Friday, October 31, 2008

TV in a Hotel Room with No CC?!

Ever go to a hotel room where they have a television with no closed captioning?

To make things even worse, the hotel has a special remote control with a menu that just gives you options to buy porn.

So you wander over to the front of the television and all it has is super simple buttons to change the volume and change the channels? All of us know that we need a MENU button to turn on the closed captioning.

So what is a deaf person to do? Just hold the two volume buttons together simultaneously and just like magic, instant access to the closed captioning menu!!!

It is kind of funny but at the Doubletree Hotel Magnificent Mile, they had to dispatch a couple of their finest engineers to a couple of the ALDA attendee's rooms to figure this out.

And for the record, I didn't need an engineer to figure that out :)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

ALDA's President's Lunchon

My first night in Chicago involved the Magnificent Mile that is like the Fifth Avenue of New York City. We went to the Big Bowl where I had well, a big bowl of Chicken Pad Thai and for desert, a pretzel dipped in multi-grain mustard. We were adopted by the veterans of ALDA with no problems. I met the man who co-founded ALDA in 1987, BIll Graham. I was forewarned before I came here about ALDA because most of the people here cannot benefit from hearing aids or cochlear implants but what really surprised me was the amount of late deafened adults that signed. Logically, you would think that this is a group that has gone deaf later on in life for various reasons and has chose to learned sign to communicate. It's a blissful environment, one that I have been adapted into quite well. It is total communication access here. If one doesn't speak, they sign. Between Jennifer and I, we can get through a conversation. If we are completely lost, they are so patient because most of them remember what it was like to start off young and fresh at the signing game. If we are so lost, we grab someone else to interpret for us. If that doesn't work, the pads and pens are brought out. Its not like out in the busy hearing world where I get a huge exasperated sigh or infamous eye rolling from hearing people. Whatever works for you whether it would be a tap on the shoulder of rapidly shaking your hands in front of someone's face, you won't get any eye rolling here. Being here right now feels like a comfortable old shoe that you don't want to part with.

Right now, I am sitting here at the Presidents Luncheon in a packed ballroom, situated right under a glass chandlier with crisp white sheets adorning the table. My glass of water is half full while my tummy is full as can be. I am watching conversations being carried all across the room. I'm watching people communicate with their mouth full. I am staring at two huge CART screens while an interpreter translate the signing of Dr. Robert Davila who is the ninth president of Gallaudet University into voice. Not one person is left out of his speech. I am going to go see if I can get the CART transcript emailed to me.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Newcomers Orientation!

I have arrived in Chicago for the ALDA Convention. I am sitting next to LaRonda Zupp of Ear of my Heart and Jennifer Thorpe of Surround Sound.

Alex comes to visit!!!

A few weeks ago, I invited a fellow blogger Alex of Life of the Hard of Hearing to come walk with me for the Garden State Walk 4 Hearing. I first met Alex on Seek Geo's site in his chat room and we just clicked. Our upbringings were very similar except for the fact that he used Cued Speech to learn how to speak and I learned through speech therapy, five years of it. He just has a great online and offline personality.

So, he flew on Friday night and if any of you know me, you know I have a tendency of planning things right down to the wire. This was no exception. I had this in the bag, I was going to pick up him right out in front of baggage claim at 7:00ish and he wouldn't stand around and wait. So I thought, but was slated to arrive around seven something I believe but on my way there and still an hour from the airport, my blackberry croaks to let me know I have a message. It was he telling me that his flight landed an hour early. I thought he was pulling my leg but he landed an hour early. I felt horrible about him standing around waiting. At least he learned what a New Jersey minute is :)

So I picked him up, all 90 pounds of him and started shooting the bull. I noticed right off the bat that he really does have a European, almost British accent. He comes right out of the cornstalks from Illinois and there nothing southern about him. We headed back to my place and coerced him to get some dinner with me. I decided that we would be guinea pigs at this Japanese Steakhouse. We grabbed some food and talked until I almost passed out. That Friday morning, I was one of the lucky ones that had to get up at 2:00 AM to take mommy dearest to the train station. I was shipping her ass down to Virginia to stay with some family for the week. Aren't I nice? :) But more to the point, I was dog tired. I hooked Alex up to the WiFi and showed him to his sleep quarters while I retired to mine.

The next morning, Alex and I headed to the gas station to get gas before going to the Walk 4 Hearing. He was marvelled by the fact that my ass stayed in the car while we had gas attendants do the fueling. He learned first hand what it means to have a full service gas station state. :) Apparently, Illinois is not one of those. I think it is just so much safer and cleaner. I never want to fill my own gas up because you never know where anyones hands have been. :) We started talking about my experiences of going to self-serve gas station and lacking the ability to pump my own gas. Most of the were comical and involved some Eastern Indians wondering what this silly deaf American was doing just sitting in her car staring at the pump as if it were going to magically just insert itself into my car.

We headed to Dunkin Donuts to get my java fix where we had some sunglasses missing in action and then we were OFF! I have a GPS and it was easy peasy as pie to find Mercer County State Park. I was there representing the Bionic Ear Association since I am a member. I introduced Alex to some friends. I met this gorgeous family that I was communicating with a woman whose step father has been recently implanted for the longest time. I shake hands with them and then a yellow jacket started buzzing around the vicinity. I bobbed and weaved and performed some mighty evasive maneuvers thinking I outsmarted the damn thing. Well, Alex saw the yellow jacket got a little fresh by making a bee dive (pun intended) into my shirt. He tried getting my attention but when I'm talking, I like to talk. It’s hard to shut me up sometimes. Well the yellow jacket shut me up because it STUNG me! Here I am, if you will picture this, stripping my jacket and moving my shirt in ways that I don't normally move my shirt especially in front of perfect strangers. They had concern in their eyes but all I could think of is how they must think I'm a lunatic. :) Now bugs give me the heebie jeebies but they actually touch me and inject venom in me, I turn into a hypochondriac! Alex is laughing hysterically, performing a pee-pee dance of sorts. I was asked whether I was allergic. I had no idea, I have never been stung before (surprisingly enough). I became acutely aware of the size of my esophagus and lung volume.

The Walk 4 Hearing started off with a speech, "I don't know if you could all hear me...", but I was too busy on my blackberry googling allergic reactions of yellow jacket stings. The good thing is that I had an EPI pen in the car because I'm allergic to mushrooms. I figured if I were allergic I could shoot myself in the leg and have Alex drive me to the hospital although he doesn't look like he is old enough to drive. He should never drive a mini-van because he would look as if he were borrowing moms car. :)

The walk began and it was beautiful. I decided to walk with my buddy Wayne Roorda. He has a CI on his right, Alex has bilateral Hearing Aids and I have a CI on my left. Alex was stuck in the middle for maximum acoustics :) and then we walked. It was beautiful, the scenery couldn't have been any better. The leaves are changing colors and it provided some sweet looking backdrops while we were peddling right passed walkers.

Along the way, I met up with a beautiful woman name Debbie who is from Jersey, who is a late deafened adult who has a CI. I have been communicating with her on and off her journey. Since she has had perfect hearing most of her life and started having problems about seven years ago with her hearing, it was a big adjustment on her end for learning how to hear with a CI, plus her audiologist didn't seem so gosh darn wonderful. She was an absolute delight to be around and I can't wait to meet her again. She sent me an email with a phrase that made me smile from ear to ear, "It was the first time in a long that I felt like I was a part of something." That is what I wanted to hear and I am glad that I was a part of it.

Alex and I had enough of rogue leaves hitting each other in the face, we decided to head back to my place to get bundled up for Six Flags or Great Adventure as us New Jerseseans call it. I have to say Alex, is one cheap guest. He does not eat. There is a reason for this, he is what you call a miracle baby. He was born with a stage three Omphalocele which is where the intestines, liver, and occasionally other organs remain outside of the abdomen in a sac because of a defect in the development of the muscles of the abdominal wall. Basically all the internal organs are spilled out. and was the first baby west of the Mississippi River to live from it. Read his entire story here. He lost his hearing resulting from antibiotics but hearing loss was a small price to pay for what he went through. He is a special person to me :) Because of that, his stomach is a size of a gulf ball and he doesn't eat much. He told me this before he flew here and I scoffed. I had every attention of fattening his bony butt up. Ha, joke was on me because I couldn't get him to eat. I'm all about food. I eat six meals a day religiously, I'm sure he thought I could stand to miss a meal or two. :)

We headed off to Great Adventure, only to discover that most of the rides were broken down but as the night wore on, more and more rides came back online. If you have a cochlear implant, you CAN go on rides but be smart and remove the external part. :) This ride we wanted to go on was Kinga Ka, this 428 foot high roller coaster that reaches a speed of 128mph. It goes straight up and over a hill and straight back down. Nuts right? At the time we took a look at it, it was a 150 minute wait. Neither one of us is crazy about waiting. So we pranced around the park picking other rides. Then a bunch of girls started making a fuss. Alex told me that there was a racoon in the park. Well, just as he said it, this raccoon dashed out of the bush and headed for the tree. I backed up into the fence practically, wielding my black berry and thrusting Alex in front of me. The racoon stared right at me and I put my meanest poker face which intimidated him because he backed up and went up the tree. However, I kept a close eye on him if he tried to go over the branch and do a flying leap at me. The line moved and I pushed Alex before the ball of his foot could arch upwards to make a step. The raccoon ran to and fro from the bush to the garbage can. Alex told me, "I have never seen a raccoon in an amusement park before." I'm looking down at my blackberry and I fixate my eyes on him and he suddenly realized whom he was with. I am sure that some people that read my blog must think I am full of it but if you ever met me, you will realize I don't have to make this stuff up! :) Alex suddenly realized this.

At the end of the night, just before the park closed, we made a mad dash for Kingda Ka that virtually had no line. However, the second we got on and buckled in, there a problem with the ride and it had to be shut down. Logically, I should have taken it as an omen but I don't listen to myself. But I was depending on Alex, a fellow deafo to tell me what the hell was happening since I had my CI off. The ride goes up to a 128mph which is thirty miles less then take off speed for an airplane, I didn't want to see my CI become airborne. :) I joked that I would find my car in the parking lot since we were going to be 428 feet in the air. I was sure I could find my Incredible Eco-Egg somewhere down there.

A half hour passes, the attendants buckles us in but since Alex had a fraidy cat face on, the guys were messing with him by telling him he didn't need the strap for the ride :) His heart skipped a beat. I'm used to that kind of demented humor :) Then we were off! We came down the ride and I found my care. I flung my arm right in front of Alex's face, narrowly missing his honker just to point my car out. He was trying to recover and sweet talk his bladder into holding his urine just a bit while longer. He had no other choice because when we came back in to get the hell off the ride, some idiots in the front were yelling, "ONE MORE TIME!" I couldn't hear this but I saw arms flailing and Alex relayed their demands to me. One time on this ride was good enough for me, I was NOT prepared to go a second time. I told Alex that they weren't getting a Christmas card from me.... Poor Alex, if he had blue eyes, they would have turned green because he really had to pee. Round two of the Kingda Ka was even better! :)

After Alex relieved his pint size bladder, we headed back to my place. I was dog tired. Alex stayed up and wrote two blogs and I promptly checked into the pillow factory. The lil tyke wears me out :) I was so sad to see him go. I had such a wonderful time with him and I am eagerly awaiting seeing him at the HLAA Convention in Nashville since he lives only 2 hours away! :)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

En Route to ALDA!

Guess where I’m going tomorrow thanks to all of you!?

Chicago for the ALDA Convention! I have managed to raise $800 to date which is a phenomenal amount, far more then I anticipated. As the tide of luck would turn, I was fortunate enough to be able to obtain a scholarship that covers the cost of registration and hotel. Many people, both friends and strangers, have helped me make this possible and in turn have helped me become a better person. I want to thank all of the bloggers for the posts they have written and for being part of this. I want to thank the people that have written me some of the most motivational emails that I have ever received in my life. You inspire me to make myself a better person! Thank you for providing me with your support even with the financial crisis that the United States is going through. I never thought that I would get this much but thank you for caring about what people talk about online.

My luck just doesn’t stop there. My bionic belle, Jennifer was able to get a scholarship quite some time ago to attend the convention. Through some miscommunication, she was left without a roommate. Welp! Guess who is her new roomie?! Moi! It was just meant to be. Chicago will not be the same after this. I am looking forward to meeting so many new people, dressing up for a night out on the town for the banquet dinner and getting into my gothic girl costume for the Halloween slash karaoke party. I am willing to bet that there a surgeon costume because we need to read lips after all :) I am looking forward to meeting some beautiful ladies who I give the utmost respect to, Karen Putz from A Deaf Mom Shares Her World and Laronda Zupp from Ear of my Heart blog. So excited!!!

Now, I am going to trying something new at ALDA in preparation for my new role for the upcoming HLAA convention in Nashville on June 18th to 21st 2009. I have been asked to be the convention blogger (Yay!) and I have graciously accepted with open fingers! I am planning on providing real time updates including video snippets and pictures. So stay tuned and be patient as I try to figure out this roving reporter role! :)

Again, I want to thank everyone with sincere gratitude for making this possible!!!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Garden State Walk 4 Hearing

Greetings from Mercer County State Park! Alex and I are at the Garden State Walk for Hearing walking in this invigorating frigid fall weather for 5k.

Donning the quintessential scarf, our blood circulation is flowing, the hamstrings are burning and deafness is in the air. Over a hundred and twenty people showed up all ages and different sizes have trekked their way through the beautiful autumnal scenery. There was even some lil tykes running around sporting some of the tiniest hearing aids I have ever seen in my life. I wish I had those size but I can't complain, I got the Cadillac of hearing technology embedded in my head. :)

I had the chance to put a face with quite a few people that I have been talking to online. One particular person was Debbie who is a beautiful soul, inside and out. She is a late deafened adults who has only had a hearing loss for seven years. She received a cochlear implant about a year ago but she was having a tough time adjusting to hearing with a cochlear implant after having perfect hearing all her life. I shared with her my experience and frustration. I told her it would get better with time and it has improved significantly. She wrote me this lovely email that just made my day! She made mine by coming out and walking with me :)

I am so very happy that you will be able to attend ALDA. I am glad you asked for help, if we don’t ask we don’t get. We all have faith in you because of who you are. Abbie, I can’t begin to tell you what you have done for me, support wise. I was so discouraged and depressed, if not for you I would be a basket case this very minute. I was so out of the loop as far as understanding what was happening, did not have the faintest clue what questions to ask. Your knowledge and inspiration is part of what has kept me going. I will always be grateful for your assistance. You attending ALDA can only help increase your knowledge and inevitably help the rest of us on our Hearing Journey. My ears are crossed and can’t wait to see you on Saturday.

True to form, I know how to make a lasting impression on someone. I met Jill and her stepfather who has a cochlear implant who lives right down the street from me. I didn't get to talk to him because some pesky yellow jacket managed to sneak into my jacket and sting me! I immediately started stripping my clothes off in front of this family which was probably a little more then they bargained for. :) Alex was laughing his southern butt off and I was freaking out because I couldn't find the yellow jacket anywhere. I have never been stung before in my life and everyone first question was, "Are you allergic?" Well, I had no idea :) The hypochondriac in me decided to get on the blackberry and google allergic reactions and treatments for yellow jackets. Good thing is that I am not allergic. Bad news is that the damn thing smarts. Here is a picture of my battle wounds from the Walk 4 Hearing. :)

All in all, it was a great day supporting hearing loss!

Monday, October 13, 2008

ALDA Convention Fundraiser Update!!!

Well! I am dubiously impressed with all you folks out there!


I have managed to raise $685 TOTAL in just ten days! I want to thank you all for your support! Even though I didn't reach my goal, I have raised enough money to cover the air fare and hotel which is a feat in itself! So thank you all, thank you for having faith in me! The support means the world to me! I might have some good news to report but I can't tell you yet because I don't want to jinx myself!

However, I started a new fund raiser in the meantime to see if I can reach my goal of $1,000. If I have happen to obtain anything over $1,000, I am planning on donating the overage right to ALDA. If you have paypal, you can just click on the ChipIn link or email me for other ways of donating.

I want to share some of the greatest cheerleaders on the blogsphere and their pleas to help me:

Jennifer from Surround Sound wrote this on her uplifting post called "Can you help?" on her blog:
Abbie over at Chronicles of a Bionic Woman is trying to raise funds to go to this same conference. Abbie wants to go for many of the same reasons I be encouraged and to encourage...but Abbie goes a step farther...she shares what she learns with us back at home. I've said before that of the Jen/Abbie duo, Abbie is the brains of the operation...she is able to break down some of the complicated information presented at conventions and bring it home and share it with the rest of us. She has posted on various topics on her blog such as Bluetooth technology, phone compatibility ratings, Web CapTel, and various bits of ADA information that I just can't wrap my brain around. She doesn't just take in this information for herself...she is out to share what she knows and help make the world a little easier for the deaf/hard of hearing people around her. Her blog is not only a fun read, but a wealth of information. She contributes so much to the deaf/hard of hearing world around her...and now we have a chance to give back! She is trying to raise 1,000.00 to cover her expenses to the ALDA far she is over halfway there. Her goal is to have it all by October 13th...we have a few more days...we can do it!!
Sam over at Welcome to Sam Spritzer's Web Site posted this blog slash personal ad (Thanks Sammo! :)

Abbie at Chronicles of a Bionic Woman who wrote a very touching article about Anna Rice needs our help!

Abbie is a fellow CIer who happens to be one of my favorite fans. She is a a very proactive voice in the CI community and, an inspiration to others. Whether the person is someone who is considering CIs or is newly implanted, she is one of the first to jump on board whenever a visitor comes to Hearing Journey.

Later this month, there will be the 20th annual Association of Late Deafened Adult (ALDA) Convention in Chicago. Abbie who is single (and looking) wants so badly to attend this conference to spread her wisdom, help others, and learn more about the CI process for the late-deafened so that she can be better prepared to help those who come to Hearing Journey.

She is raising funds in order to attend this conference. Of all the CIers I can come across, I can’t think of a more deserving person. Won’t you please help her? If yes, head over to her blog to see what she is about and how to help. And thank you from the bottom of my heart, if you do!

Jodi over at An American Mom in Tuscany: Jordan's Cochlear Implant Story posted just what I expect from Jodi, absolute genius and one hell of a cheerleader of a post called "Abbie Needs Pay it Forward" starts like this:

Ok. We all know that Seek Geo sleeps with a copy of Abbie's magazine cover under his pillow and that she has a thing for anal rice. We know that she is a trash-picker and a leaf-raker and oftentimes confuses words like this: "When a man says bosom, it sounds like booze."...

(Check her blog for the entire post... its well worth the read! :)


Ulf from Becoming Deaf in Norway 2007 wrote this on his blog:
A beautiful soul in the CI-blogger community is trying to raise 1000$ in order to attend the ALDA Convention (Association of the Late-Deafened Convention). Visit her blog for more details. She is one good soul who is alway warm, generous and supportive. She really deserves some support.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Halfway mark reached for ALDA Convention!

I am SO stoked! As you know, I am trying to raise a $1,000 dollars in ten days to attend the Association of the Late-Deafened Convention in Chicago from October 29th to November 2nd because I want to learn and educate myself on the different needs of those that are late-deafened. This past Saturday, I posted a blog asking for help and many thanks to your support, you have helped me achieve over 50% of my goal.

I am literally overwhelmed and so honored to have so many of you sponsor me! Thank you is not enough for all of you who pulled through and made a donation in these tough economic times to give me a chance to experience this.

Mike Royer
who is truly, a sensitive and emotional guy posted this on his blog:

Abbie Cranmer is raising funds in order to attend the 20th annual Association of Late Deafened Adult (ALDA) Convention in Chicago. I can't think of anyone more deserving to go -- Abbie is truly the ears, eyes, and voice for the cochlear implant community. She is a brilliant writer, one who can captivate and substantially contribute to the well-being of others with encouragement, love and support. Going through the CI process is indeed, a process. We all need a friend -- please help send our "kid" Abbie to camp!

Tom Hannon, a wonderful man and a late deafened adult who has a cochlear implant wrote me this email that just places everything in perspective:

Oh dear Abbie,

As a man up woke up suddenly profoundly deaf two years ago on 10.10.2006 I would have never known in my wildest dreams what laid ahead in the next 352 days in a Deafening World of Silence! And what I discovered I never knew existed, and how I discovered much of it was from you!

Thank you for your support!

Monday, October 06, 2008

12% Reached on ALDA Donations in TWO days!

In just two days, I have managed to reach 12% of my goal! I am just amazed at the amount of support that I am receiving.

I want to share with you some of the comments and blogs spreading the word:

David, a newly late-deafened adult over at Five String Guitar wrote this post that truly made my day.

Nine days from surgery. I am optimistic of course, as always. Failure of any sort, is not even considered an option, as is any medical mishaps.
As my cochlear buddy Abbie told me back in April, on the eve of my first surgical implant when I blogged about my worries after the surgeon outlined the circumstances that can happen (paralysis, taste disorder and death) " Not on my watch, Sir". Abbie typed in my comments in response to my fear of the worst case.

That made me feel good. I believed her then and do now. I have good people in my life with positive thoughts, wonderful advice, and amazing spirit. I like it.

Little things mean a lot? No sir, little things mean EVERYTHING. I have never forgotten those words that Abbie typed in my comments, because they took away a fear, and brought a calmness and determination in me that still serves me as I get ready for my third surgery in six months. A surgery that will once again require a high speed drill to come precariously close to serious parts of my brain....

Val posted a blog about charity event. You can also check out her newly released book, I'm All Ears :)

On to other news... Abbie is raising money so she can attend the Association of Late-Deafened Adults convention known as ALDA. Abbie is a fantastic advocate for hearing loss awareness, she is a cochlear implantee (if that's the proper term, I use it all the time) and uses her fantastic writing skills to create awareness on her blog Chronicles of a Bionic Woman . So donate to send her to this convention because she uses her knowledge and spreads wisdom to many.

Rachel from Cochlear Implant Online left me this extremely supportive comment:

She is a BIG advocate for cochlear implants by blogging various information about cochlear implants, posting comments on other blogs, and helping out with Deaf Village. In order to continue to be a great advocate, she needs to keep herself up-to-date with the latest information. By going to this conference, it will allow her to continue to receive more information and pass on the information that she learned to others.

Jodi has made an announcement this on her blog.

A commenter name Frank just left this on my blog:

Hi Abbie
Looks like you're making progress. Ignore the naysayers. Maybe they're just upset that they didn't think of it first. We are glad to help. Your blog is a real asset to people with hearing loss!

Sam from Welcome to Sam Spritzer's Web Site just left this wonderful comment:

No one is more deserving than Abbie who has made her mark on the CI community a thousand times over! Her contributions on Hearing Journey are immensely valuable to anyone who is considering a CI. I am proud to have met and known Abbie!

Thank you all for your support!!!

Friday, October 03, 2008

Would you help send me to ALDA?

Would you help me attend the Association of the Late-Deafened Adults Convention (ALDACon) in Chicago on Oct 29-Nov 2. I am trying to aim for $1,000 dollars in ten days and during the course of that time I will keep you all updated! The majority of the hard of hearing, hearing impaired and deaf people in the United States developed a hearing loss later on in life. There are some people with perfect hearing that go to sleep one night and wake up the next morning – completely deaf. You have people that worked in loud factories that for every dime they took home, the sound took another hearing cell. You have more and more military personal coming back home with a hearing loss in addition to numerous of other problems. These are the people that I want to learn everything I can about the late-deafened experience.

A person coming from my background – knowing nothing else but living with a hearing loss feels the need to branch out and see how others cope. I had a lifetime of adjusting my eyes to associate the lip formation with words with what auditory input I had. The reason why I would like to go to the ALDAcon is because I want to educate myself on the needs and how I can contribute to empowering those that began their struggle with communication later on in life. It is no surprise to many that I have mentored several people regarding cochlear implant and most of them are late deafened. This is the one group that leaves that just tugs at my heart because I see their struggles written across their face trying to figure out how to make sense of this new dimension of life with a hearing loss.

I want to learn from them just as much as I want them to learn from me.