The Bionic Sound Project

this girl’s journey to sound

More News From Friday Sunday, April 15, 2007

Filed under: accessibility,listening therapy,mandy,observations,work — Allison @ 8:57 pm

Friday morning’s therapy session consisted of me doing better than anticipated on every activity Mandy had planned, that we ended up finishing early.

She picked a selection from Alphacats (rhyming alternatives), consisting of the “S P D T” sounds. I breezed through them with the CI and the HA on, getting 100% on discerning the differences, and understanding what was being said/what letter it was (for the most part). In a moment of curiosity, I tried it with just my hearing aid, and did not do as well (about 4 wrong). The interesting thing was that it took me longer to figure out if it was the same or not and guessing what the word was.

After that, my super-cool boss, Sheila, asked me if I could cover a shift Friday afternoon, and since I didn’t have a research team meeting, I went over to the office early. While talking with her over lunch, her sister called on videophone from Hawaii.

I’ve done videoconferencing (when the technology was still relatively new) and only with people who sign (my big sister Krista, my ex Mike). But we usually would type back and forth on AIM because the video was too jerky to capture clear motion, and my signing skills were not up to par. If it was a hearing person, we would just watch each other for reactions while typing back and forth. It made for a much more interactive conversation.

I had a lot of fun talking with the two of them, and it was interesting to note how much better it was to hear with the CI than with the HA, because it helped with hearing sounds.

Now I wonder if I can get my family into videoconferencing, instead of having to use the relay. That would be awesome.

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What’s The Most Important Thing A Newbie Needs To Know About The CI? Tuesday, January 23, 2007

What’s the most important things that a newbie wants/needs to know about the cochlear implant?

I ask this because the other day, K asked me if I was willing to be videotaped for a “documentary” about the cochlear implant. They have 3 or 4 faculty/staff in the tape, talking about the cochlear implant itself. Do I talk about the device itself? My surgical experience? What activation and the post-activation has been like? So many things, but what’s most important? I don’t want to scare off people through the videotape, because it’s easier to tell people in person, have that interaction, versus just talking to the lens. But I need a haircut first, ahhhhhhh!

Later in the day, I got an email from L asking if I was willing to come to her class on Thursday morning. She wants me (and the other guests) to talk about strategies for success in college. This is going to be interesting, since I’ve had my own share of failures at school, and I don’t really think I’d be the best person, but I’ve learned from my mistakes. It’s funny, some teachers prefer you make mistakes than turn in perfect work, because when it comes to the end of the quarter, this is how they are able to measure if you’ve actually learned from your mistakes and shown improvement. To me, it’s so backwards, but I’m a perfectionist.

I still need to think about the student panel that’s coming up in February or March. So much to think about, and what I want to say. This is already a busy start to 2007, and we’re not even done with January yet.

A student of Mandy’s came in to observe our listening therapy session, and I answered questions for her about the cochlear implant and more. She was really nice, and we did the AlphaCats word lists before we all had to take off for the day.

 

What Have I Gotten Myself Into? Thursday, January 18, 2007

Having one of those “dear god, what have I gotten myself into?” days.

Nothing like a good dose of frustration in many areas to end your day and push your emotions over the edge.

First part was great, as I had therapy with Mandy, then went off to the luncheon hosted by the Women’s Council.

Since we didn’t get to do therapy on Monday due to school being canceled because of the ice storm, I was happy to see Mandy today, even though I had talked to her over the weekend. She and Catherine reassured me that I looked fine, since I was all dressed up. They gave me the once-over and proclaimed me good to go for the luncheon. While this was going on, I found out the panel discussion is going to be either March 16th or March 30th, so I need to start thinking about what I want to say, and prepare myself for questions from the audience. Mandy had just gotten the Harmony release kit from Advanced Bionics, so it was cool rummaging through it and seeing the different items in it. It’s mostly audiologist tools, cds, and booklets. Nothing new to report, that we don’t already know. The release date is still TBA, according to the email.

After that was done, Mandy and I settled in to do word lists. I felt I wasn’t understanding words as well today, even though I could tell if the words were the same or different. I think it was because of my nervousness about the Women’s Council luncheon.

Sarah picked me up and we headed off. The two of us were invited by the members due to being honored with a scholarship. I’m grateful to the Women’s Council for selecting me as one of their scholarship recipients because it does help financially. What I didn’t expect was to stand up in front of the entire room, especially when they read the short bio of information that they collected about me. It’s not a situation one encounters often, so it was a bit nerve-wracking.

After that, there was a wonderful presentation by Bill Klingensmith, who did the Drive Project. I got some ideas for future projects from today’s presentation. Go check his website out, it’s excellent. I’m going to pick his brain one of these days, because I have more questions for him.

The biggest surprise was running into an old professor of mine and getting a hug from her. She’s one of my all-time favorite professors, and I haven’t seen her for a year and a half, so it was a real treat to see her there. I had been thinking about her the other day, and resolved to get back in touch with her. Unfortunately, it was at the end, and we were in a hurry to get back to campus, so I will have to meet with her soon.

I met several wonderful members of the Council, and I look forward to talking with some of them again. I had some good conversations with some of them about deafness and cochlear implants. Plus, the food was delicious, especially the Creme Brulee cheesecake we had. As Sarah put it “it was worth the wait”, since we both were planning to leave before one, but ended up staying for 40 more minutes.

The real trouble happened when I got back to campus an hour and 10 minutes late. Unable to find my class after searching the usual places in 7B, I sent my professor an email asking what was going on. Everybody was out shooting for the workshop, and we were meeting up again at four, but I didn’t know where. Finally, one of my classmates IMed me to tell me the details, so I was able to rejoin the group.

I had an impossible time following my teacher in the classroom we were in. His back was to us. It was dark in there. I couldn’t see my classmates. At that point, mostly out of sheer tiredness from the last few days, dry eyes, and frustration, I was biting back tears.

I’m just tired of and afraid to speak up and say “hey, I can’t understand most of what’s going on”, especially when there’s a good flow of conversation going on. I’m afraid to admit that I’m getting pretty lost lately. I understand him clearly if he stays put, there’s adequate lighting, and he’s the only one that’s speaking. But add in demonstrations, critiques, commentary, and it’s a mess.

I don’t want other people to have to make accomodations for me. I don’t want my deafness to be the first thing that they think of and see. My deafness is not what defines me. The same thing happens with my hearing friends. They forget that I’m deaf and treat me just like one of the group. But that itself is a negative because they forget and I miss out on coversation at the moment.

With the CI, one of my goals and hopes would be that it would allow me to meet hearing people on their own turf, instead of making it all about me and my needs. My teacher and I have tried different strategies, but none of them have stuck from day to day. The class does not revolve around me, especially since I am in a non-designated section for support.

I’ve been working on getting support for 2x a week, but since it wasn’t on the list of supported classes, I was told that I can’t request 4 hours a week of services. I understand that, as there are rules to be followed.

I know this is the risk that I took. I was aware of the consequences of making this decision. I just didn’t expect to hit me this hard, especially in the middle of the quarter. And I know part of it is my fault because I’m not being more aggressive in making sure I know what’s going on.

I didn’t want to fail. I still don’t. But here I am, feeling like that this whole experiment of being independent was a failure. I’m feeling more and more left out. It’s not easy for me to admit, since failure is not an option.

I just wasn’t ready. Or was I ever really ready in the first place?

 

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.

 

Susan, Webinars, And The Emergency Vet Thursday, November 30, 2006

Tuesday, I saw Susan for listening therapy. She was near the end of the “webinar” for the new Advanced Bionics Harmony processor, so she brought me back to her office so I could see what it was like. It was interesting watching and listening to the webinar, and seeing some images and testimonials for the Harmony. I love how AB is using technology to bring the information out to the masses.

Susan also mentioned an term called “auditory closers”, and that’s something I want to look into, because it has to do with a combination of the brain’s processing versus the actual listening of what is being said. That’s one reason why I can figure out what is being said, even though I may not have heard everything that was said in the sentence.

I had a bit of trouble with some sets of sentences, and not so much with others. It’s interesting how the same sentence, said in different ways, can make more sense as compared to repeating it. I like it when I get things correctly, but they like it when I’m challenged by it!

Wednesday, Susan was talking to Megan and I came up in the conversation, and it was discovered that there was an miscommunication in the scheduling, so I will be able to see her and Dr. M on Friday instead of waiting till January. Yippie.

Wednesday night, we had a freeze warning for our area, and my poor 14-year-old dog fell in our pool. She was already showing the symptoms of not feeling well, but after the pool incident, she definitely was very sick, so we took her to the emergency vet. She’s going to be okay, but she’s a very sick doggie. It was both interesting and sad being at the emergency vet, because it was a listening sound adventure for me.

I felt awful listening to the poor dog that kept howling and crying because it was in a lot of pain after it got attacked by two other dogs. The cochlear implant gave me the beginning and end of the howl, whereas the hearing aid just picked it up and ended it at mid-howl. I could hear the emotion in the howl, which really tugged at my heartstrings, because I wanted to help ease the pain for the poor dog. I could also hear the different howls, barks, and yips from the different dogs, and it turned into a game of figuring how how many dogs were speaking at once, and differentiating between the “voices”. It really wasn’t a game, but we were waiting for quite awhile, and I was interested in what I was hearing, as it was a new environment.

My mom commented that it was interesting that I was hearing all these sounds and bringing it to her attention, as she never really thinks about it, as it’s all white noise to her. However, it depends on what it is, and if it catches her attention or not. So we got into a discussion of how hearing people filter out the sounds, and it was interesting to hear about it.

I could also hear the employees talking, and was figuring out if it was a male or female voice, the chair scraping on the floor as it was pushed back, a drawer being closed, and I was identifying all these sounds from inside the examination room, and my mom was confirming what I was hearing for me. However, I did hear one person laugh, but couldn’t tell if it was male or female.

So yeah, it was an interesting night. I’m just glad my dog is going to be okay, and I hope that other dog survives as well as the other sick animals there.

 

Playing The Piano Thursday, November 23, 2006

Tuesday I saw Susan for auditory therapy. She said that I had basically finished the book, as it goes up to Level D. When I last saw her in August, I was getting 60% on the sentence tests with the keyword in the sentence. 3 months later, I’m getting 70% on the sentence test without the keyword. Magic.

Driving back home from therapy, I was listening to the radio, and heard a song that I thought sounded like it would be one of Christina Aguilera’s. I looked down at the text playing on the dash, and it was “Hurt”. I haven’t listened to her new CD that much, especially in the last few months, because I’ve been all over the place with music, trying to get a wide exposure to different genres (minus Country). So it was cool to recognize it based on the music/vocals.

Wednesday night, I sat down at my piano, as we had just moved everything from the first floor back into the house on Tuesday. The tile and the painting is done, and the first floor doesn’t echo anymore. The CI really loved the echoes (not), especially when my dog is barking. Fingers poised, I excitedly anticipated what the piano was going to sound like, as I have been waiting for this for 3 months.

Pressed the keys for my favorite chords, the measure by how I rate a piano’s sound, and was pleased. Started playing some of the songs I knew and was in good shape.

It was when I took off the hearing aid to play the piano with just the CI, that I was shocked. I was just absolutely disappointed in how it sounded. The richness, the warmth, the emotion of the music didn’t come through at all. I could hear the thunk-thunk as the keys pressed down, or the hammer striking the tightly-wound wire inside the great belly of the beast.

There seemed to be a lag or even an echo when playing. I played several songs and my heart grew heavier by the moment, as there is no way that I could play the piano with just the CI by itself. I felt like it had gone through electronic filtering and I was only hearing bits and pieces of it. There were some notes that came through with the CI and others that didn’t. It felt like an electronic version of music.

Maybe it will resolve the more I play the piano, but even when I was first activated, music didn’t quite sound like this. I hope the Harmony will resolve this issue with playing the piano, because if it doesn’t, this may be the one thing that keeps me from ever going bilateral.

Tomorrow is Black Friday, and then we are having our small Thanksgiving dinner after I get home from work. Hope you all had a enjoyable Thanksgiving.

This year, I’m thankful for the Cochlear Implant, and for everybody who made it possible. I’m thankful to all the people who have been a part of this journey, and helped me to get where I am today, and continue to do so. That’s my thanks for this year.

 

Scattergories And Episode #2 Monday, November 6, 2006

Filed under: dizziness,feelings,listening therapy,mandy,scared,school — Allison @ 9:15 pm

For listening practice, Mandy and I played Scattergories. It’s good because it forces us to exercise our mind and come up with words. For listening, this game gives me the first letter of the word, and category it is, maybe a bit easy, but still fun.

After we were done, I did an errand on campus, and I had my 2nd episode of the room spinning. This time I was standing up, talking to the guys about recovering the data off of my LaCie. I felt my legs go weak, then saw the room move. Thanks to my fast reflexes, I grabbed the counter just in time, which stopped the episode. I felt shaky afterwards, but I think it was the fear of it.

If it happens at home, I don’t care, but if it’s at school, it’s embarassing.