Posts Tagged ‘life’

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.

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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!

Nothing says holidays like a cheese log

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Holidays are the former bane of my existence as a deaf girl. So were drive-thru lanes. And phones. And conversation with human beings as a whole.

But now that I have a cochlear implant?

The other morning I thought about the upcoming holidays. Hard to believe we’re rapidly approaching the season again, isn’t it? And with that thought, I almost had an emotional breakdown because I realized something that I haven’t really thought about much in a long time.

This will be another first for me.

As I’ve hit my six month’s post activation of my cochlear implant, there really aren’t so many wow I heard that moments. Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely not complaining. I love hearing, and I love that it’s not so emotionally overwhelming anymore. It was rough those first few months when every time I heard something new, I’d practically bawl my eyes out because I was so happy I’d heard that something again. With all the tears, I had to drink a lot of water to stay hydrated! But in all seriousness, while I did love those moments of hearing things again for the first time, I’ve also enjoyed slowing down to just enjoying every day, hearing the same things, in a routine of sorts.

But oh, the holidays.

Who doesn’t love the holidays?

Even last year, as much as I wanted to hate the holidays, I do love them. I love spending time with family, enjoying their company, and hearing kids squeal in delight when they’ve opened an unexpected gift. And I love music. Classic Christmas songs, revised pop versions, rock versions, and every other kind.

This will be the first set of holidays that I can enjoy in a very long time as a hearing person. I’m crying just thinking about it!

And I’m excited. I’m excited about hearing this season for the first time again after so very long. I’m under no impression to think that this won’t be the best year yet.

Even therapy won’t fix this.

This week my husband flew to South Carolina for a conference and was gone overnight. And one thing that I always hated about being completely deaf was that if my husband is out of town, I’d never hear an emergency. I used to not be able to hear fire alarms, my dog barking, an intruder breaking in, my kiddos screaming from nightmares, nothing. Now that I have my cochlear implant activated however, it’s pretty obvious that I don’t have that problem anymore, so long as I’m sleeping with my processor on.

But there’s another problem.

This is the first time my husband was out of town overnight since activating my implant and processor. After putting the kids in bed the other night, I put a fresh rechargeable battery in my processor to be sure it lasted through the night, and I went to bed. I usually take off my processor at night to give my head a rest, especially where the two magnets connect from my implant and processor. It gets sore in that spot on my head if I have long days, but even though I knew I might wake up with a sore spot, I didn’t mind if it meant I’d hear anything that might be an emergency during the night.

I think I went to bed at about eleven o’clock. My dog lay down next to the bed, and I felt nice and safe knowing I could hear.

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About an hour after I lay down and had fallen asleep, I woke up with a jerk to click-click-click-click-click… I looked at the clock, saw it was close to midnight, and wondered at the sound.

I listened….

crunch-crunch-crunch-crunch… The dog had moved from my bedside, left the carpet of my room, and I knew his nails had clicked their way across our wood and tile floors to the kitchen, where he was now munching on his dog food. So I went back to sleep.

An hour later… click-click-click-click-click… I turned over and went back to sleep.

An hour later… click-click-click-click-click…

“Vador lay down and be still!” I finally commanded him.

An hour later it was air-conditioner kicking in. The toilet flushing from one of the kids. And one thing after another…

Obviously I made coffee first thing the following morning. Really strong coffee. And obviously I’m only going to sleep in my processor on the nights that it’s absolutely necessary.

From deaf to Aerosmith. It’s been a sweet ride.

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Entering my 6th month of post activation of my cochlear implant, I decided to do some testing on how far I’ve come since those first few days of being able to hear.

It seems like ages ago that I made a list of all the songs I wanted to listen to again when I got my cochlear implant turned on. Can you believe that I completely forgot about that list? In the midst of hearing my kiddos, and enjoying my revamped marriage with my husband, I’ve forgotten about so many of those to-do things. Obviously they didn’t rank as high as I thought they would when I could hear, but now that things have slowed down a bit at home, I thought it would be fun to go back and visit the music list.

Feel free to browse through my observations. Remember, I haven’t heard these songs in a really long time, so you’ll have to excuse the very high amount of enthusiasm following. I’m like a kid at Christmas sometimes with this implant of mine.

“Collide”, Howie Day – I’ve listened to this one several times already post-activation. Every time it just gets better. It’s one that I don’t use much for therapy, but just for listening. I remember all the words to it, being one of the last songs I was able to understand, so I listen to this one for actual music enjoyment.

“Came to My Rescue”, Hillsong United – I love this song. And I realize I’m probably going to say that to every song on this list, but it’s true about this one! It’s a big jumble of a zillion instruments and vocalists, not exactly easy listening. It’s good for me though, because every time I listen, I pick out something new. I hear something else in the mix and it becomes clearer and clearer. Ah, sweet therapy!

“Bohemian Rhapsody”, Queen – Such a crazy weird song, with it’s classical and rock tones all meshed into one song.  It’s hard to pick up everything they say, but I can pick up about 15%. I’m tempted to read the lyrics to remember what they’re saying, but I’m forcing myself not to! I want music therapy, and the best way to do that is to re-listen and force myself to remember the words by hearing them.

“I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing”, Aerosmith – Umm… listened to this for the first time today in years and years. When the first chorus hits, it’s hard to decipher all the instruments, because there’s so many, but wow. Gotta love Aerosmith. Definitely missed hearing them!

“Iris”, GooGoo Dolls – Oh oh oh, I heart this song!! Been a while, for sure. I think I’m about to cry after enjoying all this music this morning!

ALERT! I’m not always the most forward thinker, and just thought about turning my cochlear implant setting to the Music setting. Duh! At first it didn’t help that much, everything was still muddled when all the instruments are in full swing, so I turned up the sensitivity. Amazing! It made a big difference. So much, it makes me want to go back through all the other songs, but I’ll work back through them another day. Time to continue!
“When She Loved Me”, Sarah McLachlan – What can I say? I really do like Disney movies. Especially the cheesy songs. And really, you gotta have respect for Sarah Mclachlan’s superb vocal abilities.

“Let’s Talk About Love”, Celine Dion – I know there are other, more popular songs by Dion, but I’ve always been a fan of this one. It’s still good too.

“Worlds Apart”, Jars of Clay – I haven’t heard this song in probably a decade. Seriously. And I’m so incredibly impressed that I can get 100% if the lyrics on this one. Do I remember those lyrics? Only since I’m hearing them!

“One Headlight”, The Wallflowers – Another one of those weird-artsy songs that you just love or completely hate. I’m reminiscing my teenage years of actually hearing this song. And so thankful. So thankful.

“It Is You”, Newsboys – This song is unique. I’m not sure that I ever heard this song by the Newsboys. I heard it in church a lot, and I know the song from that, but I don’t think I ever heard it in this original form. It took me starting the song twice before I caught on to the lead guy’s voice. But once I did, I was able to follow. I’m really surprised how much I’m picking up with this song, being the one song I’ve only maybe heard before. For the life of me, I couldn’t remember the lyrics to it, but I do remember them now! 100% baby! (Can I say I love this song too?!)

The rest of the songs will have to wait. I can’t spend all my time listening to music today, but how happy I am! I see definite progress since the last time I sat down and listened to lots of songs, and I know that if I can discipline myself to regularly listen, it will only get better.

Two thumbs up for this phenomenal cochlear implant! <written while humming Aerosmith>

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.