Kimberley Chan

CI Rehab Week 3 to 5: Rehab, Frustration and Tips

Note: You can read about week 1 and 2 here.

Week 3: Advanced rehab sessions
During my third week at the Mackay centre I was to only have two rehab appointments. It wouldn’t end with a mapping session as my audiologist would not be here. But over the weekend, I was having trouble hearing things. The Soften Loud Sounds feature was softening the sounds too much that I would have to turn it up to max volume, in quiet places. Hence, it was a bit hard to hear in noisy places. The program that didn’t have the SLS feature was not as clear.

Thankfully, there was another audiologist working that day. Shari, the CI audiologist for the kid’s section was nice enough to listen to me and raised the threshold a bit. This made the sound more comfortable, and also much more clear.

Shari took her time, and that day, we barely had any time to do rehab exercises. But I didn’t mind, it was more important for me to hear than to do rehab. I could do that by myself at home if needed.

But over the next three rehab sessions with Kathleen, we did several types of advanced rehab exercises. These involved listening to long stories and answering questions about them, identifying made-up words, and phone work. Since I did pretty well with those and got 70-90% on most of them, we then did some exercises with background noise to make it harder.

This is where I started asking if this was really necessary. Kathleen, who seemed to have read my mind, explained that she just wanted to see how I was doing. Clearly, no one will speak to me in made-up words, and in noisy environments, I could do whatever I needed to do to get rid of some noise. I could use the SCAN program, the mini-mic, turn down the TV or step outside.

These rehab sessions are designed to help new CI wearers get used to the sound. Some people have trouble concentrating while listening. This wasn’t my case.

Week 4: Frustration
I noticed that while the mapping was better, I was still having trouble hearing in noisy environments. I could use the SCAN program that I wrote about in this post, but it was really low compared to last time. So I emailed the audiologist asked her for an adjustment. Possibly just needed volume.

I also noticed that every time we make an adjustment, I immediately hear the difference; some people take some time to notice the difference, but I was already more or less used to the way things sounded that I could identify what I could hear and what I couldn’t.

But the audiologist refused to give me a volume boost. She thought that my brain just hadn’t gotten used to the sound. “It’s not like a hearing aid,” she told me. “Louder is not better. We are aiming for quality.”

That made me extremely upset. I explained that I was not aiming for “hearing aid quality” but I simply could not hear. I didn’t hear back from her.

The next day, I explained everything to the educator, who took notes and suggested I ask for a volume adjustment.

Week 5: Assessment
I had my mid-term assessment with the social worker. We went over our initial goals and she asked me a lot of questions to get an idea about how I was progressing. After discussing my sessions and programs, we decided that it was time to do more challenging things. So instead of coming to rehab sessions since I didn’t really see the point, I was going to test the CI in the real world. I could start doing the things I normally do: go to work, hang out with people, dance, work out, and travel. I would have bi-weekly mapping sessions, but this time, I would be able to report on what I was actually hearing.

Tips for those doing CI rehab:

  • Sometimes, things sound great in the audiologist’s office, but as soon as you step outside, things sound off. Ask your audiologist if you can test it in a different environment – I asked mine to briefly step outside with me and talk to me to see if I could hear. Lobby and hallways are also great to test since these places are more hollow and tend to sound a bit echo-y.
  • If you know you need an adjustment on something like volume, don’t be afraid to push and ask for one.
  • If the sounds aren’t getting clearer while you do listening exercises, you probably need a new mapping.
  • If you are scoring in the 70s or higher in the rehab exercises, you might not need rehab.
  • If you need more rehab, doing them on your own saves time. Check out The Listening Room or Cochlear’s Communication Corner.
  • You should hear a difference after each mapping. It may be very small. Some mappings can make things sound worse. Just tell your audiologist.

    Do you have any tips for those doing rehab? Share them in the comments!

    Next: Testing sounds in the real world

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