Thursday, March 27, 2008

Hilarious!

Stolen from Imagine: (click to bigify)

It's actually one of my pet peeves, but I tolerate it because I know people don't mean anything by it. I couldn't tell you how many times I've been asked "why are you "death"?" or told "I didn't know you were "death"!" I'm nearly always briefly tempted to tell them that there's an "F" on the end of the word...it's D-E-A-F...but I'm just grateful that they're interested, so I usually let it go.
This cartoon struck me VERY funny, though...so I had to share it....just a little deaf humor to make you smile :)
Love y'all! :)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

One Year

One year ago today, at this time (10:30 PM or so), I was at the wheel of the van, headed towards San Diego, California, with my children and in-laws in tow. It was a remarkable trip for a lot of reasons...it was largely unplanned, very quickly thrown together, and the passenger list was actually decided upon just that day. It was a fun idea that snowballed rapidly and turned in to an incredible trip. One thing that none of us counted on when we planned this trip, though, was that I would be completely deaf for the entire thing.
That morning my brother-in-law preached to fill in for our preacher, who was out of town that day. While he was preaching, I heard a sharp "pop"...it actually startled me quite a bit...then the tinnitus roared to life, and Doug's voice got softer and softer. Within minutes, I was only hearing the loudest of sounds with my hearing aid.
I didn't even pause from packing from the trip. The whole hearing mess had started one year earlier on March 30th, 2006, when I suddenly lost about 5 decibels in my one good ear smack in the middle of a conversation. It never came back....but over the next few months it fluctuated a good bit, getting worse, then bouncing back. Several times I thought "this is it!" but it always came back, leaving me feeling a bit like the boy who cried wolf, so I finally learned to ignore it.
This time, I suspected that things were different....I'd never heard that pop before...and it sounded awfully final...but for all I knew, it would come back. And I figured that if I was going to go deaf, I could do it just as well in California...and have a lot more fun doing it there.
Two weeks on the road was quite long enough for me to know that it wasn't coming back. I ditched the hearing aid about halfway through the trip...the sounds I was hearing were too muffled and annoying to be any use. I had brought my first CI, the infamous Thing 1, along on the trip, but wasn't in the mood to deal with it, so I just enjoyed the trip in silence. The Grand Canyon wasn't any less grand because I couldn't hear, and the Whataburgers were just as tasty, and if the kids fought all the way there and all the way back, it didn't bother me a bit. I was on a road trip, people, and life was good...I'd deal with it when I came back.
Between March 25th and November 20th, my world was largely silent. I did make a bigger effort to wear my first CI and actually had some measure of success with it, but the sounds I heard and felt with it were so uncomfortable and disconcerting that after a few months I largely abandoned it, wearing it only when I felt it was absolutely crucial. I learned that if I went to Wal-Mart or to church or out to dinner without being able to hear, the world didn't come to an end. It was kind of a clumsy existence...people had to repeat themselves a lot, and often conversations were just cut short because I got tired of trying to keep up, but I learned something...that the quiet life was OK. When I wore my hearing aid, I wore it nearly 24 hours a day...I think that I was actually somewhat afraid of missing anything. When I didn't have a choice anymore, I discovered that the world kept on going whether I could hear it or not.
It was a lonely summer. I didn't invite a lot of face-to-face communications with anyone...it was easier to avoid them than to struggle through them. I did go to the Hearing Loss convention in Oklahoma City and that was a great thing for me...meeting other people who understood how I was feeling was so validating for me...they made me feel so perfectly normal instead of like the deaf outsider that I had allowed myself to become.
In November, blessed with a brand new cochlear implant and a massive support system comprised of real life friends and family, an army of bloggers, and deaf, hard of hearing, and CI buddies all over the world, I joined the ranks of the hearing once again. I was one of the lucky ones who had great hearing straight out of the box...and it has changed my life. I learned so much about who I was and what I wanted and who I wanted to be during those quiet months...they gave me lots of opportunities for contemplation...and with my new ear, I was ready to take on the world. I still have days where I feel a bit whiny and grouchy...hey, when it's 70 degrees one day and snowing three days later, and it seems like winter's never going to end, and I'm working more hours than I can keep up with, every now and then I like to indulge in a brief pity party. However, for the most part I look for and find joy all around me...and I'm so grateful to be where I am today.
One year has made such a huge difference. I'm not sure I would have chosen it to be the way it was, but I wouldn't trade it for all the gold in China...it's been a huge blessing to me in so many ways. It's amazing how much things can change in a year, isn't it?

Thanks again to all my supporters...the money total keeps growing and growing and growing!! I am well over 800.00 now and the donations keep coming in. You have no idea how grateful I am!!! You are making such a huge difference...and you are being a HUGE encouragement to me as well! I have the AWESOMEST cheerleaders!! THANK YOU!
Let me ask for prayers here for Daddy...he apparently brought malaria home with him from Nigeria. He started feeling really bad yesterday and they started him on the medication for it right away. I do expect that he'll recover quickly, but I know he would appreciate the prayers very much!!
The meltdown at work produced results...Monday I had the privilege of personally overseeing them change my available hours on the computer...to no more than 25 hours a week...and the manager and I went over the schedule with a red felt-tip pen and he lightened up my workload for the next couple of weeks as well. I feel like I can BREATHE again...it's SO nice!! I am off for the next two days. Tomorrow I'm going to catch up on house and computer work, and Thursday the girls and I are indulging in a little retail therapy (they're all out on Spring Break this week)! Hooray! :)
My computer crashed earlier today, so I've been re-installing all night...still have some work to do, so I'm going to head out and get busy. Love y'all....... :)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

After just 24 hours.....

...I've raised $445.00....just 55.00 away from my goal! I have gotten several e-mails and talked to several more people today that are promising to help me out as well...and I'm tickled pink....you people are wonderful!!! I've even had a couple of donations from people I don't even know...which, to me, is amazing...that people reach out and give so willingly to help. THANK YOU!!!!
I appreciate your donations so much...and can't wait to see what the next few days and weeks will bring! :)
Will post more tomorrow...it's been a long day and I'm going to bed...have to be at work at 9 AM! Love y'all! :) (((hugs)))

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Taking a trip!!

I'm taking a trip (hooray!)! Here are a few details...and a request for help.
In mid-April, I'll be going to Tampa, Florida (with a side trip to Tallahassee to see one of my favorite bloggers and hopefully I'll also get to see Susan while I'm there!!) . In Tampa, I'll be participating in the Walk4Hearing, a fund-raiser to support the Hearing Loss Association of America.
If you've known me any time at all, you know my story pretty well. I considered myself "hard-of-hearing" for years, despite being profoundly deaf in both ears (completely deaf in one). I tried to pretty much pretend that I was just as normal as the next hearing person...a misguided sense of shame and embarrassment about being different and perhaps somehow not as good as everyone else kept me from accepting the deafness for what it was.
In March of 2006 I started losing the hearing in my good ear...and quickly started scrambling to get my last line of defense in place...my cochlear implant. I had my "bad ear" done in November of 2006, with only moderate success, due to such a long period of deafness. In March of 2007, I was sitting in church one Sunday morning and heard a pop...and suddenly, I was officially, totally, completely deaf. Forget "hard-of-hearing"...to quote my buddy David, this girl was as deaf as a wheel of cheese.
I've been prone to depression for several years now, and that was just about the last straw for me. Around that time I got an e-mail from the Hearing Loss Association touting their convention in Oklahoma City and decided that maybe taking a trip somewhere would do me good, so I asked Laurie to go with me. That convention was literally life-changing...I came home much more confident, more sure of myself, and not only more comfortable with being deaf, but literally, perhaps, blessed by it. I still had terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days when I felt left out of conversations and lonely and stressed...par for the course, of course...but my attitude about myself had changed. I got much more involved with other deaf/hard-of-hearing/CI users, both online and in my area, and have found that helping other people deal with with their hearing loss is something that I love doing more than anything. After getting my second implant in November, and having just amazing results with that one, it energized me even more! :) I love posting on the Advanced Bionics forums and getting to know the prospective CI users and sharing stories with the new implantees and the ones that are still hearing new sounds years later. I don't feel sorry for myself or embarrassed about being deaf anymore...I think that it was something given to me so that I could use it to help other people. That's something I've always wanted to do in some way...and in the past year, I've been able to do that more, I think, than ever before, in any other way. People ask me at work nearly every day about the thing I'm wearing on my ear...it's slightly bigger than a hearing aid, much prettier, and if you look closely, you can see the coil in my hair (you'll be able to see it even better now that I've chopped my hair off!)...and I love telling them about it...most people don't know anything about this technology and they are excited and interested in learning more about it. I've not only come to grips with being deaf, but have finally embraced it...it's part of who I am, and while it has its downsides, I'm not even sure I'd trade it anymore...I've learned to be quite comfortable and happy with who I am.
The Hearing Loss Association brings the deaf and hard of hearing together and helps them to help each other...and themselves. It educates and advocates and inspires. It helps to fight our insurance, telephone, and closed captioning battles....just to name a few. It's a hard-working organization...and I want to get involved! The walk will raise money for the national organization as well as for the Florida group. I chose that one because of its location and because I actually know a few people in that area!! I am hoping that in the next few years Nashville will be able to take on a project like this...but since it's not going to happen this year, I am going to take a little trip for this one :).
I have set a personal goal of raising $500.00. I think that will be fairly easy to do...and I hope to pass that goal as much as possible. I haven't ever asked for money from friends and family before, and I hate doing it, but I know that some of you will help, so here's my request. Go to my personal page here (you can also reach it by clicking on the link in my sidebar) and check out my donation request. I'm tickled pink because I've already gotten my first donation (Thanks, Karyn!!!) and hope to reach my goal in just a matter of days. Would you consider helping out? EVERY LITTLE BIT HELPS!!!!
I think that the web form only accepts credit cards...but if I know you well enough, I'll consider sending you my address for you to donate in other ways if you prefer. And if you're bashful about your gift, the form will allow you to donate anonymously...I think. It would mean a lot to me...and it will make a difference!!
Will be back to the regularly scheduled posting soon! :)
Love y'all.....

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Audiogram from 2/29/08

This finally came in today's mail....hooray! :) (click on it to make it bigger and much more readable!)
I looked it over and initially thought that it was better than my previous (Dec. '07) audiogram, but fact is, it's nearly identical. I've gained 5 dB in the 3000 hz range...but other than that...identical :). I hear in almost every frequency in the 30 dB range, until we get to the higher frequencies, where it drops down to 35 and 45 dB. There is still time for it to change, but I don't anticipate getting those higher frequencies up too much higher. My curiosity is piqued now, though, and I am wondering what my old audiograms look like...the ones before I was even considering a CI. Think I'll call the local audie and ask her if she has them...I'm having fun comparing results!!
Testing results are all at the bottom of the page :)!



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Saturday, March 1, 2008

Mapping, Testing, and Movies

I went for my 3 month CI mapping and testing yesterday. I hadn't had a new map since the end of January sometime and could really tell that I needed one...things sounded terrible. Most sounds were muffled and hard to make out and my comprehension was starting to really suffer as a result. When I got to the office, Susan took me straight into the sound room. I protested and told her that I didn't want her to test me yet...because everything sounded so awful...but she said, "Well, we'll do the audiogram and then we'll see how that goes." Well...the audiogram was awful...I don't know if any of my frequencies were above 40 dB, and the little dots on the paper were in a nasty zigzag pattern instead of a nice straight line. So she agreed to take me back to the programming room and we worked on programming for a bit. I had brought the laptop with me and opened up Windows Media Player to play some music for us so we would have a better idea of what to work on. The past few weeks I've been able to hear music, but mostly only men's voices. Women's voices were either distorted or almost imperceptible. Sarah Brightman singing "Time to Say Goodbye" is one of my gold standards for the high notes...before my map yesterday I couldn't hear her singing much at all...and now I can hear nearly every note clearly. Unfortunately...we can't bring the high frequencies up in that ear as much as I'd like yet...and that may or may not get better...but I'm OK with that :). My new audiogram looks similar to the one done at two weeks post-activation...which is here (she is mailing the new one to me and I'll post it when it comes in).
I honestly think that having those two electrodes turned off for a month set me back quite a bit...I had to get used to the way things sounded without them (awful)...and about the time I got to where I could live with it...we were able to turn them back on again. At last month's mapping session when we turned them back on, we didn't do a lot of mapping...we just basically turned them back on, was what it seemed like...and I have known since the very first day that it wasn't a great map and that it would need work. Yesterday's was much more thorough and we got a much better sound quality and some more much needed volume. I am not scheduled for another map until June 9th...but I'm sure I'll need to go back in before then, since we're a little behind, I think.
ANYHOW...after all that, we went back in the sound room and did the new audiogram, then did the 3-month tests. I scored 99% on sentences...then 75% on sentences with background noise. She did one more test with single-syllable words, and I didn't do so hot on that one (it's amazing how hard it can be to distinguish between "book" and "cook" and "bite" and "kite"...that kind of thing)...I scored 65% on that one...but I was still fairly pleased with that result...pre-CI, I wouldn't have been able to hear any of them!! Whoohooo!! I still can't get over it!
Last night hubby wanted to go out with his sister Lisa and her hubby to see "The Bucket List"...and since that was one of the movies that I have been wanting to see, I was looking forward to it. We didn't get to leave until around 5:30 and it was nearly dark...but I thought I'd just see how I did riding in the car, listening to my sister-in-law, without having to turn the lights on. We drove about 40 minutes in the dark, and I didn't miss but a word or two that she said...and I could hear bits and pieces of what the guys were saying in the front seat. I have always hated going somewhere with anyone at night...either we rode with the lights on, or I'd have to sit there in silence and miss everything being said around me. I remember one time in particular several years ago when we went to dinner with a bunch from church and were all in a big van with no lights in the back....I rode for over an hour in complete silence because I had no idea what everyone was talking about...that was so frustrating. I usually chose to drive on occasions like that...because that way, at least I'd have something to do instead of just SITTING THERE. I love knowing that I won't have to do that anymore!!
The movie itself...I understood probably 60-70% of what was said...which, for me, is really good. Movies are so loud...they are filled with background noises and music and people talking without looking at the cameras...that I've never picked up much of anything at them before. I would have done even better if my battery hadn't died about 20 minutes from the end. I had meant to change it before we went out and forgotten. I had a sneaking suspicion that the spare I had in my purse was dead, and that was confirmed...so I had to lipread my way through the last bit and all the way home (we had the lights on in the car on the way back, for sure). For those people out there that want to know if a CI means I'm not deaf anymore...nope...not by a long shot...when I can hear, it's really good, but when I can't, I'm deafer than I've ever been ("deaf as a brick" is what I tell folks :)). I'm a little more excited now about going to moves than I've ever been before...because I think I can enjoy them now...something I've just really never been able to do :).
Enough....gotta get off here and get ready for work! I'll post that audiogram when I get it (in the next few days, I hope). Love y'all.....