What Was That? and Watermelon vs Storm

I need to start asking “what was that” when I hear something. As a deaf person I’m so used to trying to figure things out on my own and this has been carrying over with my CI. I usually try to figure out what I’m hearing and I can figure it out pretty often….but do I figure out the right answer to what I’m hearing….I don’t know.

I just don’t want to bug people by constantly asking them what they’re hearing and what I might be hearing.

I’m just holding myself back in the learning process by not asking. I need to start asking instead of trying to figure so much of it out on my own.

I find it interesting what I can pick out and what I can’t. For example in a noisy place…no matter how hard I try, I CANNOT pick out when the person next to me is talking (I can sometimes pick out if someone behind me is talking). However, I can hear the ice maker dispensing ice in the kitchen when I’m upstairs in a different room. I didn’t know sounds like that could travel so far.

My current world is being redefined.

I also caught myself doing something “hearing” earlier today. Usually if I don’t like how something sounds or if a noise is getting on my nerves I take my CI off…simple enough…I can choose when I want to hear and when I don’t want to. 😀 I have mentioned that my computer fan just drives me insane and it’s hard to ignore sometimes. Well, instead of taking my CI off like I usually do….I put my iPod on to cancel out the noise with music without even thinking about it….then I realized 5 minutes later that I could have just taken my CI off to solve that problem. It just threw me for a loop that I reacted as a hearing person to this situation when I usually just turn my CI off. Weird.

I used to wonder why hearing people always had music plugged into their ears. I have always known that hearing people sometimes use music to block out other noises but I never really understood it….until now. I don’t know how hearing people do it 24/7, lol.

Speech is still ehh. I could never really understand speech with my hearing aid (without visual clues) and I was born profoundly deaf with a stable hearing loss. I have no memory/knowledge of speech sounds aside from what I was getting with my hearing aids. So, it will take quite a while to see how far I can go with speech discrimination. I’m pretty sure I will always need visual clues. Auditory input should boost those visual clues or so that’s what I’m hoping. When I say visual clues…I’m referring to lipreading, facial expression, and body language.

Auditory Rehab: I’m at the baby stage with this. I’m doing the whole same/different and “pick which word I said ” things. For the “pick which word I said” thing….someone will say 1 word out of 4 words…I then have to pick which one was said. Sounds easy right? Well, not for me. I usually only get 40 -60% right (pathetic…but….I keep telling myself I’ve only been doing this for 2 weeks with my CI). I could get about 55-85% right with hearing aids (after many years of wearing aids). The groups of words I’m working on is at the baby stage also. The groups of words either have different syllables (1, 2, 3, and 4 syllables words in a set of 4 words) OR same/similar initial letter + same number of syllables (pie, pen, bed, etc.) . Basically I have to be able to tell that there’s a pattern to speech.

I have to somehow apply the auditory skills I learned with hearing aids and adapt that to fit how I’m hearing sounds with my CI which is SO different. I also have to try and guess how something would sound when I have NO clue how it’s supposed to sound. Hearing people can hear before they learn a language. I learned a language before learning to “hear.” A bit backwards. Most people learn to listen before they learn how to read. I learned to read before learning to listen. I’m a profound deaf person learning how to listen. Tricky.

Sometimes I can pick out how many syllables there are with no problem and other times I totally butcher it all up. One example that gets me every time is when I have to choose between watermelon and storm. They both sound almost the same to me and watermelon sounds like it has only 1 syllable for some reason. No clue why. Anyone want to present a hypothesis for this?

A closed set of words force me to learn and apply listening skills which I haven’t been able to carry over to real life yet.

Sometimes I don’t think hearing people appreciate how complicated listening can be. What comes as super easy for them is really difficult for me. I guess that’s why it takes humans so long to develop spoken language. It’s not like we pop out of the womb with the ability to understand and speak a language…it takes years for babies/toddlers/children to develop spoken language. I’m kind of 25 years behind in that sense, lol.

It is fascinating to rediscover a world I’ve lived in all my life.

I Think I Will Like This

People have been asking if I like my CI. I keep telling them to ask me in a few months because I don’t want to form an opinion yet. In other words I didn’t want to admit upfront that I didn’t like it much the first 2 weeks (so overwhelming) because I knew deep down I would learn to like it on some level. I didn’t want to get it stuck in my mind that I didn’t like it because then I wouldn’t put forward the effort with auditory rehab.

I’m at a point where I have made peace with this previously so called torture device. I do like it better and better each day. The thing that just bothers me the most is that I’m still working on trying to get back what I could hear with my hearing aids. Once I have that back…I’ll like it a lot better 😉 It’s just hard to lose something you’ve worked so hard on for many years without knowing 100% for sure that you will get something even better in the long run.

I would say I’m back to about 70-75% of what I could hear before with my hearing aids and of course I have some bonus sounds that I couldn’t hear before…which makes me happy! 😀 Well…except for my computer fan. That fan just drives me insane when I’m trying to do auditory rehab on my laptop.

I think I will like the CI eventually….I’m already starting to like it. I also wanted to make it clear that I have never regretted my decision and I don’t think I ever will.

House: Do we fix, accept, or embrace deafness?

House. *shakes head*

Most bloggers did a good job addressing the inaccurate information that came up during the show so I won’t focus on that too much.

I knew there would be numerous comments on facebook and AIM about last night’s episode. I also knew there would be several blog posts about it. Sure enough! 🙂

This is one of the few times I’ve seen BOTH the culturally Deaf and CI communities bothered by how CIs/Deaf culture was portrayed in the media. The 2 communities actually agreed on some of the inaccurate information which was refreshing to see since the 2 communities don’t always *ahem* see eye-to-eye on things. 😉

Remember this is a TV show and House is usually pretty extreme. It just happens that us deaf people are familiar with CIs and the Deaf culture in general. I think that’s why the inaccuracies stood out so much to us. I also think it’s because we have put in the time and energy trying to educate the mainstream society and it felt like some of that work was being undone.

Yes, it was extreme. Yes, I disagreed with some of what was said. Yes, there was ignorance…but we can use this as a good reminder as to how society views these issues and we can start to address those misconceptions.

Remember there was also a crazy bachelor party, House set a cadaver on fire, House apparently saw and talked to a dead person (this is the first season I’ve watched this show so I’m not quite sure what that was all about), and there were strippers. It was just not the best episode in general. I got the feeling that the writers ran out of ideas.

In a subtle way…the show did bring up ongoing issues (I give props to the writers for effort):
–House represented the medicine world and he did what doctors are trained to do. Doctors are “trained” to fix what they believe is wrong (aka what society labels as a “disability”).
–The mom represented a parent’s responsibility to her child. She loved/accepted her son but she also knew that it’s a hearing world out there. It can be a difficult decision for a parent to make.
–The boy represented the Deaf culture. He accepted who he was and was happy with being deaf. He didn’t start to question his identity until he was implanted.
–Stigma of signing.
–Stigma of having unintelligible speech.
–Stigma of being a CI user.
–Stigma of having Deaf pride.
–Who has a voice? Deaf or hearing people? Deaf patients or hearing doctors? Deaf child or hearing parent?
–A person who has been deaf most of his life can have his life turned upside if he wakes up being able to hear. It’s not as simple as turning on a switch and miraculously being able to understand everything.

The show basically tried to get the point across that Deaf culture does exist. Deaf people can be happy with who they are. Deaf people may want to hear. Deaf people may not want to hear. It’s not as simple as the mainstream society wants it to be and it’s a lot more complicated than most people realize.

I have no idea if viewers who have never been around a deaf person was able to get the gist of any of those points or if they just couldn’t believe that some people do NOT want to hear. As someone who is in the hearing, deaf, CI, and medical worlds….I felt like the writers were trying to get the above points across in a very subtle way. Did they do a very good job? Nope.

To me, it’s not so important what we…the deaf community (CI users, ASL-CI community, culturally Deaf, deaf, oral, parents of children with hearing loss, etc.) thought of this show. We’re already aware of these issues since we deal with them often. Instead of discussing this among ourselves we need to find out what the mainstream society thought. This may have been the only exposure some hearing people have had to deaf related topics. What were their reactions and why did they react that way? We can then use that feedback to educate the mainstream world rather than keep this within our little deaf community.

It could definitely have been done a lot better, but it is House after all. I was expecting it to be pretty extreme anyways. I mean….ripping out your implant….if that isn’t extreme, I don’t know what is!

Just don’t get too hung up on this episode.

Btw, did anyone else love the part where House went into the boy’s room dancing with a boombox? (yes, some may have seen that as a cruel thing to do on House’s part but House is generally mean anyways….I found his little dance entertaining).

Disclaimer: This was a rushed post and I only got an hour of sleep last night.

Can I Feel The Implant?

A few people have asked if I can feel the implant and it seems to be a somewhat common question.

I have also had people ask if I can feel the array or if it feels like there’s something in my ear. Answer is: nope.

The only time I can feel the implant is if I’m laying on the implanted side and even then I don’t always feel it. The implant is right under the skin so there is a bump where the implant is. I can feel the outline of the implant with my fingers. I’ll forget about it until I’m brushing or washing my hair and it’s kind of like….oh, yeah….that’s right…there’s something there and a little bed was drilled into my skull to secure it. lol.

It’s just wild how cochlear implants work. I do have to say that the first person to get a CI was pretty brave.

Anyways, I had a pretty good weekend. Tornado season is officially here and we’ve had tornado warnings/watches for the last 2 days along with 3 tornadoes. It’s just not springtime in Kansas without tornadoes.

Btw, don’t forget House tomorrow. 😉

Job Search: Round #2

So, I’m starting round #2 of looking for a job. I am currently a genetic counseling contract provider for a company but am also looking for a full-time position.

This is how I feel sometimes. It’s all about just finding that person who can see that there are benefits to hiring a deaf person. It’s also about trying to figure out a way to get rid of assumptions and stereotypes so that people can see past the deaf part.

Does Silence Really Exist?

So much for that post last week saying I would be blogging less about my CI, lol. I don’t mean to bore you all. I have heard so many people say they wish they had kept a journal the first few months of getting their CI. So, I’m doing this for myself also. I don’t really expect people to keep reading all these CI-related posts. 🙂

If you haven’t figured out by now I’m always thinking about something (annoying at times) which is probably why I’m always posting something and I don’t even post half of what I would like to. I figured I would spare you that other half.

I have decided that silence does NOT exist in the hearing world.

Silence is defined as the absence of speech, noise, or sound( http://www.thefreedictionary.com/silence).

I always thought hearing people could experience what silence was…that is until now. I had a mini mission the other day to see if I could figure out a set up where there’s no sound whatsoever. Impossible. You have things like the refrigerator humming, wind blowing, birds, etc. When I finally thought I figured out a way to avoid all sounds…I realized I could hear myself breathing. I can’t exactly turn off my breathing without severe consequences. I guess the only way a hearing person can experience true silence is if they lock themselves in a soundproof booth (without any lights buzzing, vent, etc.) and hold their breath for as long as they can before passing out. :-p I’m sure hearing people do experience silence, but I think it’s in a different way….it’s in a way where they have the ability to tune out all those little noises that they are still hearing without realizing it.

Silence is one thing I always wished I could share with my hearing friends/family. Just watching the world in silence makes you notice different stuff that the world has to offer. I always noticed different things when I had my hearing aids on vs when I didn’t. I have always liked that I could view the world from a different perspective but it’s hard when you can’t share it with some of your good friends/family. I know the opposite holds true for my hearing friends/family who wish they could share their world fully with me.

Growing up, I thought I had the general concept of sounds somewhat figured out. Turns out, I didn’t. I feel like I’m sorting through my own misconceptions of this noisy world. My perspective of the world for the last 25 years is being challenged right now. It’s an interesting process and is one that’s hard to explain. Some things that I had believed to be true for the last 25 years aren’t true anymore.

I went to a friend’s volleyball game and a few friends rode with me. I have been pretty pleased that I can finally listen to music at a volume in my car without getting looks at red lights or bothering the neighbors when coming home late at night (even though I still like to turn it up). I kind of forgot what happens when you have a car full of deaf people. One of my friends without any warning cranked up my CD player to the maximum volume. Stuff like that make me smile because that’s when I know we really share that common bond that comes with being deaf and we don’t have to explain our “deaf tendencies.”

I think feeling the vibrations of some music is the best way to experience music. There is a reason why some hearing people like it so loud too. 🙂

Growing up, my dad drilled it into my head that there are pros and cons to everything in life…no matter how good or how bad something is. I both love and hate being deaf. I also both love and hate “hearing.” There are pros and cons of not being able to hear anything and there are pros and cons to being able to hear.

Random: Since when can you hear a pop can (or a soda can for you east coasters) being opened from 5 feet away? 🙂 Maybe I’m odd, but I’ve found that I like the sound of water/pop/etc. being poured into a glass. Also, someone please make my computer fan stop running so much….the sound is driving me up the wall.

Pick Out a Song

Music has changed over the last few weeks with my CI. Sometimes it sounds kind of flat and monotone…and just blah. Other times I’m able to enjoy it. This is something that seems to change from day to day.

I can sometimes pick out the voices (no clue what they’re singing) in some songs which I couldn’t do a couple of weeks ago. Sometimes I can’t even pick out any beats and it’s just one constant annoying sound.

Anyways, I’m getting tired of listening to the same songs. I gave up listening to the radio in my car several years ago when I got tired of always hearing a new song I liked and not knowing what I was listening to….a bit annoying. I can’t overhear people talking about music and I outgrew MTV a few years ago….so my exposure to new songs is a bit limited.

I have a $15 iTunes gift card which will get me 10-15 songs. Help me expand my taste in music. Shoot me one of your favorite songs (I prefer something with some beat)and I will download it from iTunes.

Mapping #4

I had my 4th mapping and my next mapping isn’t until June. It didn’t change that much except for some increases in the middle electrodes which apparently is where a lot of speech sounds happen.

I’m not sure if I like this map or not. I plan on giving it a few days. It may have to do with the fact that I had the same map for 2 weeks and got used to it. It’s not like there was a big difference between this map and the last map or anything. Sometimes I like this map better and other times I like the last map better.

Auditory rehab is going to be a very slow thing for me. I don’t know if it’s even possible for someone with my background to really ever gain that much speech discrimination with a CI. I’m basically working on very simple things. I guess one of my fears is that I just don’t want to be stuck at the same level when I go back in June for my next mapping. I would be a bit bummed. Some of the stuff I’m doing now is what I plateaued out with my hearing aid. Other things I could do easily with my hearing aids.

Now that I don’t have those weekly mapping appointments anymore (although I can always ask for a new map before June if I feel it’s necessary)….I’m really feeling like it’s….100% up to me….and there’s only so much I can do. I’m also kind of feeling like….umm, now what and how do I make this work?

My audiologist did say that people tend to do better once they stick with the same map for a while rather than changing it often and having to readjust to a new map each time. She did say that things will eventually come. It’s so hard to believe that. I keep reminding myself that 3-4 weeks ago I couldn’t even tell the difference between a person talking and a car.

Well, all I can do is give it my best shot and see what happens. What happens…happens.

Now that spring is finally here to stay I’m getting out more and doing different things. I’m also trying to turn activities into listening practices. For instance I went for a walk/jog with a couple of friends on a trail. I was trying to actively listen and figure out what I was hearing…while trying to figure out what made each sound unique (some sounds still sound the same as others) rather than tuning it all out. I’m going to watch a friend play volleyball tomorrow and I plan on trying to see if I can pick out different sounds associated with a volleyball game (e.g. whistle, shouting, clapping, cheering, ball being hit, etc.). Just simple things like that.

House Episode

Save the date: April 27th, 2009

The next episode of House will be CI related.

House Divided

A deaf 14-year old wrestler suffers from hearing problems during a match, but his mother refuses to okay cochlear implants. Meanwhile, House’s insomnia proves a curse… and a blessing.” http://www.tv.com/house/show/22374/episode.html

This should bring up some interesting ethic issues. There is some debate out there as to how much say a child/teenager should have in the CI decision making process vs their parents.

Random fact (I’m sure several of you already know this but wanted to point it out): “Dr. William House developed and implanted the first cochlear implant, providing the opportunity to hear for deaf and hard of hearing patients whose condition could not be improved by hearing aids or other means.” http://www.houseearclinic.com/cochlearimplants.htm

Yep, House implanted the first cochlear implant…. 😉