Thursday, June 25, 2009

Poison, or Not

One of the presenters at the HLAA convention was Michael Harvey, whose books were so very encouraging to me as my hearing loss progressed from manageable to severe. His workshop was excellent. A point he made really validates how I have been processing things over the past year and a half. When dealing with grief, loss, anger, fear, you have got to talk about it. "Silence is poison." If you don't talk about it, it will fester and grow; talking about it makes it lose its sting, and it begins to become less overwhelming, and you begin to heal.

So this is a gift we give to each other. There is great value in speaking the pain, and in hearing someone else's pain. Acknowledge it, validate it; then we can move on. And recognize as well that it will return, in decreasing waves. It's not a once for all kind of thing. So thank you to my friends, for your loving listening.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Reality Check

One of the things I need to remember as I adjust to this new reality (yes, even after 3 years with one and one year with two CI's, it's still "new") is what I'm comparing. My last post was about the loss of my orchestral experience. Yes, I have lost that. But it's not the least bit the fault of my cochlear implants. I lost orchestra music because I lost my hearing.

So I'm comparing my experience of music now to when I was a hearing person. It's a valid comparison, but not the only one. The other very important comparison is between what I hear with my cochlear implants and what I would hear *without* them. Which is nothing. Or at best a lot of very loud indistinct buzz if I were to continue wearing hearing aids.

I am now a deaf person. I had the choice between rapidly decreasing benefit from hearing aids, and getting a cochlear implant. Getting back the hearing I had the first 60% of my life was not, and is not, one of the options.

I was sitting in the prayer meeting at my church this evening, and I heard someone slip into the pew behind me. It was just a minute swish of her skirt against the fabric on the seat. Softer than a whisper. And I, with my electronic ears, heard it!

Not much short of a miracle. A good reminder of what I DO have rather than what I don't have.

Orchestra Music

I went to the Hearing Loss Association of America convention over the weekend, and of all the people for me to run into "randomly"-- I was leaving a noisy banquet after all the speeches were done and they cranked up the music for dancing. As I walked through the door, I turned to the person next to me and said, "It's loud in there!" He said, "Yes, and I use my ears for a living, so I can't afford all that sound." "What do you do?" "I'm a conductor." It stopped me dead in my tracks, almost knocked the wind out of me. I stood staring at him and finally softly said, "Then... you understand. I used to be in an orchestra.... and now... it's gone." We talked for a few minutes then went our separate ways. I found a quiet place and sat and cried.

That encounter has brought up a fresh wave of painful grieving, thinking about the joy of watching the conductor, the joys of not just playing notes, but *making music.* Crescendo and decrescendo; accelerando and ritardando. Painting pictures with my fingers and bow. The rise and swell of emotion and mood, created in a group. Being in the center of the musical sound. It's gone. So do I sit here and do the hard work of grieving, or do I eat a piece of chocolate cake, with lots of rich gloppy frosting? I have to say, the cake looks a lot more attractive. I'm tired of this grieving business.

I have so many blessings with my cochlear implants, but that part of my life, playing the viola, will never return. Sometimes one just has to grieve.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Musical Auditory Therapy, Session 2

This time, Amanda and I met at the church. We decided not to sit at the piano, just sat in the sanctuary. That is certainly a very different acoustical space than the living room at my house. We can't really tell how that affected things, as there are other factors such as doing practice between times we met.

She observed my pitch matching was better. I can't really tell, which is why I have her helping me in the first place. So it's good to have feedback that I'm improving. Lower pitches continue to be easier for me to match. She sings a pitch, on a chosen vowel (ooo, eeee, ahhh, ohhh) then I try to match it. This works best when she keeps singing the note while I fish around to find it. She indicates if I'm high or low and when I match. I can pretty much only tell if she's gone higher or lower than the last pitch. But I can tell if a pitch is very low, or very high, so I guess I'm getting more familiar with range again.

We worked on intervals this time. Greater intervals, like a fourth or fifth, are harder. We worked quite a bit with matching a whole step interval. She sang the interval alone, then I matched each pitch, then I sang the interval alone. It's a lot of work! Then we tried a half-step, and that was more challenging. Higher intervals are harder than lower intervals, but that makes sense.

We ended with singing "Jesus Loves Me" and "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" again, and she said I'm doing better on them. Still lots of work to do, of course. But I had a very unquantifiable improvement in my enjoyment of singing in church the Sunday after our first session--perhaps just because I know I'm working on it, and because I'm told I don't sound nearly as bad as I thought I was sounding.