Sunday, October 30, 2005

Birds and Chocolate Pudding

Birds and chocolate pudding are great together! That is how I started my morning today. Steve and I spent some time outside this morning listening to the different chirps, calls, and songs of the birds. It was wonderful. I heard robins, blue jays, wrens or finches, and a few other birds that Steve could not identify. I also had chocolate pudding for breakfast with my coffee. What a great way to start the day!

I know I haven't written in here for a while. Actually, I have been busy writing all afternoon since I was asked to be the featured writer for the CI Hear website for November and need to have my story turned in by tomorrow. So, if you are reading this, look to your right, click on the CI Community link and scroll down to the CI Feature Story of the month.

I've been busy "listening" these last few weeks and love all the new things I am hearing and experiencing. My world is filled with the sounds of family, friends, music, and all the little things of life that fills my soul with joy. I am also experiencing some tinnitus (ringing in the ears) that I don't like but that is only temporary and can be adjusted with the right "map." I hear it when I take my ears off at night and it sounds like the wheels of sound are still turning in my head! It is usually gone by morning or it goes away when I put my CI back on. I think I have some sinus issues going on, too, and antihistamines seem to keep the tinnitus from bothering me.

I got my third "map" since I last added an entry to this journal. I had trouble hearing the tones and beeps because of the tinnitus but was still able to get "mapped." I'm still having some CI moments but not as many as before. The new sounds that I heard after I was first hooked up are becoming clearer and more distinct and I can hear them from farther away than before. This morning I heard the kitchen clock while I was standing in the middle of the kitchen. That is progress! The first time when I noticed it, I was standing right next to it. Riga sounds like a horse running through the kitchen with her toenails and dog tags making noise.

I am not really understanding speech yet without reading lips and it may take a while to get to that point. Lately, though, I have been pleasantly surprised when I can pick up a phrase or word without reading lips. Last Sunday night I heard the pastor say "for this we give you thanks" during a long five minute prayer but didn't get anything else. On Thursday night I was sitting in the knitting shop working on some socks that I was making. The store owner, Antje, was sitting next to me placing an order over the phone and I heard about 50% of her conversation! She was basically calling off amounts and numbers like "I need 4 of the number eights, six of the number nines, etc." and I also heard her say, "thank you very much for all your help." I just sat there and smiled as I listened to her! Music is still not as good as I'd like but that will come. Instrumental music and single voices sound great but when there is a combination of voices and muscial instruments, it is hard to pick out the voice singing the songs. Maybe that is normal but I don't know what normal is. And it is worse in church or an auditorium, especially when people clap or make other noise because my processor shuts down the loudest noise that it hears, thinking it is background noise. That can be fixed with another adjustment. My job is to be patient, practice listening, and locate sounds when I can and let my brain do the work.

Also, last Sunday, Steve, Brad, Marissa, and I went to the movies to see "Dreamer." This was my first time seeing a movie since I got my CI. It wasn't close captioned and I was a little lost but I was able to get a basic idea of the story line. The movie theatre was loud and I couldn't get the sound right no matter what I did with the processor. I did hear someone behind me eating popcorn very loudly! I usually wait until movies come out on video or DVD so I can watch them with closed captioning.

Last week, I went to the Hearing Center to talk with Susie, the speech therapist about starting some auditory training. We will start working together next Wednesday. One of the first things she will do is to test my hearing to find out how much I've improved with my CI. She also asked me lots of questions about what I was hearing, what my settings were on my CI, and if I was using my accessories with my kit. I told her that I haven't been using my accessories because I haven't received them yet! She also suggested that I may want to have Bill put one of my old maps back on my processor to see if I do any better with it. (Bradley also said the same thing last weekend when he was home and said "Mom, you did better with your first map than you did with your second and third one.")

Susie also suggested that I practice talking in the dark with Steve or someone that I'm comfortable with. I'm happy to report that Steve and I can talk in the dark! On Friday night, Steve and I practiced talking in the dark and he was just too funny. I told him to count from 1 to 10 and call off random numbers and he would call out zero, twelve or any other number but 1 through 10! I can't understand the number three or four but get the rest. They sound alike and don't sound right like I think they should sound. So, my audiologist may need to do some more programming on my processor the next time I see him.

I also told Susie that I was hearing birds during the day and at night, too, but couldn't tell what kind they were. She told me that there are day birds and night birds and they have different calls. I may have heard an owl the other night. Susie is going to let me borrow some of her sound cards that have the sounds of different birds on them so I can get a feel for what they sound like.

Every day is new gift for me. I know I will have to work hard at listening and that I still have to ask for help every now and then. I am thankful that God has provided this miracle of sound for me and I start each day praising Him when I put my processor and hearing aid on in the morning. For He is my everything, my reason for breathing, for being alive. When I trust Him fully, he will continue to transform my life with His amazing grace.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Morning Symphony

The birds are singing for me! I have heard them the last two mornings because fall is here and the weather is getting cooler. I feel like I am in a concert or symphony of birds because I hear so many different ones! Wow. When I experience something so beautiful, I just cannot help but thank God that He did this for me. Whether it is a beautiful sunrise or sunset, a full moon, a rainbow, a thunderstorm, or something that He has created, I give Him my thanks and praise Him. It's not about us but is all about Him. He created this beautiful world FOR us. For me and for you. So, I will sing and praise Him this morning with one of my favorite hymns by Eleanor Farjeon. . .

Morning has broken like the first morning;
Blackbird has spoken like the first bird.
Praise for the singing! Praise for the morning!
Praise for them springing fresh from the Word!

Sweet the rain's new fall sunlit from heaven,
Like the first dewfall on the first grass.
Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden,
Sprung in completeness where His feet pass.

Mine is the sunlight! Mine is the morning,
Born of the one light Eden saw play!
Praise with elation; praise every morning,
God's recreation of the new day!

Saturday, October 15, 2005


Our beloved Riga. Since I talk about her often, I thought I would share a picture. She is a solid black German Shepherd, is three years old, and is a wonderful dog. She loves to ride in the car, walk in the park and play ball. She understands the word "walk" and "ball" and gets very excited when she hears them so we have to spell those words when she is around! I enjoy having her for my companion and cannot imagine my life without her. We hope to breed her soon. It will be fun to hear "puppy sounds" someday.

Adjustment Needed

It's time for another update from me. This last "tune-up" that I had over a week ago has not been as good as the first one. I'll be going back to Bill on Tuesday morning for another adjustment to my processor and I am ready! I still continue to hear new sounds almost every day but not as much as I did the first two weeks. Voices are sounding very mechanical right now and I feel like I'm hearing everyone underwater or through a speaker phone. Music does not sound as good as it did before even though I have a "music" setting on my processor. It sounds like rap and is very static-like. Not a good thing! I have also noticed my sound quality diminishing towards evening and don't seem to hear as good like I do first thing in the morning when I turn on my processor. It could be my brain getting "tired" or maybe the map on my processor is not strong enough.

Also, my tinnitus is bothering me quite a bit. I never did have a problem with it until after the implant. I only notice it when I take my processor and hearing aid off at night but it is gone by morning. It sounds like a constant buzz in my head as if the brain is still "hearing" sound after everything is turned off. This is normal and is only temporary, I've been told. All these "problems" are part of the process and the auditory nerve needs to be stimulated at a faster rate so that I can proceed to the next step. I am on two CI forums online and the feedback that I'm getting tells me that the second mapping is usually the worst one and it will only get better after that. I hope so!

Last Monday I was sitting in Steve's office talking with him and kept hearing a clicking noise. I asked him if he had the radio on and he said no. He said that the only noise in the room was the clock ticking on his desk and he could barely hear it. The clock got louder as I got closer to it. That was a good CI moment! I also heard Riga "sigh" while I was talking with Steve and ignoring her. The tags on her collar jingle when she walks around the house or scratches her neck. This past Tuesday I had a doctor's appointment and heard the ear thermometer "beep" while the nurse was taking my temperature. Never heard that before! I've always had to look at thermometers several times to see if the reading was done or not. Other sounds are becoming clearer and more distinct and I can hear them from farther away.

The program on my processor that puts the background noise in the background for me is nice. I could hear salespeople talking to me very clearly while I was shopping in the mall with Marissa.
Newspaper pages and rustling papers are a little irritating to me right now and sound very loud. Last night I heard Steve wipe his arm with a paper towel. Leaves make a noise when they are stepped on. This morning I heard an "auditorium" of birds outside. I could even hear them in the house while fixing breakfast for me and Steve. I also heard the kitchen timer ticking. I noticed that the kitchen timer speeds up when it is ready to go off. I also heard Steve running his brush through his hair while we were in our bedroom.

On Thursday night, Steve and I went to the monthly SHHH meeting. Dr. Merwin, who is my doctor that performed my CI surgery, was the speaker. What a great meeting that was. He did a wonderful Powerpoint presentation and it was fascinating. Even though I have done a lot of research on cochlear implants, I learned a lot. He talked quite a bit on implanting children, catching them early so they don't get delayed, and the qualifications and criteria for CI's. He also talked about the progress and advances that have been made in CI's in the last 20 years. What was interesting to me is that he started his career as an electrical engineer before he became a ENT doctor doing cochlear implants. He has been doing cochlear implants since 1991 and did the first adult implant in Knoxville at that time. He was also the first one to do a child implant in Knoxville a year later. He was very patient with the questions people asked him during his presentation and was very knowledgeable about the subject. He even used me to demonstrate where he makes the incision, etc. during the surgery and took my processor off my head to show everyone what it looked like. We could tell that he really enjoys what he does with technology and medical science. I had the opportunity to thank him again after the meeting for giving me the gift of sound. He was very pleased to hear about all the new sounds that I've been hearing. He is a miracle worker!

Today is Susan's birthday. This is the first birthday she has had with sound since she was implanted earlier this year. Happy Birthday, Susan!

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Just a little quiet. . .

I've been a little quiet this week. Was "mapped" again this past Tuesday and was completely overwhelmed with sound. Kathy came with me this time and was fascinated by the whole process. Bill moved me from two programs to four and it was just too much. I have a program for regular everyday use, one for the telephone/cinema, one for music, and one for noisy situations. I just couldn't handle the sound overload and even turned the volume on all four channels from 9 (the highest) to 1 (the lowest). And it was still too loud. On Thursday night, the sound of the newspaper pages turning and aluminum foil crinkling hurt my ears! I went back to Bill yesterday afternoon (Friday) and he dropped me down 11 levels, whatever that means. It is almost too quiet now but I need to be patient and just take one day at a time. I will admit that I am a little discouraged with the sound quality but I will not give up! Everything sounds like static and voices are not sounding "natural". Music is not as good as it was before so I've set the iPod aside for now. But, this is part of the process to figure out what my "hearing fingerprint" is.

Even though I am not crazy about my current "map", I am hearing sounds louder and clearer and still having some CI moments. Kathy and I took a walk on the Greenbelt after my session on Tuesday. I was able to hear a cricket as we walked by some trees and heard the water trickling down the stream. The sound of cars and trucks going by drowned out the sounds that I wanted to hear, like my voice and Kathy's. I can hear the blinker in my car better but now I hear the car running, too. Not sure if I like that. I really haven't "heard" background noise before and it is something I will have to get used to. We do live in a noisy world!

Chester, our cat is sitting in my lap as I write this. I can hear her purring!

Sunday, October 02, 2005


I heard BIRDS this morning! I've been trying so hard to hear the birds ever since I was hooked up to my CI almost two weeks ago. Now that it is getting cooler at night, we have our bedroom windows open to let the breeze come in. After I took my shower this morning and put my processor on, I kept hearing a "click, click, click" over and over again. I thought the fan in the room was stuck but it was fine. Steve wasn't too crazy about being woken up at 7 a.m on a Sunday morning with his wife asking him "what's that noise?!!!" He said that there was a robin chirping outside. I quickly got my coffee and sat on the front porch for a little while to listen some more. Heard a "tdtdtdtdtdtdtdtd" sound that sounded like a woodpecker. Steve said that robins don't "click" but have a "chirping" sound and that I might want to mention it to the audiologist when I see him on Tuesday. He may need to make an adjustment so it sounds right.

Worked in the nursery at church today and loved every minute of it! Another gal worked with me and we had five boys and one girl. I loved hearing their little voices and the sounds of their musical toys! I think I had as much fun playing with them as the kids did!

Also heard the metal expanding and contracting on Steve's car as it was cooling down when we pulled into the garage after lunch. Went to a Faithful Men meeting tonight and didn't have as much trouble following the conversation around the room like I usually do. Heard them sing, too, and they sounded better than ever.