Thursday, February 21, 2008

Long time no post, eh?

...I know, I know...I'm a slacker, aren't I? If it makes you feel any better, I've neglected my family blog just as much, and I have a lot more readers on that one...think they're all about to give up on me! It's just a combination of being tired (worked 40 hours both last week and the week before...I know that some of you do that every week, but you gotta remember that this is still kinda new to me!), being short on time, and being uninspired to write anything.
This week has been a nice one work-wise...I worked Monday and Tuesday, and I'm off until Saturday. I was scheduled to work today (Thursday) but my dear friend Gwen Pace died last Wednesday and her memorial service is this afternoon in Nashville, so I'm going to that. Gwen was one of the founding members of the Nashville HLAA chapter and she was a very dedicated worker and encourager. The first time I ever met anyone with a CI was in Nashville at a CI Club meeting, and Gwen was one of the first people I met that day. She had a Med-El implant that she proudly took off to show me and was very encouraging in my desire to learn more about getting a CI of my own. She was so excited about any and all progress that I made with my first CI, and she showed up for my surgery when I had my second CI done and sat with my family in the waiting room. I talked to her just after I was activated and told her that I was hearing EVERYTHING...even talking on the phone...and she was so excited for me, you'd think that it was her own personal success. I'm going miss that sweet lady!!
I spent today listening to music on YouTube and working on captioning another video (a pain in the heinie, that). I am frustrated with my activation videos...I can understand my audie pretty well, but I CANNOT UNDERSTAND MYSELF! Pretty awful when you can't understand what you're saying, is it? I'm going to keep at them, though, and I think eventually I'll be able to figure most of it out...but it's definitely taking longer than I thought it would. I've been going through my YouTube playlist listening to some old (and new) favorites, trying to see what everything sounds like so I can talk to Susan next week about what I need to change. Before the electrode issues at the end of the year, I was able to hear Sarah Brightman hitting the high notes, and I can't now, so I definitely need to up my high frequencies a bit...other than that, everything sounds awesome! Anyone have any recommendations on anything I should be trying out?
I'm also a huge American Idol fan this season...my favorite so far is David Cook (cutie pie punk rocker who happens to be a great singer with awesome stage presence!) although Michael Johns is a close second. I love that I can hear the music well enough to enjoy this show...three months ago yesterday, on activation day, I had no idea that it would be this awesome.
My speech comprehension seems to be picking up big-time the past few days. I think that several weeks of working in noisy situations has helped my brain to sort out voices from background noise fairly well. I definitely still have to read lips more in noise, but in quiet, comprehension is near 100%...consistently...as long as I am listening to a fairly good speaker (once again, my struggles with my activation video makes me wonder if I don't need to take speech classes or something...ugh!). I was at Sonic Monday and heard a siren and looked for it...and it was way, way down the road, coming my way. Before this surgery, I couldn't hear sirens at all. I hear the dogs barking outside and my kids talking to me in the car (in the DARK!!). I'm amazed and amused every single time I listen to someone talk without lipreading and get everything they say...the wonder of it all is still just overwhelming.
The comprehension part still throws me for a loop because I never, ever had that. I did talk on the phone a little bit before, but only with family members, and even then I still probably only got about half of what they were saying (if they weren't family, it was disaster, pure and simple). In April of 2006, before I ever got my first CI, I went for an audiogram to see if I should even bother with the CI candidacy, and I scored a whopping 8% in comprehension (that audiogram here). The words were spoken at the 105 decibel level...and no lipreading was allowed...and I got 8%. Pitiful, eh? I scored higher at the actual CI evaluations...49%...because the lipreading portion of the testing really boosted that score (I scored 100% on lipreading sentences)....but as far as the actual hearing went...I didn't comprehend much.
Now...I think I'll score close to 100% on those sentences next week, seriously...and my phone comprehension is, seriously, close to 90%, I guess. My hubby called tonight while we were in the Mexican restaurant, and I panicked. I had told him before NOT TO CALL ME THERE because it's just LOUD in there, and the T-coil doesn't work with the BlackBerry, but he was calling, so I thought I'd take a shot at answering. And amazingly, I heard every word (admittedly, I kept the conversation brief, but still....). I can hear my kids talk in the car, in the dark, as I said before, and can just sit and LISTEN at church...and not have to strain to read lips. It hasn't grown old yet...I'm still so in awe that I can do this...because it's all so new and amazing. If I never hear well with both ears together, I am amazed at what the second one has done for me. It's a blessing from God and a marvel of technology from Advanced Bionics!
Keep these folks in your thoughts...my friend Sheila, who had CI surgery on Tuesday (she's now bilateral...GO Sheila!) and an online buddy Zubair, who had his CI surgery on Feb. 11th. I'm excited for them both...and can't wait for them to get healed up and hearing!!!! (Ronald...you out there? What's up with you?)
OK...off to bed...long weekend ahead, and I have totally rambled long enough to make up for any lack of posting in the past few days ;)! Have an awesome weekend, everyone.... (((hugs)))

Friday, February 15, 2008

Short and sweet....

Since I just got out of Flower Torture (I worked 12 hours today...OY!) and am absolutely exhausted, this is gonna be brief...but had to share some good news!
First off...if you know Abbie over at Chronicles of a Bionic Woman, today is her BIRTHDAY!!! She is one of my very favorite people in the whole world and I wish I could be there to celebrate it with her...go to her site (here!) and wish her a happy birthday....please!!! Happy Birthday, sweet friend!!!!
Secondly, my good friend Sam is having his second CI activated today!!!I am SO excited and even a bit nervous for him...I SO want this CI to be everything he's dreamed of!! He, like me, had a little trouble with his first one (although his circumstances are slightly different) , and I want this one to be INCREDIBLE for him!!
Please, if you have time, go forth and visit them both (tell them I sent you!!)! Share the love, folks!
I am headed to BED! I don't want to see another flower, living or dead, for at least a week. I am SO thankful that effective tomorrow, I will be a cashier instead of the girl in charge of the floral department! Both of my hands are scratched from the roses, one fingernail is ripped off about halfway down from the stupid balloon contraption thing we were using (it's VERY sore...I am not typing with it right now) and I think I pulled something throwing the deceased flowers out (the compactor door is chest-high on me, and we're supposed to pick up huge, heavy garbage cans and empty them into the aforementioned door. One time I had help....the other two times I didn't!) I will LOVE being a cashier after this...I will get to stay CLEAN and relatively unharmed on the job!! Woohoo!! ;)
OK...off to bed now! I'll try to post more in the next day or so...I do have a lot to say, but it's just been so nuts here!
Love y'all.... :)

Monday, February 11, 2008

Quick update!!!

I'm going to make this way fast...it's bedtime! Just wanted to come on here and let those of you that actually count how many days go between posts (big wink...you know who you are! ;)) know that I'm still alive and kicking over here! It has been hectic...I have been on the go almost constantly since last Friday morning. I have been writing about all the activities over on the family blog if you want to check it out there...I don't have time to recap it here!! :)
I do want to post that I got to meet up with my buddy Laurie on Saturday morning. Laurie was one of the first people I ever met with a CI and she has been one of my biggest supporters from the very beginning. She roomed with me at the the HLAA convention in Oklahoma City last June and we had a terrific time. We don't get to get together as often as we like...but when we do, it's always quality time!! We got to spend time with a potential CI candidate Saturday morning...it was awesome meeting Susan and her hubby Houston and getting to know them better...they are such great people!! I will hopefully get to see Susan next month at the Nashville HLAA meeting...but won't get to see Laurie again until May, more than likely.
(click to see picture in larger size)

Jen, Laurie, and Susan (more pictures in the Picasa Web Albums ------> )

The HLAA meeting was Saturday...and it was great seeing everyone again...a month is entirely too long for me to go without seeing that crowd!! We got some great news this month...the 2009 HLAA convention will be in NASHVILLE!!!! I am SO excited....that means I get to help with it!! I have already told my hubby that even if it IS practically in our backyard I am still getting a hotel room and staying on site so that I can enjoy it with everyone else! That news just made my whole month! I did tell hubby that the only thing I don't like is that I like traveling out of state for my conventions....getting to see NEW places...Nashville is home, so it won't be anything new and interesting, but it will still be awesome! We left there and went to a Valentine's party, which was hard...it was a candlelight dinner party in the dark in a huge crowd of loud, rowdy adults. My comprehension is pretty good, but it was no match for loud and dark :(. What a contrast between the comfort of my captioned hearing loss meeting and that party! I went from feeling at home to feeling out of place and uncomfortable...ugh! I hate that feeling!!
Sunday we celebrated my Grandma's 90th birthday. The party was huge...probably around 150 people...and it was great seeing relatives I hadn't seen in months (some of them in years) and telling all about my CI. They were all totally fascinated by it and loved testing it out to see if I could really hear them (I could). It was a bit too loud in there and I had to struggle a little, but it was still much, much easier than it's been in years....and I am so grateful!!
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I had an incident this morning involving my lost keyring (not only that, but an expensive CI battery that I keep on it!!) (the entire story is on the other blog) that kept me on the phone for the better part of an hour with many different people....and, unbelievably...I understood nearly every word. My phone comprehension seems to keep getting better and better. I think it's officially time for me to put my phone hangups on the back burner and start trying to talk to people more. The only way I'm going to gain confidence is to practice. Anyone want me to call 'em??
I have more to write, but I'm going to bed...I work EVERY DAY this week, including Saturday, and if I don't keep up with my sleep I'm not going to survive the week!! I'll try to write more in the next day or so...when I have more time and energy!! :)
Love y'all....

Monday, February 4, 2008

Because I am TOTALLY a sheep....

...and have to follow what everyone else is doing, especially when it's that adorable Abbie, I took a stab at captioning my activation video. There are four of them, and this is the second one...the one where I got to hear voices for the first time. I have it about 99% finished...there are just a few spots that need a little work, still, but I'm too tired to finish it tonight. I wanted to e-mail it to a couple of folks quietly before I posted it here but couldn't figure out how to do it, so here it is :)
It starts out with me listening to the beeps...we're setting them at comfortable levels before turning it on.



There are a few spots where I can't tell what either the audie or I am saying...usually because I'm far too impatient to let her finish her thought and butt in with thoughts of my own, and we're both talking at the same time. Occasionally I just can't hear what we're saying, so I'll listen to it again tomorrow with a fresh brain and try again :)
Hopefully, I can get the rest of them up and running in a few days. One is nearly finished, so really, just two more to go :) There's a link to my YouTube videos over in the sidebar if you want to see the rest of them (uncaptioned, ya know).
I got a neat surprise in the mail from a friend the other day...he sings in a male quartet and sent me three of their CDs. I listened to them yesterday (and today) and was amazed at how easily the words come to me...and these are songs I've never heard before. There are no instruments...this is just vocals...and I'm able to pick up nearly every single word. I'm in awe :)! Women's voices need to be tuned up again...I'll be good and ready for that next map when the time comes! :)
OK, I am SO going to bed...I have to get up at *ugh* SIX AM to get ready for work in the morning (I know some of you have to get up far earlier, but indulge me and feel sorry for me, OK?) Night, y'all.....

Sunday, February 3, 2008

More butterflies!

Cindy just posted a few more butterflies for me on her blog...I know that some of you love them too so I am sharing them! :)