The Bionic Sound Project

this girl’s journey to sound

Walkie Talkie Trouble Monday, June 18, 2007

The last time I posted, I mentioned how the sound quality was blah. It seems to be back to normal now. I wonder if my brain/nerves weren’t interpreting the signals from the implant correctly because I was overtired.

Anyway, Friday, I tried out the walkie with the headset that we have at work. I can barely hear it, even with it turned up all the way.

There also seems to be more static in it, than if I was to just listen to it without the headset. My comprehension is better without the headset, yet with the radio alone, the entire store can hear the walkies.

I wonder if there’s a special attachment that I can use for the walkie that will work with my cochlear implant. That’d be awesome, then I’d know what’s happening, and still have privacy.

At the same time, my teammates say I’m lucky that I don’t have to listen to the walkie. It makes me exempt from certain job duties, and I don’t have to listen to the general chatter that goes on throughout the day. I want to have the same responsibilities, but it’s very difficult for me to participate in some of those shared responsibilites, due to the spontaneous nature of the request.

But what bugs me about not hearing what’s going on, is that I miss out on all the little day-to-day things that make it interesting, and give each day it’s own flavor. Maybe people really don’t want to listen to what everybody else has to say, but I sure am curious.

The second part that bugs me is while in a middle of a conversation with my teammates, they’ll stop to listen to what’s happening over the walkie, but I don’t know that, and I keep talking. And then they go sorry, and ask me what I was saying. It’s frustrating. Same thing happens with my friends at school too when they have their cell phones or bluetooth headsets.

Having a walkie would also make it so much easier for me to get help if I needed it, or to track down certain people, instead of running all over the store.

I know at Christmas, they told me they wanted me to have a walkie on me, but I feel like why should I carry a walkie around, because I can’t hear on it, and there are other people who are more qualified or have a greater need to use the walkie.

I’m also nervous about picking up a walkie and asking for help, cuz what if they can’t understand me, or give me a message back, and I’m like “what” because I can’t understand them. It’d be worse if I was in front of a guest and unable to help them because I couldn’t understand what was being said!

Maybe I should try it again, or talk my boss about a way to deal with that, when I need to know her or my teammates’ locations.

I already rack up more than 5.2 miles a day per shift, just running around all over the store, and due to the physical nature of my job. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I love it. 🙂 The team is awesome.

The other thing that I noticed, was that being back on the job for less than a week and a half, I was already recognizing my boss’s voice/footsteps/laugh before I see her. It’s kinda cool, because sometimes I’ll hear something, and think “gosh, that sounds like her”, and then she appears in sight. It’s amazing how the CI lets you capture the nuances of a person’s voice. Its not 100% perfect, but it’s pretty good compared to the hearing aids!

 

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.

 

It Doesn’t Change How I Like It…LOUD Thursday, February 1, 2007

After a few months of avoiding music because my brain was tired, graduating to playing at low volume, then listening to it through headphones, I finally realized something tonight.

No matter how deaf I am, if I have a cochlear implant or not, I’m always going to like my music loud.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t bode well for the poor souls that are within a five-mile radius of me, whether on the road or at home.

There is nothing like the feel of the bass pulsing through your body. The vibrations cascading down your back. The ripples of the sound as it skips around your ears, giving you a pleasant rush, leading you to the crescending high. Music is my drug. It’s an addiction that I can shake, but only for so long.

I just have to blast it, drench myself in sound. I have to feel it through every inch of my body. And tonight, I had the feeling of being reborn through the songs.

“4 My People (Basement Jaxx Remix Radio Edit)” – Missy Elliott
“Lazy (Original Mix) [feat. David Byrne]” – X-Press 2
“Young, Fresh N’ New (Timo Maas Remix)” – Kelis
“It’s Gonna Be…(A Lovely Day) [Bini&Martini Club Remix]” – Brancaccio&Aisher
“Shifter (Full Vocal Mix) [feat. MC Chickaboo]” – Timo Maas
“Salsoul Nugget (If You Wanna) [Extended Vocal Mix]” – Girl Next Door
“Groovejet (If This Ain’t Love, Then Why Does It Feel So Good) [Extended Vocal Mix]” – Spiller
“What A Girl Wants (Thunderpuss Dirty Club Mix)” – Christina Aguilera
“Freakin’ You” – Jungle Brothers
“Rendez-Vu” – Basement Jaxx
“Blue Skies (Deep Dish Blue Phunk Mix) [feat. Tori Amos]” – bt
“Lapdance (Paul Oakenfold Swordfish Mix)” – N.E.R.D.

The cochlear implant won’t change how I like my music. It does give me the ability to hear it when it’s faint, but it doesn’t have the same energy and intensity for me. I cannot deny who I am.

So! In the words of Nintendo’s Game Boy Campaign from the 1990s…“Play It Loud”. Rock on! \m/

And for the eardrums everywhere who hoped that the CI would make things quieter…I’m so very sorry.

p.s. If you’re familiar with any of those songs, and can think of more that I might enjoy, please share!

 

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?

 

Tape, Paper, Scissors Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Today’s in-class demo was cool. Not because of the techniques we were learning, but because of what I could hear. I was enthralled with the discovery of different sounds.

When the room was silent, from a distance of 15 feet or so, I could hear the “thrrrp” of the masking tape as strips were torn off. The “nnshhhhhttt-nnsht-nsssht” of the scissors cutting through the posterboard. And the “crrkthhttttt” as the two halves separated from each other.

I’ve been able to hear it with the hearing aid, but only if I was the one who was wielding those items and making the noises. The tape was especially cool, because I’ve never heard the sound of it ripping off. Pulling it off from the roll, yes, ripping off, no.

I couldn’t hear it with the HA from that distance, but I could with the CI, and the sound was much more detailed than I remember with the HA. I almost wanted to ask him to keep going with the different tools, because I was having so much fun listening to it.

I did notice that the CI did not pick up the squeaking of the chair that Sam was sitting in, but the HA did.

I saw the doc today about the two episodes of the room-spinning, and he said to keep an eye on it. There are so many factors involved in it, that it’s hard to determine if the CI has any effect on it. The fact that the episode only lasts less than a few seconds, and has no precursor to it, doesn’t help much along with the fact that I do not have an history of passing out.

If there was a problem with the CI, it’d be more likely that it would be of a longer duration (like after my 1st surgery). Because the eardrum looks fine, there’s no change in listening, and the CI is still working, it’s hard to say if the CI has anything to do with it.

It could be stress. It could be eating on an irregular basis. It could be lack of sleep. It could be for totally random reasons.

He did say that I may I need to get on a regular sleeping pattern for the week AND the weekend. That should help with my balance system to keep it in check. How many times have I heard that?

One thing that felt so weird during the exam was when he was pressing on the internal part. I could feel my eardrum moving back and forth. He said it was because he was increasing the pressure in the inner ear when he was pushing down on the implant.

 

Having A CI Takes A LOT Of Mental Energy Thursday, October 19, 2006

More and more, I’m starting to realize how much wearing the CI takes a lot of mental energy. By the time I get home after a full day of school and work, I’m drained and take a nap. It’s not an optimal situation, because napping at 6 pm, leaves you unable to sleep at bedtime.

Yesterday afternoon, while at work, my CI started freaking out (or so I noticed). I asked Sid if she could hear anything, and she went on a sound hunt with me. I figured it was just an anamolous event, as Sid couldn’t hear anything that would account for the strange glut of prolonged beeps and whistles that I was hearing (in P1). This was peculiar, as the office usually is very quiet.

As I sit here at the bus stop waiting for the always-late bus, I’m hearing the same sounds rippling through my head again, much to my dismay. I’m about ready to rip the CI off and say “to the heck with it all” (my patience is shot for this week). However, I have to realize I’ve gone through the same problems with the HA itself, so I can’t be too hard on the CI. It’s easy to call it a “miracle”, but as with any piece of technology, it will have problems.

I hope it stops soon so I can get back to “normal” hearing (whatever that may be).

 

this has not been a good week Friday, October 6, 2006

Filed under: appointment,karen,mandy,observations,tiredness — Allison @ 12:43 pm

This has not been a good week. I’m still battling the exhaustation that has plagued me since last week, and therefore haven’t done much in terms of recording my experiences, as I use my free moments to nap or to just relax.

I canceled my Thursday sessions with Mandy and Karen, just so I could catch up on rest and take a break from this constant assault on my senses. And Friday with Mandy has been canceled due to her going out of town for class for her doctorate’s. So I get an extra break until Monday, when she wants to do another hearing test on me to see how the CI is doing.

I’m now thinking that this extreme tiredness is mostly from learning how to listen, a cumulation of the last 2 months (Saturday marks the 2 month anniversary of being activated) have taken a toll on me, combined with the daily ebb and flow of everyday life. (and it can’t be mono, because I’ve already had it, as one person asked me). I worry some people due to my being very pale, but that’s how I am when I get tired/sick.

I come home from school/work and usually collapse on the futon, often falling asleep with my CI on or until the battery dies and I relapse into my world of silence. The news plays in the background, and it is there in the haze of my sleep. It is a weird sensation to be “hearing” in your sleep, after being deaf since birth. I don’t know how to explain it, but the sensation of “hearing” is dramatically different from being deaf in your sleep. And it’s not very restful. Funny how something that you’ve done every day can dramatically change for you, like a new pair of shoes when your old ones have molded themselves to a perfect fit of your feet.

Anyway, I hope that my body and brain will magically find a way to re-energize itself…quickly, because this is not the time to feel like I’ve been flattened by a steamroller (and I don’t mean you, Jen!)

So that’s the update, as two old friends of mine, that I haven’t talked to for awhile, have asked me today for an update on my “hearing”.