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.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

It's That Time of Year Again- Main Subjects

See my post on Orchestra here. This is the letter I sent to all of my teachers in my core subjects, although I changed it slightly when I sent it to each teacher. I am taking two AP (the max offered) and the rest pre-AP classes, so this year should be fun. (ha!) I wanted to make sure I covered all my bases, so the email is somewhat lengthy. After sending this email, one of my teachers wrote me back telling me that there is a meeting about me scheduled for next week. I had requested to be present in this meeting, because I've found in the past they've never gotten the important points across (hence the email). So, as you can imagine, I'm not happy to find out from her that someone already scheduled a meeting about me. I mean, why am I the last one to know?! I haven't even heard from my Itinerant teacher of the deaf (not that she does much... or that I need her to, for that matter.) I did, however, pick up and test out my FM today. It works! (well, one one ear...)

Anyway, here's the email. Again, the ***ed out stuff is private and/or irrelevant.

Hi Ms. ***,

My name is L*** M*** and I am going to be in your ** period **** class. I wanted to let you know a few of things about me so that the year will run a bit more smoothly.

I wear a device called a Cochlear Implant in each ear. Rather than hearing naturally, I wear a microphone on the outside of my head that processes noise and then sends it to the implant in my head, which is then perceived as sound. With my cochlear implants, I can hear most sounds, they just aren't as clear and sound different to me than they do to you. Without my cochlear implants on, I am profoundly deaf.

I am completely oral and do not use (or know) any sign language. When you are speaking to me or the class, please try to talk in a somewhat loud and steady voice. I read lips, so I also need to have an unobstructed, lighted view of your face. I am constantly trying to fill in the blanks of what I didn't hear, so please try not to speak too fast! I also need to sit near wherever you usually stand while you are teaching, and it is also much easier for me to understand you and see your lips if you avoid pacing around the room. Please get my attention before you start speaking, because I may not notice at first that you are talking, and then miss the beginning of what you have said. If you are answering questions from students, please repeat the question back before answering it, because I often have trouble hearing students who are in various parts of the room. For example if John were to raise his hand and ask what page the homework is on, rather than just saying "Twenty four" say something along the lines of "The homework is on page twenty four." Otherwise I would have no idea what you meant when you said "twenty four" and it wouldn't do me much good!

I have the most trouble hearing through electronics, so if we are watching a video or listening to a tape, it must have captions. If not, I need a copy of notes with any important information that I need to know that was said. Legally, I cannot be tested on any sort of audio or video. Please also try to do your best to have a written copy of any instructions you give, whether it be on the board or on a piece of paper.

It is also especially hard for me to hear in noise, so if we ever have to break into smaller groups, it is much easier if I can work with my group outside in the hall, away from all the noise. If this is not possible, maybe we could work out an arrangement so I am in a part of the room that is quieter. I will do my best to remind you of this.

The last thing I wanted to let you know is that I use an FM system to help me hear a little bit better. I don't know if you have used this type of FM before, bu basically, you just have to hang a microphone around your neck, and your voice is wirelessly transmitted to my sound processors, so that it sounds a little bit louder to me. It's fairly easy to use, but I would be more than happy to come by **** [high school] today or Friday to show you how and explain it to you. It should only take a couple of minutes, but I would rather show you ahead of time, as it can get quite hectic on the first day of school (as I'm sure you already know!) Please let me know if there is a time you would like me to come.

Let me know if you have any questions at all, whether it be now or during the year. I am very comfortable talking about my hearing loss, and no one knows what I have trouble with better than I do!

Thank you!

It's That Time of Year Again- Orchestra

Every year (okay, well I just started doing it last year, so for the past two years) I have written all of my teachers an email letting them know a little bit about myself, my hearing loss, and my implants so that they're not completely clueless on the first day. This year I wrote three different emails- one for orchestra, one for my core classes, and I'm going to write one for French soon. I am going to post these in case anyone wanted an idea of what I write, or if you wanted to write a similar letter yourself. So here is the letter I wrote to my Orchestra teacher.

**Some information is **ed out because it is private and/or irrelevant.

Hi Mr. ******,
My name Is L**** M**** and I'm going to be in your first period Orchestra class. I know you have taught me a few times at ***[my middle school], but I just wanted to let you know some things about me to make the year run a little more smoothly. I wear devices called cochlear implants in each ear, and without them on I am profoundly deaf. Rather than having thousands of little hair cell to hear all the different frequencies, I hear an array of 22 electrodes implanted inside of my head. With my implants on, I can hear most sounds, but they sound different to me than they would to someone with natural hearing. Because of this, it can be hard for me to tune my violin, and I may not always hear the more subtle differences in pitch when playing (or listening) to music. I am hoping this will not pose much of a problem, but if it does I will let you know you know and maybe we can figure out a time outside of class for you to help me with whatever I am having difficulty with. My hearing loss has not posed many issues in the past, so, again, I hope it is not too big of a deal in orchestra.

When you speak to me or the class, make sure you speak in a steady and somewhat loud voice so that I can understand you. I also read lips, so I need an unobstructed view of your face and mouth when you are talking. To help me hear a little bit better, I also use a device called an FM system. It's fairly easy to use, and you basically just have to hang the microphone around your neck. I don't know if you have used this type of FM before, but if not I would be more than happy to come by **** [my high school] today or Friday to explain everything. It shouldn't take more than a couple of minutes, but it can be pretty hectic on the first day (as I'm sure you know!) and it would be easier for me to show you how to use it ahead of time, if that's possible.

The last I wanted to let you know is that if we ever watch some kind of video in class with important information, it must be captioned for me to understand what is being said. If it does not have captions, I will need you to give me a copy of notes with any information in the video that I need to know.

Thank you, and please let me know if you would like me to come explain the FM!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Teens With Hearing Loss?

Are you a teen with hearing loss? Or the parent of one? Please read this and pass it on! Kristi is a 15 year old girl with cochlear implants, and is out to start an awesome project. I promised I'd help spread the word, and if you have any questions feel free to contact her. While I don't know Kristi personally, she seems like a really cool girl. To read more about her go to the website she gives in her post.

Here is what Kristi has written,
"I have an idea. I want to start a project, a giant one and I can't do it without your help. I want to start a traveling notebook for deaf teenagers all across the world.It will be a place for your heartaches, your fears, your pain, your hopes, dreams, memories and secrets that will be shipped all across America and possibly across seas if anyone afar is interested.And the best part? Everything you write will be completely anonymous. So don’t be afraid to spill your insides out all over the blank pages, because you don’t have to sign it.This will be your outlet.Write it, type it, draw it, glue and paste it on any page, in any order so it is all safe against guessing, and then send it off to the next city, the next state, the next country. Read the secrets of others, leave notes, underline, understand and feel it too.In the end I will receive the notebook and scan the pages for all to see.This is a project for everyone – I want you all to participate!This is still in it’s planning stages as in how the notebook will get to you: whether I send it to you and you send it back for me to send to the next person OR I send it to the first person to send to the next in line. And I’m considering starting a small fund for ‘in case’ emergencies.First I need to see just how many will be interested in joining this project. So please comment and shoot me a quick e-mail at help spread the word about this project! The more, the better!For more information: "

(It's formatted a lot differently, but when I copied and pasted it, it got all messed up. Go to her blog to see it for yourself!)

If you're interested, please contact Kristi. I know I will be doing this, and it seems really neat, so I thought I would share!

By the way- I edited my last post. Scroll down to the bottom of it to read my summary on being bilateral!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

No Two Ears Alike- Part 5: A Comparison

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.
So, I'm going to write a comparison between my left (new) ear, with info about my right (old) ear . Some of it is stuff I have already talked about, some is stuff that I vaguely mentioned, and some is information that I am just now sharing.
Old: Easy as pie, but slightly dizzy for the first 2 or so days.
New: Terrible. Horrid. I was dizzy for at least a week, and in a lot of pain. Also had/have issues with the scar healing. It took me about two weeks to feel like myself again.

Residual Hearing*
*I have not officially gotten my hearing tested unaided since getting both implants, but will do so and post the results in the near future. This is just what I have observed:
Old: Seems to be a good bit of residual hearing in the low frequencies. In that ear I can sometimes hear my dog barking (if I am really close by), doors slamming, my iPod turned all the way up using my Bose headphones, and voices if you speak/scream loudly in a low-pitched voice. I can also hear loud clapping.
New: Appears to have some residual hearing in the high frequencies, weirdly enough! I don't think I am completely imagining it, but anything is possible. I can hear the high-pitched beep/ticking of my Sonic Alert portable alarm clock faintly if I hold it right next to my ear without anything blocking it. When I went back to school before it was activated, we had a fire drill and I could hear the alarm in that ear.I can't hear much when I turn my iPod up all of the way, but some things that I have heard are someone smacking gum (so strange) and my sister will come up behind me and scream in a high pitched voice, and I can hear it. She just thinks it is so cool!
Side note: My hearing fluctuates, so I'm not sure how long this is going to last. Some of these sounds I could not hear before I was implanted without my aids in, so it's pretty weird. I don't mind it though!

Old: I would get it occasionally (it was very quiet) before I got implanted. Once I got my CI, it went
away completely
New: Never had tinnitus before, until I woke up from surgery with an extremely loud roaring sound. It has since progressed into a steady, loud, chirping. It beats to my pulse- if I was running around, it gets faster. If I'm just laying down, it gets slower. I only hear it without my processor turned on.

Old: I kept a log on Microsoft Word of my activation experience and all the new sounds I am hearing. I have not updated it since November of '07, but it is 14 pages long! It's really cool going back and looking at it, and I encourage anyone to do so if they are not already keeping some kind of blog or journal! I also think my writing has matured a bit since then... Here is an excerpt I wrote in it shortly after activation,

"When I was first activated everything sounded like beeps. It was weird, but it quickly got better. Within an hour everybody sounded like Mickey Mouse on helium! When my sister laughed in a dramatic low pitch it sounded so high that it was impossible to imagine! However the next day I was able to understand many things without lipreading. Then people began to sound like Donald Duck. It was pretty funny, I have to admit! The next day, people started to sound like a robot mixed with Donald Duck. The more I practiced with the implant, the better it got. Starting the day of my activation, I listened to music with just my implant. At first it just sounded like a cacophony of sound, but if just got better and better. Within 2 days I could understand the lyrics of songs. About a week or a week and a half after activation I bought an iPod since mom “misplaced” the other one. Once again, the more I listened to it, the better it sounds."

So there's how I got my blog name! More about that in another post.. And the "misplaced iPod" comment- my mom took up my iPod after my hearing got worse (which I think was a very cruel thing to do!) because she was afraid it would further damage what I had left. She promised me I could have it back once I got my implant, but by then she had forgotten where she'd hidden it!

New: Sounded like wind chimes at first... Progressed pretty quickly. I was listening to music and talking on the phone (with my AV therapist, not my friends- that's more of a challenge!) within 3 or 4 days!

Old: Oh my word. A complete and utter disaster! The static was so annoying, and the batteries die every 10-15 minutes because I use a really,really strong map on that side. I've deemed the FM hopeless for that ear, and even my audiologist has said there's really not much else we can do to make use of the FM better on that side.
New: Static at first, but went away once we found the right FM. I haven't tried it in the school setting yet, but I have my fingers crossed for the start of school next week.
Note: Yes, I am only going to wear an FM boot on one side. I'm hoping it will also allow me to hear what is being said by the rest of class, if the sound coming through the mic only reduced on one side. We'll see- I'm cautiously optimistic.

Staying On
Old: My ears look pretty much the same, so I'm not really sure what the deal is! I guess my right ear is just floppier! The processor is constantly falling off of my ear when I'm doing everything from just sitting there, to baking, to running around, and it was a real pain when it fell off when we were doing a group obstacle course where we were all standing on a wire trying not to fall off at a camp I went to this summer. It was a camp for kids with hearing loss, and the "counselors" were audiology/SLP students, so someone picked it out of the dirt, and handed it to on of the students, who tried to simultaneously balance herself while putting my processor back on my head. The problem was she was on the other side of me and couldn't see my ear, so it took a little while-- and then fell off again! The magnet stays on fine, though (until the processor drags it down to the ground as it falls!)

New: Stays on, no problem! I was pleasantly surprised, because I did not want to deal with two things constantly flying off of my head!


Old- After I got activated, I apparently started playing really quietly. Which is not a good thing, considering I'm already a pretty timid player!

New- Went through the whole "playing quietly" period again. My violin teacher thought I could tell better when I was in or out of tune, and did more auto-correcting. I guess he's right, I never really noticed it...

Old- I began pronouncing the soft sounds that I had not heard or said in a while. "House" became "House" again, instead of "how". The /s/ and /x/ sounds came back into my speech!

New- Suddenly I began getting comments left and right about how my speech sounded so much "crisper" and "clear". It was kind of an awkward conversation to have, but I guess I can give the credit to my new implant!

Note: My speech really wasn't all that bad before, really! Sure, it wasn't perfect, but you couldn't tell I had trouble hearing just from the way I spoke (until you asked me a question and I answered it completely wrong- ha!). I will have to record myself speaking someday and put it on here...


Old- Much better than it was with hearing aids. No more distortion distortion. The first song I heard when I was activated was by KT Tunstall, who I later found out, interestingly enough, has a deaf brother with a CI! I didn't think music could sound any better.
New- I was proved wrong! Listening in stereo using my headphones is soo much better! It's so cool to be able to listen to each instrument and understand the lyrics

Anyone out there?!
That's all for now, folks! And lurkers- please don't be afraid to come out of your shadows! I don't bite! I can see how many people visit my blog per day and it doesn't nearly match up with the number of comments! While I get plenty of comments on the Community (which is a great resource for anyone looking into or that has CIs, and I recommend you visit!) y'all here in the blogger world seem to be slackin'! I'd like to hear what you have to say, even if you just want to leave an anonymous comment- fine with me! So come on guys, something-anything! Just let me know that I'm not talking to myself!
In Summary- 8/19/09
I was asked to give a summary of all of my thoughts on being bilateral, and I thought that was a good idea, so here I go. Basically, 2>1! I had a significant amount of residual in my unimplanted ear using a hearing aid before going bilateral, but I have found that having two implants makes a world of difference, rather than an implant and a hearing aid. I feel like I can hear more of the subtleties of music, and I don't struggle nearly as much in noisy situations. I have found that while my two ears are completely different, they complement each other beautifully. I prefer my newer ear over my older one, and find it better for talking on the phone. If anyone is contemplating going bilateral, my advice would definitely be "Go for it!" but also understand that your journey is not going to be exactly the same the second time around. Upon first getting a second implant, there is not as much of the "WOW!" factor since you can already hear sound. However, it is much easier and less fatiguing being bilateral, and I highly recommend it!

Friday, August 14, 2009

My New Cellphone (and why you shouldn't rely on pockets to hold your keys)

About a week ago I got a new phone. Prior to that, I had a really awesome Sidekick 2008. I was in LOVE with this phone. I'm a big texter, so it was perfect for me with its QWERTY keyboard, and it was my first "smartphone" which was pretty cool, and it had all these random nifty features. Some I didn't use, but the internet was pretty cool! Plus, it had removable covers and this website where you could make your own personalized cover for the same price! I made this really cute pink one with my name and some music notes, and an adorable picture of my dog.

Okay, after all this gushing I'm even starting to ask myself why I got a new phone! But, truth be told, hearing on that phone was a disaster. It was absolutely not T-coil (or hearing aid) compatible, and even without T-coil I got some interference. Sometimes I need/want to use the phone, so just being able to text was not optimal.

My phone contract was coming to an end and my Sidekick kept malfunctioning and not letting ,e text. Not good! So, I decided it was time to research ( a lot!) for a new phone. One thing I discovered is that every single major phone company I looked up has a list of all their hearing aid compatible phones. This was really helpful, and most of them also listed the ratings (M3, or M4 and/or T3 and T4)

Here are the links, if anyone is interested.

T-Mobile (scroll down towards the bottom)
Sprint (For more info on their TTY compatible phones and Relay services, and data-only plans click here)

I looked at all of these websites and the features of each phone. I went to T-Mobile (my provider with my Sidekick), Verizon, and at&t and tried out all of their hearing aid compatible phones. Some interesting things I found out were that T-mobile has no M4 or T4 phone, only M3/T3, which is a lower rating. When we went by the at&t store, they claimed to have only one hearing aid compatible phone, which was a really basic phone. So, we scratched at&t off of the list. I tried the phones at T-Mobile, both with and without T-coil, and found that they were still somewhat hard to hear on. Plus all the cool phones (G1 and MyTouch, anyone?) were not hearing aid compatible. I realllly wanted one with a full keyboard, and that I could hear on, it didn't even have to be a "nice" phone. So off to Verizon we went.

I was surprised that they had quite a few phone that had T4 as well as M4 ratings. They had all kinds of cool phones- Blackberries, touch screens, full keyboards, - ALL with M4 T4 ratings! Sweet! I tried out quite a few, and finally settled on, drumroll....

The LG EnV Touch! It has a full QWERTY keyboard, as well as a touch screen (with keyboard) on the outside when you shut it. It has a rating of M4/T4 and I could hear well on it when I tried it out in the store. The guy even gave me these two pink covers that I can put on it! Yeahh!

It works well, and I really like it. It has most of the features that my Sidekick had. The one thing I don't like is that Verizon apparently had a 160 character text limit to non-Verizon users...who knew?! I was kind of annoyed, especially since they didn't tell us. My friends thought it was pretty funny "No more of your infamous 5 page long texts!" Oh well! I can still send and then finish the message in a new text message, so I can live with that.

It seems I need a new mapping, though. I tried out the phone a few weeks before I bought it, and I could hear great! But my friend called me the day after I got it, and I could barely hear her. I'm not going to go into all the details (because I can't without making myself sound like a complete idiot) but I'm just going to say that I didn't hear the time we were going to the movies, and had to beg one of my other friends to find out. She refused, but it all worked out in the end.

I have since tried using the phone on my left (new) ear with much more success! I was delighted with that! And the thing is, you never know when you'll need to call someone. I'm saying this 10 minutes after getting into my house after being locked out for 25 minutes. That definitely required me to make a few phone calls! My poor dog has a hurt paw, but he was feeling kind of anxious so I decided to take him on a short walk. My dad was out of town, and my mom decided to take my sister shopping, so I was home alone. So, being the very responsible teenager that I am, I took a key and locked our front door after leaving. We just went down the block, but I could tell Zach (my dog) was getting tired and it was hard for him to hop on three legs. So we walked back to the house. Right as I was about to get the key out, a thought popped in my head, "Wouldn't it suck if I lost my key?" I then reached into my pocket where I had oh-so-safely put the key, and it was nowhere to be found. Panic set in and I turned each of my pockets inside out in desperation. Nothing but a tube of chapstick and my cellphone!

I called my mom, who was pretty angry that I left the house in the first place. After doing her usual, "I'm going to kill you!" she instructed me to retrace my path to see if I could find the key. By then, Zach was completely exhausted, and whenever I tried to get him along with me to come look, he would just go in the street and drink the drain water. So, I tied his leash loosely to a tree branch and went on my way to look for the stupid key. I looked carefully, using my phone as a light since it was now getting dark out. I could not find it! My mom called me again three times, saying she was on the way. The only thing is, she was a good half hour away. Finally, by some miracle, one of our neighbors answered her phone and drove over and brought me a key-- after I'd been sweating out side for 45 minutes! The walk (20 minutes) was shorter than the time I waited!

Don't you hate it when you try to be independent and make a complete fool of yourself?

**UPDATE** I made an even bigger fool of myself... Apparently my jean shorts have a little tiny pocket inside of the normal pocket- perfect for fitting a key! My mom decided to search my shorts and thought it was HILARIOUS when she found it! Me-not so much. At least I didn't lose the key?!

Monday, August 10, 2009

For those of you that are (or are planning to be) bimodal...

Or binaural, or whatever you want to call it. Simply put, wearing both a hearing aid and a CI.

Even though I'm bilateral now, I thought I'd get the word out in case anyone else had the same problem I once had.

When I still wore a hearing aid in my left ear, but had just gotten a CI in my right, I kept running into a problem. My hearing aid was constantly breaking. Sure, it broke before, but this was a constant. Two days or less after getting it repaired, it would break again! And it wasn't like it used to break, where it would just stop working altogether. It would start sounding like static. When someone spoke, all I heard was static. Don't get me wrong, it's not like I could hear and understand crystal-clear with my hearing aid, but I still had some speech recognition in quiet, and could identify voices. When it was broken, it was really quiet I could not understand anything whatsoever! It would bother me more than it helped.

After about the tenth time of it being sent back and repaired, my HA audiologist wanted me to come in to her office to see if there was "anything we could do."

Huh? It's broken!

So after talking for a while, she looked at me sympathetically and said, "You know, we could do a hearing test, just to be sure. It's only one ear, so it won't take that long."

Ohhh I see how it is! They think it's my hearing! No siree!

"No, I'm not doing a hearing test! It's broken! Listen to it if you don't believe me!"

So she did. She thought it sounded "a little funny", and I'm assuming that for me, being deaf, I just notice it a lot more. If you're listening to my HA turned all the way down so that it's tolerable, you're not going to notice that it's a lot quieter!

So we got it replaced, and once again it broke. It must've broken a minimum of twenty times, when finally my audiologist talked to her husband. He's not an audiologist, just some smart, scientific guy. He said that just like a magnet can ruin speakers, they can probably ruin a hearing aid. So if they're ever close together, the CI magnet is probably breaking the hearing aid.

Like when they're in the Dry and Store. Which I'm to lazy to use every night, so I only use it every other night. And then it's broken the next morning.

dingdingding! Finally, twenty hearing aids later, an answer! We invested in another Dry and Store, and from then on, until my second CI surgery, I stored them separately. And it would only break occasionally, if I accidentally held them in the same hand.

I should add that I used to wear a digital hearing , but was not the newest technology at the time (although it was when we bought it!) It was called an Oticon Adapto Power. It was a nice, compact, little hearing aid that used one tiny size 13 battery. Sorry, rambling on here... Just wishing that my CI processors were that small! Some day.. I have no idea if the same thing applies for other hearing aids, or if the magnets don't do anything to them.

So anyway, lesson learned. Don't store magnets near a hearing aid!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

France and Ireland

I had a really great time in Paris. It was nice to get away from the Texas heat and I got to see things like the Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Pompidou, Orsay, walk down the Champs Elysees and more! It was awesome, and pretty uneventful, besides me getting separated from the rest of my family a few times in the airports, which was kind of frightening (we went on a total of 6 flights).

Arc de Triomphe

After spending 5 nights in Paris, we flew to Dublin, Ireland to spend two nights there. It was quite a change of scenery from Paris, but nice nonetheless. When we got in, we found a taxi to drive us the 45 minute drive from the airport to the hotel. We could not believe how friendly the driver was, chatting with us and giving all sorts of tips about thins to do while we were there. He was quite funny, and was constantly making jokes. None of the cab drivers in Paris were nearly as friendly! My family wondered if all Irish people were so nice, and it seemed that they were!

One thing that I noticed in Dublin, was that in nearly every public building (airports, hotels, etc.), there was this handy little sign.

I guess Ireland is much more "hearing-accessible" than the US. Unfortunately, I tried multiple times and activated my T-coil whenever I saw the sign, to no avail. I couldn't hear any better, and I was only hearing through the mic part of the MT, nothing was coming through the telecoil. When we were talking to the lady at the front desk of our hotel, she showed me a little microphone that was sitting on the desk that is supposed to be what I hear when I turn on the T-coil. I tapped the microphone to see if the sound was coming through, and it wasn't. Oh, well. Maybe there is some sort of trick to it...

We were pretty exhausted from all of the sightseeing we did in Paris, so we settled on going on a bus that brought us around to all the sights, recommended by our oh-so-awesome taxi driver. When looking at the brochure, we saw that some of the buses had "text for the hearing-impaired." Might as well try it out!

We had to wait for a certain bus that had a screen with a transcript of what was said. The screen was on the indoor part of the bus (it also had an upstairs part without a roof), and you had to sit in a certain spot in order to see the screen. I was pretty grateful for it, since everyone else had to listen to it using earbuds that plugged into the bus. Half of them didn't work, and I'm pretty sure I would have trouble understanding a recorded voice with an Irish accent using earbuds.

The thing is, the bus was realllllly hot, and I'm one of those people who tends to get motion sickness while reading in a moving vehicle. Plus, it's really hard to look out the window and see something when you're also trying to read about it. So, after about 10 or so stops, I gave up, and went upstairs for some fresh air. The information was getting kind of boring anyway, so I didn't really mind!

We had to catch a flight the next morning to spend another night in Paris (it was some sort of special deal, that we had to go to Dublin and back to Paris and it made the whole thing cheaper, supposedly) and went in another taxi. This time the driver was in his own little world, and didn't really say much. We noticed how we didn't go on a highway this time, or pass nearly as much scenery. We got to the airport and he charged us 20 euros. That was when we realized the super-friendly taxi driver was not what he seemed to be at all. We had paid him 70 euros. We could not believe it! We had been ripped off! That incident made me lose some trust in people..

Overall, it was a great trip and I am so glad we went! There were a few times that I was frustrated that my French vocabulary wasn't bigger, and my entire family pretty much relied on my sister to be our interpreter. It was fun though!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Nothing says "Welcome Home!"....

Like a dizziness attack. And a broken A/C. Add that to my injured knee and I am BEAT!

Europe was great! I will post all about it later. For now, I'm off to take a Bonine and hope that all my problems disappear when I wake up. Don't we all!