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.

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