She used to be mine

It’s been over 4 months since my last blog – which is good, in the sense that it means nothing major has changed with my hearing. My LIFE on the other hand… In any case, I did make some pretty major changes to my hearing programs last month, and again earlier this month – and they have pros and cons. One of them being that I cut my music program completely!

That probably sounds crazy given how much music I listen to and like to perform. And maybe it was, we’ll see. There’s a lot going on in my life that has me re-evaluating things and making different choices than I would expect. I’m trying to find my way back to the happy, positive person I was when I first started writing this blog two and half years ago. I know that girl is still in there somewhere waiting to come back out. It’s time.

I was finding that when I was going to concerts and performances, I would usually end up staying on my everyday program the whole time anyway. Unless I’m at a show where there’s absolutely no breaks for talking (looking at you, Les Mis), if I’m on the music program, I have trouble understanding what’s being said. It’s too much of a pain, delay in sound, and battery power to continually go back and forth between speech and music programs. Not to mention that it usually was taking my brain a bit to actually adjust to the music program. I wasn’t finding the difference between the main speech program and the music program to be big enough to warrant keeping it when I found myself in need of another program slot.

I went to see Waitress this weekend with some other deaf friends. While I knew the story going in, and some of the songs, I was mostly going in with very little knowledge. We opted for the cheap seats, so none of us could lipread or even really see expressions. There weren’t a whole lot of big visuals in the show either. But it was still amazing. I was able to get most of the lyrics of most of the songs on my everyday program. The speech was oddly much more difficult – I got enough, but I definitely missed a lot of jokes (I didn’t understand how much of a comedy it was going into it!). My friend David was a bit worse off than me (he’s deaf since birth with a much older CI than mine) – he said he was able to get the gist but not much of the words.

Aside: I need to look into the idea of “lip-reading seats” for shows – I usually buy really close seats because I can afford to, but they really should be some held/offered for deaf people who don’t benefit from ASL performances.The performing… I’m not so sure about yet. I did some singing the other night and testing my pitch with just using the regular program. To be honest, I wasn’t thrilled with using the music program for singing either, but with that I did feel like I had a better grasp of matching my pitch to the actual pitch of the song. If you’ve followed me here for awhile, you’ll know that my favorite song to sing after an adjustment is Debbie Gibson’s “Lost In Your Eyes”. It’s my go-to karaoke song, and the first song I ever sang in public after getting my CI. It’s also the song I use when I’m trying to play with pitch and see where I’m at, so of course it’s the song I used.

I share this “pitch test” with a couple of pieces of information first: 1. I never try to sound like Deb or copy Deb on this song, but make it my own as much as I can (for all the Debheads reading this) and 2. I know there are issues with this performance and some places where I really didn’t find the pitch. That’s why I’m sharing it – because it’s important for people to see that I can’t “just do” it, especially not after an adjustment, but that I really do have to work at it to get it right.

So if you’re still reading after that, I want to tell you WHY I needed to free up a program slot. I have 5 programs available that historically have gone like this:

  1. everyday
  2. phone
  3. restaurant / in noise
  4. music
  5. headpiece only (for in water or if a processor microphone dies)

I use 1-3 quite regularly. 5 is very rare, but a necessity. So that leaves 4. Back in March, I decided that I wanted my hearing aid side to have more volume. I was feeling unbalanced in that more sound was coming in from my right/CI side. Rather than turn the CI down (which we did actually do a touch), I opted to turn the hearing aid side up. So I’m balanced again.

There’s another layer to all of this – the Bluetooth device that I use just like everyone else uses headphones (mostly to listen to music, podcasts, etc). The glory of being able to turn off the sound around you and listen purely to what it is you want to be listening to. Previously, I could use this device on every program I had, and it was fine. But when we turned the hearing aid up, suddenly I was also hearing all the background noise too. Not acceptable. Think about being on an airplane and trying to drown out all the sound around you with your noise-cancelling headphones. Or at the gym, where their music is playing on the speakers right above your head when you’re trying to listen to your own instead. Or walking your dog on a windy day and hearing wind sound in microphones rather than your podcast. Okay, most of you don’t have that one.

On the CI itself, there are a couple of options of balancing what you hear – 70% CI/30% Bluetooth, 50/50, or 30/70. On the hearing aid side there’s only two settings: microphones off or microphones on. The only way on the CI to hear completely through the Bluetooth without ANY additional microphone sound is to have a program for it. So that’s what I opted for, in order to get my true noise-cancelling program. And sacrificed my music program for it.

Supposedly the next software update for the CI is going to have some different music options, so I might consider trying to somehow fit that program back in once that happens. We’ll see.

That girl who was continually amazed and happy with simply hearing anything at all is still there. She just wants MORE now.