Monthly Archives: November 2010

Getting Closer and Closer

As I near closer and closer to the December 20th date, things are starting to hit me. I’m not trying to be dramatic by any means, but I’m trying to be mature about everything and look at this surgery the way it should be looked at.

As of today my surgery is in 21 days.

I heard my sister’s voices the way I’ve always known all my life for the last time on Thanksgiving. I heard a lot of things the way I’m used to for the last time on Thanksgiving, my families voices and such. I spent my last weekend home before surgery too.

After this surgery, things will never go back to the way they have always been, even if I want them too. This is a permanent choice I had to make, but I’m very glad and excited I made it.

I’m going to have all of my residual hearing wiped out in my right ear four days before Christmas. That’s what has to happen for the cochlear implant. The cochlear implant won’t be activated until after New Years. I will not hear anything out of the right ear for two weeks. Through Christmas Eve, Christmas, and New Years. Even with the cochlear implant activated, sound won’t be anywhere near the same, at first. Instead of listening through my ears, I’ll be listening through electrodes stimulating my nerves directly. It’s a whole new way of listening. But it’s a way that will work for me.

But it won’t work immediately.

Sure I’ll hear noises, but I won’t understand how to comprehend the noises. I’ve never really heard or understood sound out of my right ear. It will take therapy to make use of the noises. So I will be going into therapy overdrive for the three weeks left of Christmas break. I will be going to classes with the rest of the students at school. Just with some different equipment.

I’m feeling a little weird about the fact that the next time I go home, I will be going into surgery. It feels like the date jumped up on me. Back in October it seemed like this couldn’t come fast enough, now I can’t believe how quickly it came.

Don’t get me wrong at all! I’m looking forward to it, I’m ready to do this and I’m very excited. I’m just nervous as to how this is all going to turn out. It’s going to be weird hearing things out of that ear. I’ve never really understood speech out of that ear, so to hear somebody speak to me and for me to understand what was said will truly be a miracle and I’m looking forward to it everyday.

I can’t wait until I can talk on the phone out of that ear, or until I can hear my friends out of that side, or until I can actually close my eyes and rely on my ears for once. It will be great.

If anybody is wondering, this is what Google says the cochlear implant will sound like: the first one is what you hear and the second one will be what I hear.

http://www.hei.org/research/aip/decrease_channels.mp3

Hope everybody is having a good day!

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An Interesting Thought

Helen Keller sitting holding a magnolia flower...

Helen Keller sitting holding a magnolia flower, circa 1920 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Being blind separates you from things, being deaf separates you from people”-Helen Keller

Now, I’ve never experienced the blindness part of this quote but I can honestly speak for the second part of this quote and she is spot on about this.

There are statistics out there that say that deafness can lead to depression, it can lead to separation, isolation, loneliness, amongst other things. I’ve also read articles stating that people with disabilities experience increased drug use due to the stresses from their disability. I can speak only for myself when I say that I have none of these symptoms, but I can definitely see and relate to why people with a hearing loss are experiencing this.

One of the reasons that people may feel isolated is that they may be the only person they know that is deaf, and that can be pretty hard. Luckily I have some friends that are deaf, but I don’t see them on a regular basis. For somebody that feels the need to have friends like themselves, this can be a difficult to undergo. I have always been thankful for the people, teachers, professors, and friends around me.

Another reason that somebody can feel depressed is that the people around them just don’t know how to respond to them. I myself, have had several people in my life baby me and treat me like I’m a special ed. case. That can be very embarrassing. If I wasn’t as “joking about the deafness” as I am, I’m sure I would receive this weird treatment much more than I do now.

Something that separates you from people is just the sheer fact of not hearing somebody’s voice. This is something that everybody takes for granted. Think about it, I’m sure most of the readers of this blog now awake to a screeching alarm clock, but what woke you up in elementary school? Your mother’s voice. That was impossible for me. I can’t hear anything because I don’t sleep with the hearing aids in, so I have to wait until I put them in and get used to the sound before I can comprehend everything.

I have people get mad at me all the time for not hearing them, they think I’m not listening. Sometimes I’m not, lately most times I really can’t hear them. It’s easier to just let them get mad.

When I’m talking one-on-one to somebody, I do great in conversation. I can read their lips and comprehend the entire conversation. But when a second or third person is added to the mix, this easy conversation with simple reading of lips instantly becomes as hard as solving a Rubik’s Cube while blind folded. That is when I start being quiet in the conversation and I “listen”, when I’m really just thinking to myself, “how the heck can I get away without seeming rude?” The best way to act engaged in these types of conversations is laugh when everybody else does. I know, it’s wrong, but I can’t follow the lip reading fiasco. Back and forth. Back and forth.

Many of you may have already known this, but I have never let my deafness kept me from having a social life. There is no reason why any other disability should keep anybody else from having one too.

Have a good week people.

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Ordering the Cochlear Implant

Illustration of internal parts of a cochlear i...

Illustration of internal parts of a cochlear implant (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sorry about the lack of posts in the last couple of days. I’ve been busy with life and such you know, the usual. A lot has happened though. I did go and have an appointment with my audiologist office. We ordered the processor (the part that goes on the ear outside of the body). That had made me that much more excited and nervous at the same time. I’m looking forward to getting it. We matched colors to my hair and skin, and ordered an iPod attachment. I catch myself thinking about the surgery all of the time so I am forcing myself to think about other things so I don’t drive myself crazy out of nervousness. I’m sure I’m driving all of my friends crazy talking about it, so I’m trying more and more to stop.

Something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately since it’s coming to season and all, is family.

I have always had a somewhat skewed vision of what a family should be. It’s no offense to my family or anything. It’s just given my current situation and what I was exposed to as a child, that has messed up my views. This isn’t me complaining about my family by any means, I understand that everybody has there things, this is just part of what made me who I am.

My family in a nutshell: My parents divorced as a child, my mom’s mom (my grandma) died when she was eight. And her dad kicked her out of the house at fourteen. She moved from California to Oklahoma to live with her sister, my details are vague from then on but somehow we lost contact with that entire family. No maternal side.

My dads side: They love me very much, and as do I love them. But it is a large family, and with a large family one can tend to fall in the cracks. As in they forget to invite you to things and somebody can forget your name for a second. I see most of them on Christmas Eve, but that’s about it. It’s really not a big deal to me, It’s just difficult when they all have their holiday events with their spouses, leaving you basically alone on holidays.

So because of this family situation, on holidays it was usually just me, my mom, and my brother. If we got lucky enough to get invited to another families event, we would go to their families house. Don’t get me wrong, I love holidays and everything, it can just be difficult. The past couple of years it has gotten better with going to the same families houses and things, so it isn’t as awkward.

My mom has always taught me something, “Friends come and go, but your family is always there for you.” (I always found it interesting she told me that when her own family abondaned her
) I think that phrase has some truth to it though, but we all know of those friends that would never go anywhere no matter what happened to you. Those friends to me are viewed as family. The people that repeatedly take me and my family in, (my half-sisters family, its a long story, a whole ‘nother blog post) I view as family to me, I have some good family friends across the street, they are family to me.

This past year I really saw a family hold together in the loss of a family member, this year they will be experiencing the “going to somebody else’s house” thing like my family does every year. It isn’t a bad thing, but in that situation, it is very difficult for them.

The ability to hold together through family is pretty great. I am very thankful for my family and I hope that everybody else reading this (if your still there) has the same support that I do. My surgery is in less than a month now, the date is getting closer and closer.

Have a good Thanksgiving, I’ll get more uniform with the updates!

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Serving Tables

waiter

waiter (Photo credit: zoetnet)

Today, while waiting in line at Starbucks, because I got my good spot in line, I was reminded of my good ol’ days while serving tables. There are a lot of memories that I have from serving tables, and I met a lot off new and interesting people while doing it. I learned a lot of life lessons in that restaurant. Most that I’ll never forget.

 

Something I’ve realized, when taken the time to talk, most people are very nice and great to get to have conversations with. Most care enough about you to ask you about your life and care about your future plans. I had several regulars ask me about my cochlear implant, about OU, about my shows I was crewing. People can truly be great. But some are the complete opposite. Some just come to eat and leave, and that is fine. That is what we are there for.

 

But one woman is stuck in my mind forever.

 

This woman was truly amazing to me in the peak of rudeness. This woman was so rude she brought my serving night to a complete stop so I could put her in her place. I am the type of person that doesn’t give rude comments the time of day. I don’t see them as productive. But this woman was different.

 

I had been at work all day, I had five tables. I was busy, but this woman kept asking for little things like extra peppers and such. Which is fine, I understand, its my job. At the end of the meal it came time to set down the check, I asked her if she wanted dessert. It sounded as though she said no. So I set the check down and walked away, that was when all hell broke loose. She yells across the floor, “What?! Are you deaf?!” I was ten feet away and a large number of the restaurant heard that insult. Most of which knowing I was, in fact, deaf.

 

I had a choice, walk away, and take it like I had taken several other insults. Or stand up for myself. I choose the second.

 

Normally, I don’t like to cause a scene, especially about myself. Now don’t get me wrong, I’ll stand up for myself and everything, but not in a loud manner. This had finally had me. I had some dirty plates in my hand and I decided to use them to my advantage. I walked the distance over there, slammed them on her table, and looked her straight in the eye. Remember, I do not know this lady.

 

“You DO NOT speak to me in that way”, I told her in a very stern voice. “As you obviously do not not know, I AM deaf and you just made a complete IDIOT of me and yourself in this restaurant, so I take it you do not want dessert and you will be paying out”. I then walked away leaving somebody else’s dirty dishes on her table and came back for payment a few minutes later.

 

THERE WAS A DISABILITY CARD IN THE SERVER’S BOOK FOR A DISCOUNT

 

I kindly swiped the card and paid her out.

 

I’m not promoting bad behavior in any way, or saying my behavior was right in any manner. There comes a time though where enough is enough and you MUST stand up for yourself, no matter what the reason or the circumstances are. You know what is right and you know that God will take care of you for doing the right thing.

 

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"Quiet Day"

Today is going to be really quiet, I can feel it. From the minute I opened my eyes in bed I knew that this was going to be a “deaf day” as I call them.

Many may be asking, “Aren’t you already deaf?” or “How can you be surprised, you’ve been deaf all your life?”
The thing is though, my hearing fluctuates. With the number of times the Duggar’s have had kids in that show “19 Kids and Counting”, my hearing can fluctuate just to that amount of times in a day.

The problem is though, somJim Bob and Michelle Duggare days my hearing doesn’t quite bounce back all the way. It just goes low, and stays low. These are hard days. Because the world still expects what normal-hearing Connor can do when currently, I may not be able to hear a single thing your saying.

Lately it’s been doing that more often. There is really no answer why, it just is. It happens a lot to people who have Enlarged Vestibular Aqueduct Syndrome (LVAS). That is why my audiologist is getting me a cochlear implant. Because my hearing has gone down, and stayed down to the point that I need to get surgery to “fix” it. (That isn’t his wording, that is wording that a lot of people who aren’t familiar with cochlear implants like to use)

Although this all may sound very grim and depressing. I’m not really bothered by it. It has been this way since I was born and there isn’t a thing in the world I can do about it. I have to look at the positives in life. I just get up, put my underwear on, and go to school like the rest of the world hoping that it’ll be a good day and that I’ll get a good spot in line at Starbucks.

Have a good day folks.

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Crewing A Show

English: Helen Keller. Français : Helen Keller.

English: Helen Keller. Français : Helen Keller. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve just begun crewing “The Man Who Came To Dinner” and through sitting there for six hours while they set cues, a lot of things were revealed to me.

I’ve realized what frustrates me so much about tech rehearsals. Don’t get me wrong, I like doing the whole crew thing, its just the actual “teching” that”s always really frustrated me and for some reason; about 3 hours in I was always ready to leave.

It was the darkness backstage.

Now somebody reading this is probably thinking, “What? Is he afraid of darkness?” No it isn’t that. It’s the fact that after about three hours of sitting in the darkness not being to hear the whispers that my fellow crew members are saying to each other, and the fact that I can’t read lips back there really sets you back.

Especially if you feel they may or may not be talking about or to you.

It’s also the fact that the stage manager gives orders through a microphone. This drives me crazy. I know, that’s how it’s done, it’s a “God Mic” and she has to use it. But that sound reverberates like no other. I can’t understand a thing and it drives me absolutely crazy. I made a complete idiot out of myself yesterday because I thought I heard something and did something else and it was very embarrassing. Nobody will offer to tell me what she said, so I’ve gotta improvise.

It’s because of all of this, that I am constantly asking questions. And because I ask so many questions, I’m getting on peoples nerves and they start being impertinent towards me. I have NO IDEA what is going on. I can’t hear a thing back there and my vision is impaired. Yes, as many of you are thinking, truly a Helen Keller situation.

As you may be asking, “Well what’s so different about tech rehearsal from normal rehearsal?”
It depends on the show, because usually there are lights on from the stage most all the time that allow for me to see lips backstage. I’m praying this show is like one of those…

One more point I want to make today:

Nobody has the right to get frustrated with me for something I have no control over. Just like nobody has the right to get frustrated with somebody else about something they have no control over. I’ve done the best I can, and everybody else has too. Getting frustrated with me for not hearing in a piercing black backstage is like getting mad at a man in a wheelchair for not being able to dance with you. I’m not specifically talking to any one person or group of people when I say this, this is a general address.

Everybody have a good week, it’s a short one for me!

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People In This World

Growing up as a little kid in Oklahoma City, opportunities for assistance for deaf children aren’t as widely available as they should be. For example, some school districts feel it is okay to invest several million dollars in a football field, but when it comes to assisting their deaf students by hiring interpreters or buying microphones, the budget always somehow comes short.

After I moved to Edmond, things from the actual school district never really got better. I graduated having to use my own microphones and items, when the school districts are required by law to provide funds for assistance.

Although the school districts were poor in helping in funding, they hired some of the best teachers that one could ask for. They were truly role models to me. Some have made me into the person I am today. I’ve decided to talk about some of them on this blog. Some teachers I’ve had have babied me, others have ignored me, and I’ve had subs downright kick me to the head office because they felt I was in the wrong class (fourth grade, she thought it was downright wrong for me to ask her to use the microphone, she was fired).

The ones that have made a difference in my life were the ones that treated me like a normal person.

Something I’ve learned when I went to college: because of being deaf, a lot of people know who I am. Sometimes I get different treatment than the other students. Whether not its good or bad treatment, it can be different. Due to the fact that most people aren’t exposed to somebody who is young and is about to have a cochlear implant, they take notice to me.

Personally I like to brake the barrier between me and them set by the hearing loss by joking about it. Some people think they’re wrong, I think THEY are wrong. It breaks the ice to joke about the hearing loss and it lets people get to know who I really am without them feeling like I am any different to them.

Some Teachers/Professors That Have Made A Huge Difference In My Life (Names Excluded For Privacy and Safety)

My High School Drama Teacher: My number one supporter in high school. She meant so much to me in the most vulnerable times in my life. Sometimes when I was feeling disabled and like I can’t do anything, she was able to make me feel important again. I miss the daily support that I got from her in her little office. She never cared that I was significantly deaf, she constantly told me how much she overlooked it, and every time she said it it meant so much to me.

My Junior Year AP Language Teacher: Another very important person in my life, she always supported me; when I went to ask her if she thought I could do the advanced class she supported me from day one. She would take my FM microphone and run around the 50+ person classroom and hold the microphone up to their mouths. That made such an impact to me that somebody would care so much.

My Junior Year AP American History Teacher: She was always somebody that I could go talk to if I had any problems with anything going on during the school. She is an amazing teacher, I wish that all of the teachers were like her.

Other people that have had a big influence in my life are my Spanish teacher, Intro to Acting Professor, and the Director of the School of Drama. All of which have shown tremendous support to me.

By the way, I went to the Harry Potter premier last night. It was a really good movie, but a word of advice to all mothers with young children: PLEASE don’t bring a crying baby into the movie premier of a blockbuster hit, it could cause a riot composed of a bunch of nerds wielding sticks with lights on them while wearing replica glasses with a fake scar on their forehead.

I’m not joking.

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Being A Deaf Lighting Designer

Lighting Design Stencil

Lighting Design Stencil (Photo credit: SplaTT)

I’ve been asked several questions about what it is like to walk in my shoes as a deaf lighting designer. As of right now, I am the only deaf student at the School of Drama. To my knowledge, I’m the only one in this particular school’s history within the University as well.

Many people within this school are not familiar with working with somebody with a severe hearing loss and do not hesitate to ask me questions. I like it when people ask questions, in fact I enjoy it when people ask me about what it is like. It makes me feel like I’m educating people about a subculture in life that otherwise my friends and the people I go to school with wouldn’t get exposure too.

One question I get a lot: “Do you hear anything when you take your hearing aids out?”
It depends on what you mean, because there are different answers. If you mean noise, than yes/no (sometimes). I have LVAS, a type of hearing loss that fluctuates with the different days in the week and it is as reliable as the Oklahoma weather. Sometimes I’ll wake up and hear very little noise in my left ear and absolutely nothing in my right ear. Those are the days that you’ll see me being quiet at school. Other days it seems like I hear noises for what seems like OK in my left ear but nothing in my right ear. My right ear is deteriorating and I’m getting it implanted, so that will get me on that path of better hearing. If you mean noise that is understandable to the point of speech recognition and to have the ability to locate sounds, than no.

Another question I get: “Does insurance pay for your hearing aids?”
NO! It’s crazy isn’t it? The low end model of hearing aids for your grandma could cost $1000.00 each, but mine cost at least $2500.00 each with a remote that costs $1500.00. That’s $6500.00 for high end hearing aids that families have to pay out of pocket. I know of families that have deaf twins that fortunately have found help. Luckily I have received help from my doctors office, truly a blessing from God. Jace, my Audiologist and Joanna, the Director of the program have been a great help for me in getting them.

“How do you hear the alarm clock in the mornings?”
My bed is shaken by a vibrator, (the alarm clock).

“Does insurance pay for the cochlear implant?”
Luckily yes, because those things can be in the neighborhood of $60,000.00 for one.


“How can you hear on headset”/”Why would you even choose this major if your deaf?”
This question was actually asked to me from somebody at school, I simply said that I can hear from a program that my hearing aids switch to on my hearing aids.

I’ve got to go to Sociology, I’m hoping this blog is somewhat entertaining for some people reading this!

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Weird Injection

Well, I just got injected with something weird that the injections nurse at Goddard didn’t think I should be injected with for my surgery coming up in December. That was comforting. It was really nice to be asked four times if “I’m sure I want to be injected with this?” So if all the sudden I change colors or grow a third eye, you know why.

Something that came to my mind today; oftentimes I’m asked why do I date hearing girls? Or how come I don’t date deaf girls? Apart from the fact of how completely random that question is, I just don’t think about it. Honestly it never crosses my mind. It just so happens that I’m around hearing girls most of the time, and when it comes time to ask girls on dates, they don’t have hearing aids! Its not prejudice, its probability.

In my opinion, if your too busy looking at stuff like that you are not somebody worth dating. Now I’m not going to be oblivious to the world, there is a basic attraction that must be achieved before you could give somebody a chance at dating. But if all you ever think about is “oh, he’s nice and funny. but I can’t date him because he’s got hearing aids”, than you need to think about how you present yourself in society. I’ll answer that for you, you look like an idiot if looks are all you think about.

I distinctly remember a girl in high school that I liked my freshman year, and it seemed as though she was interested back. Whenever I brought up the discussion of my feelings toward her, that exact reaction was played out in real life. I was told I couldn’t be dated because she was embarrassed about the hearing aids and being seen dating somebody with them. Now that, was a completely shocking move towards me. I had never been told that I wasn’t able to do something or be something because of having hearing aids! Now I look back on it and marvel on the complete rudeness of the girl, but back then I was shattered. I went to school two days without the hearing aids on to try and hide it. That was embarrassing for everybody involved. I couldn’t hear a thing going on and trying to cover it was weird because trying to add into a conversation when you don’t know what is being said is impossible. I tried to compromise. Nothing worked. She just was a complete imbecile that wasn’t worth my time.

Sometimes you can change people’s opinions about circumstances and sometimes you can’t. I’m always willing to give people a chance though. Even after they mess up.

I now know that it wasn’t worth trying to change myself for her, because if she wasn’t willing to accept me for myself, than I should have said tough s…(you know what goes there) and moved on. There are just some things people can’t change in life, but one thing you always can change is your attitude.

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One Month Away

English: University of Oklahoma logo.

English: University of Oklahoma logo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Something that is shocking me is the fact that in a month and six days, my life will be changing.  It is was obviously a blessing from God to get insurance approval to get the cochlear implant, but I’m very nervous as to what it’s going to be like to hear out of that ear. I haven’t ever heard any “real noise” out of the right ear, especially in the last year or so. I’m getting very excited. Even though that is coming up I’ve still got other things coming up, I’m a Lighting Design student for the theatre at the University of Oklahoma. I’ve got a show, “The Man Who Came To Dinner” coming up in the next week, finals, and everything else a college student deals with at the end of a semester. Life doesn’t stop for cochlear implant surgery!

Although I’m nervous about how life is going to be and what it is going to be like going back to school three weeks after activation, I think it’s going to be okay. As far as how things are going now, I’m noticing little things changing day to day.

I remember hearing the elevator door beeping as I would step on it in the mornings, I’m not hearing that anymore. I don’t hear my roommates alarm anymore like I used to be able too, I don’t hear my keys jingling on my belt loop. But I know it’ll all come back in time! One thing that’s funny is although I’m not hearing these things, it’s bringing me closer to God because I’m finding myself praying more for help in getting through the day and in making right decisions when I’m being forced to “fake out” a conversation (when I don’t hear what you say so I use my acting skills and act like I heard you). I’ve gotten good at it and haven’t been caught in a year or so!

If your deaf and your reading this, one thing I’ve learned is “if you do the talking, you don’t have to do the listening”. That’s why I’m always trying to be funny and keep myself in the talking position!

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