[Stage lights up]
Our hero is sitting in a sound proof box filled with cables; headphones; speakers and dials. He has been here many many times before to have his hearing evaluated. As he was losing his hearing there were several tests. Some to fit and evaluate hearing aids. Others to measure the extent of increasing hearing loss. Then there were the many sessions of evaluation and follow up after the gene therapy surgery. This time looking for signs of ANY improvement. After all that, there were the assessment tests to qualify for the Cochlear Implant and to set a new baseline. They were always the same tests, only the outcomes changed. Each time he listened for tones across a full spectrum of frequencies. Strained to recognize words in long series. Struggled to make sense of random sentences. Each time, always worse. Maybe only a little, but always worse.
[Audiologist Voice offstage]
Ok, you’ve had your CI for a couple of months now. Your frequency response looks good. Remember before the implant we did a “Best Possible” Test. That was with both of your hearing aids in and working at their peak. We measured your ability to hear, understand and repeat random sentences. Well, we are going to try it again. This time with the CI. Remember, its only a couple of months since your implant and you will continue to refine your brain and hearing for a year or so. But lets see where we are. Ok? Ready?
Hear (pun intended) is where it gets interesting. For the last few weeks I knew my hearing was getting better..certainly not “natural” yet, but the sounds of stuff around me , conversations in both quiet and noisy places…were much better. I had been doing the training exercises to get my brain to either reactivate or build new pathways to figure out all this new data. Ever the optimist tho, I had this nagging fear that at 72 years old, maybe I waited too long..that I might not now be as good a candidate to reclaim hearing as a younger person.
Now as the inscrutable loudspeaker began delivering random sentences with men and women’s voices…I could understand them and repeat them back. Nearly always. I have never sat in this booth and been able to do that..and before there was always a significant amount of anxiety and frustration. Now it was gone. I noticed it immediately…and couldn’t help but smile…laugh almost. To quote Buffalo Springfield..”Somethin’s happenin hear !”
[Stage lights down briefly then up again]
[There are two people now in the testing booth]
Audiologist: Ok, Rip I have all the tests scored and charted here. I want to go over them with you. There are some unusual results. I didn’t trust my memory, so I had to go back and double check what your scoring was on the original “Best Possible” test.
With your hearing aids, before your CI surgery, you were only able to accurately capture 16% of the content of the random sentences.
Today, your were able to capture 86%. A 70% gain is as I said…unusual. Congratulations, you and your brain have obviously been “doing the work.”
Wilson: It’s going to work for me, isn’t it ?
Audiologist: Yes, Rip ….. it is.
[lights and curtain down….end of Act II]