Saturday, November 22, 2008

Well, pooh!

I was going to write a post for the one year anniversary of my activation and today was supposed to be the big day. The 22nd, I thought to myself...the big day. So I am tripping down memory lane, looking back in the blog to read what I had to say one year ago today, and pft, it was the 20th. I should have known...I kept thinking it was the Tuesday before Thanksgiving last year, and didn't know how in the world it could go from being on a Tuesday one year to being on a Saturday the next. I am sick, people, with a cold/sinus infection thing, and have been feeling really icky the past few days, so that's my story, and I'm sticking to it :). I knew it was bound to happen...with three little girls sick my number was bound to come up sometime. I am also in possession of one really sore eye...Claire was trying some High School Musical number or another tonight and poked me in the eye with her fingernail, scratching it pretty good. It's red and sore enough to be a constant reminder, but thankfully I can see with no problems. We were supposed to have family pictures made tomorrow but they were postponed...it's a good thing, I think, as I seem to be falling apart!
Anyhow, one year ago Thursday Susan put my shiny new electrodes through their paces one at a time and then, with the flip of a switch, fired them all up and sound flooded my brain for the first time in eight months. After a few seconds of outright hilarity at the way my new ear sounded, I was just awestruck by the wonder of it all...it worked perfectly, just as it was supposed to. It sounded different, yes...but I was hearing sounds. In the first few days I heard environmental sounds that I had never heard before and heard voices with a clarity that I had never had before. I was one of the fortunate ones that had exceptional results from the very beginning...I think because I was only without sound for a few months and the brain was READY to hear sound on that side again!! I have never looked back...it's a decision that I am so glad I made and would do it again in a second (although with both ears done to my satisfaction, I'm in no hurry to do it again any time soon ;)).
A lot can change in a year...I have gained so much independence, so much more confidence...I've gotten pretty good with the phone, pretty good at hearing the kids in the back seat (not always a good thing). It's gone by really fast...hard to believe...and I'm excited to think about all the exciting new things that it will bring me in the future! :)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Another tune-up! :)

I went to Vanderbilt today for another "tune-up", as I call them. Susan asked if I wanted to do both ears again and I told her that I thought we really needed to as my "good" ear was starting to sound flat. It's amazing that that little bit of sound that I had coming in with my new ear was enough to change the entire balance. She adjusted the good ear until we had it sounding clear and melodious again and then we got to work on the newer ear. I was VERY excited that while I wasn't able to raise the sensitivity in the lower frequencies, we made some pretty good gains in the higher ones. We were actually able to raise the overall volume a bit this time without it sounding too loud. Then we put the two ears together and found that the good ear needed some tweaking with the newer ear's adjustments, so we worked on it a bit longer, and voila! it sounded great!! I usually leave the office with a new map sounding great and by the time I get home it sounds scrambled and I am worn out...but this time we must have done something right, because I haven't struggled with it too much. I did start getting a little overtired in the middle of the day but a jolt of caffeine perked me up enough to keep going. I had a couple more appointments after that so I was moving too fast to get too tired!
In fact...I was listening to my John Denver CD on the way home...the one that I have nearly worn out playing it over and over and over and over again in the car between home and ASL class, home and meetings, etc...and I was hearing words to some of the songs that I hadn't ever heard before!! Awesome...not only are both ears working...they're working fairly well together at last!
I was changing from a sweater to a t-shirt this afternoon...the weather got warmer than I thought it would and managed to knock the magnet off my good ear, rendering me instantly deaf on that side. I was singing at the time (all the kids were gone so there was nobody there to tell me to be quiet) and I got a shock when I realized that I could still hear myself with my newest ear and it didn't sound too bad...that the volume only sounded a little soft and it was almost recognizable as a tune (of course, that's assuming that what I was singing was tuneful to begin with ;)). I have put off "one-on-one" time with the new ear, because I didn't get enough volume from it before for it to be useful in situations with the kids, etc. Now that it's getting loud enough that I can actually take the sound I'm getting and combine it with my lipreading skills, I think I'm going to try working it out by itself for an hour or so every day. The improvement today has made me so excited and has inspired me to try harder!
It's been a crazy week...we have some dear friends who are dealing with personal struggles, I've been back and forth a lot (going to Nashville again tomorrow, in fact...I'm about ready to move there!), and now Ellie is acting like she has the flu. The CDC says that flu hasn't hit Tennessee yet, so I'm not positive...will wait and see how she's doing tomorrow :).
I DO plan to write on the ALDA convention...I didn't mean to get this far behind! :)

Friday, November 7, 2008

Don't try this at home!

My eight-year old, Claire, asked me before I left for Chicago if I would eat lunch with her at school one day. I promised her that I would when I got home, so yesterday I kept my word. When I arrived at the school I was seated at the visitors' table, which coincidentally is the hooligan table...the table where the troublemakers sit. One particularly adorable little hooligan was sitting beside me and I kind of had my back to him, talking to Claire and her cousin Alexis, who were sitting across from me. Claire told me once, "I don't think they know you're deaf"...apparently, they were talking to me and I wasn't hearing them. So I turned around and the little one next to me had his shirt pulled up, navel exposed, in an effort to entertain me. I kinda rolled my eyes and turned back around. A few seconds later I felt a poke at my shoulder and turned around to find him waggling his tongue at me. I got out a half-hearted grin and turned back to the girls. Another poke a few seconds later, and he had his eyes rolled back in his head.
At this point I decided that action was called for...and I borrowed a clean fork from Claire and placed it against the side of my head...where it stuck. I had it at a bad angle and it fell off, but I had his attention. I tried it again, a little more balanced this time...and it stayed. His eyes grew to the size of saucers, and he said, "you must have a magnet in there!"
I affirmed that yes, I did...I didn't want him trying it at home, after all...and while I had the attention of the entire bunch I took the opportunity to explain how CIs worked and to teach them the "I Love You" sign (the little boy sitting next to Alexis promptly turned to her with stars in his eyes and flashed the sign like a pro). I told the little one next to me that he was sitting next to a bona fide cyborg, then told him that I needed to eat my lunch. I didn't hear another peep out of him for the rest of the meal...I think I won that contest hands down! ;)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

One year ago today...

I woke up at my friend Shari's house, got dressed, and was at the surgical center in downtown Nashville at 6:30 AM. A couple of hours later, I was out like a light and my newest onboard computer was being installed. I woke up with an earache but it was quickly alleviated by some awesome pain meds and the nurses had me on my feet and out the door ASAP. I felt pretty good...in fact, we drove around Sonic on the way home for lunch.
I recovered quickly...I had a good bit of pain and soreness, but very little vertigo, which was a great thing in my book. Two weeks later I was switched on, and the rest, as they say, is history. I was able to not only hear but hear WELL straight out of the gate, with an incredible 96% speech comprehension in quiet score two weeks after activation. This implant has been incredible...in the past year it has simply given me my life back...plus more. I never dreamed I would hear as well as I do...some days I still hear tiny sounds and think, "I can't believe I'm hearing this!"...actually, MOST days I feel that way :). I can talk on the telephone...I can listen to the radio...I can hear music...I can hear my children talking to me all through the house. I am in awe nearly every single day at my gift of hearing...I definitely don't take this for granted...what a gift!
To all of you at Advanced Bionics...YOU ROCK...you have no idea what you have given me...not just hearing, but so much more...a second chance at life, as it were :). THANK YOU!!!!!
A shout out to my friend Wayne Roorda as well...BigBear, as many know him, had his bilateral surgery today! He seems to be recovering amazingly well...no pain at all, and feeling great! I am so thrilled for him!! :)