Tag Archives: captioning


Image Credits: QuotesGram.com

Hey guys! Merry Christmas Eve Eve! Today is a really special day for me because it’s the 1 year anniversary of being activated on my right ear. Hurrah!

I apologize for the lack of updates. I know I promised you guys back in like August that I’d post on what it’s like to teach with cochlear implants…and now it’s the end of December…sorry! Between working full time at Penn Medicine, teaching 3 times a week at Rowan, and taking two graduate courses towards my MA in Writing, I haven’t had much time for blogging. But the good news is that winter break is finally here giving me a little bit of free time to give you all an update!

Before I begin I just want to apologize ahead of time for any major typos in this post. My laptop is currently on life support and the R, Y, 7, and perhaps some other keys I’ve yet to discover are currently broken. I’m actually using an external keyboard to type most of this. I know I should be less stubborn and give in and buy a new laptop (my current one is about 7 years old, after all) but I just love this one so much I’m not quite ready to part with it (and to be honest I’m waiting to be able to use my leftover loan money for the Spring semester so I can purchase one from the bookstore with boro bucks…).

Well anyway where was I? Oh that’s right…teaching. What it’s like to teach with cochlear implants. As I mentioned in the past, this past fall semester was my first time EVER teaching. I taught a class of 18 (well, it was originally 18, turned into 17 when one of my students withdrew from the class) three times a week…Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. All of my students were freshman taking Intensive College Composition at Rowan University. This was a first-year writing class for Freshman with lower test scores on their SATS that needed an additional day of class each week for extra support.

I am currently in the process of earning my MA in Writing and I have no prior teaching experience. I am able to teach as part of my MA in Writing program through acceptance into the Teaching Experience Program (TEP) at Rowan University. When I first started teaching I was honestly terrified. I think I practiced my first-day lesson about 20,000 times before teaching my first class on Friday, September 2nd.

I’ll be honest, I was a little nervous about how my students would react to my cochlear implants at first. Being silver and blue, they definitely stand out and are kind of hard to miss…something I’m proud of. I never wanted to hide my cochlear implants from the world and never tried to hide them on anything. However, I assumed most of my students had never seen cochlear implants, wouldn’t know what they were, and never been around a deaf individual. I felt kind of vulnerable on my first day of class. I wasn’t sure if my students would take me seriously if they knew I was deaf, but at the same time my deafness was something I was proud of and wanted to make known to my class.


Here is a screenshot from my “First Day of Class” PowerPoint. I probably spent a little too much time talking about myself, but I was so nervous and they were so quiet!

While I did have a mini-lesson on rhetorical analysis for my first class, a majority of the first day was spent introducing myself to my class and going over the syllabus. I used this time to explain to my students about my deafness. It honestly felt kind of awkward. My students were SO QUIET on the first day. It felt a lot like “Bueller…Bueller…Bueller”. They just kind of starred blankly at me. I couldn’t get a feel for their reaction at all. Did they like me? Hate me? Find me and my deafness strange? I couldn’t tell at all. I felt strange talking about it though. I almost felt like I had to apologize for it like “Hey guys, sorry but you ended up with a graduate student who doesn’t really know what she’s doing right now and just so happens is also deaf.” I remember actually telling my students, “FYI…I CAN hear now so don’t think you can whisper and get away with because I will know!”I immediately regretted saying that…

My students probably forgot that I said that last statement immediately after I said it, but for some reason it really stuck with me. I felt like after I said it I HAD to hear my students and that asking them to repeat themselves would be like I was lying on contradicting myself and that it would cause my students to lose trust in me. Unfortunately, my students tend to mumble and speak softly on occasion, and this was especially true on the first day when all of my students were still really shy and fearful and not at all familiar with the college experience (they were freshman, after all). I found myself using coping strategies I used back when I was a camp counselor and couldn’t hear what kids were saying to me…I just smiled and said “Yeah” or something of that sort and moved on. Fortunately, this only happened once or twice on the first day.

As the semester went on my students and I quickly came to know each other and built up a strong sense of trust in each other. I would often tell my students they were like my children and I always meant that. I can’t begin to tell you what these kids meant to me. I wanted nothing more to see them succeed and nothing in the world was more heartbreaking to me than seeing a student who was not living up to their potential. By the third day of class I knew everyone’s names. By the 2nd full week I could give a little bit of biography or backstory on each of my students. I knew I was going to like teaching, but never expected to love it as much as I really did. I realized teaching was one of my biggest passions in life.

Professor Erskine's GRIT story.png

As the semester progressed, I became so comfortable with my students and my deafness in the classroom that I even willingly shared this embarrassing photo with all of my students…

I became more comfortable with my deafness in the classroom as well as time went on. My students never questioned my cochlear implants or my deafness. They seemed intrigued by it, but they were very respectful of me and they didn’t seem to mind having a deaf professor at all. They were very accepting. I tried to use my deafness in my lesson plans wherever appropriate. For example, when introducing my students to the concept of Grit for their second project in which they had to join the conversation of Grit and connect it with their own personal lives, I shared my story of overcoming challenges as a deaf student prior to getting a cochlear implant. I explained how statistically most deaf children can’t read or write and how my initial elementary school tried to label me as being special needs even though I was very intelligent simply because I was deaf. I even shared with my students about how I challenged my senior seminar professor and filed a report against him for discrimination my last semester of undergrad. I used these experiences to show how I had grit – the passion and perseverance to overcome great challenges to succeed. This was one of my favorite lesson plans to teach. I don’t think I’ve ever seen my students more focused or attentive than they were that day. While my students didn’t question anything I told them about my personal story that day, it was clear that I had their full and undivided attention. They were hooked.

I want to use my deafness to inspire my students in my classroom. I want them to see that they can do anything they set their minds to, no matter how difficult it may seem. Whenever someone tells them they can’t do something, I want them to work twice as hard to prove that individual wrong.

I also want to teach my students to be loving and accepting of others and their differences. I want them to see my deafness not as a DIS-ability meaning “not abled”, but rather as meaning “differently abled”. I want them to realize that the deaf can do anything the hearing can do except hear. They can still succeed and have the same opportunities for success in life.

Lastly, as a professor I want to make sure I am giving my students every opportunity I can to see them succeed. I know what challenges I faced as a student not being able to hear in class (I didn’t get my cochlear implants until after I already graduated from undergrad). One way that I do this is by making sure I always air closed captioning on any video I play in class (I use videos when I teach a lot in class). I know it sounds like such a small gesture, but it can make a huge difference when it comes to learning. Remember, just because a student doesn’t come to you and tell you they have a hearing impairment doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Also, reading the captioning in addition to listening to the audio of videos can further help students to retain the information presented in the video and further enhance learning.

My first semester teaching Intensive College Composition I has definitely been a challenge, but it has been such a blessing. I had an amazing class of students who always kept me on my toes and I learned so much from each and every one of my students and I hope that they learned equally as much from me. I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to teach them, something that prior to receiving my cochlear implants I never thought would’ve been a possibility. I am so excited to teach again in the spring and to see what my next class has in store for me!


Delsea Drive-In

Image Credits: MetroKids.com

Before I start this post let me begin by saying that I currently live in New Jersey. New Jersey is home of the very first drive-in movie theatre. The very first one opened on June 6, 1933 on Crescent Boulevard in Camden, NJ. Some of you may remember me briefly mentioning Camden in my previous posts as it is the new home to WebiMax, my current place of employment.

New Jersey is also one of the few states where drive in movie theatres still exist. Presently, there is only one in the state located in Vineland, NJ called the Delsea Drive In. The Delsea Drive In is about a half hour away from both Larry and I. Vineland is about the halfway point between us (He lives in Quinton and I live in Washington Township). So it’s not too far for either one of us. Going to the Drive-In is something fun and different that people like to do in the spring and summer once the weather warms up a bit (it closes in the winter for obvious reasons).

My boyfriend and his family especially love to go to the Drive-In. When we first started dating back in September he used to tell me about it a lot. I always wanted to go with him, but I couldn’t. I mean, I guess technically I could of, but it never would have been  very enjoyable for me. Unlike most traditional movie theatres, the Drive In isn’t very accessible for the deaf and hard of hearing. They do not offer any kind of captioning devices like caption glasses or the little cup holder things. On occasion, they may play movies with the subtitles shown on the screen, but this is pretty rare. I am not sure if they do all of this by choice or because of the nature of the drive in prevents them from offering the devices.

To state it more simply, prior to getting my cochlear implant, I never would have been able to really hear the movies at the Drive-In. Rather than wasting my time and money going to movies I knew I wouldn’t  be able to hear, I skipped out on going to the Drive In all of last year. If Larry and I wanted to see a movie we’d either watch one at home with the subtitles on or we’d go to a traditional movie theatre where I could wear the caption glasses.

When I decided to go through with getting my cochlear implant, going to the drive in was one of the first things on top of my list of things I wanted to do that I couldn’t do before. I just had to wait for the drive in to actually open and for Larry to be home to go with me (remember — Larry is a truck driver. He’s not exactly home that much. This should be changing soon though, thankfully. :)).

This weekend was the first weekend Larry was home in 4 weeks. It was a nice night where it finally wasn’t raining, and with my parents being very sick, I couldn’t have him over my house. It was the perfect night for a trip to the drive in. So we went and gave it a try.

One ticket at the drive in gets you into a double feature of your choice. They have two different screens, but you are not allowed to switch between them. Last night they were playing San Andreas and Insidious 3 on screen one and Poltergeist and Spy on screen two. We met up with Larry’s dad who also went to the drive in and we decided to choose screen 1 — San Andreas and Insidious 3.


This is what one of the screens looks like. Image Credits: TripAdvisor.com 

We got to the drive in at I’d say around 6:30ish. Larry and I spent a bit of time just talking to his dad and catching up a bit. I haven’t seen his dad since Disney so it was nice to talk for a bit. Larry and I got something to eat for dinner at the snack stand too. At about 8:30 we got our popcorn, went to the car, set up the radio, and set out our chairs and watched the first movie — San Andreas.


The inside of the snack bar. Image Credits: NJ Star Ledger 

I’ll admit that I was a little nervous at first. At the drive-in you get the sound from your car radio (or in our case we bought a radio and put it on top of the car). I haven’t had trouble with hearing radios since getting my cochlear really. I mean, I listen to K-LOVE at work on pretty much a daily basis. This was never possible for me prior to getting my cochlear. But I knew the sound quality would still probably be a bit different than it was at a traditional movie theatre.


Image Credits: Simandan.com 

I really had no problem at all with it though. I enjoyed it very much. Watching the movies late at night under a full starry sky was a nice experience. And I heard every single word. I can tell you a brief summary of what the movie was about without having to get something off of Google: A terrible earthquake erupts in San Francisco and destroys the city. There is a guy, played by The Rock, who works as a rescue pilot and he needs to try to find his daughter and rescue her. He lost his other daughter years ago in a drowning accident and is still very much upset and shaken by it. Now, he is determined not to lose the other daughter. The fact that I can give people a summary of it like that is an amazing accomplishment in itself. I wouldn’t have been able to do that after seeing most movies in the past prior to getting my cochlear.


Image Credits: Vimeo

I really enjoyed Insidious 3 as well. Larry’s dad and I are both big fans of horror movies. Larry — not so much, but I’m pretty sure even he enjoyed that. The movie was kind of your typical horror movie where the characters try to contact the dead and it goes wrong and evil spirits/demons end up possessing one or more of the characters and trying to kill them. I have a bit of sick sense of humor sometimes and find horror movies to be kind of funny. Fortunately, my boyfriend and his dad can see things that way, too. There were many times during Insidious 3 that left room for a bit of comedy/making fun of parts of the movie or people in the movie. I enjoyed this just as much as I enjoyed the movie, to be honest. The second movie played until the wee hours of the morning. Naturally, it got dark outside. It wasn’t always that easy to really see Larry or his dad — I mean, yeah I could see them, but in the past I would’ve said I couldn’t see them well enough to read their lips. Prior to getting my cochlear this would have been a major problem because, as I stated in one of my previous posts, without being able to read lips I wouldn’t have been able to hear. That was not at all a problem last night. I didn’t even have to take my eyes off the screen to look at them at all. I could still hear both them and the movie well enough to add commentary and join them in poking fun at some scenes/characters without having to look at them or lipread.

I feel like going to the drive in was another small victory for me and my cochlear implant. It wasn’t exactly what I expected it to be — it was BETTER. I definitely think we’ll be going back a few more times this summer. This is a whole new experience for me only made possible by both the grace of god and my new bionic ear. I’m excited to see what other new opportunities or experiences I can unlock this summer with the help of my cochlear implant. One thing I know is certain: it’s going to be a great first summer for Larry and I.


Image Credits: ShowBiz411.com 

This was a good week with my cochlear implant. I didn’t switch programs like I was supposed to. Instead, I realized that I am an idiot that apparently cannot count and I’ve been ahead on my programs for 1 week since the second day of my activation. So I’ve been in program 4 for two weeks now. I’m out of programs until I go back to Jefferson for my 2nd mapping with new programs on the 21st. Oops! Program 4 is still challenging, but I’m getting a bit more used to it. In fact, I went to the movies this weekend and did awesome!

Larry was back from Florida this weekend. Actually he came back last weekend on Sunday afternoon, but due to work schedules this was the first I’ve been able to see him. We didn’t really know what we wanted to do this weekend. Here in NJ the temperatures have been in the single digits or very very low double digits all week so it was really too cold to do much of anything. We decided to just go with the classic dinner and a movie date.

Larry didn’t really know of anything he wanted to see, so he let me pick. I wanted to see Paddington Bear and the new Spongebob movie, (Yes, I am five years old at heart), but neither one is out yet. I have been hearing great things about Into the Woods and remembered seeing it as a play in high school (although I couldn’t hear it when I saw it — I really just went to support my drama club friends who were in it). So I chose to see that. (And I learned my boyfriend kind of hates musicals but will do practically anything to make me happy. He’s the best and I’m also very sorry for subjecting him to a 2 hour long musical!)

When we got their the inevitable question came up… “Do you need glasses?”


This picture was taken the weekend before my surgery. I was excited thinking it would probably be the last time I’d ever need the glasses. They were such a pain. Not only are they big and bulky, but they don’t always work. On this night the battery in my glasses needed to be re-charged, but the employee who gave it to me couldn’t comprehend that…I’m more than glad to be done with these!

I didn’t know how to answer it at first. I have been watching TV at home with the captions on still. I feel like I’m not quite ready to go without them. But caption glasses suck so much. They are bulky and annoying. Also, I have regular glasses that I cannot see without, my cochlear for my left ear, and a hearing aid on my right ear. That’s a lot of equipment to have on/around my ears. The caption glasses are very uncomfortable. And I was afraid of losing my cochlear. It’s very easy to knock my processor off of my ear especially when I wear my longer 10 hour battery (which is what I was wearing as Larry and I tend to have marathon dates that last 12 hours at a time…). Into the Woods was a movie we saw because we wanted to see a movie lol. Not something we’ve been dying to see or anything like that, so I decided to take my chances.

I heard pretty much every word.

It blew my mind. It’s been about 13 years since I’ve been able to see a movie in theaters without caption glasses and be able to still hear/understand it. Plus, it was a musical we saw. Music is usually much harder! But I did so so amazingly well with it. I understood all of the characters, their voices sounded natural, and I was easily able to follow along with the story sans glasses.

My boyfriend kind of hated it. He doesn’t like musicals much — it was way too much singing for him lol. But I really loved it. And it made me so excited for the future. I previously mentioned wanting to see a movie in the drive-in post-activation. And now that I know I should be able to hear it fine, I’m 100xs more excited for that. I actually just looked up the Delsea Drive-In to see when it reopens. It says it should reopen in Mid-March…just in time for Larry’s birthday. ;).

Next weekend I’ll have another new experience with my cochlear: my first concert! So long as we can still get the tickets, Larry and I will be attending a Danny Gokey concert at a church in Vineland. We’re both so excited to go to our 2nd concert together. Our first concert together was The Newsboys also at church, except this one was in Sewell, right down the street from me. That was a very special date for us as it was the moment I realized I not only loved him, but was in love with with him. However, music-wise I did so-so. I could hear the volume fine, but my clarity was pretty weak and I sometimes struggled to know which song they were performing. I can’t wait to hear Danny Gokey and see what a difference the cochlear makes! Stay tuned for an update on that sometime next weekend!


Image Credits: CCDowney.com 

Hey everyone, how was your holidays? I’m finally getting around to update this again. I think it’s safe to say my holidays were a bit crazy. Fun and good,  but definitely a bit crazy and overwhelming in parts lol.

It’s no secret that my cochlear implant was definitely the greatest gifts I got this Christmas. For those of you who haven’t been following along, I was implanted on November 17th and activated on December 17th of this year — just in time for Christmas.

My cochlear implant has been completely amazing and extremely useful this holiday season. I had about a million things to do on Christmas Eve. My day started with a hearing appointment with my audiologist, Sherry at Miracle Ear. Some of you might remember me mentioning Sherry in the past. She was the one that recommended I look into getting the Cochlear. As a thank you gift I got her a snow globe that plays music and I had it engraved to say “Joy to the World of Hearing”. She loved it so much she cried. She was so excited for me.I was excited too since I could carry on a full conversation with her without the help of my mom and could even hear here when I took out my one remaining hearing aid to have her put the new tube on. This is not something I could do before.


This is the snow globe I had engraved as a thank you present to my audiologist at Miracle Ear, Sherry. It says “Joy to the World of Hearing”. Had it not have been for Sherry and her honesty, I may not have ever gotten my cochlear implant.

I’ve been getting a lot of comments about my speech lately too. People say my speech has already been improving and it’s only been a little over two weeks! I noticed I can hear different syllables and  sounds better which helps. I can hear the difference between SH and CH now. Sometimes it’s still a little hard for me to pronounce the sounds properly since I’m not used to it but I’m getting there. I was able to say my audiologist’s name, Sherry correctly which is something I always struggled with in the past so that was exciting.

After my appointment I did a bit of shopping in Walmart since my Miracle Ear is located right in Walmart. It was kind of cool  being able to hear all of the small things like even the squeakiness of the wheels on the cart. I bought The Newsboys’s new album, Hallelujah to the Cross at Walmart and was playing that in the car as we left Walmart. It sounded clear and natural and I could even pick out some of the words without having to look them up which was exciting. I’m starting to really do well with music now. Probably because I was so stubborn and persistent with it. I am a huge fan of music so not being able to hear it is unacceptable to me. I played it non-stop after my activation even when it sounded bad. It seems to have paid off since I can hear most of it fairly well now.

My mom and I’s next stop on Christmas Eve was Bob’s Sports Shop — a gun shop in Glassboro. I bought some pepper spray from them. The guy that sold it to me took his time to explain a bunch of laws and regulations and tips regarding the pepper spray and I could hear every word. This usually isn’t my favorite gun shop mainly because it is so loud. I always had trouble hearing the workers in the past because I was unable to filter through all of the noise to hear the conversation but this day I was able to hear everything perfectly. It was so exciting!

I also went to a sandwich shop — Carmen’s Deli to pickup some hoagies on Christmas Eve. I always hated ordering food since I struggled so much to hear people. My mom called in the order ahead of time so we were just picking it up and she did all of the talking, but I could still hear everyone perfectly so that was exciting. I’m still waiting to get the chance to go to like Dunkin Donuts or something and order something on my own and see how well I do.

I went to church twice on Christmas Eve. First there was my church service at Washington Baptist Church that I went to with my boyfriend, Larry. My church service was kind of short and made up mainly of songs of worship with a few verses from Isaiah. Larry had to work and we ended up being a little bit late so we slid into one of the last rows in the back. I usually sit in one of the first three rows so this was a bit different for me but I did fine hearing. I could hear every word. After church I talked to many different people. Everyone was pretty excited to meet Larry. I talk about him all the time to everyone but this was my first time bringing him to church with me. I was able to hear everyone perfectly and carry on conversations. At one point I think there was one person talking to him and 2 or 3 others talking to me and I was still managing just fine. This is yet another thing I wouldn’t have been able to do two weeks ago.

A couple of hours after my church service ended I went to my parent’s church service over at Gloucester County Community Church. Their service was a bit longer and more formal and filled with even more music. I didn’t hear every word of the sermon, but most of them and enough to know what was going on. I did pretty well with the music. It was one of the first times I have been to that church that I could really hear the music and it didn’t just sound like loud noise and I was able to follow through with it perfectly. I could even hear one woman playing the flute. It sounded kinda weird since I’m so not used to hearing the flute, but still beautiful nonetheless.

Christmas day was just as exciting with all of the noise. It was Larry and I’s first Christmas together and we spent the day with his family. I have met a lot of his family before back in October when we went to his Aunt’s Halloween party. But at that time I wasn’t implanted or anything yet and I really struggled to hear everyone especially with all of the background noise from people talking, music playing, etc. Holding a conversation was very difficult. I even struggled with talking to Larry. Christmas was the first time seeing everyone since Halloween and my first time seeing everyone since getting my cochlear implant.

Our first stop was the Hartka family. This was Larry’s aunt and uncle who are also his godparents and three of Larry’s cousins, plus one of his cousin’s boyfriend. I’ve talked to the family on Facebook a few times since Halloween so I felt a bit more comfortable. I did pretty great with my cochlear and it was so exciting. I could easily carry on a conversation without having to ask everyone to repeat themselves a million times. It definitely allowed me to relax more too. In the past I’d get very nervous and and anxious while trying to talk to people I don’t know too well due to my inability to hear well. I could hear some other sounds around the house too. For example, Larry’s Aunt showed me an ornament that played music from what I believe she said was the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. I couldn’t hear it perfectly, but I could at least tell it was playing music and it still hear it somewhat clearly which was exciting.

We left the Hartka’s for about an hour or so to go visit with Larry’s Grandparents. Larry originally told me it was his grandparents and his dad. But actually it was quite a bit more people…tons of Aunts, Uncles, cousins, and other relatives and friends. It was nice to see everyone a bit. A little overwhelming, especially for me being that I don’t have much of a family so I’m not really used to being around so many people like that, but still exciting.

I can’t begin to tell you how many people I talked to that day. Too many to count lol. Larry and I have been together for 3 and a half months now and this was my 2nd time seeing everyone. This is Larry’s longest and most serious relationship and his family is pretty close, so naturally when he brings his girlfriend, me, around people are a bit interested and want to talk to me lol. I was far less nervous this time around than I was at Halloween because I could hear! I spent the most time talking with Larry’s grandparents, particularly his grandmother, and his dad. I really didn’t struggle with anyone. His grandmother had surgery recently which made her voice a little raspy and a little hard to understand but even with that I was able to pick up every word. We had a long conversation about Larry’s childhood and how he liked trains and some places he’s been as a child. At this point Larry left to move his car for a few minutes so I was on my own. At first I was nervous— Larry’s pretty much always been my crutch. When I can’t hear I just look at him and lean on him for help and support and translation but I did fine on my own this time around.

I couldn’t wait to hear his cousin, Izabelle speak. I was hoping she would be there. Here’s the thing: Little kids are very very very hard for me to hear and understand and over the past 10 years or so it’s gotten almost impossible for me to hear them right or talk to them and it’s heartbreaking! I used to work as a summer camp counselor for Summer Playground in Pitman. I did it from the time I was 12 until I was 14 or 15. I really loved working with the younger kids and in my last few years as a counselor I worked exclusively with preschoolers. They were adorable and I loved them, but their voices were so high-pitched and squeaky they were completely out of my range. I couldn’t really hold a conversation with them. Whenever they’d talk to me I’d respond with “That’s cool.” “Wow.” “Okay”, or simply just a smile and I’d pray that nothing was wrong or that they weren’t asking a question. When I first became a camp counselor I loved it so much I decided I wanted to be a daycare worker or an elementary school teacher.

I gave up on those dreams when my hearing decreased. How can you be a teacher when you can’t hear your own students? It didn’t seem possible to me. So I never bothered studying education in college or doing anything I would have needed to do to become a teacher.

That’s kind of sad, right? It gets a bit more depressing, unfortunately.

In 2011 I was in my first serious relationship. Long story short — it was a mess. My boyfriend did not treat me well. He yelled at me,  verbally abused me, and pretty much forced me to do things I didn’t want to do. It took me longer than it should have, but eventually I reached my breaking point and gained the strength I needed to leave the relationship. But for years there were words he said to me that have haunted me. Here are those words:

“You’ll never be a mother because you can’t hear. You can’t have kids if you can’t hear them.”

I was 21, going on 22 at the time. I have just had my first hearing test in years and the results were devastating. There was a significant drop in my hearing and my word recognition was about as close to 0 as you can get. I needed support, love, and encouragement. Instead, I got served some more harsh words that I prayed would never be the truth — but at the same time, I started to believe them. I could not hear. Especially not little kids. How could I ever go on to be a mother if I’d never be able to hear my own kids?

It didn’t occur to me at the time that there is technology out there that can help with these kinds of things. It didn’t hit me that a relationship is between two people who should work together to find solutions to these kinds of things. All that I heard and all that hit me was those words. I could never be a mother.

Every woman, from the time she is a little girl, dreams of and plans out her future. I am no different. I have my dream wedding all planned out. I have names picked out for my future kids (Leslie Michele for a girl. Jake Ryan or Lucas Gabriel or Noah Christian for a boy.) To hear those words from him — a man who claimed to have loved me or who was supposed to have loved me at the time — it was crushing. And it left a deep scar on me for many years.

My cochlear implant gave me new hope though. I heard many stories of women in similar situations — unable to hear and wanting to hear their children who after being implanted and activated were able to hear their children for the first time and go on and be amazing mothers. And that was exciting for me. Plus, I am now in a relationship with an amazing man who has been with me every step of the way. We are in no way, shape, or form ready for children yet, but in the future, like 5 years down the road or so, maybe we will be and there’s not a doubt in my mind he’d be extremely supportive, loving, and helpful. He’d do everything he could to help me and I know he’d have all of the faith in the world in me and my ability to be a great mother to our children.

Okay well now that I’ve gotten quite a bit sidetrack — back to the point. I couldn’t wait to see and talk to Izabelle on Christmas day. I think she’s about 6 or 7 and the cutest little girl. She has that high voice like all little girls do. I couldn’t really understand her when I met her at Halloween. But on Christmas, I could. And it was so exciting.

Izabelle talked to me quite a bit and I think I did pretty well. I couldn’t hear 100%, but much much better than I could before. I could never have a conversation with her before. She got a kitten for Christmas so she showed it to me and told me all about her. She told me its name and I heard her but forget it now and she drew me a picture. She’s the cutest little girl. And just talking to her made me so happy and relieved me of so much anxiety. I looked at spoke with her and thought “Wow, I’m having a conversation with a little girl. I haven’t been able to do this in  years. I am doing pretty well with this. One day I may have my own little girl like Izabelle and I’ll be able to speak with her and raise her and everything will work out fine.” It was such a relief.

There’s another girl who I spoke to as well that also kind of made my day — Larry’s cousin Brianna. I heard of Brianna. Larry’s grandparents and aunt have mentioned her to me in the past but this was my first time actually meeting her. Women are hard for me sometimes especially when I’m not used to their voices. When I first got activated I didn’t do too well with women’s voices. My own mother’s voice was very squeaky and cartoonish and hard to understand. People’s whose voices I never heard before? Forget it. But this was my first time ever speaking to and hearing Brianna’s voice and I did well. I never had to ask her to repeat herself. We had a few full conversations. She asked who I was, naturally, how long Larry and I had been dating and she talked a bit about herself explaining how she plays many different musical instruments. She also noticed Larry and I had matching hoodies on (we bought the same hoodie at Frightland. But in all honestly, we have some similar and/or identical shirts too and we do tend to match a lot because we’re cute like that haha). So I told her all about the time when we went to Frightland. It was so nice to talk to this woman I never spoken to before and carry on a full conversation and not have to apologize for being hearing impaired or ask her to repeat herself 10,000 times. There was a lot of background noise too with all of the people over and the kids playing. I could hear someone playing the drums on the rockband set and could still hear Brianna perfectly fine and carry on our conversation.

We didn’t stay at Larry’s grandparent’s/Dad’s home too long because the Hartkas were nice enough to invite us to stay for dinner and were expecting us back. When we got back there I was still able to talk to everyone well. The Hartka family was watching White Christmas. The TV wasn’t all too loud, at least not compared to what I’m used to, but I could still hear the singing and even the tap-dancing which was exciting. Christmas has so many different sounds. You don’t realize it all until you’re suddenly given the ability to hear them all! It’s really neat and it helps give a whole new meaning to the term “Sounds of Christmas”!

We left their home around 9 and headed back to mine. Once we got back home Larry played a show for me on YouTube on his phone. I forget what it was called. Something Macgee or something lol. I think it was from the early 90’s. I never seen it before. There wasn’t any captioning available but I still did okay. I couldn’t pick up every word, but enough to know what is going on. Before my activation I’d yell at people for playing YouTube on their phones because it would just sound like very loud distorted noise to me that I couldn’t make out. Even if it’s not perfect, it’s still significantly better than it was before. I’m definitely making good progress.

Christmas Eve and Christmas were both very exciting times for Larry and I being our first Christmas together and me having the new and amazing ability to hear. It will definitely be a Christmas we’ll always remember. I’m really looking for New Year’s Eve and all of the noise now lol. I’m just staying in with my family so it shouldn’t be too loud but I’m sure my neighbors in the complex will make at least a little noise at midnight lol. Unfortunately Larry went to Disney with his family and won’t be home for NYE’s. :(. But I’m still planning a little surprise which I won’t write about on here since Larry  has his laptop and could very well be reading this now. ;).

I hope all of you guys had a very merry Christmas this year and have a wonderful, blessed New Year!


Image Credits: Tom Linuk

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stayed tuned after Wednesday for an update about my activation!


Image Credits: AbledBody.com

As I inch closer and closer to my date of surgery (which still remains unknown, but I should know the date tomorrow :-D), these blog posts are becoming a daily exercise. It’s a good thing though. I’m very very excited. A bit nervous, but more excited than anything else. As I’m writing this post now I am waiting for my boyfriend, Larry to come over for a movie/game night…which got me thinking how much better our movie/games nights may be after my cochlear implant activation.

I’ve relied on subtitles/captioning to watch TV and movies for most of my life. While I am very used to it it doesn’t change the fact that it still kind of sucks. In the US they’ve gotten a lot better with mandating captioning on television programs. However, that doesn’t always mean it’s entirely accurate. Sometimes it’s less captioning and more transcribing. Try watching a YouTube video and click the CC button. Unless the user uploaded their own CC transcript, chances are the captioning  is wayyy off. And when you can’t hear and that’s all you have — it sucks.

Sometimes DVDs don’t come with captioning at all. This is especially common for older DVDs and it truly sucks. Nothing is worst than buying a brand new DVD only to get home and find out you can’t enjoy it because you can’t hear it and there’s no captioning. This has happened way too many times to me.

Even when the captions are spot-on…it can still be kind of annoying. For one you have to “read” your TV. you have to look at it a certain way as if if were a visual book you’re reading. This isn’t so bad at home, but when I go to see a movie and theater and have to rely on captioning glasses, it’s pretty annoying. The captioning glasses work great if you look straight ahead and don’t move your head too much. I love to cuddle when I’m on a date with my boyfriend. I mean, what girl doesn’t want to cuddle up to her boyfriend while watching a movie? With the captioning glasses it makes it a bit hard because if you move the glasses the slightest bit you can’t read the captions. Gah.

Oh and drive-in movies? This is one of the very first date ideas my boyfriend had way before we became an official item. But I had to politely decline but captioning in a drive in movie is virtually impossible. I never been to a drive in theater for this reason. Needless to say it’s one of the first things we both want to do together once I am activated.

I know I might not be able to hear well enough to take the captioning off my TV right after surgery, but it is my hope that within two or three years time I can train my ears well enough to pick out the speech and watch TV and movies without the captions after I am activated. It will certainly help to make for more comfortable TV viewing. Plus, I have this Hey Arnold DVD that lacks captioning I’ve been wanting to watch for like 2 years. It really is the little things in life.

Oh and for my good news/change of plans…


So now there’s really nothing at all to be afraid of for tomorrow’s appointment. I got all worried for nothing lol. 🙂

Well Larry should be here any minute so I better wrap this up now. Tomorrow’s the big day…appointment number 2 with my surgeon! Stay tuned for details and hopefully a date of when my surgery will be!