The Bionic Sound Project

this girl’s journey to sound

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.

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My First Day Back At Work Monday, November 20, 2006

Today was my first day back at work since May. I was supposed to work this summer, but due to complications with the cochlear implant surgery, I wasn’t able to return to work in time before school started again. It was also my first time back as a cashier in what seems like more than a year. Next week, I’m back on salesfloor, which makes me happy, since I am the kind of person who likes to keep moving on their feet, running all over the store.

I’m pooped, and I’m not sure which one is more tired, my body or my ears.

It was absolutely noisy, even with today’s start of the Holiday season and hours. I enjoyed hearing some of the noises, and the others I absolutely detested. Babies crying/children having tantrums was at the top of my list of sounds I hated hearing. It hurts. But it was interesting hearing the variation in the “cry”. I also heard how kids can reallllllly draw it out to exaggerate/emphasize their point and get everybody’s attention, especially when they start screeching. Shopping carts crashing together in the cart corral was second. Third was people dropping things that made a loud “boom!”.

I’m kind of not looking forward to Black Friday, because I know how insanely noisy it is, and today wasn’t that busy, but my implant/ear is already sore, and is quivering in fear at the expected noise level of Friday.

My Sounds Of Today

– hearing a guest say to me “have a nice day” when I wasn’t looking at them, and realizing that I heard every syllable distinctly! If it hadn’t been so busy, I probably would have hugged the guest, hehe. Just kidding

– while on break, hearing a coworker depositing the coins into the soda machine, making a rattling descent, then finally the coins dropping into the coin return slot. And this was 10 feet from where I was sitting.

– the detail of the printer/register tape when it prints/cuts the receipt.

– being able to locate the direction of the “boom” of things that customers dropped.

– the weirdest was this “littlest pet shop” or whatever it was called. It was a plush puppy dog that made dog noises. I was holding the box, and I heard this whining noise and couldn’t figure out where it was coming from, until the box started howling, and I was like…oy.

It reminded me of that “Oopsie-Daisie” doll that I had as a kid, that several adults absolutely hated, because the doll would crawl a few feet, “fall down”, start crying, then get up and start crawling again, only to repeat.

I don’t even want to get into the other dolls I had, especially the one you had to shake in order to hear the noises it made. But my favorite was “Cricket” and the one I called Pinkie Baby (brand name: Baby Talk). But I was definitely the queen of toys that made noise, and if they didn’t, I usually would find a way.

The start of my shift was interesting, as I got reacquainted with some of the people I used to work with 2.5 years ago, before I transferred to the store at school. Now I’m back to where I originally started.

It was the first time I had met my team lead, JD, and he knew I was deaf before I even told him. I asked him how he was able to figure that out, because I usually fool people, and he said he has experience working with people with disabilities, but that my speech was very good. He himself is a Little Person, so it is always nice to work with people who understand the challenges you have to face, even if our challenges are all different. Needless to say, working with him was absolutely amazing today, because I didn’t have to explain what I needed from him in terms of communication and assistance.

That’s the one thing I appreciate about both locations, we have a diverse workforce. Even if I sometimes have to challenge their expectations of what a deaf person can and cannot do, and get the opportunity to do the jobs that require some degree of “hearing” ability, it is still awesome.

 

The First Update On Sounds I’ve Heard While At Home Sunday, November 19, 2006

Here’s the brief update of the last 3 or so days that I have been home.

Flying was okay, no major problems there, but I really appreciate the separation and clarity of sound that the CI gives. However, my inner ear didn’t seem to like flying that much, as I felt a bit separated/off-balance when changing planes and when I arrived at home.

Mom says I seem to have a little bit of trouble understanding her or not hearing her as well as I did in the past. I’m not sure if it’s an adjustment period or what. But it too, shall pass.

She did say that my speech sounds so much better than it did before. As a matter of fact, when I answered the phone with my standard “hello, hold on please”, and handed the phone to my mom, it was my godmom on the other end of the phone. She asked my mom “who was that? I didn’t recognize who it was.” She said my speech was so clear, but she couldn’t understand what I was saying because I talked really fast. (Sorry, Karen! I know I’m supposed to slow down!)

Here’s what I’ve been hearing since I’ve been home.

11/17/06 – the cat (Benny) giving himself a bath. He’s noisy when he licks himself, making this kind of slurping/gulping sound. I can’t describe it. But I was like, holy cow, you’re that noisy when taking a bath? I could also hear him purr without being next to his head.

11/17/06 – hearing the music from the itty-bitty speakers attached to my iPOD playing in my room upstairs, while walking around downstairs.

11/18/06 – the very beginning of the quiet growl that Pippen makes before she goes into a full-blown hiss, and the details that make up her hiss/growl language. I also got bitten (more than once) while trying to cut the mats out of her fur, before she finally peed on me. *sigh*

11/18/06 – hearing Pippen hiss at the dog, before she smacks Elizabeth and tells her to mind her own business. I could hear it, but couldn’t see it.

11/18/06 – the “rhhhk-rhhhk” of the nail file as mom was filing her nails while we were watching a movie. It was driving me nuts! Haha.

11/19/06 – hearing the hydroplane boats at Firebird Lake in the distance (just barely, and only if it was absolutely silent). The lake is about 15-20 miles away from my house. It sounded like a very low “mmmmm”. However, while typing this as my mom’s on the phone, I just heard the bigger boat clearly. My eyes widened, and Mom looked over at me and said, “yep that was the boats.”

As for my guinea pig, he just came home from being boarded at the vet yesterday morning, and I haven’t really had time to see what he sounds like. He was really cute though, when I put him on the floor to run around. It was safe to do so, as the entire first floor is empty, and we are still doing work downstairs. Right now, he doesn’t want to get up and greet the day. He’s usually very vocal in the morning, but not today. We checked on him to make sure he was okay, and he ran out of his house, and as soon as we set it back down, he ran back into it and went back to sleep. I think he was worn out from running around downstairs.

I wasn’t able to get an appointment to see Dr. M and Megan for this break, and have to wait till January! But I will be able to see Susan, and I am excited about that!

I go back to work tomorrow and that’s going to bring a whole new plethora of sounds for me. Whee!

 

Happy Autumn! Sunday, September 24, 2006

Yesterday was the first day of Fall. I’m not an Autumn person, preferring Spring and Summer. But I am excited for it this year because of the plethora of new sounds it will bring for me to go in search of.

Leaves falling off trees, crunching through the dead leaves on the ground, the sound of biting into crisp apples, the spooky sounds of Halloween, the squeals of kids going trick-or-treating, pumpkin carving, candles flickering inside, corn rustling as you go through a maze, I have no idea what else Fall sounds like and am eagerly curious.

Next weekend I am going apple picking for the first time ever, and participating in some of the Fall traditions that we don’t have back home, in the desert. I’m very excited.

My goal for the month of October is to watch as many scary movies as I can, and see if I get more scared watching it with the CI. I already discovered that the X-Files sounds much creepier and moody back in August, so now I wonder if the same holds for scary movies. I don’t get scared by scary movies, just psychological thrillers.

Friday, I didn’t get to work with Mandy, so I played with S&B while waiting for her to arrive due to being delayed. 😦 I’ve now done every category in the program, and established where I need to work with each category.

Then, I went with my friends out to Target. While walking to the car, and listening to my friends talk, the only thing I understood was Stef saying “I don’t know.” Then, at Target, while showing Everett the new Halloween Jones Soda flavors, I answered a question he asked me. He said to me “Do you realize you just answered my question without looking at me?”

So yeah, that was kinda cool. But I still feel like I don’t understand a lot of stuff clearly or without some sort of visual clue. Patience is the key.

While talking to my mom, she said that she “thinks that you’re being too hard on yourself, but why am I not surprised? I’m so proud of you for all the hard work you’re putting into it, and I know it’s not easy on top of everything else.”

I spent most of the weekend without the CI, just because I didn’t want to deal with it, and now I’ve been felled by the sickness that’s been going around like wildfire on PHouse/in class.

 

Explaining Sounds To Me and an Updated List Wednesday, September 13, 2006

On Tuesdays, we have our weekly “House, M.D” party. 30 minutes into the show, I heard my first dormitory fire alarm. It was so different than with the hearing aid, and now I understand why it bothers people! After that was over, we returned to watch the taped version, but the lounge TV’s video input wasn’t working. A replacement TV was brought out, but it didn’t have captioning.

After trying to get it to work and no luck, Kassie told everybody they had to be extremely quiet so I could hear. I really appreciate the effort she made, but its not a matter of how quiet it is, it’s a matter of understanding. The whole experience just made me feel even more deaf, and wishing that I had the speech comprehension with the CI…NOW.

As for Kassie, she’s majoring in Deaf Cultural Studies, after changing her major from Photo. She’s got some interesting books, and I’ve looked at some of them, and it makes me think. Deafness is so complicated, and I don’t even know where to begin, that I’m not going to.

After class on Tuesday, Jen A. and I walked back to the dorms and she was helping me with figuring out sounds. I was asking her about sounds that I had heard recently, and was curious about. I am learning that what I am hearing is indeed what it does sound like, and that it is not me “getting used to it.”

– People’s feet in the stairwell of 7B, do make a slapping, echo-y, screech as they descend and ascend the stairs.

– The sound of my wet shoes squeaking on the linoleum as I walk down the hall. It sounds different, more high-pitched and drawn out than with the HA.

– That people who ride bikes, you usually can’t hear them until they are right next to you. I was scared out of my wits on Sunday night, when a bike rider, barely missing me, flew past and I couldn’t hear it until he had just passed me.
– Dorm doors closing from way down the hall, and people talking in the hall.

In my poetry class, I’m getting better at being able to heard a word/phrase and immediately track along with it, when I “jump in” and start reading along.

My photo teacher (who wears HAs), was curious about my attachments for the iPOD/hearing aid the other day. I’m showing him this stuff, and he’s always curious about the different things. He has some kind of a receiver attached to his HAs, so he can walk around and listen to music without being attached by wires. It’s very cool.

Mandy asked me to fill in the dates for my sound list, and I’ve neglected it! I need to do that soon, but for now, one important sound before I forget – recognized/heard a helicopter on August 30th.

 

Mango…The Word That Just Won’t Die Monday, August 28, 2006

The word that just won’t die…MANGO.

Megan said she was going to send me a care package of mangoes to me at school. When I come back in a few months, I’m bringing her a kumquat just because. Maybe an onion. But it better not be a combo of mango and fennel. It’s a good thing we don’t have our own cooking show on the Food Network.

Had #7 today…spent close to 4 hours in there. First I had to see Dr. M. for my checkup. The blood is gone from my middle ear and my eardrum is not purple anymore, but it’s still swollen. He had Megan do a test to see if I have any residual hearing, and I don’t, but it’s probably still too soon to tell.

After that, instead of being in the auditory room, Megan set up in the same exam room that I was in the day I got activated. She had both computers, the programming one, and the Sound and Beyond one. She would tinker with my CI while I was playing with the program and listening to words, telling her what sounded funny as I was going through the exercises, but the picture of the rabbit in the food category is a terrible picture! I was doing pretty well, scoring between 85 to 96 percent with the CI alone. However, I started having trouble with some familiar words, such as cat. And while comparing programs, she would say “how does this sound? what time is it? mango.” just to rub it in because I hate that word!

At one point today, Megan was on a mission to find out just how much I am hearing with my CI, and help me see that the CI is working better than the HA and I’m hearing way more than I think I am.

88% with CI alone.
96% with CI and HA.
80 or 84% with HA alone.

Course, I was cheating because I could not hear the laptop very well with the HA, and had my head right next to the keyboard at intervals so I could hear it, until Megan made me sit up and stay put. :-p

The other thing that has been an issue with the CI is that it sounds good at first, and after a little while, it starts to sound bad (even while I’m still hooked up to the computer). Over a few days, I go from being able to hear voices within a room, to only being able to hear within one to two feet around me. I always thought it was because it was because my neuro-adaptation was fast, but that might not be the case due to what AB said. Kim said they had a patient like that, but that was a long time ago. We also experimented with the pulse width, and at times it would sound awesome, almost like the hearing aid, but there would be a bit of an echo. It’s very frustrating tinkering with the CI, because when one thing sounds good, another thing sounds bad. And there are times I don’t know how to explain it. Sometimes I feel like I’m hearing in my left ear as well, because the sound from the CI seems to “translate” to my left ear.

Megan got on the phone with AB and figured out a plan of troubleshooting. She also taught me how to put the magnet on correctly, in a way that doesn’t twist the wire. We ended up having to go into the bathroom to do that so I could see how she was doing it, and walked past a family that was there for a candidate consultation so it was a little funny. I could also hear people speaking, but couldn’t understand them, and Megan said it was because they were speaking Italian.

The Problem Of Missing/Changing Sound – Solution
1. Make sure wire for magnet is secure, and placed on head properly.
2. Change out T-Mic (possible moisture?)
3. Change Battery (possible low power?)
4. Dehumidify it (and I need to stay on top of making sure the crystals are yellow, cuz the moisture from the environment affects it too.)

I am still not used to the concept of older people getting CIs. My experience has been that younger people and children have CIs, but never people who are in their 40s or older. I’ve always seen them with little ITE hearing aids, or just deaf, while us kids have had the BTEs or the CIs. I’m going to have to get used to it.

Kim had to remind me today that I’m doing extremely well with my CI, and that I need to be patient. She reminds me of and sounds so much like mom, with the “no nonsense from you” talk, and knows just exactly how to get me to shush and stop to think, just like mom does. “How long has it been?” “And you’re getting a score of what?”…”3 weeks…and 96%.” “That’s pretty good.” So here it goes…..I’ve got three programs to experiment with for a week and a half to two weeks. It’s going to be a challenge to leave my CI alone and learn to appreciate it without any adjustments in that time period. Patience is NOT one of my virtues as Dad has reminded me.

Kim also told me that her patients seem to prefer Verizon for their cell phones, so that’s something to keep in mind. I’m hoping that my phone can make it until the full-QWERTY version of the Blackberry Pearl comes out in Q1 2007.

In NY news, I talked to Karen, and she’s going to talk to Mandy about how they can best work with me when I return. I’m going to miss seeing Megan, Kim, and Dr. M, but I will see them in a few months. I really don’t like saying goodbye, especially to people that I like working with. Sometimes it’s nice to finish what you started, with the people you began it with. And this is why being bi-coastal stinks…I can’t have the best of both worlds in one place. I always have to say goodbye to a group of people in each place and adapt to a new environment and time zone two times a year, and I hate it (especially when I have to leave my family).

Today’s Sounds List
– Recognizing clapping at a restaurant
– Mom coming up behind me at noisy restaurant and saying “Sweetie”, and me not paying attention

That was my first recognized word on its own, where I’m not paying attention, and able to understand it without having to think about it.

 

Day 20 – Stay On My Ear! Sunday, August 27, 2006

Today I saw my stepmom and dad for the first time since I got the CI activated. I showed my stepmom all the stuff I got for the CI and explained everything to them. They also both saw my audiogram results from one week post-activation, and were impressed. My dad was especially pleased that I could understand the word jalapeno. 😀

We also looked at glasses for me today, and it was challenging to find a pair of glasses frames that didn’t press on the scar-area of my incision (since it still hurts, especially the little bulging spot), or cause my CI to fall off of my ear. The other criteria I had for my glasses was that they had to be super-lightweight, especially since the CI is already “heavy” on my ear. I also wanted a stylish pair of lime-green/bright-green glasses, because I’m all about the lime green. 😀 I will primarily be wearing my contact lenses, because I don’t like wearing glasses (especially in the extreme cold/snowy weather)! All I have to get is the prescription, which the doctor has to fax in. I’ll be happy to have glasses instead of sunglasses to watch TV before bed, because my glasses broke the night before I had my second surgery.

I got to play with some cell phones while we were out, and must link to them for reference: Motorola Q, LG V, Blackberry 8700g, and the XV6700. The representative seemed to suggest that the XV6700 would be the best one in terms of phone/email/music. My stepmom cautions against the SureType feature with the Blackberries, since they never get what you’re typing correct, and that’s what the upcoming Pearl has. -.-

I wish I could hear more with the CI, because everything sounds so quiet/muffled right now, but in certain situations it sounds great. If somebody’s up close to me, like within a foot, I can understand/hear the full timbre of what they’re saying. Otherwise, I’m like “What? What did you say? I can’t hear you.” At times, it makes me feel like that my hearing with the CI is worse than it was with the hearing aid. And today, I was having problems with the HA again. Grrr.

We also watched the Emmys, and it was frustrating because I could understand/lipread what they were saying, and the captions were several sentences behind, so I wasn’t getting that confirmation that what I was hearing was correct. I eventually gave up trying to read along and just read the newspaper, looking up occassionally.

Now I wonder what it’s going to be like when I go back to school and see the interpreter for all my classes. How am I going to reconcile what I am hearing with what the interpreter is signing/mouthing? The TV/captioning already drives me crazy. Oh wait, I’m supposed to be *LISTENING* with the CI. Silly me. Gonna have to work HARD to get to that point. Everything is still so visual for me, and I really need to break that habit and let my brain do the listening.

Bedtime. In the morning, a checkup with Dr. M for my surgical incision, and then Megan after that. I’m going to play with that program as long as she will let me. So much to do before I leave Wednesday. Aiiieee. I’m really not ready to end my summer break, as the entire summer has been all medical, not much fun/relaxation. But that’s real life.

Today’s Sounds List As Per Susan’s Request
– Hearing people drop dishes in the sink in the kitchen at the restaurant.
– Ice cubes clattering into glasses in the kitchen at the restaurant.
– Waitress dropping metal tray on floor.
– Baby at table behind us banging hands/silverware on table.
– Silverware/glassware clinking at restaurant.
– guy tripping over his feet/falling flat on his face outside of Best Buy and in front of three oncoming cars. everything literally STOPPED, all I heard was a “thump” as I was talking to my stepmom.