Tag Archives: Audiology

Research Update

Hey guys!

I know it’s been a while, but I wanted to update you on how everything is going! Life has definately been changing and evolving for me as it does for everybody. I’m finishing up my schooling at The University of Oklahoma as a senior as well as beginning my studies at The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. I’m hoping to go into the field of audiology. Things are going great!

As part of this experience, I’m undergoing participation in an independent study with the chair of the department, which has afforded me the opportunity to initiate some research on Enlarged Vestibular Aqueduct Syndrome, which is the type of disorder that I have. This has been an amazing opportunity that has not only helped me understand more about the disorder I have, but helped others around me learn as well. 

As part of this research, I get to go on some amazing trips to present our findings. In two weeks, I’ll get to go to AudiologyNOW! which is a conference for audiologists and students alike. Through this conference I will get to show working professionals what we’ve learned at The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. 

In June, I get to go on a trip to Milan, Italy as well for what is called a HEAL conference. This conference will be an opportunity to give a oral presentation about the findings we have discovered about Enlarged Vestibular Aqueduct Syndrome. 

As always, I hold that the cochlear implant changed my life in ways I will never be able to measure. I have been afforded opportunities that I never had been thought possible and for that I feel truly blessed. I have a large group of people supporting me, and hopefully with a few years left of schooling, I will be able to accomplish my dream of becoming an audiologist. 

As always, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to shoot me a message or comment. I always appreciate nice comments and hope you are all doing well!

 

Thanks again, and God bless!

 

-Connor

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Changing Environment

Illustration of internal parts of a cochlear i...

Hey Guys!

I know it has been a very long time since I’ve updated, and I really appreciate all of the nice comments and feedback left on my old posts. I still check them every couple of days and I always enjoy what people have to say.

I haven’t updated in a while due to the fact that I had nothing new to tell, but as of yesterday there is some new news and information!

I’ll start in the beginning. I’ve reciently taken on a new job as a Holistic Reader for my university. I’m loving the change of jobs and the semester is going very well. I’m still on track to become an audiologist, hopefully I’ll see that dream come true within the next few years!

I’ve recently been experiencing difficulty with comprehension on both my implant side and my hearing aid side. Both my comprehension and sound recognition have gotten more difficult to work with the past few months. I’ve been putting off going to the audiologist because my insurance doesn’t cover appointments but the difficulties finally became severe enough that I went.

I spent two hours getting mapped (new programming for the implant), and my audiologist decided to start a new stimulation style for my implant. If you would have asked me two days ago if I knew about alternative stimulations on the implant, I would have had no idea what you were talking about. Basically getting the new stimulation means that the way the implant stimulates my nerve is different than before. We decided to try this alternative mapping because the old one was over-stimulating my nerves in my neck and face and causing a shocking sensation down my neck and shoulders. I’m not exactly sure on the science behind it, but I can certainly tell you about how the patient handles the new stimulation.

It seems as if I have just been activated for the first time all over again.

Unfamiliar sounds are all around me, I can clearly hear people on the telephone again. Everything is different and it is definately a learning experience. People’s voices are unfamiliar and my car makes noises that I’ve never noticed before. The toilet is loud and one of my co-workers sounds like Mickey Mouse. The rain was loud last night and I’m still unfamiliar with what a blizzard sounds like. Music for me has changed and my keyboard sounds very loud. All of this is another whole new experience for me.

To some people that sounds horrible and scary, but to me it is one of the best sensations in the world. My old mapping was starting to become ineffective and I was starting to miss out on key things throughout my environment. Although I’m facing a learning curve ahead of me, I can tell that this alternative stimulation style will help me in the long run. As my audiologist put it, “I’m taking one step backwards to go three steps forward”.

After discussion with my audiologist, we are going to start looking into getting another implant on my left side. My audiologist would like to see me wait until the fall to get implanted for newer technology, but it is definately news that we are looking into getting another one. I’ll definately keep this page updated with additional news as it unfolds.

I hope you have a great afternoon and please feel free to comment in the section below, I love reading feedback!

-Connor

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Covering From Different Angles

News Reporter 1

Hey guys, I hope this posting finds you well. It has been quite awhile since I’ve posted on this blog. I’ve been super busy with college life, it turns out studying to be an audiologist can be pretty time consuming. Many things have changed but I’m definitely doing well!

I just recently did an interview for a deaf documentary educating people about the benefits of getting a cochlear implant. That always excites me to be able to teach those who don’t know about the amazing benefits of cochlear implants, I’m excited about that!

I got asked an interesting question during my interview the other day. The interviewers gave me the questions before, obviously, but I scanned them, not really thinking they were gonna be that tough. I was more concerned about talking to the interviewers. But one question I missed was a question that I have never even heard before, “Do you consider yourself deaf or hearing?” That one was interesting. I wish that I could go back and re-answer it because I feel I didn’t answer it as smoothly as I had hoped.

If I could go back, I would say deaf. I’m sure that is shocking a few reading this now. Please continue reading. I was born with a hearing impairment. Many people tell me daily that they forget that I am even deaf, which is a great complement that I love to hear. Every night when I take the implant off I do not hear a sound. That is what makes me deaf. Every time a battery goes dead, I’m deaf again. Every time a coil goes bad, I’m deaf. I’m at the mercy of a machine to keep me hearing. I’ve never once said that a cochlear implant fixes hearing, I was born with a hearing impairment and I will always have one. But I’m okay with that!

To the natural next question that would arise, “Am I happy with getting the cochlear implant, even if it was so much work and it doesn’t fix everything?” Absolutely, I may be at the mercy of an implant to give me hearing, but if it was my heart that was bad instead of my ears, there would be no question of getting a pacemaker put in. I’m the happiest I have ever been with the cochlear implant.

Back to the point that I made that people oftentimes forget that I’m deaf. I think that is one of the greatest complements that I could ever receive. (Offended people please keep reading). It’s not because I’m ashamed or embarrassed with my hearing loss, it’s because I work VERY hard, every day to be mainstreamed and as normal as possible. It makes me happy that people don’t even have to think about how hard I work. It may be the harder route for me to listen and talk when I’m at a severe disadvantage on the listening part of that whole routine, but in order to reach the level of success that I wish to achieve in life, I have to work at it.

Of course I get discouraged every once in awhile, that is what makes me human. But I keep thinking about how lucky I am to even have the remote ability to do what I can do. To even be able to go to school with the type of hearing loss I have is amazing. 50 years ago that would have been impossible. I consider it a blessing everyday and I thank God.

I hope everybody has a great week!

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It’s Been Awhile

Hello to all, I hope that this blog finds you doing well. Personally, I’ve been doing pretty good. I’ve been very busy due to the fact that I am experiencing the end of the school year push, and it is hitting me hard.

Since most people now know, I’m going to make it known to everybody on here. I’ve made my mind up for sure. I’ve since decided to remove myself from the School of Drama’s technical theatre program. I will now be perusing a degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders beginning in the fall. I will be doing that to become an audiologist. Interestingly enough, many people do not know what this is; lucky for you, I do and I’m willing to tell you!

An audiologist is somebody that runs tests on people that believe they have a hearing loss, or balance disorder. After the tests are run, if the person has a hearing loss of some sort, the audiologist fits the person with the right things to ensure that the patient will be successful throughout life with the equipment. The audiologist can fit the person with hearing aids, a cochlear implant, an fm system, a bone conductor system, or a combination of the above.

My personal goal is to become a pediatric audiologist. I want to diagnose hearing losses in children so that I can help the children early on in life to get them started on the road to success, just like it was done for me. I believe I would have the upper hand in assisting parents make the correct decision about how to approach the situation, considering I have been through every stage of the hearing loss spectrum. I believe that I could relate to the patients as well, believing that I would be able to help and understand in ways that the average audiologist cannot do.

Surprisingly, I have experienced setbacks with this goal. Many people have questioned me as to whether or not I will be able to be successful in completing my goal to become an audiologist. Some thing it is a poor choice for me to choose to move to this field. They are wrong. I believe that this career is definitely for me. I’m not going to sit here and define every reason for why it is the right reason. But I’ll tell you why it isn’t the wrong decision:

I will be a hell of an audiologist.

Many people like setting little markers for me in saying how much responsibility I can have, or to what capacity I can do something. That is ignorant. They will find out one day, not far from now, that I was able to complete my goal very successfully.

I am looking forward to the days when I can help people with the same circumstances that I’ve been through.

My cochlear implant has been nothing but good news, I’m still to this day recognizing new sounds around me, but the difference is that I’m starting to recognize the sounds as opposed to always wondering what it was.

Every morning I start my day silent, and until I put my cochlear implant and hearing aid on, I’m completely deaf, but when they turn on I am reminded of the array of new sounds waiting for me to hear and learn what they are, it’s pretty exciting stuff!

My Cochlear Implant Activation, Check it Out!

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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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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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"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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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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