The Switch On
The day had finally arrived. I didn’t have any expectations because it could go either way. There was only one way to find out.
I was super nervous because I had no idea what would happen. Boy, did I have no idea.
The audiologist got everything ready whilst we waited for the Auslan interpreter to arrive. She checked the sound processor and coil to see if it fit and that there weren’t any issues. We were ready to go when the interpreter arrived, although the audiologist explained what would happen. She also said she would let me know when she was ready to switch my cochlear implant on. Okay. This is the moment.
The switch on happens.
I was NOT expecting for the sensations I would be getting, and I fucking hated it. It was like the audiologist had suddenly pushed me into deep icy water.
I wanted this sensation to stop. It was horrible. Fucking horrible. I had realised that the switch on was the WORST part, not the surgery considering how well I recovered afterwards.
The sensation continued and I continued to grimace. It also felt like I was struggling to keep my head above water during a storm.
I knew I could get through this, and that it would get better.
The audiologist continued to turn the electrodes on, and I started to get used to the sensations. Since I hadn’t heard anything out of my right ear for more a decade, I wasn’t sure if I was feeling or hearing things.
It did get better, and I was able to tread water.
The audiologist also set up a second program on my sound processor, and because I said I wasn’t sure if I could hear speech with the first program, she tested the second program by saying ahh, ooo, eee, and mmm. I could hear these to my surprise, but they sounded alien.
After an hour and half, we were done. The audiologist thought I would be able to go outside with the CI on, but I wasn’t ready to do so. I was still processing everything, especially the new sensations. Sophie suggested that I take a breather in the waiting room before leaving the hospital.
Sophie asked me if I wanted to hear her voice, so she spoke to me without signing. I was amazed at how well I could understand her, although I still rely on lipreading but it didn’t feel like a massive struggle. She also asked if I wanted her to speak and sign at the same time, and I was all for it. I’m aware that there’s a conversational debate about total communication/sim-com, but it’s worked for me all my life, and I prefer this method especially when I’m learning to recognise words via speech AND sign. That’s another topic for another day 😉
I was shaking as I settled in the waiting room. It was the most overwhelming day in my entire life. We then had a conversation to help me process, and to unpack what happened.
Just as we were about to leave the hospital, I took my CI off and put it safely in the box I was given. I was also given a massive bag which contained all important batteries and accessories — let me tell you, it is a pain to carry around!
A backpack would have been much easier (Cochlear Limited, take note!).
Whilst chilling at Sophie’s place, I put the CI back on for an hour and half. It was a bit better, but I was still struggling with new sounds. Everything sounded so alien.
Sophie put on “Marry You” by Bruno Mars for me, but I couldn’t hear the music. Yeah, no…it was too early for music. However, I could tell the difference between the voices of 3 friends. Sophie’s was the most sharpest — probably because I was already used to her voice.
It was an exhausting day, and I was ready to sleep by 10pm. I had faith that it would get better each day.
I’m definitely in for a ride!
Until next update,
PS – there are more videos from the switch on on my Facebook page.