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!