Tag Archives: Deafness

My Last Deaf Birthday

Candles spell out the traditional English birt...

It’s crazy how much life can change in the period of a year. I have recently resolved to believing that although my life may be one way this year, it probably won’t be this way next year.

So much has changed since last year. As I look back, today is the day before my birthday. I remember this being a really important day for me last year. Last year I was going to get my cochlear implant 8 days after my birthday. You can look back on the blogs and read, I was nervous as heck. I distinctly remember feeling uneasy about my decision to get the implant and thinking that that my 19th birthday was going to be my last birthday where I was going to “hear normally”. That was a really big bite for me to swallow.

I look back on it now and laugh, but back then that was a serious thought. I was really nervous. Getting a cochlear implant was really difficult for me. It’s hard for somebody to completely change everything they’ve known for 19 years with the flip of a switch not knowing what the outcome is going to be. Not only did the cochlear implant change the way I was supposed to hear, but it was also cosmetically different. I really had a difficult time accepting the fact that I was “deaf enough” for a cochlear implant. It was hard because once you get one, there is no going back. There were a million thoughts going through my head thinking it was the wrong decision to make.

A year later, I’m glad I made that decision. Nothing in life worth having is easy. You have to take a little risk to get the big reward, and that applies to everywhere in life. I’ve had nothing but huge success with the cochlear implant. Sure, I’ve been chastised for being so vocal about my successes and people aren’t happy that I encourage others to get one, but I’m happy and I want others to be happy as well!

I look back on how I had been living my life for the past 19 years and that was freaking HARD. I was angry, I was depressed, I was frustrated. I don’t know how I did it. The cochlear implant really is a benefit for the right people.

Am I going to rush into another one? Nope. What I have right now is working, why fix what isn’t broken?

I always live by the motto (I probably made it up myself): “Make somebodies life better today.” That’s what I try to do with the blog, the video, and the teaching people about cochlear implants. I’ve always tried to be a good role model for those around me. Sure life wasn’t always the easiest on me, but I don’t take it out on others. I do everything I can do make other people’s lives better.

Have a good week guys!

Connor

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Busy, Busy, Busy

I’ve been pretty busy since my last post, but I wanted to post on my blog the video and news article that Hearts for Hearing had done on them. I am a part of both of them and it turned out pretty awesome!

The video is here, it is linking you to the Thunder interview that myself and some other teachers participated in. It turned out great!

Then I did an article for The Daily Oklahoman alongside some other people for Hearts for Hearing, here that is!

I think it is great that more and more people are starting to take in interest in getting these kids the help they need in order to succeed in the world like every other child.

I really hope that by reading this blog, that people are becoming increasingly educated about how it is to get a cochlear implant, or to go through life as a deaf teenager. I believe that if anybody is thinking about making such a drastic decision as to get a cochlear implant, they really need to think about the weight of that decision. I’m hoping that by going into past articles, that you can learn that it was never an easy decision, it was never an easy choice, it was never an easy recovery, but it was what I needed to do for myself in order to make myself successful. Honestly, it has been one of the hardest things I have ever done though.

Yes, I acknowledge that that wasn’t my only option for success in my life, but it was the one that worked for me. I believe that the controversy about cochlear implants stems from deaf people learning that cochlear implants are the only thing you can do to be successful. That isn’t true. I hope that anybody reading this takes whatever they learn and makes the right choice, not the easy one. I hope that people learn from my blog that cochlear implants are extremely successful if administered correctly, and that it can be extremely beneficial.

Nobody ever said life was easy, or that life was fair. But there is ALWAYS something you can do to improve your situation.

Yes, I sometimes get frustrated with my situation. I sometimes get really irritated with the fact that I didn’t hear that hot girl at table 45’s drink order, or that I didn’t hear the lyrics to the song the first time, or that I didn’t hear the phone ring. I get embarrassed just as everybody else would about being different, but then I realize that their opinion doesn’t matter. I turn up my cochlear implant, put a new hearing aid battery in, and I go ask that hot girl what she wanted to drink again. I don’t care what other people think. This is how I was born, so being embarrassed or frustrated is a waste of my time. I take that embarrassment and turn it into a joke, which then turn into educating people. Because I commonly get the “Really?! You don’t sound like a deaf person!” That makes me happy. I like that I can make a positive impact in people’s lives.

Have a good weekend and don’t blow your hand off on the 4th!

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Hearing Tests Again….

Here we go again.

I can’t enjoy having my new cochlear implant for three months before my left ear has started loosing it’s hearing! I cannot explain why it is happening but when I went for my test last week, the audiologist informed me that I had lost about 15 decibels in the high frequency range of pitch. Basically what that means, is that on my left ear I’m loosing the ability to hear sounds in the areas of things like woman’s voices and certain songs. That sort of thing. The decibel rating was already lower than it should have been, now it is very low.

In all honesty, I knew it was going to happen. I’ve been told since kindergarten that my hearing wasn’t going to stay stable, due to the type of hearing loss I have. I’m not all too torn up about it but I’m anxious that a cochlear implant my become a real reality for me on that left ear.

I’m kind of stuck in between a rock and a hard place right now, I really love my new cochlear implant on my right ear, but to think long term about implanting my left ear would require a lot of adjusting, obviously if that is what is suggested, that is what will happen. It is the adjusting that will be hard.

My left ear has been to what other people could understand to be as their dominate hand. It would be like me telling you tomorrow, “Okay, your hand works right now, but more than likely, your hand will be getting pretty bad within the next year. We have a sort of a solution but it would require us to cut your hand off and we put a new one on, your new hand will suck at first. But with a lot of therapy you will be back up to speed. But it will never be quiet the same.”

I’ve never been somebody to sit and wallow in my own situation, and that isn’t going to happen now. It’s just something I’m going to have to deal with in the upcoming months.

My already implanted ear is going really well, I just got a new mapping (new programming) and it caused me to think that my girlfriend had a lisp the sensitivity was so strong. I hadn’t ever really heard the “s” come from her so that was pretty awesome. It obviously wasn’t a lisp, but hearing those sounds for the first time was a little bit surprising. I never knew I would still be discovering such basic sounds 3 months in!

I always try to learn from a situation, or something that happens. The thing that I learned from losing my hearing so quickly in my left ear is that life never goes as planned. Just as I didn’t have planned for my left ear to get quieter, there are other things in life that will not go as I had planned in the future. I just try to adapt to changes quickly and do what I can with the situation I have. I know that God will take care of me in what I decide to do and that everything is going to work itself out with the recent
loss in hearing.

I’m on the first page now, out of over 500 videos!
My Cochlear Implant Activation

Have a good week guys!

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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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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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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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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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