Tag Archives: Hearing

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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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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In A Bubble

Dr Pepper

I hope everybody is doing well today, I’m doing pretty good. I’ve been pretty busy, mostly with work and school. Everything is going well but I’m getting weary of the summer school. I’ve got an 8:00 a.m. math class that I’ve gotta meet at and it’s proved to be pretty difficult.

I met some pretty amazing people at work the other day, these people were truly awesome. They were a nice couple who were the CEO’s of a local bank in town and they sat and talked to me while I broke down my section. We talked about our jobs, they asked me about school, about what I’m going to major in, and than we started talking about my cochlear implant. They were very impressed with me, and these were people that I had just met that day. I’ve always loved people who have shown care in people outside their normal range of friends. I try to emulate that quality in my own life by caring about everybody around me, not just the people I know. That amazing couple left me a great tip when they left and a business card with the instructions to contact them via email. These people are amazing and truly are a blessing to the people around them.

The other day at work I seriously felt like I was in a literal bubble made out of latex….. Your probably wondering what I mean, and no not that…. I mean I couldn’t hear a thing. My hearing fluctuates with the weather, and that day my hearing had hit an all time low, while at work. I’ve never had such a difficult shift. Everything sounded the same, “Dr. Pepper” sounded like “Tortillas” and “Enchiladas” sounded like “Extra Napkins”. It was horrible. I basically just had to suck it up and get through the shift. Luckily I didn’t run into too many issues and I moved on with life.

It is days like that that can sometimes leave somebody dealing with this feeling lonely and really stressed out. How many people do you know have to deal with their hearing fluctuating with the hours that pass? It can be a little trying on your emotions. When I was younger, I used to get so angry at myself and God for making me have to go through dealing with this. I’m different than your normal deaf person, because my hearing will be “okay” (within reason) one day, and than almost gone another. It can fluctuate a bunch.

Now that I’ve gotten older, I’m glad that it was me that was the one that was chosen to go through this. Yes, it can be difficult sometimes to deal with being deaf, but I got it. Somebody, who was deaf, came into work the other deaf soliciting the customers for money by giving them a card asking them and signing. You will never catch me doing something like that. I try to be approachable for people in the same situation, or for people who have questions so that people may learn from me about a different part of life. I feel it was a blessing from God for me to go through this so that I may be able to help others in the same situation.

I hope you learned something new today!

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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Summer Camp!

Deaf signal icon

Hello all,

I hope this post finds you doing well, I’m just chilling enjoying my first real night off in about two weeks. I feel like sometimes summer can get to be busier than the school year.

I have been a camp counselor at the same deaf summer camp every summer for as long as I can remember. The camp is called “Hearts for Hearing” and it is an amazing institution. It is the first and only of it’s kind in the state, and the only one that I know of in the country.

Hearts for Hearing has been instrumental in making hundreds of completely deaf children, like myself (I once was a child…), able to listen and speak at the same levels as developing children of their age level. There are children in the program that drive from hundreds of miles away to attend this listening therapy camp so that they can develop their listening and speaking skills. It truly is inspirational.

I find it amazing that people always believe the first stereotypes they encounter. For instance, typically many people believe that African American diners don’t tip well. Honestly, I think that that is false. Downright wrong. I have had many hundreds of Black families give me better tips than many other White tables left me. It is always the one table that spurs the comments, doesn’t matter what color. Given one bad tip and the server will find a reason to justify why they didn’t leave money. It is sad that they fall to race.

The reason why I brought up stereotypes is because of the stereotypes cast on deaf people. Instantly people believe the deaf stereotypes when they encounter me.

People instantly believe at first look that I am dumb, a lower class citizen (Who knows that could be how I look ha ha). But typically the deaf=dumb stigma can still stand sometimes at first introduction. It is the job of every deaf human being, at least every one who cares, to break down those walls and show everybody else that they are perfectly capable of any task they set their mind too (how cliché, I know).

Sometimes that chance isn’t given to them though. People don’t allow them the chance to prove themselves as perfectly capable human beings. That is why it is the job of everybody else to not judge a book by it’s cover. Just because somebody is deaf doesn’t mean they are any less capable of doing something than you would be. If any of the 40 kids that are 100% deaf in the summer camp, but every one of them talks on level that was much higher than when they started, aren’t enough proof, then look at the graduates of the program.

The graduates of the program are going on to mainstreamed schools (those are normal public schools, not deaf schools) and eventually going on to college. I personally am in college, and two of my deaf friends are in college or have graduated.

I hope somebody learned something today, the kinds in the program have always been inspirational to me and I wanted to share a little of it with you today.

Have a good rest of your week!

Connor

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After Class

Well, I got my six month mapping yesterday, I can definitely tell a difference in what I had been missing. For those of you who don’t know, a mapping is a personalized programming of a cochlear implant to your own specifications. I can help maximize your benefits and enhance your potential from such a device. I got a new one yesterday, but it definitely takes some adjusting.

I had become accustomed to a stabbing pain in my neck and head from the cochlear implant for the last three months. It was especially prevalent whenever loud music was being played, when a man with a deep voice spoke, or when somebody was yelling at me (it happens more than you think ha ha). The pain eventually became simultaneous with noise and I got somewhat used to it, but it was extremely uncomfortable. Thankfully I was able to get that taken away yesterday with the new programming, I am actually able to listen to some music at an acceptable level without wincing at every bass beat!

Unfortunately I have learned that I have again lost more hearing in my left ear. For those of you who aren’t familiar, I had lost nearly all of my hearing in my right ear last summer right before school of my freshman year. I got a cochlear implant over Christmas break last year and now I am adjusting to life with it. Now it seems as though my left ear is going away as well, thankfully not as fast.

I had, for most of my life, had about 80% of my hearing in my left ear and 40%-50% of hearing in my right ear. My right ear is now completely deaf and about two months ago I lost 20% in my left ear leaving it to 60%, and now I’ve lost even more according to the test I took yesterday. I am not yet on the track to get a cochlear implant on my right ear, but that goes to show you that nothing in life is permanent, no matter how promising it looked at one time.

I am still very optimistic about the outcome though, because I feel that whatever needs to happen, will happen. Many people, complete strangers, have come up and talked to me about my cochlear implant and have begun to become educated on the fact that just because people are deaf, they aren’t welfare reliant Americans. That makes me feel good that I can teach people and talk to them about that. I have been extremely successful with my first implant, and if God has in the plan for me to need another one, then I will get another one with time. I always make the best of a situation, even if it isn’t ideal.

I hope everybody is having a good day!

Connor

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It’s Been Awhile

English: Starbucks at West Coast Plaza, Singapore

English: Starbucks at West Coast Plaza, Singapore (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It has been quite a bit since I’ve updated or even thought about this blog, but this past week I’ve talked to four people who have either thought about getting a cochlear implant or have just gotten activated. For me, I felt that was a lot and it sparked my memory about this blog!

I’ve gone back to serving tables at On the Border again, that has been a tremendous challenge. Every single person in this world has a different voice to adapt too, and if they aren’t aware, they could mumble their order and cause strain for me. Due to my (kinda) still newly activated cochlear implant I can get it taken care of and it has made life so much easier.

I can’t stress how much easier life has gotten since I got my cochlear implant. It still amazes me every morning how much of an improvement the hearing is every time I put it on. The vast array of sounds in the world is amazing, and the ability for me to finally have access to understand and for my brain to comprehend them is awesome. I still to this day am learning new sounds.

People have no idea what they have until they lose it, I promise you. I had enough hearing in my left ear to learn how to speak, and now it is slowly going away. It makes you appreciate what you have and thankful for everything. It makes you appreciate every song you hear, every goodbye you witness, and every hello you come across. Thank God that I was blessed enough to be born in the era where cochlear implants where derived and that I was enabled to have the ability to get one.

I have to be honest for people who are reading this blog and are thinking about getting about a cochlear implant. For me a huge issue was the cosmetic appearance of a cochlear implant and a wire “coming out of my head”.  I will be flat out honest with you, my biggest fear was that people would stare at me, and I can tell you that some uninformed people in this world do stare. I have even had some point at me, it doesn’t even surprise me anymore.

To this second as I am typing this sitting here at the Starbucks I have caught the wandering eyes of two people looking. I use that as two opportunities. One opportunity being that people naturally like checking out a hot deaf guy at a computer…. (I’m just kidding), the real reason I use the staring as is that I teach people that deaf people are normal and able to function just as the rest of society. That lesson is best learned when I’m serving tables or am in class and people don’t even realize that I’m deaf until I make a joke or break that wall. Sometimes I’ll flat out say something, nothing rude of course! Just something to teach them that I’m normal like they are.

Something to remember if you are reading this, is that getting a cochlear implant is hard. It is the hardest thing in the world I’ve ever had to do. It caused me feelings of isolation, loneliness, fear, and it stressed me out to points some people don’t understand. But it has it’s rewards. If you ever run into somebody with one, and they want to talk to you about it, ask them. There are questions they just don’t know how to answer.  But never assume that everybody is like me in the sense that they like joking about it. Because not everybody has a sense of humor like me, I promise! I don’t mind joking with people, but that is me. Not everybody!

I hope everybody is having a good week, I’m sitting here at Starbucks waiting for my friends class to get out so I can actually go home. Have a good week!

Connor

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Round Number Two!

I feel as though I’m feeling the same I did back in August of last year. Only opposite ears. It’s the physical shifts of hearing in the middle of the day. The feeling dizzy, the pain in the ears, the difficulty focusing. Its all back!

What do I mean? I’m slowly loosing hearing in my left ear now. It’s going slowly day by day. The entire reason for the creation of this blog was because I was sensing the loss of hearing in my right ear, and I wanted to document it. I wanted documentation through losing the hearing, pre-surgery, post surgery and now. I wanted people who have never been exposed to this part of life to have some kind of knowledge of something they have never known.  Never would I have thought that I would have lost my left ear to LVAS, at least not so soon!

It hasn’t even been four months and I’m fighting that uphill battle again, only with different ears. Except this time I’m losing it on my ear that I have used for everything. Losing hearing in my right ear was different than losing hearing in my left ear. In my right ear, I had always been a degree of deafness making me not able to really function using just that ear. Had I been born with both ears like my right ear, life would have been a different story. A story involving sign language, early childhood surgery’s and many other different life experiences.

I have always used my left ear in a dominate form to listen to music, talk on the phone, and hear a conversation. Heck I even sleep on my right ear just so I can have my left ear exposed just in case something happens and I might be lucky enough to hear it. Obviously most people don’t have to pick a favorite ear, the best way to relate it is to relate it to hands, you are either left or right handed.

I’m not one to sit and complain about situations. I feel that there is a reason that I have been chosen to go through these life experiences. I’m choosing to learn from them instead of mope within them.

I’m hoping that the left ear will stabilize, at least so I can have time to completely get on my feet with the newly activated cochlear implant. It is still taking a lot of time. I was told that had I not gotten activated over Christmas break like I had, this semester would have been much more difficult for me. I couldn’t agree more.

I couldn’t be more happy with the decision to have gotten the cochlear implant when I did. Now I’m hoping that I don’t keep having those sensations of hearing loss in the other ear.

Only time can tell, but everything happens for a reason and the best thing I can do is make the absolute best of any situation and learn from it.

Have a good week!

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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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Video, and Updates!

First off… Here’s my activation video!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nzFUutSMun0

Thanks to my friend for getting that recorded and edited and such. Sorry that took so long to get up, we’re both very busy.

Sorry about no posts in months, I’ve been very busy. This semester seems much, much busier than last semester was. Today I’ve since decided to go back to my restaurant job and pick up shifts as needed. I think this time around will be much easier now that I’ve got my cochlear implant! I may ACTUALLY hear voices!

Getting the cochlear implant in January has been a complete life changer for me. I still get asked questions daily about how it is and what it is like after being activated. The best way I can describe it is like having a sense opened up to you in a completely amazing way. It’s like you didn’t have a sense that everybody had, and than with the flip of a switch all of the sudden you can hear the sounds of the world. It’s completely awesome!

I still hear completely weird things that I never knew made a sound. I’ve begun relying on my deaf ear for little things. I’m starting to think my old reliable ear has started to die and I’m starting to rely on my right ear for day-to-day listening activities. The other day I heard chirping birds for the first time. That signaled to me that Spring was on it’s way (or is it already here? You don’t know with Oklahoma…). Hearing that sound was one of the coolest things that I had experienced since being activated.

Most people that read this blog have their hearing, and they never realize what they hear when they hear it. Think about it…. right now your probably hearing all kinds of different sounds while your reading this blog.

For instance, you may be listening to music, hearing the TV, hearing somebody making dinner, hearing the keys click as you are texting on a phone,  or hearing your computer’s motor’s fan, (or in my case I keep hearing my brother blowing on his trombone…). These are all sounds that somebody with hearing aids or a cochlear implant must learn and get used too, and sounds somebody with their hearing takes for granted (which they should, don’t get me wrong!)

Getting the cochlear implant wasn’t an easy decision for me, as many people around me know. There were endless debates and back and forth arguments about it. I changed my mind in my head a thousand times. I got worried, I got sick, I felt excited, I felt nervous, I felt alone a lot, I felt supported, anybody reading this may ask “why?”.

Because your making a permanent life decision. It may not be as successful, and you cannot go back if you don’t like it. Nobody close to me knew what to say, because they had never made that decision for themselves. I am very happy that I decided to get one now that it is all passed.

Something I had to come to realize for myself is that there will never be going back to the old ways of life when it came to my situation. I had to come to accept the fact that the past was the past and I had to accept that and move on. Once I did that, my decision to get the surgery and accept the fact that I was “deaf enough to get it” became much, much easier. I’ve used that philosophy for several decisions in my life, “the past is the past, it will never come back, but this is what I have now and I need to make the best of it for me and everybody around me”.

I hope everybody is having a good semester! Check out my video if you haven’t yet!

-Connor

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