This week I read 1 Corinthians 14 and it made me think a lot about the history of American Sign Language actually. In 1 Corinthians 14, Paul is talking to the church of Corinth about speaking in tongues. He acknowledges the ability to speak in tongues as being a spiritual gift from God, however, he strongly urges the church of Corinth not to practice the speaking of tongues unless everyone can do it. Paul explains this by stating, “He that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries.” Men that possess the spiritual gift of speaking in tongues can use it to speak to God, yes, but they shouldn’t use it to speak with the rest of the congregation because they won’t be able to understand him. When we enter the church it should be to honor and glorify God and to help our brothers and sisters and Christ to do the same and to better come to know God and his words. If we can’t even understand what the members of the body of Christ are saying then how can we really come to know God and learn at church, let alone properly worship him in his home?
Paul went so far as to suggest that speaking in tongues could be the equivalent of just making noise without understanding what that noise actually means in verses 7-11. Here he states:
And even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped? For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle? So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? For ye shall speak into the air. There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification. Therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh a barbarian, and he that speaketh shall be a barbarian unto me (1751).
Wow, definitely a lot of things going on in these verses! Let’s look at the first part of this first, verses 7-8:
“And even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped? For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?”
A deaf person may never hear the sounds of a pipe, harp, or trumpet. You could blow that trumpet as hard as humanly possible and that deaf person may never prepare himself to battle if that’s all he has to go on because he’ll never know. To him, the sound of a trumpet is completely meaningless.
For me prior to getting my cochlear implant, I missed out on many sounds. I’ve discovered many of them since getting my cochlear implants, but every day I am also still learning more and more sounds. It’s not uncommon for me to jump a little in class as a train goes by or someone talks or fidgets or I hear an unknown sound. I’m constantly trying to define the source of the sound and what it means. This is what the congregation must’ve been like back in Paul’s time when they tried to understand what the speaker was saying when he spoke in tongues that they did not understand.
I also relate this to ASL. The Deaf community needs ASL so that they can understand what is being said in the church. To them, the verbal communication means nothing. They have no idea what the pastor is preaching without the use of ASL. They will never hear the gospel or understand the message that day. The pastor might as well be speaking in tongues because they’d never know otherwise. Here, Thomas Gallaudet’s arguments for using sign language in the church makes sense.
But hold that thought…
Thomas Gallaudet and the manualists didn’t just think that the use of sign language in the church would help the deaf to better understand sermons; they took it a step further. Gallaudet along with the other manualists felt that sign language would bring the deaf closer to God. In Tracy Morse’s dissertation, “Saving Grace: Religious Rhetoric in the Deaf Community,” she quotes Douglas Baynton’s Forbidden Signs when she says:
For manualists, this view was interpreted in Protestant terms: sign language was an original language and meant “closer to the Creation,” not inferiority (Baynton “Savages” 98). However, for oralists, sign language was associated with lower evolution or “inferior races” (Baynton Forbidden 9). Oralists made arguments that deaf students needed to learn spoken English and lip reading or they would be viewed as animals or savages (Morse 51).
Now, let’s look back to the scripture and focus on verse 11 which states, “Therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh a barbarian, and he that speaketh shall be a barbarian unto me.
The word “barbarian” here is what stands out the most to me. Do you know who else really loves the word “barbarian”? Alexander Graham Bell who was NOT a manualist like Thomas Gallaudet, but rather an oralist that believed that the deaf needed to move away from sign language and instead learn to speak verbally and read lips and live in the hearing world.
So, what am I saying here? Do I think that this verse is saying sign language is barbaric? Absolutely not, but at the same time, it could be absolutely so. So it’s a yes and a no for me.
Here is what I think that verse is saying, or what the core message Paul has for the church of Corinth is:
We need to speak in a way that people can understand what we are saying in church so as to not cause confusion or anything that can inhibit man’s understanding of the gospel and man’s ability to honor and glorify the lord.
Back in the time of the church of Corinth, speaking in tongues was a barrier for people in the church because it might have benefited the person speaking it, but it did not benefit the church. Paul is calling for the unity of the church – everyone needs to unite as the body as Christ and work in a way that best serves God and not themselves and that involves speaking a universal language they can all understand.
What does this mean for the deaf in the church? Should they be forced to lip-read and practice the oral method? No. I think the deaf should have a right to hear the sermon in a way that is the most accessible to them. Many churches offer the hearing loop to help hard of hearing and deaf people to hear (depending on the degree of hearing loss of course). If a deaf person needs an interpreter, they should have access to it.
If the majority of church attendees are Deaf and rely on sign language, then perhaps that church should consider doing full sermons primarily in ASL, as that is what will benefit that church and help the attendees to learn and honor and glorify God the best.
We don’t have to worry too much about the speaking of tongues in modern day. 1 Corinthians 13:8 says, “Whether there be tongues they shall cease”. People cannot speak in tongues today (I acknowledge that many claim they do – I have my own feelings on that but I’ll be nice and go the route of “no comment” on that…). I think that whereas the church of Corinth had to worry about the speaking in tongues today our issue is more or less about what language or what style/tone to use in church. I think it all depends on the congregation and choosing what is the most accessible to your church goers.
Going back to the discussion on the deaf community…
In Baynton’s Forbidden Signs he explains how many oralists feared that by relying too heavily on sign language the deaf community would isolate themselves from the rest of the world. He stated:
Like their contemporaries in other fields of reform, oralists worried that the lives of people were diminished by being a part of such communities as the deaf community; they would not, it was feared, fully share in the life of the nation. The deaf community, like ethnic communities, narrowed the minds and outlooks of its members. “The individual must be one with race,” one wrote in words reminiscent of many other Progressive reformers “or he is virtually annihilated”; the chief curse of deafness was “apartness from the life of the world,” and it was just this that oralism was designed to remedy. Apartness was the darkness manualists redefined for a new world (Baynton 32).
Sign language was (and still is) very different from spoken English or any spoken language, really It’s different from what the majority is speaking and when people can’t speak our language, either they or we miss out. Isn’t this the same as what was going on in the church of Corinth in a way? Paul wanted to see the church of Corinth come together to honor, serve, and glorify the Lord and to unite as the body of Christ. Speaking in tongues was something very few church members could do that caused a separation or divide between those who could speak and understand it, and those who could not. It became a distraction that kept people from coming to know God.
Is sign language a distraction that keeps the deaf from doing things in their daily lives? It is obvious that it causes a divide from the hearing and the deaf worlds. In the church, it can make things better for the deaf and I can see how it can strengthen their personal relationships with God, but if we only signed and didn’t speak spoken English, the rest of the congregation would suffer. I don’t see sign language as being a form of language that brings a person closer to God in the sense of it’s a superior or holier language than standard English. I think it’s just another language that for some is their primary and therefore the best and for others is just another language in the world that exists but one they don’t partake in or use in their daily lives.
Hey guys! Long time, no talk! I can’t believe I haven’t updated this blog since April! Huge apologies for that — I’ve just been so incredibly busy these past few months – mainly with starting my new jobs! Starting a new job with a cochlear implant can be quite a different experience from back when I started new jobs without the ability to hear. This post will explain why.
First off, a little bit of background information. I left my old job at WebiMax at the end of April. I worked there for about 2 years and 7 or 8 months, so really close to 3 years. When I first started working at WebiMax I did not have my cochlear implants yet, so I relied solely on e-mails and instant messages to communicate. After getting my cochlear implant I saw my roles at WebiMax grow and with my new ability to hear on the phone and to hear audio like in YouTube videos, my usual duties became much easier to perform and I was promoted to Assistant Marketing Manager and later Digital Marketing Manager – SMO. I can’t really discuss why I decided to leave my old job other than to say I knew it was time and I needed a change.
Applying for New Jobs With a Cochlear Implant
I started to apply for a new job quickly after recovering from surgery with my 2nd cochlear implant. I think I got really serious about it in January. When I last counted, I sent out over 100 job applications from January – May. So, my ability to hear combined with my skills and experience didn’t make this process any easier. However, when I did interview for positions, I felt that it always went much smoother and I was a lot less anxious than I was three years prior when I interviewed for jobs before getting my cochlear implant. I think I interviewed with about 3 or 4 companies in person and did 2 or 3 phone interviews (that never went further from that) with different companies. I very rarely had to ask anyone to repeat themselves in these interviews which I think helped me a lot. I think sometimes people would look at me weird for my cochlear implants, but they very rarely asked about them (probably because legally they were afraid they couldn’t). I felt like my phone interviews were clumsy since I still didn’t have strong phone skills yet. I always wanted to try to avoid them, but most people wanted a phone interview before bringing me in, so I just kind of had to deal with it. During my first in-person interview with Penn Medicine, whom I accepted a job offer from (more on that later), I opened up about my cochlear implants to the second interviewer and shared my story and how I was writing a book about it. That’s something I normally didn’t do at interviews, but it felt right since I was interviewing to work with a medical company. The interviewer was very intrigued by my story and this helped me to open up more not just about that experience, but all of my work experiences in general.
The first offer…
I accepted my first job offer in the beginning of April to work as an SEO Marketing Strategist. There was a few strange things about working here. First off, I almost didn’t go to the job interview. Becker’s is located in Pennsauken, an area I wasn’t too familiar with – so we got really lost when my dad drove me there and I was frustrated and running late to the interview. I was still waiting to hear from Penn as well, but the job did sound good. The people were incredibly friendly and I loved their advertisements and the tone they used and the way the company was a family business. I initially had a phone interview with HR which went extremely well and then the in-person interview also went well. However, someone else they interviewed had a bit more experience and they decided to hire her instead of me…
But it didn’t work out with the girl they initially hired, and less than 2 weeks after being told I didn’t get the job, I was contacted again and made an offer which I accepted immediately.
Working for Becker’s was pretty good. The people who work there are all some of the nicest people I’ve ever met in my life. Although my time at Becker’s was short, I was able to do many different things. For the first week or two I watched a lot of training videos on Google Analytics and SEO which were provided to us by a marketing partner. These videos were extremely helpful and I didn’t have to worry at all about whether or not they had caption because I could hear them perfectly with no issues.
One thing I had a hard time getting used to or adjusting to was that they didn’t use instant messaging like WebiMax did…everyone had a phone and they called each other if they needed something. My phone used to give me really bad anxiety. I was always afraid my boss would try to call me and I wouldn’t hear it and he’d think I was ignoring him and I’d get in trouble. Sometimes I’d hear one of my co-workers phones go off and think it was mine and try to answer my phone only to realize it wasn’t ever ringing. I had a hard time deciphering between my phone ringing and my co-worker’s phone ringing. Once I even had a panic attack and emailed my boss saying “Hey I’m not ignoring you if you call me and I don’t answer, I just have trouble hearing it”. He was always very understanding.
My co-worker/office mate and I had cubicles right across from each other with a giant wall in between, so sometimes she’d try to talk to me through the wall even though we couldn’t see each other. This was great because I could hear her with no problem – something I never could’ve done prior to getting a cochlear implant. However, sometimes she’d be talking to someone else or on the phone and I’d mess up and answer her because I thought she was talking to me. I had a hard time knowing who she was talking to or when someone was talking to me. When someone was on the phone near me with a client I would also struggle to focus on my work. I’d hear their whole conversation and focus on that instead. Sometimes I wanted to take my cochlears off so I wouldn’t be distracted, but I was afraid that would make me look rude or that I’d end up missing something important when someone did need to talk to me.
In the short couple of months that I worked at Becker’s I was able to join in many meetings with vendors which was always neat. I loved seeing the new products they had to offer us and the people were usually very nice. I also met with some designers and other partners. Once we even took them out to lunch with us. I never had to ask anyone to repeat themselves and I could always hear everything – even when we talked in the restaurant which was kind of dark.
I was much more relaxed working at Becker’s probably than I was working at any other job I’ve ever had. I didn’t have to focus so hard to hear what people were saying. I could perform my job and hear everything just like everyone else.
I left my job at Becker’s in July. It was a very difficult decision to make, but The job at Penn was more in line with my career goals and interests and paid more, plus it would work better with my school schedule when I went back for my MA and taught in the fall.
Transitioning to Penn Medicine
While it was hard for me to leave my job at Becker’s and a bit of a risk (it was a great job with great people and they had to fill the position ASAP, so if things didn’t work out, there would be no turning back), I knew in my heart that I was doing the right thing. SEO was a small part of what I do. The large part of what I do is writing and social media, which I didn’t have the opportunity to do at Becker’s, but it would be my main responsibilities at Penn.
After an offer was made which I gladly accepted after months of working out fine details and waiting, I had a lot of phone calls to make with many different people including my boss, human resources, and the people conducting my background check. Many of these phone calls took place in the car on my way home from working at Becker’s as I finished my final two weeks. Despite the noise of the busy highways and traffic, I never struggled to hear anyone. This was a major accomplishment for me.
Before my first day on the job, I had to attend an all day orientation where there was probably 50 people or more in attendance. I had to do many group activities and ice breaker activities. In the past these would always be really difficult for me to participate in because I’d struggle to hear the person in charge of orientation and all of the people in the group. This was also taken place in a very large conference room where sometimes people speaking would be more than 50 feet away from me, but I could still hear every single word everyone said. It made it so I didn’t feel nervous or anxious at all.
I’ve now been at Penn for slightly more than 2 months and it has been a very fast paced but exciting journey. I know that I definitely made the right decision to leave Becker’s and take on this position. I am so happy where I’m at. I am still afraid of the phone, but it doesn’t matter too much. I’ve only had to use it for Sprinklr trainings and to call in for meetings, but that doesn’t happen too often. We usually just communicate through IM, e-mail, or in person.
I help out a lot with YouTube marketing. I watch the videos and update the titles and descriptions to be more SEO-friendly. I never have to worry about having someone else watch them for me and tell me what they’re about like I used to do when I worked as a social media marketer for WebiMax prior to getting my cochlear implants.
I am confident in my new role and feel really comfortable talking with my boss and my co-workers. I don’t get as anxious as I did at some jobs in the past. Sometimes I felt like my hearing held me back when I worked at WebiMax. Not holding me back career-wise, of course (I was promoted numerous times), but until I got my cochlear implant, I worked for over a year or 2 without being able to hear my co-workers and effectively communicate with them in-person which made me feel like I never knew what was going on and like I never got to know my co-workers too well or befriend them. When I finally did get my cochlear implants, it was like the friendship shipped have sailed – I mean they were people I’ve already know for a long time, just never got to really KNOW and it seemed like it was too late.
I get along really well with my new coworkers. I can be a very serious person and I’m a bit of a workaholic, but I have fun with them sometimes, too. Once in awhile I go out to lunch with one or more of them or go on a run for frozen yogurt or fruit smoothies or just Dunkin Donuts. It’s easier to make friends with them and to talk with them because I don’t have to ask them to repeat themselves a million in one times. I can pretty much always hear them and follow them.
I’ve also been enjoying working in Philly. There’s so many sounds that I am constantly exploring in this busy city. Everyday I’m made more aware of the wonderful gift the Lord has bestowed on me when he granted me my hearing. Commuting to and from work like I do now wouldn’t have been possible before. Every morning I have to buy my patco ticket, septa tokens, and listen to the overhead telling me where I’m at and when I’m at my stop. I order food from food trucks, nearby restaurants, and dunkin and never have any problems (septa being the exception…but my problems aren’t due to my hearing impairment, but that’s another story).
I think having my cochlears has definitely helped to open this door for me and aided in the success I’ve had so far. I’m excited to see where this takes me in the years to come.
What’s Next: Teaching.
Becker’s and now Penn are just the beginning.
Next stop? Teaching. This is so exciting for me. I’ve wanted to be a teacher since I was about 11 or 12 and worked for a summer camp, but I never thought it was a possibility. How could I possibly teach a class when I wouldn’t be able to hear my students and address their concerns and answer any of their questions? Even after receiving my cochlears, it didn’t seem possible. I couldn’t teach elementary school because that would mean going back to school to get teaching certification which would involve student teaching. Student teaching naturally takes place in the day, so I wouldn’t be able to keep my job and student teach. I couldn’t afford to give up my job. I also couldn’t become a professor and teach college level because I’d need to get an MA for that, something I couldn’t afford.
Or so I thought.
In March, I received an email from the Department of Writing Arts at Rowan about the TEP (Teaching Experience Program) available for select MA in Writing Students. Through this program I’d be able to teach as an adjunct professor (and get paid for it) while working towards my MA in Writing. My dream of becoming a teacher was suddenly a very real reality for me. I truly felt like God was calling me to do this.
Long story short, I applied and was accepted.
I attended orientation for the TEP program a month ago for three days. It felt so good to be back on campus again. I got emotional walking past and listening to some of the sermons going on early in the morning before orientation began because it was the first time ever I could actually really hear them.
Orientation went very well and was so much fun. It was my first time ever being in class and being able to hear both the professor and the students in the class. I felt so much more relaxed and less anxious. I got to know my classmates pretty well already and felt very comfortable and open, something I never felt before in the classroom.
I teach my first class on September 2nd and have classes later that week. I’m both excited and completely terrified to begin this next chapter in my life and to experience life as not just a student, but a graduate level student with bilateral cochlear implants.
Stay tuned in the upcoming weeks for a post on what it’s like to be a teacher and a student with cochlear implants!
Take me out to the ball game….
It’s really been a long while since I wrote anything. Rest be assured, I am not abandoning this blog and I am definitely not abandoning my book project. I’ve just been extremely busy with work lately. There’s been quite a few changes happening lately which are very exciting but have also taken up a bit more of my time, attention, and focus. Also, Larry and I are coming up on our 1 year anniversary together. We are planning to celebrate by spending a weekend together in Lancaster. It’s something very important to us that we are both very excited about especially since we don’t get to see each other very much with him being a truck driver constantly on the road. However, as with everything in life, this is going to cost money. With that being said, I’ve been picking up quite a bit of freelance to help me save up and afford this little trip. Unfortunately, there are only 24 hours in a day. With my full time job + freelancing and my personal life, there just hasn’t been much time for updating my blog and writing my novel. But once our anniversary is over I’m hoping to be able to cut back on freelance and dedicate more time to this project.
So anyways, back to the subject of this post: What It’s Like to Go To a Baseball Game With a Cochlear Implant.
I went to a Camden Riversharks game with my church, Washington Baptist Church back in July. I’ve most certainly been to baseball games before. My dad actually used to be a great baseball player and at one time played on the church team back when we still attended the Church of the Nazarene in Pitman. Also, I went to the Phillies game with Student Government back when I attended Gloucester County College (now known as Rowan College at Gloucester County back in I think it was 2010. However, I never had an experience quite like this before.
Yes, they do really play “Take Me Out to the Ball Game”…
Baseball games were always kind of boring for me in the past. They were kind of hard for me to follow and get into, probably because I could never really hear anything and fully grasp what was going on. I couldn’t hear the announcers on their loudspeakers. I couldn’t hear any of the music they played in between innings or whatever. Actually, I didn’t even know if they played music at all. I always wondered if “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” was ever really played at baseball games or if it was just a kid’s song/a myth. I could never hear well enough to know.
I was really pretty excited to go to the Riversharks with my church and to see how things would be different with my cochlear. Unfortunately, Larry couldn’t make it like originally planned due to work, but I was able to go with my parents. My dad has been to my church on a couple of occasions but my mom never been, so I was excited for her to finally get to meet some people from church. Also, my family and I don’t get to go out and do things like this very much. My church rented a pavilion and there was an all-you-can-eat buffet so I knew it would be a special, fun treat for us all.
They even had sumo wrestlers!
My first impression upon entering Campbell’s field was “Wow, this is pretty loud!” I actually had to switch my cochlear to setting #3 which blocks out the maximum amount of background noise. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to things being too loud lol. My family and I met up with my church straight away and Pastor and his wife and some other members of the church all introduced themselves to my family. I was happy and surprised that I could actually hear everyone. It wasn’t awkward like it would have been prior to me having my cochlear.
When we got to the pavilion I was kind of overwhelmed by all of the sounds. I could hear everything! Even things I never imagined I’d hear or ever really gave any thought to. My mom got the biggest kick out of asking me “Can you hear that? Did you hear that?” lol. I don’t think that’s ever going to get old for her.
It was 90’s night, which was a real treat for me being that I am a 100% 90’s baby. They played 90’s songs and 90’s music videos throughout the night and I recognized and knew the words to almost all of them. I sang along a lot to Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears, Smash Mouth, and Outkast (although I was quick to point out that Outkast was most certainly NOT from the 90’s….more like 2005ish. My mom loved watching me sing along and bob my head to the music. She even said at one point, “I didn’t think I’d ever see the day when you’d be able to bob your head to the music at a baseball game” and how right she was!
I could even hear the sound of the ball hitting his glove…
I was able to hear more delicate or less obvious sounds, too. Things like the sound of the ball landing in the catcher’s gloves, and the sound of the bat hitting the ball. I could also hear every word that the announcers said. It was pretty exciting!
Pastor and his wife came by to our table to speak with my parents and I right during the last inning. It was nice to be able to have a conversation and not constantly have to say “What?” or, “I can’t hear you”, or worst yet, completely give up on the conversation. The last time I went to a baseball game back with GCC’s student government I had a great time, but I don’t remember really talking to anyone much once we got inside the stadium because it was too loud and I couldn’t distinguish between the sounds — it was all just loud noise. So this was certainly a nice change/improvement for me!
This was from 2010 when I went to a Phillies’ game with GCC’s SGA. It was a lot of fun, but I couldn’t really hear anyone well enough to have a real conversation. 😦
My first baseball game with my cochlear implant was definitely a great experience for me. I’d love to go to another one sometime…especially during a time when Larry can be home to share the moment with me! He could use a fun night out to a baseball game, too. 🙂
Oh, and before I forget, as I mentioned in the title I do have some exciting news!
I recently responded to a query from a writer, Geetanjali Mukherjee who is writing a book titled, Anyone Can Get An A+: How to Beat Procrastination, Reduce Stress, and Improve Your Grades. She was looking to speak with people who had to overcome personal challenges to get through school. I shared my story with her about how I made it through school without being able to hear my professors because it was before I had my cochlear. She loved my story and thought I was an inspiration. Long story short, she will be featuring it in her book which goes on sale on iTunes on September 2nd. You can read more about it here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/anyone-can-get-how-to-beat/id1012123464?mt=11
Image Credits: Digital Sherpa
“Your last blog post had three mistakes in it”, my mom told me after reading my post on What’s It’s Like to Go to Six Flags Great Adventure With a Cochlear Implant, “Don’t you ever proofread your work anymore?”
“Nope.” I replied.
“Obviously. You said ‘I was both very excited and a nervous.’A nervous what? For an English major you sound pretty dumb right now”.
Mom always was brutally honest…
But the thing is, I don’t proof read my blog posts because I have a degree in English and Writing Arts. Now, I can hear my boss and co-workers cringing. Here I am, not only an English and Writing Arts graduate, but a Project Manager for a digital marketing agency openly admitting that I never proofread my own blog posts before hitting the “publish” button.
But, there’s a reason for that.
I mean, if I were to write a blog post for my clients or a post like the ones I used to do for BitRebels.com I’d be sure to proofread and proofread again 10xs over.
But this is different. It’s not for a client and it’s not for Bit Rebels (or any other major news site/blog for that matter). This is my own personal blog. And it’s more than that…
Before you read any further you may want to glance over Anne Lamott’s famous short essay, “Shitty First Drafts” as I plan on referencing it quite a bit here.
You see, to say it simply, this blog is my “Shitty First Draft”.
Back in my college days my creative writing professors used to make us read Lamott’s “Shitty First Drafts” on the first day of class. It didn’t matter that we already read it in Creative Writing I or Writing Fiction class.They’d make us read it again, always on the first day of class. The reason? Had we not have read this essay, we may never have finished writing anything for class.
As this essay explains, too often writers get wrapped up in their own writing and way too focused on making it perfect. It’s good to proofread your work and take the time to make it good. However, if you focus on that from the get-go, you won’t get very far.
Your first draft of a story or a novel or even a poem isn’t about being perfect. It’s about being well, pardon my French, but to quote Lamott, it’s about being “shitty”.
Your first draft isn’t supposed to make much sense. It’s not supposed to be very good. Hell, I’ll even going on to say it’s supposed to suck. Being perfect and making sense isn’t the important thing now. Getting your thoughts and ideas down is what’s most important.
I got a cochlear implant. It’s been one heck of a journey. I’m hearing and experiencing things I’ve never heard before in my life. You may say I have quite the story to tell.
And yes, that’s it.
I have a story to tell.
I am telling my story.
This blog is capturing my story.
This blog is my “shitty first draft”.
To say in a less obnoxious and/or offensive way, I am using this blog as a way to capture all of my thoughts, emotions, desires, and experiences with my cochlear implant. Once I finish living through the experience a bit more, I plan on turning my blog into a memoir and hopefully one day publishing it. I hope that it can help others who may be considering getting a cochlear implant.I know that if it wasn’t for hearing the stories of others through the online groups I have joined I never would’ve went through with getting my cochlear implant. This is my way of giving back to others the way they have given to me.
Consider this blog my first draft for my novel. Please don’t bug me about how I mispelled or mistyped things. Don’t tell me that things are grammatically incorrect or don’t make sense. I know all of that already. It might not be the greatest thing in the world now, but I’ll go back and edit it all in another draft in time.
For now, just enjoy this raw copy of my first draft of my new novel.
P.S. — i have a name for it already to. It will be called……………….. *DRUMROLL PLEASE*………………..
God Granted Me Hearing.
The reason? It’s simple. After 24 years of not being able to hear well, God did answer my every prayer and Grant Me Hearing.
Also, ironically enough, my first novel that I wrote shortly after graduating high school in 2008 was a fiction novel called “God Grant Me Hearing”. This is like the non-fiction sequel (only it’s not really a sequel since God Grant Me Hearing was a god-awful book and I kind of want to completely scrape the project and pretend it never existed…but that’s another story. ;)).
This picture was taken just a few hours before activation. Yes… I am magnetic.
Hey guys I finally have time to update this after being activated on Wednesday, December 17th. It has been such a crazy and overwhelming past four days, but definitely a very exciting time.
My activation wasn’t what I would call a “rock star” activation. They tested things first like they did at my last appointment to make sure everything worked properly. I heard the beeps and everything was fine. Also, my implant ending up being blue instead of the red I originally chose and wrote about. Advanced Bionics discontinued the red ones so I wasn’t able to get all of the parts I needed but that’s okay. Blue was my 2nd choice and is my boyfriend’s favorite color so he was happy with that choice lol.
The mapping/programming was advanced and a bit overwhelming. They tested the volume a lot and it was exciting when I had to actually tell them to turn it down a bit! Sometimes it was hard to decide whether something was comfortable or needed to be louder or softer. It takes time to get used to hearing!
I honestly didn’t hear too well the first day. Yes, things were loud and I did hear some sounds for the first time like the music playing on snow globes and light switches. But I also heard a weird like background noise that sounded like a baby crying and that sound dominated everything. I couldn’t hear my mom much at all. I heard my own voice and realized I never heard it much before and that was so incredibly weird to me. I didn’t like it! It was annoying! I felt like everything was echoing! I also had trouble with my volume on the first day. My mom kept saying I was talking very loudly with the audiologists. I was so not used to hearing my voice that I guess I felt like I had to talk over it. It was weird.
Here’s a picture of my implant taken on day 1! It took over a half hour to find the magnet on day 1. Now it takes a matter of seconds. 🙂
I tried listening to music on day 1…but it wasn’t very pretty. It sounded horrible. The Grinch was playing on the radio but I couldn’t recognize it. When I got home I put on the new Mandisa cds my mom bought me but it sounded so bad and I couldn’t recognize anything. I then tried Kelly Clarkson. Better since I was more familiar of it and I had an auditory memory of it, but it still sounded pretty bad. Good Charlotte was okay. More normal, but still bad lol.
Day 2 was a million times better. People’s voices sounded more normal to me. I heard my mom’s voice better but it didn’t sound the way it was supposed to. Most of my hearing loss is for high-frequency sounds which is like how my mom’s is. My brain is still working to process those sounds. My mom sounded just like Minnie Mouse on day 2 and I couldn’t stop laughing at her. It was hilarious. I also discovered “squeak” is a very funny word especially when you make your voice squeak as you say it. Squeak. Squeak. Squeakkkkkkk. I can hear squeaking like I never could before and it’s hilarious to me lol.
Music still sounded bad on day 2 but I forced myself to listen to it anyway because I want so badly to hear it and to have it sound normal or how I remember it sounding. I tried to focus on the music I play the most frequently — Good Charlotte and Avril Lavigne. Good Charlotte got better the more I heard it. I loved how I could hear the bass really well in “Predictable” and the drums including the symbols and foot pedal in “Misery” and it was so neat to be able to hear these musical sounds I never picked up on before. I always thought a bass and a guitar were the same things but I could hear distinct differences in the music. I could also hear a distinct difference between the studio recorded songs and the live versions which was so neat to hear.
Hearing the bass in this song was such a great experience! I loved it!
Avril Lavigne sounded pretty terrible and didn’t get much better in time. Women’s voices I have the most trouble with because of the high frequency. There were a few songs that sounded normal or at least okay though especially “Hello Kitty“. I could hear the instruments very well in that song and it sounded a lot better than I remembered it.
Day 2 was a big improvement from day 1, but day 3 was even better. I was really nervous because it was my first day back in the office after being activated and I had an interview for an APM position and I wasn’t sure how well I would do with being able to hear and understand things. I did surprisingly well! Unfortunately, there weren’t many people in the office to hear though. We have been working in a small temporary location where people work in the office on different days and Fridays are always pretty deserted, especially this past Friday. I could hear a lot of little things though like typing, people talking to each other and on the phones, papers shuffling, and people eating lol. I realized I hate the sounds of foil and people slurping soup lol they are so annoying. It also made me a bit self-conscious of the noise I make especially since I had a sandwich wrapped in foil for lunch lol I felt like I was being too loud.
I heard my boss’s voice for the first time. I mean I talked to him in person before and I guess I always heard his voice in the past, but he has a very different kind of tone to his voice and I could never understand him before. I could hear him very clearly on Friday and I picked up on just about everything he said to me which was exciting. I heard just about every word people spoke in my interview as well and I thought the interview went extremely well and I have a great feeling about it.
Music continued to get better on day 3. I played the Backstreet Boys a lot. I’ve been listening to them for about 17 years now so I have a very very strong memory of the way they sound so they sounded very very clear and absolutely amazing although I did pick up on some tones I never quite heard in their voices before, especially Nick Carter’s. That was really exciting for me.
I did a bit better with word recognition and high frequency sounds on day 3. I got more used to hearing my mom’s voice. She didn’t sound like Minnie Mouse anymore. Her voice sounded just as I remembered it sounding.
Day 4 was a really big day for me. It was my first time seeing my boyfriend, Larry since being activated! It was also our first real date in a month (we didn’t go out at all for the month after my surgery since I couldn’t hear). I was so excited to hear his voice for the first time! We made plans to go to Smithville. I really wanted to go somewhere where I could hear a lot of different sounds and do something kinda Christmasy. Longwood Gardens was my first choice until I found out about the required time tickets purchase…yeah no thanks.
Larry and I in Smithville. That’s a talking tree in the background…though if you think it looks like a crown over my head I won’t complain. Afterall, I am the princess. 😉
Larry was so excited about my implant. He loved that it was blue like his favorite color. We hooked up spotify and played that on the way to Smithville. I didn’t hear a lot of the songs well but it’s still important for me to listen to them and try to hear them. He did play “As Long as You Love Me” by the Backstreet Boys and I was able to hear that one clearly and sing along to it well though. We could also carry on a conversation in car. I always struggled with that in the past. The car would be too loud and if the window was down the wind would overpower things and the music would too. Now we had the loud car, spotify playing, and other background noise and I could still catch almost every word! And his voice sounded beautiful! It wasn’t robotic at all. It did sound a bit different than I remembered it. A different kind of tone but I really liked it. I think it might be a bit deeper than I thought it was before.
The light show with the music at Smithville was so pretty!
Smithville was really cool. We both had such a great time together. A lot of my friends suggested it to me when we first started dating and it reminded me a lot of Wheaton Village minus the glass. Wheaton Village is very special to us since that was the day we became official boyfriend/girlfriend (September 13, 2014)! It was cute. There was a lot of things for me to hear too. There was a lot of Christmas music playing outside especially where they had the lightshow. I couldn’t hear it well enough to tell what the songs were, but I was at least aware of how there was music playing. It didn’t just sound like noise to me. There was also a train that had a bell and I could hear the bell very well and I loved the sound of the bell.
The train went throughout Smithville all night long. I loved hearing the bell!
We had so much fun in the shops too. One shop we went to was an Indian store. They had a bunch of Indian music and headphones to listen to it set up. We played one of the songs and put it up loud so we both could hear (I didn’t want to actually put the headphones on because I was so afraid of knocking my magnet off). It sounded so awesome! I could hear the rhythm of all of the drums and it was awesome!
Another shop we went to was an old fashioned punk rock record store…my poor country boyfriend hahaha. He’s not quite into the whole punk rock scene like I am. I’m not sure he’d like me too much if he knew back in my tie-wearing, spiked-collar, blue-hair wearing days. :-p. I was very “at home” there whereas I’m pretty sure he’s never looked more uncomfortable and out of place in his entire life. Anyway, getting to the point…being a punk rock record store they played you guessed it— punk rock music. And it wasn’t the pop-punk kind I really love like Good Charlotte…it was real, old-fashioned punk rock music that was very LOUD with a lot of screaming. I’m pretty sure it made Larry’s ears bleed lol. I have to admit it was even a bit too loud/hard rock for me too, but I enjoyed being able to actually hear that and distinguish it as being actual music and not just noise.
A lot of the shops I went into had Christmas ornaments including bells. How I didn’t get myself into trouble or break anything I’ll never know lol. Of course I had to ring allllll of the bells I saw haha. Poor Larry looked like he was going to have a mild heart attack. He was so afraid I was going to break something since I’m naturally a very clumsy person. But it was neat being able to hear the bells — something that is normally too high pitched for me to hear.
There was also a small arcade on the boardwalk. They had a crane machine filled with rubber ducks. I spotted one that was a panda so of course I wanted it lol. Larry tried to win it for me but ended up with a unicorn and a cheetah instead. 2 for 1…can’t beat that lol. I can’t complain. Plus they SQUEAKKKK! And I can hear it. And don’t think I didn’t make them squeak like 50,000 times lol.
The rubber ducks Larry won for me in Smithville
When we left Smithville as we were passing through Galloway Santa passed us in a firetruck. The firetruck had its sirens on and I could actually hear it! It was really exciting to hear! Larry also played a bunch of bagpipes songs he had on spotify for me. Being both Irish and Scottish I’m a big fan of bagpipes and I got to hear them in a whole new way. There was some times when I was sure I was hearing drums but nope Larry ensured me it was all strictly bagpipes. I didn’t realize they could have so many sounds and tones to them. It definitely helped me to develop a greater appreciation for them!
Before heading home Larry and I stopped at Applebees for dinner. I don’t usually like going to Applebees because it’s usually way too loud for me between other people’s conversations and all of the tvs…especially on a weekend night during Football season but I did great! I could hear him talking to me perfectly, I could hear other people’s conversations and the tv. I could even hear him playing his Transport Empire game on his phone! The only thing I struggle with a little is hearing the waitress. She had a very high pitched voice but I still did much better than normal. It was exciting to hear all the different sounds and to be able to separate one sound from another instead of hearing just a bunch of overlapping noise that I usually hear.
My dinner at Applebees…bourbon chicken and shrimp. Also my first time at Applebees in about 2 or 3 years.
When we got to my house at around 10 we weren’t quite ready for the night to end but my parents weren’t prepared to have people over so we just stayed in his card for about 2 hours. We just laid together and he held me and played Spotify and sang to me a bit and it was such an intimate, romantic moment that was so beautiful. It was definitely my favorite part of the night. He was singing Brad Paisley’s “She’s My Everything” to me. Combine that with someone holding you tight, gently brushing your cheek and your hair and constantly telling you they love you underneath a sky full of stars and a bright moon and I’m not sure I can think of anything in the world that could possibly be better than that. It was absolutely beautiful.
Today is day 5 of my activation and I’m still noticing significant improvements. It was my first day back at church in over a month. I didn’t attend after my surgery because I couldn’t hear anything at all. I missed church and everyone at church so much. They were all so welcoming and excited to have me back. I was so excited to be back and to hear everything too!
I always go to both Sunday school and church service. Sunday school always opens with prayer requests. Hearing the main person take the prayer requests is usually hit or miss for me. Either I hear it all or nothing. Today I pretty much heard it all. I usually can’t hear the actual prayer requests of the people sitting behind me though. I could hear even the most soft-spoken woman today though and it was so awesome.
After taking prayer requests we opened with singing “Joy to the World” w/o the music and it was so beautiful. I heard the people sing many times but I could hear different tones to their voices today that I never noticed before and it sounded so awesome. The song was like I remembered but better.
Sunday school service was a real treat for me since we got into more of the Corinthians — my all-time favorite chapter of the bible. I could hear and follow through with every word of it. Nothing better than listening to the word of God!
The actual sermon was a similar amazing experience except instead of Corinthians we got into Luke for Christmas since it was a lot about the glory of God and the birth of Jesus Christ. I am always at church for Christmas Eve so I heard this kind of sermon many times, but I haven’t actually HEARD it in years. It was awesome to actually hear it all today.
The opening closing of the sermon began with the church band playing music and everyone worshipping in song. I usually struggle to follow the songs due to not being able to hear them clearly. Today I heard every word. A few songs sounded strange to me probably because I’m not so familiar with them but other songs like “Away in a Manger” and “Go Tell It On the Mountain” were absolutely beautiful. I especially enjoyed hearing the violin. I actually used to play the violin in like 4th grade but only for a year and I was terrible at it. Today was the first time I remember hearing it the way it’s supposed to sound. I told the violinist after church that it was so beautiful. I was just completely mesmerized by it.
I really enjoyed talking with and fellowshipping with everyone after church too. I usually get pretty bad anxiety while trying to talk to people because I can’t hear them but I did very well today. I was able to carry full conversations with people. The pastor’s wife even mentioned that my speech sounded better. I thought so too. My speech has always been alright considering how great my hearing loss is but now that I can hear myself I’m more conscious of how I speak and I’m better able to hear and pronounce sounds and words properly.
When I came home from church my mom said I was glowing. And she’s right! I was absolutely pumped. I was so excited to praise and worship the lord in his home again and to be able to really hear the word of god. It’s such a blessing!
Tomorrow will be day 5 and it’s such a big and exciting day! My company,WebiMax, is moving to our new Camden office. There will be many people around and so much going on. I can’t wait to hear everything and I’m praying someone asks to have an in-person meeting with me haha.
Until next time,
Image Credits: Powerhouse Museum
I’ve slowed down a little bit with my blog posts this week. I’ve just been so incredibly busy with work and preparing for my cochlear implant surgery lately. I’ve said it once and I’ve said it again, I’m pretty sure preparing for the surgery is a much harder and more-time consuming event than the actual surgery will be! Monday can’t come soon enough!
I began really preparing for my surgery last weekend. My parents and I went to Big Lots where I purchased a memory foam pillow. From what my mom and I have read so far it sounds like it’s important to keep your head elevated after the surgery. My mom didn’t think the pillows I have now were fluffy enough. Hey, they’re cheap Walmart pillows so they aren’t exactly the most well-made things on the earth lol. But they are zebra print so I can’t complain. Anyway yeah the new pillow is much fuller and should be a lot better for post-surgery. While I was at Big Lots I also picked up a pair of button-down pajamas to wear after my surgery. We also read that it’s important to have button-down shirts because of course you won’t want anything that has to come off over your head after the surgery. And the pajamas will be a lot more comfortable for me than say a dress shirt or other button down would be. Pretty sure I’m going to want to be comfortable after my surgery lol.
I went to church a lot last weekend, too. First I went to my mom’s church, Gloucester County Community Church. Several weeks ago my mom put in a prayer request through their phone app for my consultation and surgery. I know that these prayers have not gone unanswered and I am incredibly thankful for all of the prayers and support I have received. After the sermon on Saturday night I went with my mom to the chapel and prayed with a woman whose name I do not know. It was my first time praying in the chapel and it was a really amazing experience. I’ll never forget how the woman told me that there is a reason why God is giving me this ability to have this procedure done and gain the ability to hear. She said that now it is my responsibility as a Christian to discover what God’s plan for me is and why he is giving me this gift. How can I use my gift of hearing to best serve him? All of this time I have been a little selfish when it comes to my implant thinking of how it will help me in my life when I really should be more focused on how I can use it to best serve the lord. It was definitely an eye-opening experience.
While the cochlear implant surgery has a 99% success rate and the chances of having it go wrong or not work is slim to none…there’s still that 1% chance and of course my mom and I are still a little bit nervous. You can’t help but think “What if?” or think of the negative aspects at least a little bit. We went over this a bit with the woman as well. And she said whatever happens is in God’s will. If I go forward with this and it doesn’t work it’s all just part of God’s plan for me. Trust in the lord and know that whatever happens is in his will and all part of a greater plan. Never lose hope and faith.
I went to my own church, Washington Baptist Church the following day as well. I know I have a whole nother church community in them too. Actually, they were the first group of people I told about my surgery when this process all began. It’s so very exciting. I realized this weekend that I kind of belong to multiple churches now too, and that’s okay. It’s like my mom said, “Who says you have to choose just one church?” Some people think I go to church too much or that my church going is a bit excessive. To those people I have this to say — Jesus Christ died on the cross to save me from my sins. Going to church 2-4 times week is the least I can do to thank him for the sacrifices he’s made for me and all of the gifts he has blessed me with.
I had a pretty busy day filled with preparing for my cochlear implant surgery, too. I took off of work, but my day was far from easy. If anything, it was busier and much harder than my typical work day would have been. It started off at 8:30 in the morning with a visit to Upenn’s medical office thing (I have no idea what the name of this office/building is actually called in case that wasn’t completely obvious lol). I had to get a meningitis shot here. It was over in an instant. Apparently there’s a higher risk of getting meningitis if you have a cochlear implant. Dr. Wilcox says that has never happened to any of his patients before, but it’s something they require you to get done just as an extra precaution. I had the same woman give me the shot that was there for my initial checkup with Dr. Millstein last month. She and the other office receptionists were so excited for me when I told them I was getting the surgery done this coming Monday. Seeing how excited everyone around me about this surgery just makes me even more excited!
Almost immediately after my appointment to get my meningitis shot I had to head over to Philly for yet another trip to Jefferson University. This was just a pre-admission testing appointment that my surgeon, Dr. Wilcox likes to do (even though I didn’t have to actually even meet with him). They initially told me that my appointment would probably be 2-3 hours, but it ended up being less than one (which considering how busy I am today was a great thing!).
The first thing they did for my pre-admission test was blood work. This was really not fun at all, as bloodwork never is. My vessel broke or something in my left arm when they tried to stick me the first time and they weren’t able to get any blood so they had to stick me again in my right arm. By this point it wasn’t quite noon yet and I’ve had three needles, so I was kind of annoyed by that.
The rest of the appointment went much more smoothly though. I had a different nurse give me a physical. She was extremely friendly. She kept saying I made her job very easy since I was less than half the age of most of her patients and I do not smoke or drink and am fairly healthy. Basically I just had to keep repeating the word “no” to every question she asked lol. She took my blood pressure, vitals, and looked in my eyes and all of that jazz. Everything was fine. It was kind of funny when they checked my blood pressure because she said sometimes people get nervous/anxious which can cause their blood pressure to rise. She told me to think of a nice place I’d like to go, but then my mom said “Or just think of Larry (my boyfriend)” lol. So naturally I did and it seemed to have worked since my blood pressure was fine.
Now everything should be all set for my surgery on Monday. They just reminded me not to take any medications three days before (I usually take aleve, Airborne, allergy tabs, and sleeping pills). I still don’t have a time for my surgery but they said I should get that by Friday. It’s all coming up so quick and I’m getting so excited!
Well now I have to go and finish getting ready for appointment #3 for today. I had to stop and get a shower and get changed after I got home from my appointment at Jefferson to make sure I killed all of the germs I might have gotten from the hospital. I’m sure I would’ve been fine without one, but I’ve been extra cautious of germs and ensuring I don’t do anything to get sick before my surgery. I’ve watched my hands so often they dried out. lol. My third and final appointment today is with Miracle Ear in Turnersville. Just my usual monthly appointment for new tubes on my hearing aids. Getting them done before my surgery is really important since after my surgery I won’t be able to hear at all from my left ear for a month until they activate it. Having my right ear in good working condition will be crucial!
I won’t have an appointment with my usual audiologist today. They called to say for some reason she wouldn’t be in. That’s okay too. If it weren’t for trying a new audiologist I never would’ve went through with this surgery. I’m not entirely sure who my audiologist will be today, but if it’s the one that recommended I get a cochlear implant, I’ll be sure thank her.