Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Three men and their articles.

Michael Chorost, author of "Rebuilt" released his latest article today for Technology Review called Helping the Deaf Hear Music. I found this very interesting because it discusses a computerized test that measures how well cochlear implant users perceive music.

Josh Swiller, author of "The Unheard: A Memoir of Deafness and Africa" had an article released today as well in the New York Times about him, Cochlear Implant Supports an Author’s Active Life. He discusses how his cochlear implant has changed his life.

Michael Royer, a fellow Advanced Bionic cochlear implant user AND he is on the cover of the next March/April edition of the Hearing Loss Magazine. According to the HLAA's website, it will feature his article called Buried Treasures which is "a personal story about growing up with a hearing loss and finally getting a cochlear implant."

Friday, February 22, 2008

One year ago today is when I lost my hearing...

My weary eyes began to flutter as the anesthesia began to evaporate. Seconds felt like hours as my mind tried to orchestrate a sense of normality. My eyes dreaded the fulgent pattern of fluorescent lights but soon began to focus. A monotonous wailing crept in my head. My body laid limp and impotent. Time lingered to a standstill until a nurse with a set of smiling eyes broke my gaze.

I tilted my heavy head towards the nurse as she wrapped me in blue cotton sheets. The cool fabric sent shivers down my arm but then a hazy face appeared along side of my bed, it was the face of my anesthesiologist. He held a small plastic container in the air, I wrestled my arms free from the cotton cocoon as I mouth thank you. I began to fumble with the lid. Once open, I gingerly picked up my hearing aid and placed it in my ear.

I sat there anticipating the sounds of the monitors beeping, the phone ringing, and people speaking. Alas, the only sound I heard was vexatious wailing. I adjusted the volume as the anesthesiologist starts to enunciate his words but it was pointless, I couldn’t hear him. I couldn’t hear anything. I promptly checked my switch to see if was on T-Coil.

Nothing. I switched to my second program.

Nada. I removed my hearing aid and watched a nurse quickly turn towards the squealing aid which ruled out a dead battery. I placed the hearing aid back into my ear and applied enough pressure to feel a faint click of battery compartment closed.

Zilch! A string of sweat formed behind my ears.

I sat there waiting for the hospital ruckus to fill my ear instead all I was hearing was a crescendo of screams. Something wasn’t right..

“Um, I can’t hear anything,” I said hoarsely as I realized how raw my throat felt. The smiling eyes turned looked down at me. Do you see me smiling here?

“You can’t hear?” the anesthesiologist said. I could not help but notice that his lips moved with such simplicity as he enunciated each word, his eyes filled with perplexity while mine filled with despair.

“No, I can’t hear anything!” I couldn’t even hear myself. The rest of the conversation was pointless. Was it possible they thought I was deluded? I whiled away the second contemplating why I heard nothing around me but I could hear meaninglessness noise in my head.

In the distance, I saw my surgeon walk towards me and with every footstep he took, I scrutinized him for all he was worth. He stood along side of the bed and began to flap his gums recapping my so-called successful operation. I cut him off, “I can’t hear anything!” He cocked his head to one side, bewildered. That isn’t what I wanted to see, I tell him I cannot hear and he looks at me like a dog looks when their leash is wrapped around a pole.

“You can’t hear anything?” he repeated after me. Did he lose his hearing too Doc? I studied his face for any sort of reassurance that this is common side effect, that this sort of thing happens all the time. Sadly, his face did not change and I was becoming so desperate to see him say that this happens all the time. I wanted him to give me a magic potion and all would have been right as rain. Nothing was right since.

Then he said, “This has never happened before.” I started sobbing uncontrollably on the inside. Why me I thought, why now? The hearing stealing surgeon left me to grieve. I was left alone in a world that was not my own.

A single blood drop dripped from my nose.

The gurney started to move down a stark white hallway, my mind searching for the answers to my demise. Anesthesia? Swelling? Allergic reaction? What the hell happened to me? With each rotation of the wheels, it became increasingly harder to for a coherent thought for the wailing has reminded me of screams, screams of a banshee. It was only later that I discovered how true that was.

I had a headache and I wanted to go home, back to my bed that I just woke from this morning, hearing the sounds that I was use to hearing. I was tired of being asked how I was feeling, my only answer was, “I can’t hear anything.” They rolled me out of the hospital and into my friends truck. I noticed the tell tale raindrops on the windshield.

I grabbed my cell phone and adjusted the volume on high. I called into my voicemail, switched my hearing aid to T-Coil and made a wish for the tiniest iota of sound. My wish was not granted. How could I have just used this a few hours ago to tell my mom I love her?

I began to reply to my text messages. I tapped my fingers while I waited anxiously for the trumpet-like alert that I always heard. I never heard it that day. I noticed that the windshield wipers were wiping, the tires were turning, and the radio was playing. All I felt engine vibration through my feet. Everything I looked at I associated with a sound but that night all I heard were screaming banshees. I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that a few hours ago in that very spot, I was struggling to hold a conversation with my hearing aid working happily in my ear.

Fifteen minutes later, we pull into my driveway. My mom opened the door and greeted me with nothing but concern in her eyes. It was the kind of eyes that only a mother can give if they could switch places, they would do so in a heartbeat. Truth be told, I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy. I wobbled to my last hope, my back up hearing aid. I sat on the edge of my bed. My teeth chattered as I placed a fresh battery to avoid any surprises. I placed it in my ear and prayed. Tears fell into my hand when my prayer wasn't granted.

It was then that the realization came to me that I was truly alone in my world of silence.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

I Once Thought

I came across this wonderful poem by a new blogger, Bravo Rod and I just had to share it!

I once thought I was impaired
Until I met a man who only had one eye.

I once thought I was impaired,
Until I met a man who couldn’t lift more than 15 lbs.

I once thought I was impaired,
Until I met a man who had to use a cane.

Thank you God for taking my hearing
And not my eyes
So that I can see your beauty.

Thank you God for taking my hearing
And not my legs
So that I can ride like the wind.

Thank you God to taking my hearing
And not my brain
So that I can remember
All the grace you have given me.

In the Season of Thanksgiving
I am thankful for going deaf.

In the Season of Thanksgiving
I am thankful for not going
Blind, Lame, or Forgetful.

In the Season of Thanksgiving
What I don’t have is more blessed
Than what the world thinks I don’t have.

I Once thought
Many things

May my thoughts be your thoughts today.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Tyra Banks Show

A couple weeks ago, I had the opportunity to watch a live taping of the Tyra Banks Show in New York, which is being aired this Wednesday at 5:00pm EST, click here to see the time in your area! The topic is about the bad girls of America’s Next Top Model! Check it out and play the game of “Where’s Abbie?” in the audience!

This was my first time in a studio and I had no idea what to expect, I would be lying if I said that I was not concerned with how I was going to be able to follow along. I feel that way no matter where I go. If this had taken place six months ago, I would not even consider going. Thank goodness, I decided to go this time! I was pleasantly surprised when I had very little difficulty understanding everything that was going on, especially when Tyra talked. It almost seemed that she was standing right next to me no matter where she was standing. It was an awesome experience and I would do it again in a heartbeat!

The moments did not seem to stop after we left the show because I had very little difficulty understanding the Indian taxi cab driver from the back seat! At Port Authority, my friends and I sat in the back of the bus while it was passengers were getting on to go home and I decided to call my mom and I don't have T-Coil activated on my cochlear implant. I had no problem understanding her with the engine noise, people chattering and feet stomping. It was a good day, a good day indeed!

Speaking of good days, my buddy Sam had his second ear activated on Friday and he is currently listening to Led Zeppelin infamous song "Stairway to Heaven" all the live long day. He had a rough go with his first CI, like me, but it seems like this one is off to a great start! He has on me on the edge of my chair waiting for a post about his new moments :)

I want to say thank you for all of those that wished me a Happy Birthday on Friday, especially Jennifer and Val :) You guys are beautiful inside and out!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

How to charge your Valentines Day?!

Today was looking exceptionally promising since I installed a fresh batch of batteries in my toothbrush and had a good ol’ time scrubbing my choppers this morning.

That was until I got to work.

I was under the impression that I had one fully charged CI battery left and you can imagine my surprise when they were all dead. Oh shh…

After calling myself a ding-dong a couple of times, I proceeded to inform my boss that her bionic employee had to run home and recharge herself!

Uh huh, yeah I never thought I would ever say that. That would be kind of awkward if I was in the middle of a date…

I walked back into work with my Valentine, my charging station that quickly buzzed my batteries back up to power!

So yeah, I learned my lesson: Be anal with charging your batteries.

With that being said, I want to say Happy Valentines day to all!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Partially deaf...

I have Verizon Wireless, my phone is a POS replacement Samsung U740 (ie: my second phone since September 2007)

I was off yesterday for my good ol’ buddy Abraham Lincoln birthday and I decided to venture to Verizon Wireless (again) because that POS replacement Samsung U740 was acting up!

How was it acting up? The same stinking way it was acting up before.

  • When using AOL IM, I like my phone to alert me that I have a new instant message. My phone chooses not to do that. Bad phone.

  • My calendar function does not function correctly! Bad, bad, phone.

  • When trying to connect to YAHOO! My phone spews out hateful ERROR 52 messages. Bad, bad, bad phone.

  • My standby time about an average of 200 hours, I'm lucky to get 20 hours before it powers down!. !@#$^&* phone.

I rolled up in that store with my U740 in my pocket, flashed him my grill, and gave him a long list of technical issues. The Verizon expert of a technician took my phone away and did his fancy schancy mojo to it. It consisted of glancing back and forth at the big one eyed monster (monitor) and the little two eyed monster (cell phone) that was sitting in front of him.) In the end, he claimed to fix the bugs (we shall see) and they replaced my battery that was Fed-ex'd to my house this morning (yippie)!

With much ado, he tried telling me to call tech support and handed me a piece of paper with a number on it! I took a step backwards, glanced up at the sign that clearly said "Technical Support." I sighed, blinked my eyes a few times and looked at the piece of paper.
Not happening kid.

“See here is the thing, umm, I’m deaf and there is no way I am going to call them on relay trying to explain what is going on with my phone!” (I have been hung up on countless of times with Verizon.)

“Oh, ok ma’am, I undy!” says the tech who started dialing the number and gave a lengthy introduction of name, date, shoe size, store number, underwear preference, and my number.

Then he said, “I have a customer here that is partially deaf...”

Partially deaf, I've been called a lot of things but that one is a new one. It is an interesting concept.

In addition to being called deaf or (death depending on who is pronouncing it), hard of hearing, hearing impaired, hearing problem and now we have a newcomer, partially deaf.

That is a rather odd adverb to describe my hearing loss. In the same token if I am partially deaf would I be considered partially hearing? Now we all know that is physically impossible for me to be partially hearing, how I could be partially deaf then? I can't, I'm completely deaf.

Now I got this snazzy piece of equipment on the side of my noggin here which always me to hear part of the time. Once I take off the snazzy equipment, my hearing powers down and I hear nothing, leaving me completely deaf.

So Verizon, can you hear me now?

Monday, February 11, 2008

HELP!! I need a Vlog topic!

I decided a while ago that I wanted to make a captioned vlog and if I happen to know the sign, I will use ASL as well. However, I am lacking the creativity to come up with a topic and the fact that I’m a little camera shy, believe it or not, is not helping :)

So, I am asking you if you could share what you would like to see me talk about.

Is there anything you want to know about me?
Is there anything regarding cochlear implants that you want me to talk about?
Do you want to know my opinion on a topic?
Do you want to know what kind of make-up I use, what kind of food I eat, and my pet peeves?
Feel free to ask me anything!

You get the idea! I am looking forward to seeing all your comments and I will appreciate every single one of them!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

The good stuff in life...

is not all chocolate, wine and lemon drop cookies. I deal with a lot of negativity throughout the day but it just takes one of these emails to make my day.

Hello Abbie,

I just listened and watched your video of the activation of your CI. What a marvelous thing you did, to make this available to us fellow CIers! You are a wonderful inspiration.

I received my implant in April 2006, activated in May. My experience was very similar to yours. I was born with a severe hearing loss in both ears and did not receive my first hearing aid in one ear until I was 4 yrs! Despite all this, I went through the mainstream schooling and university with just one ear hearing aid.

To make a long story short, my ear gave out 3 yrs ago and as the other ear was bad, I was effectively deaf. The implant was a miracle and now I am hearing sufficiently ell, but still problems on the phone, in crowds, etc..

My hearing handicap never stopped me in my life. I started up my own company and became very successful, despite a heavy telephone requirement.

Anyway, I wish you much success in life and I know you will have that. You got what it takes!

Thanks again, Abbie.

the bionic man from Canada

Friday, February 01, 2008

Deaf Bingo, Gossip, Captions!

My first deaf bingo game!

As some of you might know, I know very little sign language. I was mainstreamed in a school that did not provide a dual setting to learn the English language and sign language. I was never against learning sign (as some of you think I am) but when I was younger I preferred to talk and I always will. There have been times that I wish I knew ASL like when I went to a couple of local Deaf Fests. My experiences at these events were not great because the minute that I would start to talk, they would walk away from me. I know you are thinking that my cochlear implant was a problem but the fact that I had a CI never entered into the equation because I didn't even get remotely close to getting through the preliminary greetings to tell them I had one. It was hurtful at first but I needed to learn more about the culture and I made a decision that I wanted to learn ASL because I think it is a beautiful language, just like dance.

My friend Joleen (she signs) and I danced ourselves to my first deaf bingo game on Saturday. When I first walked into the room, everybody flinging flanging fingers was flying all over the place. I was a little overwhelmed.

"Way out of my league," I thought to myself.

Once I took a seat, I started to study the hand movements. I learned more sign language in 2 hours then in the past 20 years. The deaf people that I met were patient and took the time to show me different signs. There was even a couple of interpreters there which was helpful because I was the one that needed interpreting :)

Overall, the deaf bingo game was a good experience for me. I made some new friends, left with a boatload of signs, and I am planning to go back. My only complaint is that I didn't win... blah!

Been itching to gossip about some of you because I am way overdue!

Deafcone was just activated last Tuesday and already had a couple mappings since! Ahh... those first few weeks are fun times, fun times indeed. I think he hinted around that he has an activation video that he is attempting to caption yippie!! I will be looking forward to that!

Jeff has posted his activation video some time ago which I feel the utter need to exploit :) Go check it out here

Cyborg Queen was activated last Friday! She seems to be doing fairly well; she is in that "Oh boy! its loud!" stage. She can already tell a difference between using the CI and the HA... I'm very excited to see how she does with hers :)

Mike Chorost had his junior partner activated on January 24th and I am having such a joy reading tale of his two ears :) He is already able to localize sounds! I am over the moon for him!

Sam Spritzer has an up and coming activation slotted for February 15th for his second ear. It seems like it is taking forever to get here which is good for me for an undisclosed reason, but for him, i can't wait!

My friend Joleen is being turned on Valentines Day! She went and had her stitches taken out last Tuesday, which went fine. Then her Audi hooked her up to the computer to test drive the first four electrodes and she heard her Audi talking! She said it sounded far away which is normal but it sounded just like her hearing aid! This is an ear that she has never ever used a hearing aid and I am not allowed to divulge how long that has been :) Now she is antsy in the panties for activation! Thank goodness, my dear Audi didn't tease me like that!

Amy is another one with a February activation! Its the ears of the Aquarius :) She is slotted for the 12th. One more week to go girl!

Shari has become a candidate for a Cochlear Implant! (doing the wave) She is in the beginning process of picking out which brand of CI to get. I really like reading her blog because she is not only deaf, she suffers from Ushers which is a disease that causes progressive blindness but it offers a completely different perspective.

Jillian is a little one that will be having surgery tomorrow. Her mom has been fighting with the insurance company for quite some time to pay for the surgery and she finally got approval back in December! I got my fingers crossed Jilly!

Captioned Videos!

I must say I am tickled pink that I am starting to see a trickle of people showing interest to start adding captions on their vlogs which stands for "video log." Here is a few that have done it already and some with Overstream.net!

Seek Geo's is my favorite vlogger because he signs AND he captions his videos which helps someone like me who doesn't know how to sign. I have learned a lot just from watching him and I am looking forward to watching many more! I like the way he thinks too, he believes that everyone should respect one another! He is so entertaining to watch and is pretty easy on the eyes if you ask me :)

Jennifer , my bionic belle has captioned one of her activation videos! Go check her out, captions and all here

Val who is the mother of two adorable children with cochlear implant just posted a video with subtitles! Go check it out!

Mike McConnell at Kokonut Pundit has quickly become one of my favorite spitfire blogs to read. The southerner has become the first vlogger on Deafread to use his voice and not sign but he captions to make sure not one single person is going to miss what is being said. Some people are upset by this because he does know how to sign, I'm just slapstick happy that it is captioned!

Another blog I just discovered is at http://www.bluejeansguy.com/ which uses ASL and he has started captioning his vlogs!

If I forgot someone, shoot me an email and I'll revise this faster then you can learn to say "How are you?" in Urdu :)

I must end this post with paying homage to the NEW YORK GIANTS!!! Hopefully, the Giants will set the tune that the Yankees will march right to the World Series this year.