Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sophomore Year- Week 1

So far, everything has been pretty good and my teachers have been wonderful (knock on wood). We've watched a few movies, and every time they have either been captioned (knock on wood), or the teacher has told me in advance and worked out how I will get the information. My hearing has been great (knock on wood) and I actually went for a mapping before school started, but chose to stay on my old program. That's the first time I felt like I was hearing well enough that I didn't want to change to something new. The FM has also worked pretty well (knock on wood) and the teachers have been great about passing it around.

The workload hasn't been terrible (I'd say knock on wood, but your hand is probably getting tired), and I am so glad I chose the electives I did. While my friends are spending their time reading studying and reading for quiz after quiz for their AP elective class, I get to go around taking pictures for the yearbook! Obviously, once we have more pictures there will be more work in designing the pages, staying after school, going to outside events, etc. but I would much rather be doing this. I can't remember if I said this before (I probably did) but I am also taking a medical science class, which will hopefully lead to me securing a spot in a program next year where students get to observe doctors of all kinds as well as surgeries. We haven't started doing any in-depth learning yet, but I can tell it will be something that I will enjoy. We're also going to be learning how to use stethoscopes properly in the coming weeks, so if anyone has experience/ advice on using a specific brand stethoscope with a cochlear implant, please share! There is another person taking the class with CIs, so the school is looking into purchasing one. We'll see where that goes!

I turn 16 on Labor Day and will hopefully be getting my license soon after, as I have to take yet another test due to the crazy laws that Texas passed and put in effect starting with the teens getting their licenses literally a week before me. I would be grumbling about having such a borderline birthday, but if I had born a week earlier I would be a Junior, so I guess I can't complain! Here's to another good week!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Guest Post by Joey of BTaC

 The following is a guest post by Joey from If you would like to write a guest post, please contact me with your idea. At this time, I am not interested in guest posts for advertising or those that are specifically about a technology that I do not/have not used. Thank you!

Our house has a nifty feature that wasn’t advertised by any real estate listing.  Twice a summer, there are fireworks we can see from the street right outside our house.  In July, we made our 5-year-old daughter, Julia, take a nap so she could stay up to watch the display.

The neighborhood kids are a nice bunch.  There are four other little girls under age 12 that play with my girl regularly.  They understand about her hearing aids and though they’re not perfect at compensating for her communication needs, they get along really well.  There is one boy, age 6, in the neighborhood.

This boy never comes out to play.  He doesn’t care for the girl dominated street or whatever.  He made a rare appearance on this evening of the fireworks. 

He wasn’t really paying attention to the show, so someone drew his attention to the fact that there was music being played.  It was far distant music that I could hardly hear myself. 

This boy walks up to my daughter, my sweet angel with her hot pink, purple, and white ear molds.  He gets right up to her and asks, “can you HEAR that music?  Can you?  Can you hear it?  It’s like doo, doo do do.”

The whole interaction took just a couple of seconds.  Julia said that she could hear it, which may well have been a lie.  The boy lost interest and went away from her.

I was left with tightness in my chest for the rest of the evening.  I had a whole fantasy sequence where I held that little boy by the shirt and told him that he will never be permitted to speak to my child again.  My palms felt sweaty and my heart was beating too fast.  Where did he get off talking to her like that?

When we were inside and Julia was in bed for the night, my husband and I talked about the incident.  We agreed that he was not being a nice kid.  He probably isn’t a nice boy.

There are a lot of boys and girls in the world that aren’t nice.  Julia will be meeting all sorts of kids this year in kindergarten.  I will be not be there to assess their intentions.  She will be alone.

Though I’m frightened for her, I’m glad too.  I can’t take it.  Julia clearly can.  And really, it’s hers to handle.  So until she comes to me with one of these stories, I really should stop worrying.
If only that were my nature.

Friday, August 20, 2010

A long way to go

A few days ago, I was at a good friend's house with a group of girls. I'm close with some of them, but there were a couple who I was friends with when I was younger but haven't talked to very much in recent years. I was discussing how I was taking my driver's test the following day (which I passed, by the way! Yeah!) and how my parents were being even more paranoid than normal, since my sister had been hit by a car the week prior. I was describing how the girl driving hit her, and the mom came out and said it was their fault, but they did not get police involved since it was a minor accident in the parking lot. I mentioned how my sister decided not to ask for money for her car damage, since she didn't feel the scratch was very noticeable, and the girl driving the car also had special needs. A few days later, the mother called saying it was my sister's fault and asked for a very large sum of money for their car repairs. As I was relaying this story,
friend-who's-grown-apart (FWGA) chimed in:

FWGA: She had "special needs"? I didn't know 'they' could drive.
Close friend: I'm pretty sure that's discrimination if you say someone can't drive because of that.
FWGA: No! Because blind people aren't allowed to drive. Neither can deaf I'm pretty sure they don't let 'them' drive.

Oy...While we've come a long way, we still have a long way to go! (And yes, I set her straight! It's just concerning that this conversation occurred right after I said I was taking my driving test.)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Alarming rate of teen hearing loss

I figure most of you have heard this by now, but being a teen I think it alarms me that much more to consider the number of friends that I have who will likely require hearing assistance when they are older. So, I'm posting this for those who already haven't already heard...

1 in 5 teens in the US has a slight hearing loss.*

1 in 20 US teens have mild or worsening hearing loss.

This is a 30% increase since the mid '90s.

Yahoo! Associated Press Article 
USA Today Article

I think the problem is both a lack of education about noise exposure, as well as the all-too-common idea "it won't happen to me." The other day I got into my seventeen year old (hearing) sister's car, and as soon as she turned it on the car was shaking with the radio blasting at full volume. I could feel the beat in my chest, and could hear the low frequency sounds pumping without my implants (I can tell when I'm able to hear something with my residual hearing alone. It "comes through" differently.) I glared at my sister, and she turned off the radio. Lately she's been complaining about hearing a buzzing or ringing in her ear. I went on to tell her that this could damage her hearing, and that this tinnitus could actually be a sign of hair cells in her cochlea being killed off. She was actually surprised, and went on to ask me why *I* get to turn my iPod speakers up so loud. "Well, sis. I don't know if you've noticed yet...but I'm already deaf! I've got nothing left to lose!" (I suppose she doesn't think it's fair). I'm pretty sure as soon as I got out of the car she turned the radio right back on, but who knows. I'm sending her this article.

*"Slight" hearing loss in teens is consider to be a loss of 16-24 dB, and most of these are in only one ear. It is important to realize that many hearing aids (and even cochlear implants) don't always amplify/provide sound down to this level, it is very quiet. With my cochlear implants, the softest sounds I can hear range from 5-20 dB. With my hearing aids, it ranged from 40-80dB hearing loss (or so, this is based off of my memory). However, as these teens with hearing loss grow up and lose hearing from age-based hearing loss, they will need stronger hearing aids earlier, such as in their 40's rather than 50's, 60's, or 70's.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A little bit of everything

Full disclosure: For the past couple of weeks, I've been feeling burnt out and tired of the hearing loss "world", and felt like I had nothing left to give or receive.  I was all but ready to take a break, but  just today had some exciting hearing related things occur that I will share once everything is final. It gave me another "kick" and a renewed fire for writing about hearing loss issues. Can't say how long it will last (you can partly blame the great hearing my CIs have been giving me-less substance to write about!), but I have no doubt I'll have plenty of material once school starts next week. Hopefully not as much as last year, but we'll see!

Today I went to the orthodontist for follow-up x-rays and pictures so they could have "before" and "after" images from my having braces. It was with a different lady than the couple of different assistants I typically dealt with, so she wasn't quite as aware about knocking off my processors (which seems to happen every couple of minutes, regardless). We started off by taking head x-rays, so I told her I was going to take off my "hearing aids", trying to imply I wouldn't hear. So much for that. She was talking the entire time instructing me, and half the time she would turn the other direction and I could only see her lips moving from the side. She seemed frustrated that I wasn't following her directions, and I probably should have just said something along the lines of "I can't hear all." but didn't feel like it. Instead, she kept pointing to her lips and talk while gesturing. I'd nod- she wanted me to put my lips together, I got it! After about 5 X-ray attempts I discovered she was telling me *not* to put them together. Oops. She probably thought I was pretty stupid.

After this, they needed to do a series of molds of my mouth, which consisted of me biting on various colored pieces of wax. It was easy enough, until she stuck a piece of wax on this hard contraption, had me bite on it, used a screwdriver to screw some sort of pole into it, which connected to some sci-fi halo looking thing that went around my head. She then instructed me to put some pieces in my ear, and I was secretly grateful that I no longer wore hearing aids. Of course, I somehow managed to push off my processors. I still fail to see why this entire contraption was necessary just for me to bite on a little piece of wax, but what do I know?

A month or so ago, I got a car :D I must thank my wonderful parents, and I have been practicing in it with my parents to prepare for the big test, which is coming up very soon! Anyway, my mom was out of town for a few days this weekend so my dad let me park my car behind her garage spot. Before she came back this evening, I had to move my car and parallel park it back in front of my sister's car in front of our house. I can parallel park somewhat behind cars, but have never done it in front of them. My dad asked me to do it myself "because I fully trust you", he said. (Translation: my leg hurts, and I don't feel like walking outside to sit in your burning hot car). And no, he wouldn't dare look out the window to watch me either. So I spent some 10 minutes hopelessly moving the car forwards and backwards, until my dad wondered what was taking me so darn long and wandered outside. He laughed, and then attempted to instruct me on how to park my car. For the record, he wasn't good at it either- I basically went forwards and backward  a million times, turning the wheel the way my dad said only for him to shout "oh, never mind! other way!" About 5 minutes into this ordeal, I saw my ENT (who also happens to be our neighbor) walking his dog across the street. I watched him as he squinted and stared for another 5 minutes, as we probably looked like crazed idiots as I attempted to do this parking thing. After a total of 20 minutes, the mission was accomplished: slightly crooked, and a little too close to the curb, but it was done!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Input please!

Hello my dear readers,
Privacy has been on my mind a lot lately. I'm trying to decide of I should make this blog only accessible to people who have permission. This would mean that in order for you to read this blog, you would have to come out of your lurking shadows and give me your email, which you would have to type in when you want to read my blog. It would also essentially mean that no new readers could read my blog, unless they found out about it through some other way. Obviously, it would also mean more privacy for me and eliminate the worry of who is reading.  As you may have noticed, I just posted a new poll on the topic. Please give me your input, and leave me a comment if you would like to elaborate or argue your points. Don't be shy :)


Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Remote

The Nucleus 5 CP810 processor comes with a remote. It certainly seems to be one of those love it or hate it sort of things. I don't think it should be a deciding factor in choosing an implant/processor, but I can't say how many times I've heard "You should get brand X because you don't have to fool around with the settings or have to deal with a remote." Or, conversely "I chose the Nucleus 5 because I loved the idea of having a remote!" 

FYI, I rarely fool around with the settings on my processor, and I use the remote even less. I have an everyday setting which I am on at least 90% of the time. If I am listening to music alone in a quiet place or at an orchestra concert, I'll put it on the music setting, but I can still appreciate music very well on the everyday setting. Or, if I'm in a noisy restaurant, I'll put it on the Zoom setting, which I finds gets rid of most of the background noise without dampening voices. Cochlear has a few different settings for noisy situations, and each one is a bit different. Noise, Focus, and Zoom are all available, but it really depends on personal preference which one you use. The Noise and Focus options are both separate programs. This means that on the home screen of the remote (or on the buttons of my processor) that I just press which one I want to change it to. It's really easy, and I can easily see which program I'm on.
Here is the summary of Zoom from Cochlear's website:
"Nucleus 5 is designed to enhance hearing performance in noisy environments. A new signal processing path with dual omni microphones has created a new platform designed for better hearing performance. Dual microphone technology has been shown to improve speech performance in noise. Recent research also shows that the Nucleus 5 Sound Processor Zoom™ Power Option may result in even better performance in noise"

Notice this is sentences *in noise*.
Getting to the Zoom setting is a bit different than getting to Noise or Focus, since you can add it on to any of the programs (Everyday, Noise, Music, or Focus) that you're already on. I typically add it to the Everyday program, but you have to get to the processor settings menu to enable it, and back to the processor settings menu to disable it. On the home screen, there is no notification of whether it is turned on or off. 
Why is this relevant?

Well, for the past week I've noticed I've been struggling quite a bit to hear, even in one-on-one, quiet situations. I figured I just needed (another) mapping, and shrugged it off. I hadn't bothered with the remote in a while, so as I was shutting it off to put it in my purse, I decided to do a quick check through all of the settings. The volume and sensitivity looked okay. I was just about to put it away, when it hit me...

I'd gone out to a noisy steakhouse a week ago. I set it on the Zoom function, then put the Remote away. Had I ever turned it off?

I quickly went to the "Zoom" setting to see the option to disable it, mean it was still turned on.  I felt stupid, yet relieved.

My hearing has since seemed much better. *Whew* I think when Cochlear has a software upgrade for the remote, they should have a "dashboard" setting where you can see everything that you've changed from the default settings. I can't be the only one who's made this mistake! Sad thing is, it's not the first time. Usually I figure it out within a day or two, though.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Lipreading Fail: A Frightening "deaf moment"

After a long day of SAT classes and a night of getting engrossed in the latest novel I was reading, I finally fell into a deep sleep late that night. I slept soundly, dreaming of puppies and butterflies..

*shake, shake* I rubbed my eyes. Why was someone awaking my slumber at this unearthly hour of *glances at clock* 9 AM?! I rolled over and shut my eyes, only for me to see my mom pounding on my bed again, and then walking out. That was...odd. Besides the fact that this was my one day to sleep in (and for a teenager approaching the end of summer, 9 in the morning is not sleeping in), I usually get a friendlier wake-up call than that. I mean, my sister was set to have her wisdom teeth out this morning, it's not like we were planning to go out and party. I dragged myself out of bed and into the hallway, only to see my mom standing there talking on the phone.

"What was that about?!" I asked in my whining sleepy voice.

My mom began gesturing wildly, a frantic look in her eyes, all the while staying on the phone. She tried talking to me, but my lipreading skills are declining by the day, and I still wasn't fully awake. I stared at her and threw my arms up, trying to signal the fact that I was confused and had no idea watch she was trying to say. I paced back and forth as my mom stood in the doorway of my sister's room, still on the phone.

She signaled for me to put on my processors. I shook my head, unable to recall exactly where I put them as I dozed off the night before. Besides, it was too early! I was ready to jump back in the bed!

"What do you want?!" I asked, starting to get annoyed.

I was finally able to understand., I got it! I have to answer the door!" "Who's at the door?" I asked.

My mom slowly enunciated what I thought looked a lot like "Rebecca is coming."
"Hmm, that's weird." I thought to myself. Rebecca was my sister's friend. But, as far as I knew, my sister was still sound asleep from the surgery less than a couple of hours earlier. I shrugged, and went downstairs to open the door for Rebecca.

I stood at the door, looking out the window for Rebecca. As I waited impatiently, I saw an ambulance, flashing lights and all, pull up in front of our house. "Huh..I wonder what happened?" I thought to myself. They stopped at the stop sign in front of our house. I kept watching to see if they were going in the direction of any of my friends' houses. Instead,  4 paramedics came running out, up to our front door. That's when it hit me that maybe my mom hadn't said anything about Rebecca after all. I opened the door and pointed upstairs, to where my sister and mom were. The first man nodded and ran up, the others followed. Then another 2 paramedics came up, holding a stretcher.

I watched from downstairs as my sister's room quickly filled up. I tried my best to see what was going on. Most of them looked like they were just standing around. "That's good, right? I mean, when they have to do CPR there's normally people running around and screaming." I thought, trying to reassure myself. I sent my dad a text message, hoping he would pause his work to let me know if he knew what was going on. I sat on the couch. Not too long after, the paramedics casually walked downstairs and left, my mom and sister still up in the room.

I soon found out that my sister, with a completely numb mouth, tongue, and throat, had managed to get the gauze stuck in the back of her throat and began to panic. My mom panicked too, since it could block her airway, and called 911. By the time the paramedics got here, my sister apparently had managed to swallow the gauze, so all was well.

That night, I went to check on her. She called out my name. "Yes?" I asked.

"You know, those paramedics were pretty hot." she said with a smile.

Yes they were, sister. Yes they were.