After 5 and 1/2 years with the same Cochlear Implant Processors SJ got her first upgrade in June! It was so exciting. I describe CI upgrades to cell phones. It’s like having an old banged up cell phone that won’t stay charged anymore and doesn’t have the latest features but you still have to hold out until you are eligible for your next upgrade. Except imagine your phone is 10 times more expensive and that your hearing depended on it. So it’s a pretty big deal.
It was amazing to see the difference between the first time SJ got her CIs activated and this time. When she truly heard for the first time she was three years old. She still didn’t really care about hearing and she didn’t have any ownership of her equipment. In fact, for the first couple of years we had to convince her that she should wear them. When she was in preschool we tried taping them on, using headbands, decorating them with stickers and covers, whatever it took. I remember dreaming of the day that she would want to wear her CIs and could actually put them on herself.
That day has come! Not only can she put on her own batteries and equipment but she has been really excited about her new gear and motivated to learn about how it works! She takes pride in her CIs and is becoming more and more responsible and independent. She knows how to take off the batteries and charge them at night and how to plug into the FM system or audio cable at school. I’m so proud of her. She now knows more about all that stuff than I do!
This upgrade included a lot of new improvements and accessories that we were really looking forward to. SJ went from having the Nucleus 5 to the Nucleus 7. One of the things we dreamed about with the new cochlear implant is the “find my processor” feature. We actually haven’t had to use this tracking device yet, but there have been countless times it would have come in handy in the past! It’s reassuring to know it’s there.
Another cool thing that I didn’t expect was that the cochlear implant instruction manual is all digital.
This has been really neat for SJ because she loves to watch the videos and for that reason she is more aware than ever of how her cochlear implant works. Her brother Z has also watched the videos and both kids have been instrumental when troubleshooting. When we were in Michigan SJ couldn’t find any batteries that were working on her CI. They were brand new so I didn’t know what could be going wrong! That’s when Z chimed in “Didn’t the manual say that the Aqua Plus accessory only works with rechargeable batteries and not disposable ones?” He was right! Problem solved.
Speaking of the Aqua Plus, I can’t say enough good things about this waterproof cover. Before now, if SJ wanted to swim she had to put the CI in a special order disposable baggie and then hope that it would stay in place which it hardly ever did so she would just take it off and swim without any hearing.
Now her CI can go into a form-fitting reusable cover with a waterproof cable. This has allowed SJ to be able to really swim and hear for the first time.
I’ll admit I was terrified when we were in one of the great lakes and she had her Aqua Plus, brand new CI and Nammu hat. I pictured her CI floating off into the sunset never to return, but thanks to the clip that tethers it to her swimsuit it wasn’t an issue.
She even went for a ride with a professional kiteboarding and they went really fast on the water. Still, her CI stayed on! Thank goodness!
Lastly, SJ has a new accessory called the mini mic.
This thing is awesome because I can clip the little mic to my shirt and my voice goes directly to SJ’s CI’s. This has been a huge help at the park where there is tons of background noise. It’s also great when we go on walks or bike rides. SJ can’t hear when a car is approaching but thanks to the mini mic I can warn her with ease. She also used it at sports camp over the summer. The coach gladly clipped it to his shirt.
It came in handy again when she went rock climbing with my brother and sister in law too. Whoever was belaying SJ would wear the mini mic and could direct her as she climbed.
She did a great job advocating for herself and making sure the right person was wearing the mic! The cool thing is that I can talk to her when she is behind the glass at the Chick Fil A playland. One time I had a mom asking me how I was doing that. Ha! I feel like an FBI agent sometimes talking discreetly into my little gadget. I’ve seen people do a double take at the grocery store when SJ is ahead of me at the other end of the aisle trying to grab a bag of candy and I quietly say “Put the candy down now.” into my mic and she startles a little and puts the candy back. BUSTED!
One feature that the Nucleus 7 has that SJ hasn’t had need for yet is Bluetooth technology. When she is older and she wants to stream the audio from movies, music, or her phone straight to her CIs she can!
We’ve had a few accidents though as we have learned the ins and outs of how it works. One time J called me and I couldn’t hear him. That’s when SJ came into the room to announce that her dad’s voice was in her head! The call was being transferred to her devices via Bluetooth. A similar blunder happened when SJ went on a road trip with my parents. The couple of times she has taken a trip without me I have had the caregiver sync their iPhone with her CIs. That way they could use the lost processor feature or the remote control if they need to.
Anyway, so my parents were on their way to a children’s museum that they have never been to before and they have a van full of kids and Sedona starts shouting- Turn left! That’s when they realized the phone was accidentally set for the GPS to go directly to SJ’s CIs! She was having to dictate the directions to my parents! It’s so futuristic I can hardly wrap my brain around it. Don’t worry we’ve gotten most of those kinks worked out since then.
It’s exciting to think that if technology has improved this much in the 5 years that she has been implanted what will it look like when she is an adult!?
Needless to say, we (including SJ) have loved the new Nucleus 7 sound processor. We are thankful for the technology, the doctors, the insurance and of course God’s provision that allows all of this to happen. SJ is a pioneer when it comes to some of this hearing technology and it certainly has its challenges, but we are aware of how blessed we are. She had such an active summer between rock climbing, camping, kayaking, sports camp, fishing, and kiteboarding. Her hearing loss didn’t slow her down one bit!
I’m so glad the Nucleus 7 can keep up!