My new silver cochlear implant!
It’s been 3 days now since I’ve had my second cochlear implant activated. Although I knew what to expect this time around,that doesn’t change the fact that it’s been a bit of an overwhelming and nerve-wracking experience nonetheless.
Activation date was on Wednesday, December 23rd…the day before Christmas Eve. I had Alyssa, the girl who is doing her residency (there were other audiologists around if we needed them…she’s not licensed but we specifically requested her since she’s been so excellent…we really like her) activate me. I couldn’t sleep prior to my appointment because I was way too excited. Getting to Philly was a bit of a challenge since it was raining and incredibly foggy. We couldn’t take the train like we usually do. My mom and I had my dad drive us into Philly. Traffic was bad since it was right before the holiday. We ended up being over a half hour late, but fortunately Alyssa didn’t mind. I don’t think they had many appointments being so close to Christmas…
My appointment was supposed to be at 9:30, but we didn’t get there until after 10. It was a fairly quick appointment. I believe she just used the same settings as were on my first cochlear implant. She played a couple beeps first and had a chart for me to choose whether the beeps sounds too soft, soft but comfortable, comfortable, or too loud. This process took about 10 minutes or so. I found that most of them were in the comfortable but soft or just comfortable range.
Listening to the beeps!
Once we finished with the beeps we moved on to basic sounds, expressions, and words. My mom asked me if I could hear her and if she sounded like Mickey Mouse so I laughed and said “Yes”. Her voice was very squeaky, just as it was with my initial cochlear implant, but it began to normalize quickly. Alyssa’s always sounded pretty normal for some reason. I guess her voice isn’t quite as high as my mom’s is or something.
I didn’t do too bad with the basic sounds like “oooo” and “mmmm” and “eeee”. Some of the words I struggled with especially colors like “purple” and “orange”. Those two were the hardest for me. It will take some time to adjust to and for sounds to be normal. My own voice echoed back a lot and sounded weird, but not quite as weird as it did with my first implant. I am unsure if I like the volume or not. Everything sounds so robotic and strange now that it is hard to tell.
My mom sounded like Minnie Mouse at first…how could I not laugh?
I have the new Q90 processor, so that alone may take some getting used to. While it’s similar to the old Q70 I initially started with, it still has some differences that take some getting used to such as automatic programming. However, this one is a bit different than the one on my left ear. I am back to having 4 programs and switching to a new one each week as my mind begins to learn and process the sounds. The Aquacase is not yet programmed. Alyssa said I need to get used to the other sounds first so it’s not too overwhelming.
Alyssa recommended that I wear my new cochlear for my right ear as much as possible so that I can train it. I wasn’t home very much on the first day. After my appointment I went to the Amish market, grocery shopping at multiple stores, to my hairdresser’s for a haircut, out for dinner, and walmart, so I wore both cochlears out most of the day. However, whenever I was home I took the old cochlear off. Everything sounded a little more clear on the first day then my first cochlear did, but still pretty robotic and strange. My mom’s voice was less squeaky, but my dad’s sounded pretty robotic. Most things aren’t clear, they just kind of sound like distorted noise. Music sounds absolutely terrible, as can be expected. However, if it’s a song that I’m really familiar with it’s not too bad. I listened to some old-school Kelly Clarkson and it was tolerable since I was so familiar with the song.
I spent much more time at home on Christmas Eve and Christmas. Now that I’m single, I don’t have to worry about going to a lot of different people’s homes. My family and I always did Christmas together especially since my grandparents passed; we aren’t at all close with any members of our extended family. So I spent most of Christmas Eve and Christmas with just the new cochlear on except for when I went to church. Everything still sounds pretty weird. I can only watch TV wish captions. I can’t understand people talking much unless I read their lips. I can’t distinguish where sounds are coming from or what they are.
I notice a big difference when I wear them together though. My left ear with my old cochlear implant is by far my dominant ear right now and almost completely overpowers my newly implanted right ear when I have both of my cochlears on. Things are definitely much louder and a bit more clear. Music sounded better at church, and I was once again especially mesmerized by the sound of the violin. High-pitch songs that I previously struggled to really hear like Silent Night sound better. I also noticed I mispronounce a ton of words because I never really heard the proper way to say them…
I am a little unsure of the progress I am making in general with my new cochlear implant. I feel like with my first one I noticed a huge difference on the second and third days, but I am not sure I see that with my new cochlear implant. I’m on day 3 and everything still sounds totally weird, robotic, and distorted. Unless I have my initial cochlear implant on, I can’t really understand anyone speaking or any sounds. My mom stood behind me and clapped and I didn’t really hear it; I kind of ignored it because I thought it was just my dad making noise in the kitchen…
I spent at least 2 hours today working to train my ear. My mom sat down with me and did a word list. I got most of the words wrong, even when I read her lips. I am hearing some parts of the words. Like I can pick out that there’s a strong P sound or a un in in the word somewhere, but I can’t usually get the full word yet especially if I’m not lipreading.
I also used the Angel Sound program to train my ear today. I spent most of my time on Pure Tone Discrimination and worked my way up to level 2. I also worked a little bit on Environmental Sounds and am almost but not quite ready for Level 2 of that as well.
I tried switching from Program 1 to Program 2 today wondering if that would make things better, but ended up switching back to program 1 as I felt like I was getting too much power/sounds in program 2. I’m not sure I am quite ready for that.
I’m unsure how well I’m doing. I feel like the progress was easier and quicker with the first cochlear and that scares me. I feel like I’m failing at this, but even if this is all I get with the first one, it’s still an improvement, right?
Maybe it’s all in my head. It’s easy to look at my first cochlear and see it as all a success, but I didn’t get there overnight. It took me months to gain the ability to hear on the phone and music sounded terrible then, too. But then I think back about Larry and I’s date to Smithville last year. We did that on my 4th day of being activated and I did so well. I could hear him in the car, I could hear music playing (although I couldn’t tell what it was), rubber ducks squeaking, and hold a conversation at Applebees. I had a hearing aid in my other ear, but that didn’t give me clarity or do much of anything. If I take my left cochlear off, my right ear can’t do these things yet. Tomorrow will be day 4. I feel like I’m behind where I was last year, but shouldn’t this be easier?
I know that this is a process and will take time, but I’m still really scared. My anxiety is at an all-time high.I am just waiting for my breakthrough and hoping that it comes soon. I’ve struggled to sleep because I want to be awake to train my ear and see if things get better and I can’t help but worry, What if this never gets better? I know I have a tendency to be an impatient person and this takes a great deal of patience. I also know I need to pray to and trust God more. He’s already given me amazing gifts with my first cochlear implant, and he will with my second one, too, if I just learn to be patient.
This training my ear to hear thing with my 2nd cochlear implant may be proving to be a bit more of a challenge than I expected. It may not be all of the happiness I was hoping it would be at the moment, but it will get better in time. One thing I know for sure is this: I refuse to give up. I will continue to work on training my brain to hear the sounds until they are better than I ever could have imagined. God has given me the gift, now it’s my turn to work to use it as he intended me to do.
Reasons I need to come up with a new nickname for Larry: “Knight in Shining Armor” is too long to use for bowling….
My boyfriend, Larry swears we’ve been bowling since I got my cochlear. But I know, for a fact, that he is wrong (“I know for a fact” is my catchphrase by the way :)). I double checked this blog — nope. No mention of going bowling with a cochlear implant. I also know, for a fact, that that is something I would’ve blogged about before if it happened.
Actually, come to think of it, if you consider what we did during our Disney vacation at that cool McDonalds to be “bowling”, then Larry would be right..but nope, that doesn’t count (sorry, Larry).
Sorry, Larry…this was a lot of fun, but it doesn’t count as “real” bowling…
Anyway, back to the point. My boyfriend and I went bowling together on August 9th. Larry comes from a family of bowlers. He is a huge bowling nerd and I love to make fun of him for it. He’s one of those guys with his own shoes (which are actually broken…), bowling balls (yes, that is plural…one of those he managed to break as well. Larry…what’s wrong with you? Breaking all of your equipment…), the whole 9 yards. Yet, despite him coming from a family of bowlers, we don’t really go bowling all that much. I blame it on the fact that bowling’s gotten a bit expensive over the years and also Larry’s a truck driver — he’s home about twice a month, max, which doesn’t leave a lot of room for us to see each other, let alone bowl together.
My boyfriend is my best friend. Not only is he my best friend, he’s pretty much my only friend right now. Or at least, my only “real” friend that I make an effort to see in real life instead of just talking to on Facebook or Twitter (I know that sounds kind of sad, but it is what it is). When he’s not home it’s not like I go out with other friends and do things like bowling.
When you’re the best of friends having so much fun together…
So, prior to us going bowling on August 9th, the last time we went bowling was before my surgery. Actually, to be precise, it was November 15, 2014…two days prior to receiving my implant.
Bowling with Larry is always fun. Like I said, he is a bowling nerd. I get a kick out of just watching him bowl. He’s got the whole “old school grandpa” form and everything. I like to tease him and tell him it looks like he’s dancing when he’s bowling because it really does.
Unlike Larry, I am not blessed with impressive bowling skills. Actually, just the opposite. If I bowl a 60 then I’ve had a great time. 35 is about my average. The sad part? I actually took a college course on bowling…
The few times we went bowling before Larry always tried to help me out, but it was difficult. First, as we already established, I really suck at bowling. Second, bowling alleys are VERY LOUD. Naturally. You have the balls, the pins, the music, people talking, the workers on the loud speakers, everything. Prior to getting my cochlear, everything just sounded like loud noise. I couldn’t distinguish any of it.
Larry and I really couldn’t have a conversation at the bowling alley prior to me getting my implant because I couldn’t hear him at all. If he wanted to tell me something he had to text me even though I was right there with him (and yes, that did get very annoying). When he tried to help me out with my bowling he had to rely a lot on hand singles and using his body to show me where to stand, how to hold and throw the ball. Yes, he’d have to do this even if I could have heard, but not quite to this extent. I never learned sign language, but this was like Larry and I creating our own form of it as we went along.
I think it’s safe to say that bowling with my cochlear implant was much more fun that bowling without it.
None of these problems with noise were prevalent at all, and we went on one of the loudest possible nights to go bowling…not only was it a Saturday night, but it was actually National Bowling Day. Just like any normal bowling alley would do, the one we went to (Brunswick in Turnersville) had quite a bit of a celebration for it. To be more specific, they actually decided to throw a bowling party that night.
National Bowling Day goodies that we won from cheating because of course…
When we went in to buy our games and get our shoes I had a nice conversation with one of the workers. He was an old guy and I’ve seen him there many times before. I always thought he was a very nice guy. I was amazed at how well I could hear him despite all of the background noise. I don’t think I have ever actually really been able to hear the people at the bowling alley like that before. I pretty much always just told Larry my shoe size and any other information I needed ahead of time so he could answer for me. This time I could hear the guy well, but he couldn’t hear me. It was pretty weird being on the flip side of it. The guy told me that he lost some of his hearing and couldn’t hear very well since he had a stroke. I explained to him that I was born hearing impaired and have lived all my life without hearing so I understood what it was like. Conversations like that are always nice to have with people.
After I got my shoes and Larry got his on and his bowl out we were able to get started with our night of bowling. One of the first things I noticed was that I could hear the music. I always knew that bowling alleys played music of course, but it’s been many many years since I’ve actually been able to hear that music and understand it, let along sing along with it. The last couple of times that Larry and I have went bowling today I remember feeling a bit jealous because he could hear the music and understand it and I couldn’t. He didn’t try to make me jealous, of course, but I couldn’t help but feel that way. He was sad for me. He would point out which song was playing or say how he liked it and would ask me if I could hear it but the answer was always “no”. It felt so nice to be able to hear this night and enjoy it. It was the first small victory of the night.
He’s smiling like that because I was tickling him…and then he started to tickle me…so we ruined this picture too.
When we got our shoes the people at the counter gave us a sheet of paper with some questions on it for National Bowling Day. They were having a contest that people could enter to win some prizes. The contest was really just a little quiz with some questions about bowling like “How long are bowling lanes?” and some questions about basic bowling terminology. Larry knew the answer to most of them, and of course we cheated and googled the ones we didn’t know. It was a lot of fun working through it together. As we discussed the questions and our answers together I paused for a moment and said, “Wow, I can hear you. I don’t think we’ve been bowling since I got my cochlear”. Larry said we have, but I knew we haven’t (and I was right so HA!). It was a nice feeling!
It took us way too long to get this normal picture…and I almost kind of ruined it by laughing.
Larry was able to “help” me with my bowling quite a bit too. And I say “help” because I am beyond the ability of being helped when it comes to bowling lol. He definitely tried though and it was a lot easier since I could hear him. I didn’t have to constantly say “what?” or say “I can’t hear you”.
We were at the bowling alley for several hours so we ordered a pizza to split for dinner. That was another interesting experience for me. Not only was I able to hear the worker taking our order, but I could hear her far better than she could hear him. I’ll be honest and admit that I actually was getting frustrated with her for not being able to hear me. I hate when I get frustrated at people for not being able to hear me especially since I know all too well how mad I used to get for not hearing people and then having them get mad at me for it. It was definitely an interesting feeling to be on the opposite side of that though…I never thought I’d see that day come.
I don’t think that bowling is something many people think of as needing to hear for, but you’d be surprised by how much more enjoyable it is when you can hear. Not only that, but it’s more enjoyable when you can hear the sounds for what they are and distinguish between them all rather than just hearing a bunch of loud noise. It’s yet another activity I can add to the list of things that have been more enjoyable since getting my implant.
Take me out to the ball game….
It’s really been a long while since I wrote anything. Rest be assured, I am not abandoning this blog and I am definitely not abandoning my book project. I’ve just been extremely busy with work lately. There’s been quite a few changes happening lately which are very exciting but have also taken up a bit more of my time, attention, and focus. Also, Larry and I are coming up on our 1 year anniversary together. We are planning to celebrate by spending a weekend together in Lancaster. It’s something very important to us that we are both very excited about especially since we don’t get to see each other very much with him being a truck driver constantly on the road. However, as with everything in life, this is going to cost money. With that being said, I’ve been picking up quite a bit of freelance to help me save up and afford this little trip. Unfortunately, there are only 24 hours in a day. With my full time job + freelancing and my personal life, there just hasn’t been much time for updating my blog and writing my novel. But once our anniversary is over I’m hoping to be able to cut back on freelance and dedicate more time to this project.
So anyways, back to the subject of this post: What It’s Like to Go To a Baseball Game With a Cochlear Implant.
I went to a Camden Riversharks game with my church, Washington Baptist Church back in July. I’ve most certainly been to baseball games before. My dad actually used to be a great baseball player and at one time played on the church team back when we still attended the Church of the Nazarene in Pitman. Also, I went to the Phillies game with Student Government back when I attended Gloucester County College (now known as Rowan College at Gloucester County back in I think it was 2010. However, I never had an experience quite like this before.
Yes, they do really play “Take Me Out to the Ball Game”…
Baseball games were always kind of boring for me in the past. They were kind of hard for me to follow and get into, probably because I could never really hear anything and fully grasp what was going on. I couldn’t hear the announcers on their loudspeakers. I couldn’t hear any of the music they played in between innings or whatever. Actually, I didn’t even know if they played music at all. I always wondered if “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” was ever really played at baseball games or if it was just a kid’s song/a myth. I could never hear well enough to know.
I was really pretty excited to go to the Riversharks with my church and to see how things would be different with my cochlear. Unfortunately, Larry couldn’t make it like originally planned due to work, but I was able to go with my parents. My dad has been to my church on a couple of occasions but my mom never been, so I was excited for her to finally get to meet some people from church. Also, my family and I don’t get to go out and do things like this very much. My church rented a pavilion and there was an all-you-can-eat buffet so I knew it would be a special, fun treat for us all.
They even had sumo wrestlers!
My first impression upon entering Campbell’s field was “Wow, this is pretty loud!” I actually had to switch my cochlear to setting #3 which blocks out the maximum amount of background noise. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to things being too loud lol. My family and I met up with my church straight away and Pastor and his wife and some other members of the church all introduced themselves to my family. I was happy and surprised that I could actually hear everyone. It wasn’t awkward like it would have been prior to me having my cochlear.
When we got to the pavilion I was kind of overwhelmed by all of the sounds. I could hear everything! Even things I never imagined I’d hear or ever really gave any thought to. My mom got the biggest kick out of asking me “Can you hear that? Did you hear that?” lol. I don’t think that’s ever going to get old for her.
It was 90’s night, which was a real treat for me being that I am a 100% 90’s baby. They played 90’s songs and 90’s music videos throughout the night and I recognized and knew the words to almost all of them. I sang along a lot to Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears, Smash Mouth, and Outkast (although I was quick to point out that Outkast was most certainly NOT from the 90’s….more like 2005ish. My mom loved watching me sing along and bob my head to the music. She even said at one point, “I didn’t think I’d ever see the day when you’d be able to bob your head to the music at a baseball game” and how right she was!
I could even hear the sound of the ball hitting his glove…
I was able to hear more delicate or less obvious sounds, too. Things like the sound of the ball landing in the catcher’s gloves, and the sound of the bat hitting the ball. I could also hear every word that the announcers said. It was pretty exciting!
Pastor and his wife came by to our table to speak with my parents and I right during the last inning. It was nice to be able to have a conversation and not constantly have to say “What?” or, “I can’t hear you”, or worst yet, completely give up on the conversation. The last time I went to a baseball game back with GCC’s student government I had a great time, but I don’t remember really talking to anyone much once we got inside the stadium because it was too loud and I couldn’t distinguish between the sounds — it was all just loud noise. So this was certainly a nice change/improvement for me!
This was from 2010 when I went to a Phillies’ game with GCC’s SGA. It was a lot of fun, but I couldn’t really hear anyone well enough to have a real conversation. 😦
My first baseball game with my cochlear implant was definitely a great experience for me. I’d love to go to another one sometime…especially during a time when Larry can be home to share the moment with me! He could use a fun night out to a baseball game, too. 🙂
Oh, and before I forget, as I mentioned in the title I do have some exciting news!
I recently responded to a query from a writer, Geetanjali Mukherjee who is writing a book titled, Anyone Can Get An A+: How to Beat Procrastination, Reduce Stress, and Improve Your Grades. She was looking to speak with people who had to overcome personal challenges to get through school. I shared my story with her about how I made it through school without being able to hear my professors because it was before I had my cochlear. She loved my story and thought I was an inspiration. Long story short, she will be featuring it in her book which goes on sale on iTunes on September 2nd. You can read more about it here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/anyone-can-get-how-to-beat/id1012123464?mt=11