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.
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
Yesterday I gushed about my boyfriend and how supportive he’s been about my cochlear implant and how my cochlear implant strengthened my relationship with him. My mom read it like she always does. After all, they always say your mom will always be your biggest fan. When it comes to my writing and pretty much everything I do in my life, that always proves to be true.
If it wasn’t for my mom, I never would have gotten my cochlear implant. That is the 100% truth behind it all.
I’ve known about cochlear implant for years and I’ve always been adamantly against them. I always swore that I would never get them. This is due in large part of being told the wrong information which quite frankly made me terrified of them.
But one day, everything changed.
They say that everything happens for a reason, and this just goes to prove that.
I work for a digital marketing agency, WebiMax. Back in September we were in the process of moving to our new Camden office located on the Waterfront. However, before we were able to move to this final location, we had a small temporary space located on Federal Street. It was too small for all of the employees to work in the office on the same days, so a lot of us worked from home on a regularly basis until our final move to the Waterfront was complete.
Our old, original office was located in Mount Laurel. I had a hearing appointment about once every 2 months or so. At the time, I would work at WebiMax from 7:30-3:30 every day. Their was a Miracle Ear located in Cherry Hill, so as long as I got done work on time making my 4pm or 4:30pm appointments wasn’t much of a problem.
RIP Mount Laurel office…
Coming to the Cherry Hill office became a routine for me. The Miracle Ear located in the Turnersville Walmart was much closer to my home, but this definitely worked better with my work schedule. However, when I was working at home, things changed. I live in Washington Township. Going all the way to Cherry Hill for a hearing appointment just to get my plastic tubes changed didn’t seem practical, especially when I could just go to to one in Turnersville that was 15 minutes away.
I got used to seeing my audiologist at the time, Mindy. She became like a friend to me. I always enjoyed seeing her. It was a risk going to the Turnersville Miracle Ear because Mindy wouldn’t be there and we didn’t have much success with other audiologists prior to meeting Mindy (you’d be surprised by how hard it is to find a good audiologist…). But we figured it was just a piece of plastic that I needed on my hearing aids. Really quite simple and pretty much impossible to mess up. Anyone would do.
So we went to the Turnersville Miracle Ear that day and met a new audiologist. Her name was Sherry. I didn’t know if I liked Sherry when I first met her. She was a lot different from Mindy. Mindy was always very bubbly and talkative. Sherry was very professional, but didn’t have the same bubbly personality at all. Sherry was kind of hard to read.
As Sherry was replacing my tubes, my mom asked her a question. She said, “I want to ask you a question. I don’t really know you and you’re not my daughter’s usual audiologist. I may never even see you again. So tell me honestly, what do you think of the Clearvation hearing aids? My daughter has been looking into them and saving up for them. We’re told they are super hearing aids, but we were told that about her last pair as well and they didn’t seem to make that much of a difference. We were pretty disappointed. Do you honestly feel that these hearing aids will make a difference?
Sherry didn’t say anything for a couple of minutes. Instead, she held her breath and made a strange face that said it all.
“You don’t need to say anything. Your face says it all”, was my mom’s exact words.
Sherry then began to explain how hearing aids, no matter which one we choose, would not really help me. My hearing was so bad and my clarity was so non-existent, that no hearing aid would really be able to benefit me. Sure, they could amplify sound, but hearing aids don’t really offer clarity. She went on to explain that the only thing that could give me the clarity was a cochlear implant.
My mom and I went on to express the fears we had. The main fear we had was that cochlear implants required brain surgery. We were also told they were only for people with absolutely no hearing. I had around a 95-97% hearing loss, so I was legally deaf and fairly close to being 100% deaf, but I still had SOME hearing and I made it work for me. I thought that disqualified me from being a candidate for a cochlear implant.
“You guys got a lot of research and homework to do”, was Sherry’s response.
That night, the cochlear implant process really began. My mom and I researched and read article after article about what cochlear implants are, who the ideal candidate is, how they work, where to get one, and really everything we could get our hands on. I took a step further and decided I wanted to talk to people who had it done. Researches can say all kinds of great things in their articles, but unless you’ve actually went through and did it, you wouldn’t know what it was really like.
I turned to Facebook and Instagram (hey, I work in the field of social media, where else did you expect me to look?) I found a couple of Facebook groups and Instagram users who had cochlear implants or were considering getting one. I asked many questions and read through many forums. It didn’t take me long to realize that I was considered an “ideal candidate” and that this is something that would greatly benefit my life. I knew it was something I wanted and needed to do, and both my mom and my dad agreed.
My mom got the ball rolling right away. Within a couple of weeks I had my first doctor’s appointment with Dr. Skinhead (okay I have no idea what this doctor’s real name is but I always refer to him as Dr. Skinhead because he shaves every inch of hair from his head and his head is really bald and shiny and therefore he looks like a skinhead….). Dr. Skinhead is an ENT in Woodbury and quite possibly the best around. I saw him once before when my former audiologist accidentally cut a piece of plastic tubing too close to my ear and got it stuck. He removed it. So I knew he was a pretty good guy. Anyway we went there to just talk to him about how I was considering getting a cochlear implant. We had my most recent hearing test sent to him and he looked at my ears. He said he wasn’t quite qualified to give us a definite answer, but he didn’t see any reason why I wouldn’t be a candidate. That was our first yes, and my mom couldn’t have been more excited for me.
Within a week later we had our second doctor’s appointment booked. This one was just with my family doctor, Dr. Millstein. I needed a doctor’s referral before seeing most surgeons for consulting, so that’s what this was all about. He said I was healthy and their was nothing physically wrong with me. He was very concerned that I might get cervical cancer if I don’t get some pretty unnecessary shots….but that’s a whole nother story I don’t wish to further elaborate on. Point is, he said physically he didn’t see anything that would prevent me from getting a cochlear implant and he gave me referrals to see the surgeons.
We were then ready to make one of the biggest steps: meeting with surgeons. My mom did some research and identified two in the area that seemed like great surgeons: Dr.Bigelow at UPenn and Dr. Wilcox at Jefferson. We made an appointment with both of them, Dr. Wilcox being the first. Our first consulting appointment was in October. Two weeks later was our appointment with Dr. Bigelow.
We still had a few weeks before our first consulting appointment, but that didn’t mean we got a break. Not at all. My mom never took a break from my hearing. We still had a few more missions to accomplish before that appointment. Prior to my consulting appointment, I had to have both an MRI and a CT Scan performed to ensure there was nothing wrong with my ears that could prevent me from getting a cochlear implant. My mom scheduled both tests for the same day. The tests were very long and my mom had to leave work early to take me to them, but she did them without complaint. She helped me a lot. I couldn’t hear the doctors at all since I had to take my hearing aids out for the tests, so my mom was very helpful in acting as a translator and helping me to know exactly what I needed to do for these tests.
During my first consulting appointment with Dr. Wilcox, he confirmed what we pretty much already knew: there was nothing structurally wrong with my ears. He said there was no reason I wouldn’t be a candidate for a cochlear implant. He also answered all of our questions. Between my mom and myself we easily had over 30 questions for him and he answered each one very thoroughly. He gave us the green light to move forward — but he said we still had one more step— we needed to meet with one of their audiologists for more testing including a written test and hearing tests.
Scheduling the appointments with the audiologists was easy. It was just a manner of meeting with a receptionist before we left. I had two appointments with them. One test tested how well I hear with my hearing aids and the other without. They really needed to see how much the hearing aids were benefiting me (which proved to pretty much be not at all) and what I’d gain from a cochlear. After just the first test/appointment the audiologist said “Now is definitely the time for you to be considering a cochlear”. Whereas my mom and I would normally be pretty depressed by my hearing test results, that day we celebrated because we knew it was bringing us one step closer to our ultimate goal of getting me my cochlear and me being able to finally hear.
On the last appointment I had to answer some written questions as well. It was kind of like a psychological evaluation. They had to make sure I had realistic expectations and that I would work with my cochlear. I passed that with no problem. They actually said that if anything my expectations were too low. Once this was all complete, it was time to meet with Dr. Wilcox again and schedule the surgery.
We scheduled the surgery within two weeks from the appointment on November 17, 2013. We could not believe how soon it was. It wasn’t even a month from our initial meeting with Dr. Wilcox. Everything with it happened so quickly thanks to my mom being so proactive with it all. None of this ever could have happened without the help from my mom.
The couple of weeks leading up to my surgery were pretty hard, more so for my mom than for me. The things no one tells you about getting a cochlear implant is that it’s a bit overwhelming and terrifying, especially right before you go under the knife. There were many times when my mom broke down in tears because she was so afraid it wouldn’t work, I’d lose the little hearing I did have, and she felt if this did happen she’d be to blame since she encouraged me to go through with it. During these times going to church helped a lot. I remember one time in particular my mom and I visited the chapel at Gloucester County Community Church following their Saturday evening sermon. During this time we prayed with a woman of the church and she said “It will work and there’s a reason God is giving you this gift now and now you have to find out what that is.”
She was right in every way possible. I believe that this is it. I’m supposed to use my new found hearing to help people. That’s why I want to write this blog and turn t his blog into a book — to help other hearing impaired individuals like myself and to encourage them and show them they can do anything they put their minds to.
My mom was very excited but also a nervous wreck during my surgery. I’m a light weight when it comes to any kind of medication, alcohol, or other substance. So the instance they gave me the anesthesia, I was knocked out. Unfortunately, they gave it to me before they had a chance to ask me how to turn my hearing aids off (I had to remove them both for the surgery). So they called my mom to ask her which caused her a bit of panic haha. But other than that she was fine.
She helped me out and showed me a lot of love and support like any great mother should do while I recovered from my surgery. Her and my dad made me special foods (I couldn’t chew for awhile because it put too much pressure on my ear). She helped me get dressed, she helped with my dizziness, and she even helped me manage my hair (for 10 days I wasn’t allowed to wash my hair after my surgery…my mom helped me clean it by getting me dry shampoo, combining around the incision for me, and even using a washcloth to try to clean it up for me). She did far more than what most parents would ever do, that’s for sure.
Activation day was one of the most exciting, yet anxiety-ridden days of the whole process. It wasn’t quite what we expected. I didn’t hear very well the first day. My brain was overwhelmed and had trouble catching up to what I was hearing and processing it correctly. Everything sounded like a baby crying for the most part. Talking with people was pretty challenging and disappointing. I couldn’t hear music or identify the Christmas songs on the radio (I was activated on December 17th). But she never let me know she was disappointed and she never yelled at me or lost her patience. Instead she remained calmed and understood that it was a process. She also celebrated the small victories with me — like my amusement by the sound of light switches and the pouring of liquids into cups.
I was able to hear my mom’s voice better on the 2nd and third day after my activation —- except it still didn’t sound natural. She sounded identical to Minnie Mouse. I couldn’t stop laughing at her. She thought it was kind of funny. She didn’t get mad at all, she continued to support me throughout it all.
Some people who get cochlear implants feel they do not benefit from them or they don’t work. I think that most of these people have gotten it all wrong. They do work — but you have to work with it, too. You can’t be lazy. You need to work with it, especially when you first get activated, on a constant basis. Sure, it might be hard. You might hate what you hear, but it’s never going to get better if you don’t work at it.
My mom worked with me on a constant basis. I really wanted to hear music, but during the first week or two music sounded terrible. My mom helped me by still playing it and buying me a bunch of new music that I was not already familiar with to listen to. She also fed me a lot of words. She had me repeat sentences and words back to her like I’d do for my word recognition tests. She’d even print hundreds of pages of words to go through and highlight the ones I didn’t get right so that she would know which ones to go back to and work with me more on.
When I started to get bored with the words, my mom looked for ways to make it more fun for me. She knew it was important for me to hear these sounds and work with my cochlear. She discovered the Angel Sound program for me which made listening more fun and it also allowed me to train my hear to hear different sounds that went beyond just the words. This has been extremely helpful and beneficial for me.
In all honesty though, the training me to hear and helping me process sounds happened well before my cochlear implant came into the picture. From an early age my mom worked with me excessively. If you’ve ever verbally talked with a deaf person chances are you noticed they have a speech impediment or don’t speak clearly. That’s not the case so much with me. My speech isn’t 100%, but it’s far better than most people who have the same degree of hearing lost as I do. This is because my mom had me placed in speech therapy from the time I was 2. She also always has (and still does) correct me every time I mispronounce a word (which is often…my boyfriend jokes that I can write very well, but still can’t pronounce half the words I write lol). My surgeon, audiologists, and even random strangers compliment me for my speech all the time and tell my mom she is a great mom for all she’s done to help me develop my speech. They couldn’t be more right with that.
I’ve been activated for almost 5 months now, and my mom still continues to work with me with my implant by giving me words, testing me with different sounds, and of course celebrity even the little victories with me. We recently went to a Sidewalk Prophets concert together. It was not my first concert since getting my implant (my first was the Danny Gokey concert I went to with my boyfriend), but it was the first one I went to with my mom. Prior to getting my implant, my mom and I would go to shows together all the time. Some of the bands we’ve seen together include:
- Britney Spears
- Michelle Branch
- Good Charlotte (x2)
- Simple Plan (x2)
- Forever the Sickest Kids (x3)
- No Doubt
- The Ataris
- Katy Perry
- Pat Benatar
- Rick Springfield
- Avril Lavigne
And the list just goes on and on and on. But over the last few years, it’s gotten much harder for me to really distinguish what songs are being played, hear the musicians talking, or understand much of anything at all. This time around I was able to hear EVERYTHING going on. I knew what the guys were saying to the audience. I knew which songs were which. I could hear all of the distinct instruments. My mom was so excited and happy for me that she cried.
None of this would have been possible without my mom. I am 100% certain I never would have gotten my cochlear without the help of my mom. I’m not even sure I would have my college degrees without her because I’m not sure I could’ve gotten into a Public University. Getting into a non-specialized kindergarten class was a challenge enough, but my mom fought tooth and nail to make it happen. My mom wanted nothing more in life than to see me gain the ability to hear, and thanks to her persistence, and the grace of God, it was made possible. Mom, I know you sat here and read every single word (all 3300+ of them…your post was longer than Larry’s by over 1,000 you should feel proud!) because you read all of my posts. I also know you’re more than likely crying (why do I always make everyone cry?) and laughing at the same time at the end of this, but I just need to take this time to say I love and I can never thank you enough for all that you’ve done for me.
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.