Saturday, April 28, 2007

Wow!

It seems like the Paula Deen fans have all been to visit and gone again...but it was fun seeing them all...I've had 262 visitors since yesterday morning, and 118 of them were Googlers looking for the name of Paula's husband's dog (which, by the way, I still don't know, and now I'm curious, ha!) I think the contest answers are due in the morning, so the traffic will stop soon, but it's been fun!
It's been a BUSY couple of days! I really should have posted something last night, but I didn't want to spoil the Paula party ;) I went to the audiologist yesterday for a tune-up. I had maxed out the volume on my processor (for the first time EVER!) and needed to have everything turned up. I left with a program that was MUCH too loud and sounded horrible last night at church, but it I am already adjusting to it.
I am in awe: I made no progress with this implant at all for three months when I was first hooked up. I stupidly quit wearing my processor after three months....I was seriously bummed after my three-month testing showed horrible results. I just gave up. I figured that I didn't have much time left with my "good" ear and wanted to enjoy it while I had it. I told my husband that I gave that ear about a year, two years tops. I think he thought I was being pessimistic but after 30 years, when things started going I knew they wouldn't stop until they hit bottom (they didn't have far to go!) Sure enough, they've gone, so I committed myself to wearing the processor...and amazingly, with the "competition" out of the way from that "good" ear gone bad, my implanted ear has just gone wild. People, yesterday at my testing, I scored a SIXTEEN PERCENT on my listening comprehension!! Take note: This testing was done in a soundproof room, with a man speaking crisply on a recording, and I guessed at most of the words. The only sentence I was relatively sure of was, "The football hit the goalpost". In normal listening situations (at my house, "normal" means the TV is on and four girls are talking at once) my comprehension is zero (unless someone says "Mama". I hear that word so many times a day that I hear it even when they're not saying it). And this was a man talking...again, I do much better with men's voices. But still....16% is INCREDIBLE....after I scored a zero percent and my audiogram showed NO gains at three months. It's like my brain just TURNED ON after I gave up that other ear!! I'm in awe...God is GOOD!!!
And listen here: I was due to get a processor upgrade this summer. I wasn't supposed to get it until later, due to my surgery date being so late last year, but my audiologist talked to the good folks at Advanced Bionics and, due to some things we have going on here, they are going ahead and giving me the new processor NOW, if nothing changes! They are supposed to be shipping it in the next few days, and it will be there when I go for my next mapping in three weeks!! The Harmony is getting rave reviews: it's supposed to make all the sounds much clearer, and a lot of wearers report being able to hear female voices and music better. Since the vast majority of my family is female, that will definitely be a plus!! I am just amazed at how blessed I am :)
Singing school has been OK this week...there are a lot of things I can't hear, but I know a lot of the songs we're working on, and even if I can't hear 'em well, I'm playing them in my head. Last night was kind of chaotic, because both our regular preacher and the visiting songleader got the nasty stomach virus that's going around and couldn't leave the house!! My brother-in-law Doug ended up teaching the men's songleading class, then several of the men in our congregation took turns leading songs during the regular worship service. They made it work! :)
Today was a good, busy one...I had a lunch date, then came home and did some cleaning...shampooed the carpets (ick)...made dinner (chili dogs...lazy tonight ;) )...oversaw kiddos getting ready for church. The preacher and songleader were recovered enough to be there tonight, although I didn't shake either of their hands ;). Came home and had a cup of coffee and watched TV for a little while. Hubby found me "The Fugitive" around 11:00...it was about halfway through, but it was still great. It's one of the all time great movies....Harrison Ford AND Tommy Lee Jones...it doesn't get much better than that!!!!!
Tomorrow I won't get a lot done...my sweetie nephew Jaydyn is spending the day here with us so I will be enjoying that little doll!! I don't get to keep him nearly often enough, so I am really looking forward to it. All the kids are excited, too...he's going to be pampered to death!!
Laurie asked me about Sitemeter. I have had it since July of last year and love it. The free edition will tell you where your visitors are from (well, where their ISPs are located, not their actual location); it will show you "referrals" (what site they followed to get to your page...if it's Google, it will tell you what they were looking for) and in some cases, if they clicked on something on your page, it will tell you what. Their paid edition will give you entire IP addresses, but those aren't always very useful...depends on what you're using the meter for :) I just like to know how many hits I get a day, how many of them are repeats, and approximately where they're from...just for my own entertainment :) I have tried other counters, but I like Sitemeter best! :)
I'm gonna get to bed...it's 1 AM and Jaydyn comes at 7:15! See y'all later....have a great weekend, everyone! :) <3

Monday, April 23, 2007

Hey :)

*snip*
Today we started a week of "Singing school" at church. We have Bro. Tim Stevens with us for the week and he got us all off to a good start this morning :) He will be working with the men of our congregation on song leading every night for an hour, then the rest of the congregation will sing for an hour after that, every night through Friday. We've done this before and it's always very uplifting and a lot of fun. This year's will be a little different, since I can't hear the music very well *argh* but it's about the worship, not necessarily all about the music, so I'll go and worship, and make melody in my heart, even if what comes in my ears or goes out my mouth isn't too impressive ;)! Several people have asked me today what exactly DO I hear, and that's hard to explain....I hear a lot of environmental noises, and I hear men's voices pretty well. I actually recognize one or two men's voices just by listening (familiar ones) but I am not making out words really well yet (although I did pick up a couple of words my son said from behind me in the car Friday on our way to eat...I was flabbergasted!). Women's voices are a whole other matter. I don't hear them well at all...they are too soft and too high. I was holding Jaydyn tonight at dinner and he threw a screaming fit on me, and I couldn't hear him (although I knew he was plenty mad...the balled-up fists and the red face and the wide open mouth were good clues!!!). Some sounds just don't come through. With constant re-programmings, though, it'll all come sooner or later :) ANYHOW, we have singing school this week...today, after morning services, we had a potluck, and it was plenty of fun and MORE awesome food...I'm going to have to watch what I eat this week...I definitely overdid it over the weekend...but it was all yummy!!
The next few weeks look like they're going to be busy ones...I am trying to go through all our stuff in time to have a big yard sale before the kids get out of school (first weekend in June). We have a ton of stuff to go through, so it's not a fun job! We are also doing a little more traveling...yay!...we are talking about going to see my sister-in-law graduate from the University of Georgia's pharmacy school on May 5th...then maybe taking a weekend trip to San Antonio Memorial Day weekend (just hubby and me...we love that area!)...then I have the trip to Oklahoma City for the HLAA Convention the last weekend in June...then we're talking about going to Michigan to see some of hubby's family the first week in July! I love to travel so this is right up my alley...plenty to do in the next few weeks! I also have two doctor's appointments in the next week...hopefully, I'll find out something this week about what insurance is thinking about my second cochlear implant. Said all that to say that when I get time to get on here and write something, I should have plenty to talk about! ;)

Friday, April 20, 2007

Not much news....

*snip*
Good news on the hearing front: While I don't feel that I'm hearing better or more clearly, something new happened tonight....I realized that I had the volume cranked all the way up, and it wasn't too loud...in fact, it was just about not loud enough. I have never had that happen before. Other implant users talk about having to be reprogrammed over and over because they max out their volume quickly, but this is a new experience for me. That's a good sign: my brain is adjusting to the volume. I have an appointment in a week for another mapping session....we'll crank it up a little then and see how that goes :) I still get the massive shock feeling whenever I put the processor on. It lasts for about five minutes then it calms down a bit. I dread putting it on every morning but it's amazing what you can do when that's your only option!!
I've had some entertaining "head music" this week. I know I told you about the tinnitus I was experiencing...it's much calmer now, but I had what I called "Dueling Ears" for the first few days. Whenever I would put the processor on the left ear, the right ear, which was formerly the dominant one, would almost immediately start shrieking out some sort of nonsense at a tiringly high volume. I honestly had moments when I would hear a noise and not know which ear it was coming from. The brain, in an effort to keep things "normal", will try its best to compensate whenever there is a loss. In my case, when I lost the hearing in the "good" ear three weeks ago, the tinnitus started trying to fill in the gaps so it would seem like I was "hearing" something. When I gave up the hearing aid altogether and started wearing the processor full-time, my poor brain just went haywire trying to restore things to order! After a week of "left-eared-ness" my right ear is slowly starting to calm down. I still have the tinnitus, but the volume is a little lower and a little less disturbing. It doesn't wake me up at night anymore (it actually did that one night last week...several times during the night....I was SO annoyed!!). Gradually, I feel like I am making the transition...and it's getting better...I am feeling calmer about it all :) I'm not, as I say, really hearing better yet, but I'm getting the hang of things, which is great in my book :) I am feeling really good...enjoying the weather, which has been much nicer, and getting a lot done. It has been a good week :)

Sunday, April 15, 2007

*snip*
I'm doing OK with the implant...I still have the overwhelming urge to put my hearing aid on in the mornings when I wake up.....thirty years of habit :) It took me losing the rest of the hearing in my "good" ear to realize how much I actually pick up with this implant...before that, I think I was comparing it to what hearing I had, and it came nowhere near measuring up. I can hear water running, ice shifting in my glass of Diet Coke, pages turning, kids on the stairs. I don't hear female voices well (it's a frequency thing) and things really don't sound anywhere near what I think they should sound like, but I have realized that I really am picking up a lot of sounds with it, and it has given me a lot of encouragement to keep trying!! My ultimate goal is to be able to understand some words without lipreading. I think I'll be able to do that, if I can ever tolerate any more volume than I do now (not much at all). I have about decided that anything beyond that will just be a bonus. I'm still not used to being "left-eared". That has been the biggest change of all...I've always held things up to the right ear, or turned the right ear to the kids, etc....and it doesn't work anymore...and it's taking me forever to figure that out! Music still sounds horrible...so for now I am not going to knock myself out too much trying to "learn" it. I have to be able to interact with people...that's the first priority...music will come later, if at all.

Friday, April 13, 2007

I guess the fat lady has sung...

after my hearing test yesterday, I just left my hearing aid at Vanderbilt with the audiologist. She's not throwing it out....if you or anyone you know needs one, just holler....but I get very little benefit from it anymore so she is holding it for me so I will wear my implant processor more. I have been VERY bad about not wearing it the past few months. It just sounded so terrible and felt so uncomfortable that I just didn't want to put it on!! I put it on yesterday for the testing, and was surprised to find that my hearing had deteriorated so much that I could actually hear as well with the implant as I could with the hearing aid!! All this time, I thought I wasn't hearing anything. I guess a little perspective always helps :)
I didn't get a copy of the audiogram, but I have lost at least another 10 decibels in every frequency, and there are a few frequencies that I have lost entirely...the machine couldn't produce sounds loud enough for me to hear. I scored a 9 percent on the speech comprehension part of the test...and the reason I did that well was because of my high score in lip reading. So it's official, and the paperwork backs me up....I'm deaf as a post :) I was encouraged by the fact that I actually saw the benefit of the cochlear implant for the first time yesterday. Now I have a reason to really work with it, frustration and discomfort and all...because it does work, even if I hate it. And the audiologist seems to think that my paperwork should be enough to convince BlueCross that I need another implant. She said that she should have everything submitted to them in a few days, so I will start haunting the BlueCross webpage about the middle of next week ;). She said that we might have to appeal it at least once, since the official stance is that they only do bilateral implants in children under 12 (and I passed that puppy long ago) but she thinks it will eventually be approved. Fire up the prayers! If you want to know what to ask for...pray that insurance will pay for it, and in a timely manner. I don't want to drag this whole mess out over a year like I did last year! :)
Yesterday was so crummy that I just sat in bed last night and vegged out. The traffic was horrendous all the way to Vanderbilt. It usually takes me about an hour and 15 minutes to get where I need to go, but due to balky children, horrendous traffic, torrential rainstorms, and construction work in Vanderbilt's parking garage, I was FORTY FIVE MINUTES LATE for my appointment (and I had given myself an hour and a half to get there!!) I was amazed they'd still see me after that!! The testing itself wasn't bad (it's always kind of fun, and they didn't tell me anything I didn't already know...no shockers there!). And dinner (Mexican) was delicious, but it made me sick to my stomach last night for some reason. One of those days where I shoulda stayed in bed ;)!
Think I'm just gonna muck around the house today and try to get some little things done. We have the teenager's Bible study this Saturday night and I have some housework to do! :) Love to all.... :) <3

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Quick Update:

I am a little calmer over the whole password-stealing thing (after all, they didn't get my password, and I've changed it, and that blog is locked up tighter than Fort Knox now). And now to update you briefly about tomorrow's plans:
I have an appointment at Vanderbilt tomorrow. I e-mailed my audiologist Monday morning and she obligingly worked me right in. The purpose of this appointment is to do another comprehension test and another audiogram. The audiogram will basically tell what I can hear...the comprehension test will tell what percentage of speech I can understand, either by hearing or lipreading. My audiogram in April of last year is here. I expect the little Xs and Os to be all the way at the bottom of the line or below this time :) I scored a 49% on my comprehension testing last June...it will be interesting to see what it is this time. I think I'll do fine with the lip reading, but I can't hear any words at all anymore...just a few muffled sounds. It's been two and a half weeks now, and it's stayed the same. It got faintly better Wednesday of last week and was a little clearer for a couple of days, but is gone again. The next step is to submit this information to BlueCross and hit them up for another $75,000 for another implant, and hope that they cooperate...quickly. I told Dicky I am considering leaving my hearing aid with my audiologist to force me to wear the implant I have (or, if you need one, or you know someone that does, I would be happy to donate it...it's kinda old, though, so it might not last long :) ). Only problem is that I hate the buzzing sensation so much that I'm afraid I might rather just be deaf than wear it. I wish that I (or anyone else around here) knew any sign language. Oh, well...lipreading still works pretty well :)
I've been left with some pain-in-the-heinie tinnitus. It's actually been kinda sorta entertaining: One night, it sounded like a train...one night, it sounded like a calypso steel drum band (that was a fun night!! It even had a good beat to it!!)...yesterday, it sounded like birds chirping. Last night, I had the sound off on the TV so hubby could sleep, and I thought I heard the girls screaming (terrified screams), so I woke him up to see if they were, in fact, screaming (instead of bravely going to investigate, of course...that's the man's job), because I didn't think I should be able to hear them. He told me that he didn't hear a thing, so, apparently, last night, the tinnitus sounded like screaming (that was kind of unnerving). Tonight it's been boring and just sounds like roaring machinery. Blah.
I was afraid that the loss of music would really depress me, but it's been OK so far. I think that in the months leading up to this, I had enough false alarms that I just gave up on music. I haven't played a CD or listened to anything on my laptop or in the car in months. The only music I ever listened to was in church, and I'm holding up OK there...I'm just afraid to sing (it might be even scarier than before) and hate to just sit there. I we're supposed to sing and make melody in our hearts, and I'm glad that the Lord loves the heart music the best, because what comes out my mouth ain't up to par!! Church is stressful, though, because I can only sit there, and I have very little idea what's being said. Thankfully, the preacher uses a lot of Powerpoint, so I usually try to edify myself by just writing down everything he says. On the whole, though, the mostly silent life isn't horrible, honestly. It's just taking some getting used to, and it does make being in a crowd of friends a little lonelier...I miss a lot of the conversation then...thankfully, the people that are the closest to me make sure I know what's going on....love 'em for it :)
Please pray for me, and also for one of my best friends, Tammy. While I was writing this post (I can't do just one thing at a time, ever) I read that her grandma died suddenly tonight :( . Her grandma was the shining star in Tammy's life, and she is devastated. She lives in North Carolina, so she's too far away for me to hug, but I can pray, and I hope you'll say a prayer for her, too. I feel so sad for her :(
I love you all... <3