Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The New Year and New Ears

This year has been an interesting one. It's been filled with plenty of highs, as well as its fair share of lows.

I've learned more about myself than I ever thought I would. I've dealt with challenges I never thought I'd have to face, as well as opportunities and chances I would have never imagined. I wouldn't have been able to make it without the help of my wonderful family and friends, who have stuck with me through the good and the bad, even when I was occasionally a bit irrational.

When I first started this little blog over 8 months ago, I wasn't expecting much. Just a way to express my thoughts and have them documented for future reflection. What it turned out to be was so much more.

Through this blog, I've (virtually) met people. These people have inspired me, helped me, and made me realize that I'm not alone in my experiences and frustrations.

I recently came across this quote:
"Every person is a new door to a different world."


- from the movie "Six Degrees of Separation"
 
and it really rings true to me. These people have taught me so much, and I don't think I can get through this post without thanking them. 
 
I'll start with Michelle. I first stumbled across Michelle's blog this summer. She's probably one of the first people I really connected with through blogging. She left a really nice comment on my blog (I'm sure you could find it if you looked) and encouraged me to keep writing. After exchanging emails with Michelle, I realized she was probably the first deaf adult I'd ever had some sort of conversation with. And I remember thinking "Wow. She's just so normal." Now, I hope no one is offended by this, heck, I'm deaf myself. It's not like I was expecting some green person who spoke alien. I just thought it was cool how she was just some funny, spunky lady with a family and who'd held a job, and just happened to be deaf. I hope you guys get what I'm saying here...Anyway, Michelle has served as a great inspiration to me, and I'd better stop before I say something stupid! Thanks Michelle!

Next up is Kristi. Kristi is a year older than me, and I look up to her for so many reasons. If you go to her profile, you'll see that it simply says "deaf teenager (who aspires to inspire) with her own journey: a big fish in a small pond" And inspire, she does. I encourage any readers of this blog to check out her blog, it's great and she writes so poetically. She recently switched from a mainstreamed school to a high school for the deaf, and reading her experiences have really impacted me. She's made me question (in a good way) if I'm doing what I really want. Am I searching for the right things? Am I doing it in the right place? Those questions remain unanswered, but she is helping me find those answers. Who knows if I'll follow in her footsteps or pave my own path, but she's helped me more than words can express.

Writer Kid (M) is a couple of years younger than I am. I first met her through the Cochlear Community, and I sent her a message. She wrote back and told me that she'd read my blog and has one of her own. I clicked on the link not really knowing what to expect, but after reading a couple of her posts I was absolutely blown away. It was like reading the journal of a younger, smarter, more awesome version of myself. I kid you not, this is girl amazing and inspiring. She's such a joy to talk to, and she is basically my definition of  "cool."

These three gals are amazing, and I just can't thank them enough.

On to the next order of business...

So, we've yet to receive word on whether insurance will pay for the new processors. After reading this post, I wasn't sure if I still wanted them! However, we spoke to some people at Cochlear who assured that, if I didn't like it, I could "trade back" and go back to my Freedoms.

Which leaves the most important decision left- what color? Since my last poll is running out (only 1 more day) I thought I would post a new one. What color do you think my new Nucleus 5's should be?

Now, I already know I'm getting brown coils, and I'm probably going to buy some of those nifty covers. I have an idea of the color I want, but I'm just curious about everyone else's opinion. I am not, I repeat NOT going to make my decision solely based on this poll. So anyway, feel free to leave a comment or vote-which color do you think I should  get?


Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas?

Hi, my name is PinkLAM and I'm a blogging addict.

I think it's more out of not having anything better to do. Sureee, I could go (finally) take my permit test. Or practice my violin. Naw, blogging's fine. Besides, I'm a Jew, on Christmas, and everyone else is busy. Being social wll have to be put on hold too...

But who doesn't love...A PICTURE POST?!

My friend from IL joked that she sent me snow as her gift, since I couldn't make it there. That's honestly the best theory I've heard, because it never snows this much here. EVER.

*whew* I never realized it takes so long to put up pics.
This is when the snow first started falling...



I may be slightly too old to do this, but I was deprived as a youngster!



We went inside. The snow picked up a couple of hours later..





Snow heart!



I did, indeed, get to make my snow angel. The picture I got wasn't very good, but this is the one my sister made.



Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Disappointed

Imagine this scene, which occurred yesterday right around 9:30 AM: (I felt like speaking in third person. Deal with it!)

PinkLAM has just finished packing her carry-on, toiletries, and luggage. Everything is set to go, except her luggage is still upstairs. PinkLAM's mother refuses to carry such a heavy load down the steps (with good, medical reason), and PinkLAM's friends don't call her the lovable teddy bear for her awesome biceps. So, Mom and PinkLAM were awaiting the arrival of PinkLAM's dad, who was also going on this vacation to visit some relatives in the area, but still had a few last-minute work things he had to do. PinkLAM decides to chill as she impatiently waits for her dad to get there, excitedly texting her friend who she hasn't seen in a year and a half, yet is going to be before her very eyes in a matter of hours. She could picture it already: the mounds of snow which they would make snowmen out of, the delicious smell of baking cookies in the air, the branches of the Christmas tree each covered in some beautiful ornament, and her and her friend, happily sledding down a hill and oh-so-grateful to be reunited. PinkLAM briefly worries about her non-existent sledding skills, sledding being a feat she has seen on TV but never done (living in the state of Texas) but then pushes her worries aside. Everything will work out, it always does.

PinkLAM's father arrives at the house, with an odd look on his face. PinkLAM's mother promptly orders him to bring the luggage down the steps. As he's doing so, PinkLAM's father spoke the following, very fateful sentence, "I was a block away from the house when I got a call from the airline, they said to call about a 'cancelled flight'."

PinkLAM, as grateful as she was for the wonderful implant technology allowing her to hear this sentence, was hoping that just this once(okay, more than just this once...), her ears were mistaken. Nothing could ruin her visions- the reunion! the snow! the cookies!

PinkLAM ran to the computer to look up the flight status. She quickly typed in the flight number, and the words that appeared on the screen stab her like a knife in the heart:
Cancelled.

*I'm switching over to first person now, because I feel like it. Once again, deal with it :)*
Freaking out and frantic, I texted my friends, both the ones in Texas and the one living in Illinois. One of my best friends that I go to school with wrote back
"What?! They can do that?! I'm sure they'll like reschedule it or something-they have to!!!!"
My other best friend (the one living in Illinois) replied soon after:
"WHAT?! GRR..THOSE AIRLINE PEOPLE! I'LL FLY THE PLANE IF I HAVE TO!!!"

I'm sure that you, very intelligent reader, have now figured out that no, they did not reschedule the flight. No, my friend did not fly the plane, and no, I did not have my happy reunion.

To be fair, my parents called the airline which had later flights to Chicago that were still going. The airline people said that due to the weather(which was only getting worse), there was pretty much no chance of the flights going out, so it wasn't even worth trying. We instead booked a flight for this morning, about an hour ago.

Last night, my mom was watching the weather where they basically said  "fat chance of getting out of Dallas tomorrow. We're getting hail and snow! Sucks for travelers who haven't left yet! Hahaha suckers!" (okay, maybe not exactly, but close enough)

Well, there went that plan. And I couldn't help but look up the info on the later flights. One of which I was supposed to be on, but we rescheduled to the earlier one to avoid the weather delays and cancellations.

Well, that flight arrived in Chicago. Yes, it was an hour or two late, but it still arrived. Oh, the irony.

I hate irony.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

I am happy to report...

another controller arrived this morning. Best part? IT WORKS!
Thank you guys for all of your supportive messages and comments. I'll reply to them individually when I don't have a desperate need to get some sleep.

I'm leaving for Illinois in the morning. A lot of unexpected stuff has gone on this past two days...Yesterday I woke up sick, and couldn't manage to stay awake for more than a half hour at a time. My parents were convinced there was no way I'd be able to go on this trip, but the human body is pretty amazing (and I'm sure Tamiflu helped!).

And, on top of that, there's supposedly an ice storm coming to IL tomorrow? I know, my luck just follows me  wherever I go. ;) We rescheduled to an earlier flight, which  has led to a mad dash of packing- I'm still not done getting everything together. And no, I did not procrastinate (okay, maybe I did..) but I had good reason! Yesterday I never got out of the bed except to go to the doctor, and today my parents were saying all along they weren't going to let me go. They finally decided to make the right choice this afternoon/evening.  I'll post when I get back on Sunday!

And, I've realized that some people are probably more comfortable contacting me privately for one reason or another. For those of you who would like to email me, feel free to send an email to:
pinklam94@yahoo.com It's the best way to contact me if you would like a fairly prompt response, and I know that not everyone likes to post things publicly, so I think it's a good alternative.

Looking forward to hearing from y'all :)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Clearing the Air+ An AWESOME Lights Show

After rereading my last post, I realized it sounded a little harsh. I feel like I come across as regretful of choosing Cochlear, which was not my intent in posting at all. My equipment rarely breaks, and when it does, 99% of the time it is replaced promptly with a functioning piece of equipment. The thing is, I don't blog about those times-who wants to read about something going exactly as it should? I've gotten so used to such a high standard, I was pretty shocked with the way things were handled last time. I'm hoping it was just an isolated incident. I was annoyed when I wrote the post, and therefore left out how satisfied I have been with Cochlear the rest of the time. I also picked Cochlear because of their superior reliability (so far, so good!) of their implants and their great reputation of making their processors backwards compatible with older implants (which I will soon be taking advantage of). I think the real reason I wrote that post was
A) because I wanted to vent my frustration
and B)I was hoping that I would be proved wrong, and that someone from Cochlear will apologize, or at least make it right. I really hope to be able to write another post expressing my satisfaction with how the situation was resolved.

Besides, these people gave me my hearing back- how could I not be grateful? I think every company makes mistakes at one point or another, and this is definitely a minor thing in the scheme of things, especially when I hear all these stories about companies recalling implants. As in, the internal part- I can assure you I am happy with my choice! As one person commented, the controller could have gotten damaged in shipping, for all I know.

Now that I've got that cleared...

On Friday evening, I babysat three of my cousins with my sister. They're neighborhood is RIGHT next to this neighborhood famous for their amazing Christmas (and Hanukkah, surprisingly enough) lights. We didn't finish babysitting until late at night, but we felt like we'd regret not stopping to look at a few houses. We were aimlessly driving around, when we saw a house with TONS of lights flashing. As we got closer, I spotted a tiny sign "Turn to FM 97.5 to listen to the lights!" My sister and I frantically started fooling with the car radio, until we found the station. What we found was truly amazing. Such a sensual experience- the lights went along with the music. The lights were cool on their own (as was the music) but together, it was just astonishing.

We stayed for a couple of minutes, but then decided to go back home as it was starting to get pretty late.We vowed to return the next night, which we did with one of my sister's friends. We drove around looking at a lot of houses that had elaborate light displays, but we could not find the same house! We drove around for an hour and a half, and my mom started texting us saying we needed to come home. No way, not until we found the house! We were getting desperate, and finally decided to put on the radio station, since it becomes clearer as you get closer to the house. Between one of the songs, they said the name of the family who did the lights show. I quickly googled it on my phone, and, alas- an address! My sister shouted for her friend to get her GPS out of her purse. Her friend looked, only for us to realize it had been left at home!

We drove around and finally found the street, and followed the line of about 20-30 wanting to see this awesome house. I got quite a few videos and pictures on my phone, but they're not very high quality. Luckily enough for you ;) the house has it's very own website complete with plenty of videos. Right now the videos are not yet up for 2009 (they change the songs every year) but the ones from 2008 are just as cool! Here are a few:
*NOTE: PAUSE THE MUSIC AT THE BOTTOM OF THE SCREEN BEFORE PLAYING!*
We Wish You a Merry Christmas- Highland Pipers:

Gordon Lights 2008 - We Wish You a Merry Christmas from Gordon Lights on Vimeo.


Wizards in Winter- Trans-Siberian Orchestra:

Gordon Lights 2008 - Wizards in Winter from Gordon Lights on Vimeo.


And I'm leaving for IL in 2-3 days (depending on how you think of it). Imagine my excitement when I went onto weather.com and saw this:

OH YES! Snow angels, here I come!

Happy Holidays to all!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Dear Cochlear,

*warning: slight rant ahead*
When I was picking my implant company, I did lots of research. Part of the reason I picked you was because of the continued support and customer service after being implanted. Nearly everyone I talked to raved about your prompt response when there was a broken piece of equipment.This was pretty important to me, since once you pick a company, you're partners for life. And I found that they were right about you, until now...

Two weeks ago, I went to turn ony my processor on my right side and it would not turn on. I tried and tried, changing the batteries and everything, to no avail. I determined that the controller was malfunctioning. No biggie, my mom could just call Hear Always and they'll replace it. (I was in a rush to get to school). I put on my back-up controller, and went on my merry way.

When I got home, my mom told me we'd have to wait for them to send a box for me to send my controller back in, and then you wouldn't send a replacement until they received the broken part. I asked my audiologist why you were doing this, and she said you'd been having trouble with people not sending back broken equipment, and some people even wanted to get their same part repaired and sent back, rather than get a different refurbished part.(in your defense, this is only if the patient has a backup) Okay, that's fair enough.

We got the box to send my controller back in a few days later, and promptly sent in back. Then we waited..and wait.. and wait. Finally, on Thursday (thirteen days after calling and asking for the replacement) we called you again. You hadn't sent me my controller back, and promised it would be shipped out that day. Alright, I get you've been busy and all, so I guess better late than never.

The controller arrived on Friday afternoon, just like you promised. I decided to wait until today to start wearing it, since I didn't want to have to go through the hassle of changing out the batteries. So, today I put on the replacement controller, fresh out of the box, and put in batteries. I also put in the batteries on my other side, since I like to turn on both of my processors at the same time. I held down the buttons on each ear, and waited for the sound to rush into my ears. I heard it on my left side, but on the right side...nothing. I pulled the processor off my head, and tried again...Once again, nothing.

I pulled out the battery rack, just to make sure I'd put in all the batteries. Yep, A-OK. I tried another pack of batteries, just to be sure. I tried again, and it still doesn't work.

Seriously, Cochlear? Seriously? I know there's been a lot going on with the release of the Nucleus 5 and all, but could you not take the 5 seconds it takes to test out equipment before you send it back?

Today, you're closed, so there's nothing I can do. I'm leaving town on Wednesday, and if my back-up that I'm wearing breaks, I'll be stuck with just wearing one processor. I'm pretty annoyed.

I hope you get this resolved soon, because if you figure it out, you will be forgiven. We are partners for life, after all.

Love always,
LAM

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The telephone, hearing and exams

*Sorry if you've left me a comment/email/message and I have not responded. I fully intend to, and I know some of these are months old (and some are only a few days old) but I want to respond all at once when I have the time to give full attention to the topic at hand. I appreciate your patience :)*

The reason for the need for the above statement is because I have been studying like crazy for exams. I'm only posting this because I know if I don't do it now, I never will get around to it!

  • I'm having one of those hearing "highs". I really hope I'm not completely jinxing myself by saying this, but I 've just been hearing extremely well lately. It's so nice.. This has led to a few "CI moments" and the realization that it's been two and a half years since my first implant was turned on. Where has the time gone?
  • On that subject: I've been having some difficulty in one of my classes. It's my gifted and talented class. It's very fast-paced, requires a ton of reading and class discussion, and it's flat out hard. I'd been having an internal battle for weeks and weeks over whether or not to stay in it, since my grades just weren't where I wanted them to be in that class. I made tons of lists and talked to lots of people and I thought I had my mind made up that I was going to change to an easier class next semester. I decided to talk to my teacher (again) as a last resort, and he gave all sorts of tips* on how to study, which included studying with friends. This is something I pretty much never do, but I figured it couldn't hurt. I decided to stay in the class for the time being (it is also one of my favorite classes, just extremely challenging.) So, in preparation for upcoming exams (which started today), I got together and studied with friends practically all day Sunday.
    • In the morning,  I got together with just my best friend and we decided to make a study guide of everything we could possibly need to know for the first section of the test. The class is sort of a mixture of 3 different subjects (it's taken over 2 years, so you get 2 different credits), so we made a study guide for the first part. We started off with my friend typing. I soon learned she has some pitiful typing skills ;) and we decided to trade off. I listened to my friend, read the text book, and type simultaneously. In the middle of doing this, I realized I never could have done this a couple of years ago. It didn't even occur to me that I would have trouble hearing what she was saying without staring at her lips, and it was never even an issue. Being bilateral, it was also nice not having to worry which side to sit on or constantly having to turn my neck/head.
    • Later on, we decided to meet up with a bigger group of friends and spend three hours discussing everything we knew. We were at a friend's house that was relatively quiet, and I was able to follow most of the conversation. Keep in mind these are my loud, crazy, friends who find it perfectly acceptable for five people to talk at once, which is exactly what happened. While I did occasionally have trouble keeping up, I'd say I understood a good majority of the conversation and was able to stay involved given that there were no other outside noises. Eventually, my friends had trouble understanding what was being said so we had to enforce a rule that onlt one person could talk at a time. That lasted about five minutes!
  • Today, my phone was dying so I went and plugged it in. I left the room to go work on one of my exam reviews, when I heard that all too familiar buzzing of my phone. My friend was calling me. Instead of running away (or not hearing it ring in the first place..) I ran to answer it. I was on the phone with my friend for two hours, and we were discussing the information for  (different exam than the one previously stated) our exam tomorrow. I was in the study/office talking on the phone, when my sister and her friend came in and were having issues using our copy machine. They were laughing hysterically, and the machine was beeping like there was no tomorrow. All the while, I maintained and understood the conversation with my friend- how cool is that?! I was not using T-coil, mainly because I didn't want to have to mess with it while on the phone. Halfway through the conversation, I briefly put down my phone to flip throught the textbook, only to realize that the battery was once again dying. I ran to grab the charger (and cursed my luck), and plugged it in. My cell phone charger has an annoyingly short cord, so I had to put it on speaker phone in order to prevent me from having to lean towards the ground for the phone to reach my ear. I made an interesting discovery- I do not hear nearly as well on speakerphone. I don't know if it becomes distorted because it's too loud, or what, but the difference was pretty dramatic.
The pain has returned and is in full force. I would be lying if I said I wasn't worried- I am. My doctor is not concerned at all, but part of me is afraid that the implant could be infected or something, and they won't realize it until it's too late. I'm hoping that part of me is just paranoid! We are going to see if we can get insurance coverage for the N5 on my new side ASAP in order to see if that will help with the pain. I really hope so, it's getting pretty uncomfortable. Thankfully, the dizziness has disappeared. And, there's THREE days until my winter break starts. Do I hear cheers and applause?!

*For now, I think I'll stay in the class. This change in my mind has also been helped by an increase in my grades, which never hurts!


Happy Holidays to all!

Friday, December 4, 2009

just the usual

Bad blogger! Yes, I know. My sincerest apologies, sometimes life gets in the way! :P
So, what's been going on here?

  • Saturday night- We got back in town, and I was off balance and dizzy. Deja vu? Yes.. only this time we drove, which made the whole thing pretty weird to me.
  • Tuesday- Early in the morning, my left implant started aching a little bit, bu only if I pressed on it, so  I didn't think much of it. As the day went on, the pain became more and more pronounced. By 5th period, it was excruciating. Whenever I raised my eyebrows or smiled (which, I discovered, I do practically every five minutes) it only got worse, and my face expression turned would turn to a grimace. By 7th (last period), I hade to take my processor off. By the time I got home, my surgeon was closed.
  • Wednesday- I got in the car, and my mom told me that she thought it was snowing. It pretty much NEVER snows here, especially not this early, so I rolled my eyes (what can I say, I'm a teenager!) and laughed. We pulled out of the garage, and shrieks of excitement could be heard from our car, as well as the constant buzz of my phone, filled with "IT'S SNOWING!!!" text messages. It, indeed, was snowing on December 2nd in Texas. It lasted for an hour, but it only stuck to the grass. No snowday off of school for us :( I took some Tylenol, and the implant pain was a lot less.

    This is a picture of the snowfall in my town.
    Credit: nbcdfw.com-taken by Todd Young
  • Thursday- Finally, able to get in to see my surgeon. (Wednesdays are surgery days). It was barely hurting then, but I was still freaked out by the whole episode, plus the dizziness still hadn't gone away.  The verdict?
    • He saw nothing concerning upon examining my head/implant, which is good. Upon looking at where my pain was, at the lower area (my surgeon called it the receiver) of the implant, he determined that it was from the processor rubbing against it and irritating it. My implant is pretty high up, so I found that surprising, but I think he knows a thing or two more than I do! He said that we just need to watch it over the next couple of months, see if it still bothers me, and that the only way to real way to fix it is to get the Nucleus  processor since it would be smaller and wouldn't rub on the site as much. (Potential insurance coverage argument? I think so!)
    • He said he didn't really have an explanation for why the dizziness was occurring, and thought it was just a coincidence that it happened right after the trip. Dizziness is pretty common in all hearing loss patients, especially those who have had some type of ear surgery, so it's not exactly surprising to him. My surgeon gave me a 3 page long list of balance exercises to do which should help my balance improve. I haven't done any yet, but they're awfully interesting- how does standing on one leg with a cardboard box over your head sound?!


Yup, that's my ear. This was taken at a camp I went to this summer for kids with hearing loss.
We got a little excited about using the bling ;)
You can see where my implant/coil sits  in relation to my processor.(It's similar for both ears)

*I also got a mapping right before we left town. Now, both ears are at a processing rate of 1800. Battery life isn't great, but hearing is!

And, if you feel like watching an inspirational video that will surely make you teary-eyed, click here!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Oops!

I love my CIs- they're great, and most of the time I forget I'm deaf. And then other times..

My mom wanted me to do some holiday shopping for a specific person. We went to a very upscale store in the mall, and spent a pretty penny on a cute purse and wallet. The sales lady handed me the bag, and I walked out the door. I began walking towards another store when I noticed my mom wasn't next to me. I stopped to look for her, when I suddenly heard my name being shouted from the store I had just left.

I walked back in the door, only to hear the alarms blaring. Apparently, the lady had forgotten to scan one of the items.

Let's pretend that didn't happen!

Countdowns and Ramblings

These are some things that I'm looking forward to for the next month or so...

Thanksgiving Break- 3 days
We're driving up to New Orleans to visit family over Thanksgiving. I'm ready for a much-need break! I'm thankful for a lot too, but that's another post. No, we won't be staying in the same hotel as last time!

Exams- 3 Weeks
err... no comment on this one. Hope I can catch at least a few hours of sleep a night! I am excited by the fact that we only have to go to school for half a day for all of exam week.

Winter Break- 4 weeks
I cannot believe that in a month I will have made it halfway through my first year of high school. (never mind the fact that the second semester is a lot longer..) I really want to do an update on what's going on at school, but so far nothing has really happened. There's been some "evaluations" (it would be a joke to actually call it that) to try to get some technology (any sort of real-time captioning for just a few of my classes) which ended with the verdict that I'm doing just fine. Then there was a meeting, and the verdict somehow changed to "maybe, but you'd have to change schools." This is the LAST thing I want to do, so for now we're planning on trying out something that I'm pretty sure has never been done in the classroom before. Look for an update once it's actually been tried out... whenever that may be.

Visit up North- 4 1/2 weeks
I'm super-excited to say that I'll be flying to IL to visit a friend who I haven't seen in nearly a year and a half. We first met at a convention and have continued to stay in touch starting the second I got to the airport! I'm pretty sure a day doesn't go by that we don't talk to each other. I've mentioned her once or twice, and she sometimes comments on here under "She Loves to Act." We have a lot in common and finally convinced our parents to let us visit each other. I get impatient every time I think about it! I'm also excited to see REAL snow (hopefully!) and see how people celebrate Christmas (I'm pretty sure this will be the first Christmas I don't spend in a movie theater and eat in a Chinese restaurant... If you're Jewish  you know what I'm talking about ;)) I still need to find a coat...

Nucleus System 5- Releases for Freedom recipients in a week and a 1/2
Freedom users and parents of users- will you be upgrading? If so, when? I more than likely will, but just want some other people's input on why they are or aren't planning to upgrade. There is no software (hearing)difference, so there's pretty much no chance of getting insurance coverage. There's a good chance that there will be software upgrades (for the N5) in two or so years, so insurance coverage may eventually be available, but who knows. I really like the fact that it's so much lighter, and I actually prefer the remote- if I'm having trouble changing to FM mode or something with my processor, I'd actually be able to see what I was doing! My second ear was implanted after March 2009, so we'll be getting an extra $1,000 back for that side with the Freedom trade-in if/when I choose to upgrade.

Thoughts?

Friday, November 13, 2009

What my mom has done for me (This is for the parents...)

I received the following very sweet comment on my blog on Thursday.

"I've been reading your blog for a couple of months now. I must say that you are both a very good and a very entertaining writer. So if that medical career doesn't work out for you(which I'm sure it will), I think writing might be a good, albeit not very well paying, backup.


Anyway, I just want to thank you for your blog. It has really helped me cope during the past couple of months. While I am a long way from 15 (41 to be exact), I read your blog because one of my daughters (she's five) was just diagnosed with a mild unilateral hearing loss. Currently, she still has tons of usable hearing - her loss is at 35 db on the 2000 and 4000 Hz frequencies in her right ear, with the two lower speech frequencies still testing at 10 db. Her left ear tested at 10 db across all speech frequencies. So I feel fortunate that she still has so much hearing, and I hope and pray that her hearing remains stable.

But as you know, that's pretty hard to predict even with all of the anxiety-inducing testing that accompanies a SNHL diagnosis. So your blog has shown me that no matter what happens - even if she loses most of her hearing and will require CIs, she will still be able to succeed at school, have lots of friends, and have great aspirations like becoming a doctor! So thank you for that - it means a lot to a scared mom. I would also appreciate any advice you can give me on how your mom has helped you over the years cope with your hearing loss aside from just being a great mom and advocate for you. I'm new to this, and I appreciate any advice I can get.

I'm going to keep reading your blog - I learn a lot about hearing loss issues, and it's just wonderful to get a peak into the psyche of a 15-year-old girl who loves her life and looks forward to a great future while dealing with hearing loss, CIs, and the trials of being a teenager in general.


All the best.
Rebecca"

First of all, thanks Rebecca!
It's these kind of comments that I really appreciate, and they make me want to keep writing. So, Rebecca, (and all you other parents) this is what my parents have done for me that  believed has helped me immensely.
 
Teach by example
 A huge part of having a hearing loss is learning to be an advocate for yourself. When I was younger (toddler age to early elementary) I was painfully shy. I never felt comfortable explaining my hearing loss or my needs to people. My mom, on the other hand, was always fiercely determined to make sure I was given equal access to everything we did in school and elsewhere. She would always explain my needs and equipment to all of my teachers, from the very day I started wearing hearing aids. While I wouldn't say a word, my mom would always make sure I was there when she had this conversation. She'd tell me that she wouldn't always be there to advocate for me, and that if I didn't make my need important, no one else would either. I listened closely to what she would say and how she would explain things, and now, when I am explaining my hearing loss to people I use a very similar dialogue that I'd heard my mom give my teachers year after year.
 
Don't lower your expectations or place restrictions
My parents have always told me that as long as I did my best, they would be happy with me. However, they did not have any lower expectations for me than my older (hearing) sister, and never really let me use my hearing loss as a crutch or excuse to not do well on something. (Unless, of course, it was due to me not hearing the information, which would bring me back to #1.)  They also never told me I couldn't do anything because I couldn't hear. For example, when I started middle school, we had to choose whether to do band, choir, or orchestra. I changed my mind three times (I can't imagine how different things would be if I had chosen choir!), but my hearing loss played a minimal factor in this decision. I was never once told by my mom, "Maybe you shouldn't take the violin-what if you can't hear it?" The same was true when I had to decide when to take a foreign language (starting in 7th grade or 9th grade) and what language to take. I chose to take French, purely because I liked the way it sounded. I was never told it might be better if I waited two years so I could take ASL instead.
 
Open the lines of communication
One thing my mom always told me was not to be afraid to tell her anything. Whether it be a broken FM, a teacher who wasn't quite doing what she was supposed to, or a kid who just didn't "get it", I knew I could talk to my mom about it. Not only that, I knew she would help the situation. One important, I must say, is that if your child comes to you and says that her FM has been broken for the past two weeks, don't yell at her for waiting so long to tell someone. I had teachers who did this, and I would always think they'd be mad at me, so I just wouldn't tell them at all. Instead, thank your child for telling you, while nicely encouraging her to tell you sooner the next time it happens.
 
Follow your child's lead
When I was about five, my mom asked me if I wanted to go to some program and meet other kids who were "like me" and also had a hearing loss. I cried and cried, saying that I wasn't different than anyone else and did not want to go. My mom never pushed the issue, and I was perfectly content with not being with other who had hearing loss for years. As I got older and into my teen years, I became more aware frustrated with certain issues that I felt like my hearing peers couldn't relate to. I began asking to go to conventions, camps, and programs for other teens with hearing loss. While these weren't always the most fun or interesting things for my mom to attend, she understood that I needed to interact with others who could relate to me hearing- wise- but only when the time was right for me.
 
I hope this helps some of y'all out there. I will also ask my mom if she has any advice that she'd like to share.
 
Thanks Mom, for all you've done over the years!

Monday, November 9, 2009

I'm Not Laughing.

I was getting ready to go to bed, when this article from AOL.com caught my eye. On 'Seth & Alex' they did a skit impersonating Marlee Matlin. Well, actually- impersonating her voice. While Matlin was in on the skit, I thought the whole thing was pretty distasteful and offensive. What do you think? (Transcript below)



Man-We do a lot of celebrity gags on Family Guy (You know, making fun of celebrities). One of our favorites, though, was a gag in which Marlee Matlin calls Moviefone. It went something like this:


Man (as Moviefone): Welcome to Moviefone.Please say the name of the movie you would like to see now.

Woman (as Marlee Matlin) :500 Days of Summer (pronounces “500 day of dummer”)

Man: We did not understand your selection. Please say the name of the movie you would like to see now.

Woman (as Marlee Matlin): 500 Days of Summer (same as before)
Man: You have selected: Fame.


Woman (as self): It’s getting funnier.


Man: Seriously, if the Christians are right and I’m wrong, I’m going to seriously burn in hell. It’s going to be really bad.

Woman: Even if they’re wrong, I have a feeling that here on Earth, someone’s going to set you on fire.

Man: You’re probably right… Marlee Matlin- she really is an amazing woman. She was on Dancing with the Stars recently, but what you mat not know is that she also has an album coming out next year that also features pop song covers, including this little gem…

Woman (as Marlee Matlin): I wanna hold ‘em like they do in Texas … *sings Lady’ Gaga’s “Poker Face” in “deaf accent” and out of tune.
… oh- are you still playing? *puts hand on piano* Oh, you are. 1,2,3,… I wa- a rol wi you ( continues singing).. A little gambling is fun when you’re with me.. *Matlin walks in*

Woman (as self): Oh, *bleep*!

Matlin: Shut up!

Woman: I just want to say- I’m a really, really big fan of yours. Children of a Lesser God was amazing, you won an award. And your book was so candid, and so courageous. And your role on the West Wing is incredible

Matlin: oh- shut up! You’re embarrassing yourself! How do you think it feels to be made fun of? How about I do an impersonation of you?! Let me do it! I’m Alex, and I’m arrogant and a (sorry, this is a G-rated blog!) All I do is not exercise, eat Oreos, and complain that I’m not in more movies. Here’s me walking down the street…

*Impersonates Alex (woman)- blows up cheeks and “waddles”*

Matlin:Does that feel good?

Alex: No, it doesn’t Ms. Matlin.

Matlin: Does it?!

Alex:No

Matlin: NO IT DOESN’T! You know, you’ve made fun of me more than twice. Twice! Did you ever think once of calling me and asking me to use my own voice?

Alex: I swear Ms. Matlin, we did, we called. But the phone just rang, and rang… *laughter*

Matlin: You want to learn some sign language?

Alex: Yeah!

Matlin: Yeah? *Bleep*!

*Please let me know if there are any errors in this transcript. I typed it up myself, right as I was getting ready for bed, so it's probably got a couple of mistakes!*

Don't you think we've already got enough people making fun of the deaf?

Friday, November 6, 2009

You know you're a bilateral CI user when...

You freak out that one of your implants has suddenly stopped working when you're listening to music, only to be relieved when you realized it's your headphones that are broken!

Less wimpy post to come soon, promise!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

News, News, and More News

Sorry for keeping you guys in suspense ;) for so long,  I wanted to be certain of everything before I posted about it. Now I am, so read on...

I know a lot of people mentioned that external equipment can often be the source of having an unusual amount of trouble with hearing. Whether it be a dirty microphone cover, a damaged processor, a loose coil,- they all affect how you hear. In my case, I changed out all of the equipment and it made absolutely no difference in sound quality. If you, however, are reading this because you're experiencing the same problem, I recommend changing out all external equipment, just to rule it out before proceeding any further.

Mapping
So, last Friday (10/23) morning my orchestra teacher pulled me out at the end of class saying my mom had sent him an email that she wanted him to relay to me. I went into the office and read it- the Cochlear Rep woke up sick  (darn you, H1N1!) and wouldn't be able to make the appointment- did I still want to go to the audiologist? I wasn't happy about that, but I figured it wouldn't hurt to try yet again with my audiologist. I went to the appointment, and my audiologist told me that she felt like we were missing something and that a new set of eyes should look at it, but she wanted to try one last thing before giving up. It was either that or do some hearing tests, so I figured what the heck...

My audiologist decided to start from scratch and create an entirely new map- the same ol' measuring T's and C's just wasn't doing it anymore. My processing speed/rate on both processors has always been at 900, which is where most people start off, and usually stay. The processing speeds can range from 250 (on the oldest processors, mainly only used by people who have had their implants for years and years and don't like the faster rates) to 3600 (only available on the newest processors, but pretty much too fast for anyone to comfortably use.) My audiologist said that often times with her very elderly patients who aren't doing as well as you'd expect, as well as patients who had been Deaf all their lives, she moves the rate down to 500. The response is usually a sigh of relief, and an exclamation of, "Wow! That's so much more comfortable!" These patients usually find that things sounds "screechy" at 900.

So, how does that relate to me? Comfort wasn't the issue, but clarity was. My audiologist decided to take a leap of faith and see what would happen if we moved in the opposite direction, since I was having the opposite problem. So, starting with my (right) old side, the one I'd been having the most trouble with, she opened a new map with a processing speed of 1200. In addition,  she changed the pulse width. When I first got my implant, I needed it so loud that the C's (loud sounds) were going too high up,and there wasn't any room left move them. Instead, my audiologist had changed the pulse width so that the (excuse me if this exclamation isn't perfectly accurate, this is all from memory) electrode rang just slightly longer, making me perceive the sound as louder. This causes a huge drain in battery life. Since I'm now bilateral, I've been  slowly turning down the right ear, so my audiologist thought it would be safe to move the pulse width back to the norm. A higher processing rate also causes a decline in battery life, so my audiologist thought it was necessary since we were trying out a rate of 1200.

Okay,okay, enough with the technical stuff! Before turning it on, she warned me it would sound weird. It did. She turned it on, and all I heard was a buzzing. Like, if you accidentally had your processor on T-coil. I turned off my left ear and just listened- I could hear voices, but they sounded like they were coming down a long tunnel. My audiologist worked her magic, making the appropriate adjustments. I had no clue if I would like it once I got out into the "real world", but figured I had nothing to lose. Next, we opened a new map with my left ear, changing the processing speed to 1200. We had never adjusted the pulse width on that side, so we left it alone. When it came time to listen to the tones, I remarked at how different they sounded. It was the same pitches as if it had been played while it was at 900, but the sound was completely different. Imagine always hearing the note A played on the violin, and then suddenly, one day, it produced the note A, except it was the sound of a trumpet. Wouldn't you be baffled?

My audiologist attributed this to the changing of the processing rate to 1200. I asked her why it only happened on my left ear, and she shrugged. I knew very well that no two ears are alike, so I didn't think much of it. We made pretty much the same adjustments on that side, but this time I just wasn't so sure on this side, but wanted to try it out and see. Right after my audiologist saved the maps, I was getting ready to put my processors back on, grab my stuff and go on my merry way, when my audiologist got my attention said "Stop!" I looked at her.  She told me to hook up my left ear again. I looked at the computer, and noticed the map for my left ear on the screen. I soon realized what the problem was, why the new processing rate wasn't producing the same result in my left ear. The column that lists the processing speed said 500. It was accidentally changed to 500 instead of 1200-yeah, I bet that could make a difference! She remapped me at 1200, and all was right with the world!

Interestingly enough, this new mapping caused my battery lives on both ear to do a little flip-flop. My right ear, which always required a ton of power and had a battery of life of 12-16 hours with disposables. With the new map, it is supposed to give me 36 hours! That's a huge difference! On the left ear, I had only been using the FM on that side since it required less power. The battery life, formerly around 25 hours, is now only 16 hours. The FM still works with it, but I am guessing I could probably usually it on both ears now- I will have to look into that eventually.

And my actual hearing....what did the map do? Instead of rambling on for another 8 paragraphs :P, I'm just going to copy a facebook message I sent to my audiologist a few days ago after she inquired about how I was doing.

I think it's better! Everything sounds "right"...I can understand people and music sounds good again! About time ;) I was starting to forget why I listened to music in the first place. The left side sounds a little softer/far away, but I don't notice it with the FM on. I am happy and do not want to change a thing! (for now..)







Maybe it is one magical change after all?
 
And there you have it. Sorry, I have a lot more to write about (hence the news, news, and more news,) but this post is already way too long, don't ya think?!
 
Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Good news is coming...

as soon as I have a spare few minutes to write about it! Stay tuned..
(Hint: look at the tags!)

Monday, October 19, 2009

In a Funk

When I need a mapping or have trouble hearing, my family is usually the first to notice. It's possible my friends notice too, but they just choose not to say anything :)
It starts out with...
  • A significant increase in the number of times I say "what?"
  • Suddenly needing things a lot louder OR
  • Everything being painfully loud. Lots of shushing!
That's "stage one." Stage two is when I start to notice. Usually I notice the things I've already said, and
  • I'm completely exhausted and worn out by the end of the day
  • I get annoyed easily
  • I snap at people at the drop of a hat (I'm normally quite friendly-honest!)
And that's how I've felt for the past few week-a month. It's not that my hearing has plateaued- I'd be fine with that. I feel like my hearing is declining, which is not okay. And it wouldn't be that big of a deal if I hadn't just had a mapping in which my level barely changed. Even my audiologist said she wouldn't expect much of an improvement, since there was pretty minimal change in my MAP for both ears.

So, what's the deal?

A) I have no clue
B) But it could be..
  1. An equipment issue
  2. A mapping issue
  3. That I'm just stressed, so I don't have as much energy to put into listening
  4. An internal implant/electrode problem (I highly doubt it)
I really don't care why, I just want it fixed. After a long (short, actually we didn't have school Friday) week of school, I want to be able to relax. Unwind with my friends. Do some serious retail therapy.

Instead I strain to follow conversations, and eventually give up and go into my own little world. I put on a a mask of sorts and going into autopilot- smiling, laughing when everyone else laughs, nodding along with conversations. It's like I've gone into a time machine and back two and a half years. Only difference is a new school and harder classes.

And it's just not fair to my family. I go home and take out my frustrations on them, the people I love most. I'm sure we've all done it at one time or another, but I come home tired, angry, and upset everyday. And they feel the emotions right along with me.

Two steps forward, and five steps back.

Sorry if you don't like the short sentences and bulleted lists. I thought I'd try out a little differently just for this post, it seemed to go with how I was feeling.

And no I'm not just going to keep complaining- I've got an appointment with my audiologist and the Cochlear rep on Friday. Cross your fingers...

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Good, but...

In French class, whenever we do any sort of speaking test there is a rubric that we're graded on. You can be rated anywhere from a 0-5 on a variety of criteria. If you score a 3.5-4 on something, that means you scored in the "good, but..." category. As mature as my class would like to think we are, there is still a fit of giggles everytime the teacher says "If you have a good, but.."  (Notice what it sounds like when the comma is removed...) Anyway, it basically means you did pretty well, but there are some things that could have been better. That's how my week went.

For starters, there were no meltdowns, breakdowns, freakouts, or anything of that sort. It's been a relatively happy week.. Some of the material that I was worried about and having trouble with seems to have gotten easier. I really  need (another) mapping, so everything on the hearing front hasn't been too great, which doesn't really help when you're put in one of the noisiest hearing environments.  It seems like the people at the school are starting to understand what I'm getting frustrated with, and are willing to help- as long as it doesn't involve spending, and a very misleading thing called "educational need" is shown.
Unfortunately:
  • A) Sometimes when you've done everything you possibly can, there's nothing left but to try a proven and well-known technology. If this isn't recognized very soon, there can and will be action on our part.
  • B) My intelligence and ability to study for hours just to learn the material I can't hear in class shows absolutely nothing about my hearing ability. I wish someone (who makes these decisions) would understand that.

Sorry if that's vague, it's probably best that I wait to share more details until after the fact.

Believe it or not, my week was relatively stress free. I haven't been completely overwhelmed, and actually got something that I oh-so-dearly was starting to miss- SLEEP! My teachers have scheduled all of the hardest tests on this upcoming Thursday, so I'm planning on getting a head start on studying so I'm not a complete disaster come Wednesday night.

And for the but.. And it's a big but... ( no pun intended... okay, maybe...)

I've had the same violin teacher ever since I started playing violin over three years ago. I'm not talking about my orchestra director, but my private lessons teacher who I've seen for  half an hour each week to work on any pieces or techniques that I have trouble with, or want to get better at. He's been my teacher when my hearing was getting worse, when I decided to get a CI, was waiting to get my implant activated, watched as I changed and grew along with my hearing, and then my journey with my second implant. He loved to experiment with how well I could hear differences in pitches, and was usually able to tell if an issue I was having with orchestra  was a "hearing thing" or just one of my own little quirks, completely unrelated to how well I can hear.

For the past two Mondays, he hadn't shown up at my school to give me a lesson during my orchestra class (or for any of his other students). I figured he was sick, and didn't really think anything of it. What I didn't know was that he hadn't called the orchestra director to let him know he wouldn't be there, which was something always did. My orchestra director was starting to get worried, and on Tuesday went over to my lesson teacher's apartment and knocked on the door, but no one answered. He soon found out no one had heard from him in a while, and called the police. The police came over to the apartmet, and found that my lesson teacher had passed away in his home at least a week ago. He was fairly young, and relatively healthy.

That's all I know, I have no clue about the cause was or any other details. I'm still very much in shock, and it has definitely made me appreciate each day for what it is, because you just never know if tomorrow will come. I know it won't be easy to find another teacher who understands and is nearly as interested in my hearing journey. I am very grateful for the three years that I had him, and can definitely say I wouldn't be where I am today without him.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Six Months

Today marks the half birthday of when I got my second implant activated :)



I've written plenty of posts on the benefits (and drawbacks) of being bilateral, so I'll try not to get too repetitive.

Bilateral=good
Regrets=none


When I was deciding on whether or not to go bilateral, the rumors about the Nucleus 5 had just started circulating. As much as I wanted the "latest and greatest" there was no telling when it would come out.  It could be weeks, could be years, and my audiologist couldn't squeeze anything out of the Cochlear rep. So, I (obviously) decided to go ahead with the surgery, as the timing was best for me. I had a full summer planned, and there was no way that I was interrupting my plans with surgery, and I sure as heck wasn't going to do it right after I started high school!

So, as you probably all know, the Nucleus 5 came out a month ago. As cool as it looks...

And as tiny/thin as it is...


And as amazing as the remote  may seem...

(Not to mention the bilateral accesories, AutoPhone, and improved mics...)

I'm still happy that I had the surgery when I did. I should be able to upgrade fairly soon, but had I waited, that would have been 6 less months that I would have heard from that ear. It's made life a lot easier. Without my new implant, I would not be able to use the FM (although I still do get some static, at least it works!) I was worried about music, going into my second surgery.  There's still a lot of ongoing research abot the benefits of having two CIs vs. 1+a hearing aid when listening to music. I was listening to music days after my new ear was activated, and I, personally, have found that it sounds much better with my 2 implants. It sounds great when I have it on my everyday ADRO, but even better when I have both processors set on the music program. I cannot even imagine going back to wearing one. When my batteries die on either ear, I wonder how I was ever able to do it with just one! While hearing in noise and in the classroom is still a challenge, it's a lot easier than it was before.

It was so worth it.





Saturday, September 26, 2009

Amazing



An AMAZING end to a bit of a rough week. My throat hurts from screaming/cheering/singing so much.I am completely exhausted, but I can't stop smiling. This was my first concert with my CIs, and whoever says that cochlear implants dont mix with music is WRONG! I already knew that, but I just wans, ted to share :) My first/last concert was 8 years ago. I could not handle all of the noise (or the people... guess I've matured!)
Good thing about implants it nothing is ever too loud, and you never have to worry about going deaf ;)

I even got to touch Taylor Swift's arm! We had awesome seats and were near the aisle, and she walked down our aisle and was hugging all of these random people, it was so cool! I wish I'd gotten good pictures, but I left my camera at home and my phone's camera isn't the best quality...oh well, I have memories!

Taylor had some pretty good advice too... here are the lessons I took away...
  • It's good to be different in high school (and life), even if it doesn't seem like it at the time.
  • No matter how much high school sucks, hang in there the because the best days of life your life are yet to come. (I was pretty relieved to hear that... I was starting to feel like I had nothing to look forward to)
  • The best revenge is success... and a song about the guy that broke your heart :) (okay, maybe the last part doesn't exactly apply to me!)

My back and neck hurt, which is probably due to the tumble I took down the school stairs on Wednesday. Yeah, I wasn't kidding when I said "rough week."

AWESOME BIRTHDAY PRESENT!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Not-So-Quick Update

Things are better!

I feel like this whole "this is great," then followed shortly by "this is terrible!" thing is getting old.. and it is. To use one of the most over-used and annoying metaphors, life is a roller coaster. And in high school that roller coaster seems to have a lot more dips and loops...

Here's the deal:
  • I had a conference with my mom and some important people from the school/special ed on Thursday. I went in skeptical, and came out optimistic. By the end of the meeting, I felt that everyone understood exactly what my frustrations were, in addition to having plenty of ideas to remedy the situation. If everyone follows up on their words (and in a timely manner), my days in school will be much less stressful.
  • The meeting must have really gotten the ball rolling. Today, for the first time EVER this year, we watched a movie that WAS CAPTIONED!  (I can hear the masses cheering and applauding at their computer screens...Yes, I was pretty darn excited too!)
  • You may or may not have noticed that some of my posts have gone missing, more specifially ones that were related to school and went into great detail. I know these were some of the most interest-generating posts, and I have saved them as drafts, and may re-post them someday. These posts were not removed with the intent of hiding what I have struggled with, but because of something completely different. I have this really cool thing that allows me to see where my visitors are coming from (cities), in addition to what search words lead them to my page. I only got this because I was starting to get curious about my audience. However, upon looking at my "stats" from these past few days, I saw some things that made me feel very uncomfortable. Basically, this is a public blog, and anyone, (whether I want them to or not) can read it. I think I've said more than enough about this for you to  understand what I'm hinting at, but if you would like to be further updated or have further questions on the school situation, feel free to leave a comment (and an email) and I would be more than happy to discuss it...privately. (for now, anyway)
  • Remember how I wrote about my stomach bothering me waaay back? Well it never went away, and was especially bad this past couple of days. I went to the doctor and he was suspicious of gallstones. This pain has definitely added to my stress-level, and I wanted to find out NOW if I was going to have to have (yet another) surgery. So, the next day I fasted and drank more water than I thought my poor bladder could ever hold for this test.
The Goods News: It's not gallstones, and everything on the ultrasound appeared normal.
The Bad News: I'm back to square one, with no idea of what the problem is. The doctor said further testing can be done, and it's possible it could be related to stress. We'll see...
  • Here's my happy moment of the day: We had a French test yesterday. It was part written, part multiple choice, and part listening. I was absent the day before the test, but decided to take it anyway. Today, we got the grades back and got to look at the questions on the test that we missed. As we were nearing the end of going over it, someone raised their hand and asked "Did anyone make a 100 on this test?" The teacher proceeded to say that someone did, indeed, make a 100, but it's up to that person, and not to the teacher to share. At which point, someone who must have seen my test on my desk shouted out my name. Yeah, that person was me! I smiled and the whole class started cheering and clapping. I felt like a complete nerd, which I am, so I felt like a completely proud nerd.. C'mon.. how cool is it that the deaf girl makes the only hundred in the class on a French test?! 
  • It's Rosh Hashanah, which is the Jewish New Year. L'shana Tova to all of my fellow Jews :)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Fortune

You could say I'm a superstitious skeptic. I like to find logical reasons for everything, but I also believe everything happens of a reason, even if that reason remains to be unseen for quite sometime. While some things are a mere coincidence, sometimes little things pop up, and you can't help but wonder...

This is what was in my fortune cookie after eating Chinese food for dinner tonight. For those of you that don't know, I'm kind of a medical freak (as in, obsessed with anything medical...) I think I've probably wanted to be a doctor since I could talk. I have a lot of random unconnected medical issues, and I could probably give you a good reference for just about any kind of doctor in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. My parents sometimes joke that I will someday discover some sort of disease or syndrome that I have, and name it after myself. Being around so many doctors has definitely fueled my passion for medicine (there we go with that everything happens for a reason thing...) and anyone that has known me for more than a week is well aware of my future job.

I am so saving this fortune.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Birthday Girl

You may have noticed a small very significant change in my profile.

No?

I am now officially the big one-five. Yes, I am fifteen! That means that in a couple of days, I will be taking the test to get my learner's permit. It also means a sharp increase in my mom's panic attacks,

Kidding! Well, sort of :)

To celebrate, I went out to dinner with six of my closest friends and had a great time. We did plenty of reminiscing and some gossiping, and I still can't believe how fast we're all growing up. The restaurant was pretty loud and noisy, but my friends are even louder, so it wasn't too big of a problem! I am due for a MAPping, so I will be going in on Tuesday. I did just get a new one a couple of weeks ago, but it soon became apparent that it needs some tweaking. Whenever I need a new MAP there are number of signs that make it quite obvious to me and my family, but I will write another post on that later. Anyhow, I get to sneak a peek at the new Nucleus 5, so who am I to complain!

Note to self: Never think it's okay to eat a cheese sandwich for lunch the day of your birthday party. Lactose intolerance doesn't take a day off, even for birthdays! (yes, I learned the hard way...)

So, I'm posting this video although it seems to be about naivety (and naive is definitely not an adjective I'd use to describe myself), and there are other Taylor Swift songs that I like even more. So why am I posting it? Well, because it has to do with the two main reasons I'm writing this post:
  1. Being fifteen
  2. Taylor Swift


Taylor Swift? How could she possibly have anything to do with this post?

I know, I know- you're just dying from the suspense! ;)

Wellll, I got quite a few very nice birthday gifts. One of them I begged for hinted about months in advance...




TICKETS TO THE TAYLOR SWIFT CONCERT IN THREE WEEKS! *insert loud girl shriek here*

I love music. But if it's sung by Taylor Swift, that makes it about a thousand times better.

Can you tell I'm excited?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Coincidence... or not?

Sooo I've been having trouble with the FM not keeping its charge. I figured the FM itself was broken, since after being charged all night it would still not have a full battery charge. It died at the end of the day  today, so I used the backup FM for my last class. I had kept it charging at school (rather than at home like I do with the other one.)

My phone is now having the same problem. It will not stay charged! Apparently while I was gone at school, the lights flickered on and off at my house quite a few times, for just a split second.

Coincidence?

I'm just hoping my house doesn't explode by tomorrow!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Survivin' and Thrivin'

I've survived my first week of high school.

And I actually sort of liked it. I'm one of those weird people who needs (and loves) routine. The first day was relatively uneventful. I didn't get lost, and was able to get to my classes on time. I feel really lucky, things have worked out quite well (so far.) My schedule is GREAT (well, now that I've changed it twice). My classes are pretty close to each other, I have at least one good friend in each class, and I've never been late (or even almost late). I was originally assigned a bottom locker, but I didn't want to chance hitting my head and breaking an implant, so I requested to get it moved to a top locker. My new locker is on the opposite side of the school, and I was especially concerned because it didn't seem to be near any of my classes. It is actually somewhat close to two of my classes, which is pretty good when you consider that most people are only able to make it to their lockers once a day. The best part is, I got one of the sophomore lockers. While it's not any different than the freshman lockers, the people around my locker are SO nice. Last year, the kid whose locker was next to mine smelled questionably like smoke (I'm not going to jump to any conclusions... but this deaf girl has a pretty acute nose!) and was constantly cussing at me to get out of his way. The snooty girl who had a locker under mine always had her posse standing standing in front of my locker who REFUSED. TO MOVE. Passing periods were somewhat traumatic last year.So, it was such a nice surprise for people to instantly move out of my way if they see I'm trying to access my locker! And they actually SMILE! A little respect goes a long way.


Hearing-wise, things are great! At lunch, thanks to now being bilateral, I am able to follow most of the conversation with ease! It also makes it much easier to hear in the hallways. The FM is a HUGE help in my classes (I don't use it in the cafeteria because of spills and such), especially the larger ones where we get into groups often. One of my classes is a two-year class for those in the gifted program that is a mix of History, Humanities, and English. Since it's two years, there are also sophmores in my class and I get an AP History credit in addition to that an Honors English credit, which is pretty good. It's known for being really difficult, but also for being a lot of fun and the teachers are awesome. Apparently I'm in the "small" class (a mere 40 students!) On the first day, one of the teachers took a minute to quickly explain what the FM was, how it helped me, and that any time someone was speaking and I needed to hear it, they needed to speak into it. We then had to go around the room and tell things about the person sitting next to us, and the FM was passed to each person in the classroom before they could start speaking. This set a great precedent for the rest of the year, and already we have gotten into multiple groups and it has made it SO much easier on me. I am so grateful that my teacher did this, and he said it pretty eloquently and didn't make it seem like too big of a deal. Another thing that helped is the actual design of the FM. The SmartLink vaguely resembles a cellphone/TV remote/ iPod and doesn't seem quite as fragile as the Campus FM did. Everyone is comfortable just holding it up to their mouths like a microphone.
The second day I did have a problem where the FM died halfway through the day, even though it had been charging all night. I noticed a big difference when it wasn't working. The FM I am using is a temporary (and sort of old) loaner, and I will be getting a brand new SmartLink as soon as the order arrives. However,  on Wednesday I was given a backup SmartLink to use in case the other one dies again. It hasn't, and now I have two temporary FMs to keep up wit1h I do still get a little bit of static, but not enough to make me not want to use it. I am going to trial using the FM in my right ear one more time. I don't think the results will be any different, but we'll see
I haven't had too much homework, but I'm apparently taking 2 of the 3 most difficult classes at my school, so I guess that won't last long.
Well, that's all I've got to tell! This first week has been really great, and I hope the rest of the year is the same.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A New Sound+Another CI Moment

I pretty much never post about a "CI Moment" or new sounds that I hear, because after having my first implant for over two years, I've pretty much heard it all- or so I thought. Today I was sitting down eating a banana. Our house was relatively quiet (for once), and I became acutely aware of the delicate ripping sound you hear when peeling a banana. I peeled it just a little bit at a time just to enjoy it! I have probably had hundreds of bananas in the past couple of years, but I am left handed and usually hold the banana in my left hand while peeling it with my right. My left implant is still relatively new, so I can only assume that is why I am hearing it for the first time- too cool!
After getting this far along in typing this post, I saved it as a draft because I had some last minute back-to-school organizing to do. While in the middle of labeling my supplies, my phone started ringing (well,vibrating). It was one of my good friends, who I had mentioned in another post when she called me and I could not understand her at all. This time I understood every. single. word. I'm on a roll- two CI moments in one day! I'm really liking this new MAP! I might also add that this time I spoke to her using my new ear, rather than my older ear. While I did figure out how to use my cellphone with the FM via Bluetooth, (I have the Phonak Smartlink FM) I did not have the FM on when she called. I will have to try it out, though.


Well, starting tomorrow I am officially a freshman. I haven't "gotten sick" in the past 24 hours, so I'm hoping I will be fine tomorrow. Otherwise my first day would be a little too memorable! Cross your fingers!


I want to thank y'all for all of the comments and for those of you that voted in the poll. Keep 'em coming!

Friday, August 21, 2009

High School Starts Monday

And I have..

  • lost my mind
  • more pencils than I will ever use
  • enough binders to last me through all four years of high school

  • a big, ugly backpack (apparently in HS they don't wear colorful backpacks anymore..)

  • a bundle of nervous energy

  • a working FM

  • some awesome new clothes and makeup (yay for tax-free weekend!)

  • a new MAP so I can hear my best at school

  • more batteries in stock than Energizer

  • a cute new haircut

  • met with all of my teachers that wanted to talk to me

  • memorized my schedule and locker combination

  • decided I'm going to enjoy myself and have a good year

  • killed a good acre of trees with the amount of paper I bought
  • added a poll to my blog to find out more about my readers (since you lurkers are so darn stubborn!)
  • a stomach virus. Or some sort of digestive system issue. (for a week and counting...)

I'm just lucky like that.