Monthly Archives: December 2010

One Week After Surgery

christmas 2007

christmas 2007 (Photo credit: paparutzi)

First… I hope everybody had a good Christmas, I did. I think I like quiet Christmas’ better!

So it has been a week since I have let a drill have its way with my right ear and I’m feeling much better. There is a lot of things different that nobody else would notice.

Since I got the surgery it hasn’t stopped hurting, but now its gotten to a dull throbbing that I can bare without having to take Tylenol everyday. My incision is now healing, and the pain has died down tremendously, so I can feel around on my head and it feels strange. I felt around on my head and the internal piece feels huge! It wraps around a lot of my right side of my skull and it seems really thick. I can also feel where they hollowed out all of the bone to insert this device.

Obviously communication with me has had a strain lately. I wasn’t aware that the 10% of hearing that I had in that ear really made that much of a difference when it came to functioning. Everything seems vastly quiet, even though I never relied on this ear. Every time my hearing aid would go dead or something, I would always take a battery from the right side with no problems. But now it is complete silence on that side, different from before. It is really hard to explain without you having already experiencing this silence weirdness. It is like this because I haven’t been activated yet (January 5th!) I am excited for the day I get to have my right side turned on.

Even when you put in ear plugs, you still hear something. And when your done being “silent”, you can just take them off. But this is something permanent. Don’t get me wrong though, I’m very excited to get activated and everything, I’m just not really digging this step of complete silence.

Although this step towards a cochlear implant isn’t the funnest step, I’m still very excited to move on and get activated. I really appreciate all of the continued support and prayers that everybody is still giving me.

I hope you guys have a good day!

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Post Surgery

An operating theatre (gynecological hospital o...

Hello ladies and gentlemen,

I am now in the period of time that is considered post surgery, pre-activation. What that means is that I cannot hear a thing out of my right ear, and I do not yet have the processor to go with the internal component. I will be receiving that January 5th. It seems as if though somebody put ear plugs in my ear, and then put duct tape over them to cover any sound going in, because now I will never hear without the processor.

So let me talk about yesterday for a little bit: After fasting for a while, I went to the hospital to have this life changing operation. When I got there, they registered me and took my blood work. To get my vain to show, the nurse gave me a rubber peanut to squeeze, and when she gave it to me she just said squeeze and release the peanut. Due to my severe state of deafness, I thought she said squeeze and release the penis. That got the day started off just right. We all laughed.

After waiting for awhile, the director of the School of Drama showed up amongst other people to show their support for me. That meant a lot to me. I was severely nervous as to how this operation was going to go. I already had an IV in me and I wasn’t sure as to how I was going to hear after the operation, let alone how much pain I was going to be in after the fact. Having all of those people there for me, and having all of the people call and text me was great and that provided the support I really needed.

After waiting two hours, I was called to go into surgery.

This was the moment I had been waiting for, the final moments with my right ear. After this surgery, I will never hear anything naturally out of my right ear again. Not that I had really been getting any sounds out of it in the past five years, it was just the permanent part of it that was hitting me. I said goodbye to everybody that was there to support me, and I went back into the Operating Room.

When I arrived into the room they laid me on the table, after undressing me. Wondering why they were undressing me, they told me it was just in case they needed access to other parts of my body during surgery.

Well that got me saying my “Hail Mary’s and Our Father’s”.

After laying down, the anesthesiologist came into the room. He asked me if I had any more questions about today’s operation. I told him no. Then he said, “Well okay Connor, The next thing you will remember is being in mid-conversation with your family”. To that I responded with, “Well uh, thanks. Merry Christmas then?” They laughed and I passed out.

He wasn’t lying, the next thing I remember is being in mid- sentence with my mom. Talking about some picture that my friend drew me, something about Pierre or something. I don’t know.

At that time, I was feeling fine. Then about five minutes later, the numbness wore off. Then the worst pain I had ever felt started to hit me. It got worse and worse and worse. I let the nurse know, and she gave me some medicine. Apparently she gave me too little of a dose, and she couldn’t do much about it without the doctors consent. So I had to foot the bill of her mistake with the immense pain I was in. It was horrendous.

I had never felt such pain in my life. Every bump in the road, every turn in the car, every step to the house, felt like a gunshot to my lower ear. It was bad. But I had been given medicine and I was for sure going to take it.

Fast forward six hours, and I’m feeling more like myself now. I’m still sore but things are much better. I had slept through the pain and now things are getting better. It literally went away through the sleep and the chocolate milkshake I had.

Next Day (Today):

I had a check up with the doctors, he removed my headdress and checked the incision. He described to me about how my surgery was a little more difficult than some others. My main artery in my neck runs up by where the implant needs to go. Which is unusual, it is supposed to be much lower, but my anatomy is apparently “weird” and it took him an extra hour to work around this artery. That freaked my family out a bit yesterday because I went way longer in surgery than normal.

So, I’m feeling better now, my head is shaved, my hair (that is left) is now clean, I’ve taken a bath (no showers until Friday) and I will keep you posted on my state of being over the next couple of days.

Thank you very much for your support and prayers, they kept me safe during the surgery when the surgeon noticed the artery!

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2 More Days!

I know it’s been over a week since I’ve updated this blog, but I’ve been busy. As usual a lot has happened though.

Everybody should know that when your getting a surgery done, that the hospital is more than likely going to expect a down payment. I wasn’t aware of this small fact. There have been small hoops coming up all this past week, the hospital has been calling me saying that they need a $400.00 down payment before the surgery can be performed. I called the hospital to get it in writing that I needed to, in fact, provide that down payment, and then they told me it was just highly suggested. That wasn’t what they said before. So lesson to learn from that…. Hospitals may or may not expect down payments on procedures done. I’ll keep you posted on whether or not they made me pay!

Don’t even get me started with insurance.

I feel like this day really jumped up on me. I kept telling myself that I would start really paying attention to how close the date is for this after my show was done, then I said after my birthday, then I said after finals. Now it’s two days away.

Everybody keeps asking me if I’m nervous, I’m really kind of indifferent to what is going to be happening Monday. I mean before you think I’m a big insensitive weird person, let me explain what I mean.

What is happening Monday isn’t going to be anything but the actual surgery. They will not be giving be the part (called the processor) that allows me to hear all of the sounds God intended me to hear until January 5th. THAT is the day I’m excited and nervous for. But Monday is a surgery. January 5th is the activation.

“Why does it take so long?” – You might ask.
Because We have to wait for my stitches to heal and for Christmas and New Years to pass. Yes, I will not be hearing a sound out of that side through Christmas and New Years.

“Aren’t you already deaf on that side?”
To a point, I cannot make out any sounds without hearing aids any more, and even with the hearing aids it is a hit and miss. When I’m getting the procedure done it is going to remove all residual hearing. I will never be able to hear out of my ear without the processor.

Honestly I’m just ready to get it over with, I had to cut my hair really short, I’m not a fan of it. I liked it longer. I promised one of my friends that I would post a funny story again so that will be my last post that I make before the surgery. Thanks for the continued reading!

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People Nowadays

People in this world nowadays can be surprising. I try not to take things personally when negative things happen towards my way, but sometimes it can be difficult.

Lately, there has been more and more difficulties leading up to the surgery. I’ve had some possibilities of people who once said they were going to assist with surgery (they said they would pay around $5,000), and now there is a chance they won’t. Medical bills have been adding up, bills that I believed to be covered by insurance. Now I will be having to pay them out of pocket.

I’ve also been having difficulties in classes. I’ve been having difficulties with my professors understanding what is going on with me, and it is reflecting in my grades. These are participation type grades such as “he ignores me”. I don’t blame them in any way because I cannot expect them to understand. I just wish they were more willing to work with me. I’ve also been having more difficulties with getting along with some people who are my friends here at the University. Some people are getting more and more frustrated with me because I can’t hear or understand what they are saying. I’m doing my best to work with the professors here to find out if my grades can be talked about, because I believe what has occurred to be unfair.

It has been no secret that I have been considering a different major in college. I haven’t made any major decisions because I believe that a lot of my stresses are stemming from the fact that I haven’t had the surgery yet. I will wait until spring to do so. If you would’ve asked me last night, I would’ve been out of this program tomorrow. But I thought long and hard about it and decided to not make any irrational decisions. I took what occurred personally, and I believed it to be a personal attack on me.

One thing that every person in this world must do is they must observe their own limitations. Everybody in this world has limitations, although mine may be in hearing. Others are in different areas. But what we all must do is see if these limitations are going to affect what you want to do in life, and see if you can overcome them.

But I want everybody to be aware that I have always done my absolute best in everything I can do. I have never once half-assed anything when it came to proving myself. I have always tried to be somebody that people can be proud of. I thrive on that kind of stuff. I’m sure things will improve soon, I’m just stating my observations for the past couple of weeks.

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The Man That Left For Dinner

pepsi

pepsi (Photo credit: *Sally M*)

I’m sitting here in the greenroom, not much has occurred these last couple of days since my last update. I’ve been basically going through all of the end of the semester things that a usual college student would go through, worrying about finals, finishing up papers, crewing my show for the semester, preparing for cochlear implant surgery. You know, the usual stuff.

I oftentimes have some different worries or things on my mind that I have to deal with, being a deaf college student. Stresses that other students wouldn’t have to think about. These worries are more common for your average 72 year-old grandfather walking the street. Nonetheless, I deal with them.

One thing that is common about all deaf people using assistance devices of any kinds, is that they have to constantly worry about batteries. I know I’ve mentioned this before in a previous post, but this is very important. Whether it be for the wireless microphone, your hearing aids, or your cochlear implant, it must be on your mind. The feeling of having a battery go out and looking in your backpack and realizing that they are all gone is to the equivalent of waiting for that text message from that hot girl you’ve been talking to, and then having your cell phone go dead. It isn’t a fun situation. So to relieve that stress, one often carries more than one pair on his person. Such places can be in a backpack, pocket, hide them in the electric shop, whatever works. They are my drug, and energizer is my dealer.

Another thing that you must always think about, is how loud you are talking. I’m constantly doing a mental volume check on my speech. Now somebody who has normal hearing obviously does this subconsciously, but to me, you must always do that. You definitely don’t want to be talking too loudly in class, or in a public place and draw too much unwanted attention to yourself. Believe me, from somebody that knows, you don’t want that attention because you just yelled what could be perceived as weird, dirty, gross, inappropriate, or distasteful, when in reality your honestly just trying to have a private conversation.

Another thing that you’ve always got to think about is your surroundings. Now I wasn’t going to say this because I believe this should be a common worry for everybody. Such as worrying about cars, bikes, or… trees. But anyways, I wasn’t going to mention it until yesterday. Yesterday I was walking to class when I noticed people kept looking at me.

A lot of people.

Like everybody.

And there grandma.

As it just so occurs, after my daily coffee run, there was a Coke truck behind me on the road honking his horn and trying to get around me, making very Jesus-like gestures. Apparently he had been following me a long ways and I hadn’t heard him. I was in the middle of the road.

So I did what was smart, I turned around, pointed at my ears and got out of the street. He blew his horn as he sped by.

I don’t even like Coke, I’m more of a Pepsi man.

Have a good day tomorrow folks, enjoy a Pepsi Cola!

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2 Weeks From Now

Photograph of the implanted portion of a cochl...

Photograph of the implanted portion of a cochlear implant with a ruler(centi) and a Canadian quarter(diameter:23.88 mm thickness:1.58 mm) besides it to give a sense of size. The specific device shown is manufactured by Advanced Bionics. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve always tried to be somebody who wants to make somebody else feel important, even at my own expense. I’ve always tried to be the friend that you could call at any time of the night and talk to me if you need something. I’ve always tried to live by the idea that somehow the world needs to be better than it was before I got here, by the time I leave. Everyday I try to make an impact on somebody by doing something to help them. If I live by that idea, then that will carry out through my actions.

The surgery is getting to two weeks away, that’s all I’m going to say about that. I’m done thinking about that really. Somebody had to just remind me that my birthday was in less than a week. I’m losing my mind.

Oftentimes, I get the accusation that “I’m not a real deaf person” because I don’t speak sign language. Although you may agree with me when I say that that is a very strange thing to say to somebody, it gets said quiet often.

As a child I was raised to not use sign language. I took speech therapy in a well-known therapy office in Oklahoma City. This office of speech therapy promotes the use of auditory-verbal communication. They are very good at what they do, people drive hours to have these speech instructors teach their children. I was never taught sign language because I went to this office. I’m very thankful that I never went to any other place because I have the basic ability to speak and understand spoken language.

There are two arguments in the deaf community.
One side (known as AG Bell), says that one should get implanted (or get hearing aids) as young as possible (and responsible) and then teach the child how to listen through the implants. Key speech skills are learned between the ages of 2-6. If you do it much later than that, the child’s speech ability may be hindered. You obviously know my side of the debate.

The other side (known as National Association of the Deaf, or NAD), says that everybody should wait until the child is old enough to make the decision themselves to get implanted. Which worked out fine for me because my hearing didn’t drop until I was after 18, but what do you do if your hearing drops at age 4? These people aren’t concerned with the child’s socialization. They are concerned with the fact that a cochlear implant will cause “cultural genocide”

The government is agreeing with AG Bell and my side, because now it is law to have every baby screened for a hearing test before they even leave for home. This is a very good thing because it took until I was in Kindergarten before they realized what was wrong with my hearing. Many people have stories like mine.

Have a good week err’body, it definitely was a Monday for me.

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Evaluations

I had my technical theatre evaluations today, they went very well. They were mostly composed of telling me that I’m doing good in the classes, and that they are impressed with the fact that I can do what I do, how well I do it, in the theatre. They also said they were impressed that I overcome the obstacles that I do everyday. They also all wished me good luck on the surgery.

Hearing praises about “overcoming my obstacles” isn’t something that I’m unfamiliar with, not that I’m trying to brag by any means. It is just something that I run into on a regular basis. I’m not complaining either, I like hearing that people think that I do a good job at the overcoming of what I go through. I also appreciate people realizing the fact that I have to work hard to produce the work and satisfaction that I achieve for them.

But I don’t strive to be a role model for the praises. I do it for myself, to make myself a better person. I want to be a productive member of society and I want to do, for myself, what will make me, my family, and my friends proud. I also do it for others, so they can look at me and see that if I’ve made it through my younger years deaf and went to a major mainstreamed college.

My acting professor taught me in a class that “somebody should listen to praises about their work, but not let them get to your head,” that there is also “always room for improvement.” I heeded that advice even before I ever learned it from her.

Even though I’m never going to be an actor, I use that advice to my own advantage. I use it in the form of receiving praises of “overcoming my obstacles”. I will never let the fact that I have “overcome” these (in the eyes of everybody else at least) get to my head. I also always see room for improvement in the way I handle certain situations. I wish to be a role model and living proof to other people to show that you can have downfalls in your life and still be somebody to be proud of.

I strive to be a role model for the parents who have to decide whether or not to get the same operation for their 4 month old infant, I strive to be a role model for the deaf teenager who is feeling alone in middle or high school, I strive to be a role model for the adult who just lost all their hearing in a week and misses the sounds of life, I strive to be a role model for people of all different types of life stories that feel that somehow they aren’t good enough. I strive to be a role model for people of all different situations, deaf or not. I also strive to show people that eventually your dire circumstances will get better.

It may not appear that way at first, but they will.

I’m hoping that these blogs are still staying interesting to you, have a good rest of the weekend!

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Here We Go

Left ear cochlear implant as worn by user

Left ear cochlear implant as worn by user (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sorry about the lack of posts, I’ve been pretty busy lately with being in show and the end of the semester and stuff. But anyways here is the new one…

So new occurrences in my life, it’s starting to really seem like my hearing is still continuing to go down. It’s like my hearing changes with the weather. Everyday I feel like its gone down so low it couldn’t possibly go down any further but several days later it will surprise me again with a new record of lowness. Last night this girl was talking to me and I knew she was talking because her lips were moving, but no sound was coming out of her mouth, to me at least. I didn’t tell her because it was odd. It was really weird for me. Usually I at least hear a little noise that can be interpreted. It was very strange and a little unnerving, I would at least like to hear a little before all of my hearing is taken away in surgery.

Apparently I’ve been offending people lately too. Like somebody will be talking to me right next to me and I don’t hear them. This goes back to why I’m getting surgery. I seriously cannot hear any noises sometimes and when somebody is talking to me, it may seem like I’m paying attention but then I’ll just walk away. I’m really not trying to be that rude but it really comes across that way. This also leads to the isolation thing, people think I’m being rude so they avoid me. Then they talk about my rudeness to others and it spreads. It also looks like I’m ignoring directions backstage when somebody tells me something to do, and I don’t do it. Honestly, I’m not trying to be that way.

Another thing that’s changing is the fact that I’m not hearing intercom announcements backstage anymore. That is weird. Those things were blaring loud at first and now they are not so much. It seriously feels like somebody shoved some cotton balls in my ears and pushed me out in the real world.

I’ve always been taught that there is no point to sit and mope about circumstances that are out of my control. I’ve always been told to do the best I can with what I have and make it better. This is something that has always kept me going. This blog is purely an observation of pre-surgery symptoms that I’m experiencing.

Even though my body is going through these weird changes (gah! it sounds like I’m describing puberty) everybody still expects top performance around me. I cannot slack on my grades or I loose my scholarship, I cannot slack on my crew or my grades fail, I cannot slack on communication with friends or I have the potential to have them get very angry with me because as much as they love me, they just don’t understand, I cannot slack on any parts of my life.

I’ve chosen to make myself a mainstreamed student (meaning, I make myself part of normal society, not in the deaf society like deaf classes and sign language) and one of the downfalls is that nobody really can quite understand what it can be like to experince these events that I do on a daily basis. I don’t blame anybody by any means, and I’m very happy with my speech ability to make myself able to be a part of mainstreamed classes. It can just be difficult, just like everybody has their obstacles in life. The only difference is, is that I’ve decided to start a blog about mine!

Every time I get a chance, I thank God for the ability to speak and be a part of mainstreamed society, I thank him for the ability to get a cochlear implant, and I thank him for everything he’s given me. Even though I don’t have my hearing, I’ve been given the ability to read lips and the intelligence to get around that downfall. I’ve been provided with a great life and a great education to further my great life, I have great friends around me and I’m very thankful for it.

Even though some things don’t work out the way I would’ve wanted, there isn’t a thing I can do about it. They are completely out of my control. To waste my days on thinking and moping about it would be a waste of what I do have. At times it can seem like I don’t have much, but others it seems like I have almost too much. Be thankful for what you have because there is always somebody who has less. They might be sitting next to you in a class you have or in a restaurant your eating in.

Have a good day folks.

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Just A Funny Story

Many dogs can be trained easily to retrieve ob...

Many dogs can be trained easily to retrieve objects like this stick. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Since I’ve written about all serious subjects the last couple of posts, I thought I would write about a funny story for this one.

First, in order for you to understand this story you should understand how hearing tests go.

When you receive a hearing test, you go in a booth and they “beep” you in your ears and you tell them if you can hear it. And if you do poorly, they make you do sentences to see how bad your speech recognition is. The sentences would be ones like “The boy walked down the street” or “The mom baked a pie”. Your job was to repeat them. Sometimes I get them right, other times I don’t, it’s a give and take with those tests.

Well one day in the booth, my sentence was “The dog picked up the stick”.

Now most times that would just be another sentence among this slew of fifty I would have to say, but I was about 35 sentences in and I wasn’t really paying attention anymore. I was literally repeating everything I heard, whether or not it was filtered.

I heard “The dog played with his stick”, so that’s what I said.

This type of thing happens all the time, but I had the audiologists office rolling in laughter. Apparently it was quiet hilarious.

Here is some more questions:

A question that comes up a lot to me is, “How can you hear on cell phones?”
Well, I’m going to answer this question (hopefully once and for all ha ha). My hearing aids have a telecoil mode. This mode allows for all connections that emit a signal from the receiver to be heard. Obviously normal people cannot hear this signal, but hearing aids (and cochlear implants) pick up on this signal and allow me to hear the voices on the other end. No I can’t hear your cell phone from across the room, it has to be up next to my ear.

Another question I get: “How long to hearing aid batteries last?”
*My current ones last about 3 days a pair, and are not rechargeable. And cost about 10 dollars a pack. So I’m not kidding when I tell you your wasting my hearing aid battery money! (I’m joking if I ever told you that)
*Cochlear implant batteries, on one charge, will last me a about a day, they are rechargeable for about a year, after that they are $280.00 for one.

Another question: “Do you have a deaf dog?”
No.

Another question: “Can you hear me when I’m behind you?”
Can I hear you when you are in front of me? Things are getting to the point now when I am completely reliant on reading lips, so no.

“Do you wish you were blind instead of deaf?”
No, that is a weird question. That’s like asking if you wish you were born in 1951 instead of 1991. I didn’t choose it, it happened that way. Nobody asked me in my mom’s womb “Blind or Deaf?, decide now or you get both!” It just occurred the way it did. I just accepted my life and have made the absolute best I can out of it because I do what I can.

I hope that somehow, I’m teaching somebody. Whether or not they are deaf, about what it’s like to go through being 18 (almost 19, December 12th, don’t forget.) and being deaf. I hope I’m inspiring people through writing these. I hope I make you laugh a little, or I hope I remind you of a time we maybe spent together and I said one of the things I said in this blog. I’m going to keep writing this blog up to, and past this surgery so that people will understand that it is possible to have a cochlear implant (or any other setback for that matter) and be completely successful in whatever you want to.

Crap, I got serious again.

Have a good day, it’s a wee bit nippy out and I gotta walk back to the dorms later after rehearsal. Ah well.

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