Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Second mapping :)

It was just a day like any other day. The only thing that made it significant was that…. I heard so much more!

Try this one on for size. Today was a beautiful Tuesday afternoon at my sunny little cubicle. The sun was shining brightly with a gentle breeze blowing through the windows. All of the sudden, I heard a strange whirring sound. I focused for a couple second before I gave up and asked the boss what the sound was. Do you know what she said? A HELICOPTER!! For those who do not understand the significance of the “helicopter” you can read here. I jumped up and practically turned upside down trying to find the helicopter. If I had Spiderman tricks up my sleeve, I would have been. Just a week ago, I had one fifty feet right on top of me and I could not hear it. I must have been grinning like a mule eating briars the rest of the day.

Shortly after that, I heard an alarm bell of some sort. One of my coworkers said that it was the fire alarm. I accepted that answer for about 30 seconds. Then it sounded like it was a fire department siren. I proceeded to drill the poor child by asking her if it was a fire truck or the fire department siren.

“Fire department.” She says.

Now last week, I could not even hear a fire truck with sirens on right in front of me. Damn Skippy, I’m on a roll!

Shortly after that (they comes in three’s) I was gathering my things to high tail it out of work when I heard this, beep, beep, beep. I recognized it straight away. It was a truck going in reverse, so I heard the back up beeping.

That was my afternoon! I am so happy that I was twitting my thumbs at a greyhound speed. Now there is a little matter of this morning moments. I heard this loud static rumbling sound. I turned to look outside and I did not see anything. Shortly afterwards, a garbage truck came up to empty the dumpster. Ta-dah!

I was doing some practice with numbers online this morning. This particular practice is a multiple choice of numbers. You play the sound file and then pick your choice. I had to play the sound several times to make sure. I got 9 out of 10 correct!

On the way to work this morning, I noticed that music was coming in a little better. Nowhere near perfect but I noticed that some parts of the song are coming in clearer. On top of that, I can hear the radio at work. I can distinguish whether it is a commercial with a male or female DJ or a song.

Voices are starting to sound different to me, as if their real voice is starting to poke through,. There is your proof that my neurons are firing all over the place trying to make sense of this organized chaos that is being sent to them. :)

Now for the juicy technical specifications of my second mapping! Jennifer my audi was impressed in the range that I was hearing. I took the advice of experienced cochlear implanters and kept a written journal of what I can/cannot hear.

My volumes levels have increased from 157 to 282 across all electrodes. Right off the top of my head, this is a 55% increase in volume.

My 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.

My noise 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 30/70 Mic/Aux.

My battery life is impressive. I slap the magnet on around 7:30am and take it off around 10:30-11:00pm. The next day with the same battery, it last about 4:30pm. That is roughly 24 hours.

Lucky me, I am the first one that has reported this particular type of problem. Apparently when certain high frequency sounds occur, my processor cuts off for a few seconds. I noticed that when my work phone rings (ringer is set at high) it cuts my processor off. I put the volume of the ringer to low and it resolved the issue. I have to keep an ear out (literally) on what sounds causes it to cut out.

In conclusion, I am one happy bionic woman. A computer in my head never felt so good. Now if only I can get my hands on a never ending supply of dark chocolate and red wine, life as I know it would be so complete. :) I kid, I kid…maybe not.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Newly mapped and ready to roll!! :)

I am back from my second mapping and I need a little time to play with these before I give you the technicalities. I need to immerse myself in different environments before I give my update. I will say that my Comfort Threshold level has increased from 157 to 282! Right off the bat, I can say that I notice a decrease in the mysterious static noise that has been irking me. Here is a hint though, I am very pleased. :)

I wanted to answer some questions that were left as comments.

My operation for a CI is scheduled for dec 31, as long as I pass the testing phases in November. I have a question. Are you able to carry on a conversation with a person yet? When your Implant was activated were you able to make out what a person was saying to you right away or did it take time?

First off, I want to say congratulations on your surgery date! You are truly starting the new year off with the greatest resolution! :) Let me provide you with a little background information. The ear that I chose to be implanted is my worst ear and it has not been stimulated in over 15 years. I am a superior lip reader or speech reader, whatever term is politically correct for you. With 24 years experience under my belt, I can read lips with and without audio cues. I do not know sign language in the least little bit. Keeping that in mind, I was able to have a conversation right away. I used what little audio cues I got from the static noises and I read lips. In all honesty, if I did not possess lip reading skills, I would have been up a creek with a paddle.

When I was activated, I was not able to make out what my audiologist said. It sounded horrible. When they tell you to have your expectations low, go lower, but stay positive. Do not take those words lightly. I will say that in one week’s time coupled with today’s mapping session, I see a drastic improvement in what I hear. I can hear far more then I could have ever imagined in just one week. I will embellish a little more tomorrow when I get in to work and see how I do there. I want some proof positive to put in writing. :) Check back tomorrow night and I will have something for ya!

May I asked why you picked the Harmony? I am curious. I just found out I was a candidate on Friday and I wanted to know all the positive and negatives of each implant……..My doctor/audiologist prefers the Freedom. I think the Freedom comes with both rechargeable and disposable batteries. I need to double check!

I want to say congratulations to you for becoming a candidate! It is the non-stop researching that is the fun part of the candidacy process. The stories, support, and people are amazing. I started researching back in February when I went through a month and a half with out any hearing. I cannot even begin to tell you how many hours were logged. I started researching Cochlear Freedom and Advanced Bionics in the beginning because I did not care for the Med-El cosmetic look. Although, there is some Med-El users on forums that I am a member of that are very happy with their implant. No matter which company you pick, you will be happy with.

I chose Advanced Bionics for a number of reasons.

  1. Familiarity of Advanced Bionics is similar to the style and function of my hearing aid. It just felt right. It has three programs and a T-Coil that you can have activated with any one of your programs. It fits my lifestyle and my immediate needs. Advanced Bionics Harmony processor only uses rechargeable batteries. Cochlear does use both. I don’t mind relying on rechargeable batteries because as it stands now my life is surrounded by them. :) The customer support from www.hearingjourney.com is amazing.
  2. My audiologist made sure I was well aware of the problems that Advanced Bionics had in the past because of two recalls. I was also told that a majority of the implants that were done at the hospital were in fact, Cochlear Freedom. It is known that Cochlear has a large market of those implanted. Even though this was presented to me, Advanced Bionics is a company of humans and nothing perfect is made by humans. I checked with the FDA Maude database. This is the FDA database of reports regarding Medical Devices. When you visit the site, in the Brand Name field, you would enter Hires 90k for Advanced Bionics and for Cochlear, you would enter NUCLEUS 24. This will show a list that both companies each have their problems. I respected the fact that Advanced Bionics themselves issued the recalls. They followed up by taking the steps to rectify the situation. In my opinion, the reliability of a company that will put the needs of their clients first before profit is crucial in the capitalist world we live in.
  3. I felt that the technology is more advanced. They have the capability of 120 spectral bands, which means the ability to create up to 120 different pitches. They are the only one on the market that has this capability. I mentioned before I am a member of quite a few different forums and I have noticed a surge in those who have chosen Advanced Bionics. This site shows the comparison between all three brands, CI Comparison
  4. I wanted an implant that once I got it stuck in my head, I didn’t want to have to upgrade it every time a new version come out. Both companies provide this and backward compatibility. No worries there.

That is it in a nutshell. Please feel free to drop me comment or send me an email with any questions because I am more then happy to answer. If I can’t answer it, I can certainly find someone who can! :)

Now I am going to take my newly mapped self to bed. As I am typing this, my eyes are closed, so forgive me if my grammar is not perfect. I will edit it in the morning with both eyes open.

ps. sorry for the suspense!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Such a dilemma.

As I start this post off, I am sitting in a reclined position because I just had the most delicious culinary experience with turkey mignon wrapped in bacon that was ever so moist partnered with asparagus with a little olive oil (EVOO) and parmesan cheese. It was simply scrumptious. My intention is not to make you salivate and drool as I commit to memory the marriage of flavors that I had tonight, but it is to tell you that I heard the crunch of the asparagus! Who knew they were noisy little botanical vegetables?

This weekend was the first weekend that I was truly bionic. I cannot say I did much because I was trying to acclimate myself to this nonsense noise. When I least expected it I heard things. I discovered places like Costco and Kohl's are noisy. Restaurants with football games on are rowdy. I was a good 50 feet away when I heard this guy yell something footballish.

I went to Pathmark to pick up a few things and I was debating on what kind of frozen corn I should purchase, white or yellow. All of the sudden I heard a man talking which I felt like it was RIGHT next to me. I looked to my left and there was no one there of the male gender. I looked to my right and sure enough, there was a man, a nice looking one at that, talking to his son with the freezer door open about 25 feet away from me. Mind you, I didn’t make out a word he said, just the fact that I heard him was enough for Harmony to get a nice little pat on the magnet.

A similar occurrence happened again when I went to the Halloween store. I was talking to my sick as a dog friend who was helping me brainstorm on what godforsaken costume I should be for Halloween. After trying on six costumes and I was happy with not a one, we decided to roam around. Mind you changing through that many costumes tends to knock a magnet off. We are roaming around looking at all the different decorations, and this man comes around the corner and he is about ten feet away. I heard him as if he was standing right next to me. In all the excitement, I proclaimed to my friend that I heard him and she coughed back, “I can’t”, and she is hearing. I seem to be picking up men, well their voices at least.

At let me see, what else? Ah yes, the desert episode! My mother and I were each having a single serving each of fat free chocolate pudding. My mother was practically digging a hole to china at the bottom of the plastic cup trying to get every bit of it that I heard clear as a bell. It was almost normal.

When the faucet unleashes the fury of water down the drain, I can hear it. It has gotten much louder and pronounced since my activation.

I have started to listen to Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone. I can follow along as long as I have the book, otherwise I would be lost.

I have asked my mom to cover up her mouth and say something to me. Let me just say I was way off base. I have my second mapping tomorrow, and I have to turn in my homework to my audiologist. I have to tell her which program I like the best. How do I make a decision like this?

  • The first program I have maxed out the volume. My voice seem like it is at a normal volume. When people talk, or when I am typing on the keyboard with the volume up, it produces this tinkling sound.
  • The second program I can max the volume, but at the same time it comes with a lot of static and no comprehension. Yet, everything that I hear is a comfortable loudness. When I turn it back down that is when I can comprehend something. When people talk, or when I am typing on the keyboard with the volume up, it produces this tinkling sound.
  • The third program I can max the volume but certain sounds appear louder then others. Some sounds come in clearer then others. I feel like I talking extremely loud but apparently, I am not. The tinkling sound likes this program too.
I don’t know what to pick!!!

Saturday, September 22, 2007


This is not random numbers. This does not represent the population of Northern Thailand. This positive integer is the actual cost of my cochlear implant surgery that is printed on my EOB. Holy! Let me just leave it as that because a collection of other four letter words are springing to mind and this blog is rated PG-13. Thank goodness, I was sitting down when I opened that envelope.

Tuesday was the first time that I opened up the black hollow steel door at work to reveal the security scanner with two familiar constabulary individuals monitoring every beep and boop, I was nervous. Never mind this being the first time that I walk into work with a cleverly disguised magnet stuck to my head, but what if I fulfill all the requirements needed for that scanner to go haywire and alert the guards. The domino effect of emanating a loud beep (that will probably have sounded like an African drum or nothing at all), which will lead me to assume a position of arms out to the side, having a secondary wand from front to back, head to toe. What if, just what if the possibility of while being scanned and the magnet become airborne and attaches itself to the wand?! I can see it now, a phrase never uttered by these lips, “Umm, could I please have my magnet back?” A scene from the movie the Poltergeist ran through my mind with all the silverware flying all over the place. I blink my eyes and motion myself back to reality.

“Good morning, boys!” I say.

“How you doing, Abbie?” They say.

“Oh, I’m doing just ……..fine.” I say with an uneasy smile.

I put my purse and food down on the conveyer belt of the x-ray machine and watch it as if it was going through a car wash. Now I look up at this steel arbor with multi-colored blinking diodes before me. I swallow my last breath before taking one giant step underneath it. I have arrived to the other side. My eyes moved as if I was in REM (someone pinch me please) at the two constabulary individuals for any apparent movement. They did not move a muscle. Total silence was in the air. What the hell was I worried about? ::) For all practical purposes of keeping the magnet on my head, I feel better knowing that I can come and go as I please with my happy little magnet safely tucked under my hair.

I was given some homework in my last post. Michael Chorost who is the author of Rebuilt suggested that I have a second look at his book for some comfort. When I first started researching about cochlear implants, his name popped up all over the place. I was seeing popular quotes, videos, and numerous articles. He is quite the popular cyborg! Upon doing more research, I discover he grew up in the same neck of the woods as I did and was implanted with the Advanced Bionics device. I could hardly wait to get my hands on his book. I headed over to my friendly neighborhood library and checked his book out. Once I picked it up, I couldn’t put it down. Right from the beginning, the book was evoked beautifully with such technological skill that was fueled with veracious witticism. It is the perfect book to read if you are curious, contemplating, or currently already have a cochlear implant.

Back to my homework! He suggested reviewing his Activation chapter of his book. The first time I read Rebuilt, I personally connected with his sudden hearing loss. The rest of book was mountains of entertaining information. The second time around was more meaningful. A couple days after I was activated, I was asked how I was doing, psychologically. I lacked the ability to articulate myself correctly, for once. I stumbled trying to answer that. It is not often I am speechless; I have an answer for everything. While reading Rebuilt again, I was able to personalize it on so many levels. The emotional roller coaster of expectations, uncertainties, anticipation, and disappointment is all a normal part of this process. One small step at a time... How is that for articulation? :) With the wonderful racket I am hearing, I have been granted solace and encouragement. I am positive that it will get better with time. I ended up buying my own copy of Rebuilt to refer to throughout each stage of this process.

Besides, for a low price of $124, 073, you can hear acorns hit your roof too! :)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

i.cyborg day 3

After work yesterday, I was pooped. I was ready to kick off my stilettos and call it a day at 10:00am. No one told me how exhausted you will get learning how to hear. Let me be the first to tell you that when they turn that badass implant on, be prepared to lay your head down and go to sleep. So far, the area where the magnet attaches is a little sore, but not much. The soreness resolves it self after an hour once it is taken off. I am still having a problem with talking above a whisper because I feel like I am talking extremely loud. Sheesh, can't people learn to hear me? :)

Voices have taken on an obnoxious static tinny sound such as when a radio station is not fully tuned in. I have no speech discrimination. It seems like all the pot-smoking munchkins went to sleep. I tried listening to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer Stone and that did not work out well. So back on the bookshelf that went. I opted for some Grimm’s Fairy Tales about a donkey that got kicked off a farm to become a singer, steps on a dog, almost gives a cat a heart attack, drops a bunch of mice on their head, befriended a rooster that is in desperate need of Prozac and they all decided to formed a band. I’m on pins and needles to find out the ending.


The day after activation was business as usual at my sunny little cubicle. The only time I used my hearing aid yesterday was when I was waiting for the Tylenol to kick in to cure my headache for about an hour. Today was an improvement considering I had no headache AND Harmony was attached to me all daylong!

Adding machines regardless of who is using one, it produces a chime effect that reminds me of being at Atlantic City playing the nickel slot machines (I'm a high roller.)

I can tell when someone is talking but I cannot make out a single thing anyone is saying without lip-reading.

Someone blew their nose and jumping jimmy cricket it was LOUD enough to wake a bear out of hibernation!

I heard a motorcycle pull into the parking lot, a Harley Davidson to be exact. I was actually able to tell it was coming from my last side. Vroom!

I can hear when things glide across my desk. I can really hear it when I put things in my metal drawer.

Yesterday I had an issue with paper. It did not matter what kind of paper, money, newspaper, magazine, coupons, or toilet paper. It drove me insane and I cringed every time I had to touch it. It produced a tinny hissy sound that made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Today it was not so bad. I think I can continue to work with paper so I don't have to quit my job.

I picked up the telephone and I heard the dial tone that was clear as a bell! I have not heard that since February.

As I type on the keyboard, I hear my nails hit and scrape the keys CLINK not clack, but clinking. When I start typing fast, it sounds like slot machines music. It sounds purty :)

I heard someone clicking their mouse button a mile a minute.


My blinker is not as loud as it was on Tuesday.

Road noise is apparent but not too bad.

I can hear the engine rev when I accelerate.

Forget music for now. It all sounds like an eight track got chewed up like london broil by some hungry cowboys.


Let me talk about the TV. The first night when I came home, I could not hear a peep from the TV.

Last night, I was watching one of my favorite programs, House, and I started hearing things. I followed the close captioning and the sounds were harmonious. I was feeling rather proud of myself. I patted myself on my left ear for a job well done. At the end of the episode, they had a song and I was able to hear the lyrics but not the music.

Tonight, the sounds seem very soft and I have the volume of the CI turned up all the way. Ah hah, a revelation! Now I know what everyone means by going soft.

I can hear the phone ring, and the Mother talking a mile a minute on it.

OH! The heater gives off this atrocious static. I almost want to go out the back door, through the sunroom, up the stairs and through the front door to get to the living room. I'm scared.

I can hear my little puppy bark. It sounds weird though. When she plays with her toys and starts growling, it has a tinny gargling sound. Normally, she has a ferocious growl that would make thunder embarrassed.

Since I am the texting queen, this morning I went to pick up my brand new Motorola Q9m phone to add Jennifer's new number in since she got a new Blackberry (YAY!). I noticed that every time I pressed a button I heard a clack. Hmm, I swore I turned off the sound for the keypad. I tracked down the Mother who was inhaling a cup of java.
"Hey Mom, do you hear this?"
"Hear what?" I put my cell up to her ear.
"You are just pressing the buttons."
"Heh, neat."
Unfortunately, I have not been able to coordinate a Helicopter to land on my head again. Shucks.

Monday, September 17, 2007

We welcome you to Munchkin Land!!!

I was able to sleep on my left side last night for the first time in 3 weeks! I curled up in fetal position and went right to sleep. I woke up on the right side of the bed and with a rather snappy tune in my head. Kid Rock has a song called Cowboy. Part of the chorus goes “I wanna be a Cowboy, baby!” I turned it around to “I’m gonna be a Cy-borg, baby!” You have to know the beat to enjoy the humor in it. I think it would make a nice jingle! Ummm, yeah moving right along!

I strolled into work, sat down at my desk, and attempted to focus on work for 5 hours. I did not do such a great job :) Philly and I left at one o’clock and not a minute after to run home to go get my mom. We arrive at the hospital around 3:30. We worked out the seating arrangements in the office. Jennifer hooked me up to the computer and then told me to get rid of my hearing aid, literally. She had no trouble finding the secret spot where the magnet was. I can hardly feel it! She changed it to a number 2 magnet because of my hair and so far so good. She started the process of activating my brand spanking new Harmony processor with Fidelity 120 with extended lows. Sounds hot right? :) Right off the bat, she starts raising the volume on all 16 electrodes at once until I reached a comfortable level. Jennifer’s voice had an echo. I could hear the sounds of her speech but for the life of me I couldn’t make out what she said. It sounded terrible :) It sounded like all the munchkins from Oz were rounded up, forced to smoke a joint, and placed in the tin mans can with helium. I could hear myself but everyone said that I was talking softer then normal. I talk soft to begin with! Jennifer decided to create a second map based on the response from each electrode. The overall volume was louder then the first map. However, the same high as hell munchkins in the tin mans can breathing helium was there. Jennifer created a third map from the electrical response of the electrodes. It produced the same pot smoking munchkins in a tin man cans passing around a deflated balloon with helium. All three programs are 50/50 T-Mic and auxiliary microphone.

We welcome you to Munchkin Land

Tra la la la la la la la la la la la

Since all 16 electrodes were turned on, I have experienced no twitching. That is a plus! I was dropping components and banging on the table to see what kind of noises I could hear. It sounded like dull thuds. Once she unhooked me and I was officially on my own, I heard the sound of speech. I heard my mom zip and unzip her purse. I heard someone talking but nobody in the room was flapping their gums. Turns out it was none other then the good doctor, Dr. Bigelow standing right outside the door. He popped his head in to say hello. Jennifer showed me how to operate my sexy little Harmony processor and all the other gadgets and gizmos that come along with it. She sent me on my merry little way and I will be back to see her next Monday, same time!

I left the office, paid my valet parking fee, and patiently waited outside for my truck to come. I was hearing speech noises coming from all over the place. I did not hear cars. I heard a bus roar on by that sounded semi normal. A fire truck complete with lights and sirens came to visit the front of the building. I could not hear the sirens until the truck was within birds eye view. The next sound I thought I would be able to hear but did not. A HELICOPTER practically landed right on top of my head and I could not hear that! I felt it for sure because this girl got the worst case of wind blown hair. I looked like I came right off a Harley. Yikes! Then Mom and Philly started the third degree about how soft spoken I was. So if I feel like I am screaming, I'm fine.

My truck finally arrives in one piece. I get into the drivers seat, the valet shuts my door, and I nearly jumped out of my stilettos! It scared the hell out of me. It has a different sound then before. My blinker is SOOO loud. No wonder why people hate when I leave it on. :) I am picking up strange sounds and not hearing the obvious. One the ride home, I seem to notice that sounds were getting softer, so I turned up the volume. I started to tell when Philly was talking in the backseat, although I could not make out what she was saying. I decided to turn my hearing aid on for safety reason riding in the car. Philly’s voice normalized for a sentence or two. I was taken aback by that. I was able to differentiate when my Mom and Philly talked.

I got home around 7:30, removed my hearing aid, and declared myself exhausted. Thank Aunt Jemimah that I did not have to go back to work because I would have been as useless as teats on a bull. I have already noticed an improvement from when I was first turned on to now. I made myself some soup for dinner and I heard the dial turn on and off the stove. Figures I would hear that but not a helicopter about to land on my head. I heard the pot grate against the grill. I started banging my spoon around in my pan. My sexy little Harmony is going crazy when I start typing on my keyboard a mile a minute! I have the TV on but I cannot hear a darn thing. Sitting on my ear here is some crazy technology. However, if you were to ask me if this was all worth it, my answer in an eye blink is yes. I am glad that I know it works. I am pleased that I have already seen an improvement. I am in high spirits that I know it will only get better from hereon in. I must end this post because I must attempt to find a empty plug to put my new charger in. I'll be hearing ya soon!!

Harmony makes small things grow, lack of it makes great things decay.

Sunday, September 16, 2007


Tomorrow will start like any other Monday. I will promptly arrive at my sunny little cubicle and attempt to do my duties to the best of my ability. How does one act knowing that they will be a fully functional cyborg before dinner? I have a notion that I might act as if I have ants in my pants. Boss, I apologize for my pre-borg behavior if I screw up tomorrow :) I should be leaving around one o’clock to head over to Philadelphia to be turned on. I will be filming my activation tomorrow. I just put fresh batteries in the camera and it is ready for my bionic debut.

A couple weeks ago, I emailed my fellow colleagues at work a survey of what they love and hate to hear. The feedback I received inspired me to post it. Many thanks goes out to those who responded.

Question number one: If you were deaf and by some miracle you were able to hear again, what is the first thing that you would want to hear?
  • Children
  • The words "I love you."
  • Thunderstorm
  • Kids uncontrollably laughing
  • Nature noises
  • Music
  • Dogs singing
  • Family's voices
  • Birds Chirping
  • Crickets (I don't know if I want to hear this one for personal reasons)
  • Leaves
  • Mothers voice (I'm hoping this will be the first I thing I hear)
  • Pages turning in a book
  • Heavy rain
  • Baby's Laugh
  • Baby's first cry
  • Band practicing
  • Laughter
  • Ocean (This is at the top of my list)
  • Waves crashing
  • My own voice (It would be nice to hear myself again)
  • Water boiling
  • Fireworks
  • Rice Krispies go Snap, Crackle and Pop
  • My puppies soft little sounds she makes
  • The fizzy sound when you open soda
Question number two: If you were deaf and by some miracle, you were able to hear again, what is the last thing that you would want to hear?
  • Screaming
  • Water dripping
  • Nails scratching on a chalkboard (I have no clue what that sounds like)
  • Hillary Clinton's screeching voice
  • Phone ringing
  • Fork scraping against teeth
  • Significant other complaining
  • Car Alarm
  • Emergency door alarm (apparently this is a very annoying sound at work)
  • Alarm Clock
  • Country music
  • Baby's cry
  • Child whining
  • Fire department sirens
  • Screeching brakes
  • Fork scratching a plate
  • Neighbors screaming and fighting
  • "What’s for dinner?"
  • Annoying children toys
  • Silence
  • Whistling
  • Fingernail flicking
  • Teeth grinding

The funniest response I got was “You are a millionaire!” and she would hate to hear “Only Kidding!”

My personal favorite was “There isn't anything I wouldn't want to hear.”

With this feedback I formed goals as to what I like to hear. I'm going to add this as a bookmark because I will refer to it. I plan on crossing off when I heard it and mark the date. I thought it was a rather spiffy idea if I do say so myself.

The day before I join the borgs was interesting. My neighbor called me to see if I could come offer her moral support. What kind of moral support you ask? The kind of moral support that requires one sticking their hand in a hole full of crickets on steroids (she had to turn off her main water valve). I physically get ill over insects but I been down this scary road a long time ago which required therapy. I was ready to face my fear head on providing I had the right tools. I ran over with two garbage bags, one for my entire arm and one to cover up the hole. It turns out I am OK when I do not see them but when I do see them is when I start with massive hysteria. Thank god, my eight-pound predator knows how to smash them. My sincere apologies are extended to the people in the Entomology field.

Now we moved on to my neighbors main agenda of the day, replacing the fill valve and the flapper in one of her toilets. After reading the instructions on how to remove the existing and replace it in both English and Spanish several times, we both felt confident that we could accomplish this task. I mean they sell the kits in Home Depot, so it can’t be that hard, right. The first task is to shut off the main water valve! Check! So we thought. We discovered a minor problem shortly after dismantling the existing fill valve. She has a malfunctioning main water valve that decreases the amount of pressure but does not shut it off completely. After much consideration, we decided to change it with the water bursting and all. This was one of those moments that you wish you had a camcorder. The two of us in this tiny little bathroom, changed that fill valve and flapper in less then 30 seconds. If you ever need one changed, we are your women for the job. Feeling rather proud of ourselves, we raised our hands in the hair to give each other a hearty high five. It was stopped short when I realized that my neighbors hand was dirty which nixed that idea! :)

This quote is for all the people that took the time to read my blog. I have received so many wonderful commentaries. I just wish some of them weren't anonymous :)

“The more faithfully you listen to the voices within you, the better you will hear what is sounding outside.”

0 Days, 18 Hours, 28 Minutes to go!!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

1 Days, 16 Hours, 17 Minutes: Technically

This little battle of tinnitus that I got going on here is ending! I have figured out that the enemy (tinnitus) is employing a method known as acoustic jamming. I’ll be damned if I’m going to be jammed. Due to my cerebral ingenuity or the enemy is running out of puff, the volume is noticeable but low. I can hear the telly again and Bella barking. I have packed my tent up and will be leaving Camp Unhappy immediately.

On a more important note, today is the last Saturday that my left ear will be deaf as a doorknob. I woke up to a dank morning but by noontime, the temperature reached about 77 degrees, the clouds were gone and the sun was shining scattering the blue light in the sky. I got myself all prettied up and ran some errands before my chow down appointment with a good friend Melissa and our mothers at the Olive Garden. You just cannot go wrong with unlimited soup, salad, and breadsticks for $5.99. We had such a good time together. It was so nice just sitting around enjoying each other’s company over good Italian food. After lunch, someone (not naming names) brought up shopping and I thought I might have to invest in an activation outfit. Needless to say, I went shopping afterwards.

Upon running my errands this morning, I came across a fruit called a Minneola. Since my palate craves intellectual nourishment at least six times a day, I added it to my pantry this morning. I have never had this citrus but it looks strikingly similar to a Sunkist naval orange but deeper in color. Doing a quick search on Google revealed that it is hybrid between a tangerine and a grapefruit. As far as taste goes, I can truly say I have experienced the ultimate tartness. The grapefruit is definitely dominant. The tartness prompted me to sprinkle it with Splenda that revealed the tangerine tang. At last, my palate was content with the newfound Minneola.

I have a hidden agenda in sharing this rather asinine story. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. I ventured out and discovered a Minneola, which is sour, but coupled with something sweet, was delectable. I will be bringing the same mentality with me when I am activated. I am going to be operated by a computer in my head, which at first might be a sour experience. Regardless of what I hear, I am going to venture out and see what I can do to enhance it. Perseverance will prevail and it is starting with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer Stone audio book. I'm stoked!

Resistance is futile.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Destination is merely a byproduct of the journey: Part II

The countdown is indeed dwindling down and I am beginning to get impatient, but not for the obvious reasons. The tinnitus has come back and I have set up a tent at Camp Unhappy. It sounds like a fish tank bubbling and I cannot tell which side of my head the tinnitus is coming from. It started on Tuesday and increasingly got louder. Yesterday when I woke up, it was just like old times. I could hardly hear a thing. This morning the noise was not so loud. It is just so aggravating. I was just so grateful for that little taste of silence for a couple weeks. I am not welcoming this noisy visitor with open arms again. Anyway, moving right along to your lesson of the day.

Let me copy and paste this to refresh your memory:

Activation involves the external part of the system, which is the processor that resembles your standard behind the ear hearing aid. The coil with the flat round disc at the end houses a magnet that will attach to the magnet in the implant that lies under my head. Whew, try saying that five times fast. Before I continue, for the record my processor will be boring beige. I am far too colorful with my hair and wardrobe to rock a colorful processor. Once the two magnets attract each other then my audiologist, Jennifer who is going to be my new best friend for the next couple of months, can get down to business and start programming the implant according to how I respond to the tones. Once the programming is complete, she activates me and slowly starts to turn up the volume to a comfortable level. At this point, I should be able to hear something. These sessions are called mappings that will be explained in detail as the countdown dwindles down.

When it comes to activation on Monday, the programming will be referred to as mappings. Two levels of sound must be determined in order to custom map the implant to my hearing loss. The first level is called a Threshold or T for short, which is when I can detect the softest sound at each frequency. The second level is Comfort, C or M for short. This is when I determine my loudest but most comfortable sound at each frequency. I believe they use what is called live speech burst to determine the levels. Once these two levels are determined, the audiologist will go through a process of asking me when two different pitches of sound are at the same volume. Somehow, that sounds tricky to me. If you are presented with, a low bass sound followed with a high tone and have to determine if it is at the same volume level. It seems to me it is easier said than done.

Once the T & C levels are determined and everything sounds the same to me, the audiologist will download the map to my processor and turn the volume up until I can hear. It will be at that most moment that I will be able to hear something.

The following could happen:
  • Best-case scenario is that I could hear everything just as natural as could be.
  • Everyone sounds like munchkins from Wizard of Oz, but I will understand speech.
  • I could hear sounds similar to R2D2 fighting in Star Wars as speech.
  • I could hear static.

Regardless of what I hear, it will be something more then what I currently have now. The audiologist might have to play around with the levels a little more depending on how I respond. That is mapping in a nutshell. Being mapped is not just a one-time deal. I have three more mapping sessions scheduled over a month and half period. As time goes on my brain will learn to interpret what the electrical pulses are from the implant as sound and it will become natural. When my brain gets use to one map, sounds will become softer which means my brain is ready for more volume. At that point, I will have to go back to the audiologist and have another mapping session to determine the threshold and comfort levels all over again.

Lesson completed! Class dismissed.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

I will never forget September 11th, 2001.

Today is a day that is an unforgettable moment. Today is a day I can forever visualize with clarity as the events unfolded in my own minds eye. Today is a day that I discovered the true sentiment of mourning. Today is a day for remembrance for those who lost their lives then and are fighting to stay alive now. Today is the day for those who are affected by September 11, 2001. Six years later and it still feels like it happened yesterday.

This morning, I attended a ceremony in honor of those who lost their lives in the 9-11 tragedy. It was pouring rain out but loads of people still attended. Running the risk of becoming little damp or soaking dripping wet is trivial compared to what happened six years ago. As I stood there admiring the flag flying that was attached the raised ladder on the firefighter truck, you can feel the sadness emanating from those who attended. You can see the group eyes glaze over with tears as they remember their personal documentary in their minds.

Officials were speaking and all I was able to catch were the words September 11th. It wasn’t imperative that I had to know what was being said because the sanctity of the occasion was enough for me. In the middle of the ceremony, a gentle soul that I work with name Bea nudged me and said, “Just think, next year you will be able to hear this.” It took me a moment to digest what she said because I was so focused on the flag waving in the air, holding my coffee, trying to decipher the speaker, and holding my umbrella. Juggling is not a career choice for me. Once I become conscious of not what she said but what she meant, I blurted out, “You are so right!” At that moment, Bea brought a different perspective of my journey into sound probably without her realizing it. I have been so focused on specific sounds but now, I look forward to hearing the sentiment of one’s voice. It has been so long since I have been able to hear happiness, sadness, anxiousness, and irateness in anyone’s voice. It would be a blessing to know the emotional intention of the spoken word again.

“No matter how hard we try words simply cannot express the horror, the shock, and the revulsion we all feel over what took place in this nation on Tuesday morning. September 11 will go down in our history as a day to remember.” by Bill Graham

Monday, September 10, 2007

Destination is merely a byproduct of the journey.

“Can you hear yet?!”

If I had a dime for every time I have been asked this since I had my surgery, my piggy bank would be overflowing! I wouldn’t be a rich girl but I would have enough money to buy my poochie a couple bones. The surgery is the first step of this journey back to sound. Nothing is ever easy, and learning how to hear again is no exception. My next step is activation. Before you even bat your eye, I’m going to explain the process and what activation entails, and with pictures too!

HiRes 90K Cochlear Implant by Advanced Bionics

The surgery inserts the internal part, the cochlear implant. The cochlear implant (see picture above) was inserted right above my left ear and under my skin as you can see here. A small hole was drilled through the mastoid bone to gain access to my cochlea and feed the tail through. At the end of the tail, you will notice the wire is a thicker. The thicker part of the wire houses 16 electrodes. The clear plastic mouse shape part is where the receiver and the magnet are located. The magnet is the part that resembles a watch battery at the top of the implant. Essentially, I got micro chipped :D I have no qualms with walking around asking people to cop a feel off my magnet.

This diagram gives offers you a visual interpretation of how the implant is inserted in my ear. If you follow the silver wire that starts from the top part of the ear, you will see that the electrodes follow the contour of the cochlea (the snail shape organ). It is pretty nifty right? With any surgery, there is minimal trauma but time heals all wounds and Vitamin E and cocoa butter heals all scars. My time to heal is three weeks before activation. I am down two and one week to go! Technically, it is closer to six days and 19 some odd hours but who is counting. Ah, hem…

Harmony Processor from Advanced Bionics

Activation involves the external part of the system, which is the processor that resembles your standard behind the ear hearing aid. The coil with the flat round disc at the end houses a magnet that will attach to the magnet in the implant that lies under my head. Whew, try saying that five times fast. Before I continue, for the record my processor will be boring beige. I am far too colorful with my hair and wardrobe to rock a colorful processor. Once the two magnets attract each other then my audiologist, Jennifer who is going to be my new best friend for the next couple of months, can get down to business and start programming the implant according to how I respond to the tones. Once the programming is complete, she activates me and slowly starts to turn up the volume to a comfortable level. At this point, I should be able to hear something. These sessions are called mappings that will be explained in detail as the countdown dwindles down. I like to keep my loyal readers in suspense! :D

More details at 11 tomorrow.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Being deaf and in a public bathroom.

Now as we all know, women are god’s greatest creation. Lord knows we love to talk. We can talk all day long about spectrum of colors on a bedspread, retractable awnings, exotic citrus and coupon expiration dates until we are blue in the face. However! I feel that there is a time and place for such topics. One of those places is not in a public restroom. Conversation does not cease when that door shuts and locks. They just keep going and going and going. This presents a small minor problem for me. Allow me to elaborate from a deaf womans point of view.

The public restroom has become an interesting place to visit. It is no longer just lock the door behind you and squint your eyes at the stark white walls with graffiti written all over it. You have a simple metal toilet paper holder affixed to the wall or cabinet housing the sink. The typical white commode and matching sink complete with a faucet that you can turn on and adjust the temperature. For a real treat, you can pump anti-bacterial soup and *GASP* actually pull your own paper towels out and dry your hands. That was the 20th century bathrooms where I did not have to worry about anything unless someone banged on the door.

Welcome to the 21st century people. Modern technology has definitely streamlined our experience with fancy schmancy elevator music to make our relieving experience as enjoyable as possible. The public restrooms are designed in eccentric proportions with unusual materials of diverse colors consequently providing a safe and enjoyable visit. Architects has developed the standard of “washrooms” or more commonly known as stalls to maintain privacy while allowing light to enter from above, below and through a 2” wide gap through the door. These washrooms are formed by steel that rattles like a train coming through town if someone happens to step into the stall next to you. It usually ends up frightening you and then forces you to stop what you were doing, abruptly with no chance of continuance. Toilets have evolved to automatic super duper vacuum toilets where you have to learn to maintain perfect posture and pray that a fly does not go past the military grade flush sensor while you are on it. It is suggestible that you take a couple classes of Yoga before you attempt to master these types of toilets. While the toilet paper rolls have gotten bigger then your average 1000 sheets, the holders are the size of a small car tire affixed to the wall. You double the fine by having a matching holder of the same size one on the other side of the stall that has toilet seat protectors. If you manage to squeeze your head between those two holders, you can continue safely. You sacrifice comfort in exchange for quantity when it comes to toilet paper because it feels more like 500-grit sandpaper then the gentle comfort paper that we have at home.

Once you have managed to find your way out of the washroom, you proceed to the sink with a faucet that is lacking options for temperature adjustment. You notice the state of the art foam soap dispensers, since liquid soap is a thing of the past. If you are lucky that the dispenser is fully foamed, you start lathering up by waving your hand in front of the sink and pray that the plumbers knew what they were doing when they installed it. Three things can happen at this point: the temperature is just right and quickly changes to scolding hot killing any bacteria before the foam soap did, or it comes out frigid cold pruning your fingers, or if you are lucky, it comes out just right and you walk away with negligible damage. The next step is to proceed to the drying station. They have hand dryers with invisible sensors that turn the darn contraptions on by waving your hands underneath of it several times and then hit it to have the dryer turn on. By this time, your hands are dry and you have burned 80 calories. All the while the dryers are going, I can't hear worth beans. No wonder why most people prefer going home to take care of business.

The bathroom is no longer an escapade. With all the commotion that goes on in the bathroom nowadays, you add the fact that women do not, I repeat do not stop chatting even to go to the bathroom. My problem with this is if I am waiting in line for a stall, holding the stall door or taking care of business, I still cannot hear a single word anyone is saying. I am in a metal enclosure, with no visual cues of what anyone is saying, and you women keep yapping to your hearts content. Yelling my name or saying that you will be outside does nothing but induce an anxiety attack that there might be a fire or something. Most women have the unbelievable ability to identify a person by their shoes. Just let me be the first person to tell you, you are not impressing anyone when you can recognize my shoes and proceed to throw toilet paper over the stall and haul ass out of there. I might not hear you but I will find your feet. I wish that all conversation ceases with me until I have exited the public restroom.

It is the only way that I can go peacefully.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Here is my ear...

WARNING: This blog is rated PG-13 and suggested viewing time is before breakfast, brunch, lunch, high tea time, or dinner.

I was simply too excited about washing my hair and getting a new cell phone to post yesterday. I did not know which way to go but I knew I had to go west to see the good doctor. The stitches came out with very little pain since my incision is still numb. Whew, I was sweating in my sandals because I do not deal with a little pain being afflicted on me that well anymore. I can deal with massive pain but not the other way around. It never used to be that way until a couple years ago. I am a wuss now and I have no other choice to embrace the wussy way of dealing with pain.

Anyway, off to the good stuff. The doctor looked in my ear, gave me a clean bill of health, and then uttered those magic words, “You can wash your hair now.” So I put my biggest Kool-Aid smile and thanked him for putting up with my vanity, it was not an easy task for that man. I go back to see him in January sometime.

I thought I left my keys in the ignition and my car running because the minute I parked my car, I went from driver’s seat to the shower in 60 seconds flat. It was invigorating experience with a new sensation with water gliding over the incision being numb. Of course, I learned a few things after not being able to wash my hair for 8 days (whose counting? I sure was!). I discovered that I will never be able to rock dreadlocks or cornrows. How unfortunate… just a crying shame.

Now for some eye candy, or ear candy to be politically correct!!

Here is a picture of my incision with my stitches....

Eww... my ear is fat!!

And without my stitches...

It looks like I have to get liposuction in my ear.

I am absolutely knackered from going to bed late last night since my sleeping habits went off kilter during recovery and then going back to work today for the first time since my surgery. I was missed. I am glad that I am back to work since I felt the walls were closing in on me but I'm exhausted. I just want to climb into my box shaped bed and go to sleep.

This is me signing off with 12 more days to go til turn on. Sweet dreams.

Monday, September 03, 2007

A stitch in time cost me thirty.

Happy Labor Day everyone!!! I love getting a day of rest just because I am a member of the working society. I unknowingly finagled it so I can have an extra day for recovery. Genius, I know. I feel great today besides the cotton ball fullness feeling in my ear. If that is the only thing I am complaining about, I am grateful. Tomorrow is the day that I get the stitches removed. Boo-yah!!

How much does it cost to get some stitches snipped out of my head in America?

  • Three hour round trip
  • $12.00 in gas
  • $3.00 in tolls
  • $10.00 dollar co-pay
  • $5.00 to valet park your car
  • Being able to wash my hair tomorrow night


People, I am excited!!! I have not even thought about activation since I have been counting down the days hours to washing my hair. That does not mean I have been completely oblivious because I know I still have two weeks to go until I'm turned on. My right ear is doing very well since the good doctor killed the tinnitus is my ear. I had company over today and I looked away to self-test my speech discrimination. The result was that I felt there was an improvement since I picked up a few simple words here and there.

That and taking just one Tylenol was my cool factors for today.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

I see things all so clearly now.

I woke up to a beautiful Sunday morning and watched for the first time Gone With the Wind on TV. Today was the day I felt pretty good. I didn't wake up with an immediate craving to reach for my prescription bottle full of Percocet with its adult proof caps. Instead, I took plain old Tylenol and it worked like a charm. It is nice to interpret reality clearly instead of living in a fog. I was going to take a picture of my lovely stitch work behind my ear for the world to see but lo and behold, digital cameras seem to have an expiration date and mine expired. Sigh. I hopped online and ordered a new one though. I love having the world at my fingertips! Now if I could only try shoes online by the measurements of my feet, that would be my golden egg.

I should give a brief summary of this past week.

  • Monday was the easy part. I got my ear partially "Van Goghed" and flipped over and this computer stuck in it. They sewed me up, my head was dressed with a huge bandage wrapped so tight that Erin Brockovich could have worn it as a skirt.
  • Tuesday - The skirt was snipped off my head. I spent most of the day high off my Percocet. Every couple hour I would fall asleep.
  • Wednesday - Same thing as Tuesday. Pop pills, sleep, eat, pop pills, sleep, eat, ob-la-di, ob-la-da, life goes on, la la la.
  • Thursday - I started to feel uncomfortable. My whole left side of my head ached.
  • Friday - I felt even worse then Thursday. My aches and pains turned up the voltage a bit more.
  • Saturday - I woke up feeling better then I had but then I had that awful nose-blowing incident. I shudder just thinking about that. I went for a drive with no problems.
  • Sunday was the day I stopped taking the prescribed narcotics and started popping over the counter stuff. That is a milestone for me. I am not much a pill popper unless I have to.
There you have it, the condensed version of recovering from a cochlear implant by yours truly.

Saturday, September 01, 2007


Don’t blow your nose for two weeks following ear surgery.

There it is printed, by a laser printer in crisp black font on this stark white sheet of paper. I have a few problems with how this is presented on this list. They should make that a smidgen bit bigger. They should have put this on a separate piece of paper, say a POSTER BOARD BILLBOARD for example, with big bold capitalized letters. Preferably, I think a flashing neon sign stating this would have gotten the message across. I feel that the concept would have been grasped with such clarity at that point that your average dumb blonde would have understood. Dumb who? Dumb me.

I had the pleasure this morning of getting up on a beautiful sunny day and started it off by gently blowing my nose with almost enough wind to move a dust bunny. HOLY SWEET MOTHER OF ALL SAINTS, I was frozen in pain and fear like I saw a rattlesnake. I sat there screaming silently. I thought my eyes were going to fall out and start a new life as marbles. I thought to myself, "did I just blow a fuse or fry an electrode or rip a stitch?" Moments felt like hours went by before I could move. However long it took, it really @#$%^&* hurt. Do yourself a favor, do not blow your nose, better yet, do not breathe through your nose, even better yet, forget that you have a nose. You can thank me later.

Lesson of today: Listen to what your doctor tells you, fine print and all.