Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Activation DAY!

Well, it is late but I need to post SOMETHING because I know all of you are all out there waiting for a report. Today has been the most incredible, overwhelming, exciting, and emotional day for me. It is the first day of the rest of my life! Right now I am in sound overload with a head full of sounds and am still "processing." It is so new and different but I like it! I just need to sit and be quiet and figure things out.

This is only the beginning. I started my day out just praying and listening to my praise CD's in the car on the way to Knoxville. My dear friend, Dawn, met me in the lobby of the Baptist Medical Tower. We went up to the doctor's office together where I was going to meet the audiologist for the very first time and get my processor. I had been very apprehensive about meeting the audiologist for the first time and working with him because I was not comfortable with his "reputation." I won't go into details but this morning I felt that I needed to just go with the flow, keep an open mind and do my best with him. It was such an awesome experience and I know that we will work well together. To make a long story short, I asked him if I could ask him a question. He said, "Sure." I shared with him that these last few months have been a very special spiritual journey for me and that I was walking in faith today. I then asked him if he was a Christian. He smiled a little and said, "Yes" and was probably wondering where I was coming from. I told him that I was walking in faith today. . .Dawn is sitting next to me getting all teary eyed and almost lost it when he said, "Well, I'm not Jesus, but I will do my best!" Dawn told me later that his whole demeanor changed after that and we both feel that he and I will work very well together. It was just so important for me to "connect" with him and we did.

When we first sat down, he showed me my "box" with all my stuff (Brad will love this!) and explained everything to me. Then he hooked my processor to his computer and said that it would be silent for a while while he checked the electrodes in my implant. He was happy to report that ALL 22 of them were working and firing to the auditory nerve like they are supposed to. Yay! Then, we went through a series of beeps and tones. The beeps sounded like "pings" from a spaceship in outer space. When he turned on the processor, I told him I could hear something. He and Dawn looked at each other and then he said, "The only sound in this room is the fan right above you." I couldn't hear it with my hearing aid but I could hear it with the processor! He changed some more settings and we kept talking until he was satisified that the program was where it needed to me. I only have two programs set right now but will eventually get four. I couldn't hear Dawn's voice at first but could hear his so he made another change until I could hear Dawn. Everything sounds mechanical, like maybe a synthesizer. But, I like it. I still have a long way to go. I've been told that everything will sound better from now on! My auditory nerve has never been stimulated like this before so it will take some time for my brain to adjust to everything that I'm hearing. Sounds are not louder but better. Just strange and different but I like it. Almost sounds like bells ringing every so often. I like one program better than the other and will probably just stay there until I go back for another mapping session in two weeks. The appointment lasted two hours and went by so quickly! I took the video camera so we could film the whole process but we didn't get around to using it because we were so busy! But, Dawn did get some digital pictures. . .

We decided to meet at Panera Bread for lunch before I went back to work. On the way there, I heard my keys dangling and banging in the car! Drove me nuts so I took them off the key chain. I had not heard that before and I'm surprised it didn't bother anyone else in the car that had ridden with me in the past! Brad called me and wanted to know how everything went! I wasn't really set up to talk on the phone so we just talked briefly and agreed to talk later. Heard lots of noises in the restaurant but could hear Dawn perfectly. I was so glad she was there with me today! Steve was out of town and all the kids are either gone or in school so she was the only one who could be there. My sister, Kathy, was going to come, too, but she got a new job at the last minute and was starting this morning.

When I got to work, everyone wanted to talk to me and kept saying "Can you hear?" Well, yes, I can but I needed to just sit and be quiet and process it all. I am so thankful to have wonderful coworkers who are so respectful and supportive. So, I stayed at my desk quietly and just worked and listened. Noises sound different but I can tell an improvement. I'm just trying to concentrate to get used to hearing and comprending all these new sounds.

After work, I had a pedicure appointment. The girls in the salon were so interested and excited for me. I could hear the hair dryer, people talking across the room, the phone ringing, and the sound of the nail file!

Then, I went to parent-teacher conferences at the high school to talk with Marissa's teachers. I could hear people walking down the hall and shuffling their shoes on the floor! Made me think of Mom and how she used to tell me to pick up my feet all the time.

Last but not least, I went to Bible Study. It was our first one of the season and I did not want to miss it. The girls all wanted a report and were very understanding of my need to just be quiet and listen. I showed them the processor and how the magnet just attached to my head. I think it surprised them a little!

Just as I was leaving Bible Study, Steve called on my cell phone. Talked to him for 11 minutes and understood almost everything he said. For some reason, I cannot hear on the phone with the processor. I'm using my hearing aid side to use the phone because it sounds better. I may need to wait for another mapping to be able to use the phone with the processor. Also talked to Marissa, my nephew, Michael and my brother, Dan. (I don't think I have EVER talked to Michael on the phone and could understand him perfectly!) Talked to Brad's girlfriend, Kayla, and she came right over to see me after I got home. Steve and Marissa say my voice sounds different. I can't tell.

Today has been a good day. I was prepared for things to sound strange and weird but I feel really good that I am able to understand as much as I have today. So, I've made some good progress. I'm going to close with a poem that was in Dr. Merwin's office today which really sums up my whole day. . .

"Remember you go nowhere by accident,
Wherever you go, God is sending you.
Wherever you are, God has put you there.
God has a purpose in you being there,
Christ, who is in you, has something He
wants to do through you where you are.
Believe this and go in God's strength,
Love and power."

written by R.C. Halverson
Former Chaplain, U.S. Senate

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