The Bionic Sound Project

this girl’s journey to sound

Let’s Talk About Tolerance…Or Rather, The Lack Of It Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Today, I had a really low tolerance for sound. People’s voices were driving me nuts. My tolerance level was probably not helped by the ADHD, as we’re adjusting medication doses for me.

Just sitting in class and listening to people talk, some voices were gravelly, and others were scratchy. It was the equivalent of what I would imagine to be nails scratching on a blackboard resonating through my head, and I just wanted to shut the sound out and have quiet.

This afternoon, I had my hardest therapy session to date, due to our activity that Mandy had today, and the new subject content. But first, I was glad I was able to vent my concerns and frustrations with the whole Gallaudet protest to Mandy, because she understands where I’m coming from. I know my friends and family mean well and want to understand, but I feel like they don’t understand why people are upset over it and the significance of the protest for the deaf/Deaf community.

Nor do they understand how I feel being an oral-deaf, mainstreamed kid, and the viewpoints/attitude of the Deaf community that have been stirred up by this recent debate about audism/deafism, and are being somewhat slowly translated over here to this campus, that it’s starting to become more visible of an issue now.

Basically, whatever the outcome of this is, it will have an effect on the intercultural relationships between people in the deaf community, and are best expressed in Allison Kaftan’s post The Worst Thing To Come Out Of This Mess. Fernandes may have brought it up, but the fact remains that that unspoken charge and hostility has and always has been an undercurrent within the community. She just put a name to it.

Anyway, therapy today, Mandy gave me clues to words in a crossword puzzle, but they were related to Halloween. These aren’t common phrases and sentences, so it was a bit of a struggle. That, and I think my brain was being cantankerous today.

Mandy noticed that with me, I am able to reproduce what the given sentence sounded like to me, but it doesn’t make sense. She said that it reminds her of the game Mad Gab.

Here’s an example of what a sentence to me sounds like to me with the CI, and without lipreading or any support.

Hears: A klute toothy puss hull.
Actual: A clue to the puzzle.

The key is in trying to make my brain put the sounds together to form words that make sense when put together.

In the morning, I had a headache while in the ESP lab during our class demo, and having to sit on the floor and look up at the interpreter. So I just stopped paying attention because the strain on my neck plus the lighting and low noise tolerance was too much. I spent some time just listening to my teacher talk, and picking up words here and there.

It’s still a world of garble and gibberish, but the fact I’m able to pick up a few words here and there, makes me pleased.


“A Get Together To Tear It Apart” Saturday, September 9, 2006

Last night was a spur-of-the-moment get-together/party.

As we left the dorms to head to the apartment, I was scared by the sudden loud booming noise and crackling sounds that shot through my head. In fear, I looked at my friends to see what was going on, and they were as confused as I was. Seeing their faces, and then hearing popping noises made me think somebody was shooting off a gun. Then the sound came back, more painful this time, along with a bright flash of light that danced across their faces. “What is going on?!?!?!” and the answer was “somebody’s setting off fireworks in the quad.”

We piled into the car, and we could still hear the fireworks going off, as we drove away. Even a half-mile away, I could vaguely hear it with the CI but not with the HA. Then it stopped, and we figured it was over.

As we rounded the bend in the road, the fireworks started up again. After much begging and pleading to Stef, she pulled over into the parking lot, where we all piled onto the hood of her car to watch the show.

After watching for awhile, I turned off the HA to see how fireworks sounded different with the CI. It was very faint for me, even though we were close to the launch site. I could “feel” it more and got more hearing from “feeling” it than I did with the CI.

At one point, I told Jen, who had retreated to the driver’s seat, to tap the horn, and she said she already did. “You did?” I asked, with an incredulous look on my face. I did not hear it at all, even though I was sitting on the hood of the car, smack dab in the middle. How could I not hear it with the CI, even though I had always been able to hear it with the HA, when I was standing next to a car?

After we returned to the apartment, the listening problems continued. Listening to the music play in the background, my friends talking (often all at once), and still not understanding what was being said, was difficult.

It got worse as we got louder and more rowdier, because I still couldn’t understand, and sound got more distorted. I felt bad interrupting the flow of conversation, even though I was constantly asking in the beginning what was said, and repeating back what I heard, which lead to some hilarious sentences.

After awhile, I felt like retreating into my old self, where I pretend I know what’s going on, and really don’t understand. I may have a basic idea of what we’re talking about, but not the details. I hate cheating myself out of being a part of a social interaction. It doesn’t matter, sign or speech, it is hard to follow either one after awhile (especially with my attention span, due to the ADHD), but sign is easier sometimes.

It’s only been a month and two days since I got activated. It is times like these where I wish things could happen faster, but I know I have to be patient.

Yesterday, Mandy lent me a book, “Wired For Sound” and I finished it in 2 hours this morning. It is an interesting look at deafness and cochlear implants, and the whole experience of it all, with supporting evidence, facts and quotes from people.