Category Archives: Cochlear Implant

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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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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Introduction Into My Life

Before I go into my story of who I am, what type of hearing loss I have and what I experience everyday, I would like to share with you (if anybody decides to read this) why I’m doing this. I’ve decided to start this blog because I’ve got a lot of original experiences that most people my age will never encounter. I’ve felt that I want to share those experiences so that maybe somebody else out there can possibly relate to what I’m going through and see that it is possible to have a hearing loss or any other type of (what the rest of the world views it as) disability and not let it get them down. I’ve also written this so that I have another way to tell my story to my friends around me in a greater detail so they understand what it is like to have hearing aids in a day to day basis.

First things first, my name is Connor. I was born in Oklahoma, I was born in 1991, before the baby hearing screening laws were ever passed. Now in 2010, whenever you have a baby, they are to be screened before they ever leave a hospital to check for any type of hearing loss. Anyways, I left the hospital without any screening of any type and went on with life. I was my mothers first child and everything that she experienced seemed normal to her. It wasn’t until I was in kindergarten that they discovered that I needed hearing aids. That is viewed to be very late in developmental stages for babies to learn auditory-speech processing skills. That may be one of the reasons why you have the people who have hearing aids, but you may hear a bit of a difference in their speaking. They could have gotten their hearing aids, or cochlear implant, late and it hinders the learning process that they have to learn later in life.

Fast forward 5 years, I get my next set of hearing aids. I had to get more powerful ones due to the fact that my hearing was deteriorating. It was around that time that I was told by my ENT ( Ears, Nose, Throat Doctor) that I would probably need to be fitted with a cochlear implant by 15 years old.

Another four years later I got new hearing aids, these ones were digital to keep up with my ever deteriorating hearing. I was about to be entering high school by this time and the 15 year old mark was approaching. Two years later my hearing was fluctuating more than ever and I got fitted with my top of the line hearing aids that I have now. Jace Wolfe, somebody who I look up to, and my audiologist recommended that I get these instead of the cochlear implant at 15 years old. We did that instead. I’m very happy that I did that and got through high school without having to do any surgeries.

Now a freshman in college, everything has changed. Approximately two weeks before I moved into the dorms my hearing dropped dramatically. My hearing did what most LVAS patients did and what I was always nervous of, the signature drop. My right ear dropped 20 points in one appointment and another 20 in another. My left ear (my good, and always reliable ear) did about 15 in each appointment. There are certain guidelines that are to be met before one is a candidate for a cochlear implant, and within two weeks I went from “No I wouldn’t recommend one for your son, he wouldn’t like it” to “Yes, I would get one if he was my son”. I’ve been set to get surgery on December 20th, and my activation is January 5th. Most would say, “isn’t it just like a more powerful hearing aid?” Honestly, no. The choice you make about getting one must be taken carefully before just jumping into it, and it was a difficult choice for me, the people who get them, and the parents of deaf children to make.

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