Energizer Bunny {or batteries} not included

There are a whole lot of good things that have come my way since the activation of my cochlear implant seven months ago. My marriage was revamped, my relationship with my kids blossomed, and I’ve made a zillion friends now that I can hear everyone.

This past month I’ve come across the biggest, hugest, most ginormous obstacle that a cochlear implant recipient has. While I realize it is my own opinion and may not be shared by all, I personally think my opinion is the most accurate.

My hearing right now is completely, one hundred percent battery operated. Big big big deal.

Back when I wore hearing aids, my hearing was also battery operated, so I realize that I should be used to this by now. But I’m not. The simple fact of the matter is that back when I had hearing aids, they helped me go from about a ten percent hearing comprehension to about a fifty percent hearing comprehension. In a group setting though, with or without those hearing aids I was probably only about a ten percent comprehension. Groups were so not my thing. I was lucky if I could just understand what the topic of conversation was, much less understand what they were actually saying about that topic.

Now that I have a cochlear implant, I still understand about ten percent (or less) if I don’t have my processor on. With my processor on, I think I catch around eighty percent of conversation. Serious difference. In group settings, that eighty percent doesn’t even vary much unless I’m in a very noisy environment or a very big group. So generally speaking, if my battery were to go out, it would be a pretty big deal to not be able to hear now. A much bigger deal than it used to be.

Here’s the kicker though.

Back when I had hearing aids, I had two. So when one battery went out, it was annoying. My conversation skills suffered a little, but most of the time I wasn’t catching much anyway, so it was frustrating, but not much more than that.

Skip forward to today. I have one, singe, lone cochlear implant. So when my processor battery dies, it’s like my whole world of conversation dies right along with it.

Sometimes I feel kinda sorry for my mom. She’s driven miles out of her way to take spare batteries to my dad and my sister on multiple occasions when their processor batteries died, but until a month ago, I was the good CI recipient. I kept thinking, why didn’t they keep enough spare batteries with them? Aren’t they both old enough to remember that type of thing? To be responsible adults?

It’s funny how those types of thoughts come back to bite you in the butt. Don’t look at me like you’ve not thought those same things about someone and not had them happen to you. I know the truth.

So a month ago I was volunteering at a big event and my processor battery dies. My mom is my family’s lifesaver, and I called upon her power of batteries in my time of need. Thanks, Mom, we love you.

While I try really hard to always remember backup batteries or to charge my rechargeable ones, it’s just impossible to always always remember. There are just times when it completely sucks that my battery dies because I was in too big of a hurry to dash out the door.

Sometimes I do remember to bring spare batteries with me, but it still somehow just doesn’t go down well. Two weeks ago I took my kids to Six Flags Over Texas. When my sister-in-law and her kids joined us mid-day, my processor battery suddenly died. I had a spare in my purse, but unfortunately I had left it locked in the car. My sister-in-law graciously offered to watch my kids, so I made a quick jog out of the ginormous park and all the way through the parking lot to my car. When I got to my car, I remembered that I had locked my purse inside. And my keys were back inside the park in my daughter’s stroller. Arg!!!

You don’t even want to know how worn out I was after jogging back inside, back out to the car, and back inside again.

Let this be a lesson for all of you with perfect hearing. Be very very thankful that you’re not battery operated. It can really stink sometimes. Granted, you won’t ever catch me ungrateful for this device I have, no matter that it costs me a few extra moments of preparation for my day (and throughout my day). Just be aware of it, and remember this random information about us cochlear implant recipients.

Too bad those Energizer batteries really don’t last a lifetime.

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The trouble with insurance…

I’ve always been a very private person. I don’t know if it’s because of being late-deafened or if it’s just who I am, but it’s always been really easy for me to keep any and all matters of the heart very close to my chest.

I’ve had difficulties deciding if I should post this blog, simply because I feel it’s a private matter. But if I’m going to be honest about this journey I’m on with my deafness (and now hearing with a cochlear implant), then I know I should shove this out in the open. I certainly don’t post this for myself, but because I want any struggling deaf or cochlear candidate who reads this to know that I struggle right along with you. You’re not alone. We’re all pushing through life best we can, and it’s so so important that we keep a positive outlook and believe God for the best.

I know, I know, you probably wonder what kind of struggles can I possibly have now that I’m no longer facing deafness but hearing with my cochlear implant. I’m right there with ya. I thought my world would be nearly perfect after my activation, but apparently this world just isn’t perfect. Who knew?

This week I decided that it’s time to stop dragging my feet and to send my oldest child, my son now 5 years old, to get his hearing checked. Because my late-deafness can be hereditary (although I do pray constantly my kids didn’t get it and won’t ever), I want to be a well-informed parent and send him yearly for a hearing check-up now that he’s reached school age. Some schools do give basic tests, but I’d much rather send my son to someone who knows my medical history, my audiologist.

Before spending a bundle on a specialist, I have sought out medical insurance for both my kids.

I don’t work at the moment. My college degree is for a field that requires customer service, and because I’m not confidant in making phone calls and have to say so in job interviews, I have yet to be hired in my line of work. I was once employed by a company years ago, but when I stopped being able to hear over the phone (or to talk on a radio to guys on a construction site), I lost my job. Yeah I know that lawsuits are an option, but I’m not one to use that route.

After losing my job years ago, it was after that that I looked into the cochlear implant. I couldn’t get insurance through my husbands work, so I tried purchasing medical insurance privately, only to be denied by company after company because I was already a candidate for cochlear. And no one wanted to pay for that. I eventually found a government program to sponsor my cochlear implant surgery, which I’m ever grateful for, and sometime after I was approved to have insurance through Medicare.

How does that affect my kids?

This week I called the Social Security Administration, who funds my disability Medicare, and asked how to get my children insurance. I was told that while they can’t get Medicare, I could apply to get them Children’s Medicaid or CHIP, both government programs geared toward children. I applied to both programs, but it turns out that my husband makes just slightly over the income limit. CHIP recommended that I call the Social Security Administration to find out where to get insurance.

Obviously that brought me full circle.

I got a bright idea, remembering that neither of my children have any medical conditions. Being that, why would they not qualify for me to purchase private insurance? I looked around online, not finding a private company that listed quotes for only the children. The companies wanted me or my husband on the plan too. Since my husband’s work pays for his insurance, and I have Medicare, that didn’t really work for us. So I randomly picked a private company to call and see if they did have plans for children only, it just might not be on their website.

When I called the insurance company, they told me they didn’t service Texas, but gave me the number to the Texas Department of Insurance. When I talked to the lady at the Department of Insurance, it was there that I got the answer I sought. Apparently in Texas, private insurance companies cannot sell insurance to children only. A guardian or parent must be on the plan as well.

Basically it boils down to that at the moment I haven’t found a way to buy insurance or use a government program to get them insurance either. What does that mean? I have no idea!

I can’t say that I have thought much about the long term with this issue. I’m not going to worry, because I know that inevitably everything can work out the same way it all worked out when I had so much trouble getting my own insurance. Worrying isn’t going to help me out any. What I can do for today is call my audiologist and see if they can give me some sort of discounted price to check my son. If they want to charge me the full couple hundred that I know it can be, then I know there is an audiologist in my metroplex that does non-profit work for children, and he might help me out.

So there’s my dilemma, laid out before this blogosphere. I think everyone knows our government isn’t perfect, so there’s no need for a big long rant. I rather just remind us all that it’s so important that we not only pray for our nation and it’s leaders, but to do more and to educate ourselves about our government and do what we can to vote the best leaders in place and voice our opinions on changes we need made.

Ending on a positive note, I will say that I was pretty intimidated by the amount of phone work I had to do through this situation. I was fortunate to talk with people who all spoke very clearly, and did have several times when I had to ask someone to repeat themselves or slow down. All in all, I’d say I’m doing pretty good on this recovery road to hearing!

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!!