The Bionic Sound Project

this girl’s journey to sound

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.

 

Walkie-Talkie Log and The Harmony Monday, July 9, 2007

walkie-talkie log of things i can understand: numbers, locations (depending on who’s speaking, some names, basic phrases (the company sayings are starting to become etched in my hearing memory!), and voice identification (if i’m paying attention).

yeah, it’s good practice for me to listen to what’s being said, but the problem is, that I’m a lower priority than as compared to those who can actually hear and fully benefit from the use of the walkie. That’s the part I feel guilty about…because resources are limited. And when I’m out there, I don’t like to have it up all the way, because it’s too loud and it competes with the noise in the store. But it’s useful for me, because I don’t have to run all over to find somebody with a walkie, and can request or ask for help.

It would be nice if people were able to understand that I can (usually) have a conversation with them over the walkie, IF I initiate the conversation (I’m sure Mom and Mandy would beg to differ. :-p). Otherwise, trying to get ahold of me is not the best way. I’ve always preferred face-to-face communication instead, especially if directions are to be given.

That being said, I haven’t been practicing my listening as much as I should have, despite the fact that I’m back home in an all-hearing environment. Go figure.

Just a few more days and then I can order the Harmony. Then I have to set up an appointment with Megan to get it programmed, and catch Mandy so she can listen in via cell (she wants to do it so badly!)

 

And That’s The End Of The School Year Monday, May 28, 2007

Back home in Phoenix now, but not without a crazy end to the year, but well worth it.

I moved out of my apartment, then the next day was Mandy’s wedding, which was absolutely wonderful. I caught Mandy’s bouquet, so we both were laughing over that. Then I was at the airport 4 hours after the reception was over, so I’m exhausted from all of that plus finals week and little sleep.

Anyway, I finished my first academic year (trimesters) with the cochlear implant. 3 quarters of getting a GPA of 3.00 or higher, and 2 quarters of being on the Dean’s List . That’s a first for me in college, to be on the list twice in one year.

Was talking to Catherine about it at the break between the wedding and the reception…was it the cochlear implant that helped me do better in school, or was it just the result of being older, more mature, and doing what I love? We debated that for awhile.

The reason why I think it might be the cochlear implant, is because it’s forced me to listen more in class, because I want to hear everything that’s going on, to try and understand the teacher and listen to the interpreter. Maybe it’s that extra focus that’s causing me to pay more attention, and therefore, do better.

Things Of Note
– Recognized the word “Toostee Roll” at the wedding, and then realized it was that song.
– Wearing the CI for almost 2 days straight = makes the area around the magnet sore. My hearing aid ear was sore, but not as much as the CI.
– Hearing my cat meowing constantly as he rushes to the landing, down the stairs, and greets me as he realizes I’m finally home is one of the best feelings ever.

 

9-Month Test Results Monday, May 21, 2007

May 18, 2007

 

Overall, I’m rocking the CI with an 20-30 dB hearing loss. The little circles indicate that I can’t hear ANYTHING in my CI ear without the CI. It’s kinda scary not being able to hear anything, but only feel it when it gets to that loudness. Mandy circled it to indicate where I could first feel it. Being completely deaf with no response, scary scary scary. The most exciting news came with the test results, especially with the Early Speech Perception Test, which, in Mandy’s opinion, is the best indicator of how well the CI is working, because it tests similar words, with different vowels and consonants.

  Fall 11/13/2006
(~3 months post-activation)
Spring 05/18/2007
(~9 months post-activation)
CID Sentences List #8 30% 70%
Cochlear Screening
Level D (Top Level)
31/36 (words) 8/10 (sentences) 33/36 (words) 9/10 (sentences)
Early Speech Perception Test
Category #4 (Top Level)
5/12 11/12

Here’s the link to compare with the test results from 1-week post-activation. Huge change.

NOW CAN I PLEASE GET MY HARMONY??!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

 

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.

 

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!

 

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?

 

So Much To Do, So Little Time! Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Instead of therapy today, I spent time shooting Mandy for my photo project. Assignment: A Day In The Life Of… Many thanks to Mandy and everybody else for being a good sport today.

Mandy and I did take a look at the FM system, which was neat, but didn’t work with the CI for reasons unknown. The only thing I don’t like about it is that it feels like it’s very protruding and weird. It also uses the same kind of attachments that is used for the iPOD so I am not thrilled about that, because the door cover for the hearing aid is a design flaw (in my opinion). But it was great hearing the voice through the HA without all the background interference. We will have to fix it next week, because there are no more sessions this week because she’s off to GRADUATE! YAAAAAY! 🙂

This morning I met with my advisor, the chair of the photo school, and the new chair for the program that I want to be within the photo school, and conversation turned towards the cochlear implant and how I was doing with it. I notice that more baby boomers who currently have a hearing loss are asking me about it because they see me with it, and it’s interesting seeing the cultural shift and the interest change from not doing anything about it, to getting hearing aids, to exploring the possibility of a cochlear implant.

Catherine and I also did more CI Holiday Party prep, and one game we came up with today was “Put The CI On The Ear”, instead of pin the tail on the donkey. So there will be a processor to pin on, and an implant to pin on as well. So much to do, so little time, but I’m having fun.

Sound List
12/09 – listening to the space shuttle Discovery launch live on TV!
12/11 – Hearing the scrape of the knife on my bagel this morning in the cafeteria (which echoes and usually is noisy)
12/11 – while having dinner at the commons, a very noisy environment, and distinctly hearing the clink of dishes in the kitchen and people dropping things.

1:48 am, that’s enough for tonight! Next time, the theory on adjustment and helicopters.

 

Harmony Info and Hearing Things That Hearing People Don’t Notice Monday, December 4, 2006

Today was the first day of the quarter. I did errands and had a therapy session with Mandy. First I stopped to see Karen about scheduling speech therapy for this quarter, but to no avail. Mandy’s going to be playing speech therapist AND audiologist.

While working out my schedule in Karen’s office, she was typing away at the computer, eating a cracker, and I heard something which sounded like somebody hammering in the distance.

“Karen, do you hear that noise? It sounds like somebody hammering.”

“No, I don’t, I am eating crackers though. That may be what you’re hearing.”

“No, that’s not it, there definitely is a noise that sounds like faint hammering.”

So she stops everything she was doing, and listens for a few seconds.

“I still don’t hear anything.” and after she said that, she leaned down and picked up her bag that was pressing against the buttons of the tape recorder on the floor, making the “hammering” noises that I was hearing.

“There is absolutely NO way that you could have heard that.”

“Yeah, I did hear it. It sounds like ‘thnk-thnk-thnk-thnk’.”

“That is so incredible. It’s just unbelievable what you are hearing. I don’t even know how many decibels that was, but I couldn’t even hear it myself, and it took me a few seconds to figure out what it was! It’s a low, low, low frequency sound, almost silent, and to pick that up, wow!”

So, I went over to see Mandy since it was time for my appointment with her, and Karen told Mandy what happened with my sound discovery, so both of them looked pleased.

I’m going to be seeing Mandy 2x a week for auditory practice, and not seeing Karen for speech therapy, because of all the schedule problems from last quarter, and my final class schedule wasn’t definite until today, and everything’s booked. As a result, I’ve decided to fly solo this quarter without an interpreter for my major class. My teacher does know some sign, and has experience teaching all-deaf classes, and is willing to work with me in his class without an interpreter. It’s scary, but I’m up for the challenge. I just hope I don’t fail, because it is a 5-credit hour class out of 12 credits.

Mandy got back from the audiology conference that was in Buffalo this weekend, and true to her word, she showed me all the stuff she got at the conference, that had to do with the Harmony.

If I thought Megan and Dr. M were excited about the Harmony and what I am going to think of it, Mandy is way more excited about it than they are, and myself. She wants to get started with the Harmony…NOW. Hehe.

So far I’m the only active patient of hers that is going to be getting the Harmony (especially in January) and what I had to hear about the Harmony was pretty interesting.

Among some of the features of the Harmony:

– Built-in programmable LED light that will give system status for different things. It will be like the Firefly for the Auria, but most operations will be programmed to either light up for a short time, or permanently be on during operation.

– programming with the Harmony will be similar to programming with the Auria, but it will be one-click. It will convert the MAPs from HiRes 90 to HiRes 120 with a single click of the button. When I go in with the new Harmony, all it has to do is get my MAP from the Auria, and convert it with the click of the button.

– Users with the Platinum Sound Processor will be able to use the HiRes 120 processing strategy. This is a great way to determine if they like the strategy enough to upgrade and switch to the Harmony. With the Auria, there is no way to test out the HiRes 120 to see if you like it, except for getting the Harmony.

I’m really happy I got my cochlear implant in July, because I will automatically get to start with the Harmony and HiRes 120 processing immediately. I don’t have to wait several months to take advantage of the HiRes 120 Fidelity, as it will be much stronger and powerful than the Auria.

The patients who are getting implanted in January and beyond will not be able to take advantage of the Harmony’s benefits immediately. Apparently, the FDA is recommending that all new patients start off with the HiRes 90 processing/programming strategies (which is the Auria’s capabilities), then switch to the Harmony’s HiRes 120 capabilities 3 to 6 months after activation.

Now that I know what my Auria can do, and sound for the most part is normal, I’m ready to take on the Harmony and reach the next level with my hearing!

 

My First Workout and Being Grossed Out Saturday, November 11, 2006

Wednesday, my sound discovery was hearing a classmate of mine cracking her thumbs about 8 feet away from me during critique.

That afternoon, I found out that I won’t be able to get the support services that I want for my major class next quarter. After much conversation, Anne and Sheila both recommended that I not do it, as I’m not ready to be independent with the CI. So I had to rearrange my winter quarter schedule. *grumbling*

It just further resolves my desire to work harder at it, but it doesn’t help when I’m not in the mood to work with Sound&Beyond. I went to lunch at the Commons, after picking up my replacement 18-hour battery from Mandy. Ran into MK there, and we talked about planning for the Holiday Party. Rockin’ The Holidays is probably going to be the name.

Friday was my 4-month anniversary of getting the CI. It was also supposed to be my last session with Mandy for the quarter, but it got canceled. It has been rescheduled it to Monday. We are going to do testing to see how much hearing I’ve gained in 3 months, and also check the T-levels.

Friday wasn’t a good day, as it seemed like everything happened at once, so I was in a bad mood that night, especially after my camera stopped working near the end of my final project photo shoot. My other friend Matt convinced me to go to the gym and work out to relieve my frustration. It was the first time I had worked out since getting the CI, and I went for a 35-minute 2-mile run. It felt SO good, especially when you cross over the plateau between pushing yourself, and feeling unstoppable…the second wind.

The real kicker came in after I headed downstairs to the pool to do some laps. It was the first time I’ve gone swimming underwater since surgery, so I was excited about starting that again. I miss swimming 2 to 4 miles a day, as I used to do that every day in high school, swimming for the nationally ranked #2 girls high school swim team. I wasn’t sure how doing flip turns would affect the CI, but I found out the hard way when I got out of the pool.

My ears hurt a little bit in the pool, but it was nothing compared to the disrupted sense of balance. I was having a hard time staying upright, and felt like I was falling over (to the left). The lifeguard was looking at me strangely, and I do have to admit I probably looked like I was drunk because I was using the wall for support while walking back to the play pool, and stopping every few feet.

I think I’m going to skip on doing flip turns for awhile.

After swimming for a few hours, we went to watch Final Destination 2, which I hadn’t seen yet. I was grossed out by the death scenes in the movie, but it was made worse by the detail of the SOUND in the movie, when I actually watched the death scenes. I could tell the difference because I dove under the blanket when it looked like something gory was going to happen, and I could hear it and felt sick to my stomach! Maybe I won’t wear the CI when watching these types of movies, because the detail of the sound is just more than I ever expected. Eeeeewww. P.S. Mandy, the first movie was the best, this one is just icky.

To make up for the ickiness (lol, I sound like Jen G.), I put in Looney Tunes, and we watched cartoons. I got such a kick out of hearing the sound effects, but didn’t stay awake long enough to fully experience the broad spectrum of noises! But that’s my new plan, to go back and watch some more Warner Brothers goodness, especially my Bugs Bunny!