cochlear_journey

Image Credits: Tom Linuk

Hey guys sorry it’s been awhile since I’ve updated. I haven’t had too much to say. The part of getting a cochlear implant that no one tells you is that the last two weeks before you’re activated are by far the worst. Sure, you feel better. The incisions are all pretty much healed and most of my scabs are gone. My hair is growing back and you can’t even tell that they shaved part of my head. I’m not dizzy anymore and I’ve been off of pain and nausea medicine for weeks. But I can’t hear. And that sucks.

I suppose if you’re completely deaf and live in a deaf world, this part isn’t so bad. But I am not. By legal definitions I am “technically” deaf. (I have profound hearing loss in both ear… more than a 100db hearing loss for both ears). But I have never belonged to the “deaf world and culture”. A common misconception of deaf and hearing impaired individuals is that they are the same. This is simply not always the case. You can be deaf and live in a deaf world where sign language is your first (and often times only) language. Or you can be deaf or hearing impaired living and communicating in a hearing world. I fall into the later category. I was never taught sign language and never had any desire to learn it. I’ve always lived in the hearing world.

I’m trying to live my life like I did before my implant. I am unsure if I have any natural hearing left in my left ear. I never had much to begin with, so whether I do or not doesn’t matter much, but not being able to amplify sounds via my hearing aid is driving me insane. I have my hearing aid for my right ear of course, but my hearing loss is about the same in both ears and having to rely on my right ear to do all the work is hard. I miss a lot. I’m struggling badly. I just have to keep telling myself that “This too shall pass”. In three days I’ll hear better than I ever have in all of my life (hopefully). It’s just frustrating now.

I get bored very easily now. And anxious. And some days I feel sad because I feel completely useless. There’s two things I want very badly now that I can’t have or can’t do: 1. To watch How I Met Your Mother on Netflix (I’m kind of obsessed) and 2. To listen to music. It is driving me insane that I can’t do these things. Some days I just sit around and say “I’m bored. I’m bored. I am so freaking bored.” Unlike my older sister, I’ve never normally been one to complain about boredom. But there are many days when it just feels like there’s nothing to do because I can’t hear.

Now you may be thinking, “Hey, you were an English major and you always tell everyone how much you love to read. Why don’t you just do that?” Well…I have. I read about four books in the past month. Currently I’m working on both Gingerbread by Rachel Cohen and an anthology of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s works (yes, I am aware of the fact that I am a complete nerd who reads classic literature for “fun”).  But some days I don’t feel like reading. Sometimes I get done work and I’m so tired and I just want to really relax. This is when Netflix comes in useful…but when you can’t hear…it’s not so useful is it? I can read the captions, yes, but that’s not at all the same. Trying really hard to focus on the sounds with just my right ear and reading everything can be exhausting and completely counteracts the whole “watching Netflix to relax” idea.

I feel a mixture of sadness, isolation, and paranoia a bit, too. I *HAVE* left my house — but I try to do it as little as possible. It is not fun. I go grocery shopping with my parents sometimes and it totally sucks to shop in complete silence especially around the holiday shopping season. Stores are very crowded. I alway had to rely on my eyes to help me “hear” but now more than ever. I’m always afraid of being in people’s way and having them say “excuse me” and get really angry because I don’t see them and I can’t hear. I also try at all costs to avoid having to speak to people like cashiers, waitresses, etc. I have not put myself in the position to order food for obvious reasons. When I bought things from Big Lots the other day my mom spoke to the cashier for me and explained I wasn’t being rude — I just can’t hear. I really try my hardest to avoid being out. It’s given me a little bit of cabin fever sometimes though. My boyfriend and I have just done things at my house for the past month. I’m itching to go out and have a real date like we did prior to my implant (threeeeeee moreeeee daysssss).

I’m very fortunate that I have the ability to work from home 4 days a week (my office is in the process of moving) but it still kind of sucks working and not being able to hear anything. I usually have my headphones on playing music constantly as I work…but since I can’t hear that’s no longer an option until after my activation. THE SILENCE DRIVES ME INSANE. It adds on to the whole feeling of isolation except for when I am in the office (Tuesday is my normal office day). When I’m in the office I no longer feel isolated — but extremely paranoid and a bit sad. I have had a few trainings/meetings and I have done my best — but I couldn’t hear. I also constantly worry that someone is trying to verbally communicate with me but I can’t hear them. I had to rely largely on visuals, text, and communication via e-mail and instant messenger from my co-workers. My co-workers are awesome and I’m very thankful and grateful to work with such an amazing team who has been so patient and understanding and willing to work with me through all of this!

This not being able to hear thing sucks so much, but it’s almost over. Three. More Days. I am incredibly anxious and yes, a bit nervous too. I have struggled to sleep the past week and it’s driving some people, namely my parents, insane lol. I usually go to bed around 12 and I am wide awake by 4 or 5. I have tried limiting caffeine and taking sleeping pills, but they haven’t even helped much. One day I started making Christmas cards at 5 in the morning. Another day I cleaned my bathroom at 4am  (and woke everyone up in the process). I expect this to get worst as I get closer to my activation date.

There’s not a doubt in my mind that I will hear when I am activated on Wednesday, but I’m still nervous. I’m nervous about how things will sound. I hear it might be robotic. I really want to hear music and I’m hoping to be one of the lucky few that gains that ability right away. I hope I can listen to my favorite band, Good Charlotte, and that it will still sound as I remember it. I hope it doesn’t sound weird or foreign to me. This has me really nervous. I also worry a little about the people around me. I’m told I have realistic (and low) expectations. I just hope people around me really understand that this is a long process. I have to train my mind to hear things and it could take over a year to fully gain everything from it or most things. I hope that there expectations aren’t too high for me and I hope that people around me aren’t disappointed with the results even if I am happy. I do feel a bit of pressure. No one is intentionally pressuring me, but it’s still there. Everyone is rooting for me with this and I don’t want anyone to feel let down. I think I’m more worried about how others react to the results of my cochlear than I am about my own reactions and feelings as weird as that sounds.

Although I am nervous I’m definitely excited about everything. My excitement still prevails all of my nerves and negative thoughts. I am trusting in God that he will allow me to hear and that everything will go smoothly.

Stayed tuned after Wednesday for an update about my activation!

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