clock tick-tocking! Granted it is a pretty loud clock. So loud that I can pick it out over the TV.

Annoying…..especially when it’s in the background of TV dialogues. 😉

Sometimes I can just ignore unknown sounds and sometimes I just can’t.

Colorado: The "Hearing" Part

A while back I blogged about how I wasn’t sure if I wanted to take my CI with me to Colorado or not. I ended up taking it with me and figured this topic deserved a post of its own. At some point I will do a more fun post that has nothing to do with “hearing” or CIs! 🙂

To recap I went on a 9 day trip to Colorado with 3 other people. We did tons of hiking including a 14Ker (had to get up at 3:00am for that one, ew) and some whitewater rafting. Good times!

Basically, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to mess with taking my CI on the trip because it’s a time to relax and get away from everything. I usually misplace my CI at least once a day at home….let alone out in the woods! While I was on the trip I read an article that talked about how people like to go camping and hiking to get away from all the noises of the world. A bit ironic that I purposely bought my CI along so I could hear things even though part of me didn’t want to hear anything at all during that trip.

In all, I am glad I did bring my CI. I wore it about 60-70% of the time and enjoyed the remaining 30-40% break in my wonderful world of silence (no, I’m not being sarcastic here). I only went one whole day without wearing the CI at all. I loved the break until the evening when I started missing the CI.

The first of many hikes we went on had some streams and waterfalls. It was fun to just walk along and go “hey, I think I hear water” and then 5 minutes we would find ourselves in front of a waterfall or a stream. It did kind of take away the surprise of a waterfall/stream just popping up from nowhere without a sound to “alert” me.

We also hiked a 12Ker where I didn’t bother putting the CI on at all. It was a nice break and I was able to just take in what I was seeing without getting distracted by wind noises and birds.

The 14Ker we did…..wellll…..I was definitely having one of my hear vs silence internal battle moments the whole hiking trip. There wasn’t much to hear aside from some birds, us walking, wind……and……me huffing/puffing/wheezing. I have asthma and hiking up a 14Ker at 4am with an injured knee (loose knee cap) and nasty blisters lead to several “where’s my O2?!?” moments. Let’s just say that the sound of me huffing/puffing got on my nerves. It was just a constant reminder of how difficult the hike was….although it did remind me to slow down at times to catch my breath. I couldn’t tolerate the sound most of the time so I hiked a good 90% of it without the CI turned on. I did turn it on at the top and all I could hear was how windy it was.

We spent some time in the car driving from one place to another and I listened to a friend’s Zune during some of that time. While I cannot recognize lyrics or instruments I discovered I could identify certain songs without knowing in advance what was playing. Of course those songs are songs I listen to about a zillion times and I’ve read the lyrics. Interesting thing was that I would sometimes identify them as soon as the singing started even though I couldn’t understand what they were saying. Makes me wonder if I’m picking up more things subconsciously than I realize. Another interesting thing I noticed was that if I didn’t get the song correct I would get the band correct (only and only if the songs are very familiar to me)…now that one, I haven’t figured out how….

I want to point out that it helps when I’m listening to my own iPod because I know which songs are on it whereas I wouldn’t be able to identify a familiar song that just came on a radio randomly. Anyways, the other night a song came on that I hadn’t listened to in a couple of months and without even thinking about it…I said to myself, “oh, I used to love this song let’s see if I can remember the lyrics”….”wait a sec, did I just recognize a song I haven’t played in a while?!” Sure enough. I recognized it correctly within the first few seconds of it playing without really making an effort. I know I did not recognize the lyrics auditory….unless my brain is playing tricks on me.

With hearing aids I would identify most familiar songs by the beats themselves. Now I’m finding that I’m identifying some familiar songs by the lyrics even though I cannot understand what is being sung. This just confuses me. Am I identifying it by the sound of the voices with a combination of the beats?? I haven’t figured that one out yet.

Anyways, hopefully I will get photos from others soon so I can make a picture only post of how beautiful Colorado is! I had a blast hanging out with Tara, Mike, and Dennis. Epic trip. I’m all ready to go back in the winter to do some snowboarding with my snowboarding buddy, Tara!

Ok, I’m off to S’Mores night! We ended up with tons of marshmallows, chocolate, and graham crackers….so a bunch of us are going to stand around a grill in a suburb backyard making s’mores.

I’m Still Here!

No, I didn’t forget about my blog. I’ve just been busy with summer traveling and other things. 🙂

In the mean time… brain does NOT want to be reprogrammed to discriminate/identify speech sounds. There are times where I feel like I’m trying to teach an old dog new tricks. Is it even possible for someone my age who has never been able to understand speech to learn how to discriminate between any speech sounds or am I just wasting my time? We’ll see. I’m not giving up just yet…I just hit a plateau.

On the other hand I’m getting better and better at identifying environmental sounds which makes me happy!

More posts to come soon!