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.
It’s you, and me
Ima take you there, Ima take you there
It’s like I waited my whole life
Feels like were on another level (ohh ahh
It’s like I waited my whole life (oh)
It’s a long way down
ohh oh oh oh oh oh ohhh yeah