Monday, March 20, 2006

Six Months of Sound

"As long as I live, I'll hear waterfalls, birds, and winds sing." John Muir

It has been six months since my CI activation. It is also the first day of spring. I continue to make small but steady improvements. I'm still experiencing CI moments, which remind me how much progress I've made this past year.

I really, truly do love hearing the birds singing! Yesterday morning when Steve woke me up for church, I wasn't quite ready to get up yet. He told me that the birds were singing. I asked him to bring my processor to me and open the windows even though it was 40 degrees outside. I just laid there in our bed for about 20 minutes listening to them. What a glorious sound that was and is for me. This is my FIRST spring hearing them! I'm anxious to hear more of the different birds as they return to our area. Using my bird identifyer sound cards, I am trying to distinguish between the different bird calls. I hear the sparrows, titmice, robins, and cardinals. Most of the time I hear many birds all at once.

I also have a new phone and I love it. In January, Susie, my audiologist, gave me a form for a captioned telephone called CapTel. It is availabe to deaf and hard of hearing persons in states that offer CapTel Captioning Service with their relay services. The hearing disability section has to be verified and signed by a qualified audiologist or specialist. It is free for Tennessee residents but I don't know about the other states. I filled out the form, mailed it in and forgot about it. The phone came earlier this month and I've been using ever since! I use it mainly to check voice mail (which is wonderful because I don't have to wait until someone is home to check it for me) and to make appointments. The CapTel phone allows a caller to hear the other person AND read the text at the same time. A relay operator automatically picks up and is invisible in the background coding the captions on the phone and I can read it as well as hear it. It is great phone practice for me. But, there are a few drawbacks associated with it. One is that when someone calls me, the captions will not work unless they call a toll-free number. So, if you want to call me at home, call 1-877-243-2823 and then enter our home area code and phone number. Another drawback is when I make a call, there is a delay between the spoken voice and captions. So, I try not to rely on the captions. I can look at them if I miss a word or sentence or if someone talks too much or too fast. Also, the phone is hooked up to our land line and has lots of static. Steve says we have a "dirty" line and has trouble with it, too. I hear better with my cell phone but don't have captioning there. To read more about Captel, you can go to the CapTel website.

Last Friday I had lunch with my friend, Susan Underwood (her blog is on the right under Susan's Journey to Sound). I met her a year ago and feel like we have been friends forever. We met at a Chinese restaurant and talked for two hours! It is so nice to be able to talk to another friend who understands the every day struggles and triumphs of cochlear implants. She and I both need new "maps" on our processors this spring so we are going to make a "girls' day" out of it and go together to try a new audiologist that is about two hours away. We'll do lunch and get mapped! Not your normal idea of a girls' day out but will still be special. We also have another CI friend, Lydia, who may be interested in coming with us, too. Lydia was one of the first people to receive a cochlear implant in Knoxville 11 years ago and is sooooo sweet! In a year's time, I have met and made acquaintances with more deaf and hard of hearing persons online and in person. Another new CI friend is Suzie in BC (her blog is on the right, too) and we stay in touch through emails. She has had a difficult time with her CI experience and my heart breaks for her. She was reimplanted with her CI today and is embarking on a new beginning. I am thinking good thoughts for her! (Have you noticed that I have three new friends named Susie, Susan, and Suzie???!!!)

In closing, take time to listen to the birds of spring. "A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song." ~Chinese Proverb

Friday, March 10, 2006

What Is On My Plate?

Several people have asked me what food is on the plate that I am holding in my picture. That picture was taken at one of the best Latin American restaurants called El Meson in Dayton, Ohio last summer when I visited with my brother, Doug. My food was just too pretty to eat! El Meson is his favorite restaurant and they have a different specialty every month. I ordered "Carapulca" (car-a-pull-ca): Medallions of pork tenderloin aji panca, papas seca, peanuts, cilantro, and port. Side dishes were: arroz a la peruviana (white rice with corn), Pur'e de pallares (pureed lima beans with cheese), and ensalada (salad). It was absolutely delicious. Everyone at our table ordered something different and we took turns tasting each other's food, enjoying appetizers, and drinking mojitos! If you travel to the Dayton area, you will have to check out El Meson. It will be an experience you will not forget!

Now I'm getting hungry writing all this!

Saturday, March 04, 2006

The Oven Timer

I love to cook. Cooking has always been enjoyable for me, whether it is trying new recipes or cooking for my family and friends. But, every now and then I managed to burn or overcook food because I could not hear the oven timer go off. It was always too quiet or soft and someone would have to shout at me to go turn it off. When my CI was first activated, you'll remember the confusion I had between the dishwasher and oven timer when I heard it the first time (I was running the dishwasher and thought the beeping of the oven timer was a dish clicking in the dishwasher.) Now I know what it sounds like but still needed to stay close by in the kitchen to hear it go off. Last night I was making rice on the stove and went in the family room to watch TV for a little bit. I kept hearing a beeping noise while I was scanning the TV for movies to watch and realized that it was the timer. I heard it from the other room! Now my next step is to be able to hear it from upstairs. I'm finding that I am more aware of certain sounds without even trying to listen to them.

I went to the eye doctor earlier this week to have my eyes checked. I've noticed that my vision has changed this past year. While sitting in the room in the chair waiting for the doctor to come in, I heard the clock ticking on the wall. It was the only sound in room. Before, the room would have been silent for me. Not anymore. I experimented with my processor and went from program to program to see if I could hear the clock ticking on all of them. I only heard the clock in P1 (Whisper) and P2 (Autosensitivity) but did not hear it in P3 (my program with no options) or P4 (Background). After that discovery I've been keeping my processor on P2 most of the time. That may be why I picked up the oven timer sound. Before, I would spend most of my day on P3 or P4 but apparently those two programs are not letting me hear some of the quieter sounds. Like my experience at the dentist office, I was able to respond to the eye doctor's questions in the dark without having to look at him.

I haven't heard anything yet from Dr. Merwin about going bilateral. But, I did read something interesting (and it was posted today) and would like to share it with my readers. I follow several other CI blogs and just happened to read Michael Chorost's entry for today about going bilateral. Click on his link to the right of this blog and read his March 4th entry. He could very well be telling my story. (His book is WONDERFUL.) I've made several friends online who have cochlear implants and it amazes me how much we are so alike and yet so different in our hearing experiences. But we all want the same results with our CI's - better hearing. The more I think and meditate about going bilateral, the more it makes sense. God gave us two eyes, two legs, two arms, and two ears for a reason. For example, I need a new prescription for my eyes. We are not going to just replace the lens in one eye. It only makes sense to do both. So, why not fix "two ears?" So, I will keep praying and waiting on God. We are so fearfully and wonderfully made and I know that He will answer my prayer in His time. I will wait and "listen". . .

"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." Hebrews 11:1

Dogwood Winter

Hello from Tennessee where the weather cannot make up its mind! Spring has arrived in the foothills of the Smokies. The daffodils. crocuses, pansies, forsythia, and early spring trees are blooming and the grass is starting to turn green. Soon it will be time to mow. We've had some nice warm days but it will get cold again this weekend. Dogwood Winter. I worked in the yard the other day after work and planted three rose bushes in the bed that I created for them last fall. I hope the cold weather doesn't hurt them or the stuff that is already blooming. The best part about all this is the BIRDS! They are singing, chirping, making clicking noises, and flapping their wings and I absolutely love hearing them. I will crack our bedroom or kitchen window open in the mornings no matter how cold it is just so I can hear them. Steve and I bought some bird feeders a few weeks ago to bring them closer to the house. Now if I could only figure out which bird makes which sound. . .I do have a couple of sound cards with different birds to listen to that Susie, my audiologist gave me for practice. I took Riga for a walk yesterday morning and never heard them make such a racket! They were everywhere. So far we have robins, cardinals, doves, goldfinches, titmouses (or is it titmice?), and sparrows.

Music is getting more enjoyable. I've returned to playing in the handbell choir at church and love hearing them again. That has always been the one thing I could do in church related to music (other than liturgical dance and signing to songs.) I can now hear the higher bells, which I didn't hear before. I always heard the lower ones around me. (I play B and Middle C). The melodies are more complete and clear. I found an awesome website with a beautiful handbell choir and wept at my computer when I heard them play. Go to Raleigh Ringers, click on Gallery, and then video or audio. Beautiful music.

I also went to choir practice a few weeks ago just to see what it was like. Steve sings in the choir and looks forward to it because it is such a worship experience. I sat in the choir loft, hooked up my lapel microphone to another gal who sings alto and just listened. (I think I made her nervous but Steve said she was the best one to listen to! Thank you, Rhonda!) I'd like to learn how to sing. But, "church" music doesn't sound right to me yet. It is just noise. There is too much "competition" between the voices and instruments and I don't know what to listen for. (Susie did say that that churches are usually very bad acoustically. The people who run sound booths in churches and public places are not always familiar with the techniques of balancing and equalizing the sounds of music.) I'm still not comfortable exposing my "singing voice." I'm hoping to take voice lessons someday soon.

Last weekend, my Aunt Miriam and Uncle Clarence came for their annual spring visit to our house. They were on their way home to Ohio after spending a month in Florida. We always look forward to their visits. On Saturday night we went to the high school musical, "The Sound of Music", where Marissa sang in the "nun" choir. We sat right up in front and it was a wonderful production. I can remember seeing "The Sound of Music" for the first time in a movie theatre years ago as a young teenager and sitting next to my mother. She spent most of her time during the movie making sure I knew what was going on. I'll never forget that. I've seen it several times since then and have always loved the music. So, it was an enjoyable evening to see and hear it again.

In auditory therapy this week we worked on "m" and "n's". Those are hard. But, I understand that m & n's are difficult for normal hearing people, too. It will just take a little longer for me to
"get it." In my quiet time the other morning I was thinking about how the mind works and how it affects our thoughts, words, and every aspect of our lives. The mind is like a chip in a computer or a tape in a tape recorder. That information is stored permanently. That is why A/V therapy is so important for persons like me who have been implanted with cochlear implants. Sounds need to be "imprinted" in the mind and brain that haven't been heard before. And one who has never heard a certain sound has to hear it three times as much as a normal hearing person.

Having children, I've learned that they never forget anything! I'm always amazed at what they can remember that I've forgotten long ago. God did something great and wonderful when He created our minds and brains. He made us so that every experience and thought that we've ever had is forever recorded inside of us. Yes, as we get older it is easy to forget stuff but if we look deeper we can recall experiences that have been forgotten deep inside of us. Which brings me to my thought that I had this week. I'm working so hard with my CI to "imprint" my mind and brain with new sounds. This is true with my faith as well. I can choose to have good things or bad things enter my being. I will exercise positive faith and positive thoughts by imagining and picturing the results that I expect to achieve. It is so important to be consciously aware of what I will allow to be "imprinted" forever in my mind and memory. Just take a look at the people around you who are committed in their faith and walk with God. You will notice that their actions are related to their positive thoughts. Life is what we do with it and how we filter the thoughts that come through our minds every day. We have a choice and can decide what we are going to let enter in. We can choose positive or negative, good or evil, right or wrong, productive or counter-productive, healthy or unhealthy and so on. I am so thankful that we have a God that teaches us the power of faith. He is alive. He is there even if we do not feel His presence. He is constantly guiding us with positive thoughts to keep us focused on our Christian walk.

"Finally, brothers (and sisters), whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- think about such things." Phillippians 4:8