Roller Coasters.

I searched a little bit before my cochlear implant surgery to see if I’d still be able to ride roller coasters. I’ve searched again a few times post-surgery and activation too.

And I really never find much. I’ve read a lot from other CI users about how it’s better to take off your processor on more thrilling rides, simply so you don’t want your processor (the outer portion of your CI that looks similar to a hearing-aid) to fly off or anything.

But I’ve never really specifically read anything that said, “Yes, it’s perfectly fine to ride any and all roller coasters with the implant in your head. It won’t move, come out of place, or anything similar.” Again, let me emphasize that I’ve never read that. Anywhere. Nor has my doctor ever said it. Or have any definite answers for it.

Enter the human guinea pig. Me!

My husband and I got Six Flags Over Texas season passes for our family of four. Monday was a school holiday.

I rode this ride with my son.
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This is the Shock Wave. By roller coaster standards these days, it’s not very crazy. It goes up to sixty miles per hour, and it has these two loops after the first big hill.

Now I’m no expert, but when I went through that first loop, I can only assume that feeling the popping sensation in my left/surgical ear wouldn’t exactly be smiled upon. The disorientation for the remainder of the ride might not be an ideal situation either.

So there you go. Roller coasters with loops are not recommended by this CI candidate.

Don’t worry though, I’m not done here. That was just my first experience and I have many more to follow. Eventually. I didn’t think my stomach could quite handle another one quite yet. I think I can handle speed on my next trip, but those loops were a little much that day.

Next time it will be speed. Yes, definitely have to test a fast one. (Just no loops).

New me. New picture.

Some of you, all of you, or maybe just a few of you might have visited my “About Me” page at some point or another during the last [almost] two years of my blogging. If you did, you’d have formerly seen a picture I’d always figured kinda summed me up.

This one.
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When I took the picture, it was long before I had my cochlear implant surgery, and back when I struggled as a deaf person. Being born hearing but late deafened, my first year here as a blogger was my most difficult one. My children were still toddlers, my marriage was bumpy, and while I really wanted to be happy, it was just so very hard to be. I never quite looked life in the eye.

But now? Almost seven months post-activation of my cochlear implant, I know I’m a completely different person.

This is me.

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I normally hate pictures of me. I’m just not one of those people who is comfortable with being photographed, but I got this picture in the mail this week from the photographer we used a few weeks back for family pics. And I love it. I’m such a visual person, and it’s here in this picture that I can see for myself just how much I really am different. It’s one thing to feel it, but for me it’s something completely different to see it.

Thank you McGowan Images for this tangible product of my life now.

I gotta go find a kleenex now!

The {not so} new show about a deaf girl

My sister-in-law recently told me about a show that she thought might interest me.

Switched at Birth.

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Synopsis, without spoiling anything, is that it’s about a teenage somewhat-spoiled high school girl who does some biology blookwork in class one day, and circumstances lead her to find that she was unconsciously switched at birth by the hospital.  Interesting thing is that when her upper middle class parents meet their actual biological daughter, they find that she is deaf. The show advertises the biological daughter as being Deaf, but because she wears hearing aids to help with sounds, correct me if I’m wrong but I think she would actually be termed deaf. The show spends a lot of time showing the deaf girl’s struggle as she floats between her life within a Deaf Community at school, and a hearing world with her biological parents.

I was pretty skeptical about the show, since Hollywood tends to make a mess out of a great many things (particularly books turned movies), but it was cute. Granted, it’s a teeny-bopper show. It’s low budget. It’s got not-so-great acting, and all the other usuals from pilot episodes, but it was still worth watching. It does skim the surface of what a deaf person would go through.

ABC Family gave the first season ten episodes, which played during the summer, and it has ordered 20+ episodes to complete the first season. Those continuing episodes will air sometime after the first week of January.

If you’re interested in watching, you can view those first ten episodes (optionally captioned) at ABC Family’s website, or they are also available on Netlix and can be subtitled.

I’m looking forward for the next few episodes. I’m betting ABC will give the show a better budget, since it was a hit during the summer, and hopefully the cast will beef up their performances and create an overall better show.

Never fear, my sidekick is still near.

I’ve been absent. It’s true. I think it’s been, what, a week and a half since I’ve blogged last? Quite possibly longer…

I’ve been busy having pictures taken, taking pictures, and planning and attending events.

Yesterday we hosted one particular event. Think of fourteen screaming happy girls (most under 5yrs old) at a luau birthday party, complete with flip flop decorating, fun, and  lots and lots of sugar. And more screaming. Happy screaming, but still. My ears were ringing by the time they left. Heck, my ears are still ringing.

And guess who turned 4? My little munchkin of a girl is who! Also known as my sidekick.

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Hard to believe she’s four years old.

A few things about her that are interesting. You know how when you have your first kid, you’re terrified of placing him in his own bedroom for a good six months? And you know how when your second kid comes along, you’re so sleep deprived at that point that you place the baby in her own room before she’s a month old?

Yeah, it happens.

And to all those parents of one kid who think they’d do the same thing with their second as their first kid?

Heh heh. Suuuuuure…

But the interesting thing about my girl is that at two weeks old, we let her sleep in her room the first time. My husband was ready to wake me at any point in the night if he heard her through the baby monitor, but imagine our surprise when he slept through the entire night without hearing her cry. I woke up that morning to sun streaming through our window, made a mad dash to her room, and found her sleeping peacefully. So peacefully that I had to wake her soon after to get her to eat, and it was from that point on that she never woke once in the night.

While I enjoyed not having to get up with two kids while she was a baby (my son still woke constantly at night while she was a baby), I enjoy hearing her myself now with my cochlear implant. No more not hearing her cry, depending on my husband to wake me up. No more asking my son to tell me what she’s saying when she’s finally talking-age, simply because I couldn’t understand her. No more temper tantrums from her from the frustrations of me not being able to hear what she wants. No more emotional breakdowns when I felt like I was failing my children as a mother.

We’re good now. She’s still my sidekick. But these days we have full-fledged conversations. You know, like no she can’t wear makeup outside the house until she’s 12. Or no, she can’t marry her brother. Or yes, she can be a princess and get married someday (she thinks anyone in a white dress is therefore a princess).

She has so many questions, mostly about things completely frivolous. But let me say, I enjoy hearing and answering every single one of them.

I heart music.

The last couple of days I’ve been putting some playlists together for a little project at church. We’ve just started a message series about marriage and we’ve been playing popular love-themed songs before and after church. This past week I put together the playlist of about six or seven songs, from various decades, and I am actually working now on putting together a completely different playlist for next week.

Can I just say, this is the most fun project ever in the history of projects?

Yesterday I heard Beyonce’s “Single Ladies Put A Ring On It” for the first time in my life, and I almost laughed all the way through it. Back in my teenage years, before going deaf, and before my new cochlear implant, you wouldn’t catch me listening to anything even remotely out of a certain type of music. I loved all things pop-music, but more along the line of Celine Dion, Bryan Adams, Backstreet Boys and *yawn* all those others.

But I am loving finding fun music like that song from Beyonce. Keep in mind, I’m pretty picky about what I listen to usually, but there’s just something about the beat to that song that makes me laugh, bounce my steps, and enjoy something completely out of what I’m used to. Maybe I’m loving that I can hear anything, and just appreciating hearing everything!

So today I’ve started on next week’s playlist. What am I bouncing around to right now?

None other that Rob Thomas and Santana in “Smooth.” My absolute favorite part is when the beat changes a bit and they sing, “Give me your heart, make it real, or else forget about it.”

Love love love this song!!

The phone. The phone is ringing.

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The weirdest thing about my cochlear implant (CI) is that I keep hearing new things. Different things.

A lot of people assume, as I did myself, that once I got it turned on, I’d hear most everything at once. Sure I’d have to learn to differentiate voices, learn to know what certain sounds were that I’d not heard in a long time, or similar situations like that. But it’s so weird that just when I start to think I’ve hit the end of what I’ll be able to hear, I find something new.

I’ve been talking over the phone for a few weeks to various people, mostly my family, and I can never hear my phone ring unless it’s within arms reach. I can’t tell you how many times someone has left a voice mail and I’ll have to call them back. I’ve become adjusted to just carrying my phone in my pocket or I’d never hear it ring.

The other day I was sitting about fifty feet from my phone, and I actually heard it ring. It didn’t really surprise me, since my house was really quiet with both my kids being at school, so I passed off the incident and didn’t think about it.

Later that day I was at a grocery store and I heard my phone ring from my pocket. I pulled out my phone, saw that it wasn’t actually ringing, and looked up to find another woman digging through her purse looking for her phone. I felt like I got stuck in one of those moments on TV where everything pauses. Time kinda stood still a second while I realized that the woman was about twenty feet from me and I’d heard her phone ring. I did a little shake of my head and kept walking.

The day after all that I was sitting at my kitchen table and reading a book while my kids were in the living room watching cartoons. My living and kitchen are open too each other, so I could hear the kids and the TV very clearly while I read. I wasn’t reading for more than a few minutes before I clearly heard my phone ring from completely across the room, and also deep down in my purse.

After I finished the phone call, I finally acknowledged the fact that I really could hear my phone ring now. Things like this happen periodically. I’ll think I can’t hear something or other, a few weeks or a month goes by, and eventually I start hearing it. It’s so weird how my brain just gradually “clicks” on certain sounds, but once it does, boy does it!

Apparently six months post-activation is the month my brain clicked with my cell phone ring. I’ve heard it just fine almost every time this past week!

Seminars giving out gifts of gold? Or something similar anyway.

Today marks one solid year post-operation for my cochlear implant. Big shout out for that! Granted, I had to have a second surgery and didn’t get my implant actually activated until six months ago, but still. It’s so hard to believe that my first initial surgery was a whopping one year ago. Crazy how time flies!

Fun Fact:

Here’s the implant that’s in my head.
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On the far right, the rounded portion, is where the magnet is. In the center of that clear rounded portion is a silver magnet about the sizeof my dad’s fingertip. That magnet is the one under my skin on my head that connects to the magnet that’s on my processor.

Now here’s my processor.
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See the #2 magnet in the round portion on the end? Pretty cool headgear, huh?

Being that it’s been six months since activation, I’m already certain I want to go bilateral. Right now, I only have one cochlear implant, I only hear from one hear, and by going bilateral I mean that I want the second ear done.

I attended a seminar last night that was sponsored by Cochlear Americas, the brand of implant and processor that I have.
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The seminar was specifically about bilateral CI’s and it was exactly what I needed to hear. If you can imagine all the sound around you coming to just one ear, it’s kinda crazy. If you’re anything like me, you’ve stepped out of a store before, forgotten where you parked, and hit the button on your key ring to get your car to honk at you. The thing about me is that no matter where the sound of the horn is coming from, I’ll only hear it in my left ear, making it almost impossible to figure out where my car is at. But hey, at least I can hear it and know it’s out there. Somewhere.

Directional hearing like that is so important to me, especially having two small kiddos. But I know it will improve my overall hearing too. It would be like going from watching TV at home to sitting in a movie theater with surround sound. Serious difference.

So I attended the seminar, learned lots of new stuff. One thing I know is that my insurance is only going to pay 80% of my second impant. I’ll let you do the math to figure out that paying 20% of a $130,000 gig is pretty steep. It might really take a miracle. No big deal though, because I know that the first one actually happening was a serious miracle. Who says I can’t manage two?

I’ll close up here by showing you a silent video of what I got at the seminar. I love gifts. And being the geek I am sometimes, I think this is about the greatest gift I’ve ever been given at a seminar. Cochlear Americas? You guys rock.