Monday, December 31, 2007

Greatest Moment of the Year.

In my silent past, I have been surrounded by people who can hear water dripping, dogs whining, and bacon cooking without a second thought. My sad reality of it all came to full fruition that no one in my repertoire of acquaintances is able to understand that to me, those sounds just simply did not exist. I felt like I was the lone poodle watching the world absorb sounds while I was pathologically incapable of doing so. I can’t tell you how I longed to talk to someone that knows what it is like to wake up to the sun, lay down to the moon and all the minutes in between missing what we miss. For a deaf chick that has a habit of running her mouth has grown up in what some people have called the “hearing world,” I never found a hearing person who could relate to me and my quirky ways of getting through the day. I have been called weird countless of times and I acknowledge that since I eat pizza with a fork, put potato chips on my hoagies, and I swallow gum. Ironically, I have almost NO experience with the “deaf world” and what little experience I did have I was shunned. When deaf people can talk, there seems to be a common theme that people like me are deaf to the “hearing world,” and hearing to the “deaf world.” Where do we fit in? We don’t. Personally, I feel that there is no such a thing as a “hearing world” and a “deaf world” because it implies that the world is divided by a common denominator, which is a contradiction unto itself. Last time I checked, we all walk on the same terra firma, witness the same solar rotation, and feel the same splash of rain on our face. I don’t define the world I live in as a white or black world, or a Christian or Jewish world, or a Wal-Mart or Target world, so why would I lend to reason that a hearing and deaf world exist? I feel the world is my oyster and I intend to crack it open. I just needed to meet other people that have cracked theirs and I did just that. On November 26, 2007, I entered a classroom surrounded by familiar lily-white walls with one purpose to meet Michael Chorost and Josh Swiller who conducted a reading of their respective books, Rebuilt and The Unheard: A Memoir of Deafness and Africa.


As I was waiting patiently for the date of my cochlear implant surgery, I picked up Rebuilt and could not put it down. His book was populated with such witty descriptions and technical aspirations about deafness that truly made it a pleasure to read. He offered motivational support and in a sense virtually patted me on the head to be patient. On December 17, he underwent another successful surgery to receive a second cochlear implant after Let Them Hear Foundation persuaded Aetna to revise their policy to include bilateral cochlear implantation. It was a long fight for him to get the chance to run on dual processors. I can only envision that his next book will be revolutionizing the viewpoint on bilateral implantation.

When Michael started the reading, he clearly demonstrated the host in himself. His ease and elocution with public speaking is astounding. As he guided the audience through the moment that he suddenly lost his hearing, his tone acquired a sense of ardent staidness. At first, he thought it was the battery because when that goes, you immediately feel disconnected, but usually another battery will fix you right up. A proper metaphor is radio playing a song and it abruptly stops. In Michael case, no battery in the world seemed to work, neither one of his aids worked, and finally neither one of his ears worked. He was stripped of what precious hearing he had in a matter of hours. I can relate to this dreadful moment as I went in an operating room hearing fine, woke up hearing nothing but my own heart beat that started a flood of rampant emotions that he captured flawlessly in his book. I was thoroughly impressed by the fact he can hear questions and respond to them, one by one, without hesitation his answers flowed in a dignified manner. It is one thing to see words forged one character at a time bound in a book but when there was a time I thought I would never hear anyone speak again, it was truly a memorable experience to be hearing him that day.

Allow me to introduce Josh Swiller, a native New Yorker who has been deaf since he was four. He is barely over thirty and already has a glossary of accomplishments and prodigious experiences. He attended an Ivy League college and went to Gallaudet University where he learned sign language, but he felt lost no matter where he was. He has no shortage of experience in the world because he has been a carpenter, a salesman, a journalist obviously, a Zen monk, a raw food chef, a teacher, a forest ranger and last but not the least, a volunteer of the Peace Corps. I must point out that it is pronounced COR like the beer, apparently, the ps are silent. The Peace Corps shipped him off to Africa with a two-year supply of hearing aid batteries to teach a village located in Zambia how to dig wells. His book has no shortage of feverishly gripping details of the state of deprivation that Zambians accept as their every day life. I was mentally teleported me to a foreign land of fervent heat, impoverishment and rampant diseases but in the end, He found a nook that became his oasis where deafness did not matter.

Until that night, I have never spoken to him but Josh began his reading by cracking a few jokes, which was the appetizer of his jovial personality. He comes from a large family where he and another brother were deaf. He injected knee-slapping banters about growing up with five brothers all throughout the reading. The more he talked, the more I could see that his candor is completely uninhibited, what you see is what you get. Just like his book, Josh articulately guided us on a compelling journey of courage, friendship and most of all self-discovery. The first word that comes to mind is brave. He embodied courage in every sense of the word. To be willing to have your passport stamped to penury in Africa is bold but I understand the need to seek a much simpler way of life. To be deaf and willing to sacrifice a language that you have always known for a new dialect from scratch, in my mind is a daunting task. I cannot understand English half the time and accents are my ultimate adversary, except for a suave Latin man. For him this turned out to be a blessing. To face what he faced, to hear what he heard, to share what he shared is truly inspiring. In the most remote location of Africa, he finally felt at home.

To be able to someone talk to someone who understands this silent path with all the trials and tribulations that life throws at us was the greatest moment I experienced this year.


Gentleman, for that I thank you.


Monday, December 24, 2007

Yuletide Greetings

I have been insanely busy since Thanksgiving and I have so much to tell you all but it is going to have to wait! I hope everyone has a wonderful and safe holiday! I know I am because every day is like Christmas since the gift of hearing has been given back to me.

I bid you a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanakuh, Happy Kwanza, Feliz Navidad, Boze Narodzenie, or Buone Feste Nataliziethat. That is the extent of my knowledge regarding yuletide salutations.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

My fifth mapping went a little something like this...

ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE!!!

About three weeks ago, sounds from my implant began to sound fuzzy, robotic, and barely audible. This means that my brain has gotten use to the electrical output of the electrodes and in simple terms, needs more juice. I know a passing thought must be why don’t I just pump up the volume? I could pump up the volume but then my eye starts twitching at high frequency and hard sounds like SH, CH, S, and dogs barking (especially a certain Italian mastiff name Kane) Therefore, it forced me to keep the volume down so I could enjoy a twitch free day :)

In dire need of a mapping, I met my audiologist Jennifer and Advanced Bionic representative Tammy to see if we can resolve the silly little twitch of mine. They worked their mojo and it was resolved! I was using HiRes-P Fidelity 120 and they changed that to HiRes-S Fidelity 120 and widened the pulse width. HiRes-P was stimulating two electrodes at once, HiRes-S is stimulating one electrode at a time. What exactly does the pulse width do, beats me but I am going to figure it out! All I know that when they switched me over to HiRes-S, I whined that I sounded very digitalized. I had to laugh at myself. They changed my pulse width from 18 to 38 and that solved the digital voice issue. *clapping*

Another issue that could have been related to the twitch is that I had AGC (Auto Gain Control) turned off because I was not fond of hearing an ambulance or my cell phone and then having it cut off. AGC apparently applies a limit to the loudness coming through the processor. To troubleshoot whether this could be a cause, the dynamic duo gave me some homework. They loaded up one processor with AGC turned off and the other one with it turned on. It has been a couple days with AGC on and I notice a difference with sounds cutting off. Next week I will try the other processor with AGC off and report back.

I finally requested a telephone program to be put on my processor. Since I used telecoil on my hearing aid since I was a teeney bopper, I thought I would have it turned on. WRONG! I hated it. I think I had it turned on for all of three minutes before I asked to take it off and give me straight T-Mic. Poor Jennifer, I think she created about five programs for the telephone.

After I left the two girls, I went downstairs to wait for the valet get my car and I decided to call my mommy. Let me explain how the waiting room of the hospital is set up. Marble floors, glass windows, speaker phone blasting, escalator, vending machine down the hall, people coming and going and chatting about toilet paper being on upside down, not exactly a library. Not quite the ideal situation for me to try to make a phone call but this implant is a computer in my head so I am going to challenge the damn thing. I rang the lovely lady up and I heard everything she said, SHE had problems hearing me because it was so loud :)

I have had quite a few moments besides the unbelievable Daughtry concert. You know those moments of when people hear something and they start laughing? I am usually left out in the dark on these moments but I wasn’t this time. I heard my coworker’s cell phone ring who sits on my unimplanted side and to the back of me. I hear a click and her say “Recording!” which is how we answer the phones at work. I started laughing because I was able to figure out that answered her cell with our work greeting and that was something that I was never able to do before unless you were sitting right in front of me.

My next moment was that I was driving with my friend as a passenger on Saturday night. Anyone who is deaf will know this is not an ideal situation either. Normally in order to have a half-decent conversation, I have to turn my head towards them, which means my eyes are NOT on the road. Surprisingly, this does not bother my friends. I was actually watching where I was going, my friend was still gabbing away, and I realized that I heard what she was saying. I just let her keep talking to make sure I wasn’t fooling myself and hot damn, I heard her without turning my head! I have never been able to do that in the 10 years that I have had my license. That was an amazing accomplishment for me :)

This moment is not a CI moment but it has to do with the possibility of going bilateral. I was on my way to the hospital (both eyes on the road of course) listening to the radio and all of the sudden all I heard very little road noise. I thought something happened to my radio but it turned out to be my processor battery died. I replaced the battery and everything was right as rain. Technically, I should have heard at least some noise from the radio from my hearing aid and I got hardly anything. I should start to do some serious thinking about getting the other ear done. I will start looking into this next year, one ear a year :)

There is a couple CI surgeries and an activation that I would like to highlight. Jeff had an amazing activation yesterday! :) Stop by his blog and give the newest bionic man some praise. When I posted my activation video, it was only a visual for him. After his second mapping today, he was able to hear just about everything that my audiologist said. Jennifer continues to astound me with how well she is doing with Thing 2 as she calls it since she is a bilateral belle :) Geo had his surgery and is due for activation next week, I think he should move it up because quite frankly my electrodes are going to burst if I have to wait any longer! :)

Now I am off to find a WII, the wonderful WII of all!!!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Chris Daughtry

As a teenager full of angst, I took heed to rock and roll, never mind sex and drugs. I spent most of my time banging my head to the astonishing depth of Led Zeppelin, the depressing tranquility of Kurt Cobain, the pure rawness of Guns and Roses, and the culminating riffs of Pink Floyd. I craved the thundering of the drums, percussive tone of the bass guitars, and the thought-provoking lyrics. Like most deaf people, I would spend countless of hours passionately trying to learn the lyrics, if I was lucky, they were printed on the insert. When the lyrics were not printed, I sought the soundless gum flapping renditions from my friends and the rare event of close captioning on MTV and VH1 music videos. I had a better chance of seeing Halley’s Comet. Then the mother lode entered my humble abode, the internet and I was formally introduced at a ripe age of sixteen. The world and the lyrics were at my fingertips. Finally, I was content because my lip-syncing ability exceeded my friends. I felt that I proved that I was no different from anyone else, but then again no one else spent hours listening to the same song repeatedly committing the words to memory. Rock and roll was my ultimate solace while my hormones were running amiss until the pleasant tone of guitars started to wither away from the melody.

Rock and roll never sounded the same, it died. A proper analogy is that you could never look at a smashed mirror the same again after seeing countless of pleasing reflection. Rock and roll and all the esoteric elements slipped away. I hopelessly wondered from genre to genre discovering that I could hear mostly bass. At least I could still hear voices. When I heard Chris Daughtry’s voice for the first time on American Idol, I knew he was going to go places even after hearing that he was voted off. His voice had the passion and soulful resonance of successful rock and rollers before him. Just hear that kind of voice again stirred up of emotions that lied dormant for years. Then his voice and all others started fading from songs replaced by white noise. They began to fade from the telephone and the television. Eventually voices faded from people that were fifteen feet away, then ten, then two. Music was never heard, only felt the sensations from that point on.

The cochlear implant rescued me from a world of silence. Music returned better then ever and victory was ever so sweet. To celebrate, my wonderful and incredibly thoughtful friends surprised me with SECOND row tickets to see Chris Daughtry’s concert this past Friday! It was simply breath taking and an absolutely amazing experience to hear. Daughtry intimately approached the microphone and began to serenade the audience that just so happens to include one happy bionic woman. His sultry voice possesses Herculean power that tickled every single electrode of mine that was happily downloading his every pitch. His dulcet tones are incredibly diverse that ranged from savory sweet that had the power to beat your heart to powerfully rockonian with a just a drop of southern comfort. He performed an acoustic rendition of “All These Lives” that when I closed my eyes, I felt that he was sitting right next to me soulfully playing the guitar. His passionate performance brought the memories of jejune moments of the yesteryear. It was so surreal.

When it was over, I left knowing that rock and roll was still very much alive.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Never ceases to amaze me.

People bob and weave of your life for a reason because I feel that it is written right smack dab out of the womb. Humans have the ability to make you smile, wink, cringe, cry, laugh, and curse and if you are talented all at the same time. With the exception of Tarzan, babies tend to be molded by direct influence and environmental conditions. They even say that genetics play a part in forecasting the personality traits of a baby while it is hanging out with the umbilical cord all safe and sound in the tum-tum or tube depending on how you got here. I have met a number of different traits such as the social butterfly, the wife beater, the tree hugging bohemian, the techno nerd, the import car consumer, the Tourette princess on the corner, the hammer wielding construction worker, the gold digger, the closeted alcoholic, the smooth talking guido, the angry artist, the man in the closet, the chubby kid, the future Ms. America, the nurturing mother, the Einstein of the 21st century, the mascara king, the future librarian, the baby boomer generation, the real life popeye, the quirky doctor, the drama queen, the bionic men and probably somewhere along the way I have met John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt. Every single one of those souls has had a direct influence on the person I am today.

Adding to the list is a couple of wonderful women that I am proud to have in my life. If you all read this post of when I could not get tickets to the Chris Daughtry concert this Friday because they were sold out in 3 days. Since then, I have followed up on some suggestions which none of them panned out. I resigned to the fact that I was just going to set up camp in the parking but not without a lot of whining and pouting and threatening to join a convent. Therefore, I let it rest before I did something with some potential legal action involved.

That was until today. Natalie and Katie asked me last week to go Christmas shopping with them on Friday. Like the avid shopper that I am, of course I said yes. I was told that the Chief wanted to see me in her office for a couple minutes, which is nothing new to me. After that, I come back to my office and I stop a moment to talk to Natalie, Katie and Michelle. Michelle tells me she has something to tell me and presumes to walk into my office. Ok, why walk away if you want to tell me something. Natalie pushed me in my office telling me that Michelle wants to talk to me. I follow Michelle to my sunny little cubicle with Natalie and Katie right behind me and she hands me a brown inter-office envelope and thanks me for downloading her pictures off her camera. I was thinking that she got me a card for downloading the pictures for her, which I felt was no big deal. All of the sudden I felt eyes. I look up and everyone was staring at me even the Chief, cell phones were pointed at me, and for once in my life, I was camera shy. I opened up the envelope and pulled out this silver snowflake with a TICKET TO THE CHRIS DAUGHTRY CONCERT! I screamed, I hugged, I cried, I did the bunny hop :) I took notice of my sunny little cubicle that they decorated it with pictures of Chris Daughtry.

video

Today was the first day ever in my life that I was completely surprised, blown away, flabbergasted, overwhelmed, speechless, and stunned. Totally beside myself. I don't know how Natalie and Katie pulled it off but they managed to get three tickets for us to see CHRIS DAUGHTRY! I was useless for the rest of the day. I still cannot get my head around it. I don't even know how I am going to hold myself together until Friday. Good thing I have a magnet or I would forget to attach myself. I am over the moon that I am going to be able to hear CHRIS DAUGHTRY LIVE but more importantly, I am so unbelievably blessed that I have such wonderful and thoughtful friends that went through the trouble to get the tickets with maximum WOW factor. I have been molded in to a better person today because of that moment. They revealed to me the truly gratifying feeling of being surprised and that is something in itself that I would never trade in for a million years. How do you even begin to thank someone for that?

“The moments of happiness we enjoy take us by surprise. It is not that we seize them, but that they seize us.”

I've been seized.

Monday, November 26, 2007

My Activation Video!!

I told you all before that I was going to tape my activation and I neglected to post it. Jennifer catapulted me into posting mine :) After going through three computers, four reinstallation of Microsoft Movie Maker, several crashes, searching on Google on why Micrsoft Movie Maker hates my guts and two hours troubleshooting, I finally got the damn thing up :) Grab some popcorn and some laffy taffy and enjoy the flix.

Amazing Activation Video!

A couple post ago I told you my buddy Jennifer was being activated and she taped it! She had an amazing activation and was actually laughing! She is such a trip. Go here and check it out :) Jennifer cochlear implant activation videos!
Part One!
Part Two!
Part Three!
Part Four!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving has a self-explanatory theme. You can tell the holiday is for giving thanks or sharing your grateful experiences of the year. It is a time for show generosity and a time to give charity. It is a time to contribute to society. It is a time to take a step back and reminisce. It is a time to be thankful for the memories of those who left us, the memories of those who touched us, and the memories of the yesteryear. How many people do you know that can honestly say they are grateful for what they have? How many people do you know that are thankless wretches? I am willing to bet the answer is the latter. Narcissistic souls are as comforting as a needle in my eye.

All day today, I was pondering the yearly question of what I am thankful for. Obviously I am thankful for my Advanced Bionic cochlear implant for creating this magnificent piece of technology that gave my hearing life back. Every single electrode that I have sitting snuggly in my cochlea I am thankful for. Advanced Bionics, the hospital, the surgeon, my audiologist Jennifer, and my insurance company all played a substantial part of making this holiday a special one for me. That is just one aspect, everything that led me up to this point of listening to Jingle Bell Rock on a radio today I am grateful for.

I am grateful that I lost my hearing completely, a life-altering, mind-spinning event that started a domino effect of thankful reflections.

I am grateful that I finally accepted that I am deaf, it is a part of who I am.

I am grateful for the experience of total silence; it made me a better person by turning off the music of the daily hustle and bustle of life forcing me to put things in perspective.

I am grateful for my family who supported me every step of the way especially those who were my ears when I had nothing to give back.

I am grateful for being blessed with the perfect pooch. She is my ears when I am sleeping. She never leaves my side. She accepts me as I am and leaves all my hardware alone.

I am grateful for my friends who were always concerned but never once pitying me and always willing to help me.

I am grateful for the people I have met who are just like me. They opened my eyes making me realizing that I am not the only one walking this earth without hearing the crunch of the grass give way underneath my feet.

I am grateful that I have a awesome audiologist who listens to me.

I am grateful for everything that I have seen, touched, smelted, tasted and heard for it serves a higher purpose.

I am grateful for the men, women, and children that walk in and out my life opening doors to new things.

Most of all, I am just plain grateful for being chosen for this opportunity to wade through life being me.

Happy thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Whizzing right along here!

It is Sunday already?

Where in the world did this weekend go? I have a feel this week will be a quick one too! I am fasting for Thanksgiving with the family down in Maryland. After gaining a couple inches in my waist that I am planning on burning off in a number of stores on Black Friday, I get to splurge on gifts. Then I come back home and relax by clearing a room, ripping out carpet, painting some walls, put down new flooring and make a bed frame. Should be a breeze! Right? :)

Then on MONDAY, November 26 at 7:00pm at the Summit Speech School in New Providence, NJ, I am going to see a double reading by Michael Chorost and Josh Swiller, author of the new book The Unheard: A Memoir of Deafness and Africa. I am thoroughly looking forward to this event because I get to meet someone for the first time that has a cochlear implant. Not just anyone, I get to meet the household names of the bionic community! Rebuilt was the first book I read about cochlear implants and it was so nice that I read it twice. His sense of humor just grabbed me. I love sarcastic humor and he has it down to an exact science. I am looking forward to the possibility of a second book since he is getting his second implant done on December 17! I am in the process of finishing Josh Swiller book, which is just equally delightful to read. He certainly has gumption in just about every aspect. It is amazing what one human being did in a third world country, deaf nevertheless, it did not stop him. The man obviously does not have borders. Me on the other hand, my border is the east coast. I can't even get on a plane to cross the big pond! I'm so excited that I can hardly keep myself charged!

A couple weeks ago I mentioned that my buddy Jennifer getting her second implant which she was assimilated with no problems. Now she is being activated on Tuesday! I am so happy for her! Drop by and wish her good luck, her ears need it :)

Now wish me good night, Abbie needs sleep.

But before I lay my head down to sleep, I had a CI moment yesterday at Home Depot. I was at the self check out and I scanned an item in and I heard it tell me the price. That was the first time I ever heard that. I turned around to my friend asked her if says the price .

"Yes Abbie." she said.
"Really? Has it always said the price or did the register software get an upgrade?." I said inquisitively.
"It always said the price." she said with a big smile.
"Heh, neat." I said happily scanning another item to hear the computer say $3.97.

The novelty wore off when I had to pay.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Beauty is in the ear of the beholder

Olympus BioScapes 2007 Digital Imaging Competition Gallery Fourth Prize
Dr. Sonja Pyott
Department of Biology and Marine Biology
University of North Carolina, Wilmington
Wilmington, NC, USA

This enamoring picture is of the cochlea and hair cells. The little green trolls are the hair cells. I wonder what my hair cells look like. Are they attached just waving around? Did they shrivel up like a weed? Do they turn a different color? Do they lose their troll hair?

The red part that looks like a heartbeat is the neurons. When my cochlear implant receives auditory information it sends out an electrical impulse which causes the neurons to fire. When the neurons fire, my brain interpret the firing as sound. I'm not sure what the other colors represent. I have to snoop around and dig up some information.

Artist try to portray an emotion, a scene, someone, or the essence of the moment. The use of primary colors are amazing. This photo looks like a garden with children standing behind the border of flowers holding hands.

Or I need to change my contacts.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Interference phenomena explained.

Dude, I discovered my first interference with my bionic buddy today. Care to guess what it was?

Microwave? Wrong!

Security scanner? Not even close!

Fluorescent lights? Negative!

Blender? Television? Sewing machine? Denist drill? Import cars? Time machine? Ham Radio? Furbies? Screw making machine? Spaceship?

The answer is no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no and nope!

Give up? This is what caused interference

Introducing the Sonic Touch 3 machine by Salontech!

I know what you are thinking, what the hell is that thing? Binoculars, right? :)

Eh, wrong :) It is an artificial nail remover! I do not think bionic men have to worry about running into this contraption anytime soon.

Today I was not allowed into my sunny little cubicle because I am off today for Veterans Day. I decided to go get my nails done. I wanted them to remove the acrylics overlay on my nails and do a completely new set. Usually, the process is tedious, lengthy and not to mention painful. It can take up to 40 minutes for the acrylic to dissolve. Not anymore! This thing rocks for removing acrylic nails. You fill it up with pure acetone and turn it on. It uses ultrasonic waves and heat and done in 20 minutes! It was total bliss except for the part when I had my cochlear implant facing the machine, horrible static would erupt from within. As long as I had my head turned towards the MTV in China techno music videos (don't ask), it was okay :) I expected big burly machines to cause the type of interference with my implant, but not an artificial nail remover machine.

On the plus side, the nail technician that was taking care of me had a heavy accent. I understood her pretty well when she had her mask off. Not to toot my own horn here but I understood her better then some of the customers. A couple of times, yours truly relayed what she had said! That would have never happens to me if it was not for my bionic buddy! My pre-bionic era experience in nail salons was sitting there in my normal asocial manner, fixated on the TV or texting on my cell, anything to avoid conversation with the person behind the mask.

There is just something melodious, not to mention shiny about new nails hitting the keyboard.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Remember the moments...dance to the music...feel the memories...

I am on this weird soup kick. It must be the weather. I was in the kitchen making Leek soup and I was chopping potatoes with my back turned to my mom who was in the living room. She says to me "Does this look alright?" I turned around and I told her it looks fine but add a jacket. I went back to chopping potatoes and my mom goes, "Abbie! You just heard me!" Damn skippy I did!

While I am on the subject of the kitchen, I hear boiling water, pans heating up, frying, oil popping, food cooking in general. I never heard the little subtleties of onions and garlic being sautéed if that is the correct terminology for it. I usually burned them but now that I can hear the EVOO just beginning to heat up. I am proud to announce I have gotten it down to a culinary science of not burning food!

Now let us switch gears from the culinary station to my place of employment. Right behind my sunny little cubicle is another sunny little cubicle four feet behind me occupied by an Italian sweetie named Angie. Before I went bionic, Angie has devised all sorts of techniques to get my attention. They range from shouting, doing the wave, showering me with paper clips, and rubber band target practice. She made work fun for me :) She has perfected her aim to the point that I was going to badger her to join my softball team. Now all she has to do is say my name and I turn around. She is absolutely stoked that she doesn't have to resort to beaning me in the head anymore. Although, I am a little disappointed, I don't want her to lose that arm she got. She might be the "one" we need to win a softball game!

Now let us go from my sunny little cubicle to any random mercantile establishment. I was never aware of how many stores or malls play music until I went bionic. It is one of life's little nuances when you can hear something in the background. Those head bopping civilians you see shopping are not victims of the nervous twitch, they are actually listening to the music! It all makes sense now. I can hear the beeping on the cash register. I can hear those rare employees that have developed proper customer service skills say, "Have a nice day!" New Jersey is not known for its neighborly disposition. I can hear my friends call my name if I am ahead of them looking for something. I cannot lose them as easily as I use too anymore.

Now let us go from a random mercantile establishment to the comfort of my Laz-E-Boy. Besides the fact that I can sit here and hear my heater turn on which sounds like a spaceship powering up, this is where I do my auditory rehab. I have my direct connect cord plugged right into the laptop at one end and plugged right into my cochlear implant at the other end. It is called daisy chain in nerd talk. I listen to audio books (currently listening to the Christmas Carol by Charles Dickinson, Christmas came early for me :)), online stories, audio dictionaries, English language websites, and finally, MUSIC! If anyone knows me, they know I love Chris Daughtry. His voice is so captivating. He was the last singer I heard before what little hair cells I had left on my cochlea started dying one by one. I brought his CD to support him but knowing if I listened to his CD, it would have sounded awful. It was not just him because all music sounded horrible. Let me see if I can attempt to describe what music sounded like when I heard it. Oh! I know! Hook up any radio to a pair of blown out speakers, turn it on to the worst radio station, and throw the entire thing in a Rubbermaid trash can. That is what I heard, trash.

Now that I am bionically capable of hearing Daughtry, I have been listening and reading along with the lyrics. He sounds utterly and absolutely amazing now then when he was on American Idol! Total ear candy! Now the real kicker is that Chris Daughtry is going to be playing at the Poland Spring Arena on December 7th, which is right up the street from me, and it is all SOLD OUT! I did not hear the radio announcement that the tickets went on sale early. DOH! I felt like someone hit me right between the running lights. sigh... Maybe I will just hang out in the parking lot and hope that my bionic ear will pick up his sensational voice outside. Don't think I won't have a tail gate party at a Daughtry concert in 30 degree weather because I will.

Chris Daughtry totally rocks my thermal socks.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Pay the premiums and then what?

Insurance companies, do we love them or hate them? When you are deaf or hard of hearing and in need of a test to prove you are, it might not be covered. My insurance company is Horizon BCBS of NJ whom covers standard hearing tests at in network provider BUT the test to see if I need a hearing aid is not covered. That makes as much sense as painting an ostrich purple does because a majority of the hearing tests are the same!

  • First test is usually beeping at different frequencies at different volumes.
  • Second test requires a rather hard knob thing that they put behind your ear. This is called a Bone Conduction Test. When you feel the vibration or hear the beep, you raise your hand, say Ay, press a button or scratch your tummy and pat your head. Whatever your audiologist wants you to do.
  • Third test is when they say words and they expected you to repeat them. Words like hot dog, baseball, cowboy which most of us have memorized like the latest single on the radio (after we looked up the lyrics.)

WHERE IN THE HELL IS THE SPECIAL HEARING AID TEST?! I'll be damned if I know. Since most insurance companies do not cover hearing aids but will cover cochlear implants, some with and without a fight. You can contact DVR or the Lions Club for funding for a hearing aid. They will even pay for the tests in some cases!

While I am thankful that I did not have to fight my insurance to obtain approval for a cochlear implant, many fight and fight hard. The only issue that I had was that I could not get a straight answer from the insurance company as to whether my insurance policy covered them. Some insurance companies will only cover one cochlear implant while others will cover two cochlear implants. I am unsure if my insurance company covers bilateral but Aetna is one of the latest ones to revise their policy on bilateral cochlear implants.

I hear many stories waging a war with insurance companies with obtaining approval for the surgery because it is not cheap by a long shot. Michael Moore latest documentary "Sicko" showed a parents battle with their insurance company Cigna for bilateral cochlear implants for their daughter. It is a revelation on how political insurance companies are. To reiterate, we live in a capitalist country, the country that will discover, in complete disorder, ways to milk money out of someone regardless if you don't have enough money to buy milk. Insurance companies are in the business of making money, not spending it in sums large enough to buy a decent plot of land.


As sad as it is, there is hope. I obtained a short list from the Listen-Up.org site on which companies approve cochlear implants providing the requirements are met. Letthemhear.org is a site known for their free advocate service against an insurance company to obtain cochlear implants. They are successful most of the time but an appeal can take an awful long time to fight.

Aetna/US Healthcare, Blue Choice, BlueCross BlueShild, California Public Employees Retirement System, Cigna HMO, Great West Life PPO, Hartford Insurance, Health Texas, Medicare, Medicaid (varies by state), NYL Care, State of Minnesota Employees Insurance, Tricare - PFPWD (formerly PFTH), United HealthCare

Ironically, when we are sick we tend to visit people that went to medical school. It is a socially acceptable practice here. When the individual that graduated from medical school feels that tests are deemed medically necessary, the insurance company determines whether they are fiscally responsible. Hence, the one without a medical degree gets the final say.


Perfect nonsense.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Atención!!

My buddy Jennifer is having her second Cochlear Implant surgery. She is going bilateral today!! Stop by her page and give her some love and good wishes.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Washoe

This is not a derivative of pig latin or a small town or a typo. Washoe is a chimpanzee, but not any old chimpanzee. She was the first animal that learned sign language. This was a historical milestone in the scientific community. She demonstrated the ability to learn sign language from humans. The scientists use a form of conditioning called operant conditioning. Every time Washoe employed the proper movement with her hands, she was positively reinforced with stimulus such as tummy tickles. She exhibited the ability to associate a movement with an object or action. The conditioning led Washoe to build a vocabulary of 250 words. That is 225 more words than what I am capable of signing. It is a complex language people!

As if that is not astounding enough, she was able to impart her skills to three other chimpanzees without any assistance from humans. I find Washoe accomplishments exceptional, although it does not surprise me. The DNA of Chimpanzees is similar to 96 to 98% of human DNA. While two percent difference is clearly evident it does give some stipulation to the theory that humans evolved from chimpanzees. In the 42 years that Washoe has roamed the earth, she has made her mark. Now for the bad news, Washoe has closed her eyes for the last time on October 30, 2007 but her achievements will never be forgotten.

http://www.friendsofwashoe.org/

Since I am an avid animal lover, with the exception of insects because I suffer horribly from entomophobia, the feats of all living creatures never cease to amaze me.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!!!



I wanted to wish you all a safe and happy Halloween! This was my first bionic Halloween and I decided to be a bionic flapper! Little things I have learned this Halloween is that wearing a wig keeps a CI on no matter what the activity is. Whether it would be dancing the Charleston, cabbage patch or playing pool, it is on there like Velcro. A little beauty tip for you. I discovered over the course of this month that many people shell out money for motion activated sound effects for the OUTSIDE of their house. I never heard a witch’s cackle, an eerie ghostly moan, or thundering sounds before. I have only heard those sounds when I’ve gone to haunted houses which I’ve contributed mainly to the sound system installed. Now I can hear it walking up the steps of friend’s houses. Spooky :)

For the record, I do not advocate smoking in any way! www.thetruth.com



Have a happy Halloween!!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

So many websites, so little time...

I don't know about you guys but I'm a bookmark fanatic. Once I set my sights on a site that is articulated with delicious bits of information, it manifests itself as a part of my little bookmark family before you can say supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. What does a girl like me with a list of bookmarks longer then her entire family tree do to keep up with them all? If you scroll down (after you are done reading this please) and have a little look see at my bookmark section, which a majority of the links represents blogs to other bionic buddies, parents of their little bionic ones, and other deaf related sites. You will notice that it is a LONG list.

Abbie does not exactly have what you people call TIME on her hands to go checking up on every single one of these sites and the many others that are unrelated to the topic at hand. In the olden days, I would get comfortable and click happy with my mouse until my eyes just about crossed over to the other hemisphere. I am proud to announce that those days are over and long gone thanks to Google.

Google has developed a product called Google Reader, which receives the universal kudos sign from me. Besides accomplishing the task of being the answer to all my prayers, it shows the updated content of my bookmarked sites in one convenient place. Does this happen to pique your curiosity my fair readers? I thought it would! Did I mention that it is free? Now I know I have your undivided attention.

All you need to do is create a Google account. Personally, I would go for the whole shebang and get an email address at no extra cost (it puts Hotmail to shame.) Once you get your brandy new Google login and password, log into the Google Reader site. You will see layout that looks similar to your inbox. Click on Add Subscription and type the address to a site or search for new ones, for example http://contradica.blogspot.com (hint: copy and paste) and click Add. You have subscribed to that site. When I update my blog, it will show up in the Google Reader site and you will be able to read it as if you went to my blog site directly. Another option is if you see this little orange icon (my icon is green) that says RSS Feed or Subscribe to: Atom on a site that you interests you, you can click on it and it will ask you to add to Google Reader automatically! Either way, just try it, you won't regret it!

I have subscribed to a variety of sites such as blogs, news, gossip, MySpace, Xanga and other random sites that interest me. What was once disorganized chaos is now organized bliss thanks to Google Reader. Can I get an Amen?!

This weekend was full of CI moments but I want to share my last one because I will post the others tomorrow. I went broccoli crown shopping at my local supermarket who has installed self-check out modules. I am walking down an aisle that had nothing to do with broccoli, but it was near the self-check out modules. I heard loud and clear, "Please place item on the belt" followed by a loud beep and the "Please scan your next item." I stopped dead in my sandals and peered behind me to hear "Please select your method of payment." Considering I was halfway down the aisle, I thought that quite an accomplishment. I gave a pat on my ear for a job well done.

I resumed broccoli shopping and grabbed bok choy for the ride. Once I was done, I got myself situated at the self-check module, I hit the button for English, and this thundering boom talked to me, "Please scan your member card or scan your first item now." Geez louise, it was so loud! No wonder why I heard it half way an aisle. My thoughts quickly deferred to the countless of times I have utilized the same self-check station to avoid talking to the cashier, actually to avoid communication period. It was almost inconceivable the countless of times it was barely audible. A nanosecond later, it is conceivable and currently is reality to me. Hearing is not something to be taken granted. To reaffirm that, I look up to scan my surroundings while I'm gritting my teeth listening to the booming female mechanical voice obnoxiously instructing me to scan my next item, I saw a young girl reading a gossip magazine signing as happy as she can to her mother.

I got excited to see someone signing because that gave me a little comfort that maybe I am not the only deaf one in my area. Then it dawned on me I could only talk through her mom because I do not sign, but it was a comfort nevertheless since I can count the number of deaf people I've seen in my area on one hand. I wanted to walk up to them and say "HI! I'm Abbie and I'm deaf too!" or something to that effect but less cheerleadery. I never got the chance because they left while I was being instructed to bag my items by the drill sergeant hiding in the self-check module.

I came home with little more then I intended. A soothing feeling I am not as alone as I think I am in this world and bok choy.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Hear Ye, Hear Ye!!

I bring good tidings and links too!!! Advanced Bionics, the company that manufacturers my beloved cochlear implant, magnet, chip and all has posted a link to my blog under their Peer Support link.

Click here to check it out!!

AND my bionic buddy Jennifer who going bilateral in a mere 12 days is featured on there too!! She is the beautiful buxom blonde right underneath of me :)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I'm a greedy little audiophile.

My fourth mapping was yesterday and I have "Advanced." I dig this snazzy music program over my base program. I love the wider dynamic range and voices sound pretty. Voices jump out at me in noise, in the car, in quiet, you get the idea. Oh, music sounds pretty good too. :) I’m very greedy as far as sounds go. I like it and want it all and I want it now! In the beginning, my audi stuck me in the booth did a tone, sentence and word test. I scored 44% on my sentences compared to 0% pre-activation. The word tests, lets just say I need some work LOL, 8% :) but compare that 0% pre activation, it is a leaps and bounds. She said that they don't normally run tests until 3 months after activation. Regardless, I'm ecstatic with the results! From just two weeks ago, there is already an improvement!

Pink represents the tone test I just had done yesterday.
Red represents my left ear prior to being implanted.
Blue represents my right ear without my hearing aid.
Green represent normal hearing

Since I liked the IDR of 80 and the music program, she tweaked the music program and added higher frequencies to it to become my base program. Now paper and plastic are back to being loud again :) She went through some sentences covering her mouth and I got every single one with the high frequency emphasis. She lowered the volume to 306 to eliminate the twitch. At my last mapping, she went through each electrode raising the volume to see if it was one electrode, not the case. The conclusion is that it might be a combination of electrodes that are giving me the 'oh so sexy spastic eye look'. I did the math the combinations are endless. She programmed the CI along with my hearing aid in to see if I need the volume in my left ear and so far, it is working out well. If I take either the CI or the HA off, everything sounds soft. Perhaps my brain is getting use to having two ears again. Next time I go and see her is when an Advanced Bionic audiologist will be present which is going to be within the next two-three weeks. Once I find out when the audiologist is available, I will let you all know.

Overall, this nifty little gadget impresses me every single day. This weekend I was cleaning out the shed and then I heard two DISTINCT MALE voices or two baritone females, you never know. Lo and behold, there were two men hanging out on the roof of my neighbor's house that is a good 80 feet away. Before I couldn't hear anything that was 8 feet away much less 80 feet.

On the way home armed with a new map, I wanted to stop by a mall that is close to the hospital. Since someone neglected to grab the GPS at home and I had no idea how to get there from Philadelphia. Hell I didn't even know how to get there from Jersey. Thanks to the trusty GPS technology installed on my phone, it guided me right to the front entrance of the mall. From there I entered the golden palace of make-up otherwise known as Sephora. I am walking around practically convulsing with excitement at all the different products, I hear behind me, "May I help you look for something?" I felt like I had an Elvis moment because my eyebrow must have went up in a permanent state of perpetual surprise. I turned around and there was a very happy Sephora employee smiling waiting to assist me. It is so much easier to shop without purposely avoiding communication with anyone.

Signing off as the greedy audiophile.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Impotence drugs linked to sudden hearing loss.

This little snippet links sudden hearing loss with popping those "BLUE PILLS". There is always a catch somewhere.

U.S. regulators on Thursday said warnings about the risk of sudden hearing loss linked to popular drugs for impotence, including Viagra, Cialis and Levitra, would be added to the drugs' labels.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration was prompted to look into a possible connection after a published report of a man taking Viagra, made by Pfizer Inc, who suffered from sudden hearing loss, a rare condition.

Eli Lilly sells Cialis and GlaxoSmithKline Plc sells Levitra.

A further review of the FDA's side effect data found 29 cases of sudden hearing loss with a relationship to the three drugs. In two thirds of the cases, the hearing loss was ongoing, the agency said.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Breast Cancer Awareness

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Millions of people wear pink clothes, accessories or don pink ribbons. There are walks held all over the United States to raise awareness. Almost 200,000 women and MEN are diagnosed each year with breast cancer. The reality of breast cancer is as real as the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink and the blood in our veins. Today at work to support the cause, we donned our pink ribbons and attire. Just a simple act of wearing a particular color acknowledges those who have been diagnosed, survived or lost someone in the battle. Unfortunately, it just takes one person, whether it is you or someone else to be diagnosed with breast cancer that propels an emotional roller coaster that once experienced, it is forever etched in your mind. It is only then that the awareness of breast cancer is truly turned in to reality because you begin to question your own mortality while they are faced head on with their own. Could it happen to me? Is it happening to me now? Does it run in the family? How do I stop it? Then it leads into question of how I can help them cope. What is the right thing to say? Do I ask questions? Should I not ask questions? What can I do? Do I hug them? It is unsettling when no one has the answer.

When I discovered that someone I personally know had breast cancer, I thought to myself all of those same questions. This woman prior to being diagnosed if she stubbed her toe, she was down for a week. Since she has survived breast cancer, she has become the epitome of strength and courage for all of those she has touched. The definition of survivor is one who lives through affliction and perseveres after and she truly represents that. Not all the donations, walks, pink ribbons, or harmonious outings geared towards raising awareness together could have created the profound impact on me as Pam did when she was diagnosed.

The point I am trying to make is do not wait until you are face to face with the reality of cancer. There is no time like the present to support the cause. Here are some links below.

This site requires just a single click to fund free mammograms. It takes two seconds.

http://www.thebreastcancersite.com/clickToGive/home.faces?siteId=2

http://www.nbcam.com/

http://ww5.komen.org/home/

http://www.breastcancer.org/

CI Moment

This morning I was at work passing through an office to get to the fax machine in what I call a walk in storage closet. Passing through, there is a woman I work with name Pat concentrating so I sprinted passed her because I did not want to bother her. Pat is a cool chick, she was one of the few that felt my magnet on my head. I'm half awake trying to remember whether the document goes face down or face up in this fax machine.

"Whose there?" I hear Pat say.

"It's me." I reply.

Mind you, there is a wall separating Pat and I.

"Abbie! You heard that?!" Pat said.

I peer around the corner and I see Pat sitting right in front of the doorway, with eyes as wide as a kid in a candy store.

"Yeah Pat, I heard you." I replied nonchalantly.

"I can't believe that! Now before you would have never heard me before right?" Pat said.

BOOM! It hit me like an espresso shot. Talk about a super delayed reaction. I told her no I would not have heard her. We spent a couple minutes going back and forth, about how well the CI is working for me. She was so genuinely shocked and happy for me. She was beside herself.

Truth of the matter is that before I would have not been able to hear her even if she were standing right behind me. When I just had my hearing aid, I always had a hard time understanding Pat for some reason. With the CI, I discovered the reason being because her voice has a high frequency pitch. Now I have no problem understanding her face to face, or even through a wall.

These little cochlear implant moments sure do sneak up on you.

Monday, October 15, 2007

A weeks worth of thought...

It has been four weeks since I was turned on and I cannot believe the difference. Not just in what I hear, but in how I feel. I feel that I am on a path to rediscovering myself. I am doing a complete overhaul on my life, pulling out the weeds so to speak. My self-confidence is slowly coming back. I do not feel as socially repressed. I will admit I have withdrawn into my own little world. I use to work out like crazy, go out on a whim, and take little trips to nowhere just because I wanted to. Since I lost my hearing, I lost interest in all of that. On the other hand, since I have lost my hearing, I have gained interest in what really should matter. I feel secure in my surroundings. I can hear a car coming up behind me. I can hear someone answer me through a wall. I can hear a fire alarm whereas four weeks and one day ago, I could not hear one if I held it right against my ear. It is a sense of security that has been given back to me by simply inserting a circuit board with a tail in my head. I feel that the ability to accomplish tasks without placing a burden on anyone is within arms reach. To do things myself, gain a sense of privacy, and achieve independence would be my poetic justice.

The one thing that has affected me, as thick skinned as I might appear is how my speech is perceived. I'm conscientiously aware of how I am speaking at all times. The idea of someone commenting on my "accent" turns my stomach. I would fight like hell to hold my tears back, which I am doing now. Humiliation rears its ugly head when a stranger out of nowhere ask me where I am from when I am at a store, amongst friends, or worse, a friend notices. I have received more comments regarding my speech since February then I ever have in my life. I started for the first time in my life, keeping my mouth shut. I began to think to myself maybe people were afraid to tell me, that they did not want to hurt my feelings. I suppose there was no right or wrong way of saying it to me. I contemplate that it would be like me asking someone if a tube dress made me look fat and did not want to hurt my feelings. Regardless if I was left looking like an overstuffed sausage or slurring as if I have been hitting the bottle a little too much, I'm starting to feel that I can talk candidly without the weight on my shoulders of wondering if they are judging my speech.

Nuff about that though! Since my audi Jennifer turned off my auto gain compression, it has been a blessing in disguise. An ambulance went by me while I was driving and I heard it approaching without having to look in the rear view mirror. With the auto gain on, it sounded like when you are talking on a cell phone and you lose signal, it cuts out. Very annoying. I am reading this book called The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri, and it has a woman with a very slight Indian accent narrating the book. This is my first audio book with a woman narrator and I am able to follow along fairly well. My next mapping is on Monday, so I will have to see what she has in store for me then.

For those who like CSI shows, CSI Miami aired an episode last Monday called "Inside Out". It featured a deaf girl that was killed and she had a cochlear implant! Sure, they killed her off, but you can see the magnet stick to her head and everything!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Third Mapping!

I was so tired, House was on last night, and of course, House won. I ended up getting home from my mapping much later then expected because the valet somehow mixed up my keys with another ticket. I was just happy that they let me go through the keys because they originally thought the keys were dropped somewhere. Mistakes happen, no big deal, moving right along.

A review of my last mapping had these settings:

Base program is HiRes-P with Fidelity 120, IDR of 60 with extended lows and a gain in high frequency. My audio mix is 50/50 Mic/Aux.

Sounds have gotten a softer or my brain might have started ignoring them. I doubt my selective hearing will ever go away. So what’s a girl to do? Pump up the volume!! But pumping up the volume brought a not so nice sensation in the back of my left eye. Otherwise, I was picking up speech fairly well. I was reading the Winnie the Pooh book which is so gosh darn riveting and picked up words here and there. Music is coming through ok. I am still having a problem with certain sounds cutting out.

My noise program is HiRes-P with Fidelity 120, IDR of 45 with an audio mix of 50/50 Mic/Aux.

I didn't really get to use this because I maxed out the volume of this program within a week.

My music program is HiRes-P with Fidelity 120, IDR of 80 with an audio mix of 30/70 Mic/Aux.

Ahhh...what can I say about this program? This is a *pretty* program for me. I love what I can hear on it. I could hear people talking 25 away in a store. Only downfall is that I can hear crickets on this program, shudder.

Before I continue, I want to explain what HiRes-P and Hires-S are, I don’t want to lose readers in the technical mumbo jumbo ☺

HiRes-P is the program that tells my implant to process sound by sending electrical pulses to two pairs of electrodes or four electrodes causing them to fire all at once. When they fire, my brain interprets the electrical impulses as sound.

Think of it this way:

Imagine 16 soldiers lined up in a row for target practice. These soldiers represent the 16 electrodes wrapped around my cochlea.

If the general said "Soldiers, on my command do a HiRes-P formation"

General says, "Go!"

First four soldiers fire once.

General says, "Go!"

Next four soldiers fire once, while the first four soldiers are recovering.

General says, "Go!"

The next four soldiers fire once, while the first and second sets of soldiers are recovering.

What is happening here is when the four soldiers fire at the target, more damage is inflicted. When four electrodes fire at once, it means that more auditory information is being sent to my brain. Make sense? I hope so!

HiRes-S is a program that tells my implant to process sound by sending electrical pulses to one pair of electrodes or two electrodes causing them to fire all at once. When they fire, my brain interprets the electrical impulses as sound.

Back to the range! The same 16 soldiers lined up in a row for target practice.

If the general said "Soldiers, on my command do a HiRes-S formation"

General says, "Go!"

First two soldiers fire once.

General says, "Go!"

Next two soldiers fire once, while the first two soldiers are recovering.

General says, "Go!"

The next two soldiers fire once, while the first and second sets of soldiers are recovering.

When the two soldiers fire at the target, damage is inflicted but not as fast as the HiRes-P would. When the two electrodes fire at once, it means that only two electrodes are sending auditory information to my brain. This program does not like me.

IDR means Input Dynamic Range, which means the higher the number the bigger the window of sound is available to me. The smaller the number, the smaller the window. Big window=more sound, little window=less sound.

Anyhoo mapping results!!

I keep a little journal of what I can hear in a memo pad, so I whipped it out at the mapping and told Jennifer everything that I have documented. Try picturing a very girly cop taking notes, and you have me at a mapping. She worked her magic with alleviating the twitch. She gradually raised the volume and increased the pulse width. She didn't want me to lose power if I absolutely didn't have to. She did say my comfort levels were above average. The number that it is set at is escaping me but I believe it is 316 but do not quote me on that. It muffled the twitch some but not completely. She tried to see if it was a single electrode causing the twitch. That was not the case. She tried taking me off Fidelity 120, and I was not happy with what I wasn’t hearing. Since I was started with a Hires-P program, she tried switching me to Hires-S and I *hated* it. I think she said one syllable and my brain started frantically firing all the neurons it can for me to blurt out SWITCH IT BACK!!! So she did switched it back and my brain was happy. I'm in the long haul with the HiRes-P program. She took off the extended lows filter and that seemed to do the trick. She took off the auto gain compression on my base program to see if that was causing the cutting out. Today I noticed a big difference; it didn't cut out when the phone rang and the psycho in me was able to sit calmly at my desk suppressing the insatiable urge to rip the air conditioner out of the window. Ahh, such is bliss.

Jennifer ran off some sentences and words that I had to choose which one she said with her mouth covered. I did not even look at her. I think there was 30 different questions and I got one wrong. Darn F words.

My new settings are now:

Base program is HiRes-P with Fidelity 120, IDR of 70 with an audio mix of 50/50 Mic/Aux.

My noise is party program is HiRes-P with Fidelity 120, IDR of 45 with an audio mix of 50/50 Mic/Aux.

My music program is HiRes-P with Fidelity 120, IDR of 80 with an audio mix of 50/50 Mic/Aux.

She decided to stick me in the booth and do a tone test comparison with my last map and the new map she just created for me. The results I posted are with the new map yesterday. Jennifer said I am doing extraordinarily well. I felt like I was in first grade again receiving my first A+ when she said that.

I received the go ahead to welcome an old familiar friend back home. She said I can wear my hearing aid again!! Life is good, life is really good.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

CHECK THIS OUT!!!!

A picture is worth a thousand words and quite frankly I am too tired to come up with a thousand words. My third mapping went great and I will post a blog about it when I am able to keep both eyes open at the same time. Jennifer my audi decided to do a tone test in the sound booth and this is the results of it :)

Green represent normal hearing.
Pink represents the tone test I just had done today.
Red represents my left ear prior to being implanted.
Blue represents my right ear as is.


I sat outside of the hospital waiting for my car staring at the audiogram waiting for the letters to magically start dancing. I'm surprised I was able to blink! It was definitely a perk me up from the slap in the face that the Yankees didn't win the playoffs this year. :(

Hate to cut this short, hearing rain on roof for the first time, will post tomorrow!!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Just Imagine...

Just before I had my surgery to repair a deviated septum in February that led me to experience complete silence, I started researching cochlear implants. This is all before I discovered forums and blogs that are only a click away. My primary doctor's office was clueless with whom I should contact. They actually asked me what a cochlear implant was. Therefore, I figured a good starting point would be an audiologist! I broke out the Google super pages and started searching. I thought there would have been at least ONE person in the area that dealt with cochlear implants. I made a phone call to a so-called audiologist that I had never seen or talked to before in my life. The result of this phone call was disturbing. This audiologist stated that there is absolutely no way that I would be considered a candidate for cochlear implant based solely on how well I was hearing him on the phone.

That right, you read it right the first time. This glorified hearing aid dispenser diagnosed me as an unsuitable cochlear implant candidate just by talking to me on the phone. In his professional opinion, that a stronger powered hearing aids would be more suitable. He further went on to say that a cochlear implant does not sound like a hearing aid and I am better off sticking with hearing aids. Who knew audiologist can sound like a used car salesman? Just imagine if I took that preposterous professional opinion and did not seek out a second one. I would be sitting here stone cold deaf today. Instead, I opted to disregard it and research it further. I wanted to contact someone in the medical field that did not give me a face of utter confusion when I mentioned cochlear implant. My perseverance paid off in insurmountable amounts. I am hearing more then I ever have in the short time I have been walking on earth's terra firma.

Since I have off today for Columbus Day, I woke up a little later then usual on this fall morning with an expected temperature of 87 degrees, a gentle breeze blowing the leaves around and the thought occurred to me. If that absurd phone call happened to me, it had to have happened to others. I can only imagine how many others an experiencel like that would have stopped them dead in their tracks. To the others that have had a similar experience to mine and accepted it as their final retort, my suggestion to you is look further. The chances are the audiologist that you see to have your hearing aid adjusted is not a trained cochlear implant audiologist. They are two different species entirely. Seek out a reputable cochlear implant clinic. Here are some links track one down.

My personal preference was to find a clinic that dealt with all three of them. Diversity is the spice of life and I wanted that familiarity extended to my choice of implants. It is important that you double and triple check if the clinic and the doctor are covered under your health insurance because it is not cheap.

When I had my deviated septum surgery, I had to disclose that I was deaf and yadda yadda yadda. It turned out there was a nurse whose daughter has a cochlear implant who came to talk to me before I was wheeled in. Her daughter was born completely deaf and the cochlear implant was nothing short of a miracle for them. The nurses eyes was welling up with tears as she told me a story that her daughter can hear her name being called from downstairs. It was touching. The reason why I am telling you this story is that I felt it was kind of a prodigy because shortly after being told that story, I was wheeled into surgery and I woke up completely deaf.

I made some milestones last week. It was a crazy week at work. I had a training session on Wednesday in a relatively small conference room, oval table and all. There was about six chatty people total in this room and I was able to follow along with no problems. I was able to tell who was chiming in their two cents and immediately was able to turn to read their lips. I can say with confidence that I left that training session with comprehending at least ninety percent of what was said. Before my implant, I would dread this type of situation because my eyes would eventually glaze over in frustration and nod occasionally that I get the gist of the conversation.

Thursday was another training session, but in a computer classroom setting with a projector screen. I sat right in front of the instructor and everyone was behind me or to the right (my implant is on the left.) When other people in the class would pipe up with questions, I was able to tell who was talking and turn my head to read their lips. I felt very confident that I understood at least 80% of what was being said. Before my implant, I would have learned everything I needed to by watching the instructor move his mouse on the screen.

On Friday, I had another experience of being surrounded by several people discussing business in the hallway. Surprisingly, I was able to follow along with whoever was chiming in. Keeping up with the rate that politicians talk is no easy task. :) Friday night, my mother was practicing with me covering her mouth and running off a list of states and countries. I did fairly well but I think it was because I knew the subject matter and it was not hard to associate the sounds with the proper name. Even with my audio book, I can look away and pick up words here and there. I can't wait to see what tomorrows mapping will bring.

Just imagine, it has been only three weeks since I have been activated!