Last week, during my visit to Roberta, my audiologist, she decided to run a short hearing test to see how much sound my ears can pick up at this point in time, one month after activation. A few minutes in the booth listening to tones emitted from a speaker, and then we were back in her office and she showed me the results.
See for yourself:
Audiogram, August 2008
OK, I know it’s not very clear, so I’ll explain a little. The decibels (measurement of loudness) run down the Y axis and the frequencies (relating to pitch) run along the X axis. The lightly shaded area at the top, between -10dB and 20dB, is considered to be the “normal” range.
Which, in short, means that according to this audiogram my ears are detecting sounds at what Roberta described as “nearly normal/very mild hearing loss” levels!
She then showed me an audiogram from a hearing test conducted during my cochlear implant assessment, in August 2007. See the difference?!
Audiogram, August 2007
I previously had a moderate loss at the very lowest frequencies, which rapidly dropped away to nothing at all in higher frequencies, including most frequencies necessary to understand speech.
Now, my ears are detecting sounds between about 20dB and 30dB on the graph, around or just under the levels of a person with normal hearing. I asked if it would get better over time, but Roberta indicated the 40dB area and said that is where most cochlear implantees are and didn’t seem to think there would be further improvement there for me (though that won’t stop me from hoping. ;-) ) She seemed to think it quite unusual that I’m able to detect the sounds I am just one month after activation.
Of course, all this doesn’t mean a lot in practical terms right now. My brain is still undergoing re-education, and it will take a while for my speech (and music) discernment to catch up with my actual hearing levels. But Roberta seems quite sure they will.