Using a phone can be difficult for some C.I users. Some can learn quite quickly, some take a while. But for me, I am still not 100% confident and yes, it has only been a year since I've been implanted.
It could take some users months or even years till they could get better, it does take practice. Without practice you probably wouldn't reach the next level unless you've tried. Every users is different, you can't compare yourself with another C.I users. - its all to do with you history of deafness, or sound menmory! Just because you know someone who had the implant around the same time as you, or maybe a few months later and can use the phone quite well, it doesn't mean they are better than you, and your not going to get to that stage. The whole idea of the rehab process is to practise and not to give up.
I once tried calling my granddad at Christmas for the first time and at the time I have only had my implant for six months.. I didn't actually hear him very well or understood him perfectly. My mum stood next to the phone and all I could hear is like a foreigner is talking to me and you don't understand the language. When I first heard voices, that was also like that too. After trying with my grandad at christmas, and it wasn't too successful, it didn't stop me from practicing. I decided to try something differet instead such as doing more listening practice without lip-reading. Doing something different does give me a chance to improve my listening skills to listen without lip-reading.
My lipreading skills were so good before being imlpanted. And thats one of the good thing about being able to lip-read was it able to make things a little bit easier by reading their lips and remenbering how does that word sound ready for next time I should be able to hear that word without lip-reading. I do practice alot with my mum and sometimes she ask if I would like to try again on the phone. At some point I do make some excuses saying nah - I'm off out, which I do have to admit that I just weren't ready and wasn't confident enough to try it. My mum were ok with it - my mum is the sort of person who likes to try and help and also try to encourage you to practice more. That is a good thing about having someone round to help you. I mean, without the support I got, I wouldn't think I would get this far to be able to hear some speech without lip-reading.
Just only a few weeks ago, I were away from home working, coaching young children and to hear from my parent, I would just text them too see how they are. While I were away, I did miss my mum's voice. From where I was staying, it would take ages for me to drive back home and pop in to say hello. So, in the end I sat in my room picked up the phone, thinking to myself should I ring my mum or not. I was getting all these 'What If I can't hear her' in my head. In the end, I thought, I ain't gonna know if I can do it unless I have tried! I decided to dail that number and just ring it....
Finally I could hear the ringing tone and at that moment I knew that anytime now she would picked up and say "hello". When I heard that hello, it was just so emotional. I do miss her voice while being away from home. During that phone call I had with my mum, my mum spoke to me like she normally does to me when we are face to face. At a normal pace, not to slow or to fast. I was able to pick out the main key words on what she were saying. There were a few time where she had to repeat her self untill I understood what is being said. I were so happy that I was able to hear her voice and yes when I got home, my dad did say she were in tears. My mum was so happy that I have given it a try. After this phone call, even though I still need some practice. I have now decided to try it more often and like others have said, without practce you won't get far.
So, hopefully this time next year, who knows, I could be talking to a few more people, or maybe still working on it. No matter what stages you are at, you just need to practice. So, for thoses of you who are new to using the phone with your C.I. Don't give up, it does take time!