Saturday, JUNE 28, 2008
10 A.M. TO 6 P.M. at
1245 Old Freehold Road, Toms River, New Jersey
FREE Admission & Parking
EXHIBITS Open From 10 am to 5 pm
Professional Entertainment Show starts at 3 pm till 5 pm
Have a great weekend. : )
The hotel shuttle bus whisked me away from the landing field of hell to the magnificent Grand Sierra Hotel in
I was just so happy to see her because this reaffirmed why i wanted to come to
The next scene had Laurie and I standing in front of our hotel room. I got so excited that I started shaking. She swipes the card and opens the door and I gasped. I gasped at the sheer sophistication that the room was adorned in; the decor, the color, the ambiance lighting. It was all very Wang ─ Vera Wang that is. Music played in the background. Okay, I lied. It was my tinnitus. :) I peeked into the bathroom and it was all marble, mirrors and mood lighting. My eyes got wider as I took one look at the all glass shower stall and immediately thought how novel to have one of them in our suite. Why you ask? That is simple because seeing me naked first thing in the morning is the next best thing to coffee. One look at me in my birthday suit can scare a buzzard off a shit wagon.
Laurie decided to let me rest and relax for a few by joining some other HLAA members for dinner. I had this insatiable desire to wash off the LA smog and stir-fry stench of me but I wanted to stop and take a moment to appreciate the view that my wall-to-wall window had to offer. I watched the sun start to make its glowing descent silhouetting the rolling hills. A snappy little jingle from Fresh Prince of Bel Air popped into my head and this time, it was not my tinnitus.
I pulled up to the house at bout seven or eight,
I yelled to the cabbie 'Yo home, smell ya later!'
I looked at my kingdom,
I was finally there!
To sit on my throne as the prince(ss) of Bel-Air!
I chuckle to myself, I had been up for just about forty hours and I had no plans on slowing down any time soon. How could I? I was so overjoyed that I made it to
And just in the nick of time, Laurie came back to the room just as I finished getting ready. We headed down to Starbucks to get me a
caffeine IV iced latte and wait for the entire Advanced Bionics group to come through. Unbeknownst to us, they were all waiting out in front of Starbucks while Laurie and I sat in this quaint little seating area. After ten minutes of them standing out there, Jennifer inquired about our whereabouts via text and we finally found each other. The first person I saw was Jennifer who was six feet of pure southern joy! Her unbelievable and endearing personality coupled with genuinely beautiful smile was so welcoming in this city of strangers. This was the first time we met in person but it didn't feel that way, it was like welcoming an old friend home. We hit it off fantastically and this was only the first night. :)
Then came, Mike Royer who is another CI user who is downright hysterical and a pretty sensitive and emotional guy. The flood of people just kept coming; Gloria Garner, Tina Childress, Wayne Roorda, Sheila Adams, Debra McClendon and her boyfriend Brian, Judy Wagner, Kim Brownen and her husband Michael and Nanci Linke-Ellis,. I was in contact with just about every single one of these people all through out my cochlear implant research and evaluation. The time that they spent answering any of my questions or concerns is wholeheartedly appreciated and meeting them meant the world to me. I think I mentioned everyone that I met that night but if I have forgotten anyone, please shoot me an email!
We were getting rowdy in Starbucks and Tina had a bright idea to move to a table by the bar! Yeah, my kind of woman! :) I must have told my first flight story a dozen times. By the sixth time, I had the worlds smallest Appletini in my hand and I was starting to find the humor in my story. For the biggest little city in the whole world,
As the night wore on, the group started to thin out and gravitate to their hotel rooms. Mike's bright blue CI cap must have been knocked off somehow because I noticed it was nestled close to the stem of my martini glass. That is when I decided to be mischievous. I snapped a picture of the cap and sent it to Mike’s blackberry via picture message along with a ransom note. My roguish attempt was foiled because the blackberry he has does not accept picture messages. Rats.
Jen and I decided to self-tour the hotel ourselves. With our two legs propelling us every step of the way, we discovered how sleek and elegant this hotel really was until we hit the bowling alley's women bathroom.The pale blue flower power wallpaper, the red pleather loveseat and the bright orange tile with matching grout blasted our sensitive little corneas with a blast from the past. I waited for the disco ball to be lowered from the ceiling and bellbottom jeans to be thrown at our face. We left our elegant feeling in the bathroom of the bowling alley.
It was getting late, it was one o'clock in the morning but we was still running on Eastern Standard Time. That means it was three in the morning for Jen and four for me. We decided to go up to the room. Jennifer let us in the door and she began to tiptoe across the carpet because she did not want to wake Laurie up. I started laughing and that caused her to freeze as if she were a deer caught in headlights. I’m known for stating the obvious and this was no exception since Laurie cannot hear, just like us. I couldn’t help but laugh but Jen was so cute about it! I admit that it took some getting used to because I am always trying to being considerate of others when they are sleeping because I don’t want to wake them up. However, I am like a cow in a china shop and it is inevitable that I will stub my toe on the edge of the bed or my shin will hit an open drawer or my foot will find one of my dog’s squeaky rubber toys. My point is that it takes hard work for me to be that quiet and it is a welcome reprieve when I don’t have to because I am less likely to harm myself in the process.
After we got ready for bed, Jennifer and I gabbed until three o’clock in the morning. We obviously had a lot to talk about :) All of this happened and the convention hasn’t even started yet!
To be continued!!!
Wow, I had an amazing time in
For those who might be unaware or new to this blog, I have never flown prior to June 11th 2008. I have always been afraid to fly ever since a doctor told me that I could lose the rest of my hearing and obviously this a moot point now. What was stopping me? A little thing called spiraling out of control, crashing and burning was stopping me. I consider myself extra special precious cargo and my life and every single second of it are invaluable. The unfathomable idea of ascending 40,000 feet in the air coupled with the fact that I am still a mortal being, a bionic mortal being, but a mortal being nevertheless did not bode well for my central nervous system. I was so anxious that I had to have my wonderful friend, Alex who is a Southwest employee talk me through every single step of the entire purchase process. After two hours of whining, I finally clicked the purchase button but not before an ounce of sweat oozed from my body. In alcoholic terms, this might have not been a bad thing but there was nothing potable about sweat unless you are a vegetarian.
Every time that someone even talked to me about getting on that plane, my palms would start sweating and my breathing would become labored. It wasn’t pretty. There isn’t many things that can send me into a full-blown panic attack but flying was one of them. I managed to keep myself busy to avoid actually thinking about it. I had everything planned out. I had maps. I had boarding passes. I had the security protocols. I had carry-on and checked baggage requirements. I was fully prepared for anything or so I thought.
I went to work on Tuesday and I left a couple of hours early because I had to leave my house at 2:30 am to make my 5:30am plane out of
It was 2:30 in the morning and I gave my mom and my dog a hug like it was the last time I was ever going to hug them. Perhaps I was a bit melodramatic but I was having a hell of a time suppressing this horrible sinking feeling that something was going to go wrong. Regardless I trekked on with the ultimatum because if I can get a cochlear implant, I can get on a damn plane to go to this HLAA convention because this is something that I needed to do for my own personal enrichment. Since I wasn’t going to cancel, I did the next best thing, I cried the whole way to the airport.
I cried just about the whole way, an hour and a half to the airport, tears streaming down my cheek effortlessly and my nose producing plenty of olfactory lubrication. I realized what I forgot to pack ─ Kleenex.
Once I pulled myself into the economy parking lot, I told myself I could do this, just get out of the damn car and do this. After all the chances of being in a car crash on the way to the airport is much greater than an airplane crashing. Did you all know that? I knew it and I did not give a rat’s ass.
I whimpered as I got out and grabbed my luggage. I turned around in circles viewing the 6,000 some odd parking spaces for the shuttle. I saw something in the distance that looked like a bus stop. I ominously walked towards it. Once in the airport, I had no time to dwell on the morbid images freely flowing though my noggin. I had to check in my luggage, get the boarding pass, go through security, Purelled the bottom of my feet and find the gate. Note to self: wear socks next time.
They started to call people by rows but I could not hear the lovely agent of Continental Airlines because she felt the need to hide behind a wall and while she spewed out the numbers. This did not bode well for the deaf one here. So I found myself frantically glancing people's tickets to see if their row matched my row. Lucky be a lady and as it just so happened, a woman next to me had the same row. I followed her when she got up, presented my first official boarding pass to the agent and motioned me towards a dank cavern. I walked cautiously down the hall clearly showing my inexperience with rolling luggage...
I found my seat and I stuffed my 10 pairs of shoes in the overhead. I looked out the window and gasped at the sheer size of the wing. I started to get antsy because I wanted to get this show in the sky. They played a video that revealed all the important stuff like where the oxygen mask and life preservers were housed. How nice of them to caption it on a monitor the size of a CD case. I could hardly see the captioning!
We started moving and so did my blood pressure. I began to perform my self-taught by television Lamaze breathing techniques at this point. The jet roared its engines and sped down the runway and all of the sudden, there was no road noise. This was not so bad. My golly, we were flying! Land ahoy!
Five minutes later, I heard chimes and then the pilot made an announcement over the speakerphone. Mind you, I did not catch the entire announcement but I have all of you know that us deaf people are pretty damn good at piecing together the context of a sentence if words are missing. I am going to poll you people and let us see what you get when you hear just these words.
sorry - plane - mechanical problems - Philly - 15 minutes
I'll even give you a couple minutes to mull it over... If you guessed that there was a mechanical problem with the plane and we must had to back to Philly and ETA is 15 minutes, my god my good people, you are absolutely correct! I can’t make this stuff up.
But wait, it gets better! I am counting every single second to avoid hyperventilating; I noticed the pilot was just circling over the
cannot - land - plane - divert - accommodate -
Alrighty then, the pilot could not land the plane in
If I was pregnant, I think I would have gone into labor right then and there. I was freaking out. I hide it well but I was on the verge of tears but I had none left after the hour and half long crying episode on the way to the airport. This was the beginning of a nightmare. I had a strange thought in my head: maybe I misunderstood the pilot. I’ve been known to misunderstand people especially over speakerphones. I decided to ask the cowboy with the alligator cowboy hat and a beer belly the size of
“Ma’am is this your first flight?” He asked.
“Yep.” I said through a deep breath.
He starts to laugh revealing his tobacco-stained teeth. I don’t think he wasn’t in a hurry to tend to the cattle back home in
Once we got to
The plane was ready and I was in no particular hurry to get back on the plane. I was one of the last one to board and once I sat down, I buckled my seatbelt and we take off ─ again! I kept peering out my window that was fit for a dollhouse trying to recall the rate of acceleration of a falling object just in case something went wrong, I wanted to have ample time to say my prayers. My eyes must have refueled themselves because every time I looked out my window I would start to cry. I think if a good healthy dose of Xanax were offered to me, I would have snatched it up by the bottle. Actually, any bottle would have been good.
I cannot make this stuff up. I board the plane and I had the unfortunate experience of sitting next to two individuals that reeked of rice vinegar. When I finally got to
I discovered quickly how
I had to go through the whole security scan again with taking my shoes off. I am a little anal about where I put my feet. I ran to the nearest bathroom and doused my feet and its ten pigs with Purell. While I was in there, I decided to wash my face and pretty myself up for
I was clearly wrong. We got on board and I didn’t even take a look at the plane as I was walking up the steps. I took a seat to the window and took a look to my right and I saw PROPELLERS! Big ol' black honking PROPELLERS! I was on a friggen PROPELLER PLANE.
My nerves were officially shot at this point. To make matters worse, the pilot was an honorary a tour guide. All I heard him say that this was a beautiful scenic route and I flipped my CI off. I was not the least bit interested in him selling me snow peaked mountains and rugged terrain that we could just spiral down into and no one would know how to find us. How I managed NOT to have a panic attack, one will never know. After him flying over the
Finally, I arrived in
Later on that evening, I met a guy from
This is going to be super short because I am in a hurry to get sleep before my first flight ever that leaves before the roosters are crowing. I am one hot bionic tamale! It is a rarity that the east coast gets plagued with 104-degree days and it is even more disgusting when the humidity is at 99.99%. Lucky for me, I am en route to
Lucky for you eastern coasties, the heat will break tonight or tomorrow...
Next post I write will be written from the biggest little city in the world! :)
Well, this afternoon I got a little surprise in my email from a fellow blogger name Rachel Chaikof of Cochlear Implant Online informing me that DeafRead editors have removed her blog from their aggregator website. Before I continue let me give you a little background information. In 1989, when she was just two years old, Rachel became one of the first children to receive a cochlear implant when the FDA clinical trials on them. She is now 21 years old and bilateral success story. Obviously, she has a lifetime of experience with a cochlear implant and a tremendous amount of information to offer from a unique perspective: growing up with a cochlear implant. She continually presses the ever-important issue of how crucial AVT (Auditory Verbal therapy) is to a child that has gotten implanted young. In my opinion, this is probably the best informative blog for parents of a deaf child considering a CI that a cochlear implant is not instantaneous miracle. It takes work for it to work!
I ran over to see her post: DeafRead chooses to remove CI Online from their site!
I received an e-mail from DeafRead editors saying that Cochlear Implant Online can no longer be on DeafRead simply because I am a Cochlear Awareness Network volunteer member, and they think that my website is a COMMERCIAL website. They clearly stated in their e-mail that I am “employed as a volunteer” which makes absolutely NO sense! They stated that I am violating this policy:
I went over to see the policy (by the way DR editors, you spelled commercial wrong, twice)
6) Commerical Sites
We do not link to commerical sites for the purpose of generating profit, other than our own (we have expenses to cover!).
Then Tayler,who is a DeafRead editor decides to post this entry: Blogs disclosing professional relationships earns trust
I quote him on this:
To be clear, blogs can carry advertisements outside the entry. We understand the need to make ends meet. However, product promotion of any type cannot exist in the entry itself. This is different from a neutral blogger who, for example, is reviewing a product.
I did a simple search on Rachel’s site concentrating on entries and found not one entry mentioning Cochlear Awareness Network.
Then I wondered what the difference was between Bionic Ear Association, which is Advanced Bionics volunteer support group that I am a proud member of and Cochlear America’s volunteer driven support group, Cochlear Awareness Network. So, I did me a little research!
The Bionic Ear Association (BEA) is a FREE support network available to CI recipients, candidates, and families! Advanced Bionics understands that choosing a cochlear implant for yourself or your child is a decision that affects the rest of your life.
The mission of the BEA is to improve the quality of life of those impacted by hearing loss through cochlear implant education, awareness, mentoring, and support for recipients, candidates, families, and their support network (educators, therapists, clinicians). We are committed to an environment of friendliness, empathy, experience, integrity, and spirit for our members.
The Cochlear Awareness Network (CAN) is a group of committed volunteers who are either Cochlear implant recipients or Cochlear Baha recipients. Each and every one of them has had their lives changed through either receiving a Cochlear implant or a Cochlear Baha.
Their role is that of an ambassador, talking about their experience in the hope of bringing hearing to more people than ever before. They offer support, but not advice. They share their knowledge, but they are not medical professionals. The volunteers are not employees of Cochlear™ and participate in these activities in their own time.
They are both free and volunteer based support groups that offer support and raise awareness about cochlear implant.
Since I am a BEA volunteer for the Bionic Ear Association and a mentor for CI candidates because I genuinely LOVE making sure that someone understand all aspects of what a CI entails.. The amount of time that I dedicate to my own blog not to mention all of the blogs I read, the comments I write, the forums I frequent, the emails I reply to and not too mention, the research I keep up on only contributes to my own satisfaction that I am helping someone.
Now I have a minor issue with this stupefied decision to pull Rachel’s blog off of DeafRead because they think it is a commercial website and she is a “employed volunteer.” That is a trope of all tropes. I think it is preposterous that someone has to disclose his or her personal affiliations to free support groups in order to be part of a simple aggregator’s website. The lot of us did not create our blogs solely for the sake of being on DeafRead. I created MY blog for my own personal accord and to share with others that are curious and considering a CI. I do not contribute the success of my blog to a website that just collects deaf related blogs! The only thing that DeafRead has done is introduced me a panoptic variety of different degrees of deafness that for the most part, I am extremely thankful for.
This begs the question of what is the difference between Rachel sharing her story and experiences on her own personal blog and me sharing my story and experiences on mine; all the while, we have personal NOT professional affiliations to our chosen cochlear implant company volunteer based support groups? How can you, Deafread editors, even begin to prove that Rachel makes a profit off because of her personal affiliation with Cochlear Awareness Network? You can’t! I want to see proof right now to substantiate your decision to remove her blog! While I am at it, I am going to tell you just how Rachel profits the same way I profit: when I get a tearful email for just offering words of encouragement, a post dedicated to my unselfish support , a heartfelt comment just for writing what I write. That right there DeafRead editors is worth more than any commercially made greeting card.
This is a poorly executed decision lacks not one shred of evidence. The fact that your vague attempt to show your moral fiber in the last paragraph of your post Tayler is circumstantial at best.
To be a responsible and ethical blogger, one must reveal any commercial affiliation. Not to do so jeopardizes the credibility of the whole blog and DeafRead. The lack of transparency also violates the trust of DeafRead viewers.
Neither Rachel or I make no bones about what brand of implants we chose which is posted all over our entries. I mean for goodness sakes, look at the title to our blogs! Common sense editors!!!
If its disclosure you want, disclosure you get.
I’m a BEA volunteer and a mentor for Advanced Bionics.
I’m a member of the Hearing Loss Association of America.
I’m MCSE (Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer) for Microsoft Corporation.
I’m a member of the following social networking sites which are all considered commercial: Facebook and MySpace
I affiliate myself with Shop Rite, A&P, PathMark and Stop-N-Shop by their customer appreciation cards!
Hell, I sell commercially made cookies for Girl Scouts of America!
How is that for full disclosure DeafRead editors!?
Blog list pertaining to this:
This is just my luck to get sick for the first time in over a year a WEEK before my vacation. Now of all times, my immune system decides to take a break and roll out the red carpet to the little ghosties and beasties to invade my body causing it to wreck havoc. My throat is resonating a teenage boy going through puberty and my nose is working overtime excreting some leftover science experiment that has obviously gone awry. With the clock ticking away, I decided to take care of this issue ASAP. I had to go to the doctor, the primary care person, the one in the white coat, the one that can write out a prescription for powerful drugs to nip my little medical malady in the bud. I decided to stay home today from my sunny little cubicle and make the appointment
I arrive at my doctors building armed with an appointment at 4:45pm EST. I haven’t been here in a while but I still know the procedure like the back of my hand.
With my bottom lip sticking out further than normal, I start to daydream about strolling through the middle of a desert in Reno on a Segway in a glittery dress made of shiny nickels and with matching cowboy boots hooked up to an oxygen tank picking Marigolds from the cactuses.
“Abbie?” the receptionist called.
I never said I was sane but I would never even dream of daydreaming in a doctor’s office of all places before my cochlear implant. I was always focused on watching the nurses every step to see if I was the next patient. I hated getting that look. You know that look of, “Yoo-hoo! I just called your name lady, I don’t have all day here!” Now I can daydream about highlighting the Smurfs lovely blue locks with blond streaks all I want!
I relocated myself to the examination room where I was questioned about my symptoms. Before I managed to get out three syllables, it was clear to the nurse why I was there. The sound of my voice caused her brows to furrow. She became uncomfortable and anxious to get out of the room. Hell I would to if I had someone sitting next to that sounded like Kermit croaking. She skedaddled out of the room as soon as she scribbled all three of my symptoms down on a sheet of paper.
I leaned my non-implanted side up against a cabinet and pouted some more. It was a short-lived lean because the man with the white coat came walking into the room. This doctor is part of the practice. He was the same doctor that filled out my medical history papers for my CI surgery. He did not have much knowledge of my history and he was pretty much relying on me. I think he would have written down anything I said to him. I should have seen if he would have written down that I hailed from the
He glanced over at my direction; we exchanged optical salutations as he reviewed my extensive list of symptoms. He tells me to jump up on the examination table. I have a silly little fear that I would cause a small earthquake if I jumped up onto anything so I decided to slide right up on it. He takes the little black ear flashlight and shines it down my throat. He nods affirmatively. What was he nodding at? Who knows! I don’t think that hanging ball thing in the back of my throat talked. He moves over to my right ear that houses my hearing aid and I promptly remove it for him. He takes a gander and asks if I ever went through that surgery at Philly. I nodded as much as one could nod with a flashlight in their ear.
“So the cochlear transplant works?” he said.
Ay dio mios! Images flashed through my head where I was laying on an operating table with an open cooler alongside of me revealing a tiny cochlea embedded into an ice cube.
“Implant! I didn’t get a new cochlea from a cadaver down in the morgue, I just got computer put in my head that helps me hear.” I smiled in jest.
“Oh I dont know anything about that stuff.”
No kidding Doc. I decide to educate the man that spent 100,000 dollars on medical school about cochlear implants. He was so not amused by my little show and tell of my cochlear implant system. It was more showing than telling because I lost my voice halfway through my lecture.
Since the doctor ran out of holes to shine his little flashlight in, I hopped off the table and took a seat. I apparently have a sinus infection and laryngitis and his course of action is to zap them with antibiotics!
If this doesn’t work, I’m resorting to doing shots of cod liver oil and orange juice.
Copyright © 2008 - CHRONICLES OF A BIONIC WOMAN