The Bionic Sound Project

this girl’s journey to sound

The Weekend’s Sound Adventures Sunday, October 29, 2006

Before the CI party on Friday, Mandy and I were both “blah” and had no motivation to do any therapy. So we did the A-Z word list, and I swear, whoever writes those lists comes up with the most RANDOM things that I have ever heard of, just to have a word for that letter.

Then it was time for the CI party, which you can read about here! After that, I went to Target with Jen C. While in the car, we were listening to the radio play, and I understood “twenty thousand” on the radio! We were wandering around the store, playing with the different toys that made noise, and I just had a blast, especially in the Halloween section.

When we left Target, it was so windy, that we were having a hard time walking outside. I looked up just in time to see a seagull fly right smack into a light pole. It fell straight to the ground, wings outstretched. The other seagulls came back to check on him, but he was already up and hopping around. He then started to do this run/hop so he could fly away, but without much luck. I felt so bad for it, and wanted to help it, but Jen said there wasn’t anything that we could do. So we left after making sure it was okay. (Yes, I have a bleeding heart for saving animals that are hurt or abandoned.)

I’m not sure if I heard the seagull before it hit the pole, or if I just happened to see it. It would be interesting to know if the CI alerted me to it or not.

Saturday, Kyle was willing to go with me to the Haunted House at the very last minute. We got there, and we waited in line to go in. I could hear the differences in the laughter, and was hearing several things that I couldn’t hear with the hearing aid. The clarity of the sound was what really struck me as opposed to the HA. As for my review of the Haunted House, it was a bit overpriced, but it was fun and they had some really creative rooms that I enjoyed (especially the first room with the couch, the execution room, the flying corpse in the graveyard, the car with the horn, and the dark tunnel with all the flashing lights, distorting your vision/sound). The rattling morgue doors is what scared me, because they made such a racket, and that’s one fear that I’ve had when exploring abandoned places/seeing pictures of abandoned places.

Anyway, I absolutely LOVE haunted houses ever since I used to go with my dad on the weekends to school, where the dads would build the Haunted House for the Elementary School’s Halloween Party. I would get to play with my classmates, while they were at work, and sometimes we got to help out.

After that, Kyle and I went to a fraternity party that I had been invited to. I had such a blast meeting and talking to all of these people from different schools in the area. The one thing I noticed was that some people started fingerspelling their names to me. I don’t know if it was obvious that I had a hearing loss, or if they just figured it out because it was so loud and noisy in there. Either way, it was cool, and I have some new friends.

But one of the best things that happened during the party, was that I was talking to people, and struggling to understand them because it was so noisy with the chatter and the music playing, and I suddenly recognized the song, and it was Crazy Town’s “Butterfly”. I was SO excited, because that is one of my top favorite songs, and to recognize it at a house party is awesome!

Today, I worked on the lab with Jen A., and while sitting in the kitchen, I heard this weird noise. It sounded musical, but kept coming and going. Jen told me it was the wind howling outside, to the point where it was whistling. It bugged me that I could hear it with the HA, but not really with the CI. What’s up with that?

Mandy says I should get an earmold for the CI, because it would help it to stay on my head. This would have come in handy while working on the lab, because the CI kept falling off my ear while I was laying on the floor, taking pictures. Finally, I just took it off, because I couldn’t hold the camera steady AND keep my CI on.

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The CI Halloween Meet And Greet Party!

Friday was the CI Halloween Meet and Greet here at school. This is a party hosted by the Audiology and Speech departments here at school, so people (students, staff, faculty) with CIs can meet each other, as well as their friends. Events are held throughout the year, so I’m looking forward to more of these events and can’t wait!

It was a lot of fun, and I wish I was able to be there for the whole thing, but I had to leave for a little bit due to a prior commitment. I did manage to make it back for the very tail end of it. It was great getting to see some people that I haven’t seen for awhile, and some who were totally surprised to learn that I had gotten a CI.

What I learned at this party was that the official total of CI users here at school is 206 students and 15 faculty/staff, with one faculty member soon getting implanted.  Then there was a boy who had a special pair of glasses, and the legs were specially made so they didn’t cause interference/push the CI off the ear.  It was pretty cool, if not futuristic-looking.

 

This is my speech therapist, Karen! I’ve been working with her ever since I started speech therapy here at this school.

 

 

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The Sound of SmarTees! Thursday, October 26, 2006

At work, we have a little candy bowl. There were SmarTees in there, so I grabbed one.

I was absent-mindedly throwing the SmarTees in my mouth, and I could hear the chink-chink as the bits of candy collided with the surface of my teeth. I didn’t realize the candy bouncing off of your teeth made a barely audible sound!

My right ear is still itchy, and I’m convinced it’s allergies. It only seems to affect the right side, going all the way down the eustachian tube into the right side of my throat, whereas the left is relatively unaffected. It was like this a month or so ago, and I have followed the orders of the doc since the last time, which is no more chewing gum, so my face/sinuses don’t hurt like it did before.

I did Sound&Beyond today, and I’m getting a bit sick of that program. I know that not everything is going to be all fun and games. To maximize the potential with the CI, I have to keep working at it, even if it is repetitive.

Tomorrow is the CI Meet&Greet at school. Whee!

 

Are You Deaf Or Hearing? Monday, October 23, 2006

“I hate it when teachers and students see me as this dud that can’t go anywhere without an aid [sic]. I hate broadcasting my deafness to the entire class by having another human being there to assist me. I hate being reminded of my deafness every day.” – a livejournal friend of mine, Chiara

I hear ya, Chiara. I do. Like her, I want independence and not have my deafness be the thing that defines me. I’ve always been a strong supporter of doing things for yourself, taking initative, and going after what you want, and not letting things stop you from achieving what you want. My mom raised me this way, as this was her goal for me in life, to use my own voice.

This is one reason why I don’t understand why deaf people would rather rely on interpreters than talking and listening for themselves. I know that some can’t for different reasons, but there are many that I know that are capable, but choose to be “Deaf”. I can’t fathom that. I want to be able to speak for myself, communicating my own thoughts with my own voice, and hear things for myself.

But I’m not at that point yet. The CI doesn’t give me that ability, and there’s no guarantee that it ever will. Maybe if I was implanted as a baby, when the brain is much more plastic.

Anyways, as a result, today was one of those days where being deaf was thrown into my face. It’s my favorite time of the quarter, registration for the next one. *sarcasm*

The problem lies in the fact that there are a limited number of seats for deaf students reserved in specific sections of a course. I haven’t been able to register due to other issues that are currently being resolved.

But I am now locked out of all the available supported sections for that course, (except for one, which conflicts with every section of my other required class). It’s frustrating for me, because my teacher told me that she absolutely will not add an extra student to the lab class (which I understand the reasons for). Student Services won’t boot somebody from the class so I can have a seat in the supported section. And Support Services does not want to support another section.

So now I’m trying to figure out how I am going to get into this required class and have support. Frustrating, huh?

It just further deepens my desire to become independent and hear well enough on my own to function in a classroom setting. I’m already doing that with my other class, forgoing support, and going with C-Print, so I can practice listening.

So that, with some other things going on related to friends/social life, does not make for a happy me. I feel trapped.

I miss being around people like me or who understand deafness, and are similar in age/maturity to me. I want more of those friends, both inside and out of school. I miss my big sister, because we were a support for each other. As blonde as you are, I still love you and how we “got” each other immediately. 5 years apart has been too long. A few minutes in 3 years is not enough. But it feels like a lifetime with you, and all is right again, in that brief passing.

Sometimes navigating the hearing world by yourself is scary, and at other times, tiring and frustrating. Other times it is absolutely exhilarating and fun!

“What I wouldn’t give to find a soulmate
Someone else to catch this drift
And what wouldn’t I give to meet a kindred”

Alanis Morissette -“All I Really Want”

 

A Shopping Sound Adventure

Saturday, I went out with my friend Matt to do some errands, and it turned into a sound adventure.

We went to Sam’s Club, where my attention was immediately drawn to an electric drum kit. I sat down and placed the headphones over my ears (no feedback, TOTALLY AMAZING), and played around with the drums. I *loved* hearing the sound of the different drums, the hi-hat and ride cymbals. It would have been awesome if I had time and knew how to fiddle around with it so I could hear the splash cymbal and the different toms. I’ll have to wait till I go home for the break and play with my drum kit and piano.

I also played with the electronic keyboards, but I’m not a fan of those for reproducing piano playing. I much prefer the rich, warm sound that resonates within the wooden chamber of the piano. It fully envelopes you in sound, whereas the keyboard is limited to just the output of the speakers/headphones.

We also went to Party City to look at Halloween costumes for me (I adore Halloween, it’s my favorite holiday, and he was being a poop about not celebrating, that I had to try and get him into the spirit, ha :-P). While waiting in line to try on this amazing Rainbow Brite-like costume (which didn’t fit), I could clearly hear the people behind me talking, but couldn’t understand what they were saying. In addition to that, I was going nuts just listening to the little kids push and pull on every conceivable costume prop there was. The maddening one was the rat-a-tat of the machine guns, and they weren’t going off in unison. It really was overwhelming, with the spooky music, the costume props, and the din of people’s voices, as it was very crowded.

Since I’ve never been to Panera Bread, we went there for dinner as I had a coupon for a free meal. As we pulled into the parking spot, I recognized the song “Days Go By” by Dirty Vegas, playing on the radio. It is impossible to figure out what techno song is playing on the radio, unless you are intimately familiar with it, which I am not in the case of DV. I was so suprised and excited with that discovery, because it means a lot to me to be able to recognize music on the radio or playing in the store.

Then, when we sat down to eat, I could hear the crackle of the wrapper and the rustling of the paper bag as Matt unwrapped his sandwich. The restaurant was noisy, with every table full of patrons, and I could still hear the crackling, even without looking at it. That was new to me, being able to hear the sound of paper crumpling, when there is a lot going on in the background. Matt also told me that dishes were breaking, but I wasn’t able to discern between the sound of dishes breaking and the sound of dishes being stacked.

We went back to his apartment and watched movies while I mooched off their laundry, instead of paying for it at the laundry room. I could hear the washer and dryer going from the couch, even with the door closed, only during quiet parts of the movie. I found it helpful to hear the laundry, because I was able to jump up and tend to the laundry when it was done, instead of having to time it, or checking to see if it was done yet.

So, Saturday night was a fun adventure in sound. I really enjoyed it.

I just got an email from the oral school that I attended from the age of 3-5(?), and they are preparing for the alumni weekend this summer. It will be a blast seeing the entire school family again, especially my old teachers that I adored. I also can’t wait to see how the kids from my group have grown up, when I was an counselor during Summer 1998’s “Bugs! Bugs! Bugs!” camp. It was one of the best summers of my life. I am grateful to my former therapist, Sharon and her family for “adopting” me for three weeks so I could participate in the camp. I don’t know how to repay their kindness, but thank you so much.

Anyway, nothing like the thought of going back to your old roots. I miss it all, and wish I had stayed in closer contact during my formative years, as they were fantastic during the time I was there.

 

Hockey and Fall Leaves Saturday, October 21, 2006

Mandy gave me more Halloween goodness for therapy. Some of the Halloween words are tricky to understand. This time I got to do a word search, and I had to listen and find the keyword in the sentence. Mandy was teasing me with the word “hoot hoot” because she picked a few extra words to repeat at the end of the puzzle. It better not take the place of “mango”, which I haven’t heard for awhile, thank goodness.

I’ve gotten positive responses on my statement that was read on NPR. My mom forwarded the email to her coworkers, and I’ve heard back from them (the entire group is awesome, and have been supportive of my mom/me throughout this journey). I’ve also heard back from the faculty/staff here at school. One teacher emailed me if they could use my statement for a class project that they are doing on the topic about the situation at Gallaudet.

Our school’s first home Hockey game was at 7 pm, and it was practically sold out. Here at this school, the hockey team is the equivalent of any big-name football university. My friends and I sat with the Corner Crew (slogan: we’re loud and obnoxious at hockey games).

On the other side of the aisle was the band, so it was fun getting to listen to the band play the instruments, instead of a sound file on the computer. I really enjoyed listening to them play. The one sound that drove me crazy after awhile was the cowbell that somebody in the CC had. Listening to them bang on it repeatedly throughout the game, to set the beat for the game/crowd, was annoying after awhile.

Then there was some kind of noisemaker horn, three rows behind me, that tooted out the number of goals we had scored, and a long toot for the next one to score. We won 8-3, so I heard it quite a bit last night.

This year, with the CI, it was easier to follow along with the CC-patented chants. Some of the simpler ones, I was able to understand just by listening, and able to jump in immediately. A lot of the cheers I don’t know, because I wasn’t able to understand them last year.

Jen A., some girl behind me, and I nearly got decapitated by an errant hockey puck that was hit by the other team. My back was to the game, as I was talking to people, but I ducked just in time. It was too close of a call, eek. I’m not sure if I heard the commotion of the crowd, or if it was some developed sixth-sense of mine warning me of danger (due to deafness, you tend to develop an environmental awareness, even if you’re not consciously paying attention to your surroundings). Anyway, there were a few high-flying hockey pucks last night, so I should have known better.

After the game was over, I went back to the dorms with Jen A., and hung out on floor for awhile. Realized that even at night, with the doors closed, and not a lot of people around, the floor is still not quiet. I headed home around midnight. Midnight is a wonderful time to go for a walk, as it’s relatively quiet on campus.

The leaves have started to really shed around here, creating a thickly layered carpet of Autumn’s death. It was fun hearing the crunch of the leaves underneath my sneakers. I could also hear the slight scrape of the leaves against the asphalt, as they were kicked up by the toes of my shoes.

Then there was the tiny skitter-whistle as they scurried across the pavement, held ever so slightly aloft by the undercurrent of the wind swooping across the ground. I wanted to run around and experiment some more with the leaves, but I was turning into a human popsicle, and could only think of getting warm and toasty. I will have to do that soon before they’re raked up by maintenance.

In the past, I was able to hear the leaves (just barely) with the HA, and only if they were really stiff and on a hard surface, or if there was a ton of them, forcing you to wade through them. What a difference it makes.

 

Me and Jen A.

 

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Having A CI Takes A LOT Of Mental Energy Thursday, October 19, 2006

More and more, I’m starting to realize how much wearing the CI takes a lot of mental energy. By the time I get home after a full day of school and work, I’m drained and take a nap. It’s not an optimal situation, because napping at 6 pm, leaves you unable to sleep at bedtime.

Yesterday afternoon, while at work, my CI started freaking out (or so I noticed). I asked Sid if she could hear anything, and she went on a sound hunt with me. I figured it was just an anamolous event, as Sid couldn’t hear anything that would account for the strange glut of prolonged beeps and whistles that I was hearing (in P1). This was peculiar, as the office usually is very quiet.

As I sit here at the bus stop waiting for the always-late bus, I’m hearing the same sounds rippling through my head again, much to my dismay. I’m about ready to rip the CI off and say “to the heck with it all” (my patience is shot for this week). However, I have to realize I’ve gone through the same problems with the HA itself, so I can’t be too hard on the CI. It’s easy to call it a “miracle”, but as with any piece of technology, it will have problems.

I hope it stops soon so I can get back to “normal” hearing (whatever that may be).