Tag Archives: phone

The purpose for today’s blog is to answer some of the most commonly asked questions about deaf people. These five questions came from the most searched terms related to the keyword “deaf” according to SEMrush. Please note that I am answering based on my own personal experience as a lowercase deaf individual who has profound hearing loss but has never been a part of the Deaf community.

1. Can Deaf People Drive?

Yes, and I just ran over the last person that asked me that question.

But seriously, why wouldn’t a deaf person be able to drive? If you’re deaf-blind then okay I can definitely see why you wouldn’t be able to drive (no pun intended), but this question specifically calls out deaf people, not deaf-blind people. While being able to hear things like sirens would certainly be beneficial for driving, it’s not actually a requirement so long as you can see.

Did you know most deaf people actually have really strong perceptive vision? My boyfriend is always amazed by my ability to spot a car coming from miles away because I can always see the lights out of the corner of my eye. Since deaf people can’t hear, they rely on the eye sight to make up for it. What this means in terms of driving is that deaf people will always be alert and aware of their surroundings and they will be able to see the flashing sirens, even if they can’t hear them. Some may even argue that BECAUSE deaf people can’t hear they will actually be more careful and cautious drivers. That of course is up for debate. I’ll let you know the verdict on that one once I receive my license. 😉

2. What language do deaf people think in?

Seriously? This question is so dumb it makes my brain hurt.

Deaf people think in the same language(s) they speak in. This goes for all deaf people including those who are deaf with a lowercase d, those who are culturally Deaf and use sign language, and those who are non-verbal. Just because you’re deaf does not mean you lose your ability to think or that the way in which you think is any different from that of a hearing person.

Also, those who are non-verbal may still be able to understand spoken and written language and will still very much have a native language (or maybe even more than one). I think that one thing that most people get wrong about deaf people that are non-verbal is that they assume that because they are non-verbal they must be dumb. In actuality, most deaf people that are non-verbal choose not to speak with their voice because they can’t hear themselves speak and it’s a self-conscious thing or not something they feel comfortable with. Some of them may not have had speech therapy, so they may be aware of the fact that their pronunciations may seem strange to someone who is hearing which may make them feel uncomfortable. Others may have limited hearing and not like the sounds of their own voice. Whatever the case may be the important takeaway here is that even non-verbal deaf individuals can be highly intelligent and most often are.

Similarly, some people may be under the wrong impression that culturally Deaf individuals that are fluent in sign language must not be able to think in that language since sign language is a non-verbal language. This assumption is also false. I could be wrong, but I have a hard time imagining deaf people thinking in terms of signs. Rather, I think they think like you and me do in their own native languages.

It’s important to note here that sign language is not a universal language; there’s actually many variations of it. American Sign Language most closely resembles the French written language, but there’s also British Sign Language, South African Sign Language, Afghan Sign Language, and hundreds others even including Jamaican Sign Language! While not a verbal language, they still hold many of the same structures as verbal and written languages do including having verb tenses, parts of speech, subject-verb agreements, etc. When deaf people think I believe that they are thinking in terms of these sentence structures even if they aren’t actually hearing spoken language.

3. Can deaf people talk?

This kind of goes back to what I was saying in my last answer. Generally speaking, the answer is yes nearly all deaf people are CAPABLE of talking. However, some Deaf people may choose not to talk with their voices.

It’s important to note that many Deaf people, and even myself as a lowercase/non-culturally deaf individual hold the belief that you don’t need to use your voice or to speak to communicate. “Talk” means to say something verbally, but “communicate” means to simply share or exchange information, news or, ideas. There are many ways in which a person can communicate. Many Deaf people prefer to use sign language to communicate, but even that isn’t their only option. For me personally I prefer to communicate via social media, E-mail, text messages, and hand-written notes.

4. How do deaf people think?

With our brains, duh.

This bothers me though since so many people think that deaf is synonymous for dumb or learning disabled. Yes, some deaf people have other disabilities including learning disabilities or lower IQs, but as with all things in life, this doesn’t mean ALL deaf people have learning disabilities or low IQs.

In fact, there are many deaf people who are highly intelligent. Some of the smartest deaf people include:

  • Laurent Clerc – The first deaf teacher in America who founded the very first school for the deaf in North America. He was extremely influential in showing that not all deaf people are “deaf and dumb”
  • Thomas Gallaudet – a teacher whom Gallaudet University is named after; he co-founded it with Laurent Clerc
  • Heather Whitestone McCallum – The first, and quite possibly to this day only, deaf Miss America. She is an influential advocate for deaf rights and she also served on the United States’ National Council on Disability in the past.
  • Juliette Low – The founder of Girl Scouts in America
  • Rush Limbaugh – An American talk show host and Republican political commentator
  • Alexander Graham Bell – Inventor of the telephone
  • Vinton Cerf – the “Father of the Internet”
  • Thomas Edison – A famous inventor
  • Helen Keller – The first deaf-blind woman to earn a bachelor’s degree. One of the most famous women in US history.

Deaf people think in the same way that non-deaf people do. I know it may sound strange, but like I said earlier, you use your brain to think…not your ears.

5. How do deaf people date?

Girl meets boy.

Boy meets girl.

Girl likes boy.

Boy likes girl.

Girl asks boy out.

Boy asks girl out.

Girl and boy live happily ever after.

Boy and girl live happily ever after.

But no, seriously. Dating is dating is dating is dating. It really doesn’t matter if you’re deaf or hearing, it’s all the same.

With that being said, some deaf people only date other deaf people. This may be due to them having a lot in common with their hearing loss and being able to relate well to one another. Those who are capital D Deaf may choose to only date others who are either capital d Deaf or even lowercase d deaf because it fits in with their culture. These individuals use sign language as a primary language and likely attend a Deaf school and exist in Deaf world. They may have limited access to mainstream society, so this is probably what they are most comfortable with.

In my own personal experience I’ve only ever dated people who are hearing. It’s not that I am against dating another deaf or even Deaf person, it’s just that I never really met one that I was romantically interested in and now I have found my forever person who happens to be hearing. This is likely because I’ve always been mainstreamed and lived in the hearing world. I do not know any sign language and I am not a part of the Deaf with a capital D culture. Dating a hearing person comes naturally to me and is what I am comfortable with.

Just as non-hearing people have their preferences and likes and dislikes and turn ons/turn offs and deal breakers and makers, so do deaf people.

But when it comes down to actual dating, it’s pretty much the same. Deaf people still like to go out to eat, watch movies, go bowling, go golfing, go shopping, etc.

Some deaf people may prefer to go to places that are quieter so it’s easier for them to hear. Well-lite places may also be helpful so that they can see and read lips or see signs more clearly if they use sign language as a primary means of communication. But for the most part, deaf people are just looking to have a good time the same way hearing people are.

I hope my answers to the five most commonly asked questions on being deaf helped to shed light on what it’s really like to live without hearing. The most important thing I hope you take from today’s blog post is that the deaf can do anything the hearing can do except hear. We all want to be treated the same as a hearing person would be treated because we *are* the same. Our ears don’t work but we still have the same needs, desires, passions, interests, and lifestyles for the most part.

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I’ve written in the past about how my cochlear implants have improved my career and what it was like to have a job interview with them, but I don’t think I ever really discussed what it’s like to work in a busy, noisy city with cochlear implants. I have been working for Penn Medicine for almost exactly three years now and it’s definitely a big change from the smaller offices I worked for in the past, especially since my office moved from 3600 Market Street to 3600 (we sure do like the number 3600, don’t we?) Civic Center Boulevard, which is much closer to the hospitals.

The first thing that comes to mind when I think about working in a busy city is this:

1. It’s Always Extremely LOUD!

One of the first things I ever “heard” with my cochlear implants was the sound of sirens coming from both police cars and ambulances. I was, after all, activated at Jefferson University Hospital which is located right outside of Center City and being a hospital has ambulances coming and going constantly. However, it took me awhile to really learn how to hear the sound of siren. At first my brain couldn’t recognize this sound because it was so high-pitched. When I heard it after being activated on day 1 my brain couldn’t process it at all and I didn’t even know it was a siren I was hearing.

Since receiving my first cochlear implant in 2014 (and the second a year later in 2015), I must have heard sirens a few hundred times. I live almost directly across the street from what was formerly known as Kennedy Memorial Hospital (which, ironically has since been brought out by Jefferson and is now known as such…) and my office is located right outside of several major hospitals — The Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania (CHOP), the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP), the Abramson Cancer Center (ACC), the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine (PCAM), and I am sure I am missing a few. Needless to say, that results in A LOT of ambulances crossing my paths and a LOT of sirens.

Unfortunately, sirens have become one of my least favorite sounds to hear because they are SO LOUD. Prior to receiving cochlear implants, I never understood how or why people would cover their ears when the ambulances would come by. I know people would say it hurt their ears, but this never really made sense to me because it never seemed loud enough to me to do any damage. Back when I had hearing aids it was the equivalent of hearing from a straw. Even if I was standing directly next to an ambulance with its sirens on, I could only hear enough sound being produced by it to give me the impression that the ambulance was about 5 miles away or so. The sound didn’t both me at all.

Now that my cochlear implants have given me almost normal hearing, it’s a whole different story. I am very fortunate to have been blessed with so much hearing especially after living so many years of my life in silence. However, no matter how good my hearing may now be it doesn’t change the fact that it’s not natural hearing. Every time I hear something, my brain needs to stop to process it. I have noticed lately that the louder the sounds are, the more difficult it seems to be for my brain to process it. My brain simply feels overwhelmed by loud noises, especially sirens. In my last blog post about graduation I explained how hearing the confetti poppers physically hurt me. Sirens are no different. In fact, especially when they go directly past me, they may be even worse. This leads me to my next point:

2.     It Increases My Anxiety.

I’m fortunate to have the ability to work in one of the safest parts of Philadelphia, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s still Philadelphia and I need to be alert and aware of my surroundings.

Growing up deaf, I learned to rely on my other senses more to make up for my deafness. This especially included my eyesight. While I don’t have 20/20 vision (I always have to wear either glasses or contacts), I still have good perception and can sense something coming from miles away and I am also very sensitive to light. However, Philadelphia is still a whole different ballgame.

I have quite the commute some days to work, depending on which office I am working at (I work at 3600 Civic Center Boulevard on some days and 3930 Chestnut on other days given my unique role). On the days when I have to work at 3600 Civic Center Boulevard, my anxiety is usually the highest because there is SO MUCH going on. Most professionals these days would describe my experience as being a sensory overload. I am not sure if I am comfortable defining it as such, but I will say this: it is stressful, overwhelming, and anxiety inducing.

My day starts with a car ride of 20-30 minutes depending on traffic to the train station which is no big deal. The first train station in Patco in NJ and I take that from Woodcrest to 8th and Market. Again, no big deal. Then I switch over to Septa and take that to 34th street. Sometimes on the way there I grab a Lucy which isn’t too bad, but if I can’t take a Lucy then I walk the 15-20 minutes to 3600 Civic Center Boulevard. I also take the walk back home rather than the Lucy.

This walk is where the stress comes in. People say that NJ drivers are bad, well they must have never seen a Philly driver because I promise you this:

The. Cars. Never. Stop.

It doesn’t matter if you have right of way or not. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the cross walk. It doesn’t matter if the sign with that white man lights up. It doesn’t matter if the light is red, green, or yellow.

The. Cars. Stop. For. Nobody.

So being alert is now crucial. Because you have at least four places to look for the cars, which as we established, never stop for anyone no matter what. You have to make sure you won’t get hit by a car. The cars are also super loud as everyone is always in a giant rush and everyone is always very angry and constantly beeping their horn. It is difficult to determine why they are beeping their horns. My anxiety usually convinces me it’s all my fault and they are beeping at me, which further drives up my anxiety and causes my heart to race at the thought that I am in the wrong.

On top of being alert and on the lookout for cars, you also need to pay attention to your surroundings and the people around you. Keep a close ear on your surroundings. Don’t look anyone in the eye. Don’t talk to anyone. Don’t do anything that could increase your chances of getting murdered, raped, robbed, or jumped. Just because it’s a good part of Philadelphia doesn’t change the fact that it’s still Philadelphia.

Oh, and the ambulances are also never going to stop because it’s University City AKA Hospital City and you work for the healthcare system so you should come to expect that.

So you have the cars beeping at you, the ambulance sirens, the people being people.

And did I mention the lights?

I already mentioned how the cars don’t pay mind to the lights, but it goes much deeper than that.

Trying to determine when to or not to cross the street has absolutely nothing to do with the lights. Because when you have what you think might be the right of the way, given that the light just changed for you, there may be a traffic cop directing you not to go or they may tell you to go when you’re not supposed to go under normal circumstances.

Even though I can hear now, I still rely on my eyes for safety and guidance more than my other senses and probably always will. Have so many things thrown at me to look at and not being able to receive a clear signal or message or direction from any of the various things in my sight of vision just further overwhelms me.

By the time I get through all of the traffic to and from work I often feel completely exhausted and defeated and ready to end my day even if it’s technically only just begun. This in a way is similar to my next point:

3. It’s Hard to Focus.

This one is a little more for the actual office environment. We’ve recently switched to more of an open-office environment since we moved from Market Street to Civic Center Boulevard. This has more people closer together, which unfortunately has created more noise.

One of the things I have been struggling with the most since getting my cochlear implants is filtering out background noise and being able to separate it from other sounds or ignore side conversations. I do have settings on my cochlear implants to filter background noise which is helpful, but doesn’t always work especially if someone is having a conversation right alongside of me (but not with me).

Now that I am able to hear my brain is trained to pick up on everything it hears and to process it as sound. I hear everything, but I don’t always want to or need to hear everything. Unfortunately, I am not always able to pick and choose what I do or don’t hear.

This can make it difficult to focus at times. It is hard to read and concentrate on what I am reading when I keep hearing other conversations or especially if people are on the phone. I will often take my magnets off so I can better focus and concentrate when reading. This is an overall effective solution, but it doesn’t work for everything.

For example, with my work in social media sometimes I need to watch videos to work on YouTube or video marketing strategies. Other times I may be the one on the phone and struggling to separate outside conversations/background noise with the conversation I am trying to hear. My brain has to work extra hard to focus in on what it’s supposed to be hearing and separating it from the other sounds, which naturally causes me to feel exhausted by the end of the day. This leads me to my fourth and final point:

4.  It Makes Me Appreciate Being deaf.

This one might be a little confusing for some people who see my cochlear implants as a “cure” for deafness.

News flash: there is no “cure” for deafness; merely tools to help us to hear or better manage our deafness.

My cochlear implants are an incredible tool that I am very blessed and fortunate to have. With them, I can hear. But that’s exactly it:

With cochlear implants I can hear.

With my cochlear implants I go back to being almost completely deaf again, and at the end of the day, I am very fortunate to have that ability.

Hearing is exhausting, especially after working in a busy, noisy city all day long. I look forward to being able to come home and take my cochlear implants off and not have to hear anything. This is my way to unplug and unwind and to give myself “deaf time” where my brain doesn’t have to continue to work to process sounds.

I also like to have the option between hearing and not hearing. I can take my magnets off at any time in the day to unplug and to not hear. This, as previously mentioned, is one strategy I use while at work to help me to better focus and concentrate, and is a strategy that many have told me they are envious of.

All in all, working in a busy, noisy city is challenging and exhausting, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. I am beyond blessed that I can do this now, because prior to getting cochlear implants I don’t think I would’ve been able to successfully navigate the city and the train systems and everything else I have become so dependent on. While it’s true that the constant noise causes me to be more anxious, not being able to hear and being conscious of my inability to hear would’ve been even worst for my anxiety.

God has given me these challenges for a reason – perhaps to keep my mind active and to help me to not become lazy with my hearing progress. For this I am grateful and determined to keep working through the challenges and to come out on top.

Or, at the very least, to make sure I don’t get hit by a car (That. Never. Stops!!!) in Philly….


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Image Credits: Advanced Bionics 

I mentioned previously that I got the AquaCase for my trip to Disney. However, I never did a review post on it. This post will be more of a first impression that a full-blown review, because I still have not had the chance to fully utilize it enough for a full review.

My first impression? I thought I would love it, but I really didn’t.

I didn’t realize how different hearing with the AquaCase would be verses hearing from my normal processor. The sound didn’t seem as loud or as clear. It reminded me a lot of how when I first had my cochlear activated, things sounded unnatural and unclear. No one told me  it would be the same thing again with the AquaCase.

I knew that the AquaCase would involve putting my processor in a little waterproof box-like case, but it was still really weird to me to have the processor in a box clipped to my shirt rather than resting behind my ear. I kept trying to touch my ear and feel it. It felt like something was missing.

Having the microphone inside my headpiece rather than on the processor was also very weird to me. I think this might explain why sound didn’t seem as clear to me.

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Image Credits: Advanced Bionics

Despite getting the AquaCase and making sure I had it set up for my Disney trip, I didn’t use it at all in Disney. On my first full day in Disney I initially had it on. I will admit I felt a little self-conscious with the wires. I knew my boyfriend wouldn’t mind at all. He’s already seen them. But I was also with my boyfriend’s family who wasn’t used to all of that and who didn’t know me as well and it did seem a little awkward around them. However, I probably would’ve kept it on if I could hear better out of it.

I tried to call my mom while wearing the AquaCase on the first day. It was not raining and I had no plans to go swimming, but I was in Florida where it is known to be hot and I was going to do a lot of walking and more than likely get sweaty, so the AquaCase seemed like a good idea to protect my cochlear from sweat and moisture. I had a problem with this when I tried to work out at the gym with my cochlear — all the sweat and humidity shortened it out and I had to send it out for repairs. This was exactly the kind of problem I was looking to avoid. However, I was extremely disappointed when I realized I couldn’t hear anything at all on the phone while wearing the AquaCase. I immediately switched back to my normal processor withoutthe AquaCase and was then able to hear every single word again.

That was it for me using the AquaCase in Disney. I always brought ti with me just in case it rained or just in case it got too hot (we were blessed with very nice weather while we were in Disney. We avoided the rain and the hottest day was just under 90 so heat wasn’t too big of a problem) or if we went swimming or on a water ride. None of those instances ever really came up.

I did however use the AquaCase when I went home, especially at the gym.

My first time using it at the gym was a little annoying. I think I may need a stronger magnet in the head piece. It has three magnets which is the same as my regular processor has, but I think the AquaCase calls for stronger magnets since the headpiece is a bit thicker. Also, as I got sweaty it seemed to cause the headpiece to become slippery and fall off a few times. The sound quality also wasn’t too great. I could hear sounds but I probably wouldn’t have been able to have a conversation with anyone. Sound still seemed extremely distorted to me.

After coming home from the gym that night I got a shower like I always do only this time I purposely didn’t blow dry my hair. I kept it soaking wet and used my AquaCase because I wanted to work on getting used to it more. I was able to talk with my family, but it definitely wasn’t as easy as it was with my normal processor without the AquaCase.

The second time I went to the gym with the AquaCase was a much better experience. Sounds began to sound more normal and I was able to hear people and voices and hold conversations better. I still did have a little bit of trouble getting my headpiece to stick on the whole time though. But I hated the AquaCase a whole lot less. I came to the conclusion that just like with my normal processor, the AquaCase is going to take some getting used to. I think my brain needs to train itself to hear with the AquaCase. I am not sure why that is, but one of my theories is that the microphone in the headpiece vs. having the microphone on the processor may play a factor in it. It was disappointing to me at first because nobody told me that I would have to adjust to the AquaCase or get used to it. I was under the wrongful impression that it would be the exact same thing as my other processor — just waterproof. I can’t blame Advanced Bionics or my audiologist for not telling me though. I honestly don’t think they knew and I am unsure if this is what everyone experiences with the AquaCase. This is just how I felt personally.

I think the more I use the AquaCase the more familiar I will be with it and the more used to I will get. I think my brain will learn to process the sound and it will sound more natural and I’ll be able to hear as well with it as I do with my normal processor. I think it’s just a process. I am very excited to go swimming with it on. Previously, I have never been able to hear while I go swimming because I’ve had to take out my hearing aids. I couldn’t really talk to people when I go swimming which can be a bit disappointing and frustrating. So being able to hear when I swim thanks to the AquaCase should be a whole new world for me and definitely a bit of an exciting experience and a true blessing!

Unfortunately, I had to send my processor back for repairs so I don’t have the AquaCase to work with at the moment, but I am hoping to get my processor back from Advanced Bionics soon so I can explore swimming with the AquaCase. Stayed tuned for a follow up post on that experience and how I progress with the AquaCase!


career

Image Credits: Cell Construction Limited 

Before I say anything let me just say my employer is most definitely an equal opportunity employer. They have always been extremely accepting of my hearing impairment and willing to work around it. My hearing most certainly never held me back at my job. I remember way back when I applied for a job in July of 2013 explaining to human resources how I couldn’t do a phone interview without a translator since I couldn’t hear on the phone. They were more than happy to email me a copy of the questions they would’ve asked me on the phone — this may sound simple, but trust me it’s something I have learned is extremely rare and unheard of from most other companies.

I was on a handful of calls prior to getting my cochlear implant. Ask anyone at my work and they will tell you my biggest strength at work falls into one core area — guest blogging/relationship outreach. Sometimes when I find these great opportunities the bloggers or companies want to set up a phone call to discuss different options first. While my hearing impairment made it so I couldn’t hear on the phone and do the calls on my own, I was always able to get a hold of a manager or someone else from my department to help me out and act as a translator for me — again, this is something I am extremely grateful and blessed to have at my current job since I know most companies wouldn’t do this for their employees.

I was never denied opportunities or promotions because of my hearing. My work always encouraged me to reach for the stars and work my hardest. I did receive promotions before ever getting my cochlear implant. This mainly includes being promoted from an Inbound Market to a Social Media Marketer. There has never once been a time when they told me I couldn’t do something because of my hearing. Instead they did everything they could to support me whether it be helping me with calls, speaking more loudly/clearly for me, slowing down and looking at me while they speak, or otherwise helping me.

When it came time to tell my work I was considering getting a cochlear implant, my boss at the time couldn’t have been more excited for me. Actually, excited may not be the best word to use quite yet. I kind of scared him at first. I told him I wanted to talk to him alone for a few minutes after having our weekly department meeting. This is not something common for me to say. I was always almost on the shy side and avoided confrontation at all costs. It wasn’t that I was shy or didn’t like people — it’s just that I couldn’t hear people well — especially my boss at the time, and trying to converse with them was often a difficult and awkward experience. But I have already taken a couple of days off and flex days and had many more coming with pending doctor’s visits, medical tests, and of course the actual surgical procedure and recovery period. I needed to talk to him to let him know what was going on and why I was suddenly requesting so much time off.

My boss was very supportive and understanding. He knew that even if I had to take some time off, I’d get the work done. I always do. I don’t know how much he understood about what cochlear implants are or how they work, but I told him if all went well I’d be able to hear and he was pretty excited about all of that.

As everything started to come together with my cochlear and it seemed more and more likely that I would be able to go through with it all, I began to blog about my journey right here in this very blog. My first entry was on October 27th, shortly after meeting my surgeon for the first time. I began to talk to my co-workers and let them know what I was going through and I shared my blog with them so they could follow along with my experience. I have received many comments on my blog of people saying they love reading about it and asking if I’d write a book (which is a big “yes!” from me!). I am very blessed to have such caring and supportive co-workers.

Recovery from my surgery was a bit brutal. In a perfect world I’d have a very easy recovery that wouldn’t make me sick or dizzy or sleepy and I’d be back to work within two days top. Unfortunately, that definitely didn’t happen. I was in a bit of pain. My medicine knocked me out. I got very very dizzy. Long story short, I missed a whole week of work post-op. But my boss understood and supported me and my co-workers joined forces to help me with my workload and fill in for me during my absence.

When I did return to work, it still wasn’t easy at first. Fortunately, my company was in the process of moving (talk about good timing!) so I was able to work from home most days. Unfortunately, the days when I did have to come to the office could at times be quite brutal. I had no hearing in my left ear at all for a month. When I was in the office it was “social media day” and we almost always had a meeting to catch every body up with what was going on. I couldn’t hear much in meetings before, and without even having a hearing aid in the air and little to no residual hearing left, I really couldn’t hear now. I couldn’t even tell when people were talking. It bummed me out quite a bit. I would talk to the social media managers (I was not a manager at this time — just a social media marketer) and ask them to send me any notes they had or IM me anything important since I couldn’t hear. They were more than happy to oblige.

That month totally sucked, but things got much much much better in time. A month later I had my cochlear activated and that is when I really got to see the benefits of my cochlear implant.

On the second day that I was activated (my first full day of activation), I had a job interview for a new position at my current place of employment. The position was for that of Assistant Project Manager (now called Assistant Digital Marketing Manager). This is a position I have wanted and have been watching out for openings for for well over a year. I couldn’t apply fast enough once I hear they were looking to promote from within for it. I remember legitimately dropping everything and sending my resume/applying the minute I saw the opening.

I applied in December back when we were still at our temporary office on Federal Street. When I had my interview I was so nervous. My hearing was better than it was on day one. I had a lot less of that “baby crying sound”. Voices were starting to become clearer, but a lot of things still didn’t sound natural to me. Naturally, I worried about how well I’d be able to hear my co-workers/future bosses who were conducting the interviews.

I hear every word. I only had to have them repeat something to me once. I knew without them saying anything that I was getting the job. When you know, sometimes it’s obvious. You just know.

Sure enough, my job offer came a few weeks later after we moved to our final location on Aquarium Drive. I couldn’t accept fast enough. My new bosses said they were both very excited to welcome me on the team.

Becoming an Assistant Manager was a big and exciting change for me. I finally had the direct constant contact/interaction with the clients I have wanted for the last two years. I think E-mail will always be a preference for me when it comes to contacting clients simply because it’s been my crutch for years. When you HAVE to rely on email because phone calls are not an option, you become naturally pretty good with them. But I had to do a lot of phone calls, too. Working as an assistant manager means that I work under a project manager and offer assistance to him and her. When we do calls, especially when I first started, the project manager is almost always on call and I do more listening than talking a lot of the time. This definitely helped me to become more comfortable and familiar with how phone calls work (don’t make fun of me. I never had much of the ability to hear on the phone — so yes, I am in a lot of ways learning how phones work).

I think sometimes I might have talked a little too much on the phone. I am still working to develop my listening and speaking skills. I am in a horrible habit of interrupting people. I think some of it initially was too that I was so excited to have the option to speak and get my ideas out in the option with the clients like that. But I am getting better. One of the project managers I work under heard me on the phone on my own a couple of months ago when a client called my direct number. He was fascinated with the way I was able to take the call (he knew it was something I could never previously do on my own) and he said I was much better than I was in my earlier days when I had weekly calls with one of his clients. It was a compliment that definitely meant a lot to me. Just as everything else with the cochlear is a process, so to is learning to use the phone.

Ever since I got my cochlear I feel like there has been so many big changes being made with my career. It is so exciting and I know that it all thanks to the grace and glory of God who has bestowed these blessings onto me. I have been getting more and more comfortable in my roll as an assistant project manager. Sometimes my project managers I work with aren’t available. They take a personal day or go on vacation or take a sick day. They can’t be there all the time. However, that doesn’t stop clients from having questions or calling. I have been able to take their calls and rely information to clients in my project manager’s absence. Once I was even able to gather information about a client who recently created an exciting partnership with another company and needed a new website made. This involved changing their contract around — which was a bit of an upsell from the business side of things. I was able to handle this and help make this all go through successfully on my own while my project manager was out. If it was not for my cochlear I wouldn’t have been able to make that call and help get things moving with this.

Today was an even bigger opportunity for me as an assistant project manager. One of the clients I am an assistant manager for came in for a client visit. Per their current contract, they receive a bunch of web maintenance and training each month to teach them how to make updates on their website. Today they wanted to come in and meet us in person for a training session. Of course, I was a little nervous. I mean I only ever met a client in person once before and this was a client that’s been with us for a very long time for a training session on something that is a bit of a weakness for me (Thank god for the web department at my work and the wonderfully talented people who work in it. I would be so lost without them). But I was far less nervous than I normally would have been. I knew I had nothing to worry about too much — I could hear! I’d be able to talk to them! It would be far less awkward than it would’ve been had this happened 6 months ago or so.

The meeting went very well. I didn’t have much talking to do since web maintenance is certainly not my area of expertise, but I was able to take very detailed notes on just about every single word that was said which I think will be extremely helpful especially for my project manager. And towards the end they asked us a bit about the social media audit we did. This was actually something I did as I am now a Social Media Project manager. I was able to jump in here and explain what Google+ was and how it differed from Facebook which helped them out a lot. It was a very exciting moment for me because I know just a few months ago I wouldn’t have been able to hear them at all. Sure, I had the knowledge about Google+ and Facebook 6 months back, but having knowledge isn’t always that helpful when you can’t even hear well enough to realize who is talking or if anyone is talking at all.

Thinking of social media, just two or three months after becoming an assistant project manager, I worked my way up to Social Media Project Manager as well. I am definitely still very much in the process of learning things. I have about 7 or 8 clients now. Not nearly as many as one of the project manager’s I serve as an assistant to, but my client list has been growing and I’ve been learning more and it’s been such an exciting journey being able to fully manage my own clients now. I set up my own calls with just me and the clients (I don’t have an assistant of my own). I answer my own calls. I manage my own team of marketers on the account. I now constantly have social media marketers at my desk asking for advice or questions about tasks for my clients. It is so exciting being able to converse with my co-workers like this. I always had to rely on my instant messenger or email in the pass which is so much less personal. I feel like now I can really connect with and get to know my co-workers for the first time.

And in the process I feel like I am finding my own voice as well. In September I will have been at my job for two years. Most of our employees have not been with us for 2 years, but there are a handful of people I like to refer to as “vets” who’ve been with me since I started and well before I started. It’s so cool to see things progress with my cochlear now.It’s like for years I seen these people in the office and I had many of conversations with them online, but now that I can talk to them in person it’s a whole new world and I think they feel the same way about me. I feel like a lot of people were under the impression that I was shy initially. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. I am anything but shy. I am the true definition of deaf and loud. I have a lot of ideas and thoughts and I can be very sarcastic and playful. But these sides of my personality often didn’t come out especially during meetings because I couldn’t hear and often times had no idea what was even going on in meetings. Now I am always aware of what’s going on and what’s being said. I can offer my thoughts and opinions and I can joke with my co-workers and engage in the occasional small talk. I am finally, after two years, able to connect with and really get to know the people I work with.

My cochlear implant has definitely opened many new doors for me as far as my career goes. It made some tasks easier for me and my overall work experience more enjoyable. I feel like ever since I got my cochlear implant my career has been steadily rising. And the best part of all? This is still only the beginning. It only goes up from here.


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!

0519AV_1018GV

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!


Celebrate-the-Small-Victories

Image Credits: Dumb Little Man

Hey everyone! I know I’m a bit late on this, but Happy New Year! Hope everyone had a good time celebrating! Mine was good but I was slightly disappointed by how quiet it was. I was hoping to hear a lot of noise and new sounds but it seems like people in Washington Township, NJ aren’t much for holidays anymore (we didn’t get a single trick or treater this year either. :(). I had a nice time celebrating with my family making our traditional midnight 7 fishes seafood fest, making predictions for the new year and reflecting back on the past year. Sadly my boyfriend Larry was on vacation with his family in Florida so we’ll have to wait until next year to celebrate our first New Year’s together. But hey, it just gives us something to look forward to in the new year, right?

I started program 3 on my cochlear implant on Wednesday. For those of you who may not be familiar with the process, my cochlear implant has 4 different programs in it now. Every Wednesday I go to a new one. On the 21st I’ll go back to Jefferson and meet with my audiologist for a new mapping where I’ll get another 4 programs.

Program 3 was a bit of a challenge at first. Not as hard as program 1 (that I think will always be the hardest because it’s when I was first activated — lots of new sounds and a whole new world to get used to!), but harder than program 2. Program 2 was a breeze to get used to! On the first day of program 3 it was a bit weird. I wasn’t sure what was different at first but I kept hearing a musical/whistling sound in the background. Not quite the same as the “baby crying in the background” sound from program 1, but still a bit weird and sometimes annoying.

On the 2nd day of program 3 the whistling/musical background noise lessened a bit but some voices sounded a bit cartoonish or off. I was watching How I Met Your Mother. It sounded much better than it did in week 1. In week one all of the characters voices sounded horrible especially Barney and Ted’s. Now their voices sounded normal but I struggled a bit with Lily’s. She sounded kind of like Minnie Mouse.

I was beginning to get disappointed with program 3 and a tad bit discouraged because I was having some difficulties adjusting to it and wasn’t seeing any improvements, but I had my first small victory on day 3 (Friday).

On Friday night I went to the Cheesecake Factory in Cherry Hill with my family to celebrate my recent promotion to Assistant Project Manager. It was PACKED and SUPER LOUD! We had to wait about an hour to get a table that’s how many people there were. Normally I’d never be able to hear in such an environment, let alone carry on a conversation. I changed the setting on my one remaining hearing aid to block out some of the background noise and I did fine hearing both my parents and the waiter. My parents said I did very well and that they were amazed. They also said I was “glowing” and just so happy. I was. It’s amazing being able to do something as small as hold a conversation in a crowded, noisy restaurant. I could never do this before. This was small victory #1 with program #3.

Small victory #2 and #3 took place on Saturday night. First I went grocery shopping at Shoprite with my dad. I wasn’t paying too much attention, but all of a sudden I realized I was listening to “I Want Candy” by Bow Wow Wow. I could hear pretty much every word of it. It was playing from the store’s radio! I haven’t been able to hear a store radio and pick out the words and actually recognize what they were playing in at least 15 years! I was so excited! I stopped what I was doing and texted my boyfriend, Larry, to share the news. He said “Me too, I’ll take a Snickers.” lol. It’s little things like that that make me love him. The ironic part was I was actually in the candy aisle when it was playing. I began to think how the store might’ve been playing that to get people to buy candy. I didn’t buy any candy, but I have to admit I was tempted.

Shortly after getting home I played one of my favorite radio stations, K-Love. The music sounded great, but the thing that amazed me the most was the fact that I could hear the radio hosts talking in between songs and I could pick up every word they were saying. This is another thing I’ve never been able to do previously. This was small victory #3.

Small victory #4 was perhaps the biggest victory yet and took place just last night. I was bored so I decided to tackle some tasks for work and get a head start on my week. I had to upload and optimize my client’s videos on YouTube. I sometimes struggle with these tasks due to my hearing and will frequently ask my dad to watch them with me and tell me what’s being said. This time I decided to try them on my own. I had headphones which helped, but they weren’t my $300 superior sound quality beats. I had to charge my Beats, so I borrowed my dad’s $20 basic sony head phones. But I could actually hear every single word on my own! I was so happy and excited! YouTube videos have always been one of my biggest struggles with my hearing. I could never hear or understand them unless they had caption (which none of these did) and even then it didn’t come in clearly. These sounded beautiful. I could even hear the wind in the background! My mind was blown!

I’m hoping to see small victory #5 today as I may have to take a client phone call at work. The project manager is out on vacation so I’m taking his place. I will probably ask someone to help me take the call, but I’m curious to see how I do. I might surprise myself! Wish me luck!