Posts Tagged ‘disability’

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!

Chains of Habit

Life is 10% of what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it.

So says a favorite author and motivational speaker of mine, John Maxwell. I gotta give the guy credit. In my own life, I find this adds up to 100% of what’s happening to me here and now.

Habits die hard, don’t they? And the further I get down the road with my cochlear implant, the more I realize that the decisions I make right now will define the habits I create for my future. I know this is deep. So crazy deep for what I had originally envisioned as a lighthearted and not-so-deep blog. But if there’s one thing I haven’t been shy about yet, it’s the fine details of living through a deaf life and on through the recovery of a cochlear implant recipient.

Here’s the thing. I totally didn’t see all the psychological effects that this thing would have on me. Somewhere near the six month post activation date, I felt like I was hit by a freight train called Reality. Yeah, I was hit. Reality told me that the chain of habit that held me back, more than anything else, is…

Fear.

One four letter word. Awful, isn’t it?

What I fear most is being unable to hear someone. It’s fear that when someone calls me, I won’t be able to understand them. It’s fear that I won’t hear a passing car when I’m walking with my kids. It’s fear that I won’t understand someone in public and I’ll be humiliated by saying something completely off-topic. It’s Fear. Fear. Fear.

But I have a choice. The truth is that the fear is a product of living hard of hearing and deaf for a great many years. It’s evidence that something traumatic happened to me. The great big thing is that, just as Mr. Maxwell so eloquently spoke, the bigger percentage is in how I react to what happened.

A few months ago my son needed a doctor’s appointment to finish up his required shots for entering kindergarten. I called the office without much thought, and I was smacked in the face with what I felt was failure. For the life of me, I could not understand the office’s receptionist and had to have my husband call them back to schedule the appointment. Over the course of the next few weeks, I’d have my husband and my mom make phone calls for me, and I hardly answered my phone at all in those weeks. I didn’t think I could do it.

It’s so easy to fall back into patterns that are so known to us, and I wonder how often we even realize it. For weeks, I just sat back and accepted that one failure instead of jumping up to fight it. It was one failure. One.

This month I’ve been so busy I’ve hardly had a choice but to answer my phone. I’ve talked to my husband, my mom, three sister-in-laws, and probably several others too. Each phone conversation has been a little step for me, and I’m so crazy glad that I was pretty much forced to receive or make those calls.

The big thing about those calls is that they were to family members. Every one of those family members knows about my CI journey, so it’s easy if I can’t quite catch what they’re saying. They understand.

I made progress. I returned a call to someone that I have never spoken to on the phone. This is seriously the first phone call I’ve made to someone I don’t know since that doctor’s appointment. Unfortunately I got a voicemail. Or would that be fortunate? I was cringing when I made the call, quite literally petrified to even make the call, but the good news is that I did.

I’m telling myself right now that I will call the lady again. Or I will answer the phone if she calls back. It’s terrifying. It is. And I allow myself to think that it’s ok. It’s ok that I’m scared, since most all of us have a little hesitation at the unknown, but it’s really important that regardless of what I feel, I must choose to go forward. It’s a hard road to look past insecurities and take a leap to break those chains of habit, but if I don’t, I will miss out on even greater things with this implant. My cochlear implant can only do as much as I let it.

So for all you recipients out there who I know read this, let this be a lesson for all of us. Don’t let that measly 10% of what happened to us affect the 90% of what we can choose to be.

Half-year Anniversary

happy 6 months

Today marks my six month hearing anniversary with my cochlear implant.

When couples tell me they’ve hit the 6 month mark, whether married or dating, I roll my eyes and think puh-leeze! Six months is really not that long. And I seriously thought about saying nothing at all about it. I mean, it’s natural that I want to hit my one year hearing anniversary with a big bang, but six months? Well, I had to think about it a little, which is probably why I waited until the late evening to even post.

But I really had to.

I asked myself  a few questions today.

What have I done that I couldn’t do before February 17th?

I talked to three people on the phone today. One of those people wasn’t related, nor have I ever met that person. I’ve seen four movies at the movie theater in the past 6 months, none with captions. I’ve come to count four women, all unrelated to me, as friends now. Not just any kind of friend, but closer than that. I can’t yet say that we’re really really close, since I feel like I’ve only known them for 6 months (even though I did talk to them before that), but I know we’ll grow closer still in the 6 months before my one year mark. If it’s even possible, I’ve grown closer to my mom, my dad, and my sister. Other than my husband, they’ve been my rock of support over the last many years.

The biggest things? I’ve become a better, more understanding wife. I’m a better mother. I’ve developed a more patient attitude to both my husband and my children. I have a closer relationship with my children, and carry on many conversations throughout the day. I answer many more questions from my kids, but I also teach them more about life as a whole.

I’m much more confident. I’m more outgoing. I laugh more often. I have a more positive outlook on my life. I enjoy life much more now. The depression I constantly fought while deaf has rapidly decreased, something I’m confident I won’t battle by the time I hit my one year mark.

It’s been a great 6 months.

And I’m anticipating the next.

Silence can be creepy…

As I approach my six month anniversary of hearing (is it me or has this gone fast?) with a Cochlear Implant, I’m amazed at how much I still learn about myself. It’s so weird to me that I spent so many years learning about myself as a hard of hearing person, and then a deaf person, only to do the reverse this year and learn so many things about being a hearing person again. You’d think I’d just remember -oh yeah, that’s what its like to hear this or that- but it’s more than that.

I’m still learning about what I can’t hear. Even now that I can hear.

Someone asked me a few months back what it was like to turn my processor off or take it off at night. The only thing I could think to say was that it’s just kinda weird. It’s like a brain freeze or something. I turn it off, pull it off my ear, and the quiet is so deafening. Ironic to use that work, but it’s amazing just how loud silence can be. It’s all-consuming. But it doesn’t ever really bother me at night. The time I take it off is in the second before I hit the pillow, so it’s usually just a slight sense of relief. Usually.

A few weeks ago my son’s school called me to let me know I needed to bring in a copy of something or other that they needed to complete his registration for kindergarten. The school is seriously not more than a mile from me, so I stuck the kids in the car and we were there in less than a minute or two. On the way, my processor chimed two or three times in my ear (I forget how many) to let me know that my battery was nearly dead. It’s a great thing that it gives me advance warning, not just shuts down, because it usually means I have anywhere from fifteen minutes to a full hour to replace batteries. And it also usually means that I just pull out my spare from my purse and make the switch. Usually.

It was unfortunate that day that I completely forgot to put the fully charged spare in my purse. Even more unfortunate was the fact that, while I thought fifteen minutes was plenty time to drop off the paper at the school, my battery completely cut off about two steps from the school’s entry door.

Let me say again that silence is deafening.

When the battery cut off, I stopped mid-stride. The silence was screaming at me to strap the kids back in the car and head home to pick up another battery. Thoughts flew through my mind about a mile a minute.

Are there cars approaching behind that I can’t hear? No, and we were on the sidewalk anyway.

Are both kids’ feet firmly planted on the sidewalk just in case a car passes and I don’t hear it? Yes, they’re both far away from the curb.

They should walk in front of me in case I can’t hear them and they do run into the street.

Relax, the kids are fine.

What if they ask me a question in the office?

Will I understand them if I lipread now? I haven’t done that as much lately.

Maybe I should just go back home and get the battery.

It’ll take me two seconds to drop a paper, but ten minutes to strap the kids back in, go, and come back.

Can I do this without it though?

What if they ask me something and I completely misunderstand?

And the questions kept going and going and going. Kinda like the energizer battery. Seriously.

I did end up walking into the office, handed them the paper, and exited without having to even tell them I was technically deaf. It was weird not hearing them talk to me.  Even more weird was not hearing my own voice responding to them, or knowing how loud my responses were. But I did it. And I returned home, chastising myself the whole way for not having that spare battery.

Do you like creepy movies? I don’t. Especially movies like The Village. But I’ve seen it and let me tell ya, that day at the elementary school I felt like I was the girl in the red cape, stumbling through the forest, all the while fearing that something… something… was out there coming for me.

It’s so odd that in less than half a year I could be so sensitive to just five minutes of silence and so incredibly dependent on a device I hardly know still. It amazes me.

I got a spare battery in my purse now. Don’t leave home without it.

Day 9 – From the mouth of babes

I’ve been brutally absent here these last few days, partially because of being so busy, and also because someone close to me had been in the hospital. I’m so incredibly glad to say that the said person is making a full recovery. Having a loved one in the hospital reminds me that life is so precious, and we must remember not to take our relationships for granted.

On to Day 9 post-activation of my Cochlear Implant.

By Day 5, I had increased the volume on my processor so much, that I had begun getting headaches. By the end of that day, I had to pull my volume down a whole lot. I was discouraged to go backward in volume, because I felt as though I really needed it. It was really helping me understand so much better, but apparently my brain just couldn’t take in so many sounds at once. And even though I had pulled down the volume, I continued to have headaches daily.

Day 9 was the first day that I didn’t wake up with a headache. I was happy, to say the least, but I was still cautious. I left my volume level at Program 2, where I had brought it down to on Day 5, and enjoyed the day headache-free.

I did a yoga workout sometime mid-morning and while the tinnitus did return while doing the workout, it faded and stopped shortly after finishing. I think it is interesting that the tinnitus that I’m experiencing is obviously related to my physical activity. I have done my very best to keep any “workouts” at this point to very minimum exertion. I’ve been told through use of an online forum that activity equivalent to a 30-45 minute walk is recommended, but anything beyond that is frowned upon for quite some time. I’ve certainly kept that advice in mind anytime that I am exercising.

Later on in the day, I sat on the floor in my son and daughter’s room, waiting until they fell asleep for naps before leaving the room. My son had fallen asleep for about 15-20mins, but because my daughter was shaking their bunk bed when tossing and turning, she woke my son up before she fell asleep herself. After I was sure she was asleep, I whispered to my son, who was on the top bunk of the bed, and told him he could get down and play.

The whisper was odd. In the last few years, I’ve come to find that I couldn’t hear my voice much anymore. Even with a hearing aid in, it was always very hard to determine how loud I was talking, which was usually too loud. It was always easy to accidentally talk to loud, because that’s when I could actually hear myself speaking. But whispering? If I had tried that, I’d probably be either not actually making a noise, or not even whispering and just plain talking instead. Judging the sound of my voice, or loudness, had become impossible.

So it was fun to know that I could whisper to my son. He whispered back to me, and guess what? I heard it! We whispered back and forth to each other several times before he finally got down from the bed and we quietly left to a different room.

Remember playing telephone as a kid? I certainly remember playing, but I always sucked at it. I know that as a very young child in private school, I had hearing tests that proved I heard normally, but I wonder sometimes if my hearing started declining earlier than my late teens. I wouldn’t be surprised if I had unknowingly lost some by the time I was first entering my teen years.

Let’s just say that it had been a very long time since I’d been privy to a whispering conversation. Stuff like that makes me feel like a kid again. Enjoying those little things. They aren’t important really, but they just bring a spark to my life, enabling me to clearly see how fortunate I am.

Later in the day I took the kids with me to the store, and as we exited, we saw an enormous flock of birds overhead. I don’t know why it happens, but these black birds often choose my local grocery parking lot to congregate. I don’t mean a few hundred birds. I bet there are well over a thousand that cover the lot frequently. A car drove through the back of the parking lot about the time we exited the building, and all those black birds flew into the air, flapping their wings and chirping a million chirps.

I heard it too. I heard the flutter of so many pairs of wings and their high pitched voices as they filled the air. Try as I might, I can’t even remember the last time I heard a bird. It’s been so long that it’s simply just faded from my memory. But I heard them that day.

I don’t typically hear birds chirping, even now several days later, and I know it’s just because I automatically tune most everything out. Sounds are so overwhelming right now, and because I can’t differentiate between a lot of things, I get a constant static background noise with most everything I hear. Gradually my mind will start picking out different things and they’ll pull apart from the static. So it was fun hearing the birds as they drifted from the background of noise to the forefront into recognizable sounds.

I will leave here with a conversation from my kids. I converse with them more and more these days, and I laugh at what they say more than I ever have. Most people know that kids say funny things. But this mother is just now learning that.

Me: [Girl] please put your seatbelt on.
Son: If a Cop saw her with no seatbelt on, he would try and catch us and give us a ticket.
Me: Umm.. yes.. But more importantly, if she didn’t have her seatbelt on and I had an accident, she might fall out of her seat and hurt herself.
Son: And then an ambulance would come.
Me: Uhh, yeah I guess so.
Daughter: The ambulance would take you to the doctor’s office.
Me: Well, no, an ambulance takes you to the hospital. (thinking: how did this conversation get here?)

Day 3, part 2: TV and Music

Day 3 seemed to have a lot that I wanted to detail about, so I split it into two parts, so that I had time to blog about it all. Part 1 was done previously, and now I’m finally getting around to Part 2.

At the very end of Day 3, when the house was quiet and kids were in bed, I decided to sit down and watch some television. I’ve always had the captions/subtitles on, and didn’t change that when watching it this time around. Now the show I was watching just happened to be a past episode of the show called The Office. I’ve seen quite a few episodes of this show, and I’ve always thought they were pretty funny.

But here’s the thing.

If you’ve ever watched The Office, you’d know that a very large portion of the humor for the show is projected from the tone of voice from each of it’s cast of characters. It also has a lot of office pranks, and even slapstick type humor, but I never realized how much I was missing from the show until I sat down on Day 3 and could hear all the tone reflections in the voices. It was hilarious! Steve Carell was the highlight, obviously, and I can’t even describe how much I laughed!

When watching this episode, I actually watched it online. In my processor, I have an output where I can plug in a cable directly from the processor to the speakers on my computer. It’s pretty much the same as headphones, only I’m just plugging it in to my processor instead of placing earphones over my ears. Pretty cool stuff. But because I did that, I found the quality of the sound was much clearer than if I’d been talking to someone across the room, or obviously watching a television from across the room. It was clear enough that I was able to pick up about 80-90% of what some of the characters on the show were saying. The problem was that those characters were the low-voiced characters, whereas I had a much harder time understanding the higher pitched and fast-talkers of the show.

In addition, I found that if I just listened, and looked away so I didn’t fall into lipreading, I had to concentrate to understand what they said, and it didn’t always “click” (if that makes sense). It’s like finally understanding what the words are, but I just don’t process what they said because I’m concentrating on the next word.

If I lipread/listen at the same time, I process a whole lot more. So for now, I’m considering the lipreading thing as being an ok thing for me. Eventually I know I’m going to have to force myself to listen without lipreading, but I’ll have to wait until my brain can accommodate the listening without so much concentration.

It was still really weird with the subtitles. I could understand so many of the characters that when one of the high pitched people, or one of the fast-talkers made a comment, I’d have to search through the subtitles to find that particular comment. I was understanding so much from the other people that I wasn’t even reading all the subtitles. Work in progress for sure.

And now music. Lovely music.

The first song I listened to, or tried to listen to, was a song titled “Came to My Rescue” by Hillsong United. It’s an amazing song, but it unfortunately sounded a lot like static feedback. Or exactly like static feedback. I tried picking up several of the band’s other songs, but I finally figured out that part of the problem was that their songs were performed in front of a live crowd and also contained not just one, but a whole group of vocalists.

I left their YouTube site in favor of Maroon 5. Haha, no, that didn’t work out. Those dudes have accents.

Next was Celine Dion. Note that I’m not going for new songs, but songs I’ve heard a million times over so that I can try and filter the melody that I know is there. I barely got any of the melody out of Hillsong United songs, but I was able to pick up the melody in Celine Dion’s “All Coming Back to Me Now.” It was still very static sounding. Even though I hear all her high pitches, it’s still hard for me to feel comfortable with them because I’ve just been so long without them. It was too weird-sounding.

So I changed artists again and again. Finally I ended up with Josh Groban, simply because his voice is very low and his songs are usually very simple and clean. No electric guitars, extensive high pitches, or anything fancy. And success! It wasn’t gorgeous sounding, but it was much closer to music than any of my previous attempts. I picked up every bit of the melody, most of the words, and it was nice. Again, not a beautiful blend of instruments and lyrics, but it was progress in that it was enjoyable. Ha!

The music, just like television, will just take time to get accustomed to. All of the instruments tend to sound the same and if there are too many, it begins to give off the static sound. In time, as I listen more and more, I’ll be able to pick out the different instruments and vocalists. It all boils down to patience. It will come. I just have to wait on it, and practice as much as possible.

Activation Date: Day 1

On Thursday, February 17th, life as I know it changed completely.

It’s funny how someone can tell you something, but you really do not understand until it happens. I remember my sister-in-law telling me so many years ago that, “When you have kids, you’ll understand.” Understand what? That kids change your life? That they mess up schedules, but you love them so much that nothing really matters? I knew that already. I’d planned and prepared for countless hours for kids, but really when it came down to it (despite how much I did not want to admit it), she was right. You’re never truly prepared or understand what it’s like to have kids until you have your own.

I kinda felt the same with this. My sister and my dad had told me countless times that when I was activated, sounds would be similar to alien beings, very technical sounding, or anything similar to that. But nothing prepared me. Absolutely nothing.

The first time I went in for activation, I had a whole entourage with me when my activation failed. The second appointment I had for activation was canceled because of snowy/icy weather conditions, and when I finally made it into the office on Thursday, it was a simple deal. My dad had an appointment immediately after mine and decided to go with my husband and I for my activation.

My audiologist, Marla, had me place the processor on my ear (magnet connects nicely), and my processor (on my ear) was connected by a cord to her computer. The program to set my processor went through a series of beeps and noises to begin the process. After the little preliminary start, Marla had me identify how many “beeps” came from the various electrodes through a series of different pitches. Some were easy to identify, particularly the lower pitches, but the higher pitches I found I had to listen a little more closely for. Not because I couldn’t hear them as well, but I have been so accustomed to hearing tinnitus, that it fooled me at first, because I didn’t realize I was hearing those pitches and not hearing tinnitus.
After repeating the number of “beeps”, Marla would turn up each pitch, one at a time, until it was as loud as I could manage it, without it being uncomfortable. She then set up four programs for me. I have a remote that can contain four programs, and each program has four levels of volume, totaling sixteen levels of volume adjustment. She explained that I would obviously start at the bottom, and as I became adjusted to the implant, I could gradually start turning it up. I will have an appointment in two weeks when I have likely gone through all sixteen levels and will be ready for even louder levels. It’s important for my brain to learn the sounds a little at a time and not overload my system.

After Marla explained my remote, and the volume levels of each program, she turned my processor on to my complete surroundings.

I don’t remember who said what first, but I remember thinking, oh my gosh my sister was right. Everything sounds like aliens! I had to laugh the more that I heard my husband speak. For lack of a better description, it was like hearing him with a very high pitched falsetto voice. And my dad sounded just the same. Everything sounded the same for that matter! It was overwhelming in that I suddenly came to that full realization that I did have a very long road ahead of me. I quickly learned that it would take more that a few short moments to become accustomed to the new sounds. So what my sister and dad had told me so many times, it really never hit me until just then what they really meant.

I didn’t cry. It really wasn’t a huge emotional thing for me right then. It was just so intriguing. While everything sounded like a high pitched childrens’ animation, or even a digital synthesizer, I could immediately tell a huge difference in the quality of the sound. The difference in the sound from my hearing aid and the sound from the processor are so incredibly different that I don’t know that I could explain it. The closest I can think would be this.

Imagine yourself standing in a very small soundproof room, like the ones they use for hearing tests. If you clapped your hands, the sounds would be pretty flat sounding. You’d hear the clap, sure, but it would stay within your small space.
Now imagine yourself in a great big auditorium. And clap. No matter the quality of the auditorium, there’s no doubt that the sound from the clap would reverberate throughout the building, probably echoing and coming right back to you.
That’s the difference to me. The sounds are no longer flat and one-dimensional. There is so much depth, like the echo, to the sounds I hear and so much different, even without being as clear as it will eventually be. I’m just simply astounded.

I didn’t expect anything out of day one. I anticipated it to be overwhelming and full of new sounds, probably not even sounds that I’d be able to differentiate between yet. And I thought that was ok.

But here’s a few things I did pick up. I spent about six solid hours with my husband after activation. We went to a seminar in a large auditorium, and I didn’t understand a word that was said really, but I knew I wouldn’t. It’s wasn’t a big deal to me. On the way home, however, in the darkness of our car, our kids were just jabbering away. I was looking out the front windshield, just watching everything go by, and my husband asked the kids, “So did you learn anything at church tonight?”

I turned and looked at him, and my eyes immediately welled up with tears. I didn’t say anything, just turned my head back to facing forward, and tried to hear my son’s response. I couldn’t understand it, but I understood every word of my husband’s next question. And the next.

And as the tears just rolled down my face, I repeated the exact words to my husband that he just spoke. I heard them. Every single word, and I wasn’t even looking at him. A quick high-five later, and we were both in fits of laughter and amazed at that simple thing. So simple, but so very different from the life we’ve had until that moment. And I’m in tears just thinking about all the new sounds I have ahead of me still.

I should clarify. It’s astounding to think that I was able to pick up my husband’s speech so quickly. It’s not really normal for it to happen that quickly, as I’ve learned from some online forums, but I really think it’s because I had spent such a large amount of time conversing with him that day. I’d grown very accustomed to the way he spoke, and the rhythm, and I’m sure that it had a lot to do with that.

There were several other things I picked up that night. I loaded the dishwasher and kept clicking the silverware together, remembering that sound from when I’d last heard it so many years before. I’d walk across the floor a little louder than I had to, just to memorize the sound. I’d smile every time I heard the blinker in the car, wondering how long it had been since I’d heard it.

But one thing startled me. I was sitting at my computer, checking my facebook one last time before bed, and I realized I was still hearing the tinnitus. I’d not really paid attention during the day, but when I sat down to the quiet evening with the kids in bed, I heard it pretty clearly. I sighed loudly in frustration. Then I stopped. I sighed again. Then I breathed in regularly. Oh. I was just hearing myself breathe. How long had it been since I heard that sound?