Posts Tagged ‘God’

Thanks where my thanks is due today.

There are so many people I am thankful for in my life, and I’ve said so many times throughout my blog. My family and my husband’s have all been very supportive to me through so many years of deafness before my Cochlear implant, but today there’s also another I’m so very grateful for.

I’ve seen an enormous amount of posts across the web from so many who are thankful about various people and things (yay food!), and I couldn’t go without posting my own warm and fuzzy thoughts.

I’m thankful today, Thanksgiving day, for this man.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I thank God today for Professor Graeme Clark.

I’m thankful that Professor Clark had the tenacity to succeed and successfully implanted the very first multi-channel bionic ear and cochlear implant. If it hadn’t been for his perseverance, despite so much stacked against him, I wouldn’t be hearing during my very first winter Thanksgiving after being deaf for so many years.

Many, many thank you’s to Professor Clark and to Cochlear Americas for what they began and what they continue to do.

“In spite of the problems and criticisms, I just had to go on. A cochlear implant was their only hope of ever hearing.” – Professor Graeme Clark

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My little boy. His first hearing test.

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I’ve said many times here and there that my hearing loss condition runs in my family.

Today began by being very challenging. I’ve talked previously about needing to take my oldest child, my five year old son, to get his hearing checked and today I did that. My cochlear implant audiologist’s office was a bit steep on the price for a hearing test, and because my son isn’t medically insured, I took him to the audiologist that I used many years ago when I got my hearing aids, long before my cochlear implant surgery.

I don’t think anything really prepared me for walking into that audiologist’s office today. I had told myself time and again that it was a simple test, it was likely that my son has zero hearing loss, and there wasn’t anything to be nervous about. And I wasn’t much until I stepped into that office.

My son had no hesitation. The minute we walked through the door, his eyes zoned in on some large leggo blocks, and the rest is simply history, for him at least.

I have been very careful the last few days, only telling him twice that he was having a hearing test, and very intentionally making it out to be no big deal. The last thing I want to do is create an anxiety or fear about it in him. The only thing I made a big deal about was that this wasn’t a “shot” doctor. He was good to go after he knew that he wouldn’t be getting a shot. Gotta love kids.

I had both my son and my little girl with me today. And I have no idea why I didn’t think to have someone go with me. Who cares about help with the kids? I definitely could have used the emotional support. My son walked in front of me and I held my little girl’s hand as we walked into the room that housed the sound-proof room for the hearing test. Audiology equipment sat at a little table, just under the window looking into the sound-proof room, and I felt like time stood still for a few moments.

I realized I hadn’t done this before. Because the times I’d been in this room before, it was all about me. Not about my little boy.

The audiologist checked my son’s ears a moment, asked me a few questions about why I wanted to get his hearing checked, then we both ushered my son into the sound-proof room, indicating for him to sit in it’s only chair. The audiologist placed headphones on his little ears, showed him how to push the button on the little remote when he heard a sound, then she stepped out. She closed the thick padded door and my heart nearly broke in two.

I forced myself to remain calm. This was only a test. No big deal. But I paced back and forth and wiped my teary eyes a dozen times as the audiologist made notes across my little boy’s first audiogram. She finished, and I held my breath.

She turned and looked at me, and it took me a second or two to really process what she said. My little boy heard just as well as any five year old boy does.

I couldn’t decide whether to cry, jump up and down, or give her a huge bear hug. I didn’t really do anything, just kinda stood there with my head spinning as she turned and opened the big door for my boy to exit the enclosed room. I smiled and told him how very proud I was of him sitting still and taking the test. He just shrugged like it was no big deal. Just like I’d hoped he would.

I let out a great big sigh of relief as we exited the office today. Thank God for such a great day. Fabulous day. With such good news.

Letters of my past

This week was a rough week for me personally.

My baby boy turned five last month, and if that wasn’t enough to make me weepy, he started kindergarten on Tuesday.
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More than those reasons for a difficult week, this week required something of me that I’ve really not thought much of.

Years ago, when my husband and I decided to have kids, we talked about the chances of our children inheriting the hearing loss condition that runs through many of my family. At that time, I had probably not even lost fifty percent of my hearing, and I really didn’t expect that I’d lose much more, if any. When my husband and I talked about it, we mutually decided that I lived a normal enough life, a very happy life, and we felt peace about having children. It really wasn’t a difficult decision for either of us.

After having my son, my first child, I had lost a significant portion of my hearing, and my husband and I knew that we’d only have one child. We certainly didn’t expect that I’d get pregnant with my daughter when my son was just five months old, but as a great many parents know, sometimes the unexpected brings quite a bit of joy.

I never think about what our lives would be like without our children. Some may pass judgement on me for choosing to have kids, but I never really think about that either. And another thing I don’t think about? Other than the one day my husband and I talked about whether or not we would have kids, I never think about whether or not my children will ever have hearing loss.

But this week I was forced to think about it.

Because of certain circumstances, I felt a strong obligation last week to really consider my children’s future. I’m not going to spend time worrying about what-ifs, but I did have to write a letter.

The letter I wrote was to my son’s kindergarten teacher. I told her briefly about my own hearing loss, I told her that it is a hereditary condition, and I asked her to look after my son. As a parent, this letter was by far the hardest letter I’ve ever in my life had to write. I didn’t cry, I just wrote a bunch of facts, but as I sit here and write about it, I’m overwhelmed at the emotions that I realize I hold at bay. To date, my son has shown no serious signs of hearing loss. But what I needed from his kindergarten teacher, was for her to be aware of conditions that may show up in his year-long tenure with her. I pray often for my son, that he never has what I do, but at the same time I want him to have every opportunity to succeed as a child. I want so much for him to have the best, even unimaginable, life as possible.

I hope that, by not denying to be aware of the situation, that I make a better life for my children than I had when I refused to admit my difficulties with hearing. I will be honest, though, and say that I genuinely hope and pray that the cycle of this hearing loss is broken with my children. I know it can be.

I pray for myself sometimes too. I pray that God gives me the endurance emotionally to hit this thing head on. To be prepared for it, even if it never happens.

Most of all, I pray for my kids. And I welcome your prayers too.

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.

Kids. Gotta love ’em.

Something I love most about hearing with my Cochlear Implant is all the conversations with the kids. It’s so true that children say the funniest things, and I must say that they bring so much joy to my life. One thing I remember about being deaf is that I could go for days without laughing a whole-hearted laugh. Things might be comical and bring a smile, but rarely did I catch anything that would make me completely laugh. More or less it was because I couldn’t really hear anything to bring that.

But yesterday I was in the car with my husband, Jesse, and my two kids. My 3yr old daughter was pretending to talk on her toy cell phone, while my 5yr old son and my husband were having the very serious conversation that’s below. In the end, we all laughed at my silly little girl. I love hearing my kids!

 

Son: Dad, who is over all the church?

Daughter: Shhhh. I’m talking on the phone.

Jesse: Jesus is over all the church, son.

Son: Oh.

Jesse: It’s actually named something different.

Daughter: SHHHHHHH!!!

Jesse: Daughter, I love that you have a great imagination, but I’m talking.

Jesse: Son, the bible says that Jesus is the Head of the Church.

Daughter: <exasperated> I’ll call you back.

Day 4: Must fix my attention span

I begin by apologizing for the delay in posts. Apparently I don’t know how to post things at a specified time, like I thought I did. Writing I can do. Figuring out WordPress is a completely different matter. So be prepared for multiple posts today as a catch up. Because I won’t be timing them to publish at a certain time.

Day 4 was Sunday. Sunday for my family means attending church. But here’s the thing. I haven’t heard a sermon from start to finish, and understood it, in a great many years. I’d really love to say that on Sunday I was just completely ministered to and learned something so deep and full of inspiration that it will change my life forever. Unfortunately that would be a complete lie. Not that today’s sermon wasn’t inspiring, it’s just that I had a very very very hard time paying attention. And no, it wasn’t because I couldn’t understand the minister.

The big problem is that every Sunday for the past several years, I have sat in church services and read the notes from the service about five times during the service. After nearly memorizing them, I’d eventually look up at the minister and pretend I’m paying attention, all the while making to-do lists in my head or trying to remember where I placed a certain item.

See, church services are a lot like those pre-mentioned dinner dates for me. I used to pretend to understand, but really, I’d only get a couple words (at most) out of the whole service even if I was paying rapt attention to the speaker. It isn’t apathy that made me fail to pay attention, it was the fact that paying attention or not paying attention, I couldn’t understand a word that was said. But now that I can? Well, I seemed to forget during Sunday’s service that if I had been paying attention, I would have understood what was being said.

So what I’ve learned on Day 4 is that in order to sit in any type of service, seminar, or what-have-you, I’m going to seriously have to work on getting my mind to focus on a speaker for more than five minutes at a time without wondering to my [not so] exciting domestic life.

The other thing I learned on Day 4 is that my front door is very squeaky and needs to be oiled.

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?