One of the most exciting dates in your hearing journey is often your cochlear implant first fitting: the date when you can hear with your implant for the first time! I know there are lots of questions about what exactly happens during a first fitting, so I’d like to give a little information, taken from my years working as an audiologist, to help you.
What is a Cochlear Implant First Fitting?
The first fitting is the date when your hearing implant is turned on for the first time. Sometimes, it’s called the “switch-on day,” “activation,” “hook-up,” or “first mapping.” These are all different words for the same thing. Depending on where you live, and your specific surgery, your first fitting will happen sometime between 1–6 weeks after the surgery.
What Happens During a First Fitting?
During your first fitting, your audiologist will match your hearing implant to your specific cochlea and hearing needs. You’ll be able to listen to different sounds through your hearing implant, and then tell your audiologist how each one feels. Your audiologist will use this information to make a program, or “map,” that is customized for you. At the end of the fitting, all of these settings will be sent to the audio processor so that you can take it home.
Maybe you’ve heard from other recipients about their first fittings, or searched out videos and stories online? This can be a great way to get general information about first fittings. Just remember: everybody’s experience will be different. The best way to success is to take it slow, enjoy the moment, and don’t have expectations.
Such an exciting date is bound to bring lots of anticipation and anxiety, and only you know what makes you comfortable. So, that’s what you should bring to your first fitting: family members or loved ones to share in the experience, and don’t forget hearing aids if you use them. If your child is having the first fitting it would be a good idea to bring along some drinks and snacks, or their favorite cuddly toy, so that they have something familiar to hold on to.
I’ve Heard It’s Important to Manage My Expectations. What Does That Mean?
I can’t say this enough: everybody’s experience is different. So, it’s really important that you don’t get too excited (or disappointed) after your first fitting. Your hearing journey has just begun!
There will be a lot of new hearing experiences that happen in the days after the first fitting. Here are some of the most common:
- Sounds might seem quieter or different than they were while you were at your audiologist’s office. That’s okay, because it shows that your ear is getting used to this new way of hearing.
- Specific sounds might become more meaningful: you’ll be able to recognize beeps as belonging to the microwave or telephone, instead of just being a generic “beep.”
- Speech might become more understandable.
What Questions Should I Ask My Audiologist?
The best questions are any and all questions! You can never ask too many. But to start, here are three questions that you can use as a starting point:
- What will my fitting schedule look like, and when is my next appointment?
- What kind of rehabilitation activities should I do, and what resources are available to me?
- What should I do if I am worried when I go home?
What happens after your first fitting? Check out our blog post about the first month of hearing with a cochlear implant.