Posts Tagged ‘processor’

‘Tis the season. To give.

Christmas is all around us, isn’t it?

I’ll admit I was one of those crazy shoppers who braved Walmart at its opening on Black Friday, and fortunately I’m still around to tell the story. Bad news is that my cochlear implant’s processor beeped at me amid all the chaos of the moment, letting me know that my battery was about to die and relegate me to the land of the deaf. Good news is that although it beeped its low-battery warning, it didn’t actually die until my drive home.

Amid all the craziness of Christmas shopping, one thing I value as much as giving to family, is giving to those in need. I give a lot to my local church and various missions, but there’s a new recipient on my list this year.

With all my heart, I plan to give a donation to the Dallas Hearing Foundation. And seeing that this is my 100th blog post, I also knew it that in addition to my donation, I wanted to dedicate such a huge milestone to a worthy cause.

Having my Cochlear Implant activation this year really changed me, my blog, and my entire life. I value my implant and new life so much that I want to do my part in giving that gift to someone else. About a year ago I came across the website to the Dallas Hearing Foundation and after reading about all that they do, I’ve decided it’s a very worthy cause. Giving a donation to them will help another child or adult get the funding he or she needs to hear better. And what better way can I show my gratitude for what I’m so very thankful for?

I encourage all of you out there in this blogosphere, so many of you who I don’t even know, to take a moment a check out the website. If you’re looking for somewhere to make a donation to this holiday season, I ask that you please consider them. Even a small donation can help bring so much joy to someone who was in the same place I was in, not so long ago.

Don’t forget this season is about giving. Not just giving to those who expect it. But also to those who don’t, and those who may need it more than anything else.

To make a donation to the Dallas Hearing Foundation, please click here.

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.

I heart music.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love love love this song!!

The phone. The phone is ringing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fun Fact:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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>