I saw my audiologist again yesterday for an adjustment. She is very patient with me and I can tell she is doing the very best she can to help make this cochlear implant successful for me. We talked in length about my frustration and what I can do to make things better.
She called me a perfectionist. Not in a bad way, but in a way that means I'm hard on myself. I expect and demand the best possible outcome for myself.
It's true. I am a perfectionist. In my heart, I know this is just a technological substitute for the real deal. CI hearing will never be as good as natural hearing. But the logic in my brain keeps telling me that I can overcome this. If I just work hard enough, it'll come much closer to being a replacement for my hearing loss. I don't really believe that, though. I fear my heart will win.
I need to stop comparing myself with CI recipients who have no natural hearing left, she cautioned. Listening to others tout their success and telling me their CI is the best thing that ever happened to them and how naturally everything sounds and how much they love listening to music through their CI, and so many other things "they" say, can be counterproductive for perfectionists like me. I'm not like most CI recipients.
One of the things I have to keep in mind, she explained, is that I still have an ear that can hear naturally, albeit pretty poorly, it can still hear. I can compare the CI to natural hearing easily and readily -- something most recipients cannot do. They may say they remember how things sounded before they became deaf, but it's only a memory, and memory can be deceptive based upon our immediate perception and circumstances. My hearing isn't a memory.
Learning to hear with a cochlear implant is a process, she said. I'm only 5 months into that process. "It takes a year, or two, or three for some people," she said. It just takes time.
My fear is and always has been that my other ear will go as suddenly as my deaf ear went. I don't feel like I can hear well enough through the CI to make it. It's just not good enough, I thought aloud. "I think you would be surprised," she said. Then she reminded me that when she put me in the booth several weeks ago, I had done as well as anyone with "perfect" hearing could do. I just need to give myself a break -- and a chance. Stop being such a perfectionist. She didn't say it out loud, thank goodness.
She suggested that while I am away from my classroom this summer that I use the time as a sort of rehabilitative "boot camp". Since I am still fully dependent on my dominant, hearing-aided ear, I am to go for increasingly longer periods of time without it. That will force me to listen more with my cochlear implant. She acknowledged that it would be really hard at first. "It'll make you crazy," she laughed. But I'll adapt and find that I can hear well enough through my CI to do just fine. She even gave me ear plugs for my other ear.
So today, I began boot camp. So far, so good. But I've only had my coffee.