The Bionic Sound Project

this girl’s journey to sound

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!

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The Weekend’s Sound Adventures Sunday, October 29, 2006

Before the CI party on Friday, Mandy and I were both “blah” and had no motivation to do any therapy. So we did the A-Z word list, and I swear, whoever writes those lists comes up with the most RANDOM things that I have ever heard of, just to have a word for that letter.

Then it was time for the CI party, which you can read about here! After that, I went to Target with Jen C. While in the car, we were listening to the radio play, and I understood “twenty thousand” on the radio! We were wandering around the store, playing with the different toys that made noise, and I just had a blast, especially in the Halloween section.

When we left Target, it was so windy, that we were having a hard time walking outside. I looked up just in time to see a seagull fly right smack into a light pole. It fell straight to the ground, wings outstretched. The other seagulls came back to check on him, but he was already up and hopping around. He then started to do this run/hop so he could fly away, but without much luck. I felt so bad for it, and wanted to help it, but Jen said there wasn’t anything that we could do. So we left after making sure it was okay. (Yes, I have a bleeding heart for saving animals that are hurt or abandoned.)

I’m not sure if I heard the seagull before it hit the pole, or if I just happened to see it. It would be interesting to know if the CI alerted me to it or not.

Saturday, Kyle was willing to go with me to the Haunted House at the very last minute. We got there, and we waited in line to go in. I could hear the differences in the laughter, and was hearing several things that I couldn’t hear with the hearing aid. The clarity of the sound was what really struck me as opposed to the HA. As for my review of the Haunted House, it was a bit overpriced, but it was fun and they had some really creative rooms that I enjoyed (especially the first room with the couch, the execution room, the flying corpse in the graveyard, the car with the horn, and the dark tunnel with all the flashing lights, distorting your vision/sound). The rattling morgue doors is what scared me, because they made such a racket, and that’s one fear that I’ve had when exploring abandoned places/seeing pictures of abandoned places.

Anyway, I absolutely LOVE haunted houses ever since I used to go with my dad on the weekends to school, where the dads would build the Haunted House for the Elementary School’s Halloween Party. I would get to play with my classmates, while they were at work, and sometimes we got to help out.

After that, Kyle and I went to a fraternity party that I had been invited to. I had such a blast meeting and talking to all of these people from different schools in the area. The one thing I noticed was that some people started fingerspelling their names to me. I don’t know if it was obvious that I had a hearing loss, or if they just figured it out because it was so loud and noisy in there. Either way, it was cool, and I have some new friends.

But one of the best things that happened during the party, was that I was talking to people, and struggling to understand them because it was so noisy with the chatter and the music playing, and I suddenly recognized the song, and it was Crazy Town’s “Butterfly”. I was SO excited, because that is one of my top favorite songs, and to recognize it at a house party is awesome!

Today, I worked on the lab with Jen A., and while sitting in the kitchen, I heard this weird noise. It sounded musical, but kept coming and going. Jen told me it was the wind howling outside, to the point where it was whistling. It bugged me that I could hear it with the HA, but not really with the CI. What’s up with that?

Mandy says I should get an earmold for the CI, because it would help it to stay on my head. This would have come in handy while working on the lab, because the CI kept falling off my ear while I was laying on the floor, taking pictures. Finally, I just took it off, because I couldn’t hold the camera steady AND keep my CI on.

 

The Sound of SmarTees! Thursday, October 26, 2006

At work, we have a little candy bowl. There were SmarTees in there, so I grabbed one.

I was absent-mindedly throwing the SmarTees in my mouth, and I could hear the chink-chink as the bits of candy collided with the surface of my teeth. I didn’t realize the candy bouncing off of your teeth made a barely audible sound!

My right ear is still itchy, and I’m convinced it’s allergies. It only seems to affect the right side, going all the way down the eustachian tube into the right side of my throat, whereas the left is relatively unaffected. It was like this a month or so ago, and I have followed the orders of the doc since the last time, which is no more chewing gum, so my face/sinuses don’t hurt like it did before.

I did Sound&Beyond today, and I’m getting a bit sick of that program. I know that not everything is going to be all fun and games. To maximize the potential with the CI, I have to keep working at it, even if it is repetitive.

Tomorrow is the CI Meet&Greet at school. 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.

 

Photos From The Film Shoot on September 15, 2006 Friday, September 22, 2006

Mandy’s been bugging me about posting the pictures from last week online, so here they are!

On September 11th, I was asked to be a part of a project that the school is working on. It wasn’t till September 14th, that I found out exactly what the film is about. It’s going to be a recruitment video that is going to be sent out to 2,500 people, about the school itself. One portion of the video discusses services for deaf students, and the part that we participated in was the services that they provide for Cochlear Implant recipients.

 

Mandy and I, before shooting starts

(more…)

 

Initial Test Scores for Sound & Beyond Monday, September 18, 2006

There are moments where I miss the simplicity that hearing aids have when it comes to listening to sound in its wholeness, and hate the CI for not giving me that same access to sound. Then there are the rare moments where the intricacies of sound are revealed to me with the CI and revel in the amazement of it, and I fall in love all over again with the CI.

Listening with a CI is *NOT* a quick update or a quick fix to hear music or sound in its entirety. It takes lots of practice to get to that point.

The baseline test scores for S&B from Friday, 9/15
Consonant – 15%
Vowel – 35.42%
Food Words – 94%
Melody – 75%
Instrument – 61.1%
Animal Words – 98%

These scores help the program pinpoint where I should start and what I need to work on. Today, it assigned me to start with Level 2 for vowels, and Level 1 for consonants.

Unfortunately, this afternoon I was feeling frustrated and apathetic. While doing the consonant training, I had to determine which sound was the different one out of three, but had no idea what was being said. I can tell which one is different, more than 80% of the time, but it drives me crazy that I can’t UNDERSTAND what is being said.

It really bothers me that with some words, the only way I can differentiate is to compare how they “feel” and what kind of pulse is happening in my head. Sometimes I’ll hear a speech sound and then the rest of the word is a pulse. This is not what I expected sound to be like. But the point is that I have to train myself to listen to it and just got to keep working at it, and have PATIENCE.

I am also having problems with the sound dropping out, or gaps where there’s absolutely no sound (especially when its really noisy, it seems as if it’s overloaded the CI so no sound comes through), and Mandy realized that Megan had set the RF to manual. She changed it to PoEM, so now program 1 is with PoEM, and program 2 is same as program 1, but on manual. Program three is the same from last week, where we added gains in the high frequencies.

Today, I woke up at what I thought was 16 minutes before I had to leave for my class. I shot out of bed, and turns out it was only 7:17, but I still overslept by more than 45 minutes. I somehow changed the time on my clock instead of the alarm clock to get more sleep. As a result, I didn’t get to do my hair today, and it made it difficult in terms of wearing the CI (especially with wet hair).

In the book, AB suggests shaving around the part where the magnet is (which makes sense, but not necessary in my case as the hair’s already thin there) so the other option is wearing a headband.

I told Mandy it’s a good thing the 80s are back in fashion, because I would be in style with a headband. But first I need to get clothes that go with headbands! I love the 80s, especially the Hypercolor t-shirts!

But the one sentence I understood while waiting outside Mandy’s office, was her saying “thank you very much” as she hung up the phone.

 

Music Is Life Friday, September 15, 2006

I have never been able to recognize music – classic tunes that everybody can recognize just by the notes or by humming.

Today, Mandy started me on the Sound&Beyond program, to test me with the vowels and consonants to establish a baseline. After I finished that, I was allowed to play with the program, and did musical instruments first, which I did okay with, 61.1%.

She then suggested I try out the melody portion, which I didn’t know about/did not do with Megan. It had songs like Ode to Joy, Amazing Grace, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Wedding March, Alphabet Song, This Old Man, Baa Baa Black Sheep, Happy Birthday, Rock-A-Bye Baby, and Beethoven’s 5th.

I expected to do poorly, because the only songs I can recognize are my favorite songs by major artists that I listen to frequently. The ones I’ve been listening to over the years, on repeat, starting in 6th grade. There is no way I have ever been able to sit down and be able to tell you what classic tune was being played at the moment.

Then, after I got my digital hearing aid, I was able to start figuring out what band it was, but not the song, unless it was a favorite song of mine.

Now with the CI, after today’s test, I was proven wrong….

I got a SEVENTY-FIVE PERCENT accuracy, out of 16 questions, on my first try, without any practice or training beforehand.

Some of the songs were played in different keys, and I think I picked up on it (need to verify with Mandy on Monday.) Mandy said that the sound was pretty quiet coming from the speakers, so that was another surprise for me. Then I surprised her/confused her when one song I was positive was the “ABC Song”, and started singing along with it. She had to listen to it closely, and it was actually “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”, played in a different key.

I guess it goes to show that classical music training and playing the piano made a difference. I have a much better sense of timing and rhythm now. I also don’t have to bang the keys as hard in order to hear it, and my playing has improved (according to my mom). I learned to understand and appreciate the musical scale, chord progressions, style, tempo, harmony and melody.

Thank you Aunt Flossie, for giving me your old piano, and paying for my lessons, back in 1991. It really paid off. 15 years later, I’m still playing on that piano.

Thank you to my piano teacher, Deborah Preach, for being willing to teach a deaf kid how to play the piano, for 5 years of lessons, and having a lot of patience with me to learn and appreciate it.

Thank you to Mom and Dad, for taking me to piano lessons and waiting until I was done. For putting up with my playing, as terrible it was at times, and for my obsession with the chord combination of E-B and E-A, in middle C. Not to mention the times I tried to compose songs, and was obsessed with finding the perfect sound, just like Beethoven.

Thank you to my family, for all their encouragement and support, even when I played badly. For putting up with my constant love for music and indulging me, even when it was blasting throughout the house, often on repeat.

And look where I am today, first time ever listening to this, and I got 75%!

Maybe now I can finish teaching myself how to play the drums (thanks to Helen’s christmas present a few years ago, an electronic drum kit), then get started on learning how to play the saxophone, hammond b3 organ, harmonica, and experiment with vocoders/synthesizers. I’m not exceptionally skilled with guitar playing, and I didn’t like playing the violin when I was in 3rd grade.

More later about the last two days, as it’s Friday night, and I want time to myself to relax. I’ve been on the go all week with 7 am-1am days, and tomorrow’s my all-day photo shoot, plus there’s a picnic at the lake on Sunday with PHouse.