Hey guys! Hope all of my East-coast friends are staying warm and dry in this crazy snow storm!
I don’t know if it’s the snow or what, but I received an incredible surge of inspiration and had a major Eureka moment in regards to the opening chapter of my memoir. I thought a better opening would be something more reflective in which I show what is going through my mind moments before I received my first cochlear implant tied in with flashbacks on my life before I was implanted and the time when I was first diagnosed with profound hearing loss (the yellow brick road chapter).
This needs A LOT of work still, obviously, but I’m pretty happy with the first 1,000 which are the new words that I added today. I am also in the process of interviewing my mom for more details with the original yellow brick road chapter. She said she’d need some time to think about many of the questions I had as she tries to remember, but I’m hoping to get some answers from her soon to better flesh out that chapter/add more details.
Regardless, I hope you enjoy the revised opening chapter. Feel free to leave a comment on this post letting me know what you think!
Entering Into a Technicolor World of Hearing
I’m lying in a hospital bed at Jefferson University hospital in Philadelphia. There is an IV inserted in my right arm and Mom is standing to my left. Dad, who has never been a fan of hospitals, is outside in the waiting room. Everything looks like your typical hospital setting except for two things:
- I am not sick or injured.
- I cannot stop smiling.
My journey begins now. Today I will receive my first cochlear implant, and if all goes well with the surgery and recovery, next month I will be activated and Lord-willing, hear, like a normal hearing person, for the first time in my life.
If this works, my black and white and sometimes sepia world will become technicolor and I will not just hear the sounds I’ve always heard, but I will be able to understand what those sounds are and hear them the way they are supposed to sound. Conversations will sound like actual conversations (without me needing to exhaust myself by practicing heavy lipreading). I’ll know when music is playing, and it will sound like actual music. I may even be able to hear what a flute sounds like. I’ll be able to go to the movies without having to awkwardly ask for a pair of caption glasses which A. The ticket salesman won’t understand, or B. won’t work anyway. After the movies, I may be able to go out to dinner with my friends or a date and order my own food without awkwardly staring at another person as if to say, “Please lend me your ears, I can’t hear a thing the waiter is saying.”
If this works, my world will forever change, hopefully for the better.
If this doesn’t work, I risk losing the approximately 7% total residual or natural hearing I have left in my left ear. This residual hearing is currently being amplified by hearing aids.
Amplify [am-pluh-fahy]. Verb. – Increase the volume of (sound).
Notice how it doesn’t say anything about clarity or being able to understand or comprehend what those sounds are. That’s what’s missing. Hearing aids amplify sound, but they don’t give me any clarity. My cochlear implant is supposed to fix that. But if it doesn’t work, I’ll lose my ability to even amplify sounds. I’ll be left with absolutely nothing in my left ear — silence.
I made a list of the things I want to do post-cochlear implant activation, should this work. It looks like this:
THINGS TO DO POST-COCHLEAR IMPLANT ACTIVATION
- Get caught in the rain.
- Experience church in a whole new way.
- Watch movies without captions.
- See a movie at the drive-in.
- Hear a flute, bell, violin, and any other instrument I couldn’t hear before.
- See an orchestra.
- See a play.
- See a ballet.
- Listen to Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” in its entirety.
- Talk on the phone.
- Order food out on my own (restaurant and takeout/Dunkin).
- See a concert (preferably Good Charlotte).
- Hear my cat meow.
- Listen to the radio.
- Hear a cricket chirp.
I didn’t even want to think about what my life would look like if the cochlear implant didn’t work. Would I be forced to learn ASL? Would I join the Deaf community? Could I manage to get by with the remaining, un-implanted ear? Thinking about what would happen if the cochlear implant worked was fun but thinking about the alternatives was terrifying.
I had faith and trust in God that the cochlear implant would work. I prayed constantly and attended church as much as three times in a single day. For the weeks leading up to this day I had both Gloucester County Community Church and Washington Baptist Church praying for and with me and even met with the deacons and deaconesses at both churches.
“God is going to give you an incredible gift. Now it’s your job to figure out how you can use it to serve the Lord,” the deaconess at whose name I cannot recall told me as I met with her in the chapel at GCCC.
I was so excited to begin my new life as a hearing person that as the date of my surgery came closer, sleep became more and more difficult. I’d stay up for 20 or more hours at a time, keeping myself busy by binge watching all 9 seasons of How I Met Your Mother and when I got bored of that, I’d clean everything in sight. I no longer had any concept of time.
“Do you really have to clean your toilet at 3 in the morning? I’m trying to sleep and all I can hear is your toilet flushing,” Mom complained.
“No more cleaning. I don’t wish to smell all of your chemicals first thing in the morning,” Dad pleaded.
Last night, I could hardly sleep at all. The Patriots played the late night 8:15pm game against the Colts.
“Don’t stay up too late, you have a big day tomorrow. You know the Patriots are going to win anyway,” Mom warned.
“Oh, let her stay up. She’s just going to sleep through the surgery anyway. Does it matter if she’s tired?” Dad said.
I stayed up for the whole game and then spent most of the rest of the night in bed, browsing Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram on my phone. By 5:30 AM, I was wide awake, dressed in my brand-new button down fleece pajamas (mom said there was no sense in wearing real clothes, I’d be better off being comfortable and I’d need to wear button downs to avoid pulling shirts over my head post-surgery anyway), and ready, a full two and a half hours before I was scheduled for surgery.
Now the day is finally here. Dr. Wilcox just came in to tell me everything would be okay and to instruct the anesthesia team to begin. I have a plastic mask on my face, covering my mouth and nose. I can hardly keep my eyes open anymore as I feel my body surrender itself to the anesthesia.
When I wake up, I’ll be a cyborg.
In another month, I’ll be activated, and I’ll finally be able to hear, Lord-willing.
If this works, I’ll be able to hear for the first time in my life, or at least, the first time since my mother discovered I was deaf at the mere age of two.
When I was two, Mom would call out my name, but I never responded. When she mentioned it to my pediatrician during my next checkup, the pediatrician thought it was just a phase or a case of the “terrible twos”.
“No, I know my daughter. She can’t hear me,” Mom would argue.
When my mom clapped behind my back and I didn’t flinch, she knew something was wrong. Against my pediatrician’s advice, my mom took me to see Miss Terri, an audiologist at Cooper Hospital in Camden, New Jersey.
After performing a series of hearing test, Miss Terri confirmed what we already knew: I had hearing loss. What we didn’t realize was how severe my hearing loss was. Miss Terri explained that my hearing loss was profound, meaning the only sounds I could hear were those that were at a volume of 90db or higher such as airplanes, helicopters, firetrucks, and possibly a lawn mower. Hearing aids were recommended to amplify these sounds, but my ability to hear and comprehend sounds, even when amplified, would always be a challenge.
After being diagnosed with profound hearing loss, I made the journey to Camden once every two weeks for speech therapy lessons. Mom and I would drive from our small condo in Washington Township to the big city every other week. On our way in, we’d pass endless food and street vendors selling everything from hot dogs to pretzels and even random t-shirts. It amazed me how at 9 o’clock in the morning people would still be out selling lunch foods. Everyone always had a smile on their face and seemed happy to be working.
“Mom, I want to live here one day. I love the city,” I said on our way in for my appointment.
“That’s because you don’t understand what this city is really like. It’s not safe,” Mom explained. I’d understand it more when I got older and would see individuals hauled off by police for God knows why on more than one occasion. But as a child, it was a magical place with audiologists and speech therapists that thought the world of me and were helping me to hear and speak well.
Cooper Hospital had many departments and was easy to get lost in. Fortunately, they developed a system to help speech and audiology patients find their way around. By placing strips of yellow tape on the floor, patients could simply “follow the yellow brick road” to their appointment. Every time I had an appointment I knew to look down at the floor for that yellow tape and I’d sing along and skip to the tune of, “Follow, follow, follow follow follow the yellow brick road!”
Since speech and hearing worked so closely together, my appointments were run by both my audiologist, Miss Terri, and my speech therapist, Miss Vicki.
Miss Terri would always start my appointments by testing my hearing. She would lead me into a gray, audiology testing booth that was no more than 50 feet wide while my mom waited and watched outside in the hall. Miss Terri would then crookedly place a special pair of headphones over my ears and hook some wires up to my hearing aids and hand me a button.
“First we’re going to test the beeps. Push the button whenever you hear a beep. We’ll start with your left ear first before moving to the right,” Miss Terri explained.
I’d smile and nod and occasionally give a thumbs up to let her know I understood. I loved pressing that button. It felt like I was playing a video game where hitting the button was the equivalent of shooting the monsters and bad guys and freeing the victims. I never even noticed that the button didn’t get pushed half as often as it should have.
Once that portion of my hearing test was completed, I would be given a series of words that I’d have to say back.
“Say the word hot dog,” Miss Terri said.
“Hot dog,” I answered.
“Say the word baseball.”
“Say the word airplane.”
“Say the word ice cream.”
“Terri, I’m sorry but I have to stop you,” mom interrupted.
Miss Terri and I both looked up. I was doing so well with the words, what could possibly be wrong?
“She’s not actually hearing you – she’s reading your lips,” said mom.
“I can fix that,” Terri said as she grabbed the sheet of paper with her word list.
“I’m going to cover my lips now. I want you to focus on what you hear, not on me.” Miss Terri said. I was nervous, but knew I had no choice but to try my best. I nodded in agreement.
“Say the word kite.’
“Say the word chair.”
“Say the word sub.”
“Say the word third.”
“Say the word ran.”
I didn’t know what Miss Terri was saying, I could only guess, but I knew I was wrong.
When Miss Terri finished with the hearing test, it was on to either Miss Vicki for speech therapy where we would do different activities. One of my favorites involved using what I liked to refer to as the “magic mirror”. It was a long, oval-shaped mirror that rested in a tan wooden frame on wheels. There was nothing actually magical about it; it was just a regular mirror that I was allowed to draw on with magic markers, but I always loved this activity. I was never allowed to draw on the mirrors at home. I thought that this mirror was special since I could draw on it and the markers would wipe right off when I was done. As a two-year-old, the only logical explanation for how this could work was that it must have been magic.
Before I could draw on the mirror, Miss Vicki put me to work by having me practice my speech.
“Okay. Let’s practice our “Sh” and “Ch” sounds,” she’d say. “We’ll start wi“Sh!” I said. It was easy for me to think of the sound as a syllable, as if Miss Vicki was the teacher and I the student, getting yelled at for talking.
“Very good!” she said. “Now, I’m going to give you a word. Can you say “choose”?
“Shoes!” I said.
“No, not shoes like on your feet. Choose like when you choose something to eat,” she said.
“Shoes!” I said.
“No, look in the mirror. You want to move your tongue up a little bit and touch your teeth,” she said.
“Tooze,” I said.
“Try again. Remember, you only want to touch your teeth a little bit, not a lot.”
“Choose?” I said.
“Yes, that’s right! Very good! Want to take a break and draw on the magic mirror?” she asked.
I nodded yes and reached for the bucket of magic markers, choosing the pink one first, my favorite color. I drew a big heart on the mirror with several smaller hearts for arms, legs, and even eyes. My little heart person, my favorite thing to draw.
When I finished my masterpiece, Miss Vicki would continue with our lesson.
“Okay, Kimmy. We’re going to play a game now,” Vicki said.
“You’re going to take this ball and throw into the trashcan across the room. But as you throw the ball, I’m going to give you a word to say and I want you to imagine your voice going with that ball. As you throw the ball you’ll want your voice to get louder. Got it?” she said.
I nodded. I wasn’t sure if I really understood, but the idea of throwing a playing a game sounded like fun. The game sounded like basketball, a game I’ve always enjoyed watching my dad play.
“Okay. Your first word is suitcase,” she said.
“Suitcase,” I whispered as I threw the ball.
Vicki threw the ball back to me. “Try again,” She said. “Remember, Mr. Loud Mouth. Your voice travels with the ball.”
I took the ball back from her and paused as I remembered Mr. Loud Mouth. “SUIT CASE,” I said.
“Very nice! You got it!” she said.
Being a toddler with profound hearing loss was easy. Nobody asked any questions about my hearing loss or questioned anything that I did or didn’t do. My parents couldn’t have been more supportive and understanding of my hearing loss. My sister paid no mind to it. And my audiologist and speech therapists couldn’t help me enough. I was a toddler without a care in the world. The only thing that made me different from any other toddler in the world was the fact that I couldn’t hear. I was able to live my life in black and white or sometimes sepia. My world was full, but not always beautiful or complete. The older I got the more I realized that living as a deaf girl in a hearing world was a lot like living in a world without color.
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.
Image Credits: Jumonville Photo Blog
I’ve been blogging a lot lately. Sorry, not at all sorry about that. It’s the weekend and I haven’t had many plans. Larry has been a bit busy with his family this weekend so we just pushed our usual weekend plans back to Monday for this week. In an effort to protect me from getting sick, my mom skipped out on her church service at GCCC. I’ve spent most of my time this weekend at home with the exception of a hair appointment, grocery shopping, and attending my church’s Sunday service. I guess you could say being at home a bit more than usual has given me a lot of time to think. And one of the only things on my mind these days is my upcoming cochlear implant surgery. So, since I’ve been thinking about it so much anyway, why not blog about it, right?
Today as I attended Sunday school and Sunday service at my church, Washington Baptist Church which is located in Turnersville, NJ, I began to think about what church is like for me now and how it may be a completely different experience in the upcoming weeks/months. Sometimes church can be difficult for me with my hearing impairment.
I grew up attending The Church of the Nazarene in Pitman, NJ. I went there until I was at least 3 (maybe even younger) until I was around 14 or 15. I remember Sunday school and youth groups very well. I remember being a part of vacation bible school when I was little and going on to teach it as I got older. I remember the songs very well. I do not, however, have very strong memories of the sermons. I don’t remember leaving the church and thinking “Wow, I was very moved by that sermon”. Maybe it was because I was still pretty young and wouldn’t have been able to connect with and understand it the way I do now as a 24 year old believer. But the more likely reason? I could not hear.
You may be thinking “Couldn’t you ask for a listening device?” Or, “Why didn’t you sit up front?” Well, listening devices do nothing for me. My hearing is way too bad to benefit even the slightest bit from that. I did sit up front, it just didn’t matter much. I heard the volume of the sermons perfectly fine. I just could not understand them. It was a pastor talking. I knew he was talking about the word of God. But I could not understand what he was actually saying.
Youth groups worked a bit better for me. Sitting in a smaller group, closer to the people meant that it was much easier for me to read their lips. I was able to gain more clarity. But youth groups and sermons aren’t the same. Youth groups are helpful, yes, but I always thought the sermons were the “big picture” or the most important part of church. I was missing it.
I left the Church of the Nazarene when I was around 15. I have moved away from town and it was just too difficult to travel back and forth especially since I was in college and working two jobs at the time. I lived around 20-30 minutes away and it was too much of a hassle to travel back and forth and I often times had to work on Sunday mornings anyway. I would attend my grandparent’s catholic church on occasion. Usually only on holidays. This was not a very pleasant experience for me. For one, I am not nor have I ever been catholic. Catholic churches are in an entirely different league compared to The Church of the Nazarene. I never really knew what to do or understood why I had to do it. It was confusing. Even more so because I could not hear. The catholic church was much bigger than the Nazarene church. And much more difficult to hear. The priest was always an older man who I struggled to hear and understand. I feel like a horrible person saying that church was very boring — but it was. I got absolutely nothing out of catholic church. It was just like sitting staring at a man you know is speaking and yet you have 0 clue what he is saying. So you just sit and pretend you know what’s going on for the next 2-3 hours.
I attended the catholic church because it meant a lot to my grandparents who have always been catholic. Going to church on them for the holidays, especially Christmas Eve, became an important tradition. However, the tradition came to an end after their deaths in 2011 and 2012. During this time I had no church.
I held off for a long time finding a new church because I thought it was a waste of time. I had no hope. I can hear my boyfriend yelling at me for this right now. He always yells at me to “keep faith and hope”. But I really didn’t have either at this time. Sure, I was a Christian and I believed, but I didn’t think church was of that much importance to me at this time. I mean, I could never hear the sermons anyway. What good was it to get up early on Sunday morning and sit and listen to a church sermon you know you won’t understand a word of? I could just as easily put the TV on mute at home and stare at it for 2 or 3 hours and get the exact same results…
But the thing is— being a christian and believing in God really isn’t always just enough. Christians need church in their life, too. Church is like a special form of school where you are taught how to interpret the word of God and live a christian life. These are things you can’t always do well enough on your own. My need for church must have shown because I had many friends offer to bring me to churches or suggest churches for me to attend during this time.
One of the first churches that was recommended to me was Solid Rock Baptist Church. A co-worker at Walmart recommended it to me because of my hearing. Solid Rock Baptist Church is known for serving a wide variety of different people including the deaf and hard of hearing. She thought it would be perfect for me.
Before attending the church I reached out to the deaf pastor explaining my situation and how I struggle to hear sermons. I requested information about what kind of services they provide to the deaf and hard of hearing. I also explained that I do not sign but rely a lot on lip-reading and written texts. I asked if the deaf sermons would be the most beneficial to me or if I should just stick to a traditional service.
I’m still waiting on that response….
I did attend one church service. I think it was in around July of 2013 or something. Unfortunately, we unknowingly went during a big revival or something where other churches attended to or something. Not a normal service. The people were very unwelcoming and almost cold. I couldn’t hear a word of the sermon. I never went back.
Months passed by and a friend invited me to go and try out her Presbyterian church. At first I went to just a few fun church functions like church pasta dinners and potlucks and all. They were okay. I thought I might enjoy the sermon so I went to two. One right before Christmas and one on Christmas Eve. I didn’t hear a word of either sermon. My parents went to the Christmas Eve sermon. They were not a fan. They say the pastor went off topic a bit and launched a whole anti-gun debate. As licensed, responsible gun owners, this didn’t fare well with us. I just wish I could have actually heard what was said. Needless to say, we never attended again.
More and more months passed by and it seemed like we were never going to find a church. I have just about completely given up on ever finding a church and being able to actually hear the sermon. But then we moved to Washington Township. One of my dad’s biggest goals after we moved was finding a new church. There is one church we drove by all the time: Gloucester County Community church. He decided we should attend sometime. It always had things going on and he was intrigued. So right around Easter time we attended our first service.
We all really enjoyed the sermon. The pastor could preach pretty well and I COULD ACTUALLY HEAR. Not 100%, but pretty good compared to most other sermons I attended anyway. It was exciting. We continued to attend this church and the sermons were alright, but I didn’t feel the connection I was craving for from this church, so I began to look elsewhere.
I had befriended another male christian this past summer. He was a very strong believer who definitely knew the word of God. He was a nondenominational christian attending Fellowship Bible Church. He had invited me to go along with him one day. I enjoyed the Sunday school sermon, but couldn’t really hear the actual sermon. I kept watching him take notes. That’s how I followed along. I thought I could connect with his church more if I attended more. But in reality I was interested in the church more for him and less for the church aspect of it. When it came down to it — it was his church, not mine. I needed a church to call mine.
Washington Township has a couple of churches — but not as many as my old town of Woodbury. In Woodbury pretty much every two feet is another church. In Washington Township, you’ll have to keep walking to find one… I went on a lot of walks in Washington Township and I began to search for a possible new church to attend. I have walked past a church called Crossroads Assembly of God church. I walked by it a handful of times. It was a little bit of a far walk (about 25 minutes) but I was always intrigued by it. I planned to find it again on one of my walks in July of 2014 and see about attending service that following Sunday.
Long story short, when I actually made plans to find this church (in the past I always randomly walked past it without planning to), I could not find it anywhere. I found another church instead, my current church, Washington Baptist Church.
Washington Baptist Church was very different from any other church I ever been to. For one it doesn’t quite look like a church. It’s more like a long one-floor house. I wasn’t entirely sure it was a church at first. I wouldn’t have known if it weren’t for the sign outside. But I felt that God was calling me to this church. I just found it so randomly. I had to attend.
When I went to my first church sermon in July, I was amazed at how welcoming everyone was. Whereas all of the other churches I’ve been to in the past months haven’t been at all welcoming, this one totally was. Everyone introduced themselves to me and kept saying “We’re glad to have you and hope you come back.” When I went the next week they remembered me. When I missed church one week, they said they missed me. Everyone was so humble and down to earth. It was exactly what I was looking for.
When people found out about my hearing impairment they were genuinely concerned about how well I could hear the sermons. I could actually hear it very very well. I couldn’t pick up on every word, but I got around 90% of it. When I couldn’t hear what the chapter the pastor was going over was, I could ask the person next to me and they’d help me out. The pastor spoke very clear and loud, but not too loud at the same time. It was the perfect tone for my type of hearing.
I did struggle a little with some of the music though. It can be hard for me to really hear the rhythm and beat of the music. I can read the words, but sometimes I can’t hear the music well enough to tell exactly where they are in the song. Singing the hymns can easily get a little bit awkward for me. This is especially a problem when I attend my parent’s church (they still go to GCCC by the way) where there is about 10x’s more singing than WBC has.
I have been attending WBC for about 4 months now. I have gained so much from the sermons and Sunday school services and this church feels like family for me now. I can usually hear the sermons pretty clearly, but some weeks (usually ones where my tubes are in need of a replacement on my hearing aids)I still struggle and don’t get as much of the message. I had a good day today with being able to hear and follow along in Sunday school and church. There was just one small part where I didn’t catch what chapter of the bible the pastor was referring to. I struggled with the music today too. They were hymns that I wasn’t too familiar with and didn’t know the beat/rhythm to so I kept getting a little lost with those. Overall I did okay with it all today.
I kept thinking though about how my experience with church will change after I get my cochlear implant. I talked a bit about it to some people at church today including the pastor and his wife which made me more excited to. I know I have a whole church of people praying for me and those prayers have not gone unanswered. The lord wants me to hear the sermons and the word of god in church each week. I’m beyond excited by the blessings he bestowed upon me and I can’t wait to attend church post-activation and to be able to hear every word of the sermon no matter where I choose to sit. To hear people when they share prayer requests in news. To be able to follow along and sing praises during our songs of worship and to not get lost. My implant will allow me to experience church in a whole new way and I can’t wait. It is through the work of God that I am being blessed enough to receive such an amazing and powerful gift and what better way is there to use this gift than to learn more about God’s word and to worship and praise him?
God is good. All the time. All the time. God is good.