Monthly Archives: January 2011
- If you post on Facebook and say that you like snow, you’re guaranteed to get some angry responses from folks offering to send you their snow. Talking about snow is like talking about politics or religion.
- I like snow, but I think I will stop announcing it to everyone on Facebook. It will be my dirty little secret.
- Half the time when I am sitting at my computer, I am craning my neck to look around my cat, Sabrina. She loves to place herself in the space on my desk between my keyboard and the monitor.
- Yes, I have a desktop computer and I prefer it 100% to the laptop. How do people touch-type on laptop computers?
- I also use a Microsoft ‘Natural Ergonomic’ Keyboard. It’s the only way I can type without my hands getting sore. This keyboard also elicits strong reactions from people (95% of them hate it).
- Three of our cats were feral (as in, born and lived outside and no exposure to people, not house pets who were left to fend for themselves). We took them in and they live indoors now; over the course of the past 4-1/2 years, they have gotten used to us and are friendly and affectionate.
- However, we can’t (and don’t) pick them up. I’m pretty nervous about moving them to a new house when we move.
- I think I will let Dave be in charge of corralling them into the crates when the time comes.
- Right now we have 5 cats, 1 dog, 2 guinea pigs and a hedgehog.
- I still beg Dave to take in stray cats when we see them. I’m a sucker for strays.
- I’m letting my hair air dry right now, so my ‘ears’ are off. It’s really weird to type and not hear the keyboard.
- But it’s very nice to hear silence and not tinnitus!!
- I’m 46 years old and still feel like I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.
So, I fell down the stairs yesterday.
Not a “head over heels somersault” kind of fall, more like a “feet swept out from under, slam down on your tailbone as you hit every step” kind of fall. Ouch.
I wasn’t even running down the stairs or anything…I just stepped like normal off the second step and next thing I know I’m bouncing and slamming down the stairs to the landing by the front door. (I think I need new slippers…the grippy stuff on the bottom of these is clearly wearing off!)
As I fell, I could feel my CI processors lifting up and then coming back down off my ears. The magnets dislodged as well, so I fell in complete silence…to me, anyway. (Dave said it sounded like Paige’s bed fell over…he had no idea what he was hearing!) I couldn’t tell for sure if my CIs flew off my head and if they were damaged, or if they were still in my hair somewhere. My first thought was that I hoped they were okay and not broken.
I lay on the landing, trying to decide how much physical damage I’d done, and suddenly felt Dave’s hands on my shoulders. I couldn’t hear him, of course; I had to shake my head and put my hand up, telling him “I can’t hear, hang on” while I felt around for my CIs. Luckily they were still on my head, just tangled in my hair, and were perfectly fine. (I didn’t hit my head, thank goodness.)
In the end, I just ended up very sore and majorly bruised – across my shoulder blades (the first place I hit), my tailbone, my right palm (I must have put my hand down to brace the fall – I have a huge bruise at the base of my thumb) and the inside of my right arm. I’m fine today, just a little stiff and sore.
What surprised me, though, was how fast my CIs flew off my ears…both of them. I’ve always been a little paranoid at the thought of being in some kind of accident – car or whatever – and having my CIs fly off, then having the paramedics not realize I’m deaf. (Without the CI processors and magnets, there’s no visible evidence that I wear them – no scar or shaved head or anything.) I wasn’t really sure if they would come off that easily or if I was worrying for nothing, but now I really can see how the CIs would be the first thing to fly around in an accident of some sort. I really wouldn’t want to be unconscious and be plunked into an MRI machine (a big no-no since I have magnets inside my head)!
So now I’m thinking I might spring for some kind of Medic-Alert jewelry…a bracelet, most likely. I figure I’ll note that I’m deaf, bilateral cochlear implants, no MRI…I think that would cover it.
If you are deaf with CIs and have Medic-Alert jewelry that you are happy with, I’d love some recommendations of stores and/or what you have engraved on it. Thanks!
I told Dave, “I think I’m getting a problem with static in my CIs” as I was standing over by the end of our kitchen island, while we made dinner. “I keep hearing this kind of low staticky sound, but I think I’ll just wait until my next mapping to have it checked out, it’s not really that bothersome.”
I walked over to the Dutch oven to stir the onions that were simmering for our French onion soup.
“Um…never mind. I just realized what I was hearing.”
(Even two and a half years in, I’m still caught off guard by sounds sometimes!)
(Is it just me, or is the first sentence of a blog entry the hardest one to write?!) Okay, so it’s been almost 2-1/2 years since my cochlear implants went “live”, and if you’re curious about life with cochlear implants a few years later, this is what it’s like for me.
I wake up in my natural deaf state, and no longer cringe at the thought of how loud it’s going to be when I put on my processors. I’m not sure if it’s just that my last mapping was extra-excellent or what, but usually as months go by, things just sound louder and louder to me. I’m only going once a year for mappings now, and by the time I went in Sept. 2010 I was pretty much keeping my CIs on the ‘background’ setting all the time. This setting compressed a lot of background noise and just kept things at a better level for me. That’s way in the past now. I don’t even change to ‘background’ in the car or stores automatically, the way I used to. Now I pretty much stay on my regular listening program (at 12:00 for volume) from the start of the day to the end.
Listening with just my right ear (the worst one) is better now – voices no longer have the computerized, Darth-Vader quality to them. But I do really need both ears to understand without lip reading. If one of my batteries dies, or I slip my headpiece magnet off because the dog is barking like crazy (as I just did!) then I need to lip read to understand speech. With both processors on, I can generally carry on a conversation with someone in the room without needing to look at them.
The phone will never be my friend. I know there are people with CIs who can just chat away on the phone but I assume they don’t have the phone phobia that I have – I just hate the phone and I always have. The only way I’ll feel comfortable on the phone is if I can perfectly understand every word I hear, so I don’t have to stress out about it. That’s not the case, so talking on the phone is my absolutely least favorite thing to do. I can do it – especially with the CapTel phone (this phone captions what the other person is saying, although there’s a bit of a lag and the captions are often not accurate) – but I only use the phone if I absolutely have to, for the shortest amount of time possible. Like I said though, this is partly because I’ve never been one of those people who likes the phone. I think a couple of other things play into it for me – the fact that I still have a high frequency loss even with my CIs, and the fact that I hear better with two ears than one. I know I could probably do some kind of convoluted thing with a neckloop and putting both my CIs on T-coil to get the bilateral effect (I think…I’m not even sure about this) but the phone is just not important enough to me to make that kind of effort. Give me email or texting, thanks!
Music is pretty good now, especially with music I already know. I do practice listening to music on Pandora – I have a couple stations set up so that they play music I’m familiar with (or that is similar to that music) and I pop some headphones on and just listen. I find that if I don’t do this, the quality of music does go down for me. It also sounds better through headphones or Direct Connect. But it has improved so, so much since the early days of listening with my CIs. It used to just sound like crashing noise, especially music coming through the television. For instance, we watch House and the intro song is Teardrop, by Massive Attack. I always really liked this song before I went deaf, but after my CIs were activated it sounded truly horrific. To be honest, I usually fast-forward the intro credits/song with our TiVo but lately I’ve been known to let the House intro play through, just so I can enjoy how good that song sounds now!
I’m tempted to do the list of things I can hear now, but yeah, that can be pretty boring to read. Still though, it’s pretty cool to jump out of my seat when the dryer buzzes (downstairs!!) or to look around and wonder what the heck that noise is, only to see it’s my cat (way over on the couch) licking her paws. Come on – I never even knew that made a sound!
I don’t have superhuman hearing though … last night Paige was sputtering and exclaiming about the fact that the neighbors were having a party (on Saturday night, geez) and playing their (crappy, according to her) music too loud. Dave and I listened for a minute, shrugged and said we didn’t really hear anything. “But you’re deaf!” was her response, spoken with classic teenage exasperation. I had to laugh – she’s right about that!
So… identity, something I think I probably talked about before but it could use some updating. I imagine most people with cochlear implants question their identity sometimes, as far as the “Deaf or not deaf?” question. Before I went deaf in April 2008, I said I was hard-of-hearing or hearing impaired; that label doesn’t bother me because yeah, my hearing was impaired. It didn’t offend me to say it. And now when I wear my CI processors, I hear even better than I did back then…so do I still say I’m hearing impaired? Nah, I say I’m deaf, because I am. What I am when I wake up in the morning…I’m deaf. No big deal, and it doesn’t bother me.
So I’ll usually tell people, “I’m deaf, but I hear through cochlear implants.” I might explain that it helps me to lip read as well (if I’m dealing with someone that has an accent or a voice I’m not used to, I use every tool I can to help me understand). Most people accept this without even questioning it and just continue to talk to me as they already were, maybe making sure to look up when they are speaking. But a few times I’ve had people just stop and get visibly nervous – one guy stopped using his voice completely and would just nod and gesture to me. That’s fine too – I know sometimes they hear the word ‘deaf’ and just stop listening after that because it can be scary to wonder how to communicate. If I get a chance, I’ll point out that my CIs do help me to hear to put them at ease.
My tinnitus is GONE, folks. That was probably the hardest part of being deaf – it was not quiet like I always figured it would be. It was constant, crazy noise all day and all night, until I went to sleep. There was never any relief at all. It’s hard to explain what it’s like to hear all that noise and never be able to escape it. I’ve always had tinnitus but in the past, I would put my hearing aids on to get rid of it. My brain needed to hear something in order to settle down. Once I went deaf, there was nothing to hear. After surgery (but before activation, which was a month later), I still had tinnitus but the quality changed. I heard pretty much the same few sounds rather than a wide variety of sounds (music, talking, etc.) like I used to. Once I was activated though, my tinnitus disappeared within a week or two. It is really peaceful now if I have my processors off, because I hear actual silence! Every now and then I might get a soft sound, whooshing like the ocean or a couple of beeps or something, but it’s so soft and so rare that it just doesn’t bother me. Even at night when I take my processors off, the most I might get is some soft sounds but it’s barely enough to be noticeable…for all intents and purposes, I consider the tinnitus gone (for now, and hopefully forever).
One more thing I wanted to touch on – captions. I’ve seen a few people ask if getting CIs means you don’t need captions on the TV anymore. Like everything else, this is going to be different for each individual. For me, I still need captions. I don’t need them if the person speaking is visible on the screen and I can read their lips, but for voice-overs I still rely on captions. Sure, I can catch maybe 50% of what’s being said without captions, and I do practice this…I glance down at the captions only when I need to. We’ve also gone to some movies without open captions – we saw Avatar and Tron in the theater the first week they were out, before the open captioned versions came to our area. I didn’t catch everything but caught enough to follow the movie. So I definitely do better in this area with CIs than I did with hearing aids, but I do still rely on captions. However…my husband is also hearing impaired and my daughter loves captions (even though she doesn’t need them) so our TV will always, always have captions on!
Anyway, if you’re reading and you recently got a CI, it gets even better and better. Even once you stop going for mappings every couple months, it still gets better. What I hear now is what I remember hearing before I went deaf…and then some. I could not ask for more!