On 21st June 2007, I went to visit the Nottingham Cochlear Implant Team at Ropewalk Centre for my very first Cochlear Implant assessement.
I went along to the Implant place with my mother and of course Richard (an Implant user himself) as I didn't feel comfortable on going on my own just incase there were anything I didn't understand.
As we arrived to the recepetion at ropewalk. I then sat down in the waiting room feeling quite nervous becuase I didn't know what to expect.
After 20 minutes of waiting. An Audioligist women Called Kezia came in the waiting room and looked at me and said are you katie in sign language as she saw me and Richard signing away in the waiting room. When I first saw her I didn't expect anyone there would be able to do any sign at all.
As I walked in the room where she going to talk to be about the implant etc, the first thing she said " I can only do basic sign's, I'm still learning are you ok with lip-reading me" After she said that. I felt alot better because she understood the Deafness. (not all audioligist had that awareness)
so, Kezia then started to ask a few question about my history of deafness and life such as :
How long have I been Deaf? How did you cope with others? what language you prefer to use?. What do you do? What would you like to do in the future? Why have you decide to come and find out more about the Cochlear implant?
After all those question that she asked. She then talked about the implant process and how long was the assessment will be and how many test are there before you know that you are the candidate for a cochlear implant.
After we had that long chat, Kezia then decided to do a few tests on me.
The first test we did was an Hearing test with headphones and Kezia work on the computer to make the sound. Every time I hear a sounds I had to press the button to show that I heard it. (this test was done without my hearing aids)
The 2nd test was in this small room which had these special sounds proof walls around I had sit on a chair about 2 metres away from a speaker this time I used my hearing aids, same again press the button every time I heard a sound.
The 3rd test was all done on a touch screen tv which had 100 of question which I had to click yes or no to a question which some question ask something like : If you were in a group of people do you sometimes feel so isolated because you don't understand what the group is talking about?
The 4th Test was an envouriement sounds where you have to guess what the sounds is, some of these were noises of poeple laughing, car horns etc
Finally after all theses test were done it took 4 and half hours. (I was worned out) That was it for me I was told to go home and they'll send a letter out for the next appointment which will be with the Hearing Therispt (counselling)
3 weeks later ..... (2 new appointment on the same day)
3rd July, My first appointment at ropewalk again was with the "Hearing Therispt. This time I went with Richard and we had an interpreter booked as the last appointement worn me out quick after so much lip-reading,
I spent about 2 hours with the Hearing therispt, Heather asked me loads of question about what equipment do I have at home and college etc, such as vibrating alarm clocks, flashing lights doorbell etc.
Also ask me other question like do I listen to the radio, music, and I hear on a phone etc.
After we spoke about that we did some test again
1st test was a lip-reading test which Heather then talk to me with her voice off and I had to repeat what she said. altogether there must be about 50 lines she said to me. I was actually please with that test I thought I were good at that.
The 2nd test which I didn't like much I found it pretty tough, Heather then used this round cardboard thing to cover her mouth and she had to talk to me and say all the lines of story and same again I had to repeat what says.
The 3rd Test was done on a touch screen computer again. This time it was all about your expectation of a cochlear implant: You have to imagen that have a Cochlear implant on right now and you have a question like do you think you can understand that person without lip-reading. Same again you have to click Yes, maybe or no.
After I finish with the Hearing therispt I then had to wait half an hour meet the Speech Therispt. So Richard and I went to the cafe and had a small break before we started the next appointment.
Finally, I met the Speech Therispt called Dyan. During this appointment we had to use our voice. which she will then asscess your speech. So she have me a book with a few lines to read and check what my speech was like saying things that have EE, SHH, CH,SK, S at the beginning and end of words. Also to see how quite and loud you can talk. (Dyan video my appointment and so she called help with the feeback on improvement in the future if i was the candidate for a cochlear implant)
Also talked about what we will be doing together after I had my cochlear implant done. Which we will be doing things without lipreading and working on my loudness of my speech as I do have a quite voice but very clear.
finally after almost 4 hours at ropewalk, it was time to go home to wait for the next appointment
2 weeks later....... (new appointment)
24th July, I had a ERA Test (Evoked Response Auditory) at the Queen Medical Centre. This test took about 3 hours. They had to stick these wires on my head that the wires were connected to the machine and had to wear head phones.
The first test I was just sit there and listen. I didn't need to press any buttons or anything because the wires that connected to your head could read your brain system to see if you responding to the sounds. This test took forever because i wasn't allowed to move or talk to anyone and were only allowed to listen.
The 2nd test where i had to Lie down on a bed and i could go to sleep if i wanted to, same again weaing headphones and listen. At the end I got the result which it showed the same result as my noramal hearing test I did by pressing the button. This appointment finish and same again i had to wait for more appointment to come.
1 month later.....
27th Augest, CT Scan at Queen Medical Centre again. This where I had to go in this machine that looked like i was stuck in a washing machine. Will i was in the C.T machine it took about 20 minutes which wasn't to long but all i could feel was banging and alot of vibration.
2 weeks Later.....
10 th Sept, Appointment with audiogist again. This time she talked about the device. There were two different type of device that the Nottingham Implant Team do: Nuscular Freedom and Advance Bionic. She explained the different about the device.
I was then had to make a hard decsision on which device I want to go for. I decided to go for Advance Bionic because i like the colours that they do and of course the t-hook looks good. Weren't over keen on the freedom the colours were boring and they looked bigger to me too.
After choosing them i had to fill a form in and then she talked about the operation: How long it will take, what risk they are etc
After that i did the final test with the Audiogist. I was to listen to this old man on screen which he was a very boring old man with no facial expression and his lip pattern weren't very clear. It was a hard test.
One month later......
16th Oct, This appointment was took place at Queen Medical Centre, This time i had a MRI scan which only took about 5 minutes. Same again it was in a machine which was quite simular as the other scan (C.T)
4 weeks later.......
16th Nov. I went to the Ear Foundation to meet about 4 experience implant users and 10 non-implant users which are at the same both as me in the their assessement part.
This appointment was to talk to others implant users about their experince so they would tell us stories and we would asked them question about them or anything that is about the Cochlear Implant. This meeting helped me alot. It answered all the question Iwanted to ask and it was very useful.
2 weeks later......
4th Dec, Had to go to my own GP and have a pneumococcal vaccine to prevent me from having any infection or meningitis. (didn't hurt, just a little pinch)
4 weeks later......
8th Jan, Meeting with the surgeon, Audiogist, Hearing Therispt and speech theripst. This meeting was to say weather I were a candidate for a implant or not. In this meeting I was told that I were a candidate and I can have a Cochlear Implant.
Since I know that i can have the Cochlear Implant, I was now have choose what ear I would like to be implanted in. Which that day I couldn't make the Desision. I needed more time to think about it.
so, I went home and had a thought about which ear and meet up with kezia again 2 weeks later to discuss which ear she would prefer etc. And for me to answer the question and try the implant on each ear to see what it feels like.
3 weeks later...
5th Feb. Same meeting as before at Ropewalk with the same people that attended the last meeting. I had to make a desision. I then decided to go ahead with the opearation and I chosen my Left ear (no residual ear) and keep my right ear as a back up with my hearing aids. Which they were happy with that desision. Also they had the funding for the operation. All I was to do now is to wait for an opeartion date.
About 5 weeks later...
which was 17th April an unexpected phone call to my parent from the Implant team. They have an opeartion date which was the 22nd of april which a week later. I was shocked it was short notice. I had to go ahead, I didn't want to wait any longer as i have alot of plans over the next few month also I don't wanna spend to much time off on my first year of university.
So the assessment stage is "over" the waiting game is almost over with only 9 trip to the implant places in the past 7 months.
*check out my operation blogs* - Comming soon!