Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Hearing the Ocean for the First Time

Later that evening, Jen and I went to Point Pleasant Beach. I grew up with some strong nautical family ties to the ocean. I grew up with the beach at my doorstep. When I lost my hearing in February of 2007, I was still hoping that my hearing was going to come back any day. I realized that it wasn’t after I went on a vacation with a couple friends to Myrtle Beach a few weeks after my nose job. We were only about a block away from the ocean and all of us went down to go for a run on the beach. After spending twelve hours in the back seat of a car barely being unable to communicate with anyone in the front seat, I was looking forward to being on familiar grounds. After climbing a very large sand dune, I saw the great Atlantic Ocean and then I lost sensation in my knees. The warmth of sun was there, the sand diffused underneath my feet and the distinct smell of the salty air permeating my nose just like old times but there was something missing. The ocean ambiance was – dead. I couldn’t hear the waves crashing five feet way from me. The seagulls soared right over top of me and I couldn’t hear them utter a sound. The passersby on their morning stroll stopping to wish us well. I was living a silent movie. The wind kept blowing several strands of hair in my face and I thought with my hearing aids, all I would have heard is the wind whipping around. I just pulled my sunglasses over my eyes and cried while I was running. I decided the second I got back that I was going to make an appointment for a cochlear implant evaluation. I tried to make the best of my vacation by trying to find my hearing in the bottom of a bottle.

Jen and I were on a mission because neither one of us had heard the ocean since our cochlear implants have been activated. I thought it would be a great experience since she is a few hundred miles away from the seashore. I have been hesitant on going to the ocean because part of me thought I might have disappointed in the way it sounded. I couldn’t think of a better person then Jennifer to share this listening experience with. If it were anyone else, I would be willing to bet I would have heard nothing but nagging but this was our moment.

But there we stood, side by side with the full moon illuminating the night sky with the eastern seaboard 10 feet away from us. We tossed our sandals and let our toes sink into the wet sand and we listened. We listened to the seagulls cussing the ocean wind with their calls, the rising roar of the ascending tide and the crashing of the waves, the trickle of water being pulled back into the sea and the gentle drone of foghorns in the midst of the ocean. We stood there just listening to the ocean ambiance discovering how it sounds all over again. It used to sound so harsh with the wind swirling and waves crashing wearing hearing aids, but I realized that a majority of my infatuation with the sea were visual. After 28 years and one cochlear implant, I finally heard the rhythm of the ocean.

The next day, I wanted to take Jen by my job because when I go out on break, I walk passed these trees and I keep hearing this high-pitched sound that mask everything else out. It is driving me bonkers! I keep asking my hearing friend keeps telling me that it is bugs or tree frogs. Somehow, I am not satisfied with that answer. I wanted to see if Jen could pick the sound up with her cochlear implant. They weren't chatty this weekend. Jen even tried to coerce them to talk but wouldn’t you know the darn frogs were off for the weekend?

*UPDATE* They are Cicada Bugs!

After Jen shooting me some strange looks, I pouted because I want my audiologist to map out these friggen frogs. Anyway, I thought we would continue with the nautical theme. I decided to take Jen to the Barnegat Lighthouse whom my great uncle was the lighthouse keeper in 1915 to 1926.

I have been up and down this lighthouse several times, but I felt as they added more steps. I was tuckered out by the time I climbed back down. I had no idea how my great uncle climbed seven gallons of oil up and down those steps every single day. God bless that man.

Then we headed down towards the jetty rocks and admired the boats rocking in the water. We hit up a Sonic restaurant and I got this Route 44 Diet Cherry Limeade and that was very delish. We were so exhausted by the end of the day that coffee didn’t do a darn thing for us.

We just came back home and slapped our laptops on our thighs and typed away until we passed out.

The next morning, it was time for Jen to go back to Tennessee. I didn’t want her to go because we were having so much fun together. I purposely had thought of getting lost so she could miss her flight, but I opted for driving extra slow. I miss her already! But, I wouldn’t trade in the experience of being with her who is someone that can understand where I am coming from in all aspects is unbelievably refreshing. She is a special lady that always has a place in my heart.


Jarom R. Matheson said...

I am very happy that you're able to enjoy the ocean sound! My first time hearing the ocean was when I first landed in Honolulu, Hawaii. I have to say that I was amazed by that because it totally sounds different from what I am accustomed with hearing aids.

I remember that I went for a walk on the pier one night. The waves was crashing against the pier. The sound was very loud but at the same time soothing. Of course, I got wet!

I bet you would enjoy going to the beach in your little white car now!

When you said that you were living the silent movie... I totally understand what you mean by that. I have been living the movie for most of my life. It does take toll on the person...

Jennifer Bruno Conde said...

What a beautiful experience...spending time with Jennifer. I loved the photos of you guys and with Sam, too. A and J in the sand is priceless!

Jennifer :-)

Kim said...

Your thoughts about hearing the ocean were interesting. I love the beach. Don't usually wear my aids there.

Valerie said...

I grow up going to Jersey shore with my father, I really don't remember the sound. I look forward to hearing the ocean again.

I hope you find those tree frogs! We have very loud birds here, they drive me crazy.

Anonymous said...

I remember being at a beach at Lake Michigan last summer trying to listen to the wave...I wasn't sure at first because of the people around so I had to go to the far end of the beach....I heard the waves.

I wonder if the waves between Lake Michigan and any oceans sound the same.

Good to know you and Jen had a blast.

What's up with two blackberries?

Steven said...

I have been experiences like yours! I love your blogs about the cochlear implant experiences. Let's check my blogspot know as "Life as Bionic"....

Anonymous said...

How neat to hear the ocean again! Glad you had a blast with each other!

Anonymous said...

Interesting! Living on Kauai, I'm surrounded by water, and in my mind, the "tape" I have of the ocean sounds are actually better than those I hear with my CI.


Anonymous said...

Abbie mah deah - I really enjoyed reading youah post with Jen. I cracked up laughing seveahal times.

You HAVE to come and stay with me in New Zealand. Bring Kim. Bring Jen. Heck - bring your fahball too :)

I can take you so many fun places!


J.M. Tewkesbury said...

Yeah!!! Congratulations on hearing the ocean again. I know that would be the sound I would miss most.

Woo hoo!

Cyborg Queen said...

Wow! Congrats on hearing the Ocean for the first time!

I haven't had the chance to hear it with my CI. I know what it sounds like with my hearing aids, but it would be interesting to hear it with the high frequencies added.

The lighthouse - I've been there! Hard to believe they had to climb all those steps! That's so cool about your uncle! :-)

Abbie said...

Jarom: Thank you for sharing your experience with me. I would love to go to Hawaii one day! I hear the waves are totally gnarly out there :)

Jennifer: I can't wait for Amanda to have her ocean experience :)

Kim: Funny thing you mentioned that because Jennifer said the same thing to me. She never bothered to wear her hearing aids there so didn't really know what the ocean can do for you in the way of relieving stress.

Valerie: When you come up, I am planning on taking you and Jenna and family to the ocean too :) I want to give you my condolences on your dad's passing, my prayers are with you and your family in this time of need. I love you girl!

Lane: I am not sure about Lake Michigan, most lakes that I have been to do not carry the same force of wind or waves as the ocean. I hope one day you can experience the ocean in all its glory. Oh! The two blackberries, one is mine and one is Jen's :) Do you have a BB?

Steven: Steven, I'm going to go read all about your experience! I want to welcome you to blog land :)

Karen: Thank you so much!

Lucky: I got to get me one of those meditation CD's. I would love to try to listen to one of them now.

Robyn: When I come to visit you in New Zealand, I'm going to make sure that I bring shoes with me :) What size you take again? :)

J.M: It was a sound that I missed but I had no idea I was missing all my life. I had no idea it SOUNDED like that.

Cyborg Queen: Just wait girl, you are in for a treat! HA's especially at with my level of hearing loss picked up mostly wind and crashing but there is so much more to it. It was amazing.

I updated this post with an update on the infamous tree frogs are actually cicada bugs :) Now that I figured it out, well hearing people figured it out for me, but I can get a summer mapping to get those bad boys mapped out :)