Category Archives: Cochlear implant

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. If 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?

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2018 Squirt Gun 5k Fun Run

I ran a 5k last night with my friend and neighbor, Theresa. We had talked awhile ago about running a Color Run together, but it didn’t look like they had one coming back to our town. So I found us another fun run, on what I thought would be an easy course. It was set on a local high school’s cross country course, so I suppose I should have known. It was fine, really, just an added challenge. Everyone got their own squirt gun, and there were stations along the course where you could fill up, or get shot at, or both. I was all about squirting the little kids at first, but after the first half mile or so I just wanted to focus on running.

This was a different run for me because it wasn’t on pavement, and I wasn’t wearing my cochlear implants (they aren’t waterproof). So running deaf and on uneven terrain (that I couldn’t always see) proved to be quite the challenge. However, it was great having Theresa running right next to me, to alert me to upcoming obstacles and steer me in the right direction. Towards the end, as my legs were growing rather tired and we were making our way through the woods, I tripped on a fairly large root (or something) and Theresa caught me just before my face hit the ground. It was a very impressive catch! It was kind of scary for me though, not because of the falling, but because of the way my right leg responded to the falling. In the past I’ve been able to catch my balance, but this time my right leg – my “good” leg – completely gave out on me. Theresa had to lift me up to standing and then help me move my right leg to a stable standing position, and then after a minute or so I felt ready enough to get back into the motion of running. Of course I was still unsure of my footing and really not trusting either one of my legs, so Theresa kept a good hold on me as we continued the race.

I’m still sort of replaying the whole experience in my head in slow motion. I have been working really hard to be able to run this 10k in October and I don’t want this experience to keep me from that. I want to use this as a learning experience and maybe a reminder of how important it is to get my legs as strong as possible. I can’t know for sure if this body will allow me to run 6.2 miles in a row but I’m gonna keep pushing the boundaries and let it tell me when it can’t go any further.

Sidenote: On the way home, Theresa suggested stopping for a beer, so we ended the night with a cold glass of Guinness each! I think I’ve found another kindred spirit 🙂

Fingernails on a chalkboard

“Like fingernails on a chalkboard”… this phrase dates me, I suppose. They don’t use chalkboards anymore, do they? But if you know the phrase, you’ll understand when I say that listening to most music now, with my cochlear implants, is an experience much like listening to someone scraping their fingernails on a chalkboard. It’s just that unpleasant. But I still, after five years, desperately miss music. So I’ve been trying to visit different genres than what I was used to, in hopes that something might bring me the same joy. What I’ve found so far that sounds good to me is plain piano music, drums, some hip-hop, and techno. Anything with a lot of different instruments or voices or a combination of both is just too much for my processors to handle. However, if it’s a familiar song and I can pick out the melody, it’s tolerable and somewhat enjoyable. So a lot of R.E.M. songs are still enjoyable to me and invoke good memories. They have been a favorite of mine since high school when I first heard the “Out of Time” album, and though many songs on the album are too grinding to listen to, just as many are pleasant and bring back happy memories. Actually, I could say that about several of their albums.

And then ironically, one band I used to hate actually sounds better to me now, and that’s the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Weird phenomenon, I know. I still stubbornly refuse to like them.

I’m loving the Pandora app for helping me branch out and find new music. If I hear a song that I really like, I’ll start up a station using that as a base, and it introduces me to all kinds of new, yet similar, songs. Current example (now playing): I find many of The White Stripes songs work well for my processors. They use clean beats that don’t get muddled around with the vocals, from what I can tell. Also Daft Punk, Stanton Warriors, DJ Krush. These are artists I have never heard of, and that probably most of my friends have never heard of, but that doesn’t really matter, does it? It’s music and it sounds good to me and brings me joy. That’s why God gave us music, right? I like to believe that’s why, anyway.

Crossfit is for crazy people.

And I, apparently, am crazy. Because I tried it just one time and I loved it. Every muscle in my body is screaming with pain from a workout on Tuesday and yet I am eager to go back. Next week. Because ouchie wawa. I was able to go for a short run today and that seemed to help loosen up some muscles in my legs but my arms are still rather sore. It was hurting to reach up to put my cochlear implants on this morning.

It’s fun to whine about the pain, but I really did enjoy it. It was a complete body workout and I can see how it could help me become a better runner and be able to run longer. I still have my eye on a 10k in the fall!

One Day More!!

I know I should be listening to my Les Mis soundtrack because I’m going to the show tomorrow!! I’m so freaking excited I can’t even say it without exclamation points!!

I was listening to it, until my daughter came home. I had to take a chill out break and pull out my old Billie Holiday CDs, because she came home yesterday and was so excited to tell me they had learned about good old Lady Day.

I hadn’t listened to these in probably a decade so it’s interesting to hear how they sound with mechanical, bionic ears. It’s not pleasant, but it’s not terrible either. I’ve had to lower my expectations with music. The melody, the jazz, is quite soothing. I could get used to this, I think.

Anyway, back to Les Miserables!! We’re going tomorrow!! Though it’s the first day of March, so of course it’s supposed to snow. Typical Michigan. In like a lion. Bleh.

Music makes my heart happy

Okay. So it seems I’m not on my computer as frequently as I would like to blog (I keep it upstairs in my bedroom) so I’m gonna try blogging from my phone when the mood strikes. Which is surprisingly and nerdly (making up words here) often.

What I want to share about today is music. Music has always been very important to me. I have a sort of eclectic mix of what I like, mainly because I don’t care to just listen to something because other people say it’s good. If it makes me feel something good inside, it’s a winner in my book. When I lost my hearing I lost what I had with music, and that was devastating, but they tell me my brain can learn to appreciate music again, with time and practice. Right now it all just sounds weird and mechanical, but they said if I listen to familiar music, stuff my brain would remember, it would get better over time. Problem is, I have trouble remembering what I used to listen to.

Enter The Office. I’ve been rewatching the show on Netflix cuz I loved it when it originally aired. Still makes me laugh out loud. One character on the show, Andy Bernard, will occasionally start singing songs that were semi-popular at the time. In one episode he was singing a song by the Indigo Girls and I recognized it immediately. Yes!! I had forgotten them but I remember I had a cassette tape I used to listen to on long road trips to see friends, or my drives to work at the Pizza Hut two towns over.

This didn’t bring back a flood of music memories, but it was at least a key to the particular time period that I knew held lots of my formerly favorite music. So, I started a Pandora station with the Indigo Girls and over the last few days I have been spending a little bit of time each day building the perfect station for retraining my brain with my very own personalized “oldies”.

So far it seems to be working, and I’m having fun singing along to all these songs I forgot I knew.

In other news, the kids had a show day today so they are hanging out with me at home. And it’s sunny outside, so the sun just dances off the blanket of snow outside. I love this season!

Cherishing the silence

I’m finding that I do my best thinking when my “ears” are off (my cochlear implant processors). Even at night, when the house is quiet. It’s just a whole different kind of quiet, because all I hear is the low ringing tones of tinnitus and absolutely nothing else. You probably don’t realize there is noise to be heard, but just try plugging your ears for a few seconds and you’ll see what I mean. There’s a word for that noise but I can’t think of it at the moment. Ambient maybe?

What’s funny about me enjoying this silent existence is that it used to terrify me. So much so, that I needed medication just to sleep at night. But 4 years of deafness and now I welcome the silence. It’s helpful to retreat into myself, to focus my thoughts, but mostly I embrace it because it’s now my favorite time to talk to Jesus. He meets me here in the silence. He was here with me every day while I wrestled with hearing loss and vision loss back in 2013, and he’s never left me since. I don’t share this info often, but there was a song I used to sing during that time, over and over and over mostly in my head, and it brought me peace and comfort when not much else did. I’ll post the lyrics below because you might see how unbelievably appropriate it was for what I was going through. The interesting thing about it, no – miraculous – is that prior to losing my hearing, I had only heard that song one time that I can recall. It was in a movie that I watched once years ago. How on earth could I have remembered that song? Only God knows. But boy, did that song ever save me from a really ugly and scary time in my life, and I believe it will now forever be my theme song.

Losing my hearing and vision was an enormous life changer for me, for obvious reasons, but God has used it all to bring about incredibly wonderful changes. The biggest change, and the one I am most grateful for, is that it solidified my faith in Jesus. He showed me through that song, through the support we received from family and friends, through Scripture, through the fact that we survived it all, that He will never leave me.

So. When I’m settling in for the night and am taking off my ears and entering the silence, I am delighted to talk to Him. He is my peace, forever and always, amen.

Jesus, Lover of my Soul

Jesus, lover of my soul

Jesus, I will never let you go

You’ve taken me from the miry clay

Set my feet upon the rock, and now I know

I love you, I need you

Though my world may fall, I’ll never let you go

My Savior, my closest friend

I will worship you until the very end