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.

 

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.

 

Those Beeps And Those Birds Thursday, July 12, 2007

The more time I spend at work, the more I’m amazed by the sounds that I can hear with the cochlear implant.

For one, the registers are so loud. You can hear the beeps halfway across the store. I can hear the beeps of the register as far back as Infants. The odd thing is, when I used to be up front as a cashier, it didn’t seem that loud. But to get to infants, you have to walk through girls, boys, then half of infants. The screech and squeaks of the cart wheels. And the kids, and some of the “interactive” toys that we have. I’m not even going to get started on that topic.

I spent a good bit of time this morning listening to my fellow teammates frequently asking my team lead questions via the walkie. “i need more gray dots.” “i’m done with ____. what do you want me to do next?” “okay, i need you to go over to ____.” “what’s your location?”. I was amused, yet surprised by how much my team lead gets interrupted by people all day.

Not to mention I accidentally locked my keys in my car when I got to work this morning. I had to call my mom but I had to put it on speakerphone, and had a short conversation with her, as I was heading in the door. I really need to find a phone that will actually work with the cochlear implant and the hearing aid, and still have the same functions as the sidekick (email/qwerty keyboard), yet not have the whole world hear the conversation.

Yesterday, I hung out with Jenni, and I got to play with her birds. It’s the first time that I’ve been around birds since I’ve gotten the CI (except for this spring).

It was interesting to note the difference between listening to her bird speak with the hearing aid versus the CI. Obviously, you can’t lipread a bird, but the CI allows you to hear what the speech sounds the bird is trying to make and comprehend them. It was an…unusual experience in terms of listening practice. And technically, she wasn’t a good one to listen to, because Jenni says that Harley mumbles.

In the words of Harley: “ha-ha, ha-ha”

 

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.

 

It Doesn’t Change How I Like It…LOUD Thursday, February 1, 2007

After a few months of avoiding music because my brain was tired, graduating to playing at low volume, then listening to it through headphones, I finally realized something tonight.

No matter how deaf I am, if I have a cochlear implant or not, I’m always going to like my music loud.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t bode well for the poor souls that are within a five-mile radius of me, whether on the road or at home.

There is nothing like the feel of the bass pulsing through your body. The vibrations cascading down your back. The ripples of the sound as it skips around your ears, giving you a pleasant rush, leading you to the crescending high. Music is my drug. It’s an addiction that I can shake, but only for so long.

I just have to blast it, drench myself in sound. I have to feel it through every inch of my body. And tonight, I had the feeling of being reborn through the songs.

“4 My People (Basement Jaxx Remix Radio Edit)” – Missy Elliott
“Lazy (Original Mix) [feat. David Byrne]” – X-Press 2
“Young, Fresh N’ New (Timo Maas Remix)” – Kelis
“It’s Gonna Be…(A Lovely Day) [Bini&Martini Club Remix]” – Brancaccio&Aisher
“Shifter (Full Vocal Mix) [feat. MC Chickaboo]” – Timo Maas
“Salsoul Nugget (If You Wanna) [Extended Vocal Mix]” – Girl Next Door
“Groovejet (If This Ain’t Love, Then Why Does It Feel So Good) [Extended Vocal Mix]” – Spiller
“What A Girl Wants (Thunderpuss Dirty Club Mix)” – Christina Aguilera
“Freakin’ You” – Jungle Brothers
“Rendez-Vu” – Basement Jaxx
“Blue Skies (Deep Dish Blue Phunk Mix) [feat. Tori Amos]” – bt
“Lapdance (Paul Oakenfold Swordfish Mix)” – N.E.R.D.

The cochlear implant won’t change how I like my music. It does give me the ability to hear it when it’s faint, but it doesn’t have the same energy and intensity for me. I cannot deny who I am.

So! In the words of Nintendo’s Game Boy Campaign from the 1990s…“Play It Loud”. Rock on! \m/

And for the eardrums everywhere who hoped that the CI would make things quieter…I’m so very sorry.

p.s. If you’re familiar with any of those songs, and can think of more that I might enjoy, please share!