Tuesday, December 24, 2013

A Semester in Review

As the year comes to a close, I thought I'd take the opportunity to catch up on my blog and let everyone know what I've been up to. A lot has gone on since I last checked in! Here's it all, both the good and the bad:

It was the week before I was set to leave for college, and I decided to go in for one last mapping so I could go off hearing well. I left hearing great, but on the way home another car ran a red light and hit me. It was a pretty frightening experience. My car was totaled, but luckily multiple witnesses stopped and gave me their contact information to verify my story. Unfortunately, I did hit my head and experienced a series of issues with my left (re)implant. The issues with static/crackling and cutting out started up again, but now they finally seem to be getting under control.

The following week I moved into my dorm and officially began my freshman year at Rice University. I absolutely love it and could not be happier. The campus is beautiful, my friends are amazing, my classes are interesting, and my roommate is incredible. I'm still in the whole self-discovery phase, trying to figure out what I want to major in and do with my life. Right now I'm considering majoring either psychology and/or sociology and minoring in neuroscience. As for my future plans, I'm still an open book. I'm considering becoming a nurse practitioner or perhaps getting a PhD in neuropsychology.

There have definitely been quite a few adventures and ups and downs (I'll spare you the details, but it ranged from technical difficulties with accommodations to a lice scare in my dorm), but I'm loving every minute of it. I've gotten involved on campus and volunteer each week in a program mentoring refugee children to help them acclimate to life in the US. I've made a diverse group of friends who are all so incredibly caring and supportive. While I'm happy to be home for the break, I also miss college!
Here's a picture my parents took when they came to visit me on campus
I turned 19!

My oldest sister, Lauren, gave birth to my sweet nephew, Eli Parker, on October 12th. Luckily, I had a couple of days off of school and was in town when he was born!

I came home for Thanksgiving and found out that Zach, my beloved dog of thirteen years, had been put down. We grew up together, so it was hard not having him around anymore, but I know it was for the best. Here's a few of my favorite pictures of him through the years. The first is my sister Carly and I with him when he was  a puppy, the next was when I was probably around 8 and he would have been 2, and the last was taken this year.

Meanwhile, Eli has been growing fast. Here he is over Thanksgiving, at 6 weeks old!

My roommate and I are both pretty festive, so we decorated our room for Christmas and Hanukkah. It's not exactly a major event, but I thought I'd show it off :)

Stay tuned for some exciting CI related news for the new year. Until then, Happy Holidays and a joyous new year, from my family to yours :)

Friday, August 9, 2013

My Experience With the Nucleus 6

I posted a review of the Nucleus 6 on Cochlear Implant Online's website. Check it out!

In other news, I leave for college in a week. It feels like I've been waiting to go forever, but now that the time has finally come, I'm in total denial mode! I'm so excited for new experiences, but I guess you could say I'm less than wild about packing :)

Also, I am finally hearing well on my reimplanted side. It's not quite perfect, but it's getting close!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

"Look Familiar?"

My sister is a junior in college and majoring in communication disorders. Right now she's taking a summer Intro to Audiology class. She just sent me this picture of her study materials with the text message "look familiar?" and I couldn't help but laugh. I'm sure this list will look very familiar to many of you as well! 

I can still remember being a kid sitting in the soundbooth sick of hearing these words over and over!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

I did it!

A few select photos from my high school graduation...My cord is crooked in the first couple (it took me a while to notice) which totally bugs me, but what can ya do!

With my dad, sister, mom and grandma!

My sister, mom, and I

Me and my sisters!
This picture of my mom and  I afterward is blurry, but I still love it!
Summer has officially started, and I am staying busy! I am working at a daycare a few days a week and going on a couple of trips towards the end of July. Also dealing with some not-so-fun medical stuff, but nothing too out of the ordinary. I move into my college dorm in just two months, and it is crazy to think about! I am so excited, but I'm getting anxious to find out who my roommate is. Still have quite a bit of dorm shopping to do, though!

Thursday, May 30, 2013


I've had my reimplanted ear turned on for a little over two months now, and things are slowly improving. I have come to realize just how impatient I am! I have been going back to AVT and trying to get in the habit of do listening exercises. It's funny, when I got implanted the first time around everything was so exciting and new. I was eager to hear everything I could, and could not do enough listening practice. Now that I'm being reimplanted I  guess you could say the excitement is gone and I just want to go back to hearing like I could before!

I've started realizing that I am totally being too hard on myself. I had a mapping today and did my fist set of testing with the new implant afterwards. My audiogram was at 10-15 dB across the board, and we also did single syllable word  testing. Those were pretty difficult, and I'll admit to feeling defeated and absolutely certain I was getting every single one wrong. I was definitely surprised when my audiologist told me I had scored 74% correct! It's not where that ear was before (I've consistently scored at 90-95% previously), but it's not bad at all. I know progress was much faster when I got this ear implanted the first time, so  I can't help but constantly compare. My AVT will tell me I'm doing great for two months out, and I can't help myself in saying "But last time I could talk on the phone just a few days after it was turned on!" I also looked back at an old post and saw that 4 days post activation when I went bilateral, I scored 60% on the same test (four days this time around I couldn't hear anything!).

I need to stop the constant comparisons and just accept the progress as it comes. I should not be getting discouraged when I am clearly doing well, I just need to not have such ridiculous expectations. The one thing that bothers me is that voices just don't sound right. I can understand them, but they don't sound the way they should. I can only hope that continues to improve with time as well. Actually, I can do more than hope. I can do some of that practice that I've been avoiding :)

Saturday, May 4, 2013

A Special Reunion

I am in the midst of studying for my AP exams (last ones ever!), so I can't write as much as I'd like, but my school had a ceremony honoring the National Merit Finalists last night. We were able to bring a teacher who was influential in our lives. I chose to bring my speech therapist from my elementary school. She helped me develop clear speech, yes, but she also did so much more. She gave me the confidence to speak up for myself, and was also a tireless advocate, ensuring I received the services I needed. She was a guiding light for my mom and I in the early years, and provided us with a wealth of knowledge that helped me get to where I am today. Last night was the first time I saw her since I was in 5th grade, so it was really special! I got to give a short speech about her influence and thanking her as well as my parents.

Me with my speech therapist from elementary school

With my wonderful parents!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Bilateral: Take 2 (AKA My Bad Luck)

Hello! I've been meaning to write an update since my surgery, but as you'll soon find out from reading the rest of my post, things have gotten quite hectic. You know how when you start off with one teeny problem, but then everything kind of snowballs out of control and you feel like if anything else happens, you just might lose it? Yeah, that's about the point I am at right now. It's been a bit of a rough ride!

I had the surgery exactly two weeks ago, and it went well! The surgeon said that there was some extra skin on the skin flap area that he went ahead and removed during the surgery, and that  doing so could also help prevent any connectivity issues. The one thing I was delighted to discover when I woke up- my tinnitus (which I had gotten as a result of having that ear implanted the first time around) was gone! Unfortunately, so was my taste, but I was prepared for that, so I did not mind too much. The biggest problem I've had with recovery is vertigo and just being off balance in general. The floor seems to move whenever I do, but hopefully that will go away soon.

I missed school on Monday and Tuesday afterwards (I was off the week prior because it was my spring break), but I was actually feeling pretty good Wednesday (exactly 1 week post-op) and went to school. I was also activated that afternoon and had a check-up with my surgeon. I have to give a huge thanks and shout out to Helen and Kemper of Lone Star Family for  their generosity. My ear and head were still extremely sore the night before I was activated, and I almost had to cancel activation because I knew there was no way I could wear the processor on my ear at that point However, it was suggested to get a long cable and pin the processor to my shirt while my ear was healing. Neither I nor my audiologist had one, but  Helen was kind enough to lend me a long cable that they have, so I cannot thank them enough!!   Activation was uneventful, and went as expected. I knew I'd be starting from scratch, but I secretly hoped I would be able to understand *something*. No such luck!

The next morning I woke up at 5 AM struggling to breathe with a severe pain in my chest that happened with each breath I took. Due to having some risk factors for blood clots which are even more likely to happen after surgery, my parents took me to the emergency room to ensure everything was okay. Honestly, by the time I got there the pain was less severe (it was far worse while I was laying down), so none of us were too concerned. My dad joked that it was "an expensive way to get out of going to school", which which gave me a little chuckle. I was lucky enough to have not one but three training students observing and attempting to treat me. I felt obligated to return the favor since I was the observer last year, but I will admit I was a *tad* concerned when the EMTs-in-training whispered to each other trying to figure out where the leads went to do an EKG as I was lying there with my chest completely exposed. It took a few tries, but they got it eventually :P

They did the EKG and chest x-ray, both of which looked normal, but then when the blood test results came back 45 minutes later, was one of the levels that can indicate a blood clot was elevated, so a CT scan was ordered. And that's where things got weird...

I don't know why or how it happened, but soon after the CT scan started, I began hearing an extremely loud sound in the ear I had surgery on, which can only be described as a propellor/airplane noise. I did not have the processor on in that ear, nor do I have residual hearing since the reimplantation. But the noise started, and continued, even after I was brought back to the hospital room which was far away from the CT and MRI machines (the CT scanner was in a room next door to the MRI.. I have no clue if this could have caused something). 

Yeah, so I'm not proud of I, but I kind of lost it. At this point I was terrified not only because I didn't know if I had a blood clot in my lungs, but now I've got this noise in my head and I started growing increasingly anxious that somehow in the process of going in the CT scan, something messed with the implant. My mind started racing and I grew increasingly upset as I thought of the idea of having to endure surgery yet again to have to get it replaced (this was my 7th surgery, and I'd hoped it was my last). It didn't help that the ER doctor's response to the whole thing was simply "That shouldn't happen. A CT machine is just a big X-ray." No, it shouldn't but it DID!

Thankfully, the implant still works fine. The sound I am hearing has not gone away. Oh, and as far as why I couldn't breathe? Turns out it was pleurisy, fluid on the lungs, which they treated with an antibiotic.

That finally went away this weekend, and then this week I've come down with a sinus infection. My nose is stopped up, and I am sneezing constantly, which probably isn't good since I was instructed not to blow my nose or sneeze for 4 weeks.. And I'm having a strong feeling of pain and pressure over the implant area, which I am thinking is due to the general stuffiness. It doesn't help that the progress with this implant is painfully slow. I know it's only been a week. It's to be expected. But I was kind of hoping that like the last time that ear was turned on, I would be able to hear on the phone the next day. No such luck, hearing is a struggle and I can't understand anything out of it yet. Having a hard time hearing in school, which I am already extemely behind due to missing so much of it last week. Trying AVT practice exercises, but so far comprehension is next to nothing without speechreading.

You could say it's been a rough two weeks...

Saturday, March 9, 2013

4 Years Later- Another Surgery

After changing my mind a ridiculous number of times,  I will be having my left ear reimplanted on Wednesday, 4 years (down to the week) after it was originally implanted. It will be replaced with another Freedom device. Apparently there's a new straight array that new patients are receiving, but they aren't giving it to reimplanted patients (wouldn't want to change things up too much!). This certainly isn't my first choice way of spending Spring Break, but I will be happy to have it all behind me. If all goes well (knock on wood), I am scheduled to be reactivated a week later on March 20th.

Just thought I'd pop in and share the news!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Court Rules in Favor of Medical Student with Cochlear Implant

I found this to be really encouraging. The student sued Creighton University for failing to provide CART access and interpreters, forcing him to take out over $100,000 in loans to pay for them himself. Hopefully this will set a precedent for future students with hearing loss in college/medical school/grad school. For more info, here are a few links:

Article Overview

Summary from AG Bell's Website

Detailed (but lengthy) document about the court decision