Oh! So That’s How They Knew!

I wrote a couple of blog posts several months ago about how as a kid I never quite understood how adults knew when I was doing something wrong if I was in another room. I always thought if I couldn’t feel vibrations and if I couldn’t see it then it didn’t make a noise. For example it took me many years to fully comprehend that people can hear someone making noises in a room down the hall.

I never really quite understood why I would get caught opening a bag of candy in the backseat in the car. I knew why because it had been explained to me that when a person opens a bag it makes noise…but I didn’t really understand it because I hadn’t experienced it myself…so I would always forget.

I’m so used to finding myself looking like a deer caught in the headlight when I try to sneak food or something that I found it amusing when I caught someone! It was one of those…ohhhhhhh….so that’s how they know moments!!!! (“they”=hearing people)

So, I went camping with a group of friends this past weekend. We got to the campground and got everything set up. Then a friend, C, wanted some beer so I decided to tag along with him and another friend, D. I don’t like staying in the same spot when I’m in a new place. I like to get out and explore.

C got his 6 pack of beer bottles and we got back into D’s car. C asked if it was okay if he opened a beer bottle in the backseat while we headed back to the campground. D wasn’t comfortable with having a open container in his car so C respected that. We then drove back and as we turned into the campground area I heard C opening a beer bottle in the backseat and I turned around…and aha! I got one of those *deer caught in the headlight* looks. 😉

It was just one of those moments where I found myself reacting as a “hearing person.” It’s kind of odd to find myself reacting and responding to situations in different ways using different senses. It’s not good or bad….just different.

"Normal" Hearing Yet Deaf and 3 Month Follow-Up

Hearing people are naturally curious about how much I can hear with my cochlear implant.

It is a bit tricky trying to explain that I have an almost “normal’ audiogram yet I’m still as deaf as I was before getting the CI.

Yes, I hear more things than I did with hearing aids. Do I understand what I hear? No. Therefore, I have “normal” hearing yet I’m still profoundly deaf at the same time. I hear what most hearing people can but I cannot process the information. It is an odd feeling when I’m standing with a group of hearing people and I know I can hear a lot of what they’re hearing…..yet I’m still obviously profoundly deaf because I can’t process what I’m hearing. I hear and am deaf at the same time. Weird.

They need to invent new words for hearing because there are different meanings. One definition is when a person actually hears. Another definition is understanding and processing what you’re hearing.

I also realized I never got around to blogging about my 3 month appointment back in July even though it has now been 4 and half months since I got the CI. With hearing aids I could correctly identify 50% of words in a closed set list without lipreading. The audiologist was willing to repeat so I could listen more carefully and she went slower. At 3 months with the CI I could correctly identify 40% of words in a closed set list without lipreading. This time the audiologist didn’t repeat and went a lot quicker.

Things sound so differently with a CI than a hearing aid and I have actually regressed a bit. This does seem to happen with people who have similar hearing loss background as mine. I have basically had to throw out everything I knew with hearing aids and start all over again. I’m always reminding myself I have to listen in a different way with the CI than I did with hearing aids. Basically I’m still undoing 20+ years of tricks I learned to use with hearing aids.

I suppose taking into account the fact that I have never spent such a small amount of time with hearing people in my life until now and I had to start all over again with the CI…..that I should be somewhat pleased with the fact that I’m more or less where I was at with my hearing aid. At 4.5 months post activation I’m getting what took me many years to learn with hearing aids and more.

I haven’t had nearly as much interaction with hearing people as I did in school. This has really slowed my progress with the CI. I’m basically in the middle of a very long plateau. I can see myself improving a lot if I interacted with hearing people more. I think this will happen once I get a full-time job.

An interesting thing happened at my 3 month appointment. I asked if we could test to see if there was any residual hearing in my implanted ear. Most of the time people lose all of their residual hearing in the implanted ear. To both the audiologist and my surprise….I do have some residual hearing left. Mind you, it’s less than what I originally had. Going 3 months without realizing I had some hearing left in the implanted ear should give you an idea of how much hearing loss I have. I’m somewhat sure I wouldn’t benefit from a hearing aid in the implanted ear. I was right on the borderline for getting what I could from my hearing aid before the surgery….it was the most powerful hearing aid for my type of hearing loss and I wore it at the highest volume at the highest setting possible.

I didn’t get a new map at the 3 month appointment. I actually asked for it to be set on one of my older maps because the current map was just too high-pitched for me. My next appointment will be my 6 month follow up in September. I really need to figure out a way to make time to find somewhere to volunteer or to take a class so I can interact with hearing people more and hopefully get over this plateau. I’m hoping the 6 month follow-up will go a bit better than the 3 month appointment did.

Btw, is it just me or does your own breathing get on your nerves when you’re in a quiet room? 🙂

Colorado Trip-Part 2 of 3

Day #4: We headed to Gunnison. It was mostly a driving day….we did stop at several scenic points.

We got pretty close to an elk.

Day #5: Black Canyon (Gunnison National Park)

Day #6: We went on an all day whitewater rafting trip. I had never been rafting before but always wanted to give it a try. It was awesome! We went on a class 3/4 trip complete with a mini waterfall. 😉

To be continued…..