Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Prayer and Praise from My First Sunday Back to Church

More posts from my Christian CI Group:

Saturday, 3/25 11:50 AM
"Prayer Request for Church Tomorrow Morning"
(for my first Sunday after activation)

Ok, you guys...I have to admit I'm quite anxious about church tomorrow and what the experience will be like. My own voice singing is still a high-pitched, robotic monotone, and I think the sound of everyone singing at once will be horrifically overwhelming. I actually do not expect it to be a very pleasant experience at all. I'm trying to have "realistic" expectations" and I just don't know WHAT to expect.

A CI online friend said bring a box of Kleenex, it will be so wonderful. I think I might need them for the overwhelming disappointment of how hard it will be to adjust to that complicated and noisy of an environment--especially one that is so important and dear to my heart and soul.

It helps that I go to a tiny church rather than a mega one. It helps that we have fairly simple accompaniment. It helps that I know 95% of the songs. I even have a CD of the pastor giving a sermon and doing the Eucharist liturgy! So if I listen to that today, it will help me "build a template for his voice," according to the audiologist yesterday.

I dreamed last night I'd been kidnapped, and if the RA of my dorm didn't pay protection money to the local gang, I would be beat up. They sent me back to the dorm, and the RA said the dorm fund was in the red, and we didn't know what to do. A little bit of anxiety coming out in my dreams?!?

And when I woke up this morning, the last thing I wanted to do was put "that thing" back on. So I've been concentrating on quiet sounds, like enjoying the whoosh of pouring oatmeal out of the cardboard box into its tupperware container, the crunch of scooping some out into my bowl, the crunch of scooping salt out of a bowl, the crunch of cutting fresh strawberries onto the cooked oatmeal. (That's a lot of lovely crunches--most of which I had no idea happened!) So I'm trying to be quiet and kind to my brain this morning. Yesterday was fun, but exhausting.

The audiologist said don't work too hard on it, let it be fun. I am determined to make this work, and if that means relaxing and having fun, so be it! {grin}

So pray for peace for me tomorrow (and today, anticipating it), and for trust that things will only get better. Pray for some lovely "CI moment" at church, even if most of it is hard to handle or listen to or whatever it might be. Having fairly realistic expectations has helped me so much already, for the moment of hook up and for the rest of the day yesterday. I want to be realistic so that, yes, going to church tomorrow will be a joy and I will be so glad to be worshipping God, even if it sounds odd or difficult and so very different!!

Trusting Him to do His work in me--
Post from one of the guys:
My CI was activated late in the week and then I went to church on Sunday, too. At that time we belonged to a small little church with 5000-6000 members every Sunday and it was LOUD. For the most part, the praise band sounded like metal being processed through a shredder.
At that time speech wasn't very clear to me, but I could immediately see a improvement in speech comprehension once David stated preaching.

I think you will do fine tomorrow. Adapting to artificial hearing takes time, same a adapting to using a artificial leg.
Saturday, 3/25 6:15 PM
Hi, friends,
I have to let you know that ALREADY I feel God pouring His peace into my soul. I had a lovely day with my 18 year old son (sometimes that is a miracle in itself!), going out to a dcotor's appt and going "fashionista" shopping at Nordstrom Rack afterwards. He's a riot.
And I got some fun pants, to boot!

I just feel like God has replaced the anxiety with comfort and peace, and He will be glorified in the process. Thank you SO much for praying. We are all part of the Body of believers that is our gift, our heritage as "precious children of the Most High God."

{HUGS} to all of you!!

Sunday, 3/26
Hey you guys!
Thank you so much for your prayers! After church I hung out until I was nearly the last one left, then my kids and I went shopping for a birthday gift for Joe, then got lunch, then came home and it was already 3:00! And I crashed for a lovely hour-long nap.

Church was...great. I felt totally peaceful, and I think that was the message God had for me. I told David and John, "I really want to get to church on time, but I also really want you with me. I don't want to wait for you and be late, but I also don't want to leave you behind. So, don't please don't push me this morning!" Well, I'm happy to report all three of us got there, less than 10 minutes late.

The first part of the service is the singing, which was my greater concern, anyway. I got there in time for the last half of the last beginning song. It was not too loud. Very good sign. I always sit in the third row, partly so I can hear, and partly just because I am an incredible creature of habit! :)

I tried to relax into the sound--not tune out, but not strain to hear. It worked really well. I could follow the Scripture readings because they are all printed out in the bulletin. I followed enough of Jays sermon to enjoy and not feel so frustrated. During "The Prayers of the People," the pastor beckoned me, and a family with a new baby, to come forward and give our praise! So I could say I'm grateful for how well I came through the surgery, that I got activated already, that's a long road to adjust to the electronic stimulation but, yes! I'm hearing! I probably said more than he intended me to say, BUT that got me off the hook of people coming up and asking me, "So, can you hear now?!?!"

I had even printed up a little blurb and got it to fit on a 4x6 portion of an 8.5x11 paper, explaining that no, I do NOT hear perfectly now, and made a bunch of copies. I didn't need to use it once. I guess that shows I was afraid of other people's expectations, as so many people know so little about CI's. But I got LOTS of hugs afterwards and people are just so excited for me.

I'd say the things that were "best" about the service were
1. I had an incredible sense of peace and quiet enjoyment
2. I didn't have to be constantly switching back and forth on my HA remote between enough power to hear an individual speaker and little enough power to be able to even stand the singing.

The singing always gave me a headache unless I put my HA's on audio-zoom to "cut out background" to keep the sound from just being very loud buzzy mush. But then I couldn't hear if the pastor said something between songs. So I was constantly switching back and forth between my programs, constantly on the alert the whole service.

It felt SO GOOD to just relax! During the fellowship time afterwards, I was again relaxed, not straining to hear every word. I got to stand around and chat with people I haven't talked to much, and it was lovely. (Part of that is because my husband is out of town and not nodding his head toward the door in a not-so-subtle indication he'd love to get OUT. My dear shy man..."fellowship hour" is almost painful for him...)

So there's your update--thank you SO MUCH for your prayers!!


Catching up on posts 3/25 - 3/30

I keep forgetting you guys can't read the posts I put on my yahoo forums!! So I'm copying a few that will catch you up to how things are going. I'll have to remember to do this much more often! These are posts from my Christian CI group where we share prayer requests
Saturday 3/25/06
"Glad" to be deaf?

It's interesting, because I started reading this group's posts all the way back at the beginning, so I watched your process through deciding to go for it with this interpreting job. /[this guy started interpreting for the deaf at a church near him within a year after getting his CI!!]/ That's why I know it's how you feel and why I mentioned it in my post.

I have had some incredible opportunities, especially at this school where we mainstream D/HOH students using cued speech. Right now we have only 2 DHOH students, and both of them are SO incredibly excited about this surgery of mine. Both of these students are from lovely Christian families, too! Our speech pathologist is a Christian and has adopted two deaf international children and they have 3 CI's between the two of them. It is just THE most incredible place for me to work. I "normalize" the experience of wearing HA's and now a CI for the hearing children, and I am a role model for the D/HOH kids. I can tell the other teachers what it's like from this side of the microphone.

If I look at my life now, and what I might guess my life would have been like if I'd never lost my hearing, I can say I like it better the way it is now. Am I "glad" I lost my hearing? Mmmmmm...not really. Have I worked to allow God to mold me and shape me and craft me through it? Most emphatically YES. Has it been worth it? That's still hard for me to agree to. It has been the source of much pain, and maybe in a few more months or so I might be able to say yes. It's coming. :)

Sound discoveries today? I think I already wrote about the sweet sound of strawberries crunching when I cut them (I almost put a whole pint of straberries on my cereal while not paying attention to how many I'd already cut! So I sliced the rest onto my son's cereal!). And the quiet gentle crunch of the salt when I scooped out a bit for my oatmeal.

Then I went shopping with my son, and I really struggled on the phone (handy electronic devices for finding a teenager in a large store, you know?). But he said I am doing well and he can tell that I am doing better hearing him while driving with road noise, than I was doing before while driving, with road noise.

My husband is travelling today, so my sons and I went out to Steak & Shake for dinner. I held my own in table conversation in a noisy environment. So, that was good.

A good Saturday of listening...gently. :)

Wednesday 3/29
Second Mapping
I had my second mapping today; I'm on day 5 of hearing. We turned up the power on most of the higher frequencies because voices sound muddy. But mostly I am SO pleased with how I am doing so far already, and so is my audie!

A God-moment: Last night I was walking my dog and my battery died. Of course my other battery is safely tucked into my purse, back at my house! So I was walking along with nothing. I saw another dog and walker up ahead approaching us and called out, "May we say hello?" as this is the highlight of any walk for my dog. She smiled broadly and called out something affirmative. When we got within talking distance, I told her (out of habit), "my hearing aid battery just died, so please talk loudly--it's ok to yell!" Then I thought why did I say *that*? So I said, "actually, I just got a CI and that battery died. I haven't gotten the hang of these batteries yet." Her whole face lit up and she said, "My friend has one of those!! She just got it three months ago!!" Turns out from the same hospital, same surgeon, same audie! She is having a bit of a hard time, and quite discouraged about the whole thing. So I asked the dog-walker to invite her friend to come to the CI Club meeting. "She won't go without someone she knows." Well, she can get to know me, and we can travel together to the next one!"

So I now have a new dog-walking and CI friend who lives 1/2 mile from my house! I wrote down her name and house number as soon as I got home and sent her a note with my name, address and phone number. I would love to meet her friend. I have a ladies tea on the first Monday of each month, for friends and neighbors. So I sent her an invitation to that. When I went in to see the audie today, she knew exactly who I was talking about (the patient is also a midgit, so she's easier to remember!) and said she's having less of a hard time now.

I read a comment on another list not to treat the CI like a hearing aid and keep turning it up. That can distort sounds. Instead, work on hearing and listening to softer sounds. That was good for me to hear. I thought I was training myself to do "better" if I kept trying to turn it up. My audie pointed out that since I haven't had to turn it up, we probably set it a bit too loud on the first try.

But, so far so good. I'm also aware of not working at all this too I don't get a headache or get burned out.

Thanks for all the tidbits I'm learning from you all! This is GREAT to be on here. I really appreciate it!!

Thursday 3/30
I had a fall-apart morning today. I woke from totally bizarre dreams that seem to illuminate the general theme of trying to keep up with the ever-shifting normal these days. I felt like I was having a nervous breakdown. I emailed a quick prayer request to my prayer partner at church, and it's better. But I can tell there is more work to be done.

I just feel so disoriented, emotionally, psychologically, and even physically sometimes right now. When I woke from these dreams, I could not get a firm grasp on the reality of here-and-now because it's just plain so different from what reality was even two weeks ago (ie, pre-CI surgery). I spent two hours crying. My dear sweet poodle has been by my side almost constantly--the softness of her fur, of her licking my hands (she likes the salt from the tears!) and the tenderness of her canine empathy have been a reality I could grab on to--literally! :)

There are other bits of reality in my life that are very much less than ideal or pleasant (like parenting two 18 yo boys!), and it just felt like it all came crashing down on my head and mind and emotions this morning. I wanted so badly to sit down and talk to a dear friend and former therapist--but he died a year and a half ago from an undiagnosed enlarged heart. More tears. I'm exhausted, but I have got to do some cleaning (throwing away junk and clutter) today out of respect for and love for my dear patient husband who is beginning to feel claustrophobic in his own home. (That is not good!)

So, please pray that God will do His work in me today, that my mental and emotional chaos will become re-anchored in the reality and surety of His constant love and His constant character. I am so keenly aware of how that knowledge in itself is already taking away some of the fearsome chaos in my heart and mind.

Thanks, friends.
So, blog readers, I'm sorry I haven't kept YOU up to date! Now you're closer. I'll go back to my other group and see what I've posted there, too.


Monday, April 10, 2006

Update April 10 - OOPS!

I forgot to keep this up-to-date! Sorrrry. I went back to work last week (April 3) and I have been totally wiped out. The basic news is that I am making progress by leaps and bounds, and the audiologist is SO pleased and actually astounded; I love my new hearing...mostly. It's a long process and I get worn out quite easily and get frustrated easily. But that's mostly because patience is not one of my virtues.... :-/

It is amazingly cool what I can hear now: Articulation! Conversations! The timer on the microwave and on the oven--when I'm in the next room! Jessie panting! Birds--and they are chirping instead of sounding like angry squirrels! Lower tones of music! I could even distinguish a cello solo moment on a CD--it really actually sounded like a CELLO!!! So rich and lovely and beautiful.

I'll pull together my posts from my CI groups and put them up, hopefully soon. Then you can get the play by play on how these first weeks have gone: majorly challenging and majorly good.