The Bionic Sound Project

this girl’s journey to sound

Advanced Bionics Neptune Processor Monday, June 4, 2012

With the announcement of the waterproof, swimmable Neptune sound processor, I am beyond excited about this. I have been waiting years for a hearing aid that was able to withstand water, and strong enough for my hearing loss (and still waiting). And now we have a cochlear implant processor that can do it? AMAZING.

I have been following the news around the Neptune, and while I am not sure if I will qualify for an upgrade, as I already have the Harmony. The Neptune is is definitely a huge step forward in Cochlear Implant technology.

However, after thinking about it for awhile, the ability to hear in all environments slightly scares me. I’ve gone my entire life without swimming with hearing aids on (other than that unfortunate incident at the babysitter’s when I was five). I vaguely remember the feeling of “WOW! I CAN HEAR”, as I climbed out of the pool and my hearing aids died their quick, waterlogged electrical death.

Throughout my life, as a water baby through and through, logging countless hours in the pool as a child growing up in the intense heat of a Phoenix summer, and as a competitive swimmer for one of the nation’s top high school girl’s swim teams, I’ve made it by without hearing. In high school, one of the highlights of my life was a five-day whitewater rafting trip down the San Juan river. There were people who signed, so I wasn’t alone, but I still spent time on the water in silence. All these years, and I’ve made it through my aquatic life, without hearing sound.

Now to think…what will it sound like to be swimming, and hearing the noise of the water as you are surrounded by others? Of playing Marco Polo, and being able to participate with the hearing children at daycare? Of hearing the bird calls while floating down the San Juan in a ducky boat? Of not being afraid of being thrown in the pool with my hearing aids on. Taking kayaking lessons and having the full experience of hearing the teacher’s instructions on how to do a roll to get one upright. Of floating outside today in my pool, in silence, enjoying the blue sky and sunshine shining down on me.

There are pros and cons to the Neptune for my personal use. To hear while wet is a foreign concept to me.

I think today’s kids who have this chance to fully participate in the life aquatic are extremely lucky. Thank you, Advanced Bionics, for creating this swimmable processor.

 

Forgot My Activation Anniversary Thursday, August 9, 2007

Gosh, I posted on August 7, but I totally forgot it was my one-year anniversary of my cochlear implant, as I pulled a ~11 hour shift for the second day in a row. Amazing how being super-busy at work will let things slip your mind, especially since I had been thinking all summer about how I wanted to mark my one-year anniversary with a small party as a way to say thanks to everybody.

Anyway, I’ve been hearing from several of you about your activation experiences (with activation dates of Aug. 6, 7 & 8). Each of you had a wonderful experience, albeit emotional, but that’s to be expected. Hearing about your experiences brings back memories of my activation day, as well as my feelings prior to activation. But re-reading all the entries makes me cry…especially the one about how I felt right after activation.

It’s amazing what sounds I’ve heard in one year. I could make a list of all the new sounds I’ve discovered in the last year, but that’s a project for another time, and I have to get up early to get one of my co-workers. But the CI has had a profound impact on my life, both through the experiences that I’ve been offered in the last year, both at school and work, and through people that I’ve met. And for that, I’m grateful to everybody and everything that has blessed me in this journey. I still have a long way to go, but the ride so far has been amazing.

Until you have been deaf, or are involved with the implantation process, most people will never understand the emotions behind being able to hear, and what a gift it is.

 

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 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!)

 

More Walkie-Talkie Stuff Thursday, June 21, 2007

I’ve been using the walkie-talkie the last few shifts without the headset. It works much better, as I can hear it, and doesn’t sound garbled/drowned out. I asked my TL if she knew if there was a special attachment that might work with the CI. I’d have to go ask our HR person.

It’s kinda hard having the walkie-talkie up all the way, because everybody can hear it, and I don’t want to blast the eardrums out of our guests or my coworkers, but when it gets really noisy, it’s needed.

Today, I was listening to the conversations that my coworkers were having, and using it for listening practice. I can understand numbers, and depending on who’s speaking, their location in the store or who they are looking for. I can also understand “thank you”, “you’re welcome”, and “what’s your location?”.

At this point, I’m not really ready to rely on a walkie-talkie (much less a cell phone!), but I’d like to spare others the loudness of my own walkie-talkie.

For example, today I had a guest come up to me while I was doing my research to point out that I wasn’t listening to the walkie.

Guest: “I’ve got a health card here” (proceeds to open her purse and show me)
Me: Okay. (very confused as it was totally random)
Guest: That’s what they were talking about on the radio.
Me: Oh okay. Thanks.
Guest: Weren’t you listening? (looking at me like i’m a bad employee)
Me: No. (still very confused)
Guest: Hmmph. (walks off)

I was aware that they were talking via the walkie, but I wasn’t trying to decipher what they were saying, as I was busy with my research, and it was a very long conversation. If it was super important, somebody would come and tell me.

The only thing that I have to say about this is that my CI and hearing aids aren’t that visible (a good thing and a bad thing). However, I probably should have explained that I was deaf, but I didn’t want to get into it then, because it was just an awkward situation, and totally random. I haven’t had a random complete stranger point out my deafness, whether indirectly or directly, in a very long time.

The other thing that bothers me about not having the full ability to understand what’s going on, is that I often feel like I’m missing out on the “daily life” of the store. My coworkers tell me that I’m not missing much, and that I’m actually lucky that I don’t have to listen to it all day. Go figure.

Happy first day of summer!