Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year.....

...to all my readers! Stay safe and warm where you are...will see you next year! :) You're in my thoughts and prayers...much love to you all! :)

Sunday, December 30, 2007

HLAA Convention: Reno

Last day to register at the Early Bird rate!! Last year they extended it, but this convention is so big and will be so well-attended that I doubt they'll do it this year. Link to information is here:
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

The Misadventures of Thing 1 and Thing 2

OK, I promised a few weeks back that I'd let y'all in on how Thing 1 and Thing 2 are doing. And the shortest version of all is that they're not playing well together. If that's all you want to know, you have your information and you may be excused ;).
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 :)
Love y'all.....

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas to you...

I hope everyone's staying safe and warm and enjoying family and friends this holiday season. Know that you are in my thoughts and prayers and I love you all and am grateful for your friendships. You have added so much to my life...what a great gift!! Thank you!!
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

Still alive...


...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

Coming up for air!!

After a few days of going non-stop, I finally have about 15 minutes to write something before I head back to bed! It's been nuts here!! If you have e-mailed me in the past few days (and I've gotten quite a few e-mails), I apologize for my slowness in answering...I will be in touch in a day or so, hopefully...I do want to connect with all of you.
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!!
Love y'all...

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Oh, and....

...only 15 more days to preregister for the HLAA Reno convention! After Dec. 31st the price goes up...so if you're going, think about registering now! :) I can hardly wait! :)

Chipmunks!

...in hindsight, Alvin and the Chipmunks might not have been the best movie for my CI movie debut. However, when my sister-in-law called last night to invite us to go see the movie and go to dinner, I couldn't say no...we haven't taken the kids to the movies in a long time and it sounded like a really fun family night out. I was able to understand most of the human characters' voices really well but the chipmunks were out of the question! I tried every program I had and they all sounded pretty bad...and I seem to max out my volume in loud rooms...I had the sensitivity all the way on 4 about 15 minutes into the movie. I understood a chipmunk word here and there...that's it. There were enough sight gags in there and I understood enough that I really liked it, and will buy it when it comes out on video. It also had a good bit of music and the music sounded pretty good!
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

I'm amazed...

...at how well my new job is going, and how much the CI is helping. I was really afraid that I'd have more trouble than I have so far. I'm working as a photo lab technician at a major retail store and have spent a LOT of time interacting with total strangers. Before, it would often have been a cause for total panic...I loved talking to people, but it was so stressful...because I had to concentrate so hard to understand what was being said and was always afraid of missing something. Now I get most of it with no problem, and if I have to ask someone to repeat something, it's not a big deal, because I know I'll get it the next time around. If one of the girls calls me from behind I usually hear their voices and occasionally even hear what they're saying. It's loud in there...the machinery hums a lot and there are constant loudspeaker announcements and people talking and the phone ringing (that phone rings all day long...OY)...so I think I'm doing pretty well all things considering. I feel kinda bad because the phone rings constantly and I won't answer it. I can hear pretty well on my phone but when there's background noise I miss more. I might allow Susan to set one of my programs on the telecoil setting when I go back, so I can try it out...I would love to be able to answer that phone at work and do what everyone else does :). I tried calling one of the teenagers at church tonight (Will was with him and I needed to find out where they were). I used to avoid talking to this particular fella if I could help it because I couldn't hear him talking (mumbler)...but I have been hearing him better, and could hear him fine on the phone! Whoo-hoo!!
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

Shift Change:

I was supposed to work 1-10 PM for the next two weeks, but now I have to work 7-4 instead. This night owl is going to be one dead duck in a few days...whew! I see lots of naps ahead!!!
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 can't believe...

....that I haven't written anything since Thursday night! Believe me, though, I can explain!
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

WOW!

I went today for my second post-activation mapping. This one went a little better...I think because we did it a little sooner (after only six days this time, compared to ten the first time) and because I knew what to expect this time, it was just less stressful. I increased my volume a little more and put back in the high frequencies that I took out last week. Some people don't like hearing the "ch" and "sh" sounds, but right now I really like having them come in nice and clear...I haven't heard them in years and they really do add to my comprehension. Last week we turned those sounds down and I missed them this week...so they're back. The girls and I listened to music on the way home and it sounded really good...still a little distortion, but again, that's totally normal...it sometimes takes months for the distortion to go completely away. We didn't do any reprogramming on Thing 1 today...we'll do that when I go back again on Dec. 31st.
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

ARGH!!!

...Gonna see how fast I can type this since I have GOT to get to bed. It's been a loooooong day....I got up at 6:30 this morning, got all the kids where they needed to be, and got to work at 8. Today was a training day so I spent all morning watching videos, filling out paperwork, etc. and all afternoon doing some training on a computer. I have to go back tomorrow for more computer training, then I'm off Thursday for a mapping session. Then I finish the computer training on Friday.....and start work Monday! :) I was at work until 4:15 today....then RAN home, said hello to the kids, and then was back out the door again to be at a meeting in Nashville at 5:30 (and I was STILL late)! I got home from there around 9, and spent about an hour filling hubby in on the day, and am now catching up on e-mails/blogs. I SHOULD be sleeping....I'll have to get up and start all over again in about six hours!
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

Not a lot new to report....

....I've been taking care of a little sickie so I haven't been doing a lot of listening practice. I did have a CI moment last night in church when one of my close friends was making the announcements before the services and I just kind of turned my head and listened to him...I have been doing that to everyone, to just see how their voices come through. After church he motioned me over and said, "You almost made me tear up during the announcements, when I realized you were LISTENING to me instead of WATCHING me!!!" Awwwwww!! I have some great friends, and they've been really supportive and really excited with my progress!!
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

Addendum:

I don't know if all the readers of this blog know about my other blog (link over there in the sidebar-------> ). It's a family blog, and I talk a little more over there about my kids, etc. Posts here will be more along the lines of CI related/hearing loss related things, and posts there will be more along the lines of family things. I've been posting nearly identical posts on both blogs lately, though, since my life has revolved around all things CI lately. I didn't know if the "hearing folks" would be interested in my story or not, but they have been an incredible source of inspiration and support....wow!...so I have kept them updated. Every now and then, though, I have something to post that seems more relevant to this demographic (people interested in CIs/hearing loss). Here's a few items that I think seem to fit into that category today:
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....)

Taking a quiet break:

I have found that I can't post and listen to music...or anything...at the same time. As a matter of fact, I'm finding that concentration in general is something that's really, really hard for me lately. It's been quiet for so long that every little sound is distracting...and even when I turn the sound off, I've listened to so many new songs playing lately that are stuck in my head, and there is usually one going at any given time (I have my own personal iTunes up there, apparently)! If there is any kind of disturbance in my environment, such as the kids running in and out, it throws me completely off kilter...so, understandably, I'm usually totally confused (would someone please pass me the Adderall?). As the newness wears off, as I get used to it all, and as comprehension gets better, I think (hope) that will get better and I'll be able to concentrate better. Blogging has been particularly hard because there are a lot of things I want to share, but writing requires compartmentalizing thoughts and putting them down in logical order, and with a parade marching through my head, it ain't happening! So right now it's all quiet (save for a ghost song playing in my head) and it's MOSTLY still here (Rachel is on the bed, but I have forbidden her to move, or talk, or breathe, even)...so we'll see if I can post :)
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!! :)