The Bionic Sound Project

this girl’s journey to sound

oh the voices on the radio Monday, June 25, 2007

(listening to walkie chatter)
Me:
J, that sounds like S talking on the walkie.
J: It is.

I’m starting to recognize more voices at work. It’s scary, since vocal recognition is NOT and never has been a skill that I have. Yet, I’ve successfully learned to identify my TL’s voice, and now I’m picking up on learning other voices throughout the store. I wish I could understand what they are saying, not who is speaking. But first things first.

Good news, I found out we’re getting new walkies in August probably. And they come with 3.5mm headphone jacks, so I can use my own DirectConnect cable with the walkie. Or I could use my own FreedomLink. I’d have to get one that is monaural, because if I was walking around with a stereo headset, I think I’d make people mad because it would look like I’m listening to “music”.

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More Walkie-Talkie Stuff Thursday, June 21, 2007

I’ve been using the walkie-talkie the last few shifts without the headset. It works much better, as I can hear it, and doesn’t sound garbled/drowned out. I asked my TL if she knew if there was a special attachment that might work with the CI. I’d have to go ask our HR person.

It’s kinda hard having the walkie-talkie up all the way, because everybody can hear it, and I don’t want to blast the eardrums out of our guests or my coworkers, but when it gets really noisy, it’s needed.

Today, I was listening to the conversations that my coworkers were having, and using it for listening practice. I can understand numbers, and depending on who’s speaking, their location in the store or who they are looking for. I can also understand “thank you”, “you’re welcome”, and “what’s your location?”.

At this point, I’m not really ready to rely on a walkie-talkie (much less a cell phone!), but I’d like to spare others the loudness of my own walkie-talkie.

For example, today I had a guest come up to me while I was doing my research to point out that I wasn’t listening to the walkie.

Guest: “I’ve got a health card here” (proceeds to open her purse and show me)
Me: Okay. (very confused as it was totally random)
Guest: That’s what they were talking about on the radio.
Me: Oh okay. Thanks.
Guest: Weren’t you listening? (looking at me like i’m a bad employee)
Me: No. (still very confused)
Guest: Hmmph. (walks off)

I was aware that they were talking via the walkie, but I wasn’t trying to decipher what they were saying, as I was busy with my research, and it was a very long conversation. If it was super important, somebody would come and tell me.

The only thing that I have to say about this is that my CI and hearing aids aren’t that visible (a good thing and a bad thing). However, I probably should have explained that I was deaf, but I didn’t want to get into it then, because it was just an awkward situation, and totally random. I haven’t had a random complete stranger point out my deafness, whether indirectly or directly, in a very long time.

The other thing that bothers me about not having the full ability to understand what’s going on, is that I often feel like I’m missing out on the “daily life” of the store. My coworkers tell me that I’m not missing much, and that I’m actually lucky that I don’t have to listen to it all day. Go figure.

Happy first day of summer!

 

Walkie Talkie Trouble Monday, June 18, 2007

The last time I posted, I mentioned how the sound quality was blah. It seems to be back to normal now. I wonder if my brain/nerves weren’t interpreting the signals from the implant correctly because I was overtired.

Anyway, Friday, I tried out the walkie with the headset that we have at work. I can barely hear it, even with it turned up all the way.

There also seems to be more static in it, than if I was to just listen to it without the headset. My comprehension is better without the headset, yet with the radio alone, the entire store can hear the walkies.

I wonder if there’s a special attachment that I can use for the walkie that will work with my cochlear implant. That’d be awesome, then I’d know what’s happening, and still have privacy.

At the same time, my teammates say I’m lucky that I don’t have to listen to the walkie. It makes me exempt from certain job duties, and I don’t have to listen to the general chatter that goes on throughout the day. I want to have the same responsibilities, but it’s very difficult for me to participate in some of those shared responsibilites, due to the spontaneous nature of the request.

But what bugs me about not hearing what’s going on, is that I miss out on all the little day-to-day things that make it interesting, and give each day it’s own flavor. Maybe people really don’t want to listen to what everybody else has to say, but I sure am curious.

The second part that bugs me is while in a middle of a conversation with my teammates, they’ll stop to listen to what’s happening over the walkie, but I don’t know that, and I keep talking. And then they go sorry, and ask me what I was saying. It’s frustrating. Same thing happens with my friends at school too when they have their cell phones or bluetooth headsets.

Having a walkie would also make it so much easier for me to get help if I needed it, or to track down certain people, instead of running all over the store.

I know at Christmas, they told me they wanted me to have a walkie on me, but I feel like why should I carry a walkie around, because I can’t hear on it, and there are other people who are more qualified or have a greater need to use the walkie.

I’m also nervous about picking up a walkie and asking for help, cuz what if they can’t understand me, or give me a message back, and I’m like “what” because I can’t understand them. It’d be worse if I was in front of a guest and unable to help them because I couldn’t understand what was being said!

Maybe I should try it again, or talk my boss about a way to deal with that, when I need to know her or my teammates’ locations.

I already rack up more than 5.2 miles a day per shift, just running around all over the store, and due to the physical nature of my job. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I love it. 🙂 The team is awesome.

The other thing that I noticed, was that being back on the job for less than a week and a half, I was already recognizing my boss’s voice/footsteps/laugh before I see her. It’s kinda cool, because sometimes I’ll hear something, and think “gosh, that sounds like her”, and then she appears in sight. It’s amazing how the CI lets you capture the nuances of a person’s voice. Its not 100% perfect, but it’s pretty good compared to the hearing aids!

 

On The Virtues Of Batteries Thursday, June 14, 2007

Today, at work, my battery for my hearing aid was starting to die. I wasn’t hearing my coworkers or the guests in the store very well, and had a few near-collisions today. But what sucks more is that it leaves me out of conversations (even though I can follow along SOMEWHAT by lipreading, but it’s MUCH harder), and guests who don’t know I have a hearing loss, get frustrated with me, and go off in search of somebody else. It’s not too bad when I’m with my team lead, or other coworkers that I’m familiar with, so that’s a relief, but still.

In regards to the battery issue, my hearing aid is frustrating because the battery doesn’t give me a warning that it’s about to die (I suppose I could keep a calendar, and change it on a regular interval, but that’s beside the point). My old hearing aid used to make a click-click-click sound to let me know that the battery was dying.

With the cochlear implant, there’s no warning. It just dies. It’s clear cut and dried. It doesn’t cling onto its last gasping breath, nor does it trick my ear into thinking it can hear, but faintly. I know it’s dead, because I can’t hear anything, nor do I feel the stimulation in my head. It’s weird describing the process of the battery dying, but it’s like everything grinds to a halt, with one last pulse shooting through your head.

I prefer the fact that that the CI doesn’t mince with a dead battery, like the hearing aid does.  When it’s dead, it’s dead, and I’m not running around struggling to hear.

In terms of sound, I’m having trouble with sounds lately with the CI. Music is starting to be icky, sounds are starting to be unfamiliar or rough. I don’t know if it’s time for a remapping, since I haven’t had one since….winter quarter? Usually, you get one at 3 months, 6 months, and then 1 year. But as Megan and Mandy can attest, I’m very particular with my MAPs, refining it to the last detail.

I can’t wait till I can put my order in for the Harmony trade-in. ONE MORE MONTH. (and at the same time, I don’t want it to be July, because it means the summer’s half over!)

And that means July 10, will be my 1-year anniversary of getting the cochlear implant. I cannot believe that almost a year has gone by.

 

Work and Music Listening Games Thursday, June 7, 2007

Wow, my blog is at 9,992 as of this posting. I wonder who the 10,000th visitor will be!

Back at work. it’s going supremely well. I absolutely love my job, and my “teammates” on my team. Communication is so much easier with the cochlear implant, especially around noisy equipment. And with the job I’m doing, it’s awesome being able to hear the beeps on the PDT (the hand-held scanner that I use for my job), because the different beeps tell me a message from the computer. I love being able to hear it, as it makes my job so much easier. I remember struggling to hear it with the hearing aid, especially in a noisy environment. And with the Spanish-speaking customers who speak English as a second language, it definitely helps in catching those little speech sounds that sound slightly different.

Today, while eating lunch with Jenni and Matt, I thought I heard music playing, but wasn’t sure if it was my hearing aid being weird. I couldn’t hear it with the cochlear implant (either that, or it was focused on other noises, I can’t remember). Finally, after hearing it several times, I asked Jenni if she could hear music, because I wasn’t sure if my hearing aid was freaking out. Turns out somebody’s cell phone was going off in their locker. We heard it at least 4 times in 15 minutes…annoying.

Lastly, if you’re on facebook, there’s a ilike music challenge. It also exists on ilike.com for those of you who aren’t on facebook (but you should be!).

What’s super-awesome about this is that it plays a 35-second clip of music, and asks you either what artist plays that song, or what song it is by that artist. You have to pick from the list, and you get more points the faster you answer.

Right now I’m at the level of Music Genius with 5,505 points, with 580/1,584 (36.6%) with an average response time of 3.9 seconds. Earlier, I was at 40%.

There’s no better feeling for me, than to recognize a song or an artist, and clicking on it right away. I also like how it gives you the choices between 4 similar sounding bands (i.e. Louis XIV, Hot Hot Heat, My Chemical Romance, Fall Out Boy or for another category, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, The Who). I also practice deductive listening by listening for female vs. male voices, or other characteristics that I know of in different bands that I listen to. What’s funny to me is that I’m getting the spanish ones right, that I’ve never heard before.

It’s been great listening practice, and a lot of fun! I’ve also discovered a bunch of potential new artists to listen to, so I made a trip to the library and got a stack of CDs, and have a list of artists that I want to listen to.