One Month Follow-Up

Today was my one month follow-up for my right CI.  Technically it’s more like 6 weeks but was out of town when my one month appointment was originally scheduled.  Then again, it has been almost a month since I’ve been bilateral.

I had a closed set test where I had to pick out the word that was being said out of groups of 4 words.  I got 55% correct which I expected since life has been so hectic lately with getting ready for the Peace Corps that aural rehab has been put on the back burner for now.  I am confident that once I get settled down and I have more access to sound on daily basis (I work from home and all my friends are deaf so I’m lucky if I get exposed to an hour of listening to people talk) that I have the potential to do much better on closed set tests.  I am not disappointed in this score since it is slightly higher than with only one CI.

I am the most disappointed in the fact that I simply have not had the ability to prioritize doing aural rehab.

We also did another sound booth test and the results looked great (around 20-25 db for each ear).  We decided to leave the MAPs alone since I like them, the sound booth tests look great, and it’s not something we want to mess with before I leave the country.

That aside, I LOVE being bilateral even though I still struggle with wearing both CIs all day long.  I have noticed that every once in a while I do pick up a random word without lip-reading and without thinking about it.  I have also noticed that I can hear cats purring whereas I couldn’t really hear them before except maybe once or twice.  I am starting to understand what people mean when they say one person’s voice and laughter sound different from another person.  It is a lot easier for me to pick out a person’s voice over background noises.

I have no idea how I put up with listening to the world with only one CI for two years.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE being bilateral and can’t wait until I can tolerate the volume level all day long.

Communicating with Other Volunteers

I have read several blogs written by current and previous Peace Corps Volunteers.  Many of them have blogged about learning a new language in a new country.  They almost always mention how it helped to start out their journey with a group made up of other Peace Corps Volunteers during training.

One of my biggest concerns right now is if I will even be able to communicate with my fellow Peace Corps Volunteers as a deaf person in a group of hearing people.  I’m the most nervous about that part because we are going to be each other’s support system as we settle into a new country those first few weeks.  As a deaf person it is easy to get lost in a group full of hearing people.

I do have some communication strategies in mind.  I already have a notebook and a pen all ready to take with me to write with other Peace Corps Volunteers on the flight.  I’m hoping to put both my cochlear implants to use and improve my lip-reading skills with time.

Then again, several of them will be learning KSL (Kenyan Sign Language) and some already know some ASL.  🙂

I’m nervous and excited!  I’m looking forward to meeting new people from all over America!



I hope to share some of my experiences as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Kenya.

I started the Peace Corps application process last year (March 2010) and was accepted in April (2011).  I am excited to leave for Kenya this coming October.

I first heard of the Peace Corps when I was in the 3rd grade and told my parents I wanted to go into the Peace Corps one day.  It was also the year I became fascinated with my yearbook.

I remember my classmates and I trying to sit still during the last few days of 3rd grade.  The excitement of summer break was in the air.  We were also anxiously waiting to get our yearbook so we could run outside at recess time and get each other’s signatures.  When my teacher handed us our yearbooks I was more interested in the cover of the yearbook than the pictures on the inside of it.

I looked at the cover of that yearbook many times and oftentimes thought about it over the years.  I was fascinated by all the different colorful flags and colorful outfits.

I would daydream about the kids in that picture.  I would wonder what life was like for them.  What would they think of how I looked and how I dressed?  I wondered what their daily life was like, did they go to school?  Did they work?  What did their traditional clothes represent?  What did symbols and colors on their flags represent?

That yearbook was the doorway to me realizing how many different cultures there are and how big the world is yet we’re all similar in many ways.

Cochlear Nucleus CI512 Implant Recall

Note:  Cochlear is one of the 3 CI companies (Cochlear, Med-El, and Advanced Bionics)

A few days ago Cochlear issued a voluntary recall regarding their Nucleus CI512 implant.

This is the implant I received in July but so far I haven’t had any issues with my implant.  *knocks on wood*  They are saying for those of us with this implant to continue to wear our processor as usual.

The reason for the recall is because they noticed a recent increase in the number of Nucleus CI512 implant failures even though the number of failures since 2009 is less than 1%.  In the meantime, those who choose to go with Cochlear will be implanted with the Freedom implant which is the one that my left ear has.

A CI failure is when the implant suddenly stops working (this is the part inside your head, not the external processor).

So far there haven’t been any failures reported with this implant at my CI center…am hoping that trend continues.

In the meantime, Advanced Bionics was given the okay by the FDA today to put their implant back on market (it was recalled earlier this year).

CI failures do happen regardless of which company you choose, who your surgeon is, who your audiologist is, and which implant you have.  I do try not to think about the possibility of one of my CIs failing.  It was one of my concerns when I went through the first surgery.  I do have moments when I forget how many days my CI battery has been running and my heart skips a beat when things go quiet….it’s not until I replace the battery that I take a breath of relief knowing it was the battery and not the implant.

For more information go to Cochlear’s voluntary recall notification statement:

Antigua Adventures!

*This post ended up having more pictures than I originally planned.  You have been warned!  🙂

It was hard returning to reality after spending over a week in paradise with Larry, Marilyn, Dennis, Scott, Brianna, Tom, and Beth.  Dennis’ dad flew all of us for a week at a beautiful all-inclusive resort in Antigua (Caribbean/West Indies).

Antigua has a red box around it.

Antigua has 365 beaches!  Our resort was right on a beautiful beach.  I’m a Midwestern girl who hadn’t seen a beach or the ocean until I was almost 15 years old and had never been on a boat until I was almost 21 years old.  For those reasons, I’m still fascinated by the idea of taking boat rides out into the ocean, waves, beautiful blue-green water, and seeing where water meets land.  There were many moments when I just stared at the water and land in awe.

We made it a point to go to the beach and “touch” the ocean everyday.  We also made sure to visit the swimming pool everyday.  We got some pool volleyball in and enjoyed their swim-up bars.  They had several dolphin water fountains which I loved.

Beautiful flowers, birds, and geckos were part of the scenery.

The resort offered several activities.  Dennis and I played table pool, chess, pool volleyball, and tennis.  We also participated in a water balloon contest, tried to snorkel, put hammocks to use, and rode a hydrobike.  Others participated in a golf contest, kayaked, went out on a hobie cats, and played ping-pong.  We all enjoyed walking around the resort.

Dennis and I were able to get our scuba diving certifications earlier this summer.  It was worth all the studying!!  Dennis’ brother joined us on both days.  We did 4 dives (2 per day for 2 days) with the deepest being 65 feet.  We were the only novice divers and we ended up doing 1 or 2 “advanced dives.”  We didn’t realize the first dive was going to be an “advanced dive” that went down to 65 feet.  We also weren’t warned that there were oodles of jellyfishes and didn’t know they wouldn’t kill us.  One of the cons of being deaf which causes a person to miss out on important information.  🙂

We weren’t offered a wet suit on our first day but did request for one on our second day to provide some protection against the jellyfishes.

I was t.e.r.r.i.f.i.e.d of the jellyfishes.  I almost had a panic attack on the 2nd dive because I got a bit claustrophobic and was completely surrounded by them in every direction at 15 feet while everyone else had already gone down to 40 feet.  It’s been a long time since I’ve been that scared.  I was ready to cry and jump back into the boat then I remembered that panicking in the middle of the ocean was a bad thing.  I was able to calm myself down, swim down through the jellyfishes (avoiding as many as I could), and forgot about the jellyfishes right away when I saw what there was to explore.

On the 3rd dive, I had a wetsuit and didn’t add enough weight.  I kept floating up to 15 feet where the jellyfishes were and it was obvious I wasn’t going to sink any further so the instructor swam up and gave me some of his weight.

I got stung by quite a few jellyfishes, so did Dennis.  Those things are slimy!  I enjoy jellyfishes in aquariums when they’re on the other side of glass but not when they’re surrounding me and I can’t go anywhere without swimming through them.

It would have really helped if I had known they wouldn’t kill me.  I found out last night (a week later) that they were likely moon jellyfishes which aren’t as poisonous.

Jellyfishes aside, I LOVED LOVED LOVED scuba diving.  It’s an indescribable feeling to swim in the water with fishes…you feel like you’re in another world.  We saw a couple of sting rays, school of fishes, colorful fishes, and a small octopus.  We also had nice boat rides to/from the dive sites.

Such an amazing opporunity, I’m hooked!

Can’t wait to do it again!!

All 8 of us met up for dinner every night and for breakfast on mornings we didn’t go diving.  We ate at most of the 11 resort restaurants.  Once I discovered their delicious chocolate lava cake, I had to have it for dessert every night!

We were able to see more of the island when we went zip lining and shopping.

We all were supposed to leave for Miami on Saturday (9/10/11) and then Dennis and I were going to fly back home from Miami on Sunday (9/11/11).  On Friday we found out Tropical Storm Maria was headed directly for Antigua so Dennis’ dad tried to change all of our flights to leave Friday afternoon before the airport closed due to the tropical storm (our flight on Saturday was cancelled).  After some running around and trying to pack everything we realized we weren’t going to make it in time for the last flight out on Friday.  We decided to just all fly out on Sunday.

Tropical Storm Maria was supposed to hit Friday night/Saturday morning but it never did.  Instead we got an extra day of sunshine at the beach and pool.  We did wake up to a thunderstorm on Sunday morning and Maria was no longer a tropical storm.

Many thanks to Dennis’ dad for making sure we all returned home on Sunday so we wouldn’t have to miss another day of work.

Dennis and I ended up flying out separately from everyone else on Sunday.  We got up at 3 am CST to leave for our flight to Puerto Rico.  We were glad to be back on US Territory considering it was the 10th anniversary of September 11th.  Due to not being able to hear announcements it took us 2 hours to get through customs, security, and check in again…we weren’t quite sure where we were supposed to go or what we were supposed to do since they had announced specific instructions.

We had a 6 hour layover in Puerto Rico since our next connecting flight was cancelled.  We were able to get a connecting flight in Chicago and it was almost a relief to make it back to the states.  We spent 5 hours in the air unsure as to if anything happened since we had heard we were at an increased risk for a terrorist attack.  We also wanted to be back in the states in case something did happen and we could still make our way home even if we had to drive.  Apparently there was a scare at our home airport that afternoon as well.

We made it home about 11pm exhausted but with smiles on our face….this was an amazing trip with wonderful people!  I miss Antigua already!!