The Bionic Sound Project

this girl’s journey to sound

The Airport Announcements Sunday, December 3, 2006

Saturday, I flew back to school. I had a nearly 2.5 hour layover in Cleveland, Ohio. While waiting at the gate, I was approached by a deaf young man, John T., who also goes to school with me. Felt like I had seen him before, but we found out we had some mutual friends in common, and figured that’s how we probably met. Gotta love the deaf community.

Anyway, the gate I was at, had multiple planes at it (the kind where you have to walk down the stairs and out onto the tarmac). This lead to staggered boarding, as they were boarding the multiple cities at different times.

What I was so excited about was while I was engaged in a conversation in sign, I heard them saying word-for-word over the PA, “we are now boarding for Rochester, New York” and I said to my new friend, “that’s us!”

It was so weird to be able to be engaged in conversation in a noisy airport, and hear the announcement word for word in the background. And at the same time, absolutely THRILLING to be able to understand it with the cochlear implant.

Flying was much better this time around, but my ear still doesn’t like the pressure on it. But I didn’t feel dizzy/off-balance after getting off the plane, and going through the security pat-down was quick, compared to last time I flew out of Phoenix.

I forgot to mention in yesterday’s entry that Megan has been listening to Christina Aguilera way more than I have, and every time she hears her music, she thinks of me. I infect people with the Christina goodness!

My focus since I’ve been activated was to listen to a diversity of music, mostly my favorite songs, to retrain my brain to associate that pulse with that sound. Now that I’ve trained my ears with different music and it is starting to sound natural, I may start listening to Christina’s new stuff more.

I think I didn’t want to corrupt her beautiful voice with the CI until I could get a sense of normalcy with music.

Megan also said that music will be so much better with the Harmony, and both she and Dr. M can’t wait to see what I think of it as compared to the Auria, since I’m a music fanatic.

I also learned that I have to wait for a letter from Advanced Bionics, that will explain about how to get the Harmony, then I have to call and order it, then bring it in to program it. Just a month to two months to go!

A lot of people are getting implanted in January, because they want to get two Harmony processors. I’m glad I got implanted when I did, because I want to enjoy the Harmony when it’s turned on, now that I’m doing reasonably well with the Auria.

Ok, 6:35 am, and I should go do something productive before heading out to the Toy Fair and sushi with my friends! A new sound adventure awaits, and this time it’s one of my favorite things…TOYS!

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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!

 

Deaf Culture and Attitudes (and upcoming CI events) Thursday, November 2, 2006

today was just…WOW, for lack of a better word. had a long talk with Mary Karol this morning, and I felt so much better after it. I’ve learned so much about deafness and deaf culture, and the differences between big D, small d, and small-d-that-became-big-D, and the beliefs within those groups. I’d expand on it, but it’s so complicated, and cannot be summarized here. But basically the attitude comes from small-d-who-become-big-D, that causes the division within the community, but I think it comes from all sides.

However, she did have a good point, where people like me, will have a hard time, because we can slip easily in and out of both worlds. My deaf-institute friends, those that are big-D, have said the same thing as well in conversations with me. Being able to talk and be understood by hearing people, playing by hearing-culture rules. And then I’m able to slip into the deaf world, and sign (not that well as in pure-ASL, but I am good at understanding, not expressing). But the issue is jealousy, because not everybody has that opportunity or those skills. It makes sense when you think about it. I definitely wouldn’t trade who I am and my communication style for anything.

We also checked out the room for the holiday party, and it was the first time I’ve been in the new SDC and I was blown away by it. It’s still under construction, but should be finished by next week. I’m excited because the students can help with the planning/prep of the party and other events throughout the year because it is our organization, so I am going to help out with that.

didn’t meet with mandy/do sound&beyond this morning, cuz of audiological training this morning. I did have speech with Karen today… that “th” sound is giving me trouble now.

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 15, 2-4:30 PM, SDC-1300 – BE THERE OR BE SQUARE.
open to both CI/non-CI, deaf/hoh/hearing students, faculty, staff, and friends

 

Hockey and Fall Leaves Saturday, October 21, 2006

Mandy gave me more Halloween goodness for therapy. Some of the Halloween words are tricky to understand. This time I got to do a word search, and I had to listen and find the keyword in the sentence. Mandy was teasing me with the word “hoot hoot” because she picked a few extra words to repeat at the end of the puzzle. It better not take the place of “mango”, which I haven’t heard for awhile, thank goodness.

I’ve gotten positive responses on my statement that was read on NPR. My mom forwarded the email to her coworkers, and I’ve heard back from them (the entire group is awesome, and have been supportive of my mom/me throughout this journey). I’ve also heard back from the faculty/staff here at school. One teacher emailed me if they could use my statement for a class project that they are doing on the topic about the situation at Gallaudet.

Our school’s first home Hockey game was at 7 pm, and it was practically sold out. Here at this school, the hockey team is the equivalent of any big-name football university. My friends and I sat with the Corner Crew (slogan: we’re loud and obnoxious at hockey games).

On the other side of the aisle was the band, so it was fun getting to listen to the band play the instruments, instead of a sound file on the computer. I really enjoyed listening to them play. The one sound that drove me crazy after awhile was the cowbell that somebody in the CC had. Listening to them bang on it repeatedly throughout the game, to set the beat for the game/crowd, was annoying after awhile.

Then there was some kind of noisemaker horn, three rows behind me, that tooted out the number of goals we had scored, and a long toot for the next one to score. We won 8-3, so I heard it quite a bit last night.

This year, with the CI, it was easier to follow along with the CC-patented chants. Some of the simpler ones, I was able to understand just by listening, and able to jump in immediately. A lot of the cheers I don’t know, because I wasn’t able to understand them last year.

Jen A., some girl behind me, and I nearly got decapitated by an errant hockey puck that was hit by the other team. My back was to the game, as I was talking to people, but I ducked just in time. It was too close of a call, eek. I’m not sure if I heard the commotion of the crowd, or if it was some developed sixth-sense of mine warning me of danger (due to deafness, you tend to develop an environmental awareness, even if you’re not consciously paying attention to your surroundings). Anyway, there were a few high-flying hockey pucks last night, so I should have known better.

After the game was over, I went back to the dorms with Jen A., and hung out on floor for awhile. Realized that even at night, with the doors closed, and not a lot of people around, the floor is still not quiet. I headed home around midnight. Midnight is a wonderful time to go for a walk, as it’s relatively quiet on campus.

The leaves have started to really shed around here, creating a thickly layered carpet of Autumn’s death. It was fun hearing the crunch of the leaves underneath my sneakers. I could also hear the slight scrape of the leaves against the asphalt, as they were kicked up by the toes of my shoes.

Then there was the tiny skitter-whistle as they scurried across the pavement, held ever so slightly aloft by the undercurrent of the wind swooping across the ground. I wanted to run around and experiment some more with the leaves, but I was turning into a human popsicle, and could only think of getting warm and toasty. I will have to do that soon before they’re raked up by maintenance.

In the past, I was able to hear the leaves (just barely) with the HA, and only if they were really stiff and on a hard surface, or if there was a ton of them, forcing you to wade through them. What a difference it makes.

 

Me and Jen A.

 

(more…)

 

Let’s Talk About Tolerance…Or Rather, The Lack Of It Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Today, I had a really low tolerance for sound. People’s voices were driving me nuts. My tolerance level was probably not helped by the ADHD, as we’re adjusting medication doses for me.

Just sitting in class and listening to people talk, some voices were gravelly, and others were scratchy. It was the equivalent of what I would imagine to be nails scratching on a blackboard resonating through my head, and I just wanted to shut the sound out and have quiet.

This afternoon, I had my hardest therapy session to date, due to our activity that Mandy had today, and the new subject content. But first, I was glad I was able to vent my concerns and frustrations with the whole Gallaudet protest to Mandy, because she understands where I’m coming from. I know my friends and family mean well and want to understand, but I feel like they don’t understand why people are upset over it and the significance of the protest for the deaf/Deaf community.

Nor do they understand how I feel being an oral-deaf, mainstreamed kid, and the viewpoints/attitude of the Deaf community that have been stirred up by this recent debate about audism/deafism, and are being somewhat slowly translated over here to this campus, that it’s starting to become more visible of an issue now.

Basically, whatever the outcome of this is, it will have an effect on the intercultural relationships between people in the deaf community, and are best expressed in Allison Kaftan’s post The Worst Thing To Come Out Of This Mess. Fernandes may have brought it up, but the fact remains that that unspoken charge and hostility has and always has been an undercurrent within the community. She just put a name to it.

Anyway, therapy today, Mandy gave me clues to words in a crossword puzzle, but they were related to Halloween. These aren’t common phrases and sentences, so it was a bit of a struggle. That, and I think my brain was being cantankerous today.

Mandy noticed that with me, I am able to reproduce what the given sentence sounded like to me, but it doesn’t make sense. She said that it reminds her of the game Mad Gab.

Here’s an example of what a sentence to me sounds like to me with the CI, and without lipreading or any support.

Hears: A klute toothy puss hull.
Actual: A clue to the puzzle.

The key is in trying to make my brain put the sounds together to form words that make sense when put together.

In the morning, I had a headache while in the ESP lab during our class demo, and having to sit on the floor and look up at the interpreter. So I just stopped paying attention because the strain on my neck plus the lighting and low noise tolerance was too much. I spent some time just listening to my teacher talk, and picking up words here and there.

It’s still a world of garble and gibberish, but the fact I’m able to pick up a few words here and there, makes me pleased.

 

well, that certainly wasn’t what I had in mind when I said I wanted to understand speech. Saturday, October 14, 2006

Well, that certainly wasn’t what I had in mind when I said I wanted to be able to understand speech with the CI. I most certainly didn’t expect to be able to understand that phrase 2 months after activation. Being able to understand “you’re a bleeping bleep” in the background at a party, even with the music playing and people talking, is amazing. Course, it is a phrase that I hear frequently, so it wouldn’t be that difficult, but still… Oy.


all of us (minus 2 people from the picture, and a few who couldn’t come)

My friends were amazed when I turned around from the kitchen where I was doing stuff and asked “who is the bleeping bleep?” (which wasn’t directed at me, but rather an “-ism” one of my friends uses for everybody) and realized that I understood that. There were a few more of those moments during the night, where I was asked something, and responded back correctly, either with an answer or doing what was asked, all without looking at them or lipreading.

The whole concept of being able to understand without actively listening, is very strange to me. But I get rewarded with those rare moments that I understand words or sentences, and reaffirm my faith in the CI.

Showed up on Friday, only to find out from Don that Mandy is sick so no therapy. She didn’t look like she felt well on Thursday, so I hope she feels better soon because it’s not fun to be sick, and because it’s always awesome to see her. And she has a surprise that she is working on for our sessions, so I’m eager to see what she has come up with.

Had speech therapy with Karen on Thursday, and she had a new activity for me. She will ask a question, and I have to answer it, and then have a back-and-forth conversation with her. This allows me to practice listening, and to work on my speech rate, and using good speech while talking. The majority of my errors come not from when I’m reading the word/doing drills, but rather from being spontaneous. This is going to be a lot of fun, I’m excited.

She also forwarded me an email with the listening therapy websites online, and it is comprehensive! I need to get internet at home, so I can use them on my computer, because the Macs at school don’t seem to like the files, as I discovered on Thursday.

At 2 pm, National Public Radio did something I’ve never seen before. They had live captioning on the web for a story that was being talked about live on the radio. The subject matter was the October 12, 2006 – The Evolving Debate Over Cochlear Implants as well as Deaf Culture in America: As Culture Evolves, The Questions Change, and they encouraged deaf people to call in. They were cool working with the intepreters and relay operators, even though radio is a fast-talking medium, attempting to squeeze many words into a short amount of time. Now if some people in the world took the lead of NPR on this broadcast, life would be good.

Don’t forget to read A sampling of comments from the audience members. Be sure to read about the one titled “Social and Emotional Impact of Oralism”, as it is a topic I am very familiar with, and strongly support.

I would have called in/listened during those shows, but I was at work.