Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Download my HLAA Magazine Article.

As I mentioned here, I have written an article for the May/June issue of the Hearing Loss Magazine which is now available to download! You can click on the picture to go to Cindy Dyer's blog to download the PDF file. This is my first published article and I am so excited to share this with you all! I can't wait to hear your thoughts!

Monday, April 28, 2008

New Website Layout!

Do you ever get the sudden urge to revamp a room? I have painted my living room at least five times since I have been living here. It is sad, but I lost count. With the way the economy is going right now, I decided to hold on to my piggy bank and revamp my blog instead. A much cheaper alternative. :)

Besides, it was brought to my attention that several of my readers had a hard time reading with the black background and I want absolutely no one left out of my rants and ravings. Since I am a little mini web-mistress, I decided to reap the benefits of my skills and cook up something that was a little more user-friendly. While I was doing this, I did some research to see what I can do to make my blog blind accessible. From what I learned, the main content should be on the left because the screen readers are on the right. I tried finding suggestions for color schemes and the answers I got were vague. I would appreciate any suggestions on what I can do to make this more accessible..

I don't bite. Really, I don't!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Calling all my bionic buddies!

Rally around the table, everyone!

If you all would go over to Brianna's Journey, Brianna's mom created this blog because Brianna is having bilateral cochlear implant surgery this coming Tuesday and she needs support, especially from moms that have been there. Would you mind popping over there and dropping a few words of wisdom? I would really totally appreciate it!

Christian over at Live*Laugh*Love just had his first cochlear implant surgery this past Monday and the lil cutie patootie come through with flying colors! He has that kind of face that just melts your heart. He is going to be breaking hearts when he gets older, I can see it already! His activation is slated for May 27th!

David over at Life in a Cone Of Silence had his surgery on April 8th and he set for activation on May 1st! The resilience of this man, unbelievable. Whatever cards he is dealt he shuffles them right out.


I love the smell of activations in the air, it brings back memories. :)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

My Hearing History

This post is going to right back to the beginning of time – my time at least. I am going to answer the ever-popular question about my hearing history. It has come to my attention that I have been vague about my hearing loss history and that is going to be cleared up... right now!

*slaps hand on desk* :)

My little hearing biography starts in the womb.

  • My mother was hospitalized with pneumonia during her first trimester and was given antibiotics. I have no clue what kind of antibiotics they were.
  • When I was a year old, I contracted E. coli, which brought on 106-degree fever. I was hospitalized for three weeks.
  • When I was two years old, I became sick with a high fever. I was hospitalized. Again. This time diagnosed with Anemia. I required two blood transfusions and a three week stay at the lovely Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. This is the year that I started talking and have not shut up since.
  • When I was three years old, somebody gave me the year off because nothing major happened. :)
  • When I was four years old, my grandfather had a slight noise induced hearing loss, so everyone would talk loud. But when he passed away my parents started talking normally. I kept turning the TV up louder and louder. I kept coming down with reoccurring tonsillitis and ear infections but that is not all, my hearing loss was finally detected and I was fitted with a pair of Widex analog hearing aids. In addition to my parents being told I had a hearing loss, they were also told I was mentally retarded. Nice, right? My parents sought a second opinion and it was confirmed that a hearing loss was my only problem. At this age, I was able to equate my hearing loss with my grandfather passing away by saying “my ears died a little like pop-pop.” After that, hospitals and dying was one and the same for me.

To sum it up: I am pre-lingually deafened and no one had any idea what caused my loss because it could have been half a dozen things and one of the other. A psychic did tell me that she felt I was born with a loss (and I didn't utter a word nor did I ask anything about my hearing loss.)

*** See update at the bottom of the post.

  • When I was five years old, I was hospitalized and had my tonsils removed. I was surprised when I woke up that I still had that hangy ball thing in the back of the throat.

Audiogram: 5 yrs old showing moderate sloping to severe hearing loss.

  • I managed to stay relatively healthy for the next couple of years; it must have been all those green vegetables. When I was ten or eleven years old, I stopped wearing a hearing aid in my left ear because it sounded like I was under water and Darth Vader was talking to me.This is the year that tinnitus started but it lessened as the years went on.
  • When I was 16 or 17, I went through DVR and managed to squeeze a Siemens digital hearing aid out of them. It was an improvement but it broke down a lot. There was no significant change to my hearing but to my know it all attitude was a different story. :)
  • Around 21-22 years old, I started to experience these episodes of tinnitus or whatever the heck it was. It would sound like everything was underwater. At first, I would go to sleep with an episode and wake up fine. As the years went on, the tinnitus episodes started increasing in frequency and lasting longer.

Audiogram: 17 yrs old showing severe to profound hearing loss.

  • By the time I was 26, I was up to having an episode once a month for sometimes as long as two weeks.The strangest things brought them on, a strange movement on my jaw, landing hard on my feet and the cold.I stopped chewing on hard candy, attempted to walk softly (which was difficult because I am like a cow in a china shop wearing heels) and wrap myself up in dozens of scarves.Nothing worked.I abstained from coffee, tea, salt, sugar and my favorite, RED WINE. Do you have any idea how hard it was for me to abstain from drinking crushed grapes?! Staying away from all the good stuff near drove me in the ground but it had no effect on my tinnitus. It came and went as it pleased.
Audiogram 26 yrs old with severe to profound hearing loss.
  • In February 2007, I decided to have surgery to repair a deviated septum and upon waking up in the recovery room, I had tinnitus so loud that I could not hear anything. I was completely deaf. My hearing stayed that way for the next seven months. You can read about that day here.

Audiogram after the deviated septum Surgery

Note: This isn't the most neatest audiogram ever because it was a sloppy Audi.

  • In August 27, 2007, I had surgery to receive a cochlear implant. When I woke up, the tinnitus was gone. Hallelujah! I was able to hear subtle little sensations of sound through my hearing aid like my dog barking and dishes clanking but it was something!
  • On September 17, 2007, they flipped the switch and it has been amazing ever since.

Audiogram: Pink line is five weeks post activation with the CI.

I currently wear the cochlear implant on the left side with a Siemens Triano SP hearing aid on my right. My hearing aid is programmed to the max. I cannot have the volume all the way up because I experience sharp shooting pains in my ear. I don't hear anything substantial from my HA except for noise. Why do I wear it then? It keeps the tinnitus at bay and brings a sense of hearing in stereo. I can understand much more with the cochlear implant without the HA on.

You will graphically see as I provided that when I was tested for CI, I bombed every single test with my left ear – zero’s across the board. Quite pathetic I know but what did you expect from an ear with no stimulation for over 15 years.

A month after my CI activation, I was plopped in the soundproof jail and I scored an average 44% on sentences in quiet. The harder test is the words which I scored 8% on, but I managed to score 33% on the phonemes. I get points for phonemes because that means I was able to guess part of the word. For example, the man in the speaker said tick and I said kick – I get points for ick. :)

Five months after activation, I got stuck in the jail again and I scored an average of 79% in sentences in quiet which was well – a 79% improvement. :) My audiologist Jennifer decided that I progressed enough to do the HINT (Hearing in Noise Test) test. She gave me the +10 HINT which means the voices was raised 10dB above the noise and I scored a pathetic 34% on that. Now my one year mapping results – I scored 79% on the sentences in quiet which is not a major improvement from my last test, but I was never one of those people that was aiming for 100% because all I wanted to was to hear something. I feel that I perform much better in real life and the following tests scores prove that. These are the result of the +10 Hint – 74% which is a great improvement from my last score of 34%. My audiologist decided to give me the hardest test – the +5 HINT test which means the voices is raised 5dB above the noise and I scored – 65% :)

Some of you might go, you went through surgery and got your head cut open and you can’t even get over 80% comprehension in quiet! When it comes down to it, I didn’t get the cochlear implant to hit hundred percent in a soundproof booth; I got it to gain anything over zero percent. I was happy with the 44% a month after activation and I am happy with 80% now. However, in all actuality these test scores do not reflect how I feel that I perform in real life. I can see how well I perform just by what I am picking up.

*** UPDATE ***

On December 23rd, 2008, I was diagnosed with Enlarged Vestibular Aqueduct Syndrome.

To be updated...

Friday, April 18, 2008

Flirting with Electricity

You might not know this but I am one of those tool belt divas. As a child, I preferred to play with my Roy Toy log cabin building set over my cabbage patch dolls any day. The process of creating or building always took precedent to whether or not Barbie was pissed off at Ken that day for not stopping and getting gas for the pink convertible.

To fuel my constructive fire was none other then my father who was once a master carpenter. He took me under his wing and taught me a few tricks of the trade that has been stored in my noggin amongst other stuff. :) Besides that, being a single woman with the power of Google at her fingertips, access to all the how-to tutorials is just a click of a button away, I have managed to stock up on some crafty knowledge over the years.

For the past couple of years my mother has complained that the fluorescent light in my bathroom emits this highly annoying buzzing sound. I never heard it so I contributed it to my mother hearing things instead of my inability to hear. :) Amazingly, when I got my cochlear implant I realized she wasn’t suffering from auditory hallucinations, the light really does buzz like a bitch.

Well, buzzy stopped working about three weeks ago. I’m not a princess by any means but I have a hard time functioning in the morning without some source of illumination. Since I am handy around the house my first thought was bulb blew. I took the old one to Home Depot and matched it up with a new one. I came home popped in it – Viola, it worked!

Three days later, it stopped working.

I kick start the process of deductive reasoning which led me to the possibility of a bad ballast (this thing that makes fluorescent light start, kind of resembles a big old bug). As it turns out, it takes just 20 minutes of your time and a quick trip to Home Depot to fix it. I was hesitant at first to replace the ballast – because it means messing with electrical wires.

Electricity + Cochlear Implant = The outcome can't be good.

The possibility of frying my mapping off the implant didn't sit well with me, actually the idea of being fried period didn't sit so well with me either . Therefore, I exercised extreme caution – I turned off the electricity off to whole house. Of course I had to do it when my mother was watching a movie that she has been waiting thirty some odd years to see. Whoops. I got down to business and dilly-dallied with the wires, a little cutting and stripping here and there. It was very simple: white-to-white, black-to-black, blue-to-blue and red to red. In the end, when I flipped the switch, it worked!

A week later, it stopped working.

I am getting tired of playing this game. I strapped my tool belt back on and waddled to Home Depot to pick up some switches and wire nuts. I decided to replace all three switches for esthetic purposes. I shut off power to the entire house again and started to rip the switches out of the wall and replace them – one by one. I screwed everything back together, turned the power back on and flipped the switch and my goodness gracious, great balls of fire I got light!!!

Now my outlet in my living room does not work :)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

DBC Rally at the AGB Convention in California

In this post you can see that I strongly disapprove Alexander Graham Bell oral only perspective. I believe in offering different methods of communication, the more the merrier I say. Thanks to Linda Slavick, she provided us with a video of the DBC (Deaf Bilingual Coalition) Rally in Milpitas, CA, the same one that Michael Chorost and Josh Swiller attended. There is no audio but watching this certainly portrays the passion of the people. Between the time 1:40 and 2:40 shows Josh and Mike speaking at the convention emphasizing that "we should be be working together" because we go through life facing the same adversities.

Monday, April 14, 2008

I have been tagged! :)

Valarie over at Tales of a CI Gal tagged me today! Now its my turn to tag someone, here are the rules.

1. The rules of the game get posted at the beginning.
2. Each player answers the questions about themselves.
3. At the end of the post, the player tags 5 people and posts their name, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they've been tagged and asking them to read your blog.

I have to answer questions and people I tag have to answer the same questions, so here I go.

What was I doing 10 years ago:
Lets see here, ten years ago would place me in my senior year of high school. Oy! Has it really been that long?!

Five Snacks I enjoy:
In a perfect, non weight-gaining world
1. Swedish Fish
2. Mocha Cappuccino blast from Dunkin Donuts
2. Soft pretzels with cheese (no salt)
3. Snickers
4. Nachos with velvetta

In the real world:
1. Dates
2. Sugar-free cherry Jello with whip cream
3. Strawberries
4. Pumpkin with whip cream and sprinkles of Graham cracker crust
5. Rice cakes

Things I would do if I were a billionaire:
1. Start my own business to create employment opportunities.
2. Contribute to charities and create scholarships.
3. Buy Jimmy Choo shoes :)

Five jobs that I have had:
1. Computer technician
2. Network Admin
3. Bookkeeper
4. Saleswoman
5. McDonald's oh so wonderful customer service rep.

Three of my habits:
1. Shoes
2. Power tools
3. Lip gloss

Five place I have lived:
1. New Jersey
2. New Jersey
3. New Jersey
4. I lived in a cabin for a weekend in northern New Jersey.
5. and the last one is New Jersey.

Add one new part, What do you want others to get from your blog:
I want people to see the world through my eyes, however quirky they may be and leave with a such of comfort, knowledge or a new found perspective.

Five People I Want to Get to Know Better: (a nice way of saying TAG!) But don't feel obligated! Just do it if you want to.
1. http://stereophonicbionic.blogspot.com/
2. http://djembeslappin.blogspot.com
3. http://www.seekgeo.com/
4. http://jimspoliticalthoughts.blogspot.com/
5. http://livelaughlovefamily.blogspot.com/

Monday, April 07, 2008

Cover Girl for Hearing Loss Magazine

I'm going to pull my hair out if I don't tell someone! I can’t keep this a secret anymore! I am going to blow a fuse if I do!

The HLAA’s (Hearing Loss Association of America) magazine, Hearing Loss is going to feature yours truly! This is going to be my first cover shot AND my first article published!! It will be coming out around May!

I feel much better now that I let the cat out of the bag! :)

This weekend, I had a photo shoot with the most AMAZING photographer name Cindy Dyer! She is a creative genius and an absolute joy to be around! Go check out her blog here, which features a taste of her captivating portfolio of beautiful photographs. She really knows how to capture the emotion of her subjects. I’m definitely adding her to my Rolodex. :)

Here are the pictures from the photo shoot that Cindy took! I still can't believe she made me look like that! Someone pinch me! Please feel free to drop some comments over at her blog!!!

Somebody pinch me please!