Recognizing My Name

Kelly. That’s my name, don’t wear it out. 🙂

With hearing aids, I couldn’t always pick out my name without lipreading. The only times I could really understand my name was only if my mom (or occasionally my dad) said it. Obviously I’m a lot used to hearing my parents’ voices compared with other people’s voices. I have a few friends who can only understand their parents on the phone and no one else. Anyways I think a lot of it had to do with the volume and/or tone that they would say my name with. Even then it would be hit and miss.

I’ve found that recognizing my name with the CI has really thrown me off. It sounds SO different with the CI than it did with hearing aids. So I’ve had to relearn that.

I tend to kind of tune out what’s going on around me if all I hear is speech sounds and I’m busy doing something else. I’ve noticed lately that there have been a few times where I almost recognize my name when a friend says it.

I almost never respond when someone says my name.

It’s really weird. I’ll be sitting there and doing something…then all of the sudden I feel more tuned into what’s going on around me in terms of sounds but I don’t know why. I then kinda continue to block it out because I’m not fully processing what I’m hearing. Then all of the sudden I feel more tuned in but I continue to automatically ignore it. It’s usually not until I catch someone trying to get my attention out of the corner of my eyes that I finally realize someone has been saying my name.

It’s almost like I know I’m hearing my name but my brain just isn’t sure how to process that information.

I don’t know how to explain it. It’s a VERY delayed response. I think I do recognize my name more often than other people realize and more often than even I realize. It’s a strange feeling. It’s like I know the information is there but I just don’t know how to process it.

It’s been almost 8 months since I’ve been “activated.” From what I’ve read babies generally respond to their name between 6 and 9 months. Hmm! Wonder if there’s any association.

I have to admit the one thing I think would come in really handy would be if I could consistently respond to my name. I’m hearing and understanding it…it’s just not fully being processed…yet. So even though I hear and understand it…I don’t always KNOW that I’m hearing it hence the reason why I oftentimes don’t respond. It’s there, but not there at the same time.

Oh and I also picked out “olive” tonight without lipreading when someone was talking about a dip. It did help that I knew what the conversation topic was. That’s word #3. I swear these words are soooo random and out of the blue…lol.

Podcast

It’s common sense to me what is not accessible to deaf people because well…umm…I am deaf :-p What I always forget is that hearing people aren’t always aware.

I was reminded of this at the NSGC conference when I was talking with a couple of people about how many genetic companies don’t caption their videos….yet…they want to improve health care services. I always automatically assume things related to genetics are not going to be captioned (website videos, TV commercials, etc.) because that’s how it works. I do, however, try to give them the benefit of doubt and double check.

My deaf friends are never surprised but my hearing friends always seem to be shocked.

Right before the conference I found out there was going to be a podcast about a certain presentation given at the NSGC conference because so many people wanted to attend it but could not. I could not make it because I had to leave early that day even though I wanted to attend. My first thought when I heard that they were going to post a podcast was that there was no way it would be transcribed or captioned.

It was posted yesterday and sure enough. Nope.

So I sent an e-mail asking for a transcript or asking if they could record a sign language interpreter interpreting it. I try to be flexible and give options.

Why am I posting this? I have found that sometimes to make changes it requires awareness. While things like this may seem like a surprise to people….I expect it and it’s part of my daily life…I don’t know any different so sometimes I just accept things and let them slide. However, there are certain things I am not willing to let slide. This is one of them.

Hopefully I will hear back from them on Monday and it’ll be a positive reply.

The Rejects: A Diverse Group

Oftentimes I refer to my Kansas buddies as “the group, the gang, the deafies, etc.” on my facebook status and on this blog.

The group has really grown over the past year. I’m not even sure what to call the group anymore and most of my friends aren’t sure either. I’m thinking we need to start referring to it as the extended group vs core group. 😉

The extended group consists of about 30-40 people and is made up of people I see at least once every few weeks. The core group is probably about 15-20 people and it’s not unusual for me to see them a couple of times a week.

Generally friends tend to choose friends based upon their career, religion, socioeconomic background, educational level, marriage status, etc. That’s not the case within this group. We are a very diverse group in terms of all these.

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We have people in this group who decided not to pursue any further education after high school and we have people who are in graduate school.

We have atheists, agnostics, and church goers.

We have gay/lesbian couples, married couples, dating couples, deaf-hearing couples, deaf-deaf couples, couples who are expecting, and singles.

We have a writer, engineer, nurse, genetic counselor, teacher, daycare provider, chef, student, interpreter, photographer, store manager, etc.

We have people who are hearing, oral, hard-of-hearing, and deaf.

We have people who are pro-life and others who are pro-choice.

We have people who wear hearing aids, can understand speech on the phone with their CIs, don’t wear their CIs anymore, or prefer not to wear hearing aids/CIs.

We have people who utilize SEE2, CASE, or ASL. Others are just now learning sign language.

Many of us are at different stages of our lives. We have people who are still going to school and we have other starting a family of our own.

Our ages range from 21 to 31 years old.
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I would say the majority of us grew up mainstreamed and didn’t have any deaf friends growing up. Several group members didn’t even learn sign language until college. Some went to oral schools. We started at very different points in terms of how we communicate and our educational background (e.g. deaf school, oral, mainstreamed)….yet….we all managed to find ourselves at the same place and we can all get along.

What brought us all together?
Hearing loss/deafness. There’s no way most of our paths would have crossed if it wasn’t for our hearing loss (for lack of a better word). We’re so different in many different ways.

What else bought us all together?
Generally we don’t seem to fit 100% in either the hearing world or 100% in the deaf world. For this reason some of us call ourselves THE REJECTS. 🙂 So we do share that common bond.

Sometimes a person learns more from being around people who share different perspectives, beliefs, and life choices.

Basically anything goes within this group. 😉

The one thing I really appreciate about this group is that we respect each other regardless of our own beliefs. Our goal is always to have a good time regardless of if it’s being crafty together, going out together, cliff jumping, snowboarding, getting together for the holidays, watching KU games, exchanging books, or just hanging out.

Stem Cells…..Not For Me

There has been some talk about how the future of stem cells “curing” hearing loss is here NOW.

There will be a live webchat about this through HLAA (Hearing Loss Association of America) tomorrow night.

Yes, I can see how this could possibly benefit those who may have lost their hearing over time (vs born deaf). I can see how this could theoretically benefit newborns.

If it were available to me RIGHT this second…would I do it? No.

Why not?

I like my on/off button.

For someone like me….I would still run into the same problems with stem cells as I have with CIs and hearing aids. My brain just has never been able to understand speech because I didn’t have access to sounds AT all until I was almost 2. Then even between the ages of 2 and 3…my hearing loss was just so profound that I didn’t benefit from hearing aids except for some limited environmental awareness (and even that was pretty iffy at times). The critical ages for learning to understand spoken language is between birth and age 3.

I cannot imagine the shock and psychological impacts it would have on me if I were to do the whole stem cells thing.

Imagine if you woke up one day completely deaf. How would you feel? You would be lost. Confused. Scared. Unsure. Depressed.

That’s how I would feel if I woke up one day totally hearing without an off switch.

My on/off switch is very valuable to me. I just cannot imagine trying to handle hearing all the time. I don’t think I would have the skills to handle that. I would probably end up depressed and miserable…just because I know I don’t have the coping skills to handle being able to hear all day long and not understand what I’m hearing 24/7.

I’m not going to say that I would never ever consider stem cells nor am I going to say that I would even consider it. You never know what life will bring you. Either way…I would say it’s highly unlikely I would do it. I realllllyyyyy like my on/off switch. 🙂

Either way I’m highly interested in stem cells just because of the field I’m in (genetics)……not so much because I’m deaf.

Sand Flag Football

“Give it your best and forget the rest.”

That’s Tony’s motto (the dude from P90X).

I think our sand flag football has unintentionally accepted this as our motto. Even though we keep losing games we sure have heart and we still have a blast even when we lose.

I have been impressed with how we’ve been playing because we haven’t really played much together as a team…most of the teams we play against have played together for a while. We don’t have plays written up like other teams do. We’re not organized but we still manage to score touchdowns.

I do have to say that I wish girls had more access to this sort of game. I didn’t know I would enjoy it this much and I do wish I could have been able to play it growing up. Granted I don’t have much football skillz but I’m learning and am having a blast!

I can’t believe how quickly this football season has gone by and am a bit bummed that next week will be our last game (7 weeks). Even though tonight’s game was pretty cold (rainy/snowy) and wet!

We’re hoping to start a dodgeball team in January.

Props to my fellow football teammates for a FUN season and let’s hope we actually win the last game! 🙂
–Chris D.
–Chris T.
–Kevin
–Kelly B.
–Dennis
–Seth
–Charles
–Brittany
–Randi
–Margie
–Rusty

Planet Earth

People keep telling me to watch Planet Earth. I was channel surfing and happened to run across it. It was about the deep ocean….which has always fascinated me.

I was thinking about how awesome it would be to be one of the cameramen(women) recording all those fascinating deep sea creatures. Then I got to thinking about something I’ve thought from time to time.

Why is it that even though we see pictures of something we still MUST see it with our own eyes? I guess there’s just something about experiencing things in person. Even with HDTV….I want to see these deep sea creatures with my own eyes….even though they would look just like they do on TV.

How Did It Go With The CI?

How did it go with the CI?

A couple of people have asked me this question. I had expressed some concern about background noises at the conference. I had planned on blogging more about the conference itself and some of the presentations I found interesting but that will have to wait. Instead I thought I would do a quick post to answer this question.

I definitely had some high points and some low points with the CI.

Lowest point: The lowest point was my graduate school reunion held at a restaurant. I generally struggle with restaurants anyways but this one was just argh! I can sometimes tell when the person next to me starts to talk so I can look up quickly enough to start lipreading…this was not the case at the reunion. I’m not sure why it was more difficult than usual to just tell what the heck I was hearing…everything was just all jumbled and I wasn’t even able to tell if I was hearing voices or something else.

Then of course I was trying not to freak out because my interpreters hadn’t shown up (turns out they were downstairs waiting for an hour–there had been some confusion about exactly where the reunion was at). The lighting was crappy and I was operating on a grand total of 30 minutes of sleep. I was completely lost that first hour because I was just so thrown off by the fact I couldn’t find my interpreters, it was dark, I was tired (makes it harder to focus on lipreading), and it took a while for my class to show up.

I was tempted to leave since I was wayyyyyy out of my comfort zone but I decided to stick it out and do the best I could with the situation. Finally a few people I graduated with showed up and I was able to relax a bit more…they’re used to facing me when talking and they try to give me a general idea of what’s going on (they’re AWESOME about trying to include me). Then the interpreters showed up for about 45 minutes and I was on my own afterwards which was perfectly fine at that point. It did make me feel a bit better that the interpreters were really struggling to hear too. 😉 But it’s times like these that just make me feel like I’m back at square one because the CI just seems so worthless in situations like these.

Of course about 15 minutes before the reunion was over I finally started picking out when people near me were talking. Even though I don’t understand speech…just hearing a person’s voice makes a difference in terms of awareness (that’s one reason why I always wore my hearing aids too….just so I knew when someone was talking in general). In all, I’m glad I ended up staying. It was lots of fun catching up with everyone and meeting new people. A bunch of us went out afterwards….good times!

Highest point: I got up bright and early to head to the airport this morning. I was walking around trying to find somewhere to grab breakfast from….and I walked past one of those little booth stores or whatever they’re called and heard an employer say to me “morning!” without lipreading. Granted, there’s not that many possible options he could have said (morning, hello, how are you, etc.). However, I wasn’t even listening for it and I didn’t have to take the extra time to figure out what he was saying. I just automatically turned around and smiled back at him then walked down a bit before I realized that I actually heard/understood what he said without trying. This is the second time something like this has happened so it’s kinda cool but definitely throws me off because I don’t expect it….it’s so different from how I understand the world around me. It goes against everything I know about how to function in the world…for lack of better words.

Generally I always take my CI off whenever sleeping. I did the same with hearing aids too because 1) hearing aids whistles whenever I lay on it 2) I could never fall asleep hearing noises 3) it’s not comfortable laying on it. With the CI…sounds aren’t as forced and sounds are a bit more subtle so I’ve found myself dozing off with the CI on every once in a while.

I was exhausted because I only got a total of maybe 9-10 hours of sleep in 3 days and I zonked out on the airplane even with the noisy airplane. All of the sudden I woke up to a certain noise and it took me a few seconds to realize it was probably a baby screaming or crying and was a bit annoyed I woke up to that. Then after I woke up a bit more..I realized that was the first time I’ve ever really slept (and not just dozed off) with noises going on all around me and I was actually woken up by a baby…and that I was able to identify that sound half-asleep.

I have learned to never 100% depend on my CI just because I never know how or IF it will even benefit me in certain situations. I have to constantly adjust how I utilize the CI in different situations. I have to remind myself that no matter what I always have to be prepared to rely on myself…not interpreters….not the CI….not hearing aids…