Tuesday, November 20, 2007

"Incredible" doesn't even begin to cover it...

...today's hookup was far more wonderful than I ever dared to hope.
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!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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