Monthly Archives: January 2011

Waking Up

As I’m sitting in my dorm room, I just put my hearing aid and cochlear implant on. I’m just sitting here observing sounds that I had never heard before I had been activated. One sound that struck me was my roommates breathing as he’s sleeping. Another thing that I’ve heard is somebody unlock their door to the bathroom that we share. I heard my computer’s hard drive slow down just a minute ago. All of these are sounds that I had never heard before. It is truly amazing that something so small can be put in your head and you can be given the gift of hearing.

Something that was hard for me to get over when I was deciding to get the cochlear implant was the cosmetic appearance of the outside device. To me, it’s quite large. Honestly, it probably isn’t any different to any other hearing aids that I’ve had in the past, but the thing that was bothering me was the magnet and the wire that connected to it. It seemed huge. Now that I’ve gotten the external piece activated, and I’ve heard the sounds, honestly I couldn’t care less what other people think about what it looks like.

Sure, I’ve had a few stares here and there, and I’ve had a 75 year old man at Pops point out that we had the same equipment (it isn’t the first time), but honestly I don’t care. I had gone so long without hearing sounds and now to be able to hear them is awesome. Sure, it looks a little different, but it allows me to be able to hear almost everything.

The cochlear implant allows me to be able to turn around when you say my name, it allows me to hear the punch line to the joke that everybody is laughing at, it allows me to be able to hear the full lecture in class, it allows me to understand the TV show without captions, it allows me to go to the movies and do more than stare at actors, and most important: it allows me to connect to people, because being deaf can disconnect you from people if you let it. Just as anything else will.

Have a good day!

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Ten Days After Activation

Illustration of Electric Acoustic Stimulation,...

Illustration of Electric Acoustic Stimulation, a combination of hearing aid and a cochlear implant in the same ear. Deutsch: Schemazeichnung Elektrisch Akustische Stimulation, eine Kombination von Hörgerät und Cochlear-Implantat im selben Ohr. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s been ten days after activation and things are going very well. I’m already talking on the cell phone on the right ear (something I would’ve never even tried beforehand). I’m hearing sounds and retaining that auditory memory much more than earlier. As I go through my day’s now I’m getting better at locating where sounds are coming from, I’m no longer doing the full visual sweep trying to see if somebody is looking at me after I hear my name said, I know where the sound came from. I’m very happy with my choice to have gotten the cochlear implant, best $70,000 I’ve spent to date!

I’ve been required ever since I’ve been activated to go to my audiologists office for “mappings” and therapy twice a week. After my third mapping and before my fourth mapping I went into the hearing booth to receive a hearing test. As I was going in, my audiologist said that I was going to be tested on my hearing on only my cochlear implant side. I was thinking in my head that I had read online that usually people suck on these things. It turns out that I made a 100% on the test. I was told that that is better than some people that have cochlear implants for years test on these things.

I was thinking yesterday what it was like to be in two hearing aids all of my life, and how I wish I could’ve done this sooner. I mean for most of my life my right side had been silently dead. Now with the cochlear implant it has been completely turned on and it is really awesome how great it is. I anticipate that I’ll be needing some adjustment over the next month at school, but it will be worth it. The sound from hearing aids is so different from a cochlear implant. Hearing aids literally try to BLAST sounds in your ear, and if you have a severe hearing loss like I do, it doesn’t work. Cochlear implants work differently, they send sound straight to the nerve so there is no need to blast. And I’m getting to where I understand everything on that side. Something I would’ve never expected.

So I’m getting ready to go back to OU, and that is going to present itself with a whole new set of challenges. A whole different array of sounds and voices that I need to learn, and quickly. Ever since activation I’ve had the luxury of being surrounded with all of these people who have gone to therapy with me and have heard explanations from my therapists and audiologist about how difficult it is to adjust. I’m not going to get that any more. Now I’m jumping in headfirst into school, I’ve got the feeling that the next couple of weeks are going to be very crazy.

The video is coming, slowly but surely. I’ve been working on several different projects and that had fallen on the back burner, It’ll get done though, I’ve got one of my friends working on it.

Have a good weekend guys! Thanks for reading!

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Various Updates And Such

Generic dashboard shot

Generic dashboard shot (Photo credit: SpaceAgeSage)

Well it’s been a few days since I’ve been activated, so I thought I would update everybody on my progress with the new-found hearing and stuff. Things are definitely different for sure. For starters, let me list the things that I’ve found that I either like hearing or that I had never heard before that I found interesting to hear.

Things I had never heard:
*Peeing. (I already told you that)
*My TV remote clicking.
*The “low gas” ding in the car. (Scared the crap out of me)
*The heater. (Also scared me senseless, I left the house)
*The keyboard clicking.
*The smacking of gum. (That will get annoying for sure)
*The way that brushing teeth sounds.
*The freaking loud “Whoosh” of the toilet. (Holy crap)
*Some parts of some of my favorite songs, all of the songs sound different now for sure. I like it though.

Sounds I like hearing:
*I like the fact that I can hear almost everything everybody says.
*I like hearing the lyrics of the song, not just the beat.
*Some different parts of people’s voices, like the “s” and the “sh” sounds that I had never heard.
*There are many more, but they fall under both categories.

I’m still working on understanding and comprehending all of the sound, but I am doing much better than anticipated. The therapy is tiring, but going well. I’ve also got home therapy that I’m supposed to do, that is very difficult. Basically that composes of listening to sounds, and they tell me what it is, there is over 2000! The therapists make me do all kinds of things I don’t much enjoy doing, like forcing me to talk on the cell phone on that side and talk with only that side on. That really sucks, but that is the only way I am going to learn to comprehend sound. I am very appreciative of what they make me do, because I know I wouldn’t make myself do it. They are awesome.

I can understand why cochlear implants have a small failure rate as well. These things are freaking frustrating. (I’m not complaining, I’m very happy with my decision and very happy with the outcome, I’m just trying to justify a reason for why other deaf people may not be as successful as I have been). But I mean I can understand both sides. The cochlear implant falls off much easier than the hearing aids, that is annoying. I’m gonna get that fixed for sure.

The sound is so much different after activation, and for life all around. That can be a little ground shaking. I mean think about it, you live one way for 19 years, than one day it all changes with the click of a keyboard. Everything you ever knew was different. Sounds from your TV to your kitchen sink to your own mothers voice are now unfamiliar to you. That could be a little difficult to withstand for some people. Some people could just give up if they don’t have the proper support system that they need. I have been very, very fortunate to have a great support system at home, in Edmond, in Norman, and at that office with the therapy.

I’m very happy with the decision I made, and I would encourage anybody else who is questioning getting this surgery to definitely get this. But be prepared for a lot of work post-surgery!

Thanks again for reading, I’ll update as soon as I have more to fill you in on!

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Well… I’m On!

Walmart

Walmart (Photo credit: matteson.norman)

I’m turned on, and it’s pretty awesome… with the cochlear implant I mean. When I walked in the door this morning I was promised that I was going to hate that office by the time I left them, and they couldn’t be further from wrong. I am very happy with how the cochlear implant turned out. It is absolutely amazing with how this had unraveled. I will outline everything’s events for you, I’ll eventually have the activation on youtube so you can see it and I’ll post the link on here. But for now, I’m going to write about it here.

So I woke up to the normal silence that I’m used to this morning, except this time I woke up before the sun and got ready because I knew I was going to get activated today. I got ready, took the shower and put the underwear on. Then went to the office.

Then Jace hooked me up to the computer, this part was like a normal hearing test. Basically we sat there for about twenty minutes playing beeps into my newly activated ear, testing threshold limits and “mapping” out my comfort levels. This was the longest part of it all. If you’ve never had a hearing test, I’ll explain it here (if you have, skip to next paragraph): they basically play every level of sound within the graph, and test at what level you pick up on the sound. Sometimes they retouch on the tone to see if you test repeatedly at the same level at the same tone. This is what they did to me this morning.

Then it came time to turn on the cochlear implant’s microphone. That was weird. He turned it on and at first I didn’t hear anything, then as he raised it I started to hear voices and make out tones in my right ear. For the first time in as long as I could remember, I was having a conversation out of my right ear! It sounded like the voice was coming out of a walkie talkie from 20 feet away. But it’s getting better now. It was really strange because I could hear the keys clicking and the door knocking but the voices were the most difficult thing to distinguish. Then static started to appear, he pushed a button and everything started to sound really clear, the voices sounded far away still but I can still understand them. The voices all sounded like Mickey Mouse, no kidding.

It is so difficult to describe to you the sound, but I can tell you the bells and whistles occur at the beginning, the evil description is wrong, everybody sounds like Mickey Mouse right now. I’m kind of enjoying it, I went to the mall and seeing a 6 ft man sound like Mickey Mouse makes me laugh. I’m going to hope that goes away though, but for now it’s funny.

I did my first speech therapy session and I’m already having conversations on the cell phone, which apparently is a big step for somebody on their first day of activation. According to my speech therapist, I’m doing very well for a newly activated cochlear implant recipient, it is hard to feel that way though. I’m having difficulty distinguishing sounds and every little thing is scaring the crap out of me (like the low gas beep in the car, never heard that before).

I will keep everybody posted on my progress! According to my speech therapist, I’m doing well though. That makes me feel better.

Just so everybody knows, I asked my audiologist, my total for all of this cochlear implant and everything….. around $70,000.00. No big deal.

Have a good day guys, if you see somebody freaking out about a car horn in the Walmart parking lot, it’s probably me.

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3 Days!

Yes, that is right. In the number of days it took Jesus to resurrect from the dead, I will have my hearing in my right ear. Three days. It’s weird to think that something I’ve been waiting so long for is finally coming and is so close.

I’m pretty nervous to hear what everything is going to sound like. I mean if you simply Google “what a cochlear implant sounds like?”. You get about as many theories as there are how the earth got founded.

For instance:
1. Some people describe the activation of the cochlear implant as buzzing.
2. Some people say it sounds like bells and dings. (?)
3. Some people say it sounds evil. (The boy fell from the window)
4. Some people say the sound sounds mechanical. (I’m betting on this one)
5. Some people say the sound is overwhelming. (Pansies)
6. Some people say voices sound like chipmunks (Some people already do)

*There are many, many more descriptions.

I got to wondering: Why do so many people say such radically different descriptions about the same subject. Then it hit me, it’s because some people saying this don’t know sound before hand. They are just saying weird things to try and describe their newly discovered sound to their hearing-enabled friends. It is like asking a blind person to describe what they see (i.e blackness, darkness, little bit). They just don’t know because all they ever knew was being blind. If they got there sight magically, they may not know how to describe to you the sensation to gaining sight.

Luckily, I know what sound sounds like from my left ear. My right ear doesn’t know sound. So I’m getting the best of both worlds. I’m very anxious and excited at the same time. I can’t wait to hear certain things and I’m looking forward to it! I will definitely tell you my standpoint of what it sounds like from my newly activated cochlear implant. It will take several sessions of therapy to understand the sounds, but I’m ready to go.

Thank you guys for the continued support and prayers. I hope you had a Good New Years!

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