Tag Archives: Christianity

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Image Credits: YouTube

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.


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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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

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Image Credits: Seth and Ray

If you’ve known me any time in the last 3 years, you’ve probably hear this same old argument from me countless times. I said I wanted to go back to school to get my Master’s in Public Relations. Then I had my heart set on earning a Master’s in English from Rutgers. Some days I wanted to get a third Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. I played around with earning a degree in Marketing, too.

Basically I’ve been completely indecisive. For awhile I actually said I didn’t want to earn my Master’s in Writing. I guess after studying Writing Arts for 2 and a half years, I had a enough of it and didn’t really feel like writing anymore. Sure, I had plenty of ideas. I did, after all write a young adult novel on suicide and depression called Escape, which I still have every intention of publishing (I’ll revise and edit it and work on trying to get it published one of these days…I swear”. And there’s still that insane children’s novel about the kids who eat forbidden cheese on a field trip to the moon and end up turning into cheese and having to live an alternative life on the moon… but it still just wasn’t enough for me to want to go through with grad school for it.

But getting my cochlear implant changed all of that for me. I had stories to tell, but it’s almost like before, the stories were never really my own. I still have a lot of faith in Escape, but it is a very difficult novel to write. I am writing a novel about a childhood friend that killed himself. In that novel, I am looking for answers. I will never have the answers. I can only speculate and wonder what drove one of the most popular guys in school to end his life so tragically. So Escape is based on reality. But it can never be labeled as non-fiction, because no one will ever really know the truth. And as his classmate, I am an outsider. I will never know what really went on during that time. I only know the rumors and speculations.

Escape is a very risky book to write. I have to worry about upsetting the family members of the individual who inspired my book. I have written about him in the past, but very vaguely. I have attempted to interview the family, and ended up cancelling on them because I got the sense that they were so uncomfortable with the interview, that I’d be doing more harm than good with going through with it. Also, while I believe very strongly that the world needs a book like Escape — a novel that speaks the truth about teenagers and how depression is a prevalent issue in today’s teens and how suicide is a huge problem no one wants to talk about — that is just it. Nobody wants to talk or hear about teenagers ending their life. Unfortunately, I believe that this includes book publishers.

Going to grad school with the intent of using “Escape” as a thesis and publishing it afterwards— a very big risk that will cost a lot of money.

As for my cheese story — I love talking about it. It’s very creative and imaginative and wild — but I don’t have any sense of direction. I have a couple variations of a short story — but I don’t know where this is going for a novel and I’m not sure when if ever I will know. I am still in the thinking and brainstorming process with it. Graduate school will move fast. It will also be very expensive. I don’t think I should go into graduate school with a vague idea and no sense of direction regarding my work. It would be better to hold off on that for graduate school.

But now, I do have a story. I have a story that is filled with my own unique voice. I know exactly which directions to take with it because it is my reality. It is my life. I am living my story now. I had to wait to go to grad school because I had to wait for my story to come to me. This — my cochlear —this is it.

My blog has served as a bit of a first draft. I am never short on ideas for what to right. Most of my posts are at least 1,000 words long. I have 39 posts and counting. That right there is an estimated 39,000 words or more. A standard novel is estimated to be approximately 50,000 words or more — with that being said, I’m already well over half way there. There’s no denying I have the material for a story. It’s just a matter of writing it — which through  this blog, I already begun doing.

And I know there is definitely an audience for my book. My friends, family, co-workers, and people from my church have all been following my blog. They love it. They say they are fascinated and amazed by the things I write about. But even beyond that, there’s an audience.

There are not many books out there about cochlear implants or hearing loss in general. The few that do exist are either horribly outdated or too technical to understand, or both. There isn’t a lot in the way of inspirational stories that people can connect with. If you are considering getting a cochlear implant, good luck finding a book in your local bookstore written by someone who went through with it and can tell you what it’s REALLY like. You might find one if you’re lucky. Never more than 3.

My book can also fall into many categories — inspirational, Christian,motivational, etc. It’s very uplifting and of course I attribute much of my success with  my cochlear to my faith and belief in god. After all, my book is called “God Granted Me Hearing”. You don’t get much more Christian than that.

I want to go to grad school because I believe that that will be the thing that helps me to really bring my book to life. I plan to use my book for most of my assignments and my thesis project. I will spend a great deal of time in grad school working on this book. I know my professors can help point me in the right direction and help me to polish it and get it published, too.

I am extremely familiar with the professors I’ll have as a graduate student in Rowan’s Master in Writing program. I had a majority (if not all) of them as an undergraduate Writing Arts student. I loved my professors and learned very much from them and will be excited to continue learning more from them at the graduate level, especially now that I have a clear grasp of who I am as a writer and what I want to do.

There is just one thing that might be holding me back now — graduate school is very very expensive. It is estimated to cost me a good $24,000. I do not have $24,000.

I filed for FAFSA this weekend. Unfortunately from what I’m told, FAFSA does not give you grants as a form of financial aid as a graduate student like it does if you’re an undergrad. It will merely tell you what kind of loans you are eligible for.

Like most of my peers, I am already deep in debt from undergrad. I currently owe approximately $20,000 to be paid off during a 10-year time period. My debt is nothing compared to most people’s, but it is still not easy to pay off. I have already had to defer payments once and have frequently been late on payments because with my current income, $200+ per month is not always doable.

By going to graduate school, my student loan debt will more than double. It could take me more than 20 years to pay it all off. It makes sense for many of my classmates who are taking on careers such as that of a doctor or lawyer, but when you’re a writer the future is very very very unclear.

My book could become a bestseller.

My book could end up never being published.

You want to think positively, but when there’s $44,000 worth of debt on the table, it  becomes difficult. You need to think long and hard about your ROI, and it’s completely up in the air. And that is hard.

I’m 25 years old. Yes, I am young, but at the same time, I am getting older.

I am in rush at all to get married or have children now. But I do want these things. I want these things very badly. Ideally, I’d love to get married in the next 4 or 5 years and have kids in the next 6 years or so. But if I put myself into $44,000 worth of debt — i don’t know that this will be possible.

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Image Credits: Pinterest

If it is possible — it’s not fair. My future husband would be marrying into debt. My future children may not be able to have all that they deserve because of debt. That is not fair at all.

Graduate school always sounds like an amazing idea. How could going to school and furthering your education and bettering yourself be a bad thing? But when it comes to debt, it is. It is like you get punished for wanting to be well-educated. It’s not at all right. In my opinion, college and graduate school really should be free. Unfortunately in our country that must be an unpopular opinion, because I don’t see this happening any time soon.

I have an amazing amount of support coming from my boyfriend, my family, friends, everyone around me. I know they would support me wholeheartedly. My boyfriend even said he’d like to help me when he can. While I definitely appreciate this offer, it’s not one I could ever see myself accepting. It’s just way too much.

There is one thing that could help me get to graduate school without it being a major debt sentence — a graduate assistanceship.

Graduate assistanceships are known to pay about half (sometimes even more) of the cost of grad school. They also pay a stipend which can be used however you choose — which in my case would be towards graduate school. This would definitely make graduate school affordable for me.

I will go through with graduate school if I can get an assistanceship. This is the only way I will go through with it. I refuse to allow myself to take on an extra $24,000 of student loan debt.

I contacted my former professor who also serves as the director of the Master in Writing program at Rowan last night asking for some guidance in regards to what to include with my application and asking if he could help point me in the right direction for landing an assistanceship. I will also be sure to keep an eye out for any postings. I cannot apply for them yet because I need to be accepted into the program first. I have not yet applied.

For now I need to work on the application. My application is due in August. I need two letters of recommendation (still toying with who to ask for those), an 8-10 page writing sample (considering submitting my blog — they say that can be acceptable. I asked Professor Block but I’m still waiting for a response), my resume, and an application along with the $65 fee.

More than anything right now though, I need prayers.

I am putting everything in God’s hands now. If it is my will to go to graduate school, I know the Lord will bless me and make it possible. After all, it was the lord’s will that I gain the gift of hearing, and I can hear now, right? Everything in my life is a part of God’s plan, and maybe, lord-willing this is the next step to take in fulfilling his plans for me. Only time will tell what God’s plan for me is.


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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.

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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
  • O-town
  • Michelle Branch
  • Good Charlotte (x2)
  • Simple Plan (x2)
  • Forever the Sickest Kids (x3)
  • No Doubt
  • The Ataris
  • Yellowcard
  • 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.


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Image Credits: Digital Sherpa 

“Your last blog post had three mistakes in it”, my mom told me after reading my post on What’s It’s Like to Go to Six Flags Great Adventure With a Cochlear Implant, “Don’t you ever proofread your work anymore?”

“Nope.” I replied.

“Obviously. You said ‘I was both very excited and a nervous.’A nervous what? For an English major you sound pretty dumb right now”.

Mom always was brutally honest…

But the thing is, I don’t proof read my blog posts because I have a degree in English and Writing Arts. Now, I can hear my boss and co-workers cringing. Here I am, not only an English and Writing Arts graduate, but a Project Manager for a digital marketing agency openly admitting that I never proofread my own blog posts before hitting the “publish” button.

But, there’s a reason for that.

I mean, if I were to write a blog post for my clients or a post like the ones I used to do for BitRebels.com I’d be sure to proofread and proofread again 10xs over.

But this is different. It’s not for a client and it’s not for Bit Rebels (or any other major news site/blog for that matter). This is my own personal blog. And it’s more than that…

Before you read any further you may want to glance over Anne Lamott’s famous short essay, “Shitty First Drafts” as I plan on referencing it quite a bit here.

You see, to say it simply, this blog is my “Shitty First Draft”.

Back in my college days my creative writing professors used to make us read Lamott’s “Shitty First Drafts” on the first day of class. It didn’t matter that we already read it in Creative Writing I or Writing Fiction class.They’d make us read it again, always on the first day of class. The reason? Had we not have read this essay, we may never have finished writing anything for class.

As this essay explains, too often writers get wrapped up in their own writing and way too focused on making it perfect. It’s good to proofread your work and take the time to make it good. However, if you focus on that from the get-go, you won’t get very far.

Your first draft of a story or a novel or even a poem isn’t about being perfect. It’s about being well, pardon my French, but to quote Lamott, it’s about being “shitty”.

Your first draft isn’t supposed to make much sense. It’s not supposed to be very good. Hell, I’ll even going on to say it’s supposed to suck. Being perfect and making sense isn’t the important thing now. Getting your thoughts and ideas down is what’s most important.

I got a cochlear implant. It’s been one heck of a journey. I’m hearing and experiencing things I’ve never heard before in my life. You may say I have quite the story to tell.

And yes, that’s it.

I have a story to tell.

I am telling my story.

This blog is capturing my story.

This blog is my “shitty first draft”.

To say in a less obnoxious and/or offensive way, I am using this blog as a way to capture all of my thoughts, emotions, desires, and experiences with my cochlear implant. Once I finish living through the experience a bit more, I plan on turning my blog into a memoir and hopefully one day publishing it. I hope that it can help others who may be considering getting a cochlear implant.I know that if it wasn’t for hearing the stories of others through the online groups I have joined I never would’ve went through with getting my cochlear implant. This is my way of giving back to others the way they have given to me.

Consider this blog my first draft for my novel. Please don’t bug me about how I mispelled or mistyped things. Don’t tell me that things are grammatically incorrect or don’t make sense. I know all of that already. It might not be the greatest thing in the world now, but I’ll go back and edit it all in another draft in time.

For now, just enjoy this raw copy of my first draft of my new novel.

P.S. — i have a name for it already to. It will be called……………….. *DRUMROLL PLEASE*………………..

God Granted Me Hearing.

The reason? It’s simple. After 24 years of not being able to hear well, God did answer my every prayer and Grant Me Hearing.

Also, ironically enough, my first novel that I wrote shortly after graduating high school in 2008 was a fiction novel called “God Grant Me Hearing”. This is like the non-fiction sequel (only it’s not really a sequel since God Grant Me Hearing was a god-awful book and I kind of want to completely scrape the project and pretend it never existed…but that’s another story. ;)).


Hey guys. It’s been a really long time since I last updated. I apologize for that. I’ve just been crazy busy lately especially with my new job as an Assistant Project Manager at WebiMax. I’ve now been activated for a month and 10 days and I’m doing amazingly well.

I’ve been talking on the phone on an almost daily basis. With my new role as an Assistant Project Manager, this is pretty important. Getting this promotion really could not have possibly come at a better time. I’ve done at least 4 client calls with my Project Manager’s so far. Most of them have been through a conference speaker phone and I’ve been able to hear very well. I’ve been able to even offer consulting and have actual conversations with my clients — something that wasn’t possible just a few short weeks ago. Today pretty much everyone in the office was working from home due to the Jersey snow, but my Social Media project manager Mat and I were still scheduled to have a weekly phone call with one of our clients. We were still able to set up a conference call via WebEx. I had to use my cellphone rather than the conference phone and I couldn’t look at Mat or anyone else to rely on for translation of anything. I did really well on my own though. The client said they didn’t notice I was on the call for last week’s call actually. They thought this was their first time speaking to me and they loved my ideas and I feel like I made a stronger connection with the client and like my comments/ideas are going to help this campaign move forward and make a difference for the client. It felt so good because I know this is something I never could have done in the past. When the call was over our customer service rep whom was also on the call instant messaged me to tell me I did a really great job. That really meant a lot to me.

I’ve been calling my boyfriend a few times a week as well. He’s actually far from home now as he participates in training for his new job as a truck driver for Werner Enterprises. He’s going to be gone for a long time so these phone call suddenly got more frequent and more important to me. I didn’t think I was going to like talking on the phone when I first got my implant. I thought it would be too weird for me — a really big change from the texting/instant messaging I’ve been used to for the past few years. But I’m loving it. Actually, I’m not sure how I went so long without being able to do this. I feel like it just opened a whole new window with my relationship with Larry and it allows us to get even closer with each other. Phone calls are so much more personal than text messages. When I call him and can actually hear his voice it’s like he’s right there with me. Which, considering how we normally only see each other about once a week (He lives about an hour away from me) and he’s now in training far from home for about the next month or so, this is pretty important and a huge deal for us. Larry’s really excited about this too. He’s been so amazing supportive throughout the whole process with my cochlear implant and I love seeing him get so excited about things like this with me.

On the 17th I went to my first concert with my cochlear. Larry and I went to see Danny Gokey perform at Higher Places Ministries Church in Vineland. For those of you who don’t know Danny Gokey was a past finalist on American Idol and he’s currently a successful Christian musician. The concert was really great. I could hear him so well. Live music sounded so much clearer than it has in years for me. One of my favorite parts was when Danny introduced the different members of his band and had everyone play a bit of a solo on their instruments. It was cool to get to hear the drums, piano guitar, bass, and guitar all separately and distinguish the difference between the sounds. For years I always thought a bass guitar and an electric guitar were one in the same. Now I can really hear distinct difference (I prefer the bass by the way). And I can hear the different parts of the drum for the first time too. The drum head, cymbals, and foot pedals all have such different sounds. My favorite is by far the cymbal. I never noticed how much I love that sound. It’s honestly one of my all time favorite instruments.

This is my favorite Danny Gokey song. It’s called “She’s Better Than Gold” and it sounded amazing live with my cochlear!

Last Wednesday I had my second mapping and my first appointment with my audiologist since getting activated. She tested me and I did phenomenally well! I’m actually just barely below normal range with my implanted ear! I was also surprised to learn that I actually retained my residual hearing in my implanted ear. It’s gotten worst, naturally, but it’s not all gone which made me feel a little bit better. I’m pretty sure I never had a hearing test anywhere near as good as that. She didn’t test my speech recognition because she thought one month post-activation was too soon, but I can tell that’s improved as well. She also changed the settings a little bit but not much. I have four programs now — 1 is normal, 2 and 3 are for crowded environments, and 4 is for music. While only a slight change I noticed a big difference. Everything is a lot louder and clearer and music sounds fantastic on setting 4. Thinking of music, Louisa was surprised by how well I could hear and understand it. Most cochlear implant recipients don’t do well with hearing music. She said they are actually doing a study on that. I told her I’d love to participate in it if possible.

hearing test with cochlear

Here’s a picture of my most recent audiogram. The S’s are my implanted ear. Blue is my left ear without the implant (I still have some residual hearing) and red is my right ear. What a difference! Almost in the normal range!

pre-cochlear audiogram

This is the last audiogram I got before getting my implant. I was barely even on the chart…

I have some exciting news to share as well…

I’m going to Disney in May! (Well, so long as I can save up the money. I’ve been doubling up on my freelance work for extra cash to help make this happen). My boyfriend and his family are actually planning a vacation to Disney World in May (Don’t worry — it’s the one without the Measles outbreak. The one you’re thinking of is Disney Land…the one in California. This is the one in Florida). My birthday falls during their vacation (May 8th) so they invited me to come along and just pay towards my plane ticket and the park passes which isn’t too bad. I’m really really excited for this!

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Image Credits: Walt Disney World News

I asked my audiologist, Louisa, if it would be okay to go to Disney with my cochlear and she said it should be fine. She just warned me that I may feel a little more dizzy than usual after roller coasters and that I should take off my processor which I already knew. She also said to let the people at the airport know about it and don’t put it through the airport belt thingy. I expect it will set off the alarms. When I went on my senior trip to Disney in 2008 my hearing aid batteries alone set it off lol. But other than that everything should be fine. I’m going to look into getting the Aqua Case for it too so that I can go swimming with it on. We’ll see about that though.

In an unrelated note, Louisa also gave me the okay to go to a shooting range. She just said it would be best to not wear my hearing aid/cochlear at all for that and to wear ear protection of course. So fellow CI users/gun lovers, take note! You have word from a licensed audiologist that there’s no reason why you can’t shoot so long as you take proper precautions. 🙂

I had Louisa put in an extra magnet for me since mine kept falling off, too. I believe I have three magnets in their now and it’s been sticking a lot better. I still have trouble keeping the processor on sometimes but usually only if I’m laying down or something. It’s still been much much better and it hasn’t caused headaches like I feared it might. It’s been a lot better so far. I also noticed the magnet is significantly stronger…and I’ve had way too much fun with that. I was sticking my head to the magnet and putting more magnets on top of mine lol. What was really funny though was the last time I saw my boyfriend. As he was leaving he was kissing me good night and accidentally knocked my cochlear off. It ended up only coming off a tiny bit but we were right outside of his car and the magnet managed to stick. It definitely made us both laugh a bit!

Well now it’s about time I wrap this up for dinner and to prepare for another day of work tomorrow. Keep tuned for more updates on my wonderful journey into the world of hearing!


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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.

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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!