Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Recently I was having a conversation with a friend of mine (who also happens to have cochlear implants) in the noisy hall before school started. We were discussing a movie she'd seen over the weekend, and towards the end of the conversation, I asked, "Was it crowded?"

She thought for a few seconds. "What?!"

"Was it crowded?" I asked, this time making an effort to speak a little more clearly.

She paused again. "Yeah!" she said. Which, while it just so happened to be the right response, I could tell clearly from the tone of her voice she had no idea what I'd just asked. I smiled at her.

"Wait, what did you ask me?!"

"Was the theater very full?"

"Oh yeah! It was packed!"

I always do my best not to pretend like I heard what someone said when I really didn't, but sometimes after you've asked someone to repeat something numerous times, you just feel to embarrassed to ask them to say it again. As seen in that situation, when you bluff you're fooling no one but yourself. But bluffing isn't something limited to people with hearing loss.

My mom (who has amazing, natural hearing) always tells me about an embarrassing incident that happened to her many years ago when she worked. One of her clients, who was a bit chatty, was going on and on in a story she was telling. My mom kind of zoned out, and didn't really pay attention. The woman stopped, awaiting a response, signaling her story had ended.

"Oh, that's so funny!" my mom said, even though she didn't listen to the story.

The woman stared at her in disbelief. It turned out her husband had died.


So that's why I always try to find out what someone said. Well, mostly. Later on that day, I heard my friend calling my name as I was leaving the cafeteria. This particular friend has a tendency to speak fast. Extremely fast. She ran up to me.

"Hey! How are you?" she asked me

"Good. What's up?"

"Nothing. So h- werogtjrgtowjirjtogj weogpeok oerkgerw?"

Oh no. I got that sinking feeling in my stomach when you just know you're not going to be able to understand something.

"Sorry, what did you say?"

"H tpokwtpeythegn elrkgnlenlerkn wegokwe cnwinfge?"

"Um, can you say that again?"

"Have you broken qporjtepojypeojt qritjeogjoj n24twe?"

Umm.... As far as I knew, I hadn't broken anything. I mean how important could the rest of the sentence really be?

"Haha. No!" I laughed.

"That's great! Wow!"

Oh no. What did I just tell her?

She continued, "So many other Jewish people I've talked to said they only lasted like five minutes! Wow! It's awesome you've lasted that long!"

It hit me what she'd asked. She wanted to know if I'd been keeping Passover. Which I hadn't. I had a piece of bread on the second day, and it all sort of went downhill from there...

"Oh!" I laughed nervously. "I don' t think I'll last much longer!" (What was I supposed to do, tell her I just lied?)

She then launched into a whole other story, her speech getting faster and faster as she went. I had not a clue what she was saying. I smiled whenever she looked at me, then rushed to class before she could ask me another question.

Has bluffing ever gotten you into a sticky situation?

Saturday, April 11, 2009


You can probably guess what happens next. My hearing had gotten worse. A lot worse. My hearing aids were maxed out, but that still didn't sound any better. This led to my first considering of getting a cochlear implant.

It was a really difficult decision to make, as someone who still could hear and understand some speech, but I decided to go for it. Which just led to many more decisions that had to be made. What brand? Which ear? (and most importantly) What color processors?!

So finally, in May of 2007 I was implanted with the Nucleus Freedom in my right ear. Surgery and recovery were a breeze. When it was first turned on three weeks later, it initially sounded like a series of tones and beeps. Within hours that went away, and it sounded extremely high-pitched (Mickey Mouse on helium). Sure it was weird, but it was also pretty funny! Within about a week or so, the sounds all started coming together and I could understand speech. I had always thought I heard pretty well with my hearing aids, but I was suddenly discovering all of these sounds I never even knew existed! I heard rain for the first time. The sound of rain absolutely delighted me (and still does!) It rained every day that summer, and I enjoyed every second of it!

Some other sounds I heard for the first time were:
  • air-conditioning
  • sizzling of food one the stove
  • crickets
  • the /s/ sound
  • clocks ticking
  • the sound that a tissue makes as you crumple it up
  • quiet music playing in stores, restaurants, waiting rooms, etc.
  • the sound of keyboards/mouse when you press on them

One day soon after my activation, my sister and I were sitting around playing some kind of game. I kept hearing a repetitive clicking sound, and just could not figure out what it was! After doing some investigating of when I heard the sound, my sister discovered it was m dog's nails hitting the floor! I had absolutely no idea it made a noise! From that day on, my dog was never able to sneak up on me again!

Not only could I suddenly hear new things, I could understand what people said so much better. The word "what" became a lot less common in everyday conversations. It's so awesome to be able to eavesdrop on what people are saying from the other room! I also love being able to know what my friends say when they whisper a secret in my ear.

I have no regrets with choosing to get an implant!

Where It All Began

Hello World!
I think it's only fair I begin my first post with a little background info about myself. So, here goes...

I'm currently fourteen years old and in the eighth grade. I love listening to music, and have been playing the violin for three years. I also enjoy baking, as well as writing. I am obsessed with anything medical, and am determined to be a doctor one day.

When I was three and a half years old, I was diagnosed with a moderate/severe hearing loss after my speech became progressively less clear and I would respond to questions with illogical answers. I was soon fitted with hearing aids and began attending Auditory-Verbal therapy twice a week. I benefited immensely from hearing aids and remained completely oral. I was never much different from any other kid, and have always been mainstreamed (both before and after my hearing loss was diagnosed.)

The cause of my hearing loss is still completely unknown. I've done some genetic testing, which revealed nothing, and there's no history of hearing loss in my family. My hearing always fluctuated slightly, but the audiologist told me it was normal. Then, when I was twelve, about about a quarter of the way through my first year of middle school, that all changed.

At first, I didn't really notice. Sure, I found it nearly impossible to understand my friends at school, but that's only because it's so loud, right? And then I'd be changing in the locker room after gym, only to find out the bell had rung two minutes ago. "Oh, you were just distracted," I'd tell myself. I'd just started to learn how to play the violin, but why couldn't I hear all the notes?!
Then, after going days without hearing the bell ring in a single class, struggling to understand my teachers, and dazing off when my friends spoke to me, because no matter how hard I tried, I just could not understand what they were saying, I knew it was time. Time to schedule another hearing test, that is.