Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Swimming with Sound- Super Exciting!

When I got my cochlear implant, I started discovering all sorts of things that made sound that I didn't know made sounds.  Like footsteps in the grass, or computers. It was months before I figured out "loud" and "soft".  I actually sat in the piano practice rooms humming along to the pianos, and sometimes shouting and whispering to myself to learn "loud" and "soft".

Some sounds, though, I was perfectly content to live without.  Our dorms shared bathrooms, and I quickly discovered that I loathe the sound of running water.  It's noisy and just grates on my nerves.  Faucets.  Toilets.  Showers.  Waterfalls.  Rivers.  Even beach waves.  I tolerate them, but I find the noise annoying.  So I never felt that I missed out on singing in the shower.  (All of my roommates have always been glad about that!)  One of my biggest pet peeves is people who talk while on the toilet.  For pete's sake, people, leave me (and each other!) alone if I'm on the pot!  I really, really hate those desktop water fountains.  I once had to do pre-surgical rounds to a unit that had one in their "serenity corner".  Sweet unit.  Too bad that I always had this urge to throw things at that damn fountain. They probably thought, "Oh, great, here comes Chaplain Rage again!"  

But I've often been curious about swimming sounds.  I've wanted to hear my teammates while in the lake, or my coach while in the pool.  I've wanted to know what it sounds like to rotate your head in the water.  I've wondered what the starting gun sounds like.

So I wrote to Cochlear (the company that makes my processor and implant) and said something along the lines of "Hey, this is really annoying, and it's high time you made something waterproof!"

Turns out they are indeed working on increasingly waterproof sound processors, and they have a drybag in the works.  It is not yet approved by the FDA, so not available in the USA yet, but they sent me a few advance models to try out. (Update: Since I started writing this a month ago, it has been approved and is for sale!)  

On one hand, it looks ridiculous.

I'm pretty sure it will ruin my T1 times, as I'll have to pause and cut this thing out of its bag, since you are nuts if you think I'm going to ride with that. (Update: I have decided that I will keep my current processor on hand in T1 to switch into.  I'll use this- my backup processor- just for the swim! Smart, huh?)

But on the other hand...

It was pretty neat to be able to get directions from my coach easily.

I was totally distracted for the first 30 minutes in the water, sticking my head under water and doing all the dumb things that kids do- talking under water, singing under water, playing dolphin.  I swam the crawl so I could hear the whoosh whoosh of dipping my head in and out of the water.  I kept my head under for too many strokes so I could figure out what made the "glub glub" sound (it was breathing, that's what it was).

The battery in my backup processor only lasted about 30 minutes, and then it cut out.  I don't know why, yet, so I'm doing a battery test right now to figure out if it's the processor or something with the baggie.  It's sort of annoying since my backup processor hasn't been worn in a while and sounds funny.

Overwall, I'd like to try it in a lake (with my swim cap keeping it safe) and I'll only be trying this on my backup processor.  I don't want my current processor going for an accidental submarine attempt!   Still have to try the open water bit, as of today. 

BUT I did see- after I sent my review to Cochlear- that it has been approved and I can now buy them off the Cochlear site!  Whoo hoo!!  If you are a cochlear wearer and a swimmer, you should definitely invest in these.  They look effin' ridiculous, and I couldn't imagine wearing it without a swim cap or a head band for extra security, but it was SO NICE to be able to talk to my coach.  And I REALLY can't wait to do a race with one- finally able to talk to competitors before the gun.  AND THE GUN!! I can't wait to hear the starting gun.  

I wouldn't wear it all the time- I have been swimming without it.  If I'm doing a workout on my own, then I don't see the need to hear everything.  Contrary to the hearing world perception, I don't feel I need to hear everything all the time.  Sometimes it's kinda nice to be able to have a mellow workout with just my own thoughts.  

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