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The Joy of Conversation

I just realized I left out an anecdote when I finished up Hazel’s repair story. (I was in the midst of the aforementioned cold at the time, and I was kind of powering through the story rather than the usual meandering way that I write. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.)

So anyway, I had mentioned that because we couldn’t get Hazel started, and we don’t have a second car, we had to have the car rental people pick us up at the house and give us a ride to the actual rental facility. We’d never done this before and weren’t sure how it worked. I thought maybe they would arrive with the actual car we were renting. We were debating the logistics of this when a car pulled up in front of our house and we heard the horn honk.

Dave reached the car first and got into the back seat. I was about to slide in next to him when the girl who was driving, we’ll call her Tina, told me that I was welcome to sit in the front seat. Back in the days before my cochlear implants, this would have made me extremely nervous. Sitting in the front seat means you are obligated to make conversation, whereas the person in the back seat can kind of sit back and zone out without looking rude.

Well, I didn’t want this nice girl to think I thought she had cooties or something, so I didn’t hesitate to sit in the front seat.

She was very friendly and talkative; this would not be a trip made in awkward silence. The first thing she told us was that this was not the car we’d be renting, and I laughed and admitted we’d just been wondering about that when she pulled up. Then I started telling her about our saga with Hazel, explaining why we needed a ride to the rental place (and thanking her profusely as well).

It was about a 25 minute ride to the facility because we’d had some snow and the roads weren’t completely plowed. I chatted easily with this girl for the entire ride, something that would have been agonizingly difficult for me when I just had hearing aids. I didn’t hesitate to ask her questions and make comments when she told us stories about her family. In the past I would have kept quiet in an effort to keep conversation to a minimum (less worry about not hearing something properly that way).

At one point she asked Dave something that he didn’t catch (sitting in the back seat makes it especially hard because you can’t lip read). So I turned around and repeated it for him, making sure he could see and hear me. Then he explained to Tina that we both had hearing loss – that I was totally deaf and heard with cochlear implants, and he was partially deaf and had a hearing aid for the ear that could still hear. She’d never heard of CIs so we explained how they worked, and basically we blew her mind. It was fun to see her expression change as we spoke, to see her amazement at the technology that makes it possible for me to hear.

When it was time for us to return the car a week later, Tina was working at the counter. We handed over the keys and gave her an update on our car. Then I asked her if she knew the location of the Michael’s store – we knew there was one nearby, we just weren’t exactly sure where it was. (We wanted to stop in and look at their Christmas trees.) She laughed and said, “Wow, God works in mysterious ways!” I gave her a quizzical look, and she went on to explain that she was just going through a bunch of Michael’s coupons that she was going to throw away because they expired in one day. Then she handed us two coupons for 50% off, and explained exactly where the store was (not far from where we already were). How crazy is that?!

I mention that because before my CIs, I would never have asked that question. I would look the information up on my cell phone or something, but I would never take a chance and ask another person where something was because I could never be sure I’d hear or understand the answer. Having the confidence to ask that question opened up a whole conversation about a craft Tina was working on, and also the aforementioned coupons she was nice enough to offer.

I’ve mentioned before that I have trouble with the phone, TV and movies unless I have captions. But there is a night and day difference in the most important thing to me, face to face conversations with people. As long as the person doesn’t have a heavy accent, I almost never miss a word.

As we walked back to Hazel that day, I remarked to Dave that I felt like I could talk to anyone now that I could hear so well. Of course, Tina was especially easy to talk to because she was so friendly and outgoing. But I had no problem keeping a constant flow of conversation going, and I never once worried about what I would say next or if I would be able to understand what she was saying.

It was such a good feeling, and so fun to connect with another person in a way that I never would have before my CIs.

Adventures in Deafness

A few days ago I was getting ready for bed.  Dave had just lain down and I was in the process of taking off my cochlear implant processors, removing the batteries and putting them on the battery charger before I put the processors in our Dry & Store unit.  I was turned away from him but out of the corner of my eye, I saw him jump up from the bed.  He let out a few choice curse words.  Then I heard the buzzing from the bed shaker attached to the AlertMaster.

“What the heck?  Did someone ring our doorbell?”  I left one of my CIs on and went to look out the window.  Dave had already gone to the door to check.  There was nobody there and nobody that we could see in the vicinity of our house.

“Maybe it was kids screwing around, since we put that sign by the doorbell?”  It was just after 10:30 pm and the sign instructed people to use the AlertMaster doorbell after 10:30…maybe we had some pranksters in our neighborhood.  I went back to the room and checked the base unit; there was no red light flashing in the area marked ‘Doorbell’ so I felt pretty confident that nobody had actually rung the bell.

I finished with my CIs, got into bed and Dave joined me a few seconds later.  Then I felt it again.  Pulse Pulse … BZZZZZZZZZ.  What the hell?!  We checked the base unit and, again, no lights were flashing.  Dave turned off the alarm and things stayed quiet after that.

The next night, the same thing happened when Dave got into bed.  I was already in bed and ‘offline’ so I was reading his lips as he explained that he thought something was being triggered by him sitting/lying on the mattress near where the bed shaker was situated.  He moved some things around and thankfully we haven’t had any more unexpected ‘alarms.’

Then yesterday morning, my alarm went off.  This is the Sonic Alert alarm clock that we regularly use when we need to be up early.  The thing is, we didn’t need to be awake early yesterday.  I never set the alarm.

I was sleeping HARD when the alarm went off, so I was really discombobulated.  I looked around in confusion for a few minutes, then grabbed the alarm clock and slid it to the ‘Off’ notch.  It was 6 am and Dave was already up, so I walked, deaf and sleepy, into the living room where he was on his computer.

“Hey hon, do we need to be up early today – did I forget something?”

Dave jumped out of his chair; I had scared the crap out of him.  (He told me later that at first he thought he was hearing the wind outside; maybe I wasn’t talking as loud as I thought I was?!)

Now we were both confused:  Dave because I was wandering around half-awake at 6 am, an hour which usually finds me sound asleep; me because an alarm that had clearly been intentionally set for 6 am had gone off and I couldn’t figure out why.

After we consulted and agreed that there was no good reason for me to be awake (Dave was awake to take his 6 am medicine) I went back to bed.  When I woke up and could think a bit more clearly, I was even more confused.  This is an alarm clock with an indicator on the side that you slide up to either Buzz, Vib (short for Vibrate) or Vib/Buzz.  Buzz means there’s an audible alarm, and that’s a very delicate way of saying it.  It’s more like “Piercing Banshee Wail” than “Buzz.”  So you can choose to have the audible alarm only, vibrate/bed shaking only, or both.  (I don’t bother with the Banshee Wail; it doesn’t wake me up, but it would definitely wake up the rest of the neighborhood!)

So it’s not possible that this alarm was set by, say, a cat paw brushing against it.  You have to grasp the thingy and slide it up to the specific setting you want.  And Dave has no clue how to work this alarm clock, so I know he didn’t set it.  Obviously I was the one who did it, but why?  And when?  I have absolutely no memory of turning the alarm on before bed.  Did I do it in my sleep?  Was I on autopilot and just set the alarm before bed without evening thinking about it?  (WHY??  I almost never use the alarm unless I have to be up extremely early.)

All was well this morning, but I have to admit I’m a little jumpy after so many days of random alarms going off.  I’ll sign this,

“Sleepless in Chicago”

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