Reprogramming My Head


    A week or so ago, I returned to my audiologist, John, who programs my cochlear implant.  It’s a little confusing when I describe it, because I still see Walt, the audiologist who takes care of the hearing aid in my other ear.  Anyway, we started out the way that the last couple sessions started.  John connected my implant to his computer and ran through a series of tones to see how my brain was adapting to the electrical impulses from my implant.
    But before we got very far, he took me down the hall to the soundproof booths that are used for hearing tests.  There, he re-ran the test that was required to be approved for surgery.  In that test, a voice reads random sentences and you have to repeat back any words (or whole sentences) that you can understand.  This test is run one ear at a time, so I took off my hearing aid and listened only with my implant.  I thought I did well, but John seemed excited.  We laughed because one of the sentences said something about the gecko that is on television commercials.  For some reason, John was very pleased that I had understood the word “gecko.”
    After he did the math and calculated the results of my test, I understood why he was so pleased.  In the same test, prior to my surgery, I had understood 7 percent of the words.  Now, four months post-implant, I understood 70 percent of the words.  No wonder people keep telling me that my hearing is noticeably better.
    After the testing, John tried some more programming.  Whatever he did was too much made everything sound like my head was inside a garbage can, so he tried some other things.  Along the way, we discovered that of the 12 electrodes that were inserted into my cochlea, two of them don’t seem to be doing much.  Ten of them I can “hear” but the last two, while I can “feel” them, I don’t really “hear” anything with them.  For each electrode, John turns up the volume until I say that it is “uncomfortably loud.”  But for those two electrodes, there really isn’t a “loud” and a “soft.”  I sort of hear something, but it doesn’t really get louder as he turns up the input.  What I notice, is that in one ear, instead of getting loud, I can feel the volume pounding in my head much like you can feel a loud bass thump from a big speaker at a rock concert.  I feel it more than hear it.  The other electrode is similar, I don’t hear it or feel it, but instead, at high “volumes” I can feel my head hurt.  It’s like I have a bad headache that pules with the beat, on, off, on, off, on, off.
    In the end, John turned off those two electrodes.  His thinking is that if these electrodes aren’t working by now, they aren’t going to.  Most likely, they are in a part of the cochlea that has more nerve damage and isn’t really “talking” to my brain anymore.  In any case, my implant can function with only four electrodes, so I should be just fine with ten.  Before I left, John finished reprogramming everything using the ten working electrodes, as well as some additional changes and enhancements that I now have to get used to.  It wasn’t as much as he had hoped to do, but we’re still moving forward.  John said that for being only four months after my surgery, he felt I was doing very well.
And so the adventure continues.   Not with giant leaps forward, but with baby steps.
But forward is still forward.
Onward.

 

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Sheldon, Jesus, and "The Big Bang Theory"


    While those who read my blogs may not have an interest in reading my Sunday sermon each week, I recently saw something in scripture that had a connection to our modern culture that I’m sure many of my friends would appreciate.  

    In Luke, Jesus tells a story about a man (or woman, it’s you, actually) who goes to his friend’s house to get bread to feed to an unexpected house guest.  As I read this story, told more than two-thousand years ago, I heard the voice of Sheldon, from the television show “The Big Bang Theory.”  Jesus’ story is short so I invite you to read it with me…
Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.
“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
11 “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
    Luke tells us that, because of our friendship with God, through his son Jesus Christ, we are given the privilege to trade on our friendship.  Because we are friends, and indeed, family, we are able to ask for what we need without fear that we will annoy God into ignoring us.  Luke says that if not “because of friendship”, then because of “shameless audacity,” God will give us what we need.  The story that Luke tells is of asking a friend for bread after that friend had locked the doors and gone to bed at night.  
    It helps to understand that the houses in ancient times were not like the houses we have today.  Not every member of the family had their own room and in fact, while Mom and Dad might have had some privacy, in many cases the living room was somebody’s bedroom and quite possibly everybody’s bedroom.  At night the furniture would be pushed aside, bedding would be unrolled and members of the family would sleep on the floor and in front of the door.  The man who was in already in bed would have to light a lamp so that he did not step on sleeping family members, step over those who were sleeping and then move whoever was in front of the door.  Certainly by the time he had done this most of the family would be awake, grumbling and grouchy… and yet, because of your persistence, because of your “shameless audacity,” even if not because of your friendship, he would get up and get you the bread that you need.
    And this is where I made the connection with “The Big Bang Theory.” There, in episode after episode, week after week, Sheldon knocks on Penny’s door at all hours of the day and night

Knock, knock, knock, “Penny?” knock, knock, knock, “Penny?” knock, knock, knock, “Penny?” 
    Sheldon knocks over and over and over again until poor Penny answers, in her pajamas, often bedraggled, hair a mess, and half asleep.  Not because she’s happy about it, partly because of their friendship and mostly because of Sheldon’s shameless audacity, Penny comes to the door and helps Sheldon with whatever problem that he is having.
Luke says that our relationship with God is sort of like that.
    God desires to give you good gifts, just as a father desires good things for his children.  He is not put off by your persistence and you aren’t going to annoy him into ignoring you.
Never forget that God loves you.  He has adopted you so that you are a part of his family.
    You area child, and a friend of God who never needs to be afraid to pound on the door of heaven at all hours of the day and night, to ask for the things that you need.
Knock, knock, knock, “Jesus?  Knock, knock, knock, “Jesus?  Knock, knock, knock, “Jesus?