Wednesday, June 28, 2006

"It's Raining, It's Pouring..."

AND I CAN HEAR IT!!!! Another "CI Moment" report:

We just had a sudden massive downpour with thunder and lightning and everything. I have all my windows open to enjoy the fresh air since it hasn't been so hot. I haven't REALLY heard thunder in AGES--it was glorious!! I'd forgotten! The flash of light followed by the CRRRR-ACKKKKK of thunder, the gentle pitter-patter turning into a galloping herd of migrating bison (or some such beast!)--it was magnificent! It was beautiful! I'd forgotten how lovely a rainstorm sounds.

And I thought, "It sounds like camping!!" LOL!! But that's another story...

Monday, June 26, 2006

Musical Auditory (Self) Rehab work

I did a wee bit of my own auditory training this week. I pulled out my new children's book of Peter and the Wolf that came with a CD, ordered specifically for this purpose, and sat down and listened to it carefully.

At the introduction, where the characters and their individual musical motifs are identified, most of the instruments were just different pitched fuzz, or fuzz with a vaguely different timbre. By the time the piece was done, though, I had begun to recognize some of the parts I knew before, like the french horns for the wolf, some of the string motif for Peter, and occasionally I could catch the flute of the bird. I listened to it again right away, and more bits and pieces of what I was hearing began to fit into my memory of it. So I am building a new template in my brain, for some of the instruments! I am so pleased!

Much more work to be done--but already some progress! Yay!

Bad news and GOOD news

My processor toggle switch (between programs) is being finicky and the sound cuts out every so often, and I need to wiggle the switch to get it back on. I was rather anxious it would suddenly just cut out totally and not come back, so I notified my audiologist. She called Advanced Bionics (the manufacturer) and they sent a new one already, and I can go trade today--less than a week since I mentioned it to her! A great company I am with, eh??

Things like this remind me how I am thankful, so very thankful for this technology!

Am I going to get in trouble for this? Nah...?

I went to make a deposit at the bank, and decided to walk there with my dog, Jessie (a magnificent black standard poodle, if I do say so myself!). I'm trying to squeeze in a bit more walking every day. I went to the drive-through, which I wasn't sure if it against somebody's rules, but I didn't see any signs. So there I stood with Jessie, putting my deposit in the tube and sending it through. I waited for the teller to say, "There are no walk-up's allowed at the drive through. Don't do it again." The tube came whooshing back and the teller said, "Thank you; have a nice day." I opened the tube and pulled out my cash back and my receipt...and a doggie treat! I laughed right out loud! I told Jessie "Sit," then gave her the treat, which she ate right there. I bet the teller had fun watching. It sure made my day!

So there's a chuckle for you. :)

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Three-Month CI Update

Three months post-surgery seems a good time to stop and reflect. Today I had another CI moment: my husband asked me to join him on his run (with me on my bike…!). I needed the exercise and having a companion would help both of us keep going. I was delighted to discover my magnet fit nicely under my helmet (I’ve heard other have had to carve out a hole in the padding). It is still just so amazing to me to be able to HEAR when I exercise! I could hear cars coming behind us when we were on the road. I could hear my husband’s foot-beat (and panting!) as he ran next to me. We could call out obnoxious comments to tease and laugh while I had a leisurely ride and he sweated off buckets. I could even hear the birds while we were on the bike path going through wooded areas. It was so cool. And I felt so much safer, knowing I could be aware of more environmental sounds.

At home, it still tickles me pink to hear the kitchen timer from the living room or dining room. Before my implant, I usually could not hear it even when I was six inches away! The microwave buttons sounded like “ffft, ffft, ffft” when I first got activated; now they actually sound like tonal beeps.

In church, it is a huge relief to be able to go in and not have to be on my toes the whole service, ready to switch between programs for speaking (to be loud enough) and music (not to blast my brains out). I can use my regular setting and just leave it. I can relax more, and I can understand more. Music is still challenging, and lyrics are still fairly elusive. BUT if I already know the song, I can hear enough pitch in the lower ranges to match my soprano or alto to it, and I lip-read to keep myself on the right line of the right verse. So I can relax and worship, which is a deeply gratifying and wonderful experience.

At the dinner table, I’m not left out of conversations anywhere near as much. I used to be catching about 10-20% of what was said; I would guess now I’m closer to 70-80%. With that much information, I can usually interpolate what I missed (but not always accurately, which still gives rise to family amusement as we laugh together).

I can walk into Home Depot (my sons’ favorite store at the moment, so I’m there a couple times a week at least) and not be overwhelmed. Sometimes I use my noise reduction setting, but not always. That still amazes me. Costco (my favorite store!) is the same way--I don’t need to adjust my volume or settings so much just to keep from auditory over-stimulation.

I can talk on the phone!! I can hear my parents, I can hear my sisters, I can hear many of my friends--and I missed them all SO much! Anyone with a foreign accent is still a major challenge, but I can get my boys to take calls for me. They are good relay operators. J

In a restaurant, sometimes I can understand a conversation better than my husband and teenagers--because I have the noise reduction, and they don’t! They get a kick out of that. But will still aim for quiet restaurants.

At school, I was able to hear the tiny little shy voice of one of my three-year-olds that I could almost never catch before. We did vocabulary lessons; I even dared try doing phonics with her. I was almost in tears when I could work with her more consistently. What a gift!

When my hearing took the nosedive in 2001, I was devastated. I felt like I’d been betrayed--here I just spent 8 years getting a BA in Early Childhood Education, and now I could not hear the voices of the very students I had trained so long to be able to teach. But it was in God’s plan. It moved me to the Montessori school where they mainstream deaf and hard of hearing students. I learned cued speech. I am able to communicate more effectively with the staff, because they cue to me. They say they can tell I do better when they cue, which helps me to realize my ability to read the cues is better than I thought! And I have been able to be a role model and maybe even a bit of a mentor to the deaf children, since I am “one of them”--which delights them...and me.

I continue to have significant tinnitus, which can drive me nuts. But that is something I learn to ignore as much as possible. Only rarely does it interfere with my ability to hear another person talking. And if I happen to be lying on the wrong side in bed, with my implanted ear up, I don’t hear my alarm clock, as that ear no longer has any natural function. So I bought one of those vibrating alarm clocks to clip to my pillow. I haven’t hooked it up yet, but I’m curious to see what it’s like!

I love hearing the clickety-clack of my keyboard as I type. I told someone it sounds like elves tapdancing. I love the crunch of cutting up strawberries, and the gentle whoosh of pouring dry oatmeal into my bowl for my breakfast. But far and above anything else, my favorite sound is that of the human voice, to connect me to my family and my friends. For that, I am deeply, joyfully grateful.

Thanks be to God!!