Friday, December 28, 2012

College-Bound and Crackling Sounds

I'm getting bad at this whole blogging thing. I'm sure no one wants to hear my excuses about how busy I've been and whatnot..So, since it's 3:30 AM and I have bronchitis and can't sleep, you will get a full-blown update. Lucky you :)

I don't quite know where to begin. I'm sure those of you who actually still read are sick of hearing about the whole college process (I know I am, haha!), but this will be my final update on college/schools for a while! So basically, last March I had an academic conference with my school counselor. All the juniors have them, it's basically to discuss future plans, colleges, the works. I mentioned that I was particularly interested in a school, and she basically shot down my hopes and dreams by telling me it was out of my league and I had no chance of being accepted. She said it nicely and with a smile, but it stung! I had already made plans to visit the school over my spring break the following week, and I certainly wasn't going to cancel them. I went and tried so hard not to fall in love with it with this newfound knowledge that I had no chance of being accepted... I couldn't help myself. Like a hormone-crazed tween girl obsessed with Justin Bieber (or One Direction, or whatever pop sensation you so choose), I dreamily began picturing our future together despite the fact that it was out of reach. Well, just a couple of weeks ago, I got an email from the aforementioned dream school. I'm kind of embarrassed to say it because I make fun of people for being emotional, but I cried hysterically... Want to know what first line of the email said?

Congratulations! On behalf of the Committee on Admission, it is my pleasure to offer you admission to the Class of 2017.
So, moral of the story: you never know unless you try! And ignore the naysayers, they always seem to have plenty to say!

It's nice to know where I'll be attending and to finally have all of my hard work payoff. I really do think it's a great fit for me and I can't wait until the fall. It's a small school- my college graduating class will likely be a couple hundred students smaller than that of my high school graduating class- but I think it's just what I need. My parents are also relieved because it's not across the country, but I am glad that it's not too close either- it's about a 4.5 hour drive from where I live. Thus concludes my talk of my college search!

On a completely different note, I have been having issues with my left (second) implant lately, and things are not looking too great. I had an appointment with my surgeon yesterday, and he thinks I may be in the early stages of a soft failure. I have been hearing crackling/popping for the past few months, and we have changed out all the external parts multiple times, to no avail. For now, it's a wait and see deal. I am still hearing very well, and the crackling is intermittent. Sometimes I am able to go all day (or even a few days at a time) without it occurring. It's possible that it's just a fluke and it will all settle down over the next few months, but it is also more likely that it will continue to worsen or possibly even completely give out on me. I am going to have an integrity test done next week, but my surgeon does not expect there to be any usual findings, as oftentimes in soft failures all testing shows that the implant is functioning fine. I will not be considering re-implantation surgery until it gets to the point where I feel that it's  interfering enough with my hearing that I am no longer receiving the full benefits of being bilateral. Right now, that is certainly not the case. When I went in yesterday, I had a hearing test done and my left ear tested at 92% on single word recognition, which is pretty darn good! I am also having problems with a sharp, shooting pain under my left implant that has started up in the last few weeks. It only lasts for a few seconds at a time, but it is debilitatingly painful when it occurs- it's brought on if I move my head or face suddenly. The cause of that is more of a mystery and not really treatable with anything other than anti-inflammatories.My surgeon suggested leaving the processor off for a few days to see if it helps (this is just a short term solution, of course), and since I've pretty much just been at home cooped up with my sick self and my dog, that is what I am doing. If anyone has any experiences/knowledge to contribute on either of these issues, please do comment. I really value the knowledge that my readers offer because you all know so much more than I do!

One last thing- If you emailed me, chances are I got halfway though composing a long, thought out email, saved it as a draft, and never finished it. You can be mad at me, I feel awful about it, but I shall resume replying to 2 month old emails while I have nothing better to do over these next few days(not that I have 2 online courses I need to be doing in order to graduate or anything... You know where my priorities are!)

To those of you who read to the end of this ridiculously long post, thank you! You deserve a medial or some cookies or something. Now it's 4 AM and I am just rambling... I should probably try to get some sleep...Thanks for reading :)

Monday, November 5, 2012

Spam Warning

Just dropping a quick note to let me readers know that the email address I use to send/receive emails for my blog was taken over today and sending spam. I have changed my password and I believe I have fixed the issue, but if you receive any fishy emails from that address, please do not open them or click on any links! Thanks!

I'll leave you with the picture from me voting early last week, as well as with the happy news that I have been accepted into 2 schools so far, both of which with large scholarships :)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

College Guide

A little over a year ago, I posted about wanting to create a College Guide specifically for students with hearing loss. It got put on the back burner for a while, but Rachel and Elizabeth from CI Online expressed interest in the project, so it got restarted. I am proud to present to you the Ultimate College Guide for Students with Hearing Loss, and many thanks to the friends who contributed their stories and thoughts. It is ever-evolving, so if you have something you'd like to contribute, please let us know!

The Ultimate College Guide

On a related note, I have been school and college applications have been taking up just about all of my time. I guess that's what I get for applying to eleven schools! Wish me luck :) I was also notified that I'm a semifinalist in the National Merit Scholarship competition, so with the added excitement comes additional work... Not that I'm complaining!

I turned eighteen about a month ago, and I must say that I do not feel like a "real" adult yet. Maybe once I'm out of the house the feeling will kick in! I'm definitely excited to be able to vote in this upcoming election-- it's nice to feel like my thoughts and beliefs count.

Happy Fall! Don't stop reading, as I'll be back for more updates shortly!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Guest Post: How Tinnitus Affects Hearing Health

Below is a guest post written by John O'Connor who told me, "Over the past few years I have become more and more interested in hearing loss.  My father and grandfathers along with various other family members and friends suffer from hearing loss.  I feel that there is a general lack on understanding around the issue and it is right to try and spread awareness." Enjoy!

New studies show that there may be more health benefits from the statement, “Get your beauty sleep.” Poor sleeping habits may make it difficult to cope with certain types of hearing loss. For instance, tinnitus is characterized by ringing, hissing, clicking or buzzing in the head or ears. Poor sleep habits make it difficult to cope with the condition. People with tinnitus may need to get more sleep to improve hearing.

Are There Any Studies to Prove This Finding?
Several studies have been conducted. The most notable study was conducted at Detroit’s Henry Ford Hospital. The study conducted between 2009 and 2011 included 117 patients. The studies showed that the symptoms of tinnitus and the patient’s emotional state worsened with insomnia. Tolerance levels decrease when a patient’s sleep decreases.

Patients may, subsequently, begin to experience depression, anxiety or annoyance. Treatment of insomnia seemed to alleviate some symptoms related to tinnitus. Since more than 36 million Americans have tinnitus, there is extra incentive to find relief for sufferers of this type of hearing loss. Lack of sleep is not the only condition that affects tinnitus sufferers. Loud noises, ear infections, Lyme disease, hyperthyroidism and fibromyalgia may all affect tinnitus sufferers.

What Causes Tinnitus?

The exact cause of tinnitus is not known, but it can be a result of acoustic trauma. High intensity sound could cause the acoustic trauma to the ear. The ringing of the ears is a common symptom of tinnitus.

Acoustic trauma is defined by any event that delivers excessive sound energy to the inner ear. The event may be permanent or temporary based upon the severity of the noise. After an exposure, oral steroids can help the inner ear to recover. Many people take oral steroids after a loud rock concert to reverse the effects to the acoustic trauma. If the exposure is long, the damage may be permanent.

One-third of 30 million people in the United States have hearing loss due excessive noise exposure. Since noise-induced hearing loss can be prevented, people must do all they can to prevent hearing loss. Prevention of hearing loss will lead to an overall better quality of life that is free of frustration and annoyance. If the damage is permanent a reliable option, after speaking with your doctor may be the use of hearing aids.  Instead of risking losing hearing, people should take the necessary precautions to preserve hearing.

Protect Your Hearing, Protect Your Health

Many people take hearing for granted and neglect to make the necessary changes in their lives to prevent permanent damage. Everyone should have a strategy to preserve their hearing. Hearing is one sense that most people cannot afford to lose. Take the necessary steps to protect hearing today. 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Good Customer Service

Most of the time, my cochlear implants make it so that the person I am conversing with has no idea I am deaf. Occasionally, however, conversations are a struggle. One such incident occurred when I went to order lunch at a bakery a few weeks ago. It was noisy and the cashier seemed to see no reason to speak any clearer than a mumble. The interaction was painful as I struggled to catch onto a single word that was said.The cashier made the situation much worse, making sarcastic comments about me not being able to hear him. Flabbergasted, I told him I was hearing-impaired, but his rude attitude continued. Embarrassed and angry, I took my food and left.

On the drive home, I was fuming. Why should I have to apologize for my hearing loss? And why should I allow someone to make me feel inferior just because I struggle to hear them? The AG Bell Convention was just a few days away, and I was in full-on advocacy mode. I went to the company's website and filed a complaint with the local restaurant.

A few days later, the manager at the location I went to contacted me and apologized profusely, stating that the employee was reprimanded and that his behavior would not be tolerated. Then, they asked for my email so they could send me a coupon.

Sure enough, they sent me not one, but two coupons for a free meal! Now that's what I call good customer service. Good move, Paradise!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Is it offensive to find people with disabilities doing ordinary things "inspirational"?

I found this article to be really interesting. I'd like to hear what my readers think! Here is an excerpt from it, and the link to the entire thing can be found here.

"Let me be clear about the intent of this inspiration porn; it's there so that non-disabled people can put their worries into perspective. So they can go, "Oh well if that kid who doesn't have any legs can smile while he's having an awesome time, I should never, EVER feel bad about my life". It's there so that non-disabled people can look at us and think "well, it could be worse... I could be that person".
In this way, these modified images exceptionalise and objectify those of us they claim to represent. It's no coincidence that these genuinely adorable disabled kids in these images are never named: it doesn't matter what their names are, they're just there as objects of inspiration.
But using these images as feel-good tools, as "inspiration", is based on an assumption that the people in them have terrible lives, and that it takes some extra kind of pluck or courage to live them."

Stay tuned for an update on my life shortly!

Friday, June 22, 2012


Murphy's Law of High School: You will be one of the few people stupid enough to stay up until 4 AM to see the results of your SAT II Subject Test... and you will also be part of the "small percentage" of people whose score was mysteriously not released online. Yeah, I knew I would regret waiting up..

I am pleased to report that I've been doing really well hearing-wise lately. I know most of you are able to go once or twice a year for mappings, but I have never been so lucky. It usually ends up being once or twice a month for me, so it seems like I'm constantly at the audiologist. It's been a month and a half since my last mapping, and I'm still hearing well, so that's good news. I was actually at the dentist today and I surprised myself that I was able to hear every single word spoken to me clearly, even with the hygienist wearing a mask and the noise of all the dental equipment. Even 5 years later, it's the little things that make me grateful that I am able to hear!

I am enjoying my summer. I'm working on getting an internship at a daycare to keep my free time occupied. Who needs to rest anyway? I am also working on applying to colleges. I am almost finished with my first application essay, and I've been on a few campus visits. I've managed to narrow down my list to 19 schools, but I'm still trying to decide on another 5-10 to take off. I have an idea of which school would be my dream school to attend, but there are so many great schools, it's hard to scratch any off my list. Those of you who've been through the process (with or without hearing loss) feel free to share any advice with me as I embark on this stressful journey :)

I actually had my first college admissions interview the other day! I was insanely nervous, but the interviewer was extremely friendly and casual. It went well, and I didn't even mention the fact that I had  a hearing loss or cochlear implants; I had no trouble hearing. We had a pleasant conversation about my aspirations to go into medicine and my motivations for doing so, as well as opportunities the school had available that I'd be interested in. I actually thought the interviewer was a current student, but I found out afterwards that she's the assistant director of admissions! Yikes! I'm just glad I didn't know ahead of time, or my nerves might have gotten the best of me.

Also thought I'd share a tidbit of good news. A few weeks ago I was notified that I am a store winner for the Kohl's Cares Scholarship Competition for community service. Store winners don't actually receive scholarship money, just a gift card, but I'm hoping I have a shot at advancing to the next level. Even if I don't, it was also exciting winning something and getting a congratulatory letter and certificate in the mail!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Miss me?

Yes, I have been AWOL. Mostly because, well, I don't have much to say. Bet you never thought that day would come, huh?!

Hearing and implant stuff is going well. Had my 5 year anniversary of getting my first implant last week. I can remember it like it was just yesterday, but it's also hard to believe that it was only five short years ago that I was stressing over whether or not to have the surgery, what it would be like to go completely deaf, and what the right decision is for me. Hindsight is 20/20, and looking back I would not change a thing. I  have no regrets about my CI journey whatsoever!

Been pretty busy with life as of late. My oldest sister got married a couple of weeks ago, and I was a bridesmaid in her wedding. As if that wasn't stressful enough, the wedding was the night before the start of my AP exams. I managed to enjoy myself, and it was great being surrounded by family, even if it meant not studying as much as I would have liked.

Now, all I have to do is get through my exams and SAT II/SAT Subject tests this week, and then summer will commence! I am excited for everything coming up! I'm going to the AG Bell Convention (will I be seeing any of my readers there?), volunteering at the hospital again, narrowing down my list of colleges, and working college applications. Then I'll be a senior! In September, I'll turn 18. Can't believe I'm going to be an adult! I may also be taking a couple of other small vacations.

Well, that's about all I have to say for now. Let me know if you'll be attending the Convention in Arizona!

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Big Changes- Bye bye, CI's!

All of you know that high school has been filled with its ups and downs for me. Fortunately, it seems I'll be finished a year earlier than originally expected.

I am proud to announce that I have been recruited to attend Harvard University for the fall of 2012. I didn't even have to apply. Apparently the admissions officers came across my blog and were so impressed that they chose to admit me. I don't even have to finish all of my high school credits!

As you all know, the costs of attending a school such as Harvard are astronomical. It is for this reason that I am announcing that starting next week, I will no longer have cochlear implants. It's been a neat experience to be able to hear, but the world is just too noisy for me anyway. I am selling all four of my processors, so please contact me if you are interesting in buying one (or all) of them. I will be having surgery to have the internal implant removed, and I have a company that is willing to buy them back from me and refurbish them so another person will get the chance to hear.

It is with these funds that I am hoping to scrape together enough money to pay for my first year at Harvard. I am not sure how I will pay for the remaining years, but if anyone is in need of a new kidney, feel free to contact me, and perhaps we could negotiate an exchange between the organ and some money for tuition.

I hope that you will all be supportive of me as I endeavor on this life change. I encourage you to keep in touch with me and check out my new blog in which I will account my adventures at Harvard.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Rookie Mistake

So, a couple of weeks ago I got to observe in the OR for a week as part of the program I was participating in. The first day was disastrous, to put it mildly. Once the masks went on, I felt completely lost. The equipment was noisy, the doctors and nurses mumbled, and the operating room doesn't exactly have the best acoustics. I left frustrated and feeling defeated.

When I got to school, I ran into one of my teachers for the course (not sure if I've already explained this before, but some weeks we're in class and other weeks we're observing at various sites). She knew I was nervous about being in the OR and not having any visual cues to help me hear. She stopped and asked how it had gone, and I admitted that I had felt completely lost and wasn't really sure what to do.
She suggested I try bringing the FM in and telling one of the nurses about my CI's and having her wear the FM. It may come as a surprise, but I don't typically tell the doctors and nurses at my site about my hearing loss and implants unless for some reason it comes up in the conversation. I'm usually able to keep up just fine, and since I only stay at each place for a week at a time, it's really not that big of a deal. Plus, I'll admit, a tiny part of me is afraid of them thinking less of me because I can't hear as well. I know, I know, I'm all for advocating for myself, but I'm afraid I'll be viewed differently for some reason.

Anyway, the next day I decided to suck it up and tell them about my implants and ask to use the FM. It worked out great, and the staff was far more receptive than I would have ever imagined. The surgeon was more than happy to wear the FM, and said it would be just another microphone to wear (since he was already wearing one to record the procedure). He interacted with me a lot and made sure I understood what was going on. It was great, and I left feeling absolutely delighted.

The following day was off to a rough start before I even arrived at the surgery center. It was pouring rain, and I was running late. No sooner had I walked into the building than I heard that dreaded beeping sound. The battery on one of my ears had died. I was slightly annoyed, but also grateful that I had another ear I could rely on.

I always have multiple packs of disposable batteries in my purse, pockets, car, etc. However, in recent months, I have transitioned to rechargeable batteries because my map was just too powerful to handle the disposable, thus causing the sound to cut in and out constantly. And of course, I never thought to carry around a spare rechargeable (or a controller that houses disposable batteries). There I was, one eared, but still relieved I had brought my FM. I turned it on, and I used it for all of 5 minutes when it mysteriously stopped working. This isn't anything out of the ordinary, and I've since given up using the FM at all because of its constant issues.

So, I did my best with one ear, and I somehow lucked out being around doctors who seemed to speak more clearly than others I'd been around before. It wasn't ideal, but there wasn't much I could do. I planned to go home during lunch to switch out the dead battery, and I figured I could make do for the first half of the day.  I arrived at school and was taking a test during my first class. Suddenly, I heard a series of beeps followed by complete silence. The other battery had died too. By this point I wasn't sure if I should laugh or cry at my awful luck. I went up to my teacher and told her that if she had to tell me anything, she'd need to write it down since I couldn't hear at all. She was super nice about it, but it felt strange not being able to hear. I almost felt... naked? After I finished the test, I drove home and switched out the rechargeables, and I haven't had the issue again. However, now I never leave the house without backup rechargeable batteries!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Expectations Surpassed

Fourteen years ago, the journey began.

My mom listened in a daze as the audiologist threw around words like "decibels" and "audiogram". The audiologist pointed to a graph with scribbled X's and O's. She placed her finger on the line marked zero. "This is the level that most children hear at," she said, and then dragged her finger down to the line that said seventy, "this is the level your daughter hears at."

My mom did not understand.

"Wow," my mom thought to herself, "look how good her hearing is!"

The woman continued. She spoke of hearing aids, of me never speaking 'normally' and never attending a typical school, let alone perform at the same level as my hearing peers. That was a word she seemed to like, the word "never". That, along with "can't" and "won't"

In tears, my mother dragged me out of the doctor's office, vowing to never return to a place that told her what her daughter was incapable of achieving.

Me (right) with my older sister back in the day

Last week, I woke up at four in the morning to see how I performed on the SAT. My body filled with a mixture of dread and excitement when I saw the words "Your scores are available!" on the screen.

I clicked on it, and I saw this:

The score for each section is in the center column. A perfect score on a section is an 800. You add the scores up for the composite score, which is out of 2400.

I got a 2260, as you can see. I'm not sure if I screamed. I certainly let out a gasp. I know scores don't mean everything, but it's nice to have cold hard proof that I can point to and say, "You could not have been more wrong about me."

Just to put it in perspective:
  • The national average score on the SAT is a 1500. (Source)
  • The average SAT score for Harvard falls in the range of 2070-2350. (Source)
Yes, I am deaf- deaf to those who doubt me! And with that, I ask you not ever let a so-called expert control your future.