Saturday, April 28, 2007

Bilateral Cochlear Implant Hearing Test Results

I have much to do today to get ready for our Virginia Tech guests but wanted to share some news from my mapping session yesterday. Bill changed my settings and tested me in the sound booth afterwards. I tested in the NORMAL range at 15 - 25 decibels across the board! That is noticeable difference from the last hearing test I had done in 2005! It was just a quick ten minute test and I don't have a copy of it. It was hard to hear some of the sounds because I heard a *fan* in the background while being tested. When I mentioned it to Bill, he said that that it was a very soft sound and most people don't hear it. It needs to run because otherwise the booth would get hot and stuffy. He was surprised that I even heard it. He was pleased with my test and said that he has not had a patient with a cochlear implant test this well before. :)

Bill did not test me on word comprehension so I will need to set up an appointment with Susie, my audiologist, to have that done. I have six A/V therapy sessions available to me because of the second implant so I should take advantage of them. Bill says I don't need to come back in for another mapping session for 6 - 12 months. I have a feeling I'll need it sooner than that. We'll see.

Have a great weekend!

Friday, April 27, 2007

One Week Old Black German Shepherd Puppies

Isn't this the sweetest face????

The one with the red collar is the smallest one and the one we were worried about last week. But he is doing fine and thriving. The one next to him is one of the biggest ones! They were just over a pound when they were born and are now over two pounds each.

Proud Riga and her babies! Can you find all eight of them??? :) (Click on the picture to enlarge it)

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Hearing with Two Ears

Several people have been asking me if I can tell a difference having two CI's instead of one. The answer is yes but is hard to explain. I love having both ears implanted and feel much more balanced. But, that still needs work. I haven't had many new CI moments but there is a *rainbow* of sound where all the different *colors* are blending together beautifully. Also, the tinnitus or ringing in the ears is almost non-existent, except when I'm tired or not feeling well. Being bilateral is still in the beginning stages and it has been less than two months since my activation date. I have not regretted my decision to go bilateral at all and am so glad I did it. There is a fullness and richness of sounds with two processors and sounds are multi- dimensional. Also, background noise is much better and not as annoying. When I take a walk with the dogs, I can hear cars coming from a distance and usually know if they are behind me or in front of me before I see them. Before, with just one CI, it was hard to hear sounds coming from the unimplanted side. Learning to locate where sounds are coming from is a challenge sometimes when I hear them and still turn around in circles! Tomorrow will be my next mapping session after not having one for four weeks. It's easy to tell when it is time for an *adjustment* because the sounds become softer in my new ear compared to the other one. I outgrow my maps very quickly. My word comprehension without speech reading is better but is not perfect. Bill will put me in the sound "booth" after he maps my processors today to test how I'm hearing bilaterally. It will be interesting to see what the results will look like!

Using the phone is another story. Sometimes I'll grab the phone when it rings and try to talk with one ear. That doesn't work well for me. I don't seem understand as well with one ear on the phone like I do with two. So, I make sure I have my neckloop or silhouette coils on first. I love my headphones that I use at work (Plantronics headset) and understand pretty well with them because I'm using both ears. Still have trouble with names. . .like last week when *Katie* called and I thought it was *Trudy.* Both names sound the same. I need to go back to A/V therapy for a while or listen to books on tape but haven't had time. I do know that the reason I've been successful with my CI's is because my auditory nerves were stimulated with hearing aids. Even though my speech discrimination was poor with my hearing aids and I relied heavily on lipreading, my ears *heard* something.

My friend, Jennifer, is still struggling with her implant and is losing her hearing in her other ear. She can't even hear with her hearing aid anymore. I feel so bad for her. But, she is starting to hear some things with her CI and is surprising herself. She is thinking about going bilateral, too, even though she still adjusting to her first one. We'll be spending some time together in June at the HLAA convention, which will be in Oklahoma City, OK. We'll have a blast! We stay in touch by email several times a week.

Update on Lydia: She sent me an email today and said her appointment at the Shea Clinic in Memphis went well last week. She is going to go ahead and try to get approval to have her other ear implanted and go bilateral. Hopefully she'll get approved quickly but she is expecting to be denied the first time around. She had many questions for me! But, she sounds optimistic and excited. She got her first implant about 15 years ago and really wanted to get it "updated" and replaced. But, doctors won't remove a working implant unless it fails or has a defect. So, she is going to do her other ear, which hasn't had ANY sound for a long time. I know she will do great! She talks well on the phone and understands what is being said on satellite radio. I'm not there yet. But, she was a hearing person before she lost her hearing and I wasn't. That makes a difference.

VT Update: Brad will be home this weekend with a few of his VT friends. They are doing okay and are trying to get back to "normal" again, whatever that may be. They are finishing up their semester and ready to move on. But, life will never be the same for them on campus. They received their *PARTY IN A BOX* from the church yesterday and loved all the surprises they received! I can't wait until Brad is home again so I can wrap my arms around him and count his fingers and toes to make sure he is all there. It doesn't matter if he is 21! And I'll be able to pamper him and his friends with some home cooked meals and cookies.

Puppy Update: The puppies are doing great and growing. Their eyes are not open yet but I enjoy listening to their little sounds in the mornings! They coo, yawn, stretch, cry, moan, groan, squeak, and even sometimes bark. I get up early just to hold them and watch them as Riga takes care of them. They are in the laundry room next to the kitchen and I can't help but smile when "happy sounds" come from there. :) I'll post some pictures soon.

P.S. It is raining hard outside as I finish this up. And it is time for bed. I just might leave my processors on tonight and lay there while I listen to the rain - I want to savor the sounds that I missed all these years!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Weekend Update from VA & TN

This past weekend has flown by fast. The retreat was wonderful and just what was needed for rest and peace. Yesterday's post was the view from the lodge at Eagle Rock Retreat Center. There were 14 of us (including my sister, Kathy) and the topic was "Desperate Housewives of the Bible." We had a great time of fellowship, refreshment, relaxation, prayer and time spent in God's Word. Our meals were delicious for camp food and were prepared by *Grandma Mouse.* No one wanted to go home!

We have been in touch with Brad every day. He and all of the Virginia Tech community are still struggling emotionally. There have been a countless number of memorial services and the VT website has listed *In Memoriam* those who died. Tomorrow will be the first day of classes since the tragedy and there will be many obstacles to overcome. The media has been asked to stay off the campus and respect the privacy of the students and the faculty. The students will have three options concerning the completion of their classes. Brad still hasn't decided yet what he will do to finish out the semester. He does have a robot that he has been working on all semester in the RoMeLa lab. The Discovery Channel was planning to come to the campus next month to videotape him and the robotics lab for a TV show. Still don't know if that will happen.

I asked Brad if he was ready for classes tomorrow. He thinks so but says it will be hard because all of his classes are around the building where everything happened. He said tomorrow will be hard for everyone. There is going to be a moment of silence at 9:45 a.m. and the bell will toll 32 times. Also, thirty two white balloons will be released. Brad lives with three other guys and one of them (Alex) just read an article on a friend that he lost. This friend was still alive after the first time the shooter came in the classroom but when the shooter came back, Alex's friend distracted him to save another student's life. . .and did not make it. Brad is asking me "What is wrong with this generation? Columbine, 9/11, the war in Iraq, and this. . ." And I don't have a good answer. . . do you? Brad was going to go sit in his Jeep for awhile after we talked. . .my heart just breaks for him. . .

Brad and several of his friends will come here to TN next weekend. We'll have an opportunity to love on them, feed them, and take care of them. They are a great group of young adults and we enjoy having them at our house. Our church is going to send them a PARTY in a box and collected food, frisbees, and all sorts of items this morning. We have been overwhelmed with the concern, love, and prayers for Brad and the VT community. Again, we thank you.

The puppies are doing well and thriving. We did lose one on Friday so now we have eight. The one we lost was not the one we were concerned about earlier. We have two little ones that weigh less than the others so we make sure they get to eat first. They all have fat little bellies and make the cutest little sounds! They sound like kittens meowing! One likes to eat upside down with his legs "swimming" in the air! Some have brown cheeks and paws so they will not be all black. And some have white spots on their chests. Two have white tips on the ends of their tails. Riga is such a good mommy. I told Steve and Chris last night that we don't need a TV or the Internet to entertain us when we have puppies!

Marissa spent the past week in New York City and came home today. It was a graduation trip from her aunt Allison and she had a wonderful time. They visited many museums, saw several shows (including "Wicked" and "The Color Purple"), visited Ground Zero, went to Central Park and ate at the Tavern on the Green. She said she took 500 pictures on her camera! The first thing she wanted to do when she walked in the door was to see the puppies! And she has already named all of them!

Virginia Tech Update

Dear God, I call out to You for peace and comfort for everyone who will be affected by this crime. Their lives will be forever defined in part by what they were like before this tragedy, and what they will be like now. Lord, I know it won't be quick (to us), but please bring them beauty from these ashes and joy to replace this mourning. In the midst of this tragedy, may You be high and lifted up! Reveal Yourself, O God. Be Big in Virginia. And please Father, be Big in my son's life today, too. It is in the name of my Precious Lord and Savior, Jesus, that I call out to You.

I just pray that God will wrap His loving arms around everyone who is affected and NEVER EVER let go.

Scripture tells us that God's people will humble themselves and pray that He will come and heal our lands. Lord Jesus, we desperately need You...we desperately need healing in our lands...lands where people see it as acceptable to take lives at will. We come before You on our faces and cry out to You...we stand in the gap for those who do not even know to pray...and we ask You for healing in our lands and in our hearts and minds.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

The Lord Is My Refuge and My Strength. . .

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust." (Psalm 91:1)

God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
The LORD Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Come and see the works of the LORD,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear,
he burns the shields with fire.
"Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth."
The LORD Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. (Psalm 46)

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Joy Cometh In The Morning. . .

Our *news* arrived early this morning!!!! We have. . . . . .PUPPIES!!!!!! NINE OF THEM!

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you will know that we have been trying to breed our German Shepherd, Riga, for three years. Well, she finally did it! She had them after I went to bed at 11 p.m. last night and there were eight at 6 a.m.! I thought she was done and was surprised when she had two more while I was at work! We've had so many false alarms so I didn't want to say anything on this blog until I knew for sure she was pregnant. Riga is solid black and so are ALL of her babies! She had ten altogether but one didn't make it. (And I'm afraid we'll lose another one - we'll see.) They make the cutest little squeaky puppy sounds! We have 7 males and 2 females. One has a little white tip on the end of his tail! I wish I knew how to do one of those videos on this blog so you could see AND hear them! We bred her to Luther in February, right after my surgery.

Joy does come in the morning when everything is fresh and new. "Weeping may endure for a night but rejoicing comes in the morning." (Psalm 30:5) This month has been a particularly difficult one for me for personal reasons and the catastrophe at Virgina Tech just about put me over the edge. But, God does keep his promises and says He will satisfy us in the morning with His unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. (Psalm 90:14) Waking up to puppies was a gentle reminder of the renewal and rebirth of life.

Chris had the biggest smile on his face when he saw the puppies for the first time this morning. I haven't seen him smile like that in a long while. It was almost like a surprise on Christmas morning.

Brad is doing okay at Virginia Tech. He has a sad and heavy heart, he says. I talk with him daily and remind him that we love him and are there for him and his friends. I thought he would come home this week since classes were cancelled the rest of the week but he said that he and his friends needed to stay together. I saw him on CNN twice on Tuesday in a clip where he is walking to a car with a friend, has a beard (which I haven't seen yet), a black coat, and blue jeans on. My heart just breaks for all those who lost their loved ones in this senseless tragedy.

Just came home from Knoxville . . .had a belated birthday dinner with Dawn at Connor's, one of my favorite restaurants. It was good to talk with a friend tonight. Our friend, Shelley, in Florida called while we were talking and eating so we got to visit with her, too!

Am going on a much needed retreat in the mountains this weekend. What perfect timing after the events of this past week.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Virginia Tech News

Today has been a very unsettling day. We have received many phone calls and text messages asking about our son, Brad. He is a Junior majoring in Engineering at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, VA. I'm sure you are hearing the latest news about the shootings on campus. He sent me a text message this morning (10:06 a.m.) before the breaking news saying there had been a shooting on the campus and that he was okay. He said he and all his friends were accounted for and told me not to worry. (But, I worried anyway and started lifting them in prayer right away.) One of his friends had skipped class this morning and that was one of the classes where most of the students were shot. Never thought skipping a class might save someone's life. . .he has been to our house several times . . .I'm sure we'll get more news as the day goes on. . .I cannot imagine what the other parents are going through right now. . .and those students and professors killed went to bed last night not knowing that they would live another day. . .our hearts and prayers go out to the parents and families that have loved ones that are dead, hurt or unaccounted for. I can't imagine. . .we could have gotten that phone call today. . .

I just finished talking with Brad. . .he said that he cried earlier today but he and his friends are supporting each other. He has a great group of friends and we are thankful for that. I know they must all be shaken up and going through a range of emotions. Brad was in his 9 a.m. class at McBryde, which is next to Norris Hall, where the shootings occurred. He and his classmates were kept in the building until everything settled down enough for them to be evacuated. Brad is so afraid that he will know one of the victims. . .I told him that we would be there for him. So, please say a prayer for Brad and his friends, the families and all those involved VA Tech.

Virginia Tech is a BEAUTIFUL campus in a small, quaint town so it is hard to imagine something like this happening.

And we worried about Chris while he was stationed in Iraq. . .

To all our family and friends who have called, text'd, and emailed. . . thank you. Pray for all of Virginia Tech tomorrow as it will be a hard day.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

I'll Be Back Soon. . .

I'm still here. . .just dealing with work, life, tax season, and some emotional stuff. . .will write soon. . .

But, I'm hearing great. . .heard the rain and thunder while I was INSIDE the library last night. I love thunderstorms but hurried home because the dogs don't!

We have news coming soon the week of April 22nd!!!! Stay tuned!

Monday, April 02, 2007

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Mirror, Mirror On The Wall. . .

When I woke up this morning and looked in the mirror, this is what I saw:
A baby born into a wonderful and supportive family . . .
A toddler who learned to talk by placing her fingers on her therapist's throat to feel the vibrations of a word and imitate the movement of her lips. . .
A child of God who loves the Lord and knows she is forgiven. . .
A young girl who longs to be on her grandparent's farm again to swing in the tree high above the garden. . .
A teenager who struggled to belong in a confusing world. . .
An 18-year old who fell in love with her Prince Charming. . .and let him take her away on his mighty horse. . .and still loves him. . .
A wife. . .A daughter. . .A sister. . . A cousin. . . A niece. . .A coworker. . .A neighbor. . .And friend. . .

A mother who loves her children with all her heart and is so proud of them . . .
One who loves at all times . . .
A dog lover who would take in every stray if she had the time and space. . .
A quilter. . .A knitter. . .A seamstress. . .A gardener. . .A baker. . .A writer. . .
A deaf person who now can hear with the help of modern technology. . .
A *hearing* person with two cochlear implants that marvels and rejoices at every new sound. . .
A woman who has worked hard for her place in the world. . .
A Birthday Girl who turned 50 today. . .and that is no April Fool!
This is the DAY that the Lord has Made. . . I will rejoice and be glad in it!