Sunday, June 29, 2008

A Long Overdue Tribute...

You know I’ve been thinking a lot this weekend. I know it’s dangerous. However, it just "happens". I will try to be more careful in the future but I'm can't make any promises. So, I realized that I need to share something important.

I really need to post a tribute to my husband. I will just jump in here and tell you why. Three months before we were married I was diagnosed with type I diabetes. It was a crazy time. I was in the middle of graduate school. I was planning our wedding and did I mention graduate school? LOL. My life has not been the same since my diagnosis and it never will be but we make it work. Life is a new normal...and I can accept that. Little did we know how EXPENSIVE the stupid disease is as well. The average person spends about 2,500.00 a year on health care. The average type I diabetic spends about 12,000 a year. Thankfully we have great insurance now but it doesn’t come cheap. We still make a monthly payment to my doctor’s office for bills that occurred the first 8 months of our marriage. The insurance we had at the time did not cover the doctor’s appointments. Not ONCE has he ever complained about the financial aspect of it. NEVER! He’s never even joked or made comment about how much more money we would have if I didn’t have type I diabetes. One day he came home from work I was all upset and I told him I wanted to get an insulin pump and that I was sick of the injections. He said okay and told me he thought it was a great idea and I called and started the process and was pumping a month later. It was a great decision! I love my pump. The pump alone cost 5000.00 bucks. We had to dish out 1,000 for it but the insurance covered the rest…actually we make payments on Forrest Pump and I’m happy to say he should be paid off by August. We also have to pay for supplies every three months and that cost a lot too a couple hundred and again he never complains.

So, lets fast forward a little bit. I’m having problem after problem with the hearing aid. I would be upset about it a lot. Crying, angry, frustrated. I keep going to the audiologist to try new hearing aids to keep having the digital one programmed but to no avail. One day I come home crying and I’m so mad and frustrated. I can’t function like I used to. I’m crying and I said: “I’m going to get a cochlear implant b/c I don’t want to deal with this anymore”. He says “let’s do it”. No kidding. Wow! Well, We didn’t realize the process was long and that it cost 80k but hey the out come is worth it (so they say). I freaked out about the cost more than he did. In his mind the outcome is worth it. Again we have insurance and hoping that they will pay a lot of it. We know that it will actually. I know he remembers the all the times I cried and would become frustrated b/c the hearing sounds so distorted. I almost wonder if he's relieved about the implant. I was pretty adamant that it wasn't something I was interested in. I'll have to ask him that (he's sleeping right now...he's so cute when he sleeps!).

In all honesty it’s not all about the money as I make it sound like that. His support knows no bounds. I think I focus more on the money aspect b/c I’m the one who runs up the bill. He has supported me every step of the way. He’s gone with me to HLAA meetings; he’s gone to a deaf/hoh seminar; he’s gone with me to several doctor’s appts regarding the implant; he’s gone with me when I’ve met up with Susan (and Laurie). He wants to be a part of all of this. I think he has enjoyed meeting others with the implant just as much as I have. He likes seeing the results and hearing the experiences other people have had. I’m so thankful and blessed.

I do think I know why he’s so supportive with the implant though. Does he want me to hear better? OF COURSE! Does he know how frustrated I’ve been? YES! Is there more to his support? I think so! You see, the truth is the man is obsessed with Star Trek. I mean OBSESSED. I think he is so freakin’ excited to have a wife that is going to become a Cyborg b/c in some weird way it ties back to his love affair with Star Trek. Haha. Funny stuff. Sometimes I wonder if he’s going to start calling me Seven of Nine or something crazy. We’ll see!

He has no idea I have written this so he better be reading my blog! All I want to say is thank you Jason for all your support and hang on …b/c this is going to be an interesting voyage and we are in it together! I will let you be Capitan Picard (for all of you non-trekies- you normal people... that's the name of the Capitan in Star Trek Enterprise! I'll just be a's fitting though don't you think? Hang on for the ride!

Oh one more thing..Jason, just remember when we are old and you are saying “what” all the time b/c you can’t hear and I can (b/c I have the implant) I promise to be patient with you.

Signing off for now people…I’ll be back soon!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Catching Up!

Hello people!

I’ve been hiding! Actually, my niece (Heather) and her boyfriend (Justin) came to TN to visit this weekend. We had a blast. I laughed so much. They are just so funny. I did learn that I’m too old to keep up with people around the age of 18 (or younger). Seriously, I was worn out but again it was so much fun. I’m young at HEART not so much physically and mentally. We did the tourist thing. We went to Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge and walked till we couldn’t walk anymore. I live here and never go up to Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge except for the HUGE Tanger outlet mall they have. Everything else is is just a tourist trap…they try to rob you of your money. We had fun though. We rode the go carts and played putt putt. We did get ripped off on one attraction. So, please talk to me before you go. I learned a great way to enjoy some of what Pigeon Forge has to offer…. Of course I learned AFTER we got ripped off but that’s okay. Life is full of lessons.

I seriously have so much I want to share. However, I can’t do it all at once. It’s just not humanly possible. Let’s start with today’s date…today is June 23 which means that I can officially say that I’m having my implant surgery in LESS than a month! How exciting is that?!!!! Over the weekend I was so busy hanging out that I didn’t really think about the waiting. Heather and Justin were sooo patient with me regarding my hearing issues. Of course Heather is used to it as I’ve been hearing impaired since before she was born but as I've mentioned before I seem to struggle more these days. I appreciate their patience a lot. People make faces even though they don't realize it. I think hearing people forget we rely on facial cues so we pick up a lot more than the common person. The car is the hardest part especially at night I can’t read lips. I had Justin open his phone so the light could reflect off mouth so I could read his lips. That worked out really well. They both just had no problems with the hearing issues at all. I love them for it. Big thanks to both of them!

I did get the book Rebuilt so I’m going to start sharing the insights I get from Michael's book.Try to keep a look out for those posts. I'm not sure if I'm going to make whole posts for it or share links to it. I'll figure that out soon. I have also been catching up on my blog readings. Everyone had a great time at the HLAA convention. I’m disappointed that I wasn’t able to go. I really am. I am going next year. There are so many people I want to meet. (Random thought: I wonder what the chances are of Abbie getting on a plan again? Haha!!) You know now that I think about it, I’m not even a member of the HLAA yet. I’m not sure how to go about that. I’ve been to 2 meetings but that’s it since we don’t meet during the summer. I wish I could use my current degree (Marriage and Family Therapist/Professional Counselor) to help hard of hearing/deaf people. However, I don’t see how. I am becoming increasing frustrated that I have a Master’s degree and nothing to show for it. In fact it is beyond frustrating. Although I must admit I can’t leave my job now for anything because I am about to have surgery and I have benefits and short term leave. Plus I plan on going back to school to become a nurse. I just wish I didn’t have to go back to school to become a nurse and I could find something with the degree I have but I’ve looked everywhere. That’s my soap box for another blog and another time. I went off topic. That won’t be the last time it I will apologize for that another time.

Right now I must go to sleep. I will try to share some more tomorrow…I promise! Right now I’m so tired I can’t even think straight! After work we had to run a billion errands ONE of those errands included picking up my husband’s blackberry! YES, he got one too. Haha. We LOVE the phone. I’m telling you we are gadget freaks. I’m surprised we don’t have a remote control that will flush the toilet. Now that he has a blackberry we both have the same phone capabilities such as email and blackberry instant messenger. I’m so excited. It will really come in handy that's for sure. We love our toys...serious toys!

Okay, I'm really off to bed. I'm getting grouchy. I'm so tired I don't think I can finish the rest of this pos......zzzzzzzzz.......zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Keep A Look Out...

This is going to be a short post today. (Well, I thought it was and then I wrote the whole thing and had to come up here and add this sentence about how it's really not that short at all...oops!). I was checking out other blogs and came across Mike Chorost's website. Many of you probably know him from his book REBUILT. I've read about him previously but for some reason didn't really check out the book. I know it was due to the fact that I wasn't sure if I was getting an implant and didn't want to get too excited about it and read the book only to find out I wasn't a candidate. Now that I know this is happening I'm all for any info I can get. If you go to his website you can read the first chapter of his book. I just happened to do that about 2 nights ago and was mesmerized! YES! He really opened my eyes to a lot of things I haven't thought about. I sent him an email thinking I would get a reply weeks from now or something....I don't know why I thought that. However, he replied a couple of hours later. I let him know that I bought the book (though it has not arrived in the mail yet) and that I would like to share it on my blog. What I plan on doing is read each chapter and then talk about it here. He told me I didn't need to ask him permission for that but appreciated my asking and thought it was a cool idea. I knew in advance that I didn't need to ask permission but I felt like I should ask out of respect. I do not plan on doing a "review" if that's what people think. Basically, when I read a book (except for fiction books) I write notes on the margins and underline things that "speak" to me in some way. Well, with his book I'm going to do just that but I get to share what's in the margins and what I underline right here on my blog. I have no doubt that he and I will have different experiences and I will talk about that but with the utmost respect. :-) I hope it will be interesting and thought provoking for all of us. So, keep a look out for some of those posts. :-)

Now I just need to wait for the book to arrive. Does anyone see the running theme in my life? I NEED PATIENCE! I'm always waiting for something. It's annoying.

If anyone hasn't read the book GET IT! Let's read it together. I think it will be fun and inspiring. I hope that Mike will be able to check out the blog from time to time and see that what he wrote is helping many of us!

Well, I will sign off for now...oh...and if you need any comic relief please go check out
Abby's recent post about her flight to Reno for the HLAA convention...TOO FUNNY! :-)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The time to hear is NOW!

I credit Laurie for the topic of this post and thank her for the infinite wisdom she has. In my last post I talked about my thoughts and questions about what may happen 10 or 20 years from now when technology is even better. Cyborg Queen and Laurie offered their wisdom about the situation and I appreciate it so much. Sheri I assure you my brain is a constant tennis match going back and fourth but like I said I think it’s healthy for the most part. :-) It doesn’t consume me. The waiting consumes me though. I'm constantly trying to plan stuff to make time go by faster. Is it July 22nd yet? I can’t imagine how those 4 weeks of having the implant and waiting for activation will be. Grueling I’m sure! Lord be with me.

So, I wanted to touch on Laurie’s words which spoke to me LOUD AND CLEAR! I will repeat: THE TIME TO HEAR IS NOW. I agree! I wonder if I can convince Dr. Merwin of that…let’s speed up the process here. But seriously…why wait for what could be the next best thing? There is already a GREAT thing out there. It’s not like this is first generation stuff. Although I am so thankful for those who went before me and I’m talking about those who have the 1 channel implants (yet they still have the ability to upgrade to the current processors...amazing!). If those people didn’t do it then where would many of us be today? They were thinking THE TIME TO HEAR IS NOW…and it was and it still is…and I agree with that completely. I wish I could explain it more but I can’t. All I know is that phrase touched me. It inspires me.

I hope this concept helps someone down the road. Someone who is wondering “should I get an implant”? “Should I get better hearing aids”? The answer is YES. I don’t know why I never thought of it that way. Perhaps this is why I’m getting a Cochlear Implant now and not years ago when I should have. I am not bitter though I think things like this have a way of working themselves out.

I must say I’ve been thinking more and more about the implant and what lies ahead. I’m moving past some questions/concerns and gaining others. I am getting excited too. It’s hard though because I really, really, really don’t want to get my hopes too high. Just because other people experienced great success does not mean that I will. I promise you this…I’ll work at it though. I will do everything I need to do…listening to audio books, have my husband read to me, wear the implant only (no hearing aid)…whatever needs to be done. I will do all of this not only because it cost 80,000 bucks but to the fact that.... THE TIME TO HEAR IS NOW! :-)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

What happens later?

When I started entertaining the idea of becoming a cyborg I did a lot of reading and even soul searching...tons of it. That's how I started reading blogs in the first place. In fact, blogs have made a huge impact on me. I've also met people. I started going to the HLAA meetings which I never even knew existed until my Audiologist told me about it. I've been hearing impaired (in both ears) for over 21 years and never knew of HLAA. It's a great resource. I really wish we were still meeting over the summer but we are not. I like having access to all these people who have been before me...they are already cyborgs. I REALLY enjoy hanging out with gives me peace and hope and SUPPORT!!!! I wish I could talk to someone everyday but I can't because people have lives, you know unlike myself. I guess part of me feels like...well, I can't even explain it...where are the words? (Taping finger on desk...thinking, thinking some more) Lets try it this way... I guess by talking to Susan and Laurie and other people in the blogging world...I feel CONNECTED and that this is going to happen! Despite the fact that my surgery is only a month (and a week) away, it really seems like light years. I don’t know, I think talking to others who have been through it or are about to go through it makes me feel like I’m involved in the process and that I’m keeping myself busy. It is exciting talking to others and to learn about their experience. There is another side to all of this…I think I’ve been deprived too. I never really had anyone else to talk to about the frustrations of being hearing impaired. In fact, I didn’t even think my own frustrations where real until I read about other people having the same feelings as me! It’s like this amazing realization! Now I feel like I have an outlet a place to share all the things that I’ve had to hold back b/c I didn’t really have anyone to turn to. Maybe I should just buy a punching bag? :-)

So, of all the questions I have asked other cyborgs one still remains...what happens later? What happens 10 or 15 years from now when the technology is better? What do I do? I know some people already have "older" models and the processor is backward compatible. But what if something REALLY spectacular comes out later? It's a hard thought to reconcile with. I guess it's one of those things that can never really be answered. It's all a gamble and I'm just hoping and praying that I win the jackpot! I can compare this issue with other gadgets like computer and cell phone…definitely cell phones (lets not forget my cell phone addiction). For example I just bought a Blackberry Curve 8330 and they are about to release the Blackberry Bold which is going to much better than the phone I have. It sucks knowing that something better is going to be out there then what I have. Although I have to admit I’m pretty happy with what I’ve got…but if I see the Bold up close and personal I may get jealous. The same thing with computers…you can buy a computer today and then a month from now something much better and faster will be available. It’s frustrating. Now, if this happens with the implant I may turn into the Hulk b/c it will seriously be frustrating since the “COMPUTER” will be IN my HEAD and it WIL NOT and CAN NOT (without surgery) come out! I do not have the power to take it out. That’s another thing that it hard to grasp. With the hearing aids…I take it out…I control it...ME ME ME! However with the implant not so much…in fact, not really at all. The only power I have is to turn it on and off but the computer part of it does everything else. Talk about scary! Okay, I’m getting too deep here...time to move on to something else!

Believe it or not I think my thought process is healthy. I must come to terms with all of this the best that I can. Despite all the stuff I have mentioned I still want the implant and I have no reservations about getting it. I’m more excited that I am nervous. The things I’m nervous about has more to do with how I will respond to the implant. I'm nervous about the acivation b/c I know things will sound like...well thinks will sound YUCKY. In the mean time I just have some questions and thoughts to reason out. The “What if” questions are always the worst and can never really be answered. I am aware of that. All I know is that July 22nd seems like light years away so…maybe my questions will make for a good post and perhaps keep me occupied until then. :-)

I hope everyone at the HLAA Convention is having a blast. I can’t wait to read all about it.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

A Tribute to...My Blackberry!

About a 2 weeks ago I updated to a blackberry. I call him "buzz"berry. I named him buzz b/c he's usually on vibrate and buzzes a lot. I updated to the blackberry for several reasons. The main one being that I have a serious, SERIOUS cell phone addiction. As I mentioned before I LOVE gadgets and cell phones are on the top of that list. I think my husband wishes I had a cheaper addiction. -sigh- However, I think I'm content now! I have a AWESOME phone. I don't think you can get much better.

I had the EnV (Verizon Wireless) prior to this and that is a darn cool phone too. However, I decided to do an early upgrade and spent a lot money for my cell phone addiction....okay I do have some GOOD reasons why I upgraded. One reason has a lot to do with my up coming surgery. You know that 80,000 "gadget' that's going in my head. I won't be able to hear for at least four weeks and who knows how long it will be before I can use the phone again? Right now I use the "speaker" phone for my conversations. This is not private at all. However, I did buy a t-coil connector thingy and that works really well when I want to have a "private" conversation. I think I'm so used to using the speakerphone though.

It's comforting know that I have ways to "communicate" with other people via email/text message. I think I depend more on that then the voice plan. Of course b/c of my new "toy" I'm almost out of text messages for this month. That may need to be updated down the road.

My goal for now is to get my husband a blackberry but we'll have to buy it off eBay b/c he isn't up for a renewal until Feb. Besides, it's a cool phone why should I have all the fun! :-)

So if anyone is thinking of updating to a new phone you must talk to me first because I researched this for a while. :-) Now go get a Blackberry and we can talk on Blackberry Messenger!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

::WARNING:: Blogger Is VENTING! Read at your own RISK!

So, I realize that my blog was created to document my implant journey. But I’ve decided I get to vent too and that’s what I’m going to do today. So be warned this is not a happy go-lucky post. I’m SURE there will be some sarcastic humor but just know I am FRUSTRATED!!!! Let's just hope that the people I am discussing do not have access to this blog. I already know they don't so I wouldn't mention it. Besides, right now I could really give a rat's...okay you get the point..

You know when I was young…and even up until now I’ve never really had any major complaints about being hearing impaired. Hec’ I was more frustrated with the fact that I have type I diabetes than the fact that I’m hearing impaired. However, that has changed…or I’m starting to change or other people are changing? I don’t know the answer and it seem answer can be a thousand things. I went to school and graduated with my Master’s degree in Therapy so obviously I am going to “analyze” things from time to time (or everyday).

First I’m going to go off course and I promise it will come full circle. You know I have a LOT of funny stories about being hearing impaired. YES, funny things have happened. You have to laugh at stuff like this in order to stay sane. For example, when I was around 10 or 11 years old I used to play hide and go seek. I grew up with a handful of kids that lived in my neighborhood. There were like 8-10 of us and of course I was the only girl and the only hearing impaired kid in the group (duh). We had a lot of fun though. Well, one day I found a GREAT hiding spot…or so I thought. I was hiding for well over a hour and then I finally decided to run to base. Well, I ran to base (my friend’s back porch) and there was everyone sitting down eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I was like WHAT? They said, “Karen we yelled “Game Over” like 10 times but you never heard us. We thought you may have gone home”. “I said “Oh, well can I have a sandwich”? LOL…it’s FUNNY admit it. I love to share that story because it’s one of those things you have to laugh at. Needless to say I learned my lesson after that I always hid WITH someone. :-) I never said I didn’t learn from my mistakes!

I think by nature when you have a “disability” people feel pity. I like to use the humor and even the plus sides to being hearing impaired to show people NOT to feel pity. So, I have many stories like that and love to share them with people I get to know. Well, lets move on to the implant business. I think it’s interesting. I’ve had someone working on my computer at work and I just had to stand there while he’s working on it and he mentioned my cell phone and how cool it is (like I don’t already know). I explained to him I’m hearing impaired and it comes in handy. We got to talk about the fact that I don’t hear well and the whole lip reading thing. “You read lips, really”? I don’t know why that’s so shocking. Anyway, after we started talking I told him about the implant. I thought another person would be interested in this but boy was I wrong. His remark was “You are ‘choosing” to do this”? I was like “yeah”. I wanted to say “trust me you would too if you were in my shoes”. So, my computer still isn’t working. I admit I lost my temper today (as it’s been a week and a half and this is his umpteenth visit) and he happened to be the one to catch the bad end of it. I was frustrated. I can’t do my work b/c my computer is broken and they switched the computer today and now it’s even worse than it was before. So, he calmed me down and all was well. He started getting really frustrated when it was time for him to go and the computer still wasn’t working. He told me what the plan was for tomorrow and I asked him to say that just to make sure I got it. Oh boy…this is where I was MAD. He repeats himself but says it EXTREMELY fast on purpose to be “funny”. I said “ You know...I know sign language and I'm about to show you some of it, so just repeat yourself please”. He said “What”? I said, “nothing” with a sarcastic tone. My neighbor/co-worker heard me (as he was semi involved in the conversation) and repeated what I said and didn’t know what I meant. Well the computer guy said “I think she means she’s going to give me the finger”. I said “yup that’s exactly right”. I promise I love Jesus but I was MAD. At least I didn’t actually give him the finger. Why do people think they can do stuff like that to me and I’ll think it’s funny? Plus I was already frustrated. Don’t do crap like that. Ever since I’ve transferred to this new department I’ve had one problem after the other and it’s infuriating. I’ve already confronted someone about it (very professional way) and this person was very rude. Don't bang on my desk really loud until I turn around and everyone else can hear you. Don't talk "slowly" because you think I'm stupid and can't understand you. Don't get annoyed when I say "what" or think it's funny. The list goes on.

I need a new paragraph. Sorry…I am typing to much that starting a new paragraph makes me feel better. I no longer trust other adults with my hearing problem. I never had a problem till now. Perhaps it’s because I’m more “sensitive” about the issue b/c I’m not doing as well. However, I think people are getting ruder (not sure if “ruder” is a real word but works for me). I used to be very open about the fact that I’m hearing impaired. It was important to me that people are aware of the situation. I’ve come across like a snob and rude so many times because people are unaware of the issue. I’m really not a snob. However, I no longer feel the need or desire to tell people. It seems to end badly. Even the little things… If I say “what” people get so annoyed but you know what’s funny hearing people say “what” too. Get a grip people. Grow some patience (like I should talk…but I will b/c I’m frustrated). Just think of all the people who are going to miss out on my funny deaf stories b/c I no longer feel comfortable talking about my hearing loss.

The thing is the implant isn’t going to fix this problem so that’s not encouraging. I am going to stop talking about the implant because people really aren’t interested. I guess I’m bias but it seems like something “cool”. You know? Oh, well. I guess the important thing is my husband thinks it’s cool and is very supportive! I think it’s cool. I’m not basing all of this on “one” person just so you know. There are several people who have been disinterested in the entire thing so that’s why I say that.

I think I’m done venting now. I’ve decided that the next time someone is rude I’m going to call them on it as NICELY as I can. I think the computer guy got the message that I didn’t think he was funny but I’m not sure. We’ll see what happens tomorrow. I wonder who will be the next person to say something stupid? All I have to say is “Bring it on”.

Monday, June 9, 2008

I Don't Trust Hearing Tests!

Yeah, it's true I hate hearing tests. I don't see how the are very accurate. Especially for people who are hearing impaired. I can see how they work well for people who can hear...but for people who can't...I'm skeptical.

Here's why. First let me say I've taken DOZENS of hearing tests over the years. The most recent one I had was about a month ago. It was the first test I've had in about 5 years but it was basically the same thing. They tested me with the hearing aids and without. They put the head set over my ears. Then the audiologist turns on the beeps and I tell her what I hear. Then we move on to the words. Then the whole things starts over except this time I wear the hearing aid and there is no head set but speakers. The audiologist reads sentences...."The train is slow" or "The cow jumped over the moon", etc. ect. etc. The problem is these are EASY to figure out and WHO talks in these simple sentences on a daily basis? Who says one word with their mouth covered up? It's infuriating! So, my left ear scored 100db...yes...that's PROFOUND hearing loss. The right ear scores 80db...SEVERE hearing loss BUT guess what? With the left hearing aid on...the left ear scores 60% speech
recognition. HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE? I think it all comes down to the fact that many things are not taken into consideration..the main one being that when you are in a sound proof booth with a headset over your ears and noise going directly into your ear...well it's a PERFECT environment for a deaf/HOH person. DUH. Granted they do add some background noise but seriously doesn't do justice compared to a noisy car on the highway or a noisy restaurant...not to mention trying to understand a table full of people who are not speaking in one word sentences or talking about the cow jumping over the moon. If I scored 100db without my hearing aid then I seriously doubt I can understand 60% with the hearing aid in. Seriously! I've felt that for the past year my hearing in my left ear has been deteriorating but according to the tests it's not. Again, I can't say that I trust the tests. I trust myself a lot more. I think hearing tests are helpful to find out what we can hear not so much what we can not hear... I can hear single words and simple sentences but I can not "understand" anyone in a car at night unless I'm reading lips...and I can NOT follow a conversation if I'm sitting at a table with 4 or more people and everyone is chiming in. Sometimes I wish I could just get some extra eyes for lip reading purposes but for now I'll just hope the implant works wonders.

I think I'll get off my soap box now. Below I posted my most recent audiogram. I think it'll be fun to compare it to the hearing test after I have been activated for a little while. Even though my left ear is "worse" on the audiogram it's my best ear...obviously! Since I scored 60%
recognition. The right ear is 80db but I can't understand a thing. The right ear is dead...and it has been for a while. I just hope that it gets good results with the implant. Only time will tell. Can it be July 22nd NOW? -sigh- The patience stuff is NOT for me.

The Audiogram is blurry but this was the best I could do for the small amount of patience I have! Squint those eyes and check out the audiogram.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

I'm already Semi-Bioinc!

Yup, you read that correctly. I'm already semi-bionic. When I was 27 years old I was diagnosed with Type I diabetes. Yup. Most people who have type 1 are diagnosed before the age of 16. That's why it's normally referred as "Juvenile Diabetes". People think I have type II b/c I got it later in life...but nope it's type I. My pancreas is kaput...dead...dried up like a prune. Okay, maybe not tried up but it's certainly dead. It's an autoimmue disorder so my body attacked it. I sure didn't do anything I liked my pancreas but I don't now. So, EVERYTHING I eat I have to count the carbs and give myself insulin for it. It was a tough transition and I still have my days that I want to scream. This is how I'm semi bionic...I wear an insulin pump. YUP! I have this handy little device that I wear on my belt and it gives me insulin when I press some buttons on it. So, I don't have to use shots anymore. I just give myself one shot every 3 days (to insert a small cannula in my stomach or leg) instead of 6 shots a day. I did the 6 shots a day for about 2 years and then decided I need an insulin pump. I named my insulin pump. That's how much I love him. His name is Forrest Pump Jr. You see I stole that name from someone else so it's not original at all but it's darn funny! "Pump Forest Pump"! I say that when I eat Mexican Food since I use more insulin than usual for Mexican food. It's well worth it b/c Mexican food is my FAVORITE! I'm very passionate about type I diabetes b/c it is a very misunderstood disease. Kids who have it can lead a very normal life but it's just one of those diseases that is very demanding. I can't go a day without knowing I have it. If I give myself too much insulin I can have a low blood sugar which can be dangerous. If it goes too low I can have a seizure. If it goes to high I can end up in Ketoacidosis. Errr, not fun. BUT the good thing is I'm responsible about this disease and I've never had a seizure and I've never had ketoacidosis! It will make my surgery a little interesting though. If I get nervous my sugar drops, if I shop my sugar gives a whole new meaning to shop till you drop. Thankfully with the pump I have a lot more options/features that regular shot injections do not provide. If anyone has any questions about my bionic pancreas feel free to ask. Just so you know it's not IMPLANTED!

Isn't it a good thing I love gadgets? I mean here I am with a bionic pancreas. I'm about to have a bionic ear. However, I must confess I really don't want ANY more bionic stuff though. I am willing to stop here....well, maybe ONE more bionic ear down the road. Haha

I will talk more about my love for gadgets another day. I have some non-medical gadgets too! Haha. I am going to write a blog to pay tribute to my new cell phone. My cell phone is the gadgets of all gadgets.

Be back later!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

I can't believe it!

As I've been checking out other people's blogs I can see that I'm on their blog roll. This is exciting. I am just glad that people know I exist!

Since I've talked so much about "me". I thought it might be a good time to talk about the implant. Some things I'm looking forward to and even things I'm not really looking forward to.

First let me say that I'm looking forward to getting the surgery OVER with. When I do not feel well I tend to have a lot of anxiety. I used to have panic attacks and I was on meds for that for about 5 years. A little over a year ago I got off of them and I'm doing good. I just notice that the anxiety comes more when I don't feel good which I'm okay with because it's not something that's looming over me all the time. My plan is to enjoy the drugs that come with the surgery for about 2 days or so, maybe 3 days. :-) I know some people would rather not take the pain meds unless absolutely necessary. Thankfully, I'm NOT one of those people! Bring on the Hydrocodone! I used to work at a Drug and Alcohol rehab center so no worries people...

What I am looking forward to making the implant FUN. For example I want to stick paperclips to my head. I want to walk by a fridge and act like it's pulling me toward it b/c the magnet is so strong. LOL! I think it's hilarious! I'm going to tell people I hear "aliens" talking to me through the implant and then say "Oh, I'm kidding it's your voice I hear". Yes, I've thought long and hard about these things. I'm READY! I will think of more. No doubt!

My expectations are not high. In fact, I really don't see myself understanding speech for quite some time. My right ear has been "dead" since birth (so we think). I have used a hearing aid in that ear since I was 8 years old but it's more of a security thing than "oh, this hearing aid really helps me" b/c it doesn't. I think I'm so used to depending on my LEFT ear for hearing that it's going to be a serious challenge for my brain to change that. I don't think I can tell my brain "depend on your right ear now b/c it's been implanted with an 80,000 device so USE it...NOW". It's going to take time and I realize that. Now, will I be patient? Heck no! That goes against who I am. So, I've been praying for my husband...he'll need it.

I've described this to my friend Susan and I will try to describe it here. When my "hearing" sounds a hearing aid is broken or something has been changed I don't take it well. The anger rises from the PIT of my stomach and goes upward until I just want to SCREAM. I become seriously frustrated and sometimes I cry b/c I'm so frustrated. Am I scaring you yet? It's okay...I promise. So, that's why I know the activation thing isn't going to be easy either. I watched Jennifer's activation video. I talk about her like I know her and she has no idea who I am but I've read her blog. I think it was the 2nd activation that I watched and it's HILARIOUS! She's laughing and saying something along the lines of "you sound like mickey mouse on helium". I love her reaction to that. However, if people sound like mickey mouse on helium...well this is where the patience needs to come in. I know the brain eventually gets used to it and it gets better...but that part scares me a little b/c I don't like "distorted" sounds. I'm preparing myself though and I have another month and 15 days to keep preparing myself. Actually I have longer than that b/c activation comes 4 weeks after the surgery. So, I think I'm okay. I am so thankful I watched Jennifer's acivation video because I realize that I can't take it too seriously. That's why I think blogging is such a great resource. You never know what someone is going to say to impact another person...we are all different and it can be the really small things that impact people in a big way.

Well, there's my thoughts for now! Something I'm REALLY looking forward to and I'm not sure if it'll ever happen...but I would love to be able to hear people in the car without looking in the rear view mirror to read lips or to try to look over and read lips. I just want to be able to hear in the car without working so hard. I think if I can accomplish that (no matter how long it takes) then I will consider the implant a success. Most people have a "sound" they want to hear and that's mine. :-)

Thoughts? Comments? Advice? Bring em' on! :-)

Friday, June 6, 2008

My Story: A LONG introduction to ME

An Introduction to ME…Here is some of my story. It's long...and I wrote it over 2 months ago when I started the entire Cochlear Implant Voyage. I was going to start a blog then but put it off until now…so here’s my story…

I was born deaf in one ear. At least that's what they say. However, that was never diagnosed until I was in first grade. I was held back that year just to make sure I didn't miss anything. Since I didn't know any better having the hearing loss in that ear wasn't devastating since I had my left ear that worked fine. When I was about 8 years old I went to bed one night and woke up the next day and couldn't hear at all. Turns out I had lost hearing in the left ear. I went to the family doctor and she told my Mom I had "wind in my ear". That cracks me up! I guess the wind is still blowing. :-) After a few days of not being able to hear my Mom took me to another doctor and they said I was faking it. About 6 months prior to losing my hearing I was attacked by a dog. I had over 150 stitches and since it was my face that was attacked I later had plastic surgery to help with the scar. The doctor did a great job because it is hardly noticeable now. So, the doctors thought I wanted some "attention" since I had a lot of it before hand from the dog attack. So, my Mom took me to another doctor. I think they referred me to an Audiologist and they tried every trick in the book to prove I could hear when in fact I really couldn't. They finally realized that after several hours of testing. That was a fun day! I was finally referred to an ENT and he was the best doctor ever. He was mad that he couldn't have seen me sooner b/c by that time a week had passed and my hearing was gone. I was "deaf" for a while... maybe a year? I don’t really remember how long it was. I read a lot during that time since I couldn't really watch T.V or movies. I finally had surgery to restore some hearing in the left ear. I don't know exactly what they did but I was able to wear a hearing aid after the surgery and that helped tremendously. In fact, once I had hearing aids in both ears life went on as normal. The only time I was really different was at school when I had to wear the auditory trainer. Man I hated that thing. Could it be MORE obvious? :-) I went to regular school but I went to a "special" school part of the time. At the end of 4th grade I was mainstreamed and it stayed that way. Thank the Lord! There is NOTHING fun about riding in the little short bus!

As I just went on. The fact that I am hearing impaired just wasn't a huge part of my life. I don't know how else to explain it really. I am a master at speech reading so that helps quite a bit. I guess I just accepted it and moved on. I never felt like I was extremely different from hearing people. I just say “what”? a little more often that others. I graduated from high school...barely. I don't think that was b/c of my hearing problem but more so I hated school. I do believe that I had some self esteem issues and probably didn't think I could be successful. My senior year of high school I became a Christian and I must may my perspective of the world changed for the better. For the first time in my life I had HOPE!

After graduating from high school I took a semester off and went to college. Johnson Bible Knoxville TN. I still live here in TN. In May 2007 I graduated with my Master's Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. I always loved telling people that a HOH person was going to "listen" to people for the rest of her life! :-) Haha. I love it. Sadly I have not been able to find a job in my field here in Knoxville TN. There is not much of a demand for Marriage and Family Therapists. So, I plan on going back to school to become a nurse.

Wow, I've really typed so much and I've barely scratched the surface! No kidding. I can say that in the past year or so I've had some problems with my hearing least that's what I thought. It wasn't until recently that I've realized it's not the hearing aid that's causing the problem but it's my HEARING. I went to the audiologist on Saturday (March 29th) to tweak my hearing aid for the umpteenth time. I told my audiologist that I have finally decided to be evaluated for implants. She was very happy about that. She really believes I'm a candidate. Without my hearing aids there is no doubt in my mind that I'm a candidate. However, with my hearing aids...I wonder. I don’t know how much they help. It is so hard to distinguish how much the hearing aids are doing and how much speech reading I'm doing. It's just so hard to separate the two! Plus, I'm VERY big on taking conversation topics into consideration and figuring out what people are saying by relating to the topic we are discussing. Is there a name for that? I’m not sure! Well my audiologist was intrigued as well so we were going to do a short test to find know the drill. They put you in the booth and say "Say the Word: Cat, "Say the Word "Dog" etc. Well, I couldn't even hear "say the word"! It was shocking. She had to turn up the volume for me to even believe that the recording was ON! She is convinced I’m a candidate. However, at that time I was wearing the "new" digital hearing aid that I hate. Since then, I have gone back to my "old" hearing aid and I'm doing better now with that. However, I can't really depend on it for too long b/c it's really old and they don't make that kind anymore. If I'm without it then I'm lost. We didn't do a full test that day b/c we know that I'm going to go through some extensive testing for the CI evaluation. So, it will be interesting to see how much hearing I have really lost. My last hearing test was done in 2005 and I'm anxious to compare my new tests with the copy I have from 2005. We'll see what happens! Maybe they will find out what caused the hearing loss to begin with?

The previous info was written over a month ago. As you can see I was really struggling to find out if I was a candidate or how all of the testing would work. Well, I had a hearing test done and I failed it...or passed it depending on which way you look at it. I AM a candidate for the implant. I have about 12-18% speech discrimination WITH the hearing aids. However, my left ear did REALLY well with the hearing aid. It scored 100db without it but with it…it’s not a candidate for the implant. Crazy eh? The right ear was my doctor’s choice from the beginning because it is my worst ear and I don’t have any balance issues in that ear. According to the balance test that was performed the left ear has some issues but not enough to alarm my doctor besides the right ear is going Bionic for now. I do want bilateral implants but I’ll take it one ear at a time. Maybe I will be content with one. I kinda hope I am. We’ll find out!

I know this is long and from what I read I shouldn’t post long blogs b/c people would rather read short blogs. However, I wanted to share some background info. I want people to have an idea of where I’m coming from and how I got to this point. I guess I could explain it all one post at a time….but that’s BORING! Haha.

Well, that's my story...and yes I'm sticking to it.

I like Blogging!

So, after making ONE post I've already heard from other people! It's so great and encouraging to know there are others out there like me and that others have been before me!

Laurie not only added my blog to her list but she wrote a very nice introduction for me. I must say I'm a terrible awful person and those things she mentioned on her blog are just not true. Ha ha. I'm just kidding. I am trying to stay humble after all of that!

I did add a list of other blogs on my site. You must check them out. Laurie has bilateral implants so you can read about both of her experiences. I love it! Plus, you must check out her new grandson. also added Abbie's blog as well. I've talked to Abbie several times over email. Her blog has made me laugh out loud so many times! I've added Susan but she hasn't "blogged" in a while but her experience is so worth reading! When I finally decided to look into this cochlear implant business I would go to blog sites and start from the first post and wouldn't stop reading until the last post. That's why I am mentioning why I have a list...the more resources and experiences you read from other people the more you learn! I want to add more blogs to my list but I am not sure what the proper etiquette is as far as adding people who don't know me but I know their blogs b/c I read them from start to finish! I'll figure that out and add some more later.

I have so many "ideas" for new posts that I don't know where to begin! For the first couple of weeks you may see more than one post in a day b/c I want to share some of my life experiences and what has lead me to getting a cochlear implant!

Stay Tuned...

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Hello World..'s hard to start a blog. I feel like I'm writing to no one b/c no body knows this exists yet. Well, I'll just jump in! I'm about to get a Cochlear Implant. Yup, they are going to put this thing in my head and I'm actually very excited about it. My surgery is scheduled for July 22nd! I'm getting my right ear implanted. I'm struggling with some serious choosing to change my name to Jamie Sommers or Seven of Nine. If you have any advice let me know!

Seriously though...I've met some great people along the way. Susan (My Journey to Sound) you are wonderful and thank you for all your help and your friendship. I got to meet Laurie last night (My Dance with Sound) and she is a doll and has BILATERAL implants. She's so cool. She encouraged me to make a blog. I am looking forward to getting to know some more people. So, please introduce yourself! I’m also making this blog for friends and family members. I'll be sure to tell you more about me and my life as a hearing impaired person. My next post will be long...really long. However, I need to figure out how to work this blogging business!

Be back soon!