The Bionic Sound Project

this girl’s journey to sound

Ear Thermometers And Cochlear Implants Saturday, December 30, 2006

Met with Susan on Wednesday. I’m averaging between 60-80% on the categories. I do better with sentences than words…go figure. Got quite a kick out of coming up with words for the New Year’s category.

The other thing that was interesting was that using the ear thermometer in my CI ear reduced the temperature by two degrees.

So, the temperature in my right ear reads at 98.3, whereas my left ear (non-CI ear) reads at 100.6.

Yay for being sick. I’ve effectively lost my voice as well, so I’m incommunicado for the moment. It’s just as well, since all the adults are sick, after the germ-bombs were sick all at the same time.

Time to rest some more.


The Christmas Post Wednesday, December 27, 2006

I still have yet to write about the CI Holiday party, but that will come once I get the pictures ready.

Flying home was good. My ear wasn’t happy, as I’ve been having stabbing pains and itchiness. Also had several attacks of dizziness in those prior weeks.

On the flight, I was able to understand “the current temperature in Pittsburgh is forty-four degrees” “thank you for flying us airways” “we are now preparing to land” over the announcements.

When we landed in Phoenix, I was grateful to a guy who recognized me from the flight, because he was able to listen and help us find our bags. We had been waiting and due to the holiday crush, somehow our flight didn’t make it onto the baggage claim board, so we were waiting for 30 minutes. By the time we found out where our bags were at, there weren’t very many left, and the carousel was stopped. Oy. But if it hadn’t been for him, I would have thought they were just very behind in unloading, since we were sitting out on the tarmac for 25 minutes due to the disruptions of flights all over the country because of the blizzard in Denver.

Christmas Eve was nice. I don’t know what I was worrying about, with meeting new family members, but everything was just fine. I worry about how kids handle a person that is deaf, and I think it stems from the fear of being ridiculed or made fun of when I was growing up. But it was all good.

We went to the 8:30 christmas eve mass, all 16+ of us, and it was too far for me to see what the priest was saying, so I just listened. I understood “our father” and “celebration” out of the entire sermon. It was easier to follow along with the music, but I preferred listening with the hearing aid than the cochlear implant, because music is just sounding weird lately.

I have the same issue with playing the piano. I really hate playing with the CI because it just sounds….blech. But I did notice I picked the optimal ear to get implanted in, because the right ear can pick up the higher frequencies on the right side of the piano, whereas the left ear is better at delivering the lower frequencies with the hearing aid.

I got a new iPOD for Christmas, and I am just thrilled. I can’t wait to get back to school so I can upload my entire music library on it.

Well, that’s it for now. Time to meet with Susan. Have a very happy holidays!


The Wednesday/Thursday Post Sunday, December 17, 2006

Whew, I haven’t updated in several days! It has been insanely busy.

Wednesday – we had a photo workshop for class, and had to travel all over campus doing environmental portraits. My partner was Irene, and we got some good pictures (considering we only had an hour and a half to shoot), but had more fun chatting and exploring the campus. We were in the CoS building, and people were watching some of my classmates and us invade the common area with our camera equipment. I was waving to people watching from the 2nd and 3rd floor, from the A-level of the atrium while posing, hehe.

After class, I met up with Mary Karol and Catherine to plan for the CI holiday party on Friday. We went shopping, and got it all done and set for Friday. I have a greater appreciation for the amount of work that goes into it, when hosting events at school.

Thursday – we moved to a different classroom for my photo class, and had a little technical difficulties with the critique. After class was over, my teacher talked to me briefly about his concerns with me getting access to the information in class. I can understand him just fine, except for when he forgets and puts his hand over his mouth, or gestures. My major problem is in understanding what my classmates are saying, and there are moments when people don’t catch all of what I’m saying. I told him that I knew that was one of the risks in what I was doing, and it was a sacrifice I was willing to make in order to be in this class, but… I’ve been told to interrupt if I don’t understand something, but I don’t want to do that all the time, because the class is not all about me.

As a result of my teacher’s concerns, my advisor e-mailed me and asked me to come in for a meeting this week to meet with her and my teacher, plus my other advisor, in order to brainstorm ways to solve communication issues. My biggest fear is that I will be pulled out of the class or kicked out, and both of them have reassured me that it won’t happen. I’m so happy where I am, challenges and all.

The Photo School auction was that night as well. The beginning, we didn’t have an interpreter, and I wasn’t expecting one, since we didn’t have one last year. However, my photo teacher saw Chris and myself there, and took it upon himself to find out if there was one, and went ahead and started interpreting to the best of his ability. He and my advisor took turns switching off throughout the night, whenever an interpreter wasn’t there. At one point, I went to get more pizza and walked past the stage, just in time to hear them say “free photo paper” and was able to grab several packs for my friends and myself, and handed it up to them as they were on the stairs. It was amusing, being able to hear what was said, and not be oblivious to the commotion behind me as everybody dove towards the stage. Easily could have missed out due to getting pizza, but no, the CI allowed me to go home with a decent haul of film from the giveaway tosses, plus a lens cleansing cloth and a book on Avedon in the Sixties. Not bad!


Food For Thought – Writing About Sound Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Creative Writing class, my teacher gave us an assignment where we will take various approaches to writing about a specific place that we picked the first week of class. Today, she had us write about the sounds and smell of that place.

This place is a place I visited in the past before I got the CI. I haven’t been back since because I got sick of being a tour guide for various people, plus I had taken many many photographs there, and they were starting to blend in with the countless other photographs that people have taken. Today I realized that I hungered to go back and listen for the sounds with the CI, because the sounds you will hear, and the environment is unlike anywhere you will ever visit due to its uniqueness.

She had us read back some of the sounds we remembered, and it was amazing listening to my classmates describe the sounds they could hear, but didn’t put much thought to, because it’s all white noise to them.

Precluding this writing exercise was an assignment over the weekend where we had to observe people in a public place for 30 minutes, and “eavesdrop” on their conversations. The reports back from classmates about what people talk about in public was fascinating to me.

I’ve always wanted to know what hearing people talk about, and if it was just me that picked these noises, or if it was everybody else. I’m relieved to know that I hear the same topics as others, but I miss out on all the details that make up the meat of those conversations.

All in all, these last two writing exercises have given me a lot of food for thought in regards to sound. And these hearing classmates are thinking about sound in the way that I’ve been thinking about it since I got activated. Now they understand.

P.S. this place is an abandoned subway.


So Much To Do, So Little Time!

Instead of therapy today, I spent time shooting Mandy for my photo project. Assignment: A Day In The Life Of… Many thanks to Mandy and everybody else for being a good sport today.

Mandy and I did take a look at the FM system, which was neat, but didn’t work with the CI for reasons unknown. The only thing I don’t like about it is that it feels like it’s very protruding and weird. It also uses the same kind of attachments that is used for the iPOD so I am not thrilled about that, because the door cover for the hearing aid is a design flaw (in my opinion). But it was great hearing the voice through the HA without all the background interference. We will have to fix it next week, because there are no more sessions this week because she’s off to GRADUATE! YAAAAAY! 🙂

This morning I met with my advisor, the chair of the photo school, and the new chair for the program that I want to be within the photo school, and conversation turned towards the cochlear implant and how I was doing with it. I notice that more baby boomers who currently have a hearing loss are asking me about it because they see me with it, and it’s interesting seeing the cultural shift and the interest change from not doing anything about it, to getting hearing aids, to exploring the possibility of a cochlear implant.

Catherine and I also did more CI Holiday Party prep, and one game we came up with today was “Put The CI On The Ear”, instead of pin the tail on the donkey. So there will be a processor to pin on, and an implant to pin on as well. So much to do, so little time, but I’m having fun.

Sound List
12/09 – listening to the space shuttle Discovery launch live on TV!
12/11 – Hearing the scrape of the knife on my bagel this morning in the cafeteria (which echoes and usually is noisy)
12/11 – while having dinner at the commons, a very noisy environment, and distinctly hearing the clink of dishes in the kitchen and people dropping things.

1:48 am, that’s enough for tonight! Next time, the theory on adjustment and helicopters.


Snow, More Mix-Ups, and Incoming Freshmen Saturday, December 9, 2006

Woke up to snow this morning…had about 3 inches on the ground, but by the time I got outside, it had been plowed, so I didn’t get to experiment with the sounds. Basically it sounds the same, but there’s more of a musical “squelch” as your boots press down on the packed snow.

Yesterday, I mentioned that when I had the hearing aids, I didn’t like the sound and feel of snow squishing on asphalt/concrete, nor did I like walking on it. It still holds true. What I can’t figure out is how much of it do I hear versus how much of it do I “feel”? It was too noisy outside with all the environmental noises plus my boots didn’t help.

While waiting for my lunch today, I had the realization that I was hearing more with the CI than with the HA. Maybe I need to change the battery. Maybe I’m just becoming more dependent on the CI for listening. Either way, it’s neat to see the dependence change from hearing aid to cochlear implant.

AB sent us a bill for $175.00 for the headpiece. This goes back to the screw-up that was supposed to be taken care of on September 29th. *sigh* We sent it back, per the instructions we got over the phone, and it’s still an issue.

I’ve been having rushing noises in my ear since I got home and laid down to rest on the futon. It only happens when I move from side to side, and feels/sounds like the tide coming in, growing louder and louder till it crashes against the shore. It’s a bit uncomfortable, but I’m used to it since I lived with it for one month after surgery. Just weird to have it back after not having it for awhile.

We had an open house today at school, and all the Special Interest Houses were there to meet with prospective freshmen and give tours of our floors. At one point, a tour group of deaf kids and their parents came in, and I was looking to see how many had cochlear implants (about 75% of the group, mostly Nucleus, which is about right, considering the ratio between CI companies here on campus).

I was at the table for Photo House, and out of all of them, ours was the only one that had a deaf person at it (me). It was nice being able to talk to the prospective students and sign with them, whereas the other houses didn’t. It’d be nice to have a bigger mix, but the world doesn’t work that way. There’s still a cultural divide between the deaf and hearing worlds, but it’s getting better here. Much better than when I first set foot on campus several years ago. As for our house, I’m the only deaf member, and there is one that is hard-of-hearing but doesn’t sign.

Several members are learning sign through the ASL class, which is pretty cool, and I’m proud of them for doing that. However, I feel conflicted between being me, which is speaking versus signing to them to help them learn. The reason is because I’m not good at signing and speaking at the same time, because my hands can’t keep up with my mouth and brain! That, and I find it odd to sign to a person who can understand me when I’m speaking and doesn’t know sign!


Done With The First Week Of Winter Quarter And 4 Month Anniversary Thursday, December 7, 2006

Today is the 4 month anniversary of my activation!

Can’t believe how time has flown by. And this quarter, I’m flying solo for 3 out of 5 classes, 2 of which are gym classes in the pool. The third class, my photo class, is 5 out of my 12 credits that I am taking. I got lucky with this class, as my teacher knows sign language, and will sometimes sign some words to help me out, but for the first week, the class has been going smoothly. And I’ve got some great classmates and friends, so I think it will work out.

We went on a field trip on Wednesday around campus, to find different light sources and lighting situations, and measured the color temperature in Kelvins. I was worried at first that I wouldn’t be able to follow along, but he was attentive to making sure that I was able to hear him. At some points, his hand would cover his mouth when gesturing, or something will block the view, and I was able to pick up and understand the word with the CI…like I understood “highlight” and “temperature” and was excited!

We will talk now and then about how communication is going, or if I need more information or clarification on anything. But I’m loving being on my own (for the most part), and feel the most free and myself, instead of being “the deaf person attached to the interpreter and the other deaf people.” I think it makes hearing people nervous because they’re not sure what to do or expect around a deaf person, especially if there’s an interpreter or some sort of aide with them. It’s a love-hate relationship, because I’m grateful to get the information from the interpreter, and at the same time, I wish it wasn’t so obvious that I need help to understand what’s going on. I’ve had some fabulous interpreters, and then there have been a few that were really bad.

Anyway, for my first photo project, we have to do “A Day In The Life…” of a professional person. I picked my audiologist, Mandy, since she’s the most interesting, and most accessible to me at the moment. I’m eager to see how it comes out. That shoot will be on Monday.

It started snowing today, and I got to walk on snow-turned-into-ice and heard the crunch of it. I want it to be deeper so I can hear the various sounds and flop down on it. Admittedly, I hate the feel of snow under my feet, because it brings to mind the imagery of walking on broken glass or bones, but I’m curious about the sound it makes. I want to ski, snowboard, go sledding, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing and hear all the various sounds! I’m also very curious about the sound of making a snow angel, what does it sound like?

The best part of having a cochlear implant in the winter? I can wear a winter hat without getting feedback! Now my head isn’t cold anymore! I used to forgo hats in favor of being able to hear. Now no longer is it an issue!

A few days ago, I was waiting for a friend to pick me up, and I was playing with a dead tree branch that was on the ground, and listening to the crack it made as I stepped on it.