Monday, December 31, 2007
Sunday, December 30, 2007
http://www.shhh.org/convention/index.asp (registration information is on the right side of that page).
I am sharing a room with two other ladies so far...if you're interested in being the fourth girl (just one bathroom, though, sorry, dears!) e-mail me privately...thanks!
And yes, I registered for it....Wednesday! :) I knew if I put it off til the last minute I'd be bound to forget about it! :)
Will be back to post more soon.....
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
If you want to know more, here it is: we have a loooong road ahead of us. Before you dismiss any thoughts of ever going bilateral from your own brains, don't panic...please remember that my situation's a little different, OK? Thing 1 is my vibrotactile ear...the ear where I feel my sounds along with and instead of hearing them. I was told before I ever had the surgery that it might go away and it might not. I do hear sounds with it, but they are all, every one, accompanied by a sensation. At loud sensitivities the sensation is much stronger and much more uncomfortable. When it was all I had to work with, it was TOLERABLE. I didn't like it, but it was the only sound I had coming in and so I dealt with it...it was better than nothing. I was expecting more of the same from Thing 2 and was amazed and shocked and overjoyed when I only HEARD my sounds. I can occasionally feel a sensation when the sound's up too loud, but I think that it's just normal "that's-too-loud" sensation.
It was suggested that I wear just the new CI for a few days after activation to acclimate the brain to the new signals. Fine by me. After a few days, though, when I put Thing 1 on, I was blown away...the vibrations seemed just unbearable after several days of nothing but sweet sound. I hadn't realized how horrible the sensation was until I had something to compare it to...and I didn't like it. Throw into the mix that I have some sensory issues anyway, and it was just about more than I could handle. So I took it off again.
I brought Thing 1 along with me to a map and we adjusted the settings...turning everything way, way, way, way down. Present at that mapping was an audiology intern that listened to the story in interest, and then voiced the question that I had often wondered to myself aloud to the audiologist, "Will she ever get full use out of that ear?"
And my audiologist said, quite frankly, "We just don't know. But if she doesn't, at least now she has this good ear to work with."
So there it is...it might not ever get better. I've struggled with it for over a year and it's only gotten minimally better, and now, with my second, much better implant, I'm seeing no benefit from the first at all, because it's so uncomfortable that I can only wear it on the lowest of volumes in order to tolerate it.
HOWEVER...I don't want to give up yet. I think that if I could see into the future and know one way or another it might be different, but I have no way of knowing but what perhaps my second ear might help bridge the gap for my first ear, and someday it might be better. I think that if I didn't at least try I would always wonder "what if". I have, in the past, been able to pick up a lot of background sounds with Thing 1, and know that if I could learn to tolerate it it might provide me with a lot of sound information that I can't get with just one ear. So I'm not giving up...yet.
I am bad about breaking New Years' resolutions (resolutions are just made to be broken, it seems) but I really plan to try my best to wear Thing 1 at least a little while every day for the next year. Right now it's set so low that I can barely feel anything (and I don't hear anything either) but it's on. My hope is that my brain will make the adjustment over the next year and that the two ears will someday be able to play nicely together. If that doesn't happen, I will know that I at least tried it. I have everything to gain and nothing to lose.
In the meantime, Thing 2 is amazing...I am hearing everything. I heard my mother talking last night when we were outside getting in our cars to go home...and the porch lights weren't on...and I understood every word she said. I can recognize which baby's crying in church by the way they sound and from the loudness (cool!). I am starting to be able to understand the TV without having to try nearly as hard (I do still have to listen, though). I heard my daughter crunching potato chips yesterday while I was watching "Mr. Bean's Holiday"...and finally told her that if she didn't hurry up and eat the chips she was going to have to move to another room with 'em! I love my new ear...it has totally given me my life back...more than I ever imagined it would :)
Monday, December 24, 2007
I'm finally finished shopping (bought the final gift this afternoon when I got off work at 3 PM) and now we just have to wait for our girls to fall asleep so we can eat the milk and peanut brittle thoughtfully set out for Santa (who doesn't need it this year, thanks very much, but will humor the kids and eat it anyway). We have opened presents with my family (Sunday night after church) and hubby's family (this afternoon after I got off work). Tomorrow we're going back over to my dad and mom's to eat and just hang out...we're having hamburgers and potato salad and baked beans and watching movies and playing video games and just relaxing. One of my brothers won't be with us tomorrow, which is why we all got together last night.
After digging through tons of garbage this summer to uncover the girls' room, we issued a strict edict about what was and wasn't allowed for Christmas this year. It has been followed to the letter (we have some WONDERFUL family!) and the girls have gotten just a few toys and a TON of clothes. They all asked for clothes this year (I think that all that Hannah Montana is rubbing off on them) and that's what they got...tons and tons of clothes, shoes, tights, hair accessories, pajamas, and pocketbooks. They gleefully dug through the boxes and pulled out all the clothes and then started a fashion show. I didn't hear the word "toys" mentioned once! Santa will be bringing a few toys and a few more clothes, so there's a little more spoiling yet to come. We are, as usual, very blessed this year...certainly more richly than we deserve!
I'm off work until Thursday afternoon...and don't work ANY mornings this week, so I will be catching up on rest...good thing, too, as I'm getting seriously sleep-deprived. I plan to spend Wednesday in my PJs doing nothing at all until church time!
Pictures from the Gaylord Ice! show can be found here and a few of our Christmas pictures can be found here (I didn't show many of them...most of them are of present-opening ad nauseum and of the little girls modeling clothes....many, many clothes). I'll probably add a few more in the next few days...but that's it for now :).
Going to see if the kids are asleep...and if they are, this jolly elf has work to do! I love y'all...once again, Merry Christmas!
Saturday, December 22, 2007
...here's proof :)
We went to the Gaylord Opryland's ICE! show tonight....just got home, and am about to just keel over in the bed. I don't have to work until 1 tomorrow, and plan to sleep until my eyes pop open in the morning...for the first time in nearly a month. The show was incredible....but cold...they keep it at FIFTEEN DEGREES in there (hence the NASA suits!!)
I've gotten the cards done (about 150), and MOST of the shopping done (have a little to do in the morning) . I worked 40 hours this week, running mainly on coffee and DayQuil during the day and Nyquil at night...had church and two birthday parties at night. The past three days I have been up at 5:45 for work, out the door at 6:40, usually getting about one hour after work to come home and change clothes, then back out the door for the night's events, usually getting home just in time to go to bed. So my blogging's taken a hit! Of course, that means I'll have stories to tell when I get a chance to really get some writing in!
I'm going to bed NOW....and will write more soon. I took a bunch of cute pictures at the ICE! show and will share them ASAP!!
Love y'all! :)
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Sunday we had the two worship services and then we had lunch here. Hubby did a lot of the cooking and he and the kids did most of the cleaning and that helped a lot. The kids had friends over and Rachel wanted baby Jaydyn to stay the afternoon as well. I didn't realize until we were on the way back to church Sunday night (the van looked awfully full) that we had had 10 kids in the house all day! I worked on our Christmas newsletter and our cards all afternoon, and finally conked out for about a half hour nap just before church, and the kids didn't bother me a bit.
Yesterday (Monday) I worked until 4, then came home and threw corn, potatoes, keilbasa and shrimp in a pot with some Old Bay for dinner....yum! Then I sat in on the CI Chat and worked on Christmas cards AGAIN! As of last night I had about 80 done.
Today I worked until 4 then came home and made Reuben sandwiches for dinner (I boiled the corned beef last night so I wouldn't have to do it today), then it was back to the cards...House was a rerun so I didn't even bother with it! I am, for all practical purposes, done with cards. I have a few to take to work and a few to drop in the mailbox in the morning...then I'll be FINISHED! Yay!!
Tomorrow I work til 4, then we have Mexican for dinner, and then church. After church I'll have to work on my Christmas shopping list because Thursday is THE shopping day! I am hoping desperately that I can get FINISHED with my shopping that day and not have to go out again (but not counting on it!)
Work has been crazy with people piling on orders for Christmas cards and enlargements to frame and buying cameras for Christmas presents (awesome present, by the way!). It doesn't help that I've picked up some germs somewhere (I know you're all shocked) and have a nasty cold...ugh. Today was the worst day of it so far...I just loaded up on DayQuil and coffee and plowed on through (tomorrow I will add ibuprofen to the mix...ooh!). I expected that I'd pick up more bugs that usual, at least at first, because I've been fairly sheltered from 'em for a while, and now I'm being bombarded with them, so I'm not surprised.
The photo lab loaned me out to the electronics department yesterday to check out their customers while they restocked their shelves. I was a little worried about working over there because my main job was to talk to customers about things I knew nothing about, but it went really well...I understood nearly everything that was said to me, and was able to either help or get help for everyone that needed it. I love my new ear, and I love my job! :)
Now, I'm going to bed...I'm frazzled and tired...but had to say hello to you all! Hope everyone's having a wonderful last-shopping-week-before-Christmas!!
Saturday, December 15, 2007
I can tell I'm needing a new map, though...things are starting to sound scratchy and kinda garbled again. My next one is scheduled for Dec. 31st...and I'll just have to wait until then, since I seriously won't have time to do it before that! I worked 40 hours this week, and will work 40 again this coming week (and will talk to them again about the whole "part-time" part of this job that I signed up for after Christmas!). Thankfully I'll have Thursday off...I am seriously behind in shopping!!!
One of the benefits of my CI that I'm incredibly grateful for is the help that it gives me in noisy situations. Hearing aids basically just made everything louder...the CI literally seems to draw voices in, even in noise. The photo lab is VERY loud...yet I can still understand voices fairly well...and in loud restaurants, it's much easier to pick out who's talking and hear their voices even over background noise. I am much more dependent on lipreading in noise, but that will get better...I'm confident :).
Like activation videos? Jeff over at Metal Postcard videotaped his activation and shared it on his blog...and it's wonderful to see (and hear...I couldn't hear every single word of it but I got most of it!). I just love watching the sound come on for people...every reaction is different. Some people are confused, some people cry, some people laugh hysterically (rolls eyes) and some people just beam with happiness. The babies will often look startled or even cry...or, in Landon's case, grin to absolutely melt hearts. I'm really happy for Jeff...he had another one of those great activations and is doing really well! Go visit and congratulate him!
I finally got started on Christmas cards tonight...and will be working on them frantically for the next couple of days...I have GOT to get them done by Tuesday or so or nobody's going to get one before Christmas (you want one? Drop me an e-mail with your address and I'll see what I can do!)! I'm also about one-tenth done with shopping (yes...it's horrible!) and am going to have to get it ALL done this next week! If I survive it I will be SO glad when Christmas gets here and all the madness STOPS! *whew*!
How're Y'ALL doing?
I'm going to bed. I had to get up at 5:45 this morning for work (and, on a Saturday, in my opinion, that borders on immoral) and I'm worn out. I'm off tomorrow but it's our Sunday to cook after church (my hubby has VERY kindly overseen the cleaning and cooking today, and even cooked me steak for dinner tonight...he's a good one!) so I'll be doing that and then working on cards all afternoon. Hope everyone's having a great weekend :)!!
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Tonight during the prayer at church, I didn't know who was praying (wasn't paying attention) until they started speaking. I listened to the voice and started shuffling through my mental index file trying to place the voice...and finally recognized it as one of the teens. I am amazed at the ability to not only hear sound and comprehend words, but to recognize the subtle inflections that make everyone's voices unique....WOW! :) I am understanding most of what the little girls are saying now without having to listen too hard. I love to practice, especially at church, listening to people without looking at them (I do it to my teachers and my preacher...I hope it doesn't annoy them too much, but I AM listening...)...I'm still in awe of how easy it is to hear. I haven't ever been able to just sit back and let the words roll in. I still have to focus a little, but most of it comes almost effortlessly. I hoped it would be better than my hearing aid, but I can honestly say that I never every thought it would be this incredible quality of sound...this soon.
I love the job...my co-workers are just precious and we have a good time working together. Today, I developed my first rolls of film single-handedly....all the way from taking the rolls from the customer, developing the negatives, scanning them in, printing them, packaging them up, and checking them out. I think (okay, I know) I accidentally rang up some pictures at the wrong price before being corrected *sigh* and am hoping that management takes pity on a poor new girl ;).
I do a lot of customer service...giving people their pictures and checking them out, helping them print pictures and create greeting cards, and answering questions...and I love it. I'm getting paid to talk to people all day long...you know that's right up my alley! I think I'll enjoy it more when I don't have to get up at (sigh) 5:45 AM to go in (sigh)...just another week! Last night I was so tired that I was asleep by 10:30. The last time I remember going to bed that early, I think I had the flu. I was absolutely exhaustified!
Having said that, I need to get in the bed now...it'll be time to get up soon!
Love y'all.... :)
Monday, December 10, 2007
I love my job...and the girls that I'm working with are just great....sweet and friendly. I have a lot to learn still but they are making it fun for me. If I had a choice, I wouldn't have picked the weeks leading up to Christmas to start a new job, but I think it will work out...might be a good bit more stressful this year, but it will work :). I will be off on Sundays, and I will have next Thursday (the 20th) off...and will more than likely have to use that day to finish my Christmas shopping!!!! Blogging may be scarce until the holidays are over!
I was surprised at how much I actually heard today at work. I wouldn't have dared to try to use the phone there...too loud...but I could hear the girls talking to me over most of the noise and did pretty well understanding them. I was afraid I'd have a hard time talking to customers but I don't think that will be a problem either. We do have a lot of Hispanic people in our area and I think I'll have even a little more trouble with that language barrier than most people might, but we'll work something out :).
I am still amazed every day at how good things sound...not only am I hearing them, but I hear most sounds clearly and with very little distortion. Some voices still sound unnatural (mine in particular) but unless you focus on it, the brain tends to actually just ignore it. I have been told by a few people that I seem a little quieter than usual. I'm not sure if that's actually so or not but my voice still sounds louder than anyone else's, plus it sounds WORSE, and I think that it makes me a little more self-conscious when I talk. I know that my voice doesn't sound to other people the way it does to me, but it's still kind of hard to not think about it (I've always been a little self-conscious anyway). I just think it's kind of funny that now that I can hear, nobody can hear me! Gonna have to work on that!
OK...getting off here, and going to bed....love y'all!! :)
I got up at 6:30 Friday morning and went to work at 8....got off at 5. I won't work those hours every day, but I did Friday. I was EXHAUSTED by the time I got through the day! However....I loved what I was doing and met a lot of new people (and saw some friends)...so it was a FUN day. When I got off I picked up a few groceries, ran home, and was going to soak in the tub for about 20 minutes but ended up jumping out in about five when I realized that the hot water had been used up by the rest of the family (brrrr!)...so, no relaxing there! Got dressed in holiday colors and we headed out to a Christmas party. We didn't get home from that until 11:30 PM...and I got in the bed and think I was asleep before I pulled the covers up. I was SO tired!!!
Saturday I slept until 9 and then got up and started cooking...I made a corn casserole and a batch of Gooey Butter Cakes and got ready for another Christmas party. We were out the door at 10:30 and in Nashville for the HLAA Christmas party at noon. Hubby and the kids came with me this month and ate with us, then they went downtown to a car show while the meeting went on. My surgeon, Dr. Haynes, spoke to us on the topic of bilateral cochlear implants. He shared a lot of information that I hadn't heard before and I learned a lot. If I remember correctly (and I probably didn't, so don't hold me to these numbers...I will try to back that up with proof in a day or so) he said that around 150,000 people worldwide have one CI (unilateral)...and only about 1300 people in the United States have two CIs (I forget the "worldwide" number of bilaterals, sorry). Of those in the US, about two-thirds are babies and children (that sounds about right!). So we bilateral users are still pretty rare, although I think that's changing and those numbers will skyrocket in a few years :). Dr. Haynes was nice enough to pose for a picture after. I showed it to my mom and she said, "My hero!" Since I feel the same way, I thought I'd share with y'all, too, so you can see the man behind it all :).In all fairness, though, I need to point out that it takes the whole team to make it work...that my audiologist, Susan, is the one who does the programming and the fine-tuning, and she does it well. Without audiologists these implants wouldn't do a thing...so she is my hero, too :)!
This month's meeting was a great one...in addition to Dr. Haynes being there, there was a much larger crowd than usual, the food was yummy, and I was delighted to see one of my favorite couples, Tommy and Judy, there. I met them for the first time last year at a CI meeting in Nashville. I mainly talked to Judy that day...she is a warm, friendly lady and easy to talk to. I ran into Tommy several months later in the HLAA CI chatroom and was delighted to hear from them again! They live in Kentucky so I haven't seen them in over a year...and was delighted that they made the trip down to the meeting this month!!
After the meeting we met my parents for dinner at Jim 'n' Nicks Barbecue (no website, sorry). I have been wanting to try it out for several months now and it was really good. We picked up a few Christmas tree ornaments and then headed home...got home around 9 PM. I spent about an hour uploading pictures to the computer and e-mailing a few of them out, but was too tired to write much...was asleep by 11 PM that night.
Yesterday morning I overslept (I usually get up at 7 on church mornings but woke up at 7:40!!) and started the day off on the run. After church and lunch we came home and worked on the Christmas tree...I didn't particularly feel like it but we're running out of time to get it done....so it was then or never. I did get in about a 45 minute nap before heading back out to church last night. After church I was determined to blog, but just when I logged into blogger.com, the cable froze up. It was down for a couple of hours and by the time I finally got it working again, I was too tired to post anything. Computers...wonderful when they work, worthless when they don't ;). The work week starts today :). I will work Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday this week...from 1-10 PM. I still have a lot to learn on the job and am excited about it! I need to get busy now and make up a menu for this week...I have decided that being gone 40 hours a week will require a lot of planning to make the rest of the hours in the week run more smoothly! Wish me luck!
HLAA party and tree-trimming pictures are here! :)
Have a great Monday, everyone...love y'all...
Sunday, December 9, 2007
Thursday, December 6, 2007
I decided to try the aforementioned begging today to see if Susan would do another sound room test, and she was really agreeable about it :). The audiogram below shows that I'm hearing in the 30-decibel range in most frequencies....which is normal to mild loss. Even better, though: if you look at the chart on the right, in the sixth box from the top, left column, notice the "92"...that was for the 92% I scored on the sentences test! I had no trouble at all with most of them. NINETY-TWO PERCENT. In comparison....when I went to my regular audiologist in April of 06, we did a word test and I scored a dismal EIGHT percent. No lipreading was involved in that one. When I was going through the CI evaluations in June of '06, I bumped that score up to 49% with lipreading factored in. Today's lovely 92% was achieved with no lipreading at all. My comprehension has never been this good...ever...as long as I can remember. All the stress and headaches have been totally worth it.
(other audiograms can be found here, with explanations)
When we left the audiologist's office we went to Dr. Haynes' office for my post-surgery checkup. Dr. Haynes was really encouraging, saying that my incision looked like it was about a year out (that's really good for an incision that's just a month old!)...that it had healed that well! I honestly had NO trouble with the incision this time around...I hardly knew it was there. Quite a contrast to the first time around, when I was very conscious of it. I think perhaps just the side it was on made a little difference...I wore a hearing aid on this ear for years, and things just don't bother me with it the way they do with my left ear.
While I was in Dr. Haynes' office, two women that looked like sisters came in with a lady that might have been their mother in a wheelchair. She looked to be about 80 or so, and informed me that she was capable of walking, but had balance problems. I told her that I'd had problems with balance myself in the past, and I could relate. She asked me if I had a cochlear implant, and said that she had had the surgery a year ago, but it didn't work for her. The women with her said that she had reported that things didn't sound good to her, and that she didn't know what she was hearing most of the time. I asked her if she'd practiced wearing it, and the women exchanged looks and rolled their eyes before telling me that no, she didn't practice with it at all. I hate that...sometimes it just takes a while for things to become tolerable, and giving up too quickly isn't the answer :(. I think that the number of cases that "don't work" is probably due to people that just didn't like what they were hearing and didn't give it any real effort. It would be easy for me to say that Thing 1 "didn't work" because it doesn't sound like I think it should, and I still have the vibrotactile response...but the truth of the matter is that if I keep working with it, the vibrotactile will more than likely eventually become manageable, and the sound that I get from it will give me true surround sound...directionality and even more sound. I may have to work with it for a couple of years...maybe longer...before it gets up to where Thing 2 is after just two weeks....but it works. That ear was gone for THIRTY YEARS...it won't come back overnight. Thing 2 was in a good ear...one that hadn't been without hearing long at all (March of 07) and the results have been astounding. I was asked in Dr. Haynes' office if I'd mind talking to a lady who was thinking about cochlear implants but didn't know much about them yet. I jumped at the chance (it's one of my favorite topics of conversation lately) and she was brought in and I got to talk to her for about five minutes. I love sharing the story...because it's had an almost fairy-tale ending for me....life-changing!
Going to bed...work tomorrow from 8-5, then I have to run home and fix something to take to a Christmas party tomorrow night. Saturday is another Christmas party (will be up early cooking for that one) and then we might have plans for Saturday night...not sure yet. I will be on the move every minute this weekend...that's for sure...so updates may very well be light :)
Next week, having completed my training...I'll work FORTY HOURS! I have actually not worked a forty-hour week since I was 19...and I'm almost double that age now...we'll see how I hold up!!
Love y'all.... :)
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
My mother-in-law called while I was at work, and, wouldn't you know it...another kid down. She had to go get Claire at school and take her to the pediatrician for me...and Claire has Fifth's disease and an ear infection and will be out of school ALL WEEK. Give me strength! Thank goodness she's in pretty good spirits and not whining too much (as she's prone to do). Now we wait to see if the rest of the kids get THAT (but I'll take red faces and fever over puke any old day of the week!!)
I had some AWESOME hearing moments today. I had a little bit of trouble with the videos we watched on the TV...they weren't captioned and there was a little background noise that kept me from hearing every word...but I did hear a lot of what was said. When we did our computer training, there were headphones we could wear and listen along. I kinda pooh-poohed the whole headphone thing at first since the training slideshows WERE captioned (and I did NOT want to be held up by a slow announcer when I could zap right through the captioning)...but on one particularly slow video I put the headset on and realized the speaker was saying a lot of things that weren't captioned. And, best of all...I understood nearly every single word. I listened to several videos on the computer and my comprehension was probably near 95%.
When lunchtime rolled around I decided to try to call my mother-in-law and check on Claire. I had to go outside because there was too much background noise in the store. When I got through to her I understood nearly every single word she said, too....which was really exciting for me, since I'm still really leery about the whole phone thing.
Inspired by my successes, I called hubby on HIS cell phone tonight and could understand him really well...despite the fact that I was on the road in my loud little Versa. Then I got kind of big-headed about it and decided that I'd just drive my sassy hearing self around Starbucks and order some coffee, and was promptly put back in my place by a screechy, scratchy drive-around speaker. I told the girl that I couldn't hear her and I'd just come in to get my coffee (the line was long). OK...so I still have some work to do :)
Getting off here now and going to bed....if I go to sleep RIGHT NOW I can still get six hours of sleep *groan*! Love y'all!! :)
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
We went out to dinner after church and I was surprised at how much the CI helped me during dinner. The restaurant we went to was loud and dark and I've never particularly enjoyed going there for that reason. However, the CI really helped pull out individual voices from around the table...I could actually hear the voices over the background noise, even from down the table. Now, if I hadn't been lipreading, it's doubtful that I would have understood what was being said, but before I got my implant, I wouldn't have heard the voices....so that's a big deal!!
This map is still a little loud...but I'm getting used to the new frequencies and they are sounding more natural. It actually occurred to me today that the sound was similar to when I was wearing my hearing aid and still able to hear with it. There are a few frequencies that are still not just right, but they're getting clearer. I get the feeling that the mapping process is going to be harder than I thought...that getting the sound just right may be harder than it seems. I never had to do this with Thing 1...there just wasn't that sound available to work with. I don't have a lot to listen to during the mapping progress (usually, it's just Susan and me, and last time we had Abram with us)...I think I need to take an iPod or a CD or something to play to help decide how I want things to sound. My next mapping session is going to be on Thursday...and then I won't have another one until Dec. 31st....so I really want it to be right. I think I gave up some high frequency sounds last time that have kind of taken the edge off my clarity, and I want to be sure to get those back this week!
To any of you who might have tried to get in the HLAA chat tonight...it wasn't just you...the chat wouldn't work for anyone. A couple of moderators were able to get in, but that was it. The problem is being addressed and will hopefully be fixed by next week! :) Sorry if you came by and there was nobody home...I missed you all :)
I passed my drug test and go for orientation at my new job tomorrow...then I'm going to a meeting in Nashville...so I'll have a long day ahead....I'm off to bed!
Love y'all.... :)
Saturday, December 1, 2007
When I was in the audie's office yesterday getting a new map, she had an intern named Abram working with her. He and I got to talking and I told him that I had a blog and he could find it by going to the Advanced Bionics webpage and searching the blogs. I got an e-mail from him a short time later saying that he'd checked out the blog and asking if I would help him out with a new undertaking of his. Abram has a website where he is soliciting reviews of hearing aids and cochlear implants. After the reviews the results are posted on his webpage so that users can come and see what other people are saying about hearing aids/CIs. He is wanting those of us that wear hearing aids or CIs to come visit and review our products for the world to see. Please, if you would, help Abram out...I think that reviews would be terribly helpful to a lot of people. You will have to register (don't worry, it's way easy)...then choose your brand from a list (click on "Products" to see the list). If you don't see it, click on "search" and type in the name of your product ("Harmony" brought up the Advanced Bionics implant that I have). It will take you through an easy set of multiple-choice questions....nothing very complicated. Go check it out at Hearing Report...please? It's simple to navigate, I think it will provide a valuable service, and the little penguin on the home page suckered me right in :)!
Next order of business...Paul Potts has got some amazing fans!!!! After I posted about loving his singing earlier, I got an e-mail invite from the owner of the Paul Potts MySpace Family. Larry told me that there are more videos and more information on that site for my listening pleasure....and believe me, I've been enjoying it.
Last night when I went to bed, I checked this blog for comments (always) then briefly looked at the hit counter. This is a fairly new blog, and I haven't had a lot of visitors, but I've been steadily inching my way towards 1000 visitors for a few days (by comparison, my family blog gets around 100 hits a day, so the stats climb faster there). Last night, I thought, "Hm...getting close! Wonder who the 1000th visitor will be?"
This morning, I got up, checked the hit counter, and I had 1,025 visitors. I went to Sitemeter and I had had EIGHTY-TWO visitors....and I hadn't even had my coffee yet. As of 4 PM, I have had 140 visitors today. The vast majority of them have come from the Paul Potts MySpace Family...from this post, to be exact :)
I am amazed and humbled every single day by the support and encouragement I've gotten in the past few weeks. This is not the first time I have been blessed by such blog posts. Abbie, Laurie, Daisy, Sandy, Cheryl, David, and Paul have all shared my story on their blogs (I hope I haven't left anyone out). And now the Paul Potts MySpace community is turning out in support....I've gotten a few comments, but also several e-mails and comments on the post itself. To all of you....you have no idea how much your enthusiasm means to me. It's exciting enough that I get to live this adventure...but the fact that friends, family, and even total strangers not only care, but are excited about it with me...make this an incredibly special, joyful time...THANK YOU all!!!!!!
I will be writing a bit about the "surround sound" experience soon. Thing 1 and Thing 2 are not playing nice at the moment...so it looks like we have a little work ahead of us...but for now, I have the determination to do the work and see if we can get better results. I do not want all the work we did with Thing 1 to be for nothing!!!
Love y'all.... (regularly scheduled posting is below....)
Yesterday's mapping was anticlimactic. I was delighted to have my volume levels raised...it had gotten really quiet...and was elated at the sound quality that we achieved in the office. Susan said that if I begged she might put me back in the sound room next week for another comprehension test (and I plan to beg). My speech comprehension has been so good that I want another crack at those sentences (I scored a 15% on them on activation day).
I actually think we turned some of my higher frequencies down a little too much...I am missing a little clarity in the "sh" and "ch" sounds that I had before (and liked). Some people don't like those sounds being so pronounced...but I do :). But it's OK....I go back Thursday, and it's fixable. I decided in the office that I like the HiRes P (basic) programming strategy the best, so Susan put that in two of my program slots (the second one louder, in case I maxed out the first one). She put the HiFidelity 120 programming on the remaining program slot (this is supposed to be the Hi-Def TV of sound as compared to your regular old analog color television, if you will). I tried them both in the car listening to Ella Fitzgerald (singing Christmas carols) and was surprised to find that I liked the 120 programming better...the music just sounded much more...musical. Oh, well...that can be changed next week too :)!
When I left the office, things were still sounding great, but about half an hour later, they started kind of falling apart. I think that the brain had gotten kind of set in its ways from the first programming and was kicking up a fuss about the new sounds. It didn't help that I went to several different...LOUD...places during the day. The mall was packed with shoppers and Sam's Club was WAY loud...forklifts beeping and TVs blaring and "Attention Shoppers" announcements every few minutes or so. I didn't get ANY of my shopping done (I picked up a CD for Will, but that was it)...I was just too distracted to think who I needed to shop for and what I wanted to get (serves me right for going out without a list). I spent some time in Barnes and Noble listening to the CDs, but there were so many that I wanted that I couldn't decide on one there (it was a toss-up between Andrea Bocelli, Paul Potts, Josh Groban, and Mannheim Steamroller. When I went to Sam's the only one they had at that particular store was the Bocelli one, so I got that one (it was five dollars cheaper there than it was at B&N!). I listened to it all the way home...it was so pretty (even thought it did sound slightly distorted, and the car noise didn't help).
On the way home, my phone buzzed (it's on vibrate) and I saw that somebody from my house was calling me. I decided to chance answering it and it was Katie. I understood her well but we got cut off, as I was driving through a wooded area. I waited until I was in a clearing and pulled over and she called me back. I understood every word she said that time...neat!!!
We played cards at my mother-in-law's house last night and that was difficult...16 adults all talking at once, sometimes loudly. I had a hard time focusing on cards and was antsy all night...ready to get home and settle in bed and rest. When we finally got home around midnight I didn't even feel like blogging...I was READY FOR BED!!!
This morning I slept in (ah, nice!) and have spent the morning hooked up to the laptop listening to music. I'm about to get cleaned up and take the girls out for dinner somewhere (hubby and Will went to my brother's house to watch football). I am not making big plans...just something simple and relaxing...it's been a busy week!
Hope everyone's having a good weekend and staying warm (it's COLD in some areas of the country...wow...it's 60 degrees here!)...love y'all!! :)
Thursday, November 29, 2007
*Coconuts sloshing at Wal-Mart.
*Hubby snoring. This is not a new sound...I've heard it for years....but it has seemed so loud and clear the past few days that I have threatened to make him a star on YouTube the next time he starts up. He used to say that he didn't snore...until we confronted him with video proof several years back. If I wasn't deaf when I took these processors off I'd have to sleep in another room...for sure!
*More music. I didn't find a lot of new things today...mainly I listened to some of the songs I've been collecting this week. Time To Say Goodbye is stuck in my brain right now...GORGEOUS. I think that I'm going to find myself hooked on opera...I never would have thought!
*I played a game over on manythings.org called "Audio Concentration". It's like the kids' game Memory...you flip over two cards at a time and match them up...except that you LISTEN to the words and match the cards...no pictures! Try it...check out the website and do "Game 1". I thought I was going to go crazy...some of those words sounded IDENTICAL. I DID match them all up within the time limit, but it sure was hard!!!
Tomorrow I go to Vanderbilt for a new programming session, and then I think I'll go shop for a while...I am SO behind on shopping that it's not funny....I only have two or three things bought...TOTAL...and haven't ordered my Christmas cards yet *sigh*. I need to get busy!!! I used to shoot for having Christmas cards sent out by December 1st. I'm slipping...there's no way that's going to happen this year...it'll be a wonder if they're all where they're supposed to be by Christmas this year. I've already gotten my first Christmas card of the year...just remindin' me what a slacker I am!!
Turning in early tonight...have to get up at 6 and drive to Nashville in the morning, so I'd better sleep while I can! Love y'all! :)
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
I definitely need a tune-up...sounds are getting quieter and quieter and more tinny and mechanical. Amazingly, comprehension is still good...I did really well with the listening exercises (children's voices are hard). I picked up a lot in class at church tonight, and a couple of people made the comment that I seemed to be getting more out of class than I have been (they weren't kidding...I wasn't hearing a thing before...who wants to participate when they have no idea what's going on?).
I was in the bathroom tonight and heard a car passing by the house outside. I knew what it was...I've heard the sound before, but usually when I was outside at the mailbox....never from inside, upstairs. I've never heard cars pull up in the driveway before...but I bet I could now :)
I have had a couple of people say that they were glad I wasn't deaf anymore, and that always just kind of makes me chuckle...because I'll always be deaf. With my cochlear implants, I'll be able to hear again...better than ever before, I suspect...but if the magnet on the processor slips off, it's instantly quiet...the ears themselves have no function at all anymore besides being a great place to hang the processor and to park glasses. I'm a real "bionic woman" now...totally dependent on technology and the little computer in my head for my hearing! I am grateful every single day that God has allowed me to keep natural hearing long enough for technology to get so advanced that music will eventually sound natural to me. Cochlear implant technology has come a long way in the past few years, and it's better now than ever before...God's timing for me has been just perfect.
Tomorrow....grocery shopping (blech), a little cooking, and a Bible study at Dad & Mom's. I'm excited about the Bible study...the singing will be good :)!
Thanks again for the encouragement and support. Honestly, not everyone in the world is fascinated by this story...and people don't always take the time to stop and really appreciate the marvel of being able to hear well again...to be able to hear music...to talk on the phone...to understand the spoken word without having to watch...I feel like, honestly, that I've had a new beginning of sorts...that life as I know it is forever changed...for the better.
OK...off to bed. Love y'all!! :)
By the way, I was offered the job :)! It is at a local photo processing place...and if I pass my drug test (and I am NOT worried about that) they'll tell me Friday when to start...Yahoo!! The interview was interesting...I hadn't had a job interview in 16 years and this one was tricky. They asked a bunch of "what would you do if..." and "how would you handle this situation..." kind of questions...questions that I had to THINK about, right there with someone LOOKING at me! I think I must have squeaked by on personality on several of those questions...my answers were positively dorky, I think. Oh well!
The drug testing was a pain in the keister. It took me TWO HOURS and FOUR TRIPS to the doctor's office to get it done (I'm making a very long story as short as possible!). It would have been so much easier if they would have just taken my word for it that I don't do drugs ;)!!
I've heard a LOT of neat things the past 48 hours! Yesterday I heard one of the LifeFlight helicopters flying over our house (we live about half a mile from the hospital). When we first moved into this house four years ago I heard them just fine with my hearing aid. Honestly, in the past 18 months I had forgotten about them...I haven't heard one in that long. I also heard a siren yesterday. I KNOW I heard one Sunday, but this one was while I was in the bedroom, in the house...and the ambulance was on the highway (we live three houses from the highway). I thought I heard it but Claire was sharing something long-winded so I shushed her briefly and listened..and sure enough...there it was!
Today at the interview I was in a back office and several of the employees were on computers...I could hear the clack clack of their keyboards :)
This afternoon I was about to e-mail my mom about something and I decided I'd just call her :). I got the BlackBerry and dialed and when she answered one of the first things she said was, "I think I need to sit down!" The last time I talked on the phone with any measure of success was over 18 months ago. I could understand every word she said as long as I concentrated. A couple of times my concentration slipped a bit and I missed a word or two, but that was it. We talked for ten minutes!!
The phone is something I'm really antsy about. I have always had a LOT of trouble with it...and the last few times I used it before I gave it up I could hardly hear on it at all. It was always an exercise in discouragement and frustration...I always felt like a blithering idiot by the time the conversations were done. Now, even though I think I can probably do OK, I don't want to until I know I can do it without a huge, embarrassing struggle. I know that the only way to get better at it is to practice, but I am just not ready for that yet...self-confidence issues. I am listening to a lot of things on the computer...I don't sit down at the laptop without having music, a book on CD, or SOMETHING playing (I have listened to everything from Martina McBride's 2007 "Anyway" to Tennessee Ernie Ford, ha!). Speech comprehension is still pretty good, considering that my program's maxed out...and I know it will get even better after my mapping session on Friday. I know it will all come in time...it's just that the hearing is coming back a little faster than the self-confidence at this point :)
Tonight when I was cooking dinner I heard water boiling on the stove. You know...if I knew that boiling water made a sound, I had forgotten it. All this time I thought I was hearing pretty well with the hearing aid...but I am finding out every day how much I've been missing!
We bought our microwave last year, after my first hearing loss. I was singularly unimpressed with the timer on the thing because the beep was inaudible...I thought. I am finding out that it's pretty loud, after all!
Yesterday was a great day for me because my sweet bionic buddy Abbie FINALLY posted her activation on YouTube! I love seeing other peoples' videos, and hers was so neat to watch! Maybe it was a good thing she took so long about it...now I can HEAR it! Her audiologist talks a good bit, and I can understand what she's saying! Check it out!
And if you want to see what I'm listening to...and loving every second of...check out this awesome Allison Krauss video. I have missed her gorgeous voice!!! It's not yet perfect....but it's very, very close...unbelievable!!!!
If things are this good now...I can't wait to see how they sound after Friday...WOW!
Good news this week: Geo has his CI surgery tomorrow (today)...and Jeff has his on Thursday! If you like CI blogs, go follow their adventures (guys, take plenty of pictures!). More incredible news...my friend Rosemary (who doesn't blog) had her CI activated today...and she called her daughter Jen from the parking lot of her CI center!!! Another AWESOME hookup!!! YAYYYYY!!!! This is just a GREAT week!!!
Later....love y'all! :)
Monday, November 26, 2007
Normally at activation you're sent home with a few programs to play with (Advanced Bionics has three programs on each processor). Due to my processor's "issues", only one of my programs works right now, so I'm pretty much at a standstill. That means that I might not pick up a lot of new material this week, and I might actually appear to be losing ground. I repeat...this is a good thing...and when I go back to Vanderbilt on Friday, I will have a new, well-behaved processor to play with and three brand new programs, and I am sure that I'll make up for lost time quickly!!!
Church today offered more listening opportunities. My brother-in-law's brother Stephen sat behind me in class this morning and I decided to let him be a guinea pig in my listening exercises. He is prone to offer deep, insightful comments from his vast wellspring of Biblical knowledge (I don't know if he reads my blog or not, but I thought I'd play it safe) so I was nearly guaranteed some conversation from his direction. One of the things I hate most in our classroom is having to crane my neck to lipread people all around me (I've always done it, but I hate it). Anyhow, this morning I decided that I was going to try to not look at Stephen at all if I didn't have to. When he started talking, I just listened...and was able to pick up a good bit of what he said...without having to turn around. My friend Jon sits behind me to the left, and I couldn't understand him without turning to lipread...he was further away, and not close to my "good" ear...but lipreading was SO much easier than it has been in the past.
I told hubby several weeks ago that when this whole CI business was over I was going to need Botox for the wrinkles in my forehead...concentration has become such a huge part of my life over the past few months that after church or a shopping expedition it usually took quite a while to destress. I would catch myself sitting with my face twisted into a frown trying to puzzle out what people were saying. I had an almost impossible time understanding our preacher and Bible class teachers, and had just about given up entirely. I have been amazingly surprised today to find that if I just watch, the words come much more easily than they did before. The sound that I'm getting is high enough quality that it complements the lip-reading perfectly, and comprehension is much easier...I didn't have a lot of trouble with either of the preachers we had today (regular preacher was out of town). Yes, I still felt a little stressed after church...it's a fairly noisy environment, and the sound quality was a bit worse today due to brain assimilation (good thing, remember?) so my nerves were a bit jangled, as usual, but I sure was happier...definitely not as left out of everything! :)
Singing didn't sound as great today...but I expected it, and it's OK. It will sound even better next week! :)
I went to Goodwill today and enjoyed hearing Bing Crosby singing "White Christmas" over the loudspeakers...it was neat to just hear it and recognize it again :)
OH!!! And I heard a siren!! You might remember that with Thing 1 I was nearly bugflattened by a fire truck this summer...the fire truck that I never heard. Tonight we were on our way to dinner when I saw a fire truck pull out onto the highway in front of us. I told hubby and the girls, "Sh! Let me see if I can hear this!" and they all obligingly piped down, but they really didn't have to bother...I could hear it almost immediately from some distance away. HOORAY!!
I know this blog has been a bit one-track lately, and I will remedy that soon, I know...bear with me, people, this is all new to me :). I feel like a kid at Christmas...this is such a huge, exciting experience. I am writing this down as much for me as for anyone else...so that I can go back and re-read it later and remember how this felt. I feel blessed, overwhelmed, thrilled...tired ;). Can we say "sensory overload"? Tonight after church I came in and sat on the bed and started reading and the battery went out. For the first time, I didn't immediately replace it with a freshly charged battery so I could start listening again...tonight, I decided to give it a little rest. Incredible though it all is, when you've been living in a relatively quiet world for a while, it can also be a bit much. I need to pace myself!
I am in awe. Prayers have been answered :)
Love y'all! :)
Sunday, November 25, 2007
I was listening along to some old favorites, and got shocked and surprised a few times to find that songs that I thought I knew were actually different than I learned them! I'm not talking about "sound-wise"...I don't trust my ears to pick up accurate musical tones yet...but occasionally I would find that my timing had been off on the chorus of this song, or that a phrase I'd been singing for years was actually not correct! Wow!
Basically, I'm picking up in comprehension...which is amazing. Some sounds still don't sound realistic...tinny or robotic...but that will go away with time and more mappings. I have clarity and crispness to sounds that I haven't had in years. WOW! (for all you Savannah babes...say it with me!!) WOW!
We went to Jaydyn's first birthday party tonight...he will be one tomorrow! Hard to believe!!! He was just adorable, especially in his party hat...WAY cute! He was so funny when they put the cake in front of him...he refused to taste it (I put a pinch of frosting in his mouth and he SPIT IT OUT!!) and wouldn't play in it until his mom got him a spoon (he doesn't like getting his fingers icky) and then he just dug holes in it and flung it around. Totally demolished it with the help of his spoon, but never took a single bite of it!! Funny little prince!!
I didn't hear well at the party...it was in a big room with block walls and tile floor...there were a lot of people there and a lot of echoes. But I didn't feel too bad about it...hey...just the first week :)
I didn't pick up any real "new" environmental sounds today...since I have been listening to music at top volume all day. Tomorrow's church, though...a new chance to try out the new ear! :)
Oh...and pray for me...I have a job interview Tuesday! Exciting!!
Love y'all...... :)
Saturday, November 24, 2007
*Tuesday I heard my kids talking. I could understand the three oldest ones well, and could understand hubby fairly well.
*Wednesday I woke up early...at 7:30. Might not seem early to everyone else until you consider that I usually sleep in when the kids don't have school...but I wanted to put the processor on and start listening! When I was cooking Ellie got some sugar on a styrofoam plate and was shaking it about three feet away and saying, "Can you hear this, Mama??"...and I actually could hear it scratching on the plate. And...this was with Hannah Montana on the TV in the next room! Incidentally, I haven't ever realized how loud the girls keep the TVs...but I can hear them ALL THE TIME.
*My mom texted me when she arrived at the airport in Houston. I was in the middle of washing dishes and I abandoned the sink (left the water running) and went to try to call her. I locked myself in the bathroom and dialed. I heard the phone ring and then I heard her say "Hello, Jennifer!" Right about that time the processor shorted out. As I mentioned before, it has issues, and at that particular time, the current issue was shorting out every time I switched programs. Anyhow, realizing that I couldn't talk to Mom anymore, I took the phone to Katie and she finished my conversation. It would have been a very difficult call anyway...she was in the airport and her cell phone connection was terrible, so it was probably for the best...but I called her...and I understood her...for all of about three seconds :). (I was relieved to find that while the sink was overflowing when I got back, it was thankfully overflowing into the other side, and not overflowing all over ky kitchen floor.)
*When I got a shirt out of the closet to get ready for church, I heard a tinkling that I hadn't heard before. I looked and located a few hangers at the end of my closet that were bumping together and making that tinkly sound!
*At church, the preacher's wife said that she wanted to test me, so she had me look away and then she asked, "How are you doing?" I grinned and looked at her, and said, "I'm fine, thanks!!" :) During church I deliberately looked away from the speakers several times to see if I could hear them without looking. I could nearly always pick up a few words here and there. The singing in church was astonishing...several voices actually sounded just like I remembered them from almost 18 months ago, before I started losing what hearing I had left. I had not at all set my sights on getting music back...but if it sounded that good at just over 24 hours...wow, I can't imagine what it will sound like in the next few weeks and months!
*We went to my mom's after church on Wednesday to see them (they got in from Nicaragua while we were at church). Mom presented me with the Metropolitan Museum of Art's "A New York Christmas" CD...jazz Christmas music!!! It doesn't sound just right yet...but, ya know...I think that it's possible that by Christmas it may be great :).
*Thursday morning when I woke up I didn't put the processor on right away. I have always had a hard time putting Thing 1 on due to the vibrotactile problems...when I put it on, I always get a head buzz that's mildly uncomfortable. I'm having a hard time getting adjusted to the idea that Thing 2 isn't the same way...I can just slap it on, it gives me a few little beeps, then comes on...just sound, no discomfort. When I finally did put on Thing 2 I was in the bathroom, and the noise just about blew me away. I headed out the bathroom, down the hall, and there was the TV again...the squawkbox...with a football game blaring. I could hear it all the way in the bathroom...and it was LOUD! I could hear it well enough to know that the captioning didn't keep up with the game ;).
*We went to my mom's for Thanksgiving lunch and after lunch I went back to get a refill on my Coke. Then men were watching the football game, and as I poured the Coke I heard a "pshhhhhhhhhhh". I asked hubby, "What's that noise??" and he said, "I don't hear anything!" About that time it faded out, so I turned back to pour some more Coke, and the second I did it started again. I realized that I was hearing the fizz of my soft drink...over the sound of the men talking and the football game!
*When we went to the in-laws' for dinner, we were in line fixing plates and I heard my mother-in-law call my name. I turned and looked and she was grinning. It's a new thing to be able to just call me...I don't usually respond...and the whole family has gotten in the habit of flapping their hands to get my attention...a habit that it looks like I'm gonna have to be breaking them of soon ;).
*Ellie came and sat with me on the bed last night and was watching Disney Channel. She was about to ask me something, and I said, "Wait!" and turned my head so I wasn't looking at her. She figured out pretty quickly to talk slowly and loudly, but I heard every word when she said, "I just brushed my teeth, and I've been eating M&M's. Are my teeth dirty? Do I need to brush them again?" (talk about unpredictable...there's no way I could have guessed any part of that sentence!!)
*Claire and I were on the bed this morning and I asked her, "Is the phone ringing?" She waved her hand and said "No" ("Bummer," I thought to myself) and then I heard it again, and asked again, "IS THE PHONE RINGING?" This time, she said, "Oh! Yes!" and dashed off to get it. A big deal...I've been hearing the phone ring this week, but before that, I haven't heard it in nearly 18 months :). One of these days, I might just answer it ;)!
*Today hubby was outside banging and clanging and chopping leaves with the mower...and I could barely think for all the noise I was hearing up here in the bedroom ;). His work is LOUD!
*and the icing on the cake...tonight we were on our way to grab dinner, and were in the dark little car. I was driving, and hubby started talking, and I decided I'd just listen instead of turning on the light to try to lipread. We did that all the way to Nashville...about an hour...and I was able to understand at least 90% of what he said to me. I did have to listen carefully...and when he was talking to Katie in the backseat I didn't pay much attention and I didn't catch much. We went shopping after dinner and I heard several customers in the store talking to their kids, on their phones, etc. and was able to understand a lot of what they were saying when I concentrated. It's amazing how loudly people talk in stores!!
I've heard lots more sounds, and will hear more...but this was just a few (I know you're glad I'm done ;) ). I'll list more in the next day or so...I'm just so amazed at my newfound capabilities!! This hearing business is rather incredible!!!!
Off to bed....love y'all! :)
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Here, without further ado: the videos. YouTube has a ten minute video limit, so I had to break the video into segments. The first one is of Susan turning on the individual electrodes (the cord at my shoulder is connected to her computer). I wasn't fully expecting to hear those little beeps, so I was kind of surprised...this was my first time hearing sound with my new ear :)
This is the actual activation video, where they turn the whole thing on and I hear voices for the first time. It's over nine minutes long. The first three minutes are probably the most interesting...after that there is a lot of adjusting (make it louder, tune that sound out, etc). I think it's fascinating...some people may find it kinda dull...you won't hurt my feelings if you don't watch it all.
There are two more movies after these...one with just more programming in it and the last one has me putting on the processor for the first time (it was more awkward than I thought it would be, and the magnet didn't stick as well as I hoped, so we had to change it out). Those can be found here if you have any interest left after the first two ;)
I am in love, absolutely in love, with my second CI. I've had some issues with it today (long story short, I need another processor, which has been ordered, and will be here ASAP, but is still working), but I looooooove it anyway. I have heard so much with it...and with such amazing clarity. Voices still sound kind of strange....kids' voices, in particular...but they're getting better already. I went to church tonight and was amazed how much easier it was to understand everyone...the teachers, my friends, EVERYONE. The sound that's coming in keeps me from having to work so hard to communicate...it's wonderful. During class I purposely didn't look at the teacher or whoever was commenting at the time to see what I could understand. I didn't get a lot, but I got way more than I ever thought I would...some people were so easy to understand that I could hear almost everything they said!
I had several "CI Moments" today....but I will share them tomorrow....it's late, and I'm tired.
I have so much to be thankful for this year...for my family, for my friends, for my blessings. Family and my wonderful friends...online and off...have supported me when I was struggling and encouraged me to keep going. All of my blogfriends have been tremendous supporters....and I am grateful for every single one of you. Everyone in my family's healthy and (mostly) happy, and we're well fed, have a roof over our head, and have everything we need.
Being able to hear this Thanksgiving is just the icing on the cake. I never dreamed that a cochlear implant could offer so much...from where I sit now, I see an amazing journey ahead. Thank you for sharing it with me...I love you all :)
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
I can hear...and I can hear WELL. It's just short of miraculous.
I knew that things were going to be different this time when Susan hooked me up and turned the computer on. I thought it would be a few seconds before anything happened and was flabbergasted to hear a delicate "beep. beep. beep." right away! I didn't have this experience the first time around...the first time around I was presented with a very un-delicate, headache-inducing, pounding in my skull. We went through all the tones, turning them up to comfortable volumes, and then she said, "I'm going to turn it on now."
Well, I was totally unprepared for what I heard next...and I can't even tell you what she said (it's on the video, but I can't remember it) ...but it was simply hysterical. Susan's voice was the first one I heard, and it was the highest, squeakiest voice I had ever heard...I've heard several people say that it sounds like the audies have been sucking up helium, and that's what it sounded like :) . I got totally cracked up...almost fell out of my chair!! I was so surprised by it because I didn't have anything even remotely like this the first time around...NO sounds...just vibrations. I was expecting to feel at least some vibrations this time too, but there were none...just pure sound coming through (strange as it was!) About twenty minutes and a few adjustments later, I was in total shock: voices actually sounded nearly normal. Some people can't tell men's and women's voices apart; I didn't have that problem. Some can't even tell where one word begins and another ends...again, not my problem. I even experimented a little while she was fiddling with the controls, trying to just listen to her without looking at her, to see if I could understand, and I was picking up a word here and a word there, which, to me, was unbelievable.
We went in the sound room, and after the usual "push the button when you hear the beeps" audiogram, Susan told me that I scored in around the 30 dB level for nearly all but the highest frequencies. She read me a list of words (I was allowed to lipread) and then I had to look away and listen. I didn't get all of the words, but I was surprised at how many of them I DID get. She told me that I did great and then asked if I wanted to do the sentences test. I said, sure thing, just because I thought it would be interesting to see how it went. I knew immediately that it wouldn't be anything spectacular because it was a man's voice reading the sentences and I wasn't able to pick him up that well. Still, I scored a whopping fifteen percent...which I thought was INCREDIBLE!!!
When we left we went to the next town over and went shopping for a little while, then went out for lunch. I heard many, many sounds: music coming through the outdoor speakers at the mall, the sound of my feet on the sidewalk, the sound of the car blinker. We walked in one store and while I was walking by the salesclerk, back to her, I heard her say, "You finding everything OK?" to which I was able to turn around and say, "Yes, thank you!"
We went to the Macaroni Grill for lunch, and I got to hear the plates clanking and the music playing (although it didn't sound so hot, I could hear it). I was chowing down when I heard, "Are we doing OK here?", and turning around, our waiter Justin had walked up behind us and was looking down at us attentively. I was REALLY impressed with myself that I'd heard a man's voice, in a NOISY ROOM...and understood him....WOW!
We shopped a little more....I went into the Carter's outlet to pick up Ellie a couple more shirts, and when I was checking out, the clerk asked if I wanted to sign up for discounts. While I was doing that, head down, she said, "I need your phone number, area code first, please!" The woman was clear as a bell!!! Mind you, none of these voices sounded "natural"...but WHO CARED? I could UNDERSTAND THEM!!!!!!!
I decided to call Time and Temperature a few times to see what I could pick up. I had to listen to the recording several times, but eventually I was able to understand every word. I tried it at home with the regular phone and the BlackBerry and actually heard better with the BlackBerry (which really surprised me). I then thought I'd practice by calling the home phone and talking to the kids but Claire wanted to be the first, and I couldn't understand her little Minnie Mouse voice at all...plus, she was saying silly things like "rah" and "boo" (hubby was translating). I decided I'd wait a bit and come back to that later :) I closed my eyes and made the kids all talk to me, and I was able to understand the three older ones fairly well...not the two little ones, though. 'Tis wonderful!!
I'll elaborate a little more over the next few days, but wanted to get this update "out there"...I have had so many encouraging e-mails today and everyone wanted to know how it went, so I'm sharing. I'm not sure it could have gone any better...it has totally blown my mind!!!
The video is a scream, but I cannot for the life of me, under any circumstances, get it to download to my computer in normal video format. The software that came with my brother's camera insists that if we're gonna have video, it's going to be a music video. Bah. I will find SOME WAY to do it in the next few days...I'm determined...so stay tuned :)
THANK YOU for all your prayers...I am convinced that they have made all the difference. God is so incredibly good...Dr, Haynes and Susan are the very best...and Advanced Bionics has given me my hearing back...they totally rock! THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Ellie's birthday was today, and we had a birthday party tonight at McDonald's (birthday girl's choice, not mine!). The kids all went home with my MIL after dinner, as they don't want to get up at FIVE. FIFTEEN. AM (I know some of you do this every day, but it's NOT my cup of tea, so be nice to me, OK?) and MIL is taking the little ones to school and letting the big ones hang with her tomorrow. We came home and I sat in on the CI Chat, answered some e-mails, worked on the video camera, and checked out Ellie's birthday pictures (on the family blog and in the Picasa web albums!)...I'm only just now finishing up!
Hubby and I are going to Vanderbilt for the activation and then celebrating with shopping and lunch (of course, the shopping part is my idea of celebrating, not necessarily his). Since my mom couldn't be there, I wanted it as low-key as possible, so it will just be the two of us. I intend to video it though...and will share with the whole world if I can figure out how to do it!
I'm excited, but nervous, too. I expect to hear something, but I know that the days and weeks that follow will be stressful and noisy and confusing....and, having done it once, I dread doing it again...but the results will be worth it!!
Ethan is being activated today too...go visit and check on the little man!!
I'm headed to bed...if I fall asleep this minute I'll get five hours of sleep (yeah right). Keep me in your prayers....and I'll update as soon as I have something to share!
Love y'all..... :)
Sunday, November 18, 2007
I'm excited....but this is so different from the first time around.
I've been lucky that I've never had to be totally without hearing. The first time around, I still had some hearing left in my "good" ear...not much, but enough to get by. The first CI felt more like a gamble than anything...would it work? You have to remember that I had NO hearing in that ear for 30+ years...then had a horrible vibrotactile response during my testing...so I honestly didn't know whether I'd even GET hearing. That was all I hoped for...that I'd get SOMETHING.
Something, I got...but it wasn't at all what I expected. When Susan hooked me up to her computer and started playing the beeps, I didn't hear anything. I looked over at her, and saw the look of expectancy on her face, and thought..."oh no...I'm supposed to be hearing something...what's wrong?" She turned it up a bit, and then I felt it. It felt a bit like a pounding migraine headache without the headache...it had the same "whomp, whomp, whomp" sensation. As she went louder, the pounding sensation intensified. I told her, "I wouldn't say I'm hearing anything, exactly....but I'm feeling something." She smiled and said something to the effect that that was good, that was something.
She turned it on a few seconds later, and everyone hesitantly started talking. I had no perception of SOUND...it wasn't like anything I'd ever HEARD before...it felt like a jackhammer was going off in my head. But the jackhammering coincided with people talking...so my brain was sorting out, at least, that there was information coming in.
When we left there we stopped for lunch at Don Pablo's. Honestly? I wanted to just lay my head down on the table and take a nap...the pounding was so intense and I felt totally discombobulated. It's a really loud restaurant, anyway...concrete floors and brick walls and metal ceilings...it was waaaaay too much. Factor in that I, being the optimist, had allowed Susan to set my sensitivity levels too high...thinking that my brain was so sharp and so fast that surely I'd be a pro at this hearing business straightaway...also, I didn't realize at the time how incredibly stressful the sound would be, and didn't think that the vibrations would bother me as much as they did. Boy, was I wrong...at the end of the first several days I felt like a guitar string stretched too tight...prepared to snap at any moment.
My first experience with actual hearing came quickly...that afternoon. We came in from Don Pablo's, and I announced that I was taking a NAP. I was experiencing severe sensory overload and needed a break. There was a metal coathanger on my bed, and I picked it up and tossed it to the foot of the bed...where it collided with a package of light bulbs, and there was a distinctive "tink". Well, I grabbed that coathanger and nearly beat those lightbulbs senseless listening to that sound...it was the first sound that I can actually remember "hearing", as opposed to just feeling it in my head. Over the next few days and months, my brain slowly went from interpreting every sound as a jarring sensation to allowing me to perceive sounds as actual sounds, although they still, for the most part, sounded nothing like I remembered them. I tried wearing my hearing aid with the CI, but that didn't usually work....they didn't play well together...the sounds were too different and the information that I was getting from them together just didn't mix well. I had more headaches and more stress that first few months!
A year later, I have no hearing in my "good" ear anymore. I am completely, at this point, dependent on Thing 1 for ALL my sound. A year later, I can say that I've surpassed my own expectations with my first CI...they were honestly very, very low. Music doesn't yet sound like I remember it, and there are still some sounds I can't pick up well, and I can't understand voices without looking at the lips that go with them, usually (Occasionally a few words will break through, and it's always a big deal..."I heard that!! Wow!"). But I have many, many friends that say that it took them months, years even, for sound to sound familiar and comprehension to come easily...and I realize that I'm doing great for someone who had NO hearing at all in my implanted ear...it's just short of miraculous.
With Thing 2, my expectations are different...because this time I expect SOMETHING. The first time around I just HOPED that something would happen...but didn't DARE to EXPECT it. This time, I can breathe much more easily about that...Thing 2 lives in an ear that had hearing as recently as March, and has never shown any kind of vibrotactile response. I expect hearing this time around :). After that, my expectations are still low.
Everyone's experiences are different: some people are able to call their family members on the phone a couple of days later, and some can't hear helicopters when they're right over their heads (she can hear them now!!!!!). Depends on the brain, how long the ear's been without sounds, and several other factors. I would love to think that my brain will zap right through and I'll have superhero hearing in days, but the reality is that there's just no way of knowing. However, I've MISSED my right ear...and I'm ready to get it back...no matter what it sounds like. It'll get better over time...that's pretty much a given...and now that I've learned that hard lesson with my first ear, I'm ready to get started on the second!
Oh, and how do I feel? I feel pretty good. I did some housework today and had to stop a few times and rest when the vertigo got out of hand, but overall, it wasn't bad. My incision is practically healed. I have decided that my surgeon must have used something different to stitch with this time around...the first time around they popped out through the skin and itched and drove me crazy....this time they've come through hardly at all...I keep waiting for them to do that and cause trouble, but they haven't. It looks great. So it's ONWARD TO TUESDAY!!
For those of you that weren't here for the first go-round, and need a crash course on what in the world we're doing, check out this link...it's long, too, though, so I practically guarantee that if you read it, too, this will be the longest blog visit you've made today ;).
Headed to bed...that's what I get when I sleep in too late on Saturdays...I stay up too late on Saturday nights and can't wake up for church on Sunday mornings! Oy!
Love y'all...... :)
Thursday, November 15, 2007
I e-mailed her yesterday and asked if there was any way we could move my activation date (scheduled for Dec. 12th) up a bit. I told her that I would understand if it just wasn't possible...sometimes her schedule's just really locked up. I have just not had much luck in the hearing department lately, what with Thing 1 and Thing 2 constantly duking it out...and Dec. 12th seemed like a VERY long wait. Doctors across the country have different schedules that they use for activations...most like to wait 2-3 weeks. However, and I think this was due more to scheduling conflicts than anything, my wait was supposed to be nearly five and a half weeks. I mean, I'd take it if that's all they had....no problem....but it never hurts to ask if they can move it up, right?
Susan e-mailed me a little while ago and asked if I could come in on TUESDAY!!! As in, FIVE DAYS FROM NOW, Tuesday!!! I couldn't get in for a post-op checkup with Dr. Haynes until Dec. 6th, so I was halfway afraid that he'd want to see me first, but he gave his blessing for the turn-on (so I love him too!). So right now I am in shock...over the moon...thrilled to death!!!
My parents are leaving for Nicaragua in the morning and won't be back until Wednesday night, so we are recording all of it...if I can figure out how to do the YouTube thing I'll share some of it :)
Today I feel very nearly normal...which, to me, is incredible, since the first time around I felt crummy for weeks. I get tired if I overdo it, and still have a little vertigo (which manifests itself mainly by allowing me to crash into door frames a lot). The incision site barely hurts anymore...in fact, I can lay on it (carefully) for a few minutes here and there, although if I fall asleep on it it's REALLY sore when I wake up. I generally don't think about the incision very much anymore...it's just not a big deal. A TOTAL difference between this time and last time, when the incision made me nearly crazy!
I didn't go to the funeral yesterday, though...hubby had to be there at 10:30, and it was an hour away. I knew that if I went I'd be on the go from 8 AM until bedtime, since we had church last night...and I didn't think I'd last that long. Hubby reassured me that it was fine for me to stay home...but I felt bad about it :( I did pick up Rachel at school yesterday (as long as I don't have to move my head, or I move it SLOWLY, I do OK driving, it seems) and go to church last night (aside from crashing into a door frame in the bathroom, I did great). Tonight we're going to a Bible study at my Mom's. This weekend we don't have a lot of plans...I think at some point we'll go conquer the grocery list....Turkeypalooza is next week, and I have some cooking to do (all the family has kindly given me light kitchen duty this year, though!!)
I assume you all know what I'll be thankful for this year?
Love y'all!! :)