Sunday, July 27, 2008

A moment on the NYC Subway

Here I am, completely placing my faith on mass transportation to dump me approximately an hour and a half north in one piece, right into the Big Apple. A city that I have navigated at least a hundred times before. A city full of seemingly possessed cabbies complete with a touch screen GPS for our viewing pleasure. A city where you can get a massage where they whack you in the back with branches from a birch tree, takes in an over priced burlesque show and visit a Bedouin coffeehouse for a cup of the strongest java ever and a pipe full of fruity flavored Hookah all in the same night. You just cannot get this kind of action in the suburbs.

My cochlear implant just can't get this kind of stimulation in the suburbs either. New York is complete with never-ending supply of auditory stimulation from the hustle and bustle of eight million people with an influx of lord knows how many more. After two hours of being encapsulated in the good graces of the NJ Transit bus, they finally unleashed the fury of passengers in Port Authority of New York. I have been here before. The familiar smell of carbon dioxide and rotten eggs infiltrated my nostrils. I took a deep breath and sighed as I thought, "Ahh, good old New York hasn't changed it scent one bit." I hopped down the stairs, hugging the right side of the rail as I skillfully navigated myself towards the subway entrance. One needs skillful navigation to find the damn subway entrance but since I have graced just about every subway line from the 1 to the 7, the A to the G and all the others in between, I consider myself an intermediary expert in the art of understanding subway paths.

After swiping my MetroCard through the subway turnstile, I make my way through the underground sauna to catch the R train heading downtown. As I started my sweaty descent down the stairs to the subway platform, the irony of perfect timing brought a smile to my face as the R train comes rolling in with the hundreds of passengers beginning their evening commute home. I clutched my purse closely to my side and then with one swift step, I entered through the double doors of the train and scouted for an empty seat. With no such luck, I grabbed a hold the nearest pole and prepared my footing for jerky acceleration to the next stop.

Amidst the slight chatter, stench of massive BO and the metal rattling over every rail, I heard, "34th Street - Herald Square, Next stop - 28th Street"

I'm standing there perplexed, did I really just hear that? I turnaround to this young Asian girl when they started announcing the stops. She replies, "No speakie English." I apologized for bothering her. Then out of the corner of my eye, I felt this intense chemistry towards a very attractive, clean shaven man with piercing blue eyes in a grey suit with a pale blue shirt. I love a man in a suit. I figured what the hey, I tapped his shoulder and smiled coyly as I asked him when they started announcing the stops. He smiled revealing the most beautiful smile and chiseled jaw line. I decided I was in love right then and there. I had to ask him to repeat himself, not because I couldn't hear him but I was so smitten with him. He spoke with the most beautiful voice that I have ever heard, deep, smooth, and dreamy. He said, "They always have." Those three little words are forever etched in my memory. I managed to utter a thank you. My mind is running a thousand clever conversational icebreakers, and every single one of them was hindered by my timidness. He got off at the next stop. I watched my future husband walked away only to be embraced by the arms of another man. Figures, he's gay.

After I recovered from the heartbreak of my minute long unilateral love affair, I realized how astounded I was to be hearing all the stops being called out. I have never heard them! It answered so many questions of how my friends knew well ahead of time when to get off. I have cochlear implant moments every single day, but this moment was truly gratifying.

I get off Rectory Place and head towards Ground Zero to say a little prayer in memory of those that lost their lives on 9-11. After that, I walked back up towards Broadway with a little help from Google Maps application on my Blackberry Curve, I finally arrived at my destination ─ an hour and a half late. I rushed up the elevator and walked into the room. There was lovely Tina Childress standing there smiling. She asked me whether I was okay. I said, "I'm fine." I was more then fine. I was on a high about hearing the subway conductor announce the stops. There is something about the element of surprise that can really take you aback when you discover that you can hear something ─ that has always been there but not for you.

Here is others that are well on their way in having their own moments:

David went in this past Wednesday to have his other ear done. He is officially bilateral buddy! David is from Canada and they have universal health care, so bilateral recipients are rare. He really lucked out. However, because David had bacterial meningitis and the side effects can show up months or years later apparently, he had a thin membrane grow over a couple of electrodes of his first implant. Instead of 16, he is down to 11 which is fine because you only need 8 working electrodes (no matter the brand). With his past surgery, the surgeon was only able to get in 11 electrodes in due to ossification which is yet another side effect of bacterial meningitis. Please join me in wishing him nothing but the best for his upcoming activation! I love this mans attitude.

Deb, who is the owner of the CI-Clarion II Yahoo Group, had revision surgery this past Monday to replace a very old C1 implant with the latest Advanced Bionic HiRes90k implant. They had to go through the original incision, ouch! She came through like a real trooper after a six hour surgery! There weren't able to get all of the electrodes due to ossification, but she suspected that they wouldn't be able to going into the surgery. She will be activated August 4th (i think) and she will be back to being bilateral. :)

Shari has finally had her surgery this past Wednesday after being denied by United Healthcare whom is well known for denying CI surgeries. I'm glad to see they are coming around thanks to the persistence of Let Them Hear Foundation. Shari has Ushers Type 2 and a hearing loss. She actually had the hearing loss before she had Ushers. She seems to be coming along smoothly! I'm so happy for her!

Wendi had her simultaneous bilateral cochlear implant surgery this past Tuesday. She is only one of three people, Valerie being one, that I know that has opted to have them both done at the same time. Her surgery took only 2.5 HOURS for BOTH ears! That is it! It took 3 hours for one of mine! However, I am glad to report that she has no dizziness, a little bout of nauseousness and a little bit of taste disturbance. Otherwise, her recovery is a dream! I think I want her doctor next. :) Her activation is coming up on August 20th! I feel a special connection with her because our hearing loss history is so very similar that it is scary. She didn't lose her hearing altogether during a nose job surgery like I did but everything else lines up perfectly. I have a feeling she is going to do fantastic.

Karen had her surgery on Tuesday as well, just one ear though. Karen is a Type 1 Diabetic with an insulin pump. I was very happy from Laurie that she came through with flying colors. She was a little dizzy and nauseous but all of the electrodes are in! She is having a tough time recuperating but her darling husband is taking wonderful care of her! I'm not sure when her activation is. I'm so excited for her!

Amanda had her surgery on July 14th and her activation is August 12th. She is a sweet 14 year old girl that has been fighting for a cochlear implant for a very long time. She has never heard before in her life. She is going to find out just how noisy the world. Her stepmother is a former teacher of the deaf and does a wonderful job of taking videos of Amanda and captioning them. I can't wait to see how she reacts!

Jen was supposed to have her surgery last week but they had to post pone it to August 1st which is next Friday! I am sure she will be glad to get it done and over with.

Its been pretty busy around here! Gosh! :)


Valerie said...

"They always have" In our world it is new, raw and exciting.

The excitment of a CI moment is still strong even almost a year later. Not only does that give you independences, but it adds a special meaning to your world.

The first time I realized the elevator beeps at each floor and it beeps when it stops on the floor you are waiting on, it freed my mind to relax and just wait. I didn't have to use visual cues anymore. What a wonderful feeling.

I am so excited about our fellow CI buddies. May they recover quickly, hear beautiful sounds, and wow at CI moments.

C. said...

And I am SO amazed by each and every one of you. You are all my inspiration to quit whining and kiss the ground every morning for the little things and to breathe deep and drink long of this thing we call life.

PS - That scent of NY is one of my favorites, what can I say??!

David said...

Thanks again for all your warm words, kind comments and unbelievable support.
You are a rock!
And I am lucky to know you!
Your friend,


Alex said...


"Figured, he's Gay" LOL

You still have me!!! ;)

Excellent story and good example of what we go through. I remember first time i went on the subway, crazy times!!!


Tiffani Hill-Patterson said...

I love NY! Great post, Abbie. And thanks for visiting my blog. After your comment on the reading post I realized I had the TV on and that was probably the white noise you were hearing. I forgot to turn it off. :-)

Anonymous said...


You cracked me up about your heart thumping!!! thanks for the chuckles..

I would love to go to NYC just to experience it and go to Ground Zero to give my prayers as well to Central Park in the centre of "Imagine where John Lennon was killed.. Maybe you can be my tour guide lol.. smile

have a great evening,

Anonymous said...

I love your many CI moments! And the not-so-related-to-CI-moments, too!

So glad the smells of the underground weren't the only things stimulating your sensory organs.

Shari said...

Aww, I'm sure you recovered from your unrequited heart-break. "He's gay." I remember a phrase: Men are like parking spaces. All the good ones are taken.

That was a long hassle with the insurance company. LTHF was only going to help me if it were an insurance exclusion, so I went with another source. Details later.

Wow. There were a lot of CI surgeries going on all over the place. It will be fun to share our journeys together.

VBnBama said...

Sorry about your loss with the unilateral love affair..."it is better to have loved and lost...." you know the saying.
you are so funny!

Christian and Lily's Mommy said...

Abbie-Thanks so much for your insight! It really helps me understand Christian's experience too.

Regarding your love affair on the subway, I have a theory that most of the nice guys in NYC are gay :)

Yana said...

You were in the neighborhood and did not stop by to say hi? Bad Bionic Woman! :)

Yes, they announce the stations and on most trains, they display them on a monitor. I am so used to the messages, that I rely entirely on them to know where I get off. Pretty cool!

Anonymous said...

What a coincidence! My coworkers & I had a team-building event two days ago where we rode the Metro Green Line & a bus to California Science Center in downtown L.A. to view Body Worlds 3. It was the first time I ever rode the Metro subway and I heard "Next stop - Hawthorne Blvd." for the first time. My eyes widened and I was thrilled. I can relate, Abbie...

On another note, we got off at the "Harbor Freeway Transit" subway exit and waited for a bus. There were concrete overpasses above us and I commented that I would not want to be there during an earthquake. I had no idea that one would hit in 24 hours!

Lori (Loreene from

Anonymous said...

visit me on naruto episode

Jennifer Bruno Conde said...

Thanks for including Amanda, Abbie. I hope she has similar CI moments to your subway journey, minus your unilateral one minute affair with the gay guy.