Monday, July 27, 2009

Au Revoir!

I'm leaving for Paris tomorrow and will get to put my (limited) French skills to the test! I'm so excited! If anyone has any last minute trip suggestions, leave a comment now!

Murphy's Law that my incision on my left ear, after being just fine for a month, decides to go crazy less than two days before I leave the country. By crazy, I mean a terrible stabbing/burning pain. Thankfully, I have a really awesome CI surgeon who has known me forever (probably since I was three or so) and is willing to squeeze me in with just a few hours notice! Crisis averted!

It seems I have the same problem as before. Not as last time, but the time before that. There's some weird hairs growing and blackheads (yuck!) along the top of the incision. Sorry if that's TMI, just keepin' it real! After being repeatedly stabbed with some kind of instrument and removing whatever mess was in there, my surgeon told me I should be just fine on vacation and should be okay until I get back. Good, because there's no way I'm missing this trip!

I will have limited computer access for the next ten days, so until then have fun re-reading all of my old posts! ;)

(oh, you know you want to!)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

No Two Ears Alike- Part 4: Frustrations

This is a series of "flashback" blog posts on my journey through going bilateral. To read the other posts in this series, click on the following links.

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

By all means, I was doing pretty well with my new implant. I had gone to AV therapy 4 days after it was turned on, used the phone with my new side alone(!) and she told me I didn't have to come back unless I really wanted to. No thanks!

The problem was, I felt like I was living up to everyone's expectations except for my own. The drawbacks of being a perfectionist!

Time went on, and my implant stopped cutting out, and my ear started to feel better. I could finally focus on just the hearing part... until about two weeks later. I was sitting in the car, on the way to school, when suddenly my left side cut out. I hoped it was an isolated incident, and kept quiet. Then all day at school, it continued. That night, a blast of pain came over my left ear. Great. Here we go again! At least we knew the two things were connected!

I had to go back to my surgeon where he did the same "cleaning out" of my incision. I took a look at his office and hoped it was the last time I would need to go in there! As far as the cutting out went, we would turn up the manual power percentage. It would work for a little while, and then it would start cutting out again. I finally decided to just deal with it, and hope it would go away on its own. It's tough going to so many appointments during school, so I figured I would just deal with it during the summer.

Meanwhile, at school, we were down to the final three weeks. It was cram time, time to squeeze in all the work that needed to be done but was never gotten to, in right before exams. Fun, right? In my gifted and talented/English class, our teacher decided we would have to pick one of three books and read it in two weeks. These were long, very difficult books. Instead of having the usual teacher-led class discussion, we would break up into literary circles and discuss it completely on our own, and would have assignment for each meeting. At the end of the book, we'd have a test. Most of the kids in my class were actually pretty excited about it since we got to pick who we were with, and so was I.

The day came to choose, and I decided to be smart and try to pick people who I knew would stay on task and would actually discuss the book, because after all, I wanted a good grade on the last test of the year! I got into a group with my best friend, as well as with some friends, and a couple of girls that I wasn't too close with, but I knew they were really smart. I'd be lying if I said we didn't have the smartest group of kids in our circle! :)

The first day of our literature circle, a girl I'll call Jane began to read her assignment. One sentence into it, and I was cringing. We have an extremely loud class, and we were all in the same room discussing. Jane probably has the quietest voice in the class. I couldn't hear a word she said. I then realized that not only had I picked the smartest kids in my class, every single person in my group was extremely soft-spoken, except for my best friend, who I'll call Nicole. We had to summarize what each person spoke about after they spoke, and it was my saving grace that Nicole read each word of her summary aloud as she did it. The only information I got was the two to three sentences we wrote in the summary.

For the next few days, I agonized over what I was going to do for the next circle. It was all think about. I finally decided that it would be best to situate myself to that I was right near the middle, therefore close to everyone that spoke.

Jane begin to read her paper. Once again, I couldn't hear her. Finally halfway through, Nicole interrupted her.

"Hey Jane, could you speak up a little? Sorry, I'm like deaf..."

At which point I exclaimed, "YOU?!" and we all got a good laugh. (She's completely hearing, if you're wondering!)

"Okay, then it will help all of us!" Nicole said.

It felt good to know that I wasn't the only one struggling.

Jane began reading again. I still could not hear her. Nor could I hear the rest of the group. I did my best to glance at everyone's papers, but I was frustrated. Everyone else seemed to be able to discuss at ease, while I just sat there trying my hardest just to catch a word or two.

That afternoon, I went and sprawled across the couch and cried like I never have before. I sobbed inconsolably for hours upon end. It just wasn't fair. I was mentally exhausted. For the first time in my life, I actually wished I wasn't deaf. Everyone else seemed like they had it so easy. I couldn't help but wonder if things would be different if I could hear like every one else. I had an Algebra exam the next day, and skipped studying in place of crying and feeling sorry for myself. This might not seem like a big deal, but I'm that kid who studies for hours while everyone else studies for 15 minutes, and Algebra is a high school course that goes on our GPA, which means I freak out about it even more than usual . It's not because I need to, it's because I felt like I had to know that I did everything I possibly could in hopes of getting a perfect score. I was under way too much pressure, 99% of which I had placed on myself.

I even began to question if I had made the right decision. Yes, I could hear better, but a little voice in the back of my head wondered if maybe I should have waited until the summer? I could only deal with so much at one time.

Then I began to feel pain in a different part of my incision, lower down than I had initially. I had learned my lesson, and this time went back to my surgeon immediately. So much for last time being my last time! It turns out I had an inflamed lymph node. Yipee. He put me on antibiotics for ten days, and all that was left was to keep our fingers crossed.

"What doesn't kill you makes you stronger." is a phrase that I say quiet often. I began to question its validity!

I have to say, I was really hesitant to write this, which is part of the reason I didn't post it while it was actually happening. No one wants to say that they're struggling, and I think as much as we don't want to admit it, CI recipients are constantly being compared (and comparing themselves) to one another, even if it is unspoken. Even the best performers struggle at one time or another, and I think it's important to acknowledge that. I think my main motivation for writing this is to say "Don't give up! It will get better!"

And it did. But I've already written way too much, so stay tuned!

On a happier note, here's a really funny video that's been going around like crazy on the internet.

Here are the lyrics to the song that is playing while they're dancing.

1,2,3, 4..

Hey (eh)


Hey (eh)

It’s you, and me

Movin at the speed of light into eternity (yeah)

Tonight, is the night

To join me in the middle of ectacy

Feel the melody and the rhythm of the music around you (around you)
Ima take you there, Ima take you there

So don’t be scared, I’m right here, ya ready?

We can go anywhere

Go anywhere

But first, its your chance

Take my hand

Come with me
It’s like I waited my whole life

For this one nightIt’s gon be me you and the dance floor

'Cause we only got one night

Double your pleasure

Double you fun

And dance forever ever ever

Forever ever ever

Forever ever ever

Forever (forever)

Ever ever ever

Forever ever ever

Forever ever ever

Forever on the dance floor
Feels like were on another level (ohh ahh

)Feels like our loves intertwine

We can be two rebels

Breakin the rulesMe and you

You and I

All you gotta do is watch me

Look what I can do with my feet, baby

Feel the beat insideI’m drivin, you could take the front seat (front seat)

Just need you to trust me (trust me)

Girl girl girl

It’s like now
It’s like I waited my whole life (oh)

For this one night (one night)

It’s gon be me you and the dance floor (dance floor)

Cuz we only got one night (ohh)

Double you pleasure

Double your fun (yeah)

And dance forever ever ever (ohh)

Forever ever ever (ever)

Forever ever ever (ever)

Forever (forever)

Ever ever ever (ever)

Forever ever ever (ever)

Forever ever ever (ever)

Forever on the dance floor
It’s a long way down

We so high off the ground

Sendin for an angel to bring me your heart

Girl where did you come from?

Got me so undone

Gazin in your eyes got me sayin

What a beautiful lady

No ifs ands or maybes

I’m releasin my heart

And it’s feelin amazing

Theres no one else that matters

You love me

And I wont let you fall girl

Let you fall girl (ahh ohh oh oh yeah)

Yeah, I wont let you fall

Let you fall

Let you fall (ohh ohh)

Yeah yeah

Yeah yeah
It’s like

It’s like I waited my whole life (whole life)

For this one night (one night)I

t’s gon be me you and the dance floor (me you and the dance floor)

Cuz we only got one night

Double your pleasure

Double your funAnd dance forever ever everForever ever ever

Forever ever ever

ForeverEver ever ever

Forever ever ever

Forever ever ever

Forever on the dance floor
ohh oh oh oh oh oh ohhh yeah

Forever ever ever ever

Forever ever ohh

*I apologize for any mistakes on these lyrics. I copied them off of a lyrics website.

*Be sure to scroll down and pause the music playlist before watching*

This is my future wedding! If only I could dance...

Driver's Ed

Like I've mentioned before, I'm taking Driver's Ed this summer. I can't say that I've learned much of anything, but if it's what I have to do to get my permit when I turn 15, it's what I will do!

The other day we were supposed to be reading a chapter over the senses you need for driving. I came across this little paragraph:

It says, "Deaf drivers know that they must see what they cannot hear. They compensate by using their eyes more than drivers who are not deaf. In general, the driving records of deaf drivers are among the best."

I'm not sure how true that is, considering I broke my dad's car driving just driving it around the parking lot, but I digress...

After we finished reading, the teacher decided to review a little bit over what we just read. She went down the list of senses and asked if we needed them for driving. (see, I told you! This class is pointless!)

"Do you need to be able to hear to drive?"

I shook my head, but was surprised to hear a resounding "YES!" from every other student in the class. Um, frightening? The teacher did set them straight, but can they not read?!

Some people...

Monday, July 20, 2009



Just a Minor Annoyance

As you probably already know, I have Freedom processors by Cochlear. Picking out a brand is an extremely hard decision, and there really is no "right" choice. No matter what they say, one brand is not going to give you better hearing than another. Even people who have a different brand of implant in each ear are not a reliable source of knowing, because as you should have learned from my other blog posts, no two ears are alike! Some brands have better track records on reliability, which is what influenced my decision. One of my closest friends with a CI has a different brand, and we occasionally talk about our envies in each other's implants. She was implanted many years ago with a Clarion, and while the company has come out with a BTE, it just doesn't work for her since the battery only lasts a couple of hours. So she uses a bodyworn processor. She often gets jealous when I start talking about walking in the rain, or running through random people's sprinklers when I walk my dog. Her processor can't get wet at all. I get jealous that she doesn't have to deal with a bulky processor constantly falling off of her ear(s)! We both hear really well, and are both happy with what we have, we just wish that both of our companies would come out with completely waterproof processors! Everyone is different, and what is right for one may not be right for another (which is why you shouldn't bash other implant brands or try to shove your personal brand down someone else's throat!--just sayin') I have been more than happy with my Freedoms, and really feel like I made the right choice(for me!)

The great thing about the Freedoms is that they have two battery options- disposables and rechargeable. I started out on both sides using rechargeable, but it turns out that I am a power junkie. My MAPS require a LOT of power, plus I have thick hair which means it takes a little more power to transmit the sound through to the implant. On my first side the rechargeable only last 6 hours, which just does not work for me. I could be in the middle of a playing test in orchestra, or listening to an important class discussion, and it was just inconvenience to have to change them. That's why I use disposables, which usually last me a full day, unless I get up really early and stay up late or in an excessively loud environment (whenever we have pep rallies, my batteries die as soon as I get home from school). I've become a pro at changing batteries quickly and can change them in a matter of seconds. I go through a pack a day (of batteries, not anything else!) with having two ears, so being able to change them quickly when I get a bad batch of batteries, or when they die without reason is important to me.

So what's my point, you're wondering?

Not too long ago the little cover over where I plug in the accessory cables and FM got ripped off of the controller on my old side. It was probably due to me trying the FM at a camp for kids with hearing loss that I recently attended, and the FM just does not work with my old side (whole 'nother post with more details coming soon), which was discovered after many times of taking the FM boot in and out of the accessory plug-in thingy (what's it called?!) and replacing it with the normal battery rack. Combine that with me listening to my iPod for 10 hours each way on our road trip to New Orleans, that probably wore the poor little rubber cover out! This kind of thing is a pretty rare occurrence, but thankfully Cochlear was able to ship me another controller in just 2 days, even though the one I had was technically still working, and I had a back-up.

The problem? The new controller arrived, and I inspected it. I noticed the battery rack looked a little different. I took out the one from my left side and compared them.

The one on the left is the new battery rack that was just shipped to me, and the one on the right is the kind I'm used to having. Please excuse my lack of photography skills and my deodorant in the background . :)

The main difference I noticed was the gold strip was now just a straight line instead of turning at the top, and the little battery outlines were changed from black to gold. I figured it was just cosmetic, until I went to put batteries in. It felt odd, like I was putting them in backwards, and you really had to push to get the battery in. I figured it just took some getting used to.

The next morning I went to go change my batteries. I started with the right side. I pushed the two top batteries out with little issue, just had to push them a little bit harder than usual. Then I got to the bottom battery. I could not, for the life of me, get this thing out! I pushed and I pushed, and it would not budge! I then resorted to using every object I could think of to try to get it out, to no avail. Finally, I handed it to my mom and pouted. After spending a couple of minutes, she was finally able to get it out using her long, acrylic nails. The end result? A waste of ten minutes, the loss of my battery-changing independence and the ruining of my brand-new hot pink manicure (I say this at the risk of sounding shallow. Really, I'm not!)

It's become pretty much the same routine every morning. Try, fail, resort to random household objects, fail yet again, make my mom do it. It seems that the gold strip is not the only difference.

The one on the left is new, the one on the right is the original kind. Don't see a difference? On the old ones, the bottom battery always stuck out. It wasn't because it was broken, that's just how they're made. On the new kind, it seems they've decided to forgo this, and it has caused me some serious battery-changing issues!

Today was the first day I managed to get the bottom battery out on my own. It took a while, but I did it. I think I may just use some old battery racks I have if this doesn't get any easier.

Just a tiny annoyance compared to the joy I get from hearing the world around me. Today I heard what sounded like an Ice Cream Truck for the first time! A little battery trouble is nothing compared to the delight I get from hearing a friend whisper a secret in my ear, or foiling my dog's plan of trying to sneak up behind me with his nails clacking on the floor with each step. The pleasure of listening to and making music always brings me joy, and I will forever be grateful to Cochlear and everyone involved in my journey through bionic hearing. Even if they had to go and change something that was working just fine before! (Cochlear, are you listening?!)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

No Two Ears Alike-Part 3: Progress and a Problem

This is a series of "flashback" blog posts on my journey through going bilateral. To read the other posts in this series, click on the following links.

Part One

Part Two

I had purposely scheduled my activation for a Friday so I would have the weekend to adjust to hearing with two ears. And that I did. By Saturday night, I was listening to my iPod with my left ear alone and even enjoying it. My speech recognition seemed to be improving by the hour. Just a day after getting turned on I went to The Listening Room and breezed through all the levels of the speech discrimination activities, and the highest one, the expert/olympic module, was/is still under development, probably would have been more challenging. (My surgery was just a few weeks too early to receive Sound and Way Beyond.) By the end of the weekend, I had gone through all 8 of the programs given to me (each one louder than the next). It seemed that I was one of those people I had been jealous of when I got my first implant, those who seem to do well instantly.

Since I had gone through all the programs, I went in for another mapping four days after my new side was turned on. We quickly got through the mapping, and then my audiologist was eager to put me in the soundbooth. I listened for the tones, then she did HINT sentences. I surprised myself with the amount I was able to understand. Either I understood the sentences or I didn't. The ones I understood I got entirely right, but the ones I had trouble with I couldn't understand a single word of. The audiologist finished the HINT test and I started to get out of my chair.

"Wait," she said "I'm going to get ready greedy and test you on words!"

"Are you kidding me?!" I asked.

For the uninitiated, this is probably one of the most stressful hearing tests if you don't have really good hearing. I swear I can feel the anxiety building up as the creepy man voice says, "Ready, duck. Ready, bomb." I'm not sure what the point of saying "ready" is, since I don't think there is anyway to be ready! The man sounds like he's torn between overexcitement and nervousness, and I'm not sure if the speed is adjustable but he seems to go mighty fast! That voice haunts me...

While doing the test I was convinced I was getting every single one wrong. I have a close relationship with my audiologist and we get along great, so I figured she would be understanding. I looked at her through the window with a "save me!" look and she just smiled and nodded at me to keep going. Fine then!

Finally, the testing was over. I went into a long rant to my audiologist about how sure I was that I had failed miserably. She refused to say anything until we got into her office. "Do you know how amazing these results are?!" she asked. Clearly, I did not. Then she showed them to me...

Keep in mind these are my results FOUR DAYS after my CI was activated. Not a long time at all. I also included my right ear's (with two years of electrical listening experience) audiogram for comparison.

Red is right (old), blue is left (new). That's 5-2o dB across the board for my new side alone! And 0-15 dB for my old side is pretty awesome too!

And here is my speech understanding scores for my left ear alone, once again, I repeat, FOUR DAYS LATER!

HINT- 83%

CNC- 60%

Pure shock! I was already waaay surpassing my old hearing tests.

The next few days I had a little more skip in my step and my hearing only kept getting better. I was so happy to know that I had made the "right" choice and was feeling a lot more confident in more difficult hearing situations. Actually happy doesn't even begin to cover it. I was ECSTATIC. I was in the "honeymoon phase" of having two implants.

In a perfect world, the story would end there. I would go on to say that now I have super sonic amazing hearing and blah, blah ,blah. (okay, yes, I do think my hearing is pretty amazing now, but that is not the point!)

Not too long after that hearing test, I kept feeling a sharp pain along the very top of my scar/ear on my head. It felt like an awful pinching. I tried to ignore it at first, chalking it up to healing. The pain started getting worse and more frequent. "My ear is probably just not used to carrying so much weight on it." I told myself. That had to be why. Then it got to the point where by the afternoon, I had to take my processor off because the pain was so intense. There were days where I had to remove it at school and keep the processor in my purse, because as much as I loved hearing with two ears, the pain was becoming unbearable.

My mom had said from the beginning we should book an appointment with my surgeon. I refused and insisted that it would get better. She begged me to go. Finally I gave in out of pure misery.

My appointment was on a school day afternoon immediately following the Worst IEP Meeting of My Life. Okay, it was the only IEP meeting I'd even been to, but it was an emotionally traumatic experience. And as I've said before, I'm not a crazy-emotional person. I'm not going to go into many details because I have no way of knowing who reads this blog. (which is also why I don't use my real name, for those of you who were wondering.) Let me just say that the person who was going to be in charge of coordinating my services and was supposed to help me for the next two years of high school just didn't "get it". She seemed like she was out to get me, and I cried until I thought I had no more tears left. Then came the appointment.

My mom was parking the car, so I went into my surgeon's office on my own. It was the one time they took me immediately. I went in and my surgeon came to the room I was in pretty quickly. I described the pain to him and he looked. He asked me to point to exactly where the pain was. He then got out some kind of giant magnifying thing and put it to the side of my head. After looking for what seemed like forever, he looked at me and told me that there were hairs growing inside of the incision that were preventing it from healing. He told me he would use his instruments and go inside the wound to remove them, and it may hurt a little. Great, just what I needed.

He went in and began and the pain was awful. It felt like he was pinching me as hard as he could, and then some. Suddenly it stopped, and I turned my head to look at him. "I just need to get another instrument so I can go in a little bit deeper." AHHH!

Could this day get any worse?

By the time he finished, my mom arrived in time for a question-and-answer session with my surgeon. He went into more detail this time, explaining that because of these hairs growing at the top of my incision, there was actually a small hole forming since it was preventing the scar from healing. Ew. I knew having crazy curly hair would catch up with me someday! My surgeon told me that what he did should solve the problem. I asked if it could happen again. "It can, but it's unlikely," was his response.

Following that appointment I had another appointment with my audiologist because my new side would frequently "cut out" where it would briefly go silent, then I would resume hearing as normal. We tried a couple of things and were hopeful that it solved the problem.

In my dreams!

By the time I got home it was late, and I was exhausted. All I wanted to do was have myself a little pity-party. My parents were pretty understanding, and allowed to take a rare "day off" of school to relax. I'd need it.

To be continued, once again. Up next in part 4: Frustrations.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

No Two Ears Alike-Part 2:Activation

April 3rd, 2009. The big day.

I managed to survive the two and a half weeks between surgery and activation. I was super excited to get my new side turned on, not just because I wanted to hear better, but because I was told it would help with this annoying chirping I was hearing. At that point I was willing to try anything, so that came as a relief!

The day my implant was to be turned on was also the day of a big orchestra competition. The biggest competition our class had ever played in, to be exact, so I was determined not to miss it. That's another reason I was excited to get my left side turned on; the violin sits on the left side of your head so it was sounding quieter than what I was used to. Anyway, I went with my class on the bus to the competition, and as soon as it was over my mom picked me up and we drove off to the audiologist! I ran into the hospital bathroom and changed out of my orchestra clothes, then went and sat in the waiting room, anxiously bouncing in my seat while simultaneously repeating the mantra, "high hopes, low expectations" in my head. Yeah right!

The audiologist came out grinning. "Are you ready?" Like she had to ask!

I walked into her office, me and my lonesome self. My parents never come into the room for my mapping sessions, and this time was no exception. I sat down on the chair and we quickly hooked up the processor to the computer and the mapping process began. Only this time it was much more difficult than usual because I was distracted by the noise INSIDE OF MY HEAD. Once we finally went through all of the "fat" electrodes (the only ones you map) the time came. She turned it on. I knew it wasn't going to be an earth-shattering moment, since it wasn't like I'd never heard sound before. At both of my activations we left the cameras at home. It just puts too much pressure for it to be dramatic! I'm not an extremely emotional person, so there really wasn't much to see.

"Can you tell it's on?" asked the audiologist

"Nooo?" I said nervously.

That was the moment of my activation, intimately shared by me, my audiologist, and the observing student. Touching, right?

She turned it up.

"How about now?" she started talking about the weather. "What does it sound like?"

I could tell I was hearing something, but it was more "feeling it" than hearing. That's normal, my audiologist told me.

"Whenever you feel ready, take off your old side and listen to it with just the new side. Take as long as you need." she continued to talk.

I took a deep breath, and flicked off my right coil.

Wind chimes. It sounded like wind chimes.

To be continued.

Up next: Progress and a Problem

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

No Two Ears Alike- 1

Shame on me.

I started this blog exactly a week after my second implant was turned on fully anticipating to document everything and completely failed to even mention that I was bilateral. Oh well, let's hope you figured it out from the picture at the top of my blog!

I think it's time you hear a little about my left ear, don't you? My left ear was always my "better" (better being relative) ear. There was never a huge difference, and I was always told that it was such a small difference it shouldn't matter. Well, it felt significant to me! Especially when we managed to switch up my hearing aids a month before my first CI surgery ( don't'd think after nine years of having hearing aids this would be a mistake that would never be made, but it's not so!) further exaggerating the difference between my ears. I figured it out soon enough, but even when the aids were in the correct ears, I always felt like I had to turn my left side towards people to hear a little bit better. It had quite a bit of residual hearing, so wearing a hearing aid on that side and an implant on my right seemed ideal.

So why did I decide to get a second implant? My hearing hadn't dropped any more, and I could still understand some speech. The thing is, when I got a taste of what hearing with one CI was like, I wanted to be able to hear that well in both ears! For those of you or your kids who still have some hearing in their unimplanted ear, let me show you my left ear's hearing test results at my evaluation for a second implant...

The blue line is (or should I say was) my aided hearing. The purple line is my unaided hearing. Unaided, as you can see, I had a pretty typical severe hearing loss. Aided, it looks very similar to how my unaided audiogram looked when my hearing loss was first diagnosed when I was three and a half, although not as much of a dip in the highest frequencies and it was probably slightly worse in the lowest frequencies.

As far as speech understanding goes, here are my results (once again, left ear only):

HINT- 60dB (no noise) average- 79%

CNC Monosyllabic Word Test average- 24%

HINT (with noise): 0%

I know there are some people thinking, "why would you give up your residual hearing when you can score 79% on a sentence recognition test?"

First of all, I didn't end up losing all of my residual hearing after all (a whole 'nother post, as soon as I get more info!)

And 2nd of all, because. The HINT test is sooo not real life (well without noise, it sure isn't!)Notice how much lower my word recognition is, and you'll see how good of a guesser/"fill-in-the-blanker" I really am! I also knew it could be much better. I wanted to improve my hearing in noise, which was currently awful even with my CI and HA together. (0% for my right ear alone, and a pitiful 21% for both ears) With a CI, hearing is just so much easier. Even my audiologist commented on how most of the time with my right ear alone, I was relaxed, leaning back in the chair, and just saying the answers with ease. Then when we went to test the other side, I kept leaning towards the speakers, squinting my eyes, and having to pause to try and think and "fill in the blanks" for each of the sentences.

If you're wondering, here were the results for my right, implanted side:

HINT (no noise)- 98%

CNC- 80%

(audiogram of my right ear will be on the same one as my post-bilateral CI results) No, these results are not perfect, but I'm happy with them! They actually have changed very little (maybe 5% higher) from a month after my 1st CI was activated, interestingly enough.

Okay, okay, enough about the testing. I had my surgery for my second implant on the Monday that my spring break started, and I fully intended to be back at school the following Monday. After all, after my 1st CI surgery I was up and happy just two days later. Well this time was completely different. For starters, I was the last surgery of the day. Or one of them. It wouldn't have been that bad if the nurses hadn't done every SINGLE thing in their power to get me out of the hospital ASAP. I felt like I'd been run over by a truck, and came very close to screaming "I'LL PEE WHEN I WANT TO PEE! JUST LET ME SLEEP!" :-P. The surgery was quicker than my other one, a little over an hour, and the anesthesiologist commented how the electrodes just "slid right in."

When I woke up from the surgery, the first thing I noticed was the roaring in my ear. It was crazy loud, and drove me nuts. When I got home, I rested plenty and woke up the next day. For the entire week, my ear and head were throbbing. I couldn't stand up without being hit by a harsh wave of dizziness, and when I managed to walk I was extremely unsteady. The roaring in my ear had transformed into a steady chirping noise that was in synch with my heart beating. This was not how it was supposed to be! I'd been warned about all of the side effects, but I didn't think they'd actually happen! I definitely wondered, "what did I get myself into?" multiple times in that week of misery.

The dizziness eventually went away. The pain came and went. The chirping? I still have it to this very day, but only without my left processor on.

To be continued...

Monday, July 13, 2009

Driver's Ed (Help?!)

Today, I started my first day of Driver's Ed. Since it was the first day, we didn't really do much, except slowly and painstakingly go over and fill out each portion of the learner's permit/driver's license application form (I'm sure it had a much fancier name, but I can't seem to recall it!) It seemed completely pointless to be doing it as a class, until we got to one of the yes or no questions:

"Do you have a health condition that could impede with the communication of a peace officer?"
Hmm.... do I?

The teacher explained her limited knowledge of the question to the class, "You only check yes on this one if you're totally deaf and can't hear anything. Or if you're Dumb, which means you can't talk." (her words, not mine!)

I looked down at the paper and around the room, pondering what to do. It was a rather simple question.

I am deaf...right? But I can hear! What if you're in between?!

I looked up at the teacher, the question still unanswered. A little bell must have gone off in her head and she leaned forward and whispered to me, "Can you hear anything without your 'hearing aids' on?" (I figured it wasn't the time to correct her) I shook my head no.

She said she'd have to ask someone about it and get back to me after our ten minute break. I could have easily checked "yes," but the thing is, if you do there is an entirely different form and process you must also go through. So I didn't want to do anything unnecessarily.

The lady never got back to me. Anyone have any experience with this? I can speak and hear pretty well (most of the time). What should I do?

Also, another question for anyone out there.... I'm 99% sure we will be spending most of the classes watching safety videos from the '80s. Which I'm pretty sure don't have captions. Any suggestions on what I should do about that?

The rest of today's class was spent reading out of the handbook that we'll be tested over. Did I forget to mention that the A/C wasn't working? And we were sitting in 111 degree TX heat? Oh yes, fun stuff!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Hero with bilateral implants gets Extreme Home Makeover

So, last night I was sitting in our family room not really paying much attention to the local news. I had one eye on the TV, the other on my phone. Imagine my surprise when I notice a man with a Freedom perched upon his ear. It turned out the man, Carlton Marshall was a former SWAT member who was injured when he was shot during a drug raid. He had a stroke and then contracted meningitis. He also now needs a wheelchair to get around, but their house isn't wheelchair accessible. The Extreme Makeover crew knocked on his door yesterday morning, and they are now renovating his house.
The story also appeared on the front page of our newspaper this morning. I think it's pretty cool when you see a cochlear implant on the front page of the newspaper! Obviously, he has had to overcome many other obstacles besides his hearing loss, and I can't wait to see how his house turns out!
The date the show will air has yet to be determined.For more information and pictures on the story, click here.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Close Encounters of the Ignorant Kind

For Independence Day weekend, my family and I drove down to New Orleans to spend some time with family. There was also some kind of music festival going on, so it was nearly impossible to book a hotel. The one we had was literally the only one with rooms left. When booking the rooms, my mom called to ask to see if they'd be able to give us the flashing smoke detector for people with hearing loss. Not a problem, they said.

When we finally arrived at our hotel, we went to the front desk and my mom reminded them we needed rooms close by to each other (my sister and I usually stay in a different room than our parents, but we usually try to get connecting rooms) and I politely reminded them about the special smoke detector. "Of course!" she said.

So far, so good...

We got up to the rooms and explored (okay, inspected) them. I wondered aloud which room had the smoke detector for the hearing impaired. Both rooms had smoke detectors that looked exactly the same. We decided to ask them when we went back down to get the luggage. Here is the conversation that followed:

(to make it easier to read, I've color-coded who said what. Here's a key...)

Lady at the front desk
My mom
Side comment

"Excuse me, but I was wondering which of the rooms is equipped with the special flashing smoke detector?"

"Oh, um... Well, it was either we put you in rooms down the hall from one another and have the smoke detectors, or gives you rooms that are close without them. I just assumed being close was more important."

Okay... it would've been nice if she at least told us this! I mean, she would've been in some pretty hot water if the smoke detectors went off and that was when we discovered they didn't have a strobe light.
"Well, the thing is, she won't hear the smoke detector go off in the middle of the night."

"Oh honey! Don't worry! Her nose works just fine! Can she hear me at all?"

"Yeahhh... I just can't hear at night."

Okay, when people seem clueless, it's always best to education them, right?

"She wears these things that are like hearing aids, and she can hear you pretty well right now--"

"Oh! I thought she was just reading my lips!"

"No, she can hear right now. But when she takes them off at night or in the shower or at night, she can't hear anything at all."

*cackling laugh* "Do you know how many people wish they couldn't hear me?! You sure are lucky!"

And no, I never did get a flashing smoke detector.

On the bright side, I did have a great 4th. I got to meet a lot of my new baby cousins, but the best was the spectacular fireworks(pics above)! We went and watched them on the levee, and there were at least 4 separate shows going on around us at once. This was my first time hearing fireworks in "Bi-CI" and it sounded awesome!
I hope everyone enjoyed their holiday weekend. And kept their ears protected! The poor little girl next to me would shriek (and not out of excitement) with every firework, clutching her hands on her ears. Should've brought earplugs!