As I stated in my previous post, when Martin first turned my Esteem on at the lowest setting, it sounded very much like my hearing before I was implanted with the device. Not impressive, and I thought I might be in for disappointment. Martin turned the volume way up, and the sound of my voice was very loud. I could hear my swallowing, yawning, ear popping, and a cord rubbing against my shirt.
When we came back to the conference room, Martin set the Esteem at a comfortable level for me. It honestly sounded a little similar to a hearing aid. It wasn't quite the completely natural sound I'd expected, but it also didn't have the hollow, artificial sound that a hearing aid can have. So I guess it was kind of in between these. I was pleasantly surprised with what I was hearing. My implant is in my right ear, so when I put my hearing aid in my left ear, I was really surprised at how much better everything sounded. This was because the hearing was more balanced among both ears. The bad thing is my aid is about 13 years old, and it keeps cutting off, so it's on its last leg. Marty and Amy's voices sounded natural, Martin's voice would sometimes sound a little sharp.
Before we left, I went to the bathroom, and this is embarrassing to say - but the sound of the toilet flushing sounded like Armageddon had arrived. It was loud! The ride home was a little overwhelming. So much noises coming from everywhere. I played around with my remote until I found a comfortable volume. The noise of the tires on the road was loud, and I was trying to listen to music, listen to Marty talking, and identify different sounds. I'd given up on my hearing aid because it would cut off at the slightest noise, so that left me to sort all these sounds out with only my implant. It was just too much going on at once.
We got home, and I immediately felt more relaxed. It didn't seem so overwhelming. Once inside, I started noticing a few things I couldn't normally hear. I heard Emily slurping her drink from a cup. Marty was testing me out by whispering, and I heard most of it. I heard the porch screened door open and close. After Marty left for work, I tried calling him and listening with my implanted ear (I could never use the phone with this ear at all). It didn't work, sounded horrible. This was to be expected though, and who knows, maybe with a bit of practice, I can learn to use my right ear. It's only the first day, so I haven't had time to adjust, but I'm finding that I prefer to turn my Esteem off while I'm talking on the phone. It's because the loudness of my voice in one ear distracts me from listening with my other ear. This increased volume of "head sounds" will eventually fade to the background, as my brain re-learns to tune these sounds out.
I am constantly sticking my finger in my ear, expecting to feel a hearing aid in my implanted ear. My brain keeps telling me I am wearing a hearing aid because of the increased volume of sounds, so I'm having to constantly remind myself that I am not wearing an aid. I couldn't resist jumping in the shower so I could experience being in water and still hearing as if I were wearing an aid. My first impulse was to jump out of the shower! See..I have to keep telling myself there is no aid in that ear. The water raining down over my head reminded me of being in a car wash and hearing the water stream roll over the roof of the car, lol. It's true...
I was VERY excited about trying out music for the first time after being turned on. I was tired of walking around with only one ear bud. My first two songs (carefully selected!) were "Miracle Drug" by U2 and "Sunshine" by Mark Owens. At first, it sounded really bizarre hearing the music better in what was previously my worse ear. But my ears quickly adjusted, and I was really, really pleased with the quality of the music I was hearing. It sounded so much richer, and there were backing instrumentals that I heard that I didn't even know existed. Very happy with this!
So this really winds up the experience so far. It's only 6 p.m. so I still have a lot of time left today to experience all these new sounds and sensations. I'm gonna update as I get more adjusted to my Esteem, the next few days should be interesting. Of course, tomorrow, I can gripe about how much louder Marty's snoring is... ;D