Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Coming out of hiding...

Well, it's been a while. I don't really count my last post as a real post since I gave absolutely no updates about what's been going on with me, so it has really been about four months since I've last posted. Hard to believe, isn't it?

Things have been busy. The school year started off okay. I went through a rough time for a while... I was just in a really bad place. I made some changes and re-evaluated what was important to me, and I'm making a conscious effort not to let myself get stressed out and anxious over things that are completely insignificant in the long run. I've felt so much better since.

My clinical rotations class has been going really well, and I absolutely love it. As much as I've been enjoying it, I was secretly hoping to get the chance to see some crazy, exciting thing happen. Lesson learned: be careful what you wish for! At one of my last sites of the semester, I got the amazing opportunity to do CPR on a patient during a code. I swear, it was just like Grey's Anatomy and all those other medical shows! I watched as the doctors and nurses worked on the patient for hours doing everything possible to save her. I felt so invested... It was the first time I ever got to touch a patient, let alone keep her heart beating! By the time I left, it was clear she would not make it. I was devastated, and I got in my car and sobbed. The whole thing was just heartbreaking, especially since when the patient initially came in, she was conscious and the doctors were hopeful that there would be a positive outcome. There are just some images that will remain forever etched in my memory. The lone tear rolling down her cheek after she was intubated and unable to speak. Her husband and his repeated, hopeful inquiries, "She'll be okay. She'll come out of this fine, right?" Her lifeless face as the doctors desperately pushed more and more medication into her veins, hoping her heart would beat on its own again. Her husband, wandering down the hall, dazed and crying when he realize everything might not be okay. As difficult as it was, I learned so much from the experience. And I suppose if I continue to pursue a career in medicine, I will have to face the bad outcomes as well as the good.

On a happier note, this video made me *very* excited. I'm so glad to see that UC-Davis is going to such lengths to accommodate its medical students with hearing loss, and I hope all schools take note! I actually got to meet and speak with Amanda at the AMPHL conference this summer, and I have no doubt she will go far in her career and in life! The video is captioned!

I am so glad I am on winter break. I ended the semester on a high note, getting A's in all of my classes. I also got my PSAT score back. I scored a 217 out of 240, which is in the 99th percentile for juniors. Yes, I am bragging, and I am proud! I worked darn hard for that score!

I went to California last week for my older brother's wedding, and I also got to meet up with one of my friends who I got to meet at LOFT over the summer. I had a great time! I'm back home now and taking advantage of the free time. My amazing parents gave me a Nook for Hanukkah (and e-book reader produced by Barnes and Noble, for those of you unfamiliar), and I have been reading away. I feel like a little kid again, staying up until 4 AM reading :) Yep, I had a unique childhood!

One last thing.. I recently came upon this great article while reading my local newspaper. It's about a woman who works as a closed captioner for the Dallas Cowboys stadium. She is also heavily involved in the hearing loss and cochlear implant community. Give it a read! 

Happy holidays to my dear readers who are left! May you have a happy, healthy, and safe new year!

Cowboys Stadium closed captioner article

Brad Loper/Staff Photographer
Closed captioner Lisa Davis reviews a script several hours before the Dallas Cowboys prepare to face the New York Giants. On game days, she's usually at the stadium for seven to eight hours.
Text Size
ARLINGTON — Roger Emrich is the public address voice for most fans at Dallas Cowboys home games. But for a certain segment of the crowd — particularly those with hearing loss — Lisa Davis is the team’s true voice.
A Cowboys fan since high school and closed captioner at Cowboys Stadium, Davis spends every home game in Arlington trying keep up pace with the action. Fingers flying at an average of 200 or more words per minute, she captions the pregame announcements and events, PA announcements during the game, halftime entertainment and postgame interviews.
In the simplest terms, Davis, 39, is paid to go to Cowboys games and type exactly what she hears. The job is often trickier than it sounds, she said, but just as fun as any fan might imagine. And a dream come true when she received the news by phone that she was hired.
“I hung up and probably screamed as loud as I could,” Davis said. “It was like hitting the football fan lottery.”
Davis — an independent contractor — started captioning Cowboys coaches’ shows for TV in 2006. And since Cowboys Stadium opened in 2009, Davis has captioned the Super Bowl, boxing matches, rodeos and more. Her typing appears on handheld devices available at the stadium and some video screens there.
Outside the sports world, she has captioned church services and government contractor meetings, cooking shows and college algebra classes, Martha Stewart programs and a presidential speech.
However it’s her work for one of the world’s most-famous sports teams that has given her a degree of fame inside her industry. A feature story in the May Journal of Court Reporting profiled Davis along with other sports specialists.
Davis said she received some praise from inside that community for her work at Super Bowl XLV. Nervous about the highest-profile assignment of her career, Davis said she counted on the national anthem as perhaps the only moment to catch her breath that day in February.
Instead, pop star Christina Aguilera flubbed the words and left Davis scrambling to keep up with the botched version. Davis remembers her typing screeching to a halt as she thought to herself: “That’s not how it goes.”
Davis never considered any option other than typing it just as Aguilera sang it.
Captioners are trained not to clean up language.
“They get what the hearing crowd gets,” she said about her audience. “They don’t want special favors. They don’t want to be edited. They don’t want to be babied.”
Esther Kelly, a hearing-loss resource specialist for the Deaf Action Center in Dallas, said that kind of passion is why she has hired Davis for 15 years.
“She cares not just about the job but about the people that need the captioning,” Kelly said. “She’s wholehearted for the people.”
The only time Davis turned down a major event at Cowboys Stadium was when a college football game conflicted with a gathering sponsored by hearing implant maker Cochlear.
She said her work with Cochlear and the Deaf Action Center are the few jobs that generate the same kind of passion she has for the Cowboys.
She never expected her sports fandom to contribute to her career path while growing up in the Dallas area and graduating from Wylie High School. Davis’ father worked for the Justice Department, so she imagined herself as an undercover narcotics officer or FBI agent.
Her father wasn’t supportive. “No daughter of his was going to get shot at,” Davis said.
Instead, he talked her into court reporting. It’s a good-paying career that would allow her to keep a foot in the criminal justice system, only without the gunplay. Davis said captioners are paid about $45 to $200 per hour depending on the type of work.
After years of schooling and practice, Davis worked on just one trial and was bored and didn’t want to deal with the daily horrors at the courthouse.
Unexpected path
The Americans with Disabilities Act showed her a different way to make a living. That federal law boosted demand for captioning in classrooms and at business meetings, conferences and conventions. The Federal Communications Commission also started phasing in requirements for closed captioning of all new programming on television.
Scott Purcel, the Cowboys’ director of broadcasting, said there was greater demand for captioning but the “quality wasn’t always what I was expecting.” As the father of a hearing-impaired 8-year-old, Purcel is particularly attuned to captioning and the gap between the good and bad.
He said he’d only use her or someone she’d recommend at Cowboys Stadium.
“I brag when I go to other stadiums about having a better captioner,” he said.
Davis’ work is ultimately a serious job. She sits in an area adjacent to the stadium’s TV control room and watches every play on a bank of monitors. Although she’s just a few yards from a coveted view of the field, Davis can’t stray from her stenography machine.
As PA announcer Emrich calls out downs, players and penalties, Davis types the words verbatim — just as she does his announcements of stadium contests and entertainment. A game for her is often a seven- or eight-hour day, starting long before kickoff and finishing with any post-game activities.
Despite the concentration required, she still finds plenty of time to unleash her inner fan. The long-stated rule against cheering in the press box just down the hall doesn’t apply to her little piece of the stadium.
Just like a Cowboys homer in front of a TV set, she roots for players, claps, urges fans to get loud and groans when things go wrong.
“OK, we need halftime right now,” she said as the Cowboys led the New York Giants by just two points at the Dec. 11 home game. “I don’t want to see that again.”
Unplanned challenges
Not many of her jobs give her the chance to cheer.
While still “wet behind the ears,” Davis captioned some breaking-news coverage of the Oklahoma City bombing for WFAA-TV (Channel 8). She did similar work for news coverage of the 9/11 attacks.
Jobs like that are not only emotional but pose a professional challenge.
Moments after the attack on the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, Davis said her boss told her to stick with one spelling of Murrah until someone could call and determine what was correct. She said she had the same problem with captioning tornado warnings and other storms in Oklahoma, where many cities have Indian names that are difficult to figure out phonetically.
“You have to think how it’s spelled as it’s being pronounced,” she said.
But in some cases, different combinations of keystrokes might spit out a word or spelling that’s unexpected. The stenography machine captioners use doesn’t include every character, so some letters are created by multiple keystrokes. On top of that, captioners create their own shortcuts for names and terminology that might come up.
In an instant and under pressure, they’ll often have to work through what’s essentially two layers of coding to make sure the words appear precisely as they were said.
Davis said one of the few things that made her throw up her hands in frustration was working on a local youth music show. That was soon after rapper Snoop Dogg popularized the slang language that replaced the endings of words with “izzle,” creating a sort of hip-hop Pig Latin.
Mid-tempo country songs tend to be far easier to caption than bouncy rap or dance numbers. Davis said that was nothing, though, compared to trying to caption an auction — an attempt that wasn’t entirely successful.
Davis figures that technology — such as Apple’s Siri voice-recognition feature — will one day catch up with her profession.
“Technology is advancing every minute so I know that eventually, something’s going to happen somewhere,” Davis said. “But I also know that it’s also not near” professional standards of recognition.There are still problems, she said, with filtering out crowd noise and nearby voices and accounting for accents and even changes in pronunciation because of a cold.
In a real-life version of John Henry’s battle against a steam-powered hammer, Davis pitted herself against voice-recognition software. Viewers could see her work and the computer’s work projected side-by-side.
“We went to head to head, and I’m happy to say I kicked its butt all over the screen,” she said.
To hit speeds of 200 to 400 words per minute, captioners create shortcuts for common names and terms. Cowboys Stadium captioner Lisa Davis has an extensive library tailored for her work there. Some require unusual spellings to avoid conflicting with existing shortcuts. Here are a few of those:
TOEM TOEM = Tony Romo
WAS NAS = Akwasi Owusu-Ansah (note: Recently waived)
LOERJ = Line of scrimmage
QB = Quarterback
LAUB = Linebacker
KAUB = Cornerback
RAUB = Running back

Monday, November 7, 2011

Dear Abby

I spotted this in my newspaper this morning. I can't recall encountering this type of reaction before, but I can see how some people could respond ignorantly. Have any of you experienced this before?
Dear Abby: My 16-year-old son, “Victor,” is hearing-impaired. He wears hearing aids in both ears. The aids are small and not easily seen.
Recently we were in a new doctor’s office, and the nurse was talking to my son but looking in another direction. When I explained that Victor is hearing-impaired and couldn’t hear her, she replied, “Oh, I know teenagers — selective hearing.” I said, “No, he is hearing-impaired and wears hearing aids.”
The same thing happened at summer camp. My husband said Victor has a hearing problem, and the counselor responded with, “So I need to smack him on the side of his head to get him to listen?”
My son has informed people he wears hearing aids because he can’t hear well, and he still gets the same smart-alecky retorts. Have you any suggestions?
Not Being Flippant
in Pennsylvania
Dear Not Being Flippant: Oh, yes. The nurse in your doctor’s office was tactless. If she didn’t apologize for her comment, you should have mentioned it to the doctor so he could educate her not only about hearing loss, but also about diplomacy. As to the ignorant camp counselor, your husband should have immediately reported it to the camp director.
After reading your letter, I consulted Dr. Rick Friedman at the House Ear Clinic in Los Angeles, who told me that approximately one in 2,000 children is born with hearing problems. (There is a genetic component, and hearing problems can run in families.) Being subjected to loud noises can also have a negative impact on hearing, and Dr. Friedman said studies are being conducted to determine to what extent.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Only Child, AMPHL conference, and a rant

Sorry for being MIA! I've been in and out of town every week! My mouth has healed up wonderfully, though. It was so much easier than I expected it to be! Honestly, by the 2nd or 3rd day, my arm was hurting (from the IV) much worse than my mouth was, In fact, my hand and wrist are still sore nearly three weeks later, not sure why that is? I've never had such pain after an IV before, but oh well! It's nice to be able to eat again!

I just got back from moving my sister into her dorm in college. It was so weird driving home without her; I keep expecting her to walk into the room at any given moment. I miss her so much, but we'll still talk to each other all the time so it will be fine!

For those of you interested in the program I mentioned in my previous post,  I interviewed a few of the other attendees and posted it on Deafteens.org. Check it out! They're a pretty great group!

I also recently attended a conference in Portland as part of the Association of Medical Professionals with Hearing Losses. I wasn't sure what to expect and thought it might be a bit awkward since most of the people there would be, well, medical professionals (and not high school students), but everyone was very friendly and welcoming. I learned a ton, and I started a post about it when I got back. I need to find the notes I took so I can give some of the specific stats I think some of you might be interested in hearing. I could relate to so many of the stories and experiences shared at the conference It was very helpful, but also a little daunting. I realized then more than ever that the challenges never really go away.  Now, don't get me wrong- I didn't expect to magically have normal hearing when I turned eighteen or anything, but I just hoped it would get a little bit easier. It seems that the majority of medical and nursing schools have limited or no experiences with disabilities. I realized the fierce determination required to make it through medical school. I'm well aware it's not easy for someone without hearing loss, but for someone with hearing loss, it's just that much harder. I can do it! As much as it frightened me, it also got me pretty excited for what the future holds.

I start school Monday. New school. Huge. Still in denial.

On a semi-related note, I really hope I live to see the day that schools are more receptive and open to helping students with hearing loss (as well as other disabilities). It is long past due for the general hearing public (or, more specifically, school administrators) to stop being ignorant and stop hoping that we'll just go away. Some progress may have been made but we still have got a long way to go. A person's ability and potential should never be limited by what a school feels like providing or what is most convenient for the teacher. The current system is only failing us. It is only failing me.

I swear, as each year passes, I lose more and more faith in the educational system. Something needs to change, but I don't think I can fight anymore.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Quick Udpdate

I know I have some comments and messages that I need to respond to. I just got back in town yesterday from AG Bell's Leadership Opportunities For Teens program, and I had a blast. It was such a powerful, emotional experience that I will blog about in much more depth later because I just had my wisdom teeth out this morning. I was doing well but now all the numbness has worn off and it feels like I have been punched in the jaw about 50 times, so hopefully the pain medicine will kick in soon! Promise I'll write more soon!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


The title does *not* reference a CI failure of any sort.

Remember my freshman year?

Remember how hard I fought for accommodations? How much I struggled?

And then remember sophomore year? How I barely got any sleep? How I accepted the fact I'd just have to work harder than everyone else? How I figured if I just studied hard enough I could make up for what I missed in hearing?

And remember that one class I took for the past two years? I literally spent hours nightly slaving over the textbook reading, carefully taking notes- hoping that what had been discussed in a class of 50+ students would instead be absorbed by reading and rereading the material.

At the end of the two years, I took the national exam. It doesn't really serve much of a purpose besides the opportunity to receive college credit. Basically "testing out" of a college course. It's a culmination of all the work you've put into the class, giving you reassurance that yes, it was worth it.

I didn't think I'd done very well, but I hoped for the best. Scores came in the mail in rounds. I heard as more and more people received their letters and received outstanding scores. They never studied nearly as much as I did, so I thought maybe all my studying would pay off.

It didn't. I didn't just "not do as well I'd hoped"; my score was nauseatingly bad.

 Maybe some people would shrug it off and think "better luck next time."

But I'm not like that. Instead I reflect. I overthink.

I always thought that if I worked hard enough, I could achieve anything. But maybe that's not true at all. Am I completely out of my league? If I did this miserably bad on an exam with a class of 50-something kids, how in the world can I handle competitive college classes that can be 5, even 10 times bigger, let alone years of medical school?

Have I completely overestimated myself?

Don't get me wrong, working hard has gotten me far. On the surface, I'm doing pretty well. I hear and speak, by most standards, well. Working my butt off and barely getting any sleep has allowed me to stay in the top 5% of my class (for now).

Is it even worth it? Where is this going to get me? Are my standards just set too high? If I feel so burnt out now, where am I going to be five, ten, twenty years from now? Will there ever ever be a point where I can look back and comfortably say, "it paid off."?

It just bothers me because I feel like I'm capable of so much, yet every time I try to reach my potential, I can feel the painful hands of hearing loss trying to pull me back. Actually, I can't even completely blame it on my deafness, but, more accurately, society's refusal to adapt to it.

It seems like it would be so much easier to just be average. To be satisfied at the idea of simply passing a course that's on grade level.

But for now I carry on, chin held high, slowly placing one foot in front of the other. My life is so much more than a test score.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Keepin' It Sweet

 Your regularly scheduled programing will resume shortly. Instead, I decided to give you some pictures! Have I mentioned that I like to bake? I realize this is incredibly random, but I thought I'd take a break from my usual posts, especially since the series I'm working on, as I mentioned, is still in progress in my life.. So I might not finish that up quite yet, we'll see! Plus, I thought some of you might be interested in learning a little more about what I enjoy, so here you go!

Anyway, these are just a selection of pictures of some of the things I've baked (the ones I actually thought to take pictures of). I make a pretty mean chocolate chip cookie, but I guess I've never taken any pictures of those. These are cell phone pics, so they're not the best quality, but if you want a recipe or anything then just ask!

This was the first time I ever made crepes. The first one turned out pretty disastrous (I'll spare you the picture), but I think the second one turned out pretty well! It totally reminded me of the crepes I had in France.. yum!
Banana-Nutella Crepe

Okay, this cake did not turn out so well... and it doesn't really count since my sister and I used a boxed cake mix. As you can see, a giant crack formed in the middle of the top layer after we stacked them. We made our own frosting, though and it didn't taste too bad! And if you're wondering about the red and blue blobs, my sister thought she'd decorate the cake with some fireworks since our mom's birthday was on the fourth of July. She also did the writing on top (trust me, if I had done it the writing would have been illegible!)

Devil's Food Cake with White Buttercream
These are the easiest cookies to make, ever. They're flourless, so they're good for Passover and people who can't tolerate gluten. But, more importantly, they taste delicious! They look a lot more appetizing in person, I promise!
Peanut Butter cookies with chocolate chips
 This was my first attempt at making cakeballs, and they were a huge hit a family gathering I brought them to. I got the idea off of Bakerella, and she lists the steps out and makes it super easy!

Red Velvet cake balls in cream cheese frosting with white and milk chocolate coatings.
 I got a Whoopie Pie recipe book for Hanukkah, but hadn't gotten the chance to make any until recently when a friend and I decided to do it for fun. They were big globs of deliciousness!
Classic Whoopie Pie
 For Father's Day, my sister and I made cake balls. This was try two, and they actually didn't turn out as well as the first try (above). My dad is a big coconut fan, so we dyed some coconut and sprinkled it on top!
Yellow cake with cream cheese frosting, dipped in white chocolate and coconut.

Do you like to bake? If so, then share your favorite recipes- I love making new things!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Difference-Part 3

Part 1
Part 2

At that moment, I realized I had a conscious decision to make. I could get defensive, cry, storm out and say they weren't legally allowed to ask me about my hearing loss (were they? I'm still not even sure?), or I could put my advocacy skills to good use and actually educate them. So I put on a composed front and reassured them that everything would be fine, carefully answering each of their questions. I should note that they were really friendly and seemed to actually care and were genuinely concerned, but it was still a little overwhelming.They barraged  me with questions that included (but were not limited to):
  • How will you hear in (various listening situations described)? 
  • There's 2 teachers... one microphone. How will that work?
  • What if you and the other girl with the microphone are in the same class? Will it still work?
  • Will you tell us if you can't hear?
Apparently they had a really bad experience the one time they had accepted a deaf/hard-of-hearing student. My understanding is that she was oral but relied on lip/speech-reading quite a bit to comprehend what was being said. All year, the girl would stand in the back whenever they were teaching how to do skills for the CNA exam taken during the year as part of the class. The girl was going through a bad time in her life or something and refused to look at the teachers to lipread them. And of course, all year the girl never came to the teachers to let them know she was struggling, so they never really had any inclination. Their main concern was that I might be struggling to hear, and they just wanted to be sure I would tell them if at any point there was an issue so they could help me.

I could see where they were coming from, and it's certainly easy to think one individual is representative of an entire group, especially since she's the only one in the group of students with deafness they had met! It's a shame that it was a bad experience, but they were open enough to see that I wouldn't be like that. Although I felt I had handled the situation well and responded confidently, I was still extremely worried that I wouldn't be accepted because they would view the FM and hearing loss as an extra burden. As I have posted previously, I was ultimately accepted. The other girl with cochlear implants was accepted as well. At an informational meeting with all of the students, the teachers came up to me to be sure I heard everything okay. They really seem comfortable with the whole idea and I can tell that they care and want me to succeed. I brought up the whole stethoscope issue and mentioned that it was not yet resolved, but we were working to find a solution. They assured me that even if I can't get it to work, they will figure something out and work around it if we have to. Of course I would like to ultimately be able to use the stethoscope, especially if I end up following my current dream of becoming a doctor, but I am really glad to hear they're willing to work with me if it's not possible.

I am really excited for the class. I really do think it will be a great experience. Anyway, the main reason I shared this was to demonstrate how positively they reacted. They openly voiced their concerns and listened when I gave my input, and I do feel that they will work with, rather than against me to solve any problems that might spark up along the way. In the next few posts I will share another experience, but it's not a positive one. Actually, I'm still kind of in the "what should I do?" state. I have received quite a bit of advice and I am trying to figure out my next step.

Anyway.. stay tuned for part 4!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Difference- Part 2

This is part 2 in a series. If you haven't already done so, I recommend reading part 1before continuing.

I slowly got up and walked towards the interview room from my desk. An outspoken girl in my class shouted "good luck!" as I got up, but I assured her I had already interviewed and had no idea why I had to go back. I knew it wasn't to say I got in since they told us the list would not be posted for another month.

I hesitantly opened the door and peeked my head in the room. "Come in! Sit down!" they said. Well, they were being friendly... That seemed like a good sign...

Then, one of the teachers explained how during the course of the interviews that morning a girl in another class (who also has CI's) had brought in her FM and stated that the teachers needed to use it. This sparked the teacher's memory (who had visited our classroom before), and she made a comment along the lines of "Hey, last time I had to wear one of these things twice. I wonder if the other girl that used one also applied."

At this point, the girl being interviewed decided to be helpful, and said "Oh, yeah!" and then stated my full name.

This was one of those moments in which I mentally screamed "Really?! Was that really necessary?!"

I can't really blame anyone else, it really wasn't the girl's fault that she shared her knowledge... But I was still slightly annoyed. Anyway, there wasn't much time for me to get annoyed because one of the teachers continued.

"We were shocked... We had no idea, and you speak so well!"

Okay, this wasn't the first time I'd heard this...So far, so good...

"I can understand not wanting to be identified as the girl with hearing loss first," she continued, and told me about how she doesn't introduce her own daughter who has a chronic condition to people as "Jane, the girl with (disease)."

"But," she continued, "we have some concerns."

 "Here it comes," I thought to myself, and I took a deep breath.

Look for part 3 tomorrow!

The Difference

Occasionally, people with little experience with hearing loss will make a hearing-related comment or ask a question that sounds absolutely ridiculous and stupid to someone who has dealt with hearing loss his or her entire life. It's easy to jump on these people, and write them off as ignorant of hearing loss and possibly even people with disabilities as a whole. What I've learned is that rather, it's how these people react after you try to educate them that demonstrates that they're either willing to learn and open-minded, or indeed ignorant. I've been putting off sharing these stories on my blog for a little while now, but they truly demonstrate the polar opposite reactions I've faced when trying to educate people about hearing loss. I'll split this up into a few posts- one story has a happy ending, the other with an unresolved and leaves-a-bad-taste-in-your-mouth feeling.

A while back I shared that I had gotten into a program at my school that's medically oriented with lots of hands on and observational experiences in medicine. It was a big deal to me because the program requires applying, getting recommendation letters, and an interview with the teachers of the class.

The interview required getting dressed up in formal business attire. Before the interview, I weighed the pros and cons of disclosing my hearing loss. While it seemed like it would be easier to be honest and upfront, I also didn't want deafness to be the topic of the entire interview, which would be short anyway. In addition, when people hear the word "deaf", it's easy for them to jump to conclusions based on their minimal experiences with other deaf people. Rather than focusing on my qualifications, I was afraid that their minds would instead start racing about the possibilities of things I *couldn't* do.

It was for those reasons I decided it would be best to wait until *after* I was accepted into the program to tell them about my CI's and hearing loss. My only concern was that one of the (two) teachers had visited with some students taking the class to tell us more about it a few months prior to the interview. She had been given the FM to wear, so I wasn't sure if she would remember that I was the one that gave it to her. I figured I'd take my chances, and if she said mentioned anything about it I would simply say that I used my FM to deal with noisier situations, but that I hear pretty well most of the time. It was true, and it seemed to be a good way to avoid talking about hearing too much.

So the interview came, and I got all dressed up and was so nervous. My sister (who took the class) told me not to shake their hands since one of them is a slight germaphobe, but someone else said it would be rude not to. Should I extend my hand, or just see if they extend theirs? What if I misheard their questions? What if I said something stupid?!  In the end, they only asked me one question, and then spent a couple of minutes talking about my sister. At the end of the interview, the teachers told me "Your grades are great, you have outstanding recommendations and a flawless attendance record. I think we know everything we need to know!" and asked if I had any questions. I took that as a good sign (since those were the assets they listed as the most important to get into the program).

So I was relieved that I was done interviewing on the first day, since the teachers were there over a course of two days and some people wouldn't get interviewed until day 2. That night I had tons of homework and tests to study for. I barely got 4 hours of sleep, and I don't even think I had time to shower (that's not a regular occurrence, just fyi, haha!). That morning I was running late, so I pulled my frizzy hair into a messy bun, threw on an oversized T-shirt and jeans, and ran out the door without a touch of makeup on. I usually wear very little  make up regularly, so it wasn't a really a huge deal except for the sunken in dark circles around my eyes. It was just one of those days where I looked (and felt) like hell!

With this mental image in your head, you can no doubt imagine the shock that came over my body when I arrived to medical science and the teachers came out and called my name and stated they "needed to talk to me." My heart and mind began racing. What could they possibly want?

To be continued...

Sunday, June 26, 2011

My Greatest Accomplishment?

So I'm going to a program this summer for teens with hearing loss. I'm excited for it, but before I go we have an assignment to answer a series of personal questions about ourselves using only a visual for each question (images, photographs, etc), but no words. I haven't had issue with the majority of it, but I am stuck on one last question "What is your greatest accomplishment?"

I've been pondering over it for days now, and I am still at a complete loss. Of course, I've had months to do it and now I only have a few days left, but sometimes life gets in the way!

Anyway, it's an interesting question. You'd think something like your greatest accomplishment would be something you'd know off the top of your head. One of those things that flashes before your eyes as you die and can say "Yeah, I did that!" Okay, maybe I'm being melodramatic... But gosh, reducing everything I've done in my sixteen-almost-seventeen-years into my greatest accomplishment? I just don't know what I've done that is worthy of the title... I've never done anything particularly great. Shouldn't I have accomplished something by now? I mean, you hear about those teens who have climbed Mount Everest or sailed around the world or memorized the dictionary or whatever...but what have I done?  My family is convinced that I'm nuts for getting so worked up over this.
"This is ridiculous! Just pick something!"
"You're sixteen, it's not like anyone expects you to have found a cure for cancer!" (..yet)

So here I am, feeling extremely unaccomplished. If you think you know my greatest accomplishment, then please, enlighten me..

I really need to stop obsessing over everything..

By the way, if you have anything you'd like to see/read me write about, or a question you'd like me to answer, or anything like that...I'm open to suggestions. I feel like I'm running out of things to say, believe it or not! I'm not quite ready to see this blog die.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

It passed right by...

Monday was my 4 year anniversary of bionic hearing! It was a relatively uneventful day.. I kinda just remembered that it held any significance!

Now it's just normal. Wearing my CI's is just so natural, that I never really think too much of it. My new favorite hearing thing to do is blast my car radio and sing along. They're still not perfect. I still need frequent mappings, but that's getting better as my 2nd ear is growing and not fluctuating as much. I never really adjust my hearing settings. In fact, I don't carry around the remote (and seldom know where it is...). Although occasionally when it gets ridiculously noisy and it is necessary to scream to be heard, I switch to the Zoom/Focus program. I'm not quite sure how it works, but it works wonders! And for those know-it-alls that claim the Nucleus 5 is just a smaller Freedom, I can tell you that I feel the Zoom feature alone was worth cost of upgrading. The sound is different. Don't ask me how it works, don't tell methat I must be wrong because the technology is the same...

I know what I hear, and it's pretty amazing!

For those of you wondering, the Ultimate College Guide is under way and is now being done in partnership with Rachel Chaikof of Cochlear Implant Online. It should be pretty amazing! If you'd like to participate/be featured, just message me!

In other news... I'm probably giving up French :(
No, it's not by choice. Yes, it is a hearing/accommodations thing. Yes, I am upset by it because it absolutely sucks. 


Tuesday, June 14, 2011


I speak well. 

I didn't always, but after many years of speech therapy, I'd say that if you didn't know anything about my hearing ability, based on hearing me speak, you probably wouldn't suspect anything. Occasionally I don't fully enunciate the /s/ sound, but I've been told that after I got my CI's my speech improved... Anyways, that's  not really the point of this post..

I don't think a person's speech should matter, as long as someone's speech is intelligible, what difference does it really make? Some (hearing and ignorant) people, though, think that the way a person speaks reflects his intelligence. Some people think it's okay to make fun of another person's speech just because it doesn't sound the same as theirs.

This has caused me to be stuck in the middle of some extremely awkward situations. I've realized that:
1)Many people don't think of me as deaf
2) Some people are complete idiots
Looking back on some of these incidents,  I definitely wish I had spoken up.

When I was in middle school, a group of girls who I was acquainted (but not particularly friends) with were sitting at my table gossiping before class started. I listened without actually saying anything. The conversation topic soon turned to a girl who was deaf that went to our school, who one of the girls at the table had gotten into a fight with. They began rattling off all the things they disliked about this girl.

Then, one of the girls gossiping says, "Have you guys ever noticed the way she talks?"

I cringed but didn't look up.

They all laughed and nodded in agreement with the girl.

Then, they all took turns pinching their noses in amazingly ignorant attempts to imitate her voice. I was horrified, but didn't say anything since I wasn't actually involved in the conversation. The girls were very outspoken, and I was certainly on the shyer side.
There was another incident that occurred within the last couple of months. In my Health Sciences class, we have vocabulary quizzes are administered orally every couple of weeks. Our teacher had been out sick for the last couple of days, and there had been a substitute teacher in her place. He was a really chill, friendly guy.  He was always smiling, but was originally from somewhere in Africa (I can't remember anymore) and had a very thick accent. I usually do okay with accents, but I honestly could not understand a single thing that came out of this guy's mouth, so I just smiled and nodded whenever he said anything (we were doing group projects, so he wasn't actually teaching us, just making conversation).

Knowing that I could not understand this man, I was concerned about the impending quiz. Since I didn't have that class until later in the day, I asked some friends who had Health Science in the morning if we had the same sub administering the test. When they said that we had a new sub, I admitted that I was relieved because I was afraid I wouldn't be able to understand the previous sub. One friend said she felt the same way, and assured me I would be able to hear the new sub just fine.

Then, another girl (infamous for her tendency to speak *way* too much,) chimed in.
"Yeah but the new sub talks funny. It's really annoying"

My friend glared at her. "That's so rude! Don't say that!"

"Ugh but it was so annoying," the girl said, and then turned to me. "Her voice was really weird."

To be honest, I was completely confused as to what she could possibly mean. I figured the sub had a lisp or something. 

Alas, when I got to the class, the sub introduced herself. She explained that she had hearing loss and her hearing aids were broken, so we'd have to get her attention before speaking to her. Her speech was completely intelligible, by the way (and I aced the quiz). 

I had pretty much forgotten about what the chatty girl had said. I figured it was a moment of poor judgement, and just kind of shrugged it off. But then I saw her that evening at some sort of school function. We were making small talk when she suddenly blurted out,
"Wasn't I right about the sub? ugh Her voice just like bothered me so much." 

Then she laughed. I shrugged and then did my best to escape from the conversation.
I feel cowardly. The voice inside my head was yelling all sorts of not-so-nice things, while my actual voice remained silent, pretty much implying agreement.

I really need to get over the whole "quietness" thing. I always regret not saying something, yet I never learn. So frustrating!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Quote du Jour

"No one ever said life would be easy... they just promised it would be worth it."

Today, I felt like Alexander..
 I haven't even taken any of my hard exams yet. However, my day started off with locker clean-out during study hall. During this time of absolute chaos, a herd of rather tall teenage guys was stampeding through the halls like no body's business. Apparently my foot was in their way, so rather than running over it..they just ran on top of it it. My typically pasty white foot is now puffy and an ugly purplish color. It hurts pretty badly too :(
In my excitement and enthusiasm for starting a new school in the fall, I had been lulled into a false sense of security and assumed that the few accommodations I currently wouldn't be a problem come next year. It's not the district that's putting up a fight, but it doesn't really matter whose fault it is when the outcome is all the same... I'm always the one who ends up losing out, and yet I was completely blindsided. Silly, silly me.
 Why did I have this crazy idea that I could actually enjoy the right to an equal education without having to fight for it?
I need summer. All I want is to be back playing with and "helping" the sick kids. It brings a strange peace to my heart and I just need to see those beaming smiles to put everything back in perspective.
They make it worth it.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

College on the Brain- Input needed!

I just have to survive exam week and then I'll be done with sophomore year! Then, the day after I get out of school, I get to experience the wonderful pleasure of watching my sister graduate. What could be better than waking up early on the first day of summer to watch all 1200 students in my sister's class walk across stage and listen to a bunch of speeches from people I don't know?! I'm half kidding- I love my sister and wouldn't dream of missing her graduation. I can't believe she'll be leaving me in a few short months to go off to college :'(

Anyway, all of this college talk has definitely gotten me thinking. Navigating through college applications and trying to figure out what schools to apply to can be tricky, and it can be even harder as a person with hearing loss. In addition to things like the location, campus, and quality of education, a teen with hearing loss may also have to worry about having accessible dorms, class size, accommodations such as FMs, interpreters, CART and more.  Not only are there SAT scores, essays, and teacher recommendations to worry about, but also the question of whether or not to tell a college about your hearing loss during the admissions process, or to wait until after you've been accepted. Not to mention the fact that college is expensive, but there are so many additional options and scholarships for students with hearing loss. For example, did you know that any resident of the state of Texas with hearing loss can attend any public Texas college (that they have been accepted into) without any cost to them, regardless of their financial situation?

I feel like there are so many resources available for students applying to college, but so many of them are little known. I want to create the ultimate guide for students with hearing loss in looking for, applying to, and being in the appropriate college. In addition to gathering resources, I want to compile an array of personal college experiences, both good and bad. Anything from advice, to anecdotes, to articles on a specific college-related topic. Name and/or college attended are both option information, but if there is enough input I may even compile a list of college that have been great at accommodating students with hearing loss, and possibly also a list of those that have been less than accommodating. I'm not sure exactly what type of format I'd ultimately like it to be in- a website? PDF? Published book?

Yes, I am ambitious. These are just ideas I'm throwing out there. Please let me know if this is something you'd be interested in, I'd like to know if other people feel there is a need for this as well. Also, if you would like to help in anyway, please let me know with either a comment or private email, whichever you prefer! Suggestions? Thoughts? Please share with anyone you think might be interested!

I'll leave you with a few pictures from a recent academic awards ceremony at my school. I received an award from my French teacher. (Actually, most of these pictures were taken afterwards at my house, but still!)

Sisterly Love!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

and a nice day to you too...

I'm going to post an update about lots of things soon. I don't have time right now since this seems to be a week month filled with stress, no sleep and tears. :( At least I'm almost done?!

Anyway, I have always allowed anonymous comments... I know some people have privacy concerns and/or don't want to create a Blogger account. I haven't had any problems with it up until now... Now I am considering disabling the "Anonymous" option. If you have any opinions/advice, feel free to share. Here is a  comment I recently received, in its fully glory (and no, I did not approve it to be published as a comment on the original post)...
"CI?? Recommended?? no... Cochlear implants have a bad side effects which can occured to death. Implanting on the child is a great risky due to Neurology and Psychosocial. The childhood migraine variants as sickness lead to death from the Infectious Diseases and bad environmental because, for example, Something happen to ci users, go emergency hositpal and the doctors cannot do the MRI, Cardiac Arrest, Shock Cardiogenic, Radiation Emergencies, Electronic Machines, so you let your child to die beacuse of cochlear implant in the skull could a greater of damage in the nerve damage or brain damage. That's the facts. I am sorry, if you feel offened. The matter of fact, the CI doctors and Audiologists hyocrited and manipulations because just for hositpal and doctors profits! Consider yourself and think twice!

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 Classy. If you are a representative of this law firm, want to invest in spell check...That is all :)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Million Ear Challenge (Attention D-FW!)

As you may have heard, it's Better Hearing and Speech Month, and in honor of BHSM  Cochlear is asking you to take the Million Ear Challenge, and they in turn will donate products and accessories to customers who otherwise couldn't afford them.

In celebration and to spread awareness, there is going to be an event here in Dallas at the Grapevine Mills Mall. Here is the information:

On Saturday, May 14th from 2-3 PM, we will be meeting in front of the Food Court Entrance of the Grapevine Mall. Yellow T-shirts will be passed out free of charge. To help raise awareness, ear plugs will be handed out, and a full minute of noise-making and hand-clapping will occur so people in the mall know what this event is for. This is also a great opportunity for CI recipients and candidates to socialize, so try and stop by!

If you have any questions/ suggestions please feel free to contact me! And also, please spread the word!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

In other news...

Remember that program I mentioned?

I got in!

It has its perks

After getting 3 hours of sleep the night before...

I went to bed especially early
and slept especially soundly.

 So imagine my surprise when I found out that
these fell
and these lit up the sky
as these blasted.

All while I got to catch up on my beauty sleep.

I know my family was!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sharing Your Experience

Tonight, I met a friend of mine for dinner. As I was waiting for her to show up,I enjoyed people-watching and looking around at the various customers in the restaurant. I noticed a middle-aged man, directly in my line of vision, with two hearing aids eating dinner with his wife/girlfriend/lady friend. I spent the next few minutes watching their interaction, noticing the man to be clearly frustrated. He may have also been upset about something else, but was constantly having to ask his dinner guest to repeat herself. When the waiter came to their table, he asked "What?" three or four times, and he was clearly annoyed.

I wanted so badly to go over there and shout "I know how you feel!" and share the possibilities of cochlear implants, but decided against it because:
  1. I didn't feel it was my place to say
  2. It seemed rude to barge in on his dinner
  3. He didn't appear to be in a particularly happy mood
  4. I didn't know about his personal views or situation. What if he already knew he didn't qualify, for whatever reason? What if he is against the idea of CI's in general? I didn't want to be one of those people pushing my beliefs onto someone else, I despite it when others do that to me!
  5. My friend showed up.
While I am more than happy to share my experiences with people when asked, I guess I feel uncomfortable going up to other people unprompted. I'm sure there are people who would feel rude asking and wish a person they notice with a CI would just go up to them...

What do you think? Do you shout the praises of cochlear implants, or just quietly enjoy them? Have you ever shared your experiences with cochlear implants and offended someone else? (Or helped them?)

Side note: I was able to hear quite well in the restaurant, and don't think I had to ask for any repeats! While I'm the first to admit that CI's are far from perfect, I'm always amazed when I think back to the constant "What?" from my days of hearing aids and compare to how well I am able to hear now.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The last three months, in bullets

  • A few months back I went into a class filled with audiology/SLP grad students to tell my story and answer questions. It was a great experience, and it was nice to see how eager they all were to become the best professionals possible. To be honest, grad school looked much more interesting than high school, but it probably isn't always that way!
  • I got an iPhone 4! I am in love with it! It took a few hours to get used to the the keyboard (and I still have trouble typing without looking, but who really needs to be able to do that anyway!) I was worried I wouldn't be able to hear very well on it, but the sound quality is actually much better than any other phones I've used in the past. I don't use the listening/speaking part of the phone too often, but it's good to feel confident that I can hear on it when I do use it. I haven't gotten the chance to try out the FaceTime feature yet... It is wonderful having my music and phone all in one, and the apps aren't too bad either :)
  • I have officially had my license for 6 months! My mom insists that's not very long, but it does mean that I can now legally drive more than one passenger in my car!
  • Yesterday marked two years since my bilateral surgery. I'm finally getting to the point where I'm not feeling like I constantly need to go for mappings, and it is *so* nice.
  • I still have a love/hate relationship with school. Hate the work, but I'm loving spring break :)
  • For the last month or so, I've had horrible jaw pain upon opening my mouth, chewing. talking, yawning.. you get the idea. Today I went to an oral surgeon and he asked if I've been under stress lately. I laughed- when am I not under stress? Apparently I clench my jaw at night because I'm stressed, so the joint on one side of my jaw is out of place. It's supposedly really common, and is curable by doing some mouth exercises a few times a day. 
  • The above appointment was also to have a consultation to get my wisdom teeth out. Yeah, that's what I get to do this summer on top of two different (P)SAT programs, online school, and volunteering. What happened to summer being time for relaxing? Or even having a little bit of fun? 
  • The aforementioned surgeon also mentioned a company that takes wisdom teeth and preserves the stem cells in them for future use. There's no telling what medical advances will come about in my lifetime with stem cells (and I'm not just talking about hearing loss), so we'll look into doing that.
  • I definitely had another two or three bullets to write, but then a bug flew onto the keyboard and I got completely distracted and don't remember what I wanted to say...
  • I feel like I change the colors of this blog more often than I post, but it looks wintery and I'm read for spring. Plus, I looked back at some of my older posts and noticed you can't read them with the darker background..
  • I just remembered everything I wanted to write...
  • I wanted to thank everyone for the outpouring of support as well as the wealth of information that you have all provided regarding my last few posts. Pedro Martinez left a comment about an online course about stethoscopes with hearing loss. It was extremely helpful, but of course the speaker lost connection right as she was about to talk about stethoscopes with cochlear implants. So typical! I've decided to hold off messing with stethoscopes further, since we're done using them for the year. I may or not need it next year, depending on if I get into a program I'm applying for. More to come in the next month, keep your fingers crossed for me!
  • I'll be participating in a research study on FM use and cochlear implants, and I will get the chance to try out a couple of different FM systems. I will keep everyone posted!
  • I'm embarrassed to admit that I even watch Celebrity Apprentice... but did anyone else see the most recent episode on Sunday night? If not, let me just say that it is the epitome of of ignorance of hearing loss/deafness (or whatever term you prefer).
  • Most importantly- I ask that as you pray for the thousands of tragedies in Japan and whatever else is going on in your life, please squeeze Sara and her family into your thoughts and prayers, if you haven't already. Sara is an amazing young woman and a member of the Cochlear Community. Her brother and sister were recently in a car accident. Her brother was killed, and her sister is currently in a coma. I can't even begin to imagine being in her situation, but I do know that every last ounce of support can make a difference.