Going Bilateral: Step 2

I headed back to the audiologist this morning to verify that I am a bilateral CI candidate.

  • Audiogram:  unimplanted ear, unaided (right ear’s residual hearing)
  • Audiogram:  unimplanted ear, aided
  • Audiogram:  implanted ear, with CI
  • Audiogram:  implanted ear, without CI (left ear’s residual hearing)
  • Sentence test:   implanted ear with CI
  • Sentence test:  unimplanted ear without CI
Nothing new regarding my audiograms.  I have never had any signs of progressive hearing loss.  Aside from the typical 5dB difference that sometimes occur just because a person has a good/bad day, difference in the equipment used, different sound booths, and different people conducting the test….my audiogram in the unimplanted ear is almost exactly the same as it was 26 years ago when it was confirmed I was deaf.
I do have a little bit of residual hearing left in the implanted ear.  Most people lose all of their residual hearing in the implanted ear.  I have such a small amount left that it doesn’t really make a difference in terms of being able to ever wear a hearing aid if that implant failed *knocks on wood*
Sentence Test
We knew I would get a big fat 0% on those but we had to do them anyways.  With the hearing aid (they gave me a powerful hearing aid to use for the test), I could tell I was only picking up pieces of sounds here and there.  With the CI I could tell I was picking up all the sounds, the number of syllables, and number of words.  However, I couldn’t tell you a single word that was being said.  With the CI I always feel like it’s on the tip of my tongue and I should know what I’m hearing….but I don’t.  Of course these tests were done without lipreading or knowing the context.
Audiogram with hearing aid
Results were that I could only hear sounds up to 55 dB.  Most of the sounds I picked up were between 55 and 65 dB.  That puts me right at the bottom and out of the speech banana (dB and frequency levels at which all the speech sounds occur at).
Audiogram with CI
Results were that I could hear sounds between 20-30 dB.  This puts me right at the top and within the speech banana.
Next Step
Surgery date has been set for July 22nd.

Washington D.C. and New York City

Mat, Sarah, Dennis, Morgan, and I traveled to D.C. and NYC where we spent 9 days touring the cities.  Dennis and Sarah also attended the HLAA convention while we were there.  It was great to catch up with friends!  Here are a few pictures.

Special Olympics

I was given the opportunity to volunteer with two of the area Special Olympics gymnastics teams this spring.  Both teams had gymnasts who were deaf.

It was interesting to see how much hearing loss can exclude a person.  Oftentimes gymnasts who were deaf were unsure as of what they were supposed to do because the coaches weren’t fluent in sign language.  I actually ended up interpreting for them at times (a deaf person interpreting for another deaf person, ironic, eh?).  You could see they weren’t confident because they didn’t always know what was going on.  It’s amazing the difference that communication makes.

Anyways, it was such a good experience.  I was disappointed that the local gymnastics teams had such a short season (2-3 months).  Both gymnastics teams did an amazing job for only being able to practice a couple of months.  Practices were only an hour a week which isn’t very long considering 4 routines must be learned, conditioning, and warm-up must all occur in that short period of time.

I’m kind of disappointed these gymnasts don’t have the opportunity to train year around.  So many of them have the potential to go far.

Scuba Diving

Dennis and I are working towards our PADI scuba diving certifications.

We completed our online course (took about 15-20 hours) over the weekend and passed the exam.  Dennis aced the exam while I missed a few questions even though I knew the answers.  I made the mistake of taking the exam at 4:30 am half-asleep.  On the bright side at least I know I know my stuff when I’m not fully alert and most of the information comes in handy when you’re in an emergency situation or when you’re not alert underwater.

Am so glad I did the online course and not the classroom course.  The narration was all transcribed!

Next step towards getting our certification will probably be the most challenging step for me.  5 confined pool dives where we have to master several skills.  Quite a few of those skills have to do with knowing what to do when you lose air underwater.

*Gulps* Will need to remind myself to reassure myself and not panic!!! Yeah, am a bit nervous and scared even though I’m excited about getting to explore a new world!

 

Flip-Flops

When I first got my CI a couple of years ago I was surprised at how noisy flip-flops were.

The first few times I wore flip-flops while shopping I kept turning around trying to figure out what the sound was.  I would walk down an aisle and hear this weird sound then I would stop to try to figure out the source of the sound only to discover the sound stopped.  Imagine me walking down an aisle and stopping a few times to try to concentrate on where the sound was coming from only to realize the sound had stopped….yeah…. it took a while before I made the connection that the sound was coming from me walking.

A couple of months ago it finally became warm enough to wear flip-flops outside so I excitedly put a pair of flip-flops on before heading to a store.  I had forgotten how loud those things were and wasn’t used to summer sounds just yet (it takes me about a week to get used to seasonal sounds–raindrops, walking in snow, boots, coats rustling,  etc).

Anyways, I got out of the car and stepped into gum.  I couldn’t get all the gum off of my right flip-flop. I walked into the store and I kept hearing something odd.

I kept thinking it was my flip-flops but something didn’t quite add up right.

Once I realized what it was I got so tickled that I laughed out loud.  Yes, I stood in the middle of Target….by myself….and laughed out loud.  I got a couple of stares….whoops.

What I was hearing was my left flip-flop making the usual flip-flop sound and my right flip-flop was sticking to the floor and making an odd sound whenever it came unstuck as I was walking.

I’m still not sure why I found that hilarious but I did.

Unaidable

Since my residual hearing thresholds have always been above 90 db (with a nosedive off the audiogram) I’ve always been considered “unaidable.”  However, I wore hearing aids for a long time.

How can a person who is “unaidable” benefit from hearing aids?  Apparently it’s possible and I can testify to that!  🙂

The way my audiologist has explained it is that they can pound sound into my ears but it’s to a degree where it creates more disortation than benefit and it also creates vibrations.  I never knew the difference because that was the only thing I ever knew in terms of hearing.

After I got my first implant a couple of years ago I decided to see if I had any residual hearing in that ear by trying my hearing aid out (oftentimes, surgery destroys all of your residual hearing).  Turns out I have veryyyy little residual hearing left in the implanted ear but it’s so small that it’s not even a sure thing if I actually have any or not.

Imagine my surprise when I realized that even though I wasn’t really hearing anything with the hearing aid that I could still pick up general environmental sounds and the general beats of music.  Turns out I was only feeling those sounds via the vibration through my earmolds (hearing aids processes sounds and then delivers them through the earmold to your ear).  To this day I could probably put my hearing aid on in the implanted ear and still be able to tell you if the phone was ringing or if someone was knocking on the door…but it would only be through vibrations and not hearing per sec.

So yeah, apparently for 20+ years…..when I thought I was hearing through hearing aids…I was mostly just “feeling” the sounds.  Somehow I learned to identify some sounds through vibrations only.  I could pick up some sounds without vibrations and through amplifications of my hearing aids.  However, the majority of what I was picking up was mostly just through vibrations.

It took me a while to realize what hearing was like because the majority of my experience had been “hearing through feeling vibrations.”

No wonder I was caught so off guard when my CI was activated.  Hopefully the second time around will be a bit less……..traumatic. 😉

Attempt at Having Cute Toenails and Fingernails #1 = Fail

So a friend posted some awesome pictures of swirly designs on her fingernails.  She also posted a tutorial which I decided to try out.

I ended up making several attempts and failed each time even though I got some cute designs.  I either immersed my toes and fingers into the water too much which resulted in messy clean up which lead to accidentally removing some of the awesome design on my nails.  Or I ended up with oodles of bubbles that ruined the design.

In the end I eventually decided to stick with plain boring solid pink nail polish on my toenails and nothing on my fingernails.

I really want to figure this out so maybe next time I’ll have better pictures!  🙂  Maybe I’ll try it with a different brand of nail polish or figure out a way to get the Vaseline to work better.

The general idea is to put drops of various colors of nail polish in a bowl of water, swirl the design, and put your fingers/toes in the water.  The Vaseline is supposed to prevent the nail polish from sticking to the skin around your nails.  This did NOT work for me at all.  It was a mess to clean up….trust me 😉

Or maybe I just need to have more patience…..