Monthly Archives: January 2009

Another First

Yesterday I was feeling kind of funky…nothing definable, nothing like “I have a sore throat and a runny nose” or “I can’t stop coughing”…just kind of, “Uh…I don’t feel right.  Kinda tired?  Maybe a little start of a headache?”  Really, at one point I could’ve just laid down and not gotten up for the rest of the evening.

So I thought I’d check and take my temperature.  This used to be what defined sick or not when I was a kid — for my mom, if I had a fever then I was sick and if not, she didn’t really believe it.  I also tended to run hellacious fevers when I did get them — 104 was routine for me.  (My kids did the same thing — they rarely had fevers of 100.1 or whatever…it was always 104 or 103.)

We’ve got a couple electronic thermometers, even one of those ear thermometers (although, hmm…I think I threw it away a few years ago because it was never accurate) and the old fashioned mercury kind.  I always thought they were kind of cool, turning them til you could finally see the line and see your temperature.  Anyway, though, they take 4 minutes to work and I wanted a quick answer — I trust the mercury thermometer the most, but the electric one could give me a general answer in less than a minute.

Now, the electric thermometers beep when they’re done.  I have never, EVER heard them beep.  My kids would let me know, if they happened to be around, but usually what I do is put the thermometer in my mouth, and kind of cross my eyes and look down at the digital display, where I can see the “F” flashing as the number changes.  Once it stays at a steady number for a while, the F stops flashing and it displays your temperature.  I see the flashing stop and that’s when I pull the thermometer out.

So yesterday I was doing my cross-eyed routine, saw the flashing stop, went to pull the thermometer out and there it was…*beep beep beep*  *beeeep*

It really does make a noise!!

It was extremely soft, and if I had been in a room with the TV playing or people talking, I doubt I would have heard it.  But really, that was just so cool…I had always suspected that maybe it didn’t really beep, but I was proved wrong.

By the way, my temperature was 99.3 … nothing much.  I took some Tylenol and felt fine in a few hours.  🙂

Hook Me Up

I’m on a little music kick now, so I thought I’d show everyone how I use my MP3 player with my cochlear implants.

If I’m just sitting at the computer or whatever and want to quickly listen to music, I can put headphones on.  These work really pretty well and are actually easier to use with CIs than with the hearing aids I used to wear.  My hearing aids had a microphone on top of the hearing aid case (which sat on my ear — they were behind-the-ear hearing aids), so I used to have to actually hold the headphone in place so it would rest on top of the hearing aid.  I couldn’t let go or they would slip off, unless I was wearing the really big, totally-cover-your-ear kind of headphones.  Earbuds were totally out, obviously.  On top of the aggravation, I only heard things in my left ear because my right ear was totally deaf.  I’d never heard anything in stereo before.

With my CIs, I use an earhook called a T-Mic.  Here’s a picture of how the T-Mic fits on my ear:

Cochlear Implant with T-Mic

Cochlear Implant with T-Mic

The T-Mic curves down into my ear and places the microphone in the ear canal area, so I can wear headphones as they are meant to be worn, and the sound is easily picked up.  I also hear in BOTH ears now, and I’m finally realizing how cool it is to hear certain instruments/sounds in each ear instead of hearing everything through my left ear only.

Last weekend we wrestled our treadmill up from the garage and set it up in Eric’s old room.  I really wanted to get back on the Couch to 5K program which we had started over the summer, but I can’t handle running outside in the freezing cold, snow and ice.  So I fired up the treadmill, grabbed my MP3 player and headphones, and started walking.  After about 2 minutes, I shut the treadmill down and walked out of the room.  It was so loud, the sound of the treadmill humming and my feet jogging along, I could barely hear the music.  I can only turn it up so loud before it starts to sound distorted.  So I went to Plan B, and this is how I always listen to music now when I’m on the treadmill.  Are you ready?  It’s a little involved but the end result is pretty cool!

First I had to convert my MP3 player to work with my Direct Connect cables.  This is something that Advanced Bionics offers for people who have their brand of cochlear implant, and it lets us connect directly to a battery-operated device like an MP3 player.   The sound goes right from the MP3 player into my brain, eliminating the need for headphones.  (Side note:  I’m sure other CI manufacturers have something similar — I just happen to know the most about the Direct Connect since it’s the one I use.)  🙂

The Direct Connect is actually two cables – one plugs into the device, and has a connector on the end for the second cable, which ends in a small earhook that doesn’t have a microphone like the T-Mic does.  It ends up being really long!

Since I have bilateral cochlear implants, I need to be able to connect two Direct Connect cables to one device.  Dave happened to have an adapter that fit my MP3 player, so first I plug the adapter into the headphone jack of the MP3 player.  The adapter has two openings, so I plug a Direct Connect cable setup into each of those two openings.

This is what it looks like, all connected together – I stretched it out to full length, and you can see it goes the entire length of the kitchen island!

Direct Connect setup with MP3 player

Direct Connect setup with MP3 player

Here’s each end of the above setup:

MP3 player with adapter for two Direct Connect cables

MP3 player with adapter for two Direct Connect cables

The small earhook that each Direct Connect cable ends with

The small earhook that each Direct Connect cable ends with

Now I need to get my cochlear implants ready, so first I take them off:

My colorful cochlear implant processors and headpieces

My colorful cochlear implant processors and headpieces

Then I remove the T-Mic earhooks (they twist off):

CIs, minus the T-Mic earhooks

CIs, minus the T-Mic earhooks

Then I put the small earhook on each CI, so the two CIs are connected to my MP3 player:

CIs connected via Direct Connect cables to my MP3 player

CIs connected via Direct Connect cables to my MP3 player

I have a case that I pop the MP3 player into (and tuck some of the extra length of cord into, so it’s not hanging down) and that can hook onto the waistband of my pants.  It’s a little big (it’s actually the old case for my PocketTalker listening device) so I’m on the lookout for one that fits better.

I asked my audiologist to give me a program for the Direct Connect that gives me about 25% microphone and 75% Direct Connect – that way I can still hear if someone is talking to me while I’m using my MP3 player.  I do still hear a little of the treadmill, but the sound is GREATLY reduced.  The Direct Connect puts the sound right into my head without as much distracting background noise like the headphones were.

This is what I look like, all Direct Connected to my MP3 player:

Ready to rock!

Ready to rock!

It’s a little convoluted compared to just popping headphones on, but the end result is so worth it!!

By the way, Sabrina is also a big fan of the treadmill:

Beanie the cat

Beanie the cat

Music to My Ears

I went deaf in the middle of the last season of American Idol.  It started in January, business as usual…the whole family gets a big kick out of auditions, and then the kids usually wander off as the season continues, unless they have a real favorite they’re rooting for.

I usually can’t tell if someone is really a good singer or not.  Even before I lost all my hearing, I could never tell if someone was singing in tune…I don’t really even know what “in tune” means, to be honest!  I couldn’t tell what different notes were supposed to sound like, so if someone hits the wrong note or sings in the wrong key, it just doesn’t register with me.  I really counted on the kids to tell me if someone was doing a fabulous or terrible job with a song.  Dave has the same trouble I do, as far as telling if someone’s singing the right notes, so he’s no help.  I’d watch the judges’ reactions too, although there are always a few auditions where I think people sound fine and the judges are cringing in horror.  There are also people who make me cringe and the judges rave about them.

So anyway, the season was going along nicely and I was having fun seeing how people would change up songs I recognized (David Cook did a lot of this, apparently, although I missed a lot of his stuff at the end) and I had my favorites.  It was a little hard to hear the singing over the loud music but I got the gist of it.  Then, mid-April, I go completely deaf.  We watch TV with captions but it wasn’t until I watched my first American Idol episode in total deafness that it really hit me…captions just really don’t take the place of being able to hear, even just to hear at a minimal level like I used to.  Since we were already invested in the season and wanted to see who won, it wasn’t an option to stop watching.  But I’ll confess, it was pretty boring for me.  The season lasted until sometime in May, and I was pretty relieved to see it end.  All I could really do was watch and see how people danced, moved or emoted during their songs.  Since dancing isn’t really the highlight of American Idol, it was really snooze-inducing!

One good thing to come out not being able to hear half of American Idol’s last season was the fact that they were advertising “So You Think You Can Dance”, which was going to start after American Idol ended.  We’d never watched that show before (the only other reality show we really watch is Survivor) but I told Dave that if he could stand it, I might like to watch that show.  It would be more fun, visually, to watch.  So we decided to give it a try and absolutely loved it!  That show doesn’t come back for a while, but when it does, it will be the first time I’ve ever heard any of the judges’ voices, or the announcer’s voice.  I watched that whole season in silence.  It was a little goofy watching people dancing around and not hearing the music but I would make up music in my head and try to match it to their movements.

So anyway…American Idol is back!  And I can hear it again!  I’m no better off than I was when I had my hearing aids, as far as being able to tell if someone is singing well.  I kind of wondered, when I first got my cochlear implants, if I might eventually be able to finally recognize various notes or if someone is singing in tune or even be able to pick out various instruments in a song.  So far that’s not possible, but I’m not upset about it.  I’m still early on in my CI journey – it’s not even been 6 months yet! – and it’s not like I had those talents before and want to get them back.

It’s just been strange to realize that the last time I saw this show, I was watching in silence.  It still startles me, going from silence to sound every day.  I get so used to hearing things, and then I’ll spend some time with my CIs off and kind of get lost in the silence.  It’s different now than when I first went deaf, because back then I had the constant, mind-jarring tinnitus.  I really never had silence.  Now things are pretty much silent, because the tinnitus is such a low hum that it doesn’t even register with me.  It’s weird that I can’t even really remember some of the sounds I used to hear constantly in my head, all day, every day.

Bring on the bad singers!  It should make them happy that at least a couple of people are out there, watching and listening, and thinking they don’t sound that bad at all.   🙂


Conversation with Paige last night:

Me:  Did you adopt a cat on FaceBook yet?

Paige:  (blank stare)

Me:  Wait, I didn’t send you an invitation to that!  Okay, go to my profile, click on ‘Boxes’, and you can see my cat there.  You can click on it and create your own if you want to.

(A few minutes pass)

Me:  Did you create your cat?

Paige:  Yes!  I created a puppy too!

Me:  What did you name it?

Paige:  Bucket

Me:  Bucket???

Paige:  (hysterical laughter)

(more hysterical laughter, doubled over, holding her stomach)

Paige:  (choking)  BECKETT

Me:   HA HA HA

Paige:  (pretending to call her fake dog)  “Come here, Bucket…let me kick you!”

(This is a reference to this phrase Dave likes to use, sorta like “Don’t burst my bubble”…he says, “Don’t kick my bucket over!”)

Apparently I still have some comprehension issues, but at least it makes for interesting conversations in our house!

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