Tag Archives: Oklahoma

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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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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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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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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