Category Archives: Cochlear implant

How my phone is like me

I use my phone every day, all day. It has tons of useful features to support my life. It helps me keep myself and my family on track. Lately I had a thought I wanted to share. My phone is like a metaphor for my life. Let me explain why.

I was canoeing a couple years ago and the canoe tipped over. My phone was in a Ziploc bag, in my running belt, and water leaked into the bag, damaging my phone. I was able to soak it in a bag of rice for awhile, which restored most of its functions, but the one thing I can’t do is use the back button and that other one on the bottom left (the one that shows you all your open apps).

However, I found a workaround by using the s-pen to use those two buttons. The phone responds to the s-pen, just not my finger. A couple weeks ago I was replacing the pen into the phone and it snapped on me. It still works the way the pen should, it just doesn’t have that spring action needed to get it back out of its slot. So now if I want to use my back button, I need to bang the end of the phone on the heel of my hand in order to get the s-pen out. Other than that, the phone works great! It’s kind of ridiculous and it makes me chuckle.

It looks like a completely normal, functional phone. It just has a few broken features but there are workarounds. And that is a metaphor for my life. I am deaf but I have cochlear implants to help me hear. I am visually impaired but have friends, family, and public transportation to help me get around. I look completely normal, I just have a few broken pieces and I have my workarounds I’ve discovered I can use in order to continue functioning. So there. That is how my phone is like me.

What day is it?

It’s been that kind of week. I’ve been confused about the day all week. But, all for good reason. None of it is because I’m drunk, so I’ve got that going for me. Not being drunk is always a plus.

But also, I’ve just had a lot of great things going on! My son’s baseball season is in full swing (excuse my accidental pun), I was able to visit with several really great friends this past week, and the weather is warming up so we leave the doors and windows open and the breeze and the birds chirping is it’s own kind of intoxicating. Let me just note here how truly grateful I am to be able to hear those things, the breeze and the birds. Cochlear implants for the win.

My son had some friends over for a sleepover last night to celebrate his birthday (he’s 12!!) and that was fun and not terribly crazy. He has some really great friends. It’s funny to think back on previous year’s birthday parties and how much anxiety I felt leading up to each one. Overwhelming anxiety. This time? None. Zilch. Nada. And I don’t know if that’s because the kids are older or if I’m in a better state of mental health but I suspect it’s a bit of both. I know it’s a lot of the latter though, because I can’t even remember the last time I had an anxiety attack. And that there is another reason to be grateful.

I’ve had a lot on my mind lately. Tons. It might not seem like it because it doesn’t always make it here on the blog but my mind is constantly in a state of gathering ideas and formulating posts in my head. I just finished a book about writing by Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird, and I’m convinced now more than ever that deep down, I am A Writer. It’s what I long to do, nearly 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I wake up and think, “what did I just dream about? I could write about it.” I want to keep writing, whether anyone is reading or not, because maybe one day I will write something that touches someone in a good way and makes their life a little better than the day before. I can only hope.

So. Today is Saturday. Most of the day has been extremely relaxing. A lot of cleaning up from the slumber party and then just your regular putzing around. I took a wicked nap, ended abruptly by the dog barking her head off when hubby came home from an afternoon at the shooting range. I’m pretty sure I jumped a couple feet straight up from the bed.

I did go for a run yesterday with a friend, but my knee started hurting in the 3rd mile, so I know I still have some healing to do from when I messed it up a week or so ago. I’m pretty confident it’s IT Band Syndrome, but I think it might be a good idea to see a sports therapist to check it out and give me some pointers on my running form. Also, I need more strength training if I’m really going to do this half marathon without damaging myself, so I’m looking at getting back to CrossFit. I had sort of slithered out of going a few months ago so I’m in contact with the trainer to see if she’ll forgive me for going dark on her and let me come back.

Tomorrow is Sunday! Back to church, and this week we’re working in the kids’ church so I get to play with the little ones. I miss hearing the sermons but I do love the babies. I can never understand what they are saying but a couple of them know some basic ASL so that helps a lot.

I was going to sign off but then I was looking through my pictures and see that so much happened and I totally forgot to blog about it! Like the Walk MS, and maybe other things. I’ll get to it. Pinky promise. Let’s talk again soon.

Gorgeous day for a run

So I was anxious to get out and run today. I want to stick with my half marathon training plan so I don’t get too far behind. However I let my anxiety cross right over into stupidity and I forgot to stretch before hitting the pavement.

Of course I paid for that.

After 6 miles my knees were in so much pain I had to walk the rest of the way. I’m pretty sure it was my IT band causing the pain, so I just iced the knees and took an anti-inflammatory once I got home. I’m gonna be sure to stretch next time, always, and hopefully I haven’t done any permanent damage. So glad I took this happy smiley selfie half way through! It really was a beautiful day to be out and about. Wind in the trees, birds chirping. I heard it all and I’m still so grateful that cochlear implants allow me to. Super super great day. God is good!!

Coffee talk

I was at the neighborhood coffee shop today and had a pleasant conversation with the barista. She remembered me (and my drink, a mocha with hazelnut and almond milk!) from the last time I was in there with a friend of mine. She had wanted to ask me about my cochlear implants, and hoped I didn’t mind. Her son has partial hearing loss in one ear, and she’s been encouraging him to get a hearing aid, but he doesn’t feel he needs one. That and he’s a high school student and probably fears the ridicule he might receive from other students. This is a shame, because there is absolutely nothing to be embarrassed about.

I wear my cochlear implants proudly, and have never felt self conscious wearing them. The barista, Dana, was nervous to ask me about them, but I told her I love it when people ask. In fact, I wish more people would. I know people must be curious. I know I would be. They are fascinating in the way they work, and not a lot of people really know much about them.

Dana was under the assumption that my hearing with implants would be much better than normal hearing, but I informed her that was not the case. Not to minimize the miracle of the invention, but scientists just cannot outshine God’s invention of the human ear. What I hear is clear, yes, but it has a different quality to it. No, it will never be the same as normal hearing, but having the gift of conversation back after losing it so quickly more than makes up for that disparity.

Dana also found it especially fascinating that what I hear now does not come at all from my ears, but from the microphones built within the earpieces. It’s true, my ears are now just placeholders for my glasses and my cochlear processors. You know when you clean your ears out with a Qtip and it makes that funny noise? Yeah, I don’t hear that anymore. Kinda funny, I suppose.

Anyway, it was good to chat with a friendly stranger about how well the cochlear implants are working for me, and to have someone share in the excitement. I will never take my hearing for granted, ever. I am super grateful for what I have. ‘Nuff said.

“A man was bragging about his new hearing aid and how great it was and how well he could hear with it. His friend asked what kind it was and the man responded, 12:30.”

This may end up to just be be a brain dump, what’s on my mind in no particular order. Just a warning.

I’m doing okay with half marathon training. However, on one of my runs last week, Tuesday, I managed to trip on the seam of the sidewalk and went tumbling hands first to the concrete. Luckily I’m short, 5’1″, so it wasn’t much of a fall. I was certain in the excruciatingly painful moment that I had broken my right index and middle fingers. I lay on the ground, whispered a few f bombs, breathed my way out of a crying fit, and stood up slowly. I walked slowly toward home, assessing the damage as I went. I was scraped and bleeding in several spots, but thankfully nothing was broken. My cochlear implants were even in place through it all, thanks to the headband I wear over them when I run. Turns out I just jammed the fingers pretty good and a nurse friend told me it could take up to six weeks to fully heal. She said I can speed up the process by icing it daily, taking Motrin for the swelling and pain, and wrapping it to keep myself from bending the fingers. I’m doing all of these things and the swelling already seems to be better.

I finished a crochet Afghan recently for one of my nephews and I bought yarn for my next project. I’m anxious to start it but I don’t think I’ll be able to until these fingers heal. Such a bummer. Can I use that excuse to get out of folding laundry or washing dishes? No? Fine. You’re no help.

Oh! I’ve discovered a new thing. Well, new to me. Sort of. Podcasts. I know this is not new because I used to listen to several when my children were just babies. Somehow I had time for that then. Well now I hadn’t considered them because I figured they would be too difficult to understand with cochlear implants but I started listening to my weekly Bible study lessons online, while I read along with the pdf version. It turns out I can understand quite well! I need something to listen to as my training runs get longer, and music just wasn’t cutting it because the tempo always screws up my pace. Plus I’ve run out of music I enjoy, and I can’t just keep replaying the same playlist, that’s so boring! So I tried running while listening to the Bible study lesson and it worked great! The time seemed to go by much faster and I was able to keep a steady pace and still focus on my form as well.

So I’ve downloaded a podcast app and subscribed to a few stations, including the Dave Ramsey show, which has always been a favorite. I have to stay sharp for the Financial Peace class I’m leading so that’s more for business than for pleasure (though I’ll admit I do find it entertaining, cuz I’m a nerd).

I have other thoughts and things but it’s way too late for me to be up so that’s all for now. Until next time…

Frustration

I’m frustrated today. Frustrated and grumpy. It’s not anything specific, really. Just more of a general feeling. I was trying to crochet but it’s a challenging basket weave pattern and I just didn’t feel like messing with it anymore. This frustration makes me very unpleasant to be around because I’m a major grump. So I’m upstairs with a beer and a laptop, and I’m hashing it out on the keyboard. I was working on my book for awhile, with my cochlear implant volumes turned way down, and my son came into the room and scared the living daylights out of me. I didn’t hear him come in!! It’s a good thing I wasn’t holding my beer at the time. I was at a stuck point with the book anyway so the distraction was nice. He read some parts of the book and then we got to talking about what he remembered from when I first lost my hearing. It’s always interesting to hear it from my kids’ perspectives.

I think what I’ve learned today, or was reminded of, is that writing calms me. That frustrated feeling has almost completely left me, and I don’t feel like such a grump anymore. And I appreciate that you are willing to read all the silly things I write. So thank you, reader. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

Rainy days

It’s raining today. Storming, actually. It’s been awhile since we had a thunderstorm during the day like this. We’ve had a couple overnight, but those are no fun because I can’t hear the thunder. I don’t wear my cochlear implants overnight. Usually my daughter tells me all about the storms the next day because though she usually sleeps soundly, she is sensitive to the noise. That and she worries about lightning striking and all that. So it makes for rough nights for her, while I secretly envy that she can hear the thunder.

So. Today’s storm is nice. It’s dark and cloudy though, which makes me want to go back to bed (which I did) and stay in my pajamas all day (which I am). I’m also roasting a butternut squash to make soup, so the house smells like autumn. My sister and I have our annual retreat to the monastery this weekend, and this year we decided against planning an elaborate menu and instead are each bringing a homemade soup. We think between soup, salad, and snacks, we should be set for the weekend.

My plan for this year’s retreat is to get a big head start on my book. I want to read through the past five years of journals in order to get an outline or map of sorts of what I’m going to say. That’s a giant task and not something I feel like I can do sufficiently while I’m here at home. Distractions and all. I am very easily distracted.

I still feel like I have this nagging voice that tells me I can’t write a book, not one worth publishing anyhow. That voice I need to just keep telling to shut up. Lots of people less qualified than me have written books so I have no reason to believe that voice.

What else is going on? I started leading Financial Peace University this week for my church. We have a small group but it happens to be very diverse. People from every walk of life. Newlyweds, single, married with kids, empty nesters. It should make for some really interesting discussions as the weeks go on. I’m very excited to be doing this class. For one thing, I needed the refresher, for sure. But also it just feels good to be able to give back and serve God in an area I feel like He’s given me a passion for. I was a ball of nerves this first week, because my vision loss and difficulty hearing still give me great social anxiety, but everyone was extremely understanding and gracious. I’m confident it’s going to be a life-changing class for everyone.

Speaking of social anxiety, I’m also in a women’s weekly Bible study and yesterday was my first time going. I attended last year and loved it so much, I’m doing it again. However, I had a lot of trouble hearing people in the discussions as well as reading the materials they hand out every week. There’s not a whole lot I can do about the discussion because you can’t expect to completely retrain people to speak a different way just for that one hour a week, so I’m learning this is an area I have to accept not being able to hear everything. I just have to accept and be thankful for the words I CAN hear.

As for the lesson handouts, I had been scanning them into pdfs every week so that I could read them in high contrast on my computer or tablet. That was kind of a pain, but it worked well. It only occurred to me after the class had ended that I should have been scanning my answers to the questions as well, because every week I would get to class and struggle to read my answers during the class discussion. This year I am super excited because they offer the lessons and questions in pdf format, so I don’t have to do all the scanning! It may be hard for others to understand my level of joy here, because until you’re faced with the daily difficulty in seeing and hearing things, you just can’t imagine it. I know it’s something I took for granted, for sure.┬áIf you are reading this and you have fully functioning eyes and ears, will you please just take a moment to thank the Lord? Because not everybody has that luxury. It’s so hard, people. Not impossible, just hard.

Well, my squash is roasted so I need to go saute some shallots and garlic and get the soup assembled. After that perhaps I’ll do some crocheting. I’m on my third of thirteen afghans for each of the nieces and nephews. A perfect rainy day activity, wouldn’t you say?