Saturday, October 28, 2006

Moments of Joy

I'm sitting here on a quiet Saturday morning. I was re-reading my Mom's sermon that she gave in 1974 where she tells her story about living with a deaf child. (You can find it here or in my "Future Book Chapters" link under October 10, 2005). At the end she said that there were moments of joy in spite of dealing with a deaf child. Yes, there are moments of joy in every situation. We just have to look and be aware of them. I'm still having moments of joy with sounds that I hear and it is overwhelming at times. (The sounds are not overwhelming - just the fact that I can even hear them are.) Last night I was the only one in the house and was working at my desk. Maddie was sitting at my feet watching me type and kept "pawing" my arm, like she wanted some attention. She is a "people dog" and loves to share a lap or chair with someone when it is time to relax for the evening. Anyway, I told her to stop because she was interrupting me. She just sat there and looked at me with her big brown eyes. A little bit later I heard a "squeak" sound but I couldn't locate it. I loooked at her and she wasn't moving. . . I heard it again, looked at her and she was still watching me. Then I realized that she was whining! She has a cute little *squeak-whine!* So, I scooted forward in my chair, patted the seat to give her permission to jump up on it. When I sat back down she circled the chair a few times to get comfortable and laid down behind me. I can't type or work when she is in my lap so now just picture me sitting on the edge of my chair with a small cocker spaniel taking up more than half the seat as I write. Now she wants the chair every time I sit at my computer!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Calling Pastor Jerry

Yesterday was Pastor Jerry's birthday. I called him after work to wish him a Happy Birthday for the first time. I had a feeling that would be a good present for him. *smile* I've been trying to call special people on their birthdays this year instead of sending them a card. (Sometimes I send a card anyway!) Pastor Jerry has always been difficult for me to understand. He has a pretty good Tennessee accent and his lips don't move very much. It hasn't been easy for me to understand him, especially when he is preaching in the pulpit. But, now my CI allows me to pick up what he is saying when I cannot read his lips. We had a terrible connection and I had to call him back twice. There was so much static on the line and his voice kept cutting out on me but we were able to talk a little bit. I could just picture him smiling on the other end! This is the same man who wept at his computer a year ago when I sent him an email telling him how I could hear soda fizzing over ice for the first time. He was thrilled when I shared the news about the approval for my second implant. He wanted to know the details of when I was going to have surgery and said he was so happy to hear the news. I also shared with him that I was unworthy of God's grace and didn't deserve it. I told him that I knew that God has a reason why He answering my prayers to hear better. If I had been able to hear earlier, I probably would not have appreciated His goodness. I would have just taken my hearing for granted. I just hope people don't get tired of hearing my "story" but I love being able to hear after not being able to all these years! It is my prayer that my story will encourage someone else who is struggling for whatever reason. Pastor Jerry told me to remember the verse from Romans 8 where Paul says "we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him who have been called according to his purpose." Yes, God has a purpose and a plan for everything!

Monday, October 23, 2006

God Moments

Ever since I got the phone call about being approved for a second implant, I've gone through a range of different emotions and thoughts. There have also been some incredible God moments, much of which is personal. . .but I will say this. . . God's timing is so PERFECT! There is a reason why all this is happening now. . .there is a reason why I haven't been able to hear all these years. . . there is a reason why God is blessing me the wonderful gift of sound through not one but TWO ears with another implant. God knew what He was doing when He created me. . .He did not put me in the "hard of hearing" line to make my life difficult. . .He has used my deafness to mold and shape me into the person in Christ that I am today. . .to draw me closer to Him. I am in awe of his perfect timing and planning. . . I don't deserve His grace but He is allowing it to happen for a reason. After I get my second implant I JUST KNOW that God wants me to use it for His service. . . my hearing journey is not going to stop just because I can hear better. . .it is all becoming clear to me now and I am in complete awe of His goodness and grace. . .and how He works everything according to His purpose. Everything happens for a reason. There is a time and a season for everything under the heavens. . . I don't know yet what He wants me to do so I will keep praying. . .I know God will guide and direct me and show me how He wants me to serve Him the rest of my life.

I've been asked if I got the second one approved because I'm doing so well with the first one. I don't think so because if the insurance company thought I was doing well with just one they would not approve the second one. It is unusual for bilateral implants to be approved for adults, except in very special circumstances. I know many others are being denied across the board for bilateral implants without a second thought and that makes me sad. I've also heard rumors that there is a big class action lawsuit going on concerning bilateral implants and insurance companies are starting to think twice about denying them. I've waited and prayed for eight months for an answer to my request and fully expected to be denied the first time around. My cup truly does runneth over!

I called Dr. Merwin's office on Friday to see if I could get a copy of the approval letter and to find out if they had a date set aside yet. Teresa took some vacation time off and will return today so I will call again. I'm looking forward to having my surgery in January. Part of me wants to do it now - as soon as possible - but another part of me does not want to be sick or feel bad during the holidays. This is another example of how perfect God's timing is. He knows that I love the month of January. It is my time to reflect and relax after the busy holidays and I like to take it easy. So, January will work out perfectly for me to rest and recuperate after my surgery. I'm not looking forward to having my head shaved again because it took over a year for my hair to grow back! I told Chris that I was going to have him take a magic marker and write special message on my neck to ask the person who shaves my head to shave as little as possible! There is actually a doctor in California that is well known for the smallest incision for cochlear implants. People come from all over just to have him do their surgeries!

In other news, I've been watching some other blogs. Two darling little kids, Erin and Isaac had their CI's activated on Friday. Also, my friend, Jennifer, is doing better each time she gets her processor mapped. Everyone has a *story* and I love to *hear* them!

Later. . .Teresa called me at work today. Still no surgery date but she did ask me if I wanted to have my surgery on December 12th. I just don't think that would work during the holidays!

I haven't been writing much, mainly because I haven't had time. I took care of my niece, Elizabeth, on Thursday night and Friday while my sister was on a business trip. Brad came home this past weekend so I spent most of the weekend cooking and spending time with the family. I really don't have any new sounds to report. But, I do appreciate the fact that I can hear the dogs at the door when they want to come inside. Maddie, Jason's cocker spaniel, scratches on the door. Riga, our German Shepherd will stand there and bark. Now that fall is here I'm noticing the musical sounds of the wind and the leaves in the trees and there aren't as many birds singing. I couldn't sleep the other night and could hear the rain at 2 a.m.

I will sum up my hearing journey so far with the chorus from the song, "I Am Free" by the Newsboys because I am truly free to live!

I am free to run,
I am free to dance,
I am free to live for You...
I am free...
Yes, I am free!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Just Me and My Aunt

(I tried to post this picture in August but couldn't. I did write about our visit and will move this picture later. . .)

This is me with my Aunt Nelda at a Victorian tea house called Lillie Belle's in Franklin, Tennessee. We had a great time visiting with each other in August. She is only 11 years older than me and we are very close. She is like a big sister to me and I'm glad she lives in Tennesee now!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Cooking Question

Brad called me this afternoon. He wanted to ask me a cooking question. He said he was making baked potatoes but wanted to know what temperature to cook them at and for how long. So I told him to bake them at 350 degrees for an hour. This made my day because someone called me to ask a question about cooking and I was able to answer!

Steve is home from Latvia! Yay! I missed him! (smile)

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Great News!

This afternoon I got the phone call that I've been waiting for eight months! Dr. Merwin's nurse, Teresa, called me at work. I would have taken the call myself but when she calls I don't want to miss a SINGLE word. So, I got one of my coworkers to take the call for me. AETNA has approved my request to go bilateral! Yay! I'm so happy I just want to hug everybody in sight! Teresa asked me if I wanted to have the surgery in December or January. I quickly said January because December is already filling up and I don't want to be sick or dizzy during the holidays. January is my favorite month to relax anyway so this would work out very well. God's timing is perfect! Since Dr. Merwin doesn't have the surgery book for 2007 we don't have a date yet. But, I had to share the good news! I've called and emailed as many people as I could and am not done yet! I did call Brad (son #3) first because I knew he would be excited. He was in class but he talked to me anyway! I called the rest of the kids next. Jason, Chris, and Marissa are thrilled and happy, too! But, Steve doesn't know yet. . . he is on a plane flying back to the U.S. from Latvia. I did call his cell phone and left a message. He'll get it when he turns his phone on as soon as his plane lands in the states. I can't wait to see his face tomorrow night! Steve is my biggest cheerleader and so supportive. I also called Pastor Jeff and my dad. Tried to call my best friend, Dawn (twice), but kept getting her voice mail. I'll try again tomorrow.

In other news, my friend, Jennifer in Nashville, had her CI activated this week. She is struggling a little so say an extra prayer for her. Also, another CI friend, Maureen, needs a prayer or two. She was activated two weeks ago and has trouble keeping her CI on. It spends more time on the floor than on her ear because her ears are small. Her magnet may not be strong enough to keep it on. I saw her tonight at our HLA (Hearing Loss Association) meeting and tried to give her some encouragement. She has the same mapper/audiologist that I do. She is wondering if her processor is defective. I advised her to ask for a different one to try. I forgot to mention "wig tape" to help her keep it on her ear. I know some parents use that for their active kids to keep the processor from falling off. I'll need to send her an email tomorrow. It's late and I need to get to bed. More news later!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Talking to Steve Across the Pond

My dear husband, Steve, is on a mission trip in Latvia. He left on September 29th and will be home in three days. Since he is 7 hours ahead of us, we've had a hard time trying to make connections to talk on the phone. After playing phone tag for several days and communicating by email, we finally had a chance to talk yesterday! I've worn my neckloop attached to my cell phone for two days so that I wouldn't miss his call. We were able to converse easily and his voice was very clear to me, with a slight delay. We must have had a good connection because there was no static. In the past it would have been difficult to talk with him while he was overseas. I would have had to wait until someone was home to help me or relay for us. Not anymore!

(I added a new post that I wrote earlier about my one year anniversary. . .scroll down and find it!)

Countdown to Puppies!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Puppies on the Way?

We bred Riga last week to another purebred German Shepherd named Luther. We haven't had any luck the last few times we've tried so I found a different dog. Riga is solid black and Luther is mostly black with some tan and is beautiful with a great temperament. We think something "happened" this time and hope to have puppies (and puppy sounds!) at Christmas time!

(Picture: This is Chris with Luther)

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Lunch in the Park

We are having some beautiful fall weather here in Tennessee. The other day I packed my lunch and spent my lunch break in a quiet secluded spot on the Greenbelt near where I work. I found a bench to sit on and sat near a pond. I could hear the trees rustling in the wind, the cars on the road off in the distance and an occassional siren. I also kept hearing a sound that was unfamiliar to me. It knew it wasn't a bird or an insect sound. It was a dull clucking sound and stopped when I got up to look for it. Then it would start up again a few minutes later when I sat down. I'm thinking it might have been some ducks or geese. I'll have to bring someone with me next time to help me figure it out!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

One Year Anniversary

I passed my one year CI activation anniversary on September 20th. I had a new map put on my processor on the 18th and have no complaints. I went back to Bill and this time a Cochlear representative (Carla) was on hand. I feel like I got a good map this time. Bill said that my T & C levels had changed quite a bit since the last map. He won't need to see me for another year unless I get my second implant. (Still waiting to hear on that.)

I have Whisper as my first program in slot P1, Autosensitivity in P2, ADRO in P3, and BEAM in P4. I use ADRO and BEAM most of the time. I like to use Whisper in the mornings when everything is still quiet. Bill and Carla suggested that I try turning down my autosensitivity to 6 instead of 12 on my BEAM program but I'm such a power junkie because I want to hear it all! But, I will turn it down to 10 and leave it there and it seems to work just as well. Turning it down to 6 is too much for me, unless I'm in a restaurant or bowling alley where there is lots of noise. Restaurants are a problem area for me, especially if there are hard floors and high ceilings. While having lunch with Steve the other day at McAllister's I did an experiment and found that it worked. . . I will turn off my hearing aid side (to cut out the "white" noise) and lower the autosensitivity on the BEAM program. It seems more natural and allows me to hear Steve talking to me while everyone else is in the background like they are supposed to be. I still like to wear my hearing aid in other situations because it gives me the low tones and frequencies that my CI doesn't give me.

Also, I've "excused" myself from A/V therapy for now. Susie says that I'm "almost" there and there isn't much else she can do with me. So, my "therapy" consists of listening to books on tape every day. I am understanding and am picking up more words and whole sentences all the time. I'm listening to The Purpose Driven Life as I travel in my car. The speaker is male and is very clear and easy to understand. He also speaks at a slower rate. The radio, however, is a different issue. I don't know if it is because the sound is more distorted or if people talk to fast but it is a little more difficult to pick up what is being said.

But, I've come a LONG way in a year! Last night in Bible Study, I was sitting next to the door. I heard some kids in the hallway and immediately reached over to close it so we could continue with our lesson and discussion. Later, one of the gals in the group commented that I would not have done that a year ago.

As I think back on my "Dance with Sound," my implant has allowed me to hear sounds that I've never heard before. It is a wonderful gift through technology and I marvel how much it has changed my life and those around me. I now hear high frequency sounds that were unreachable with my hearing aids. It is a joy to hear the birds sing, clocks ticking in a room, our dogs toenails as they walk across the kitchen floor, the leaves in the trees blowing and rustling in the wind. Also, my implant has done more than help me to hear better. It has involved changes for my family, friends, and coworkers as well. People don't always have to look at me when they talk to me (although it is still polite to do so!) It has made me more independent and confident. I don't have to ask Steve to order for me in a restaurant anymore. Others don't need to be in my "immediate view" or in the same room when they are talking to me. It is a joy to converse with others in person and on the phone without extra stress! I'm not as tired and exhausted by the end of the day. I don't have to ask people to repeat as often what they've said to me. I can talk, listen, and drive at the same time in the car instead of having to wait until we get to a stoplight or parking space. At work, I am able to use the phone more and understand what is being said on the intercom. I'm still reluctant to make phone calls but when I do, I'm pleased at how clear and easy it is. My hearing will never be perfect but I'm thankful for what I have now. With God everything is possible!