The Bionic Sound Project

this girl’s journey to sound

Frustrations With Being Deaf And At Work Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Mixed reaction to the new walkies we have at work. It works with my headphones (I haven’t tried the DirectConnect cable yet, but I know it will work). The issue is that I need a program that will work with it, and still hear ambient noise.

Switching back and forth between programs is a great way to drain out the battery, plus there’s an 8-second delay when switching programs. It should be better with the harmony due to the built in t-coil and extended battery life.

My frustration spilled over into the rest of the day, because once again, I was reminded how much I’m in-between worlds.

It’s so frustrating to be left out of conversation while working. Everybody’s yapping away, and I have no clue what’s going on, but I just keep on working. Or they’re laughing at something funny on the walkie, but of course I don’t know what was said. I go through the same situation with my friends, even my family (except my mom) and I just Get. Tired. Of. It.

I’m tired of being deaf, but functioning “like” a hearing person. Everybody forgets that as much as I blend in, I still don’t get everything. Sometimes I wonder if it would be easier to either be completely hearing or completely deaf. And sometimes I feel like I’m being taken for granted because I work so hard at not only making it easier for myself, but for other people as well. And I don’t get the same in return.

I know it’s unrealistic to expect the world to bend to meet my needs, or that the cochlear implant will magically solve all of my problems. I was aware of this when I was going through the screening process, and it’s not even been a full year since I’ve been activated. Gotta take it one step at a time.

But yeah, I was crying when I got home and talking to my mom about my day, because she’s really the only one here at home who gets how difficult it is for me, and how frustrated I get. It’s the stupidest thing to cry about, but I couldn’t help it. I tried to explain it to one of my co’s, but it’s still hard to put it in a way that people without the background can understand.

Had my back-to-school physical on Tuesday after work, and it was the first time I had to turn down a procedure due to the CI. My doctor wanted to do an MRI on my knee, because I’ve been having off-and-on problems for the last year or so, as a result from when I broke my ankle/cracked my leg/sprained my knee 2 years ago. That was weird, because it’s the first time that’s happened where I had to speak up and say “I can’t do that.” All I had was the vision from the episode of House where the metal shot out of the body and into the MRI, breaking it, except it was the side of my head.

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July 16 and 19th…Harmony, Car Accidents, and Surgeries Monday, July 23, 2007

July 16th – two readers/their family members from this site had their surgeries! I hope they went well (I know one of them did!)

I finally got to order my harmony as well…but it’s going to take a 2-week turnaround to get it. At the rate Advanced Bionics is going with this, I won’t get it in the mail and activated till I return to school in September (which will make Mandy happy!)

July 19th – I hear a car accident for the first time with the cochlear implant. And from a block away. I was hanging out on the far side of the parking lot after work, talking to my boss as we usually do after every shift, when we hear this noise (which I didn’t know at first, but due to the expression on her face, I quickly figured it out). It sounded like a loud firecracker, due to the “boom!” that I heard. Pam says that the noise we first heard was probably the screech of the brakes, and then we looked up in time to hear the crash (she saw stuff flying through the air, I didn’t).

I was the first one to respond to the accident scene while Pam called 911 on her cell. It makes me sick that not one person who witnessed the accident stopped to help. The woman was bleeding, and her head hit the windshield, shattering it. To make the situation more interesting, the woman who hit her, left the scene and didn’t return till like 7 minutes later. I heard her car before I saw it, and was thinking “holy cow, somebody’s car really needs to go to the shop”. It was making clunking/chugging noises (half of the hood was smashed in).

I’ve never heard a car accident, not even with the hearing aid. I heard it distinctly with the cochlear implant, but my hearing aid did not pick it up at all. But Thursday was a really bad day overall (my friends/coworkers know why, and I thank everybody for their support and love).

Finally, I love meeting people with cochlear implants at work. It’s always fun to run into guests who have a cochlear implant, and then find out we have the same doctor. What I like more is hearing their stories about their implant experiences, especially if they’ve gone bilateral. 🙂

WE GET THE NEW WALKIES TOMORROW (TUESDAY) AT WORK! Must bring my various cables so I can plug it in directly into my cochlear implant and find out which one works the best…that’s going to be a fun experiment…I can’t wait! 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

I finally uploaded a video clip of me playing the piano – “The Gypsy Baron” by Johann Strauss. I’m still working on finding my other audio clips of my piano playing…or rerecording them as a video, but I’m out of practice, my piano needs to be tuned, and the humidity makes one of the major keys stick.

 

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”.

 

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!

 

The Last 3 Weeks Thursday, April 12, 2007

So much for writing in here on a daily basis, but I do come bearing plenty of news.

1. I went to the store on March 29, and as soon as I walked into the store, I recognized the song that was playing. Eiffel 65 – “Blue (Da Ba Dee)”. I went over to the cashier and asked her if that was the song that was playing, and she said yes.

2. I’m starting to pick up more phrases here and there, but nothing all at once. It’s slow going, but patience.

3. The CI panel was excellent. It was fantastic getting to talk to other CI users, and hear about their experiences. In addition, we got to educate the audience about cochlear implants and answer any questions they had.

4. I have a new input device for my iPOD. I am no longer using the DirectConnect cable, as I’m tired of changing them around. This one works with both my hearing aid and the cochlear implant, and just requires the flip of a switch. It’s not the HATIS, but I can’t remember the name of the manufacturer off the top of my head right now but it’s called the Freedom. The best part, the cord is white, so I get to look “cool”. :-p

5. Mandy and I are both upset about the Harmony release news. I have to wait till July to get mine. More info on that in an upcoming post.

6. NAG is coming up soon, and Mandy and I are busy preparing for it. I’m nervous, but excited at the same time. It’s been interesting putting together the timeline and all the data for the booth.

7. I’m behind in writing back emails, so I apologize to those who have been waiting for a response.

Anyway, more soon! Hope all is well with you!

 

Phonak MicroLink MLxS FM System Monday, January 22, 2007

Today’s goal was to get the FM System to work with the cochlear implant. This time, Catherine helped us fix it, and it worked on the first try!

I have the Phonak MicroLink MLxS FM system, along with the audio shoe (T-SP) for the Siemens Triano SP and the earhook (iConnect) for Advanced Bionics.

The boots/earhook look and feel humongous, so one of the issues is cosmetics versus being able to hear. I admit I’m turned off at this huge bulking monstrosity that’s perched on my ear, but after learning what it can do, it’s amazing and may be worth it.

I can hook it up to a stereo/television/computer/ipod and walk around my apartment, wireless up to 100 feet depending on which “cable” is used. The signal strength depends on which cable is used as the antenna is located in the cable. There’s also an option to use it with a cellphone, through BlueTooth, but I didn’t pay attention to that, as my hearing isn’t for telephone use.

Last night, I tried it out on my own at the apartment. It was after quiet hours, so I hooked it up to my computer, and I could hear the music from anywhere in the apartment, loud and clear. The best part was being able to do everyday activities, without having to worry about cords, dropping the iPOD, catching it on something. TOTAL FREEDOM. I could have used this last year, without having to freak out about my iPOD falling out of my pocket and into the tub of chemicals when working in the darkroom.

I can see how this technology can be manipulated…such as hooking it up to my iPOD, putting it in my backpack, and listening to music during really boring lectures (like I would ever do that). But the fact that the technology exists is what is so exciting to me. Nobody else knows that I’m listening to music but me.

I think my mom is going to be very excited about this. No more music blasting through the house when I’m at home. 😀

The only negative to the system that I can see so far, other than the cosmetics is that it cannot be used on an airplane while in flight. It operates on a radio frequency, and the booklet says “do not use on aero planes”. I also get static with it, but I’m not sure if it’s a microphone issue or a channel issue. The FM receiver can be changed to different channels, so if you’re in an area where wireless loops are available, you can change to that channel. But if you’re nearby, and have it set on that channel, you may not get the information from your area, due to interference.

 

How The Cochlear Implant Works With An Apple iPOD Friday, January 19, 2007

Ian and Aphrodite ask how the cochlear implant works with the iPOD. When I first heard about it, I wasn’t sure how it would work either, but here it is.

Auria with T-Mic earhook, DirectConnect earhook, and cable

 

 

Auria with DirectConnect earhook, attaching the cable

 

 

Auria with DirectConnect earhook, attached to cable

 

 

The whole setup, notice the silver middle – that is the evil static-causing connector.

 

 

Mandy figured out that you could remove it and still play it (I take no responsibility if you do the same) NO MORE STATIC! I’m not sure what the purpose of it is, but I think it has to do something with grounding it against electricity.

 

 

What it looks like when I wear it.

 

 

The only thing I don’t like about it is that I have to change the earhook back and forth whenever I want to listen to music or participate in conversation. The only reason why I have to switch back and forth is because I’ve got my Auria programmed to listen to music alone, because with the hearing aid, I hated hearing all the background noise, as I felt it overshadowed the music.

 

With my hearing aids, I could just pull off the boots, or switch back and forth between microphone (hearing both music and the environment), or just music alone.

 

I’m currently looking into other methods of getting the sound to my ears, such as the HATIS Epic. When the Harmony comes out, the built-in T-Coil will eliminate the whole changing-earhooks and the use of a Y-Split for stereo sound.

 

Some ask, why use the Y-Split? It’s needed because I have two different cables, one for my hearing aid, and one for the cochlear implant, to get stereo sound. (don’t have a picture yet as the cable for the hearing aid is missing at the moment!)

 

Be warned, this method with the HATIS only works if you have a telecoil built into your hearing aid and/or if your hearing aid is programmed for it (if needed). I have a Siemens Triano SP digital hearing aid with a telecoil. I would highly recommend, as with any assistive listening device (other than the cochlear implant) to try it out before you buy it (if you can).

 

Personally, I can’t wait for the Harmony, because I’m tired of having to change earhooks, and having two cables of different lengths and colors.