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The Little Blue Room…..

Today, I had an interesting day in the journey of my cochlear implant.  Since I am now living in South Dakota, I have a new audiologist, and she has been very great in my journey thus far.  Last week, I was asked by one of her students at the University of South Dakota to participate in a study for those with cochlear implants.  So this morning, April 5, 2012, I was at the USD campus, being a lab rat (my own words…its not demeaning…I think its funny.)    Funny thing is that I am studying how psychologists conduct their own research and I experienced it first hand.  I had to fill out some forms, which means that I had to say “Ok, I agree to this study,” and “Yes, you can look at my information that you have.”  Pretty basic stuff.

The whole purpose of the study, as I was told, was that they wanted to see how well cochlear implant wearers use the telephone.  Well…first thing we did was the “Repeat the words after me” test.  I spent a total of three hours in a little blue room, with only one window (small, and soundproof) sitting on a somewhat comfortable chair.   The one thing that drove me crazy in that room was the voice of the guy who was doing the test….He kept saying…..”READY?  Then the word.   I was tempted to just say READY every time I didn’t understand a word.  (Which wasn’t that often….major miracle.)   Then she had a television screen and I was to use my visual cues to repeat the words.  Only problem there was that some of the speakers (4 all together, two male, two female), had very low movement on their lips.  Now if you know me….I am a big lip reader.   So, I think I aced that study part.

The next part….She gave me a telephone, and I had to repeat what I heard on the phone.  Major flaw in the study there was that I was surrounded by too many computers and static was going ape nuts in my device when I had on telephone function.  Now, out in the real world, when I am outside with no computers or static around me, I can hear on the phone just perfectly fine.  But in that little blue room…oh not a thing.   Fail.

We did some more modified tests, and it was very interesting.  I hope to someday see the results of that study as I am curious to how the others responded and fared in that same test.  She used ten people from this area who have had the implant for over a year (I am going on six years now).

When I got done, I had my regular one month check up for my new device that I got last month.  We re-arranged some programs on my device, and she gave me some new “maps”…(google that if you are not sure what a “map” is in cochlear implant world)…..I have a nice comfortable sound in my ears, and I am loving each and every minute of the cochlear implant.

THEN…………I had to go back into that little Blue Room again……..for more tests………..However, the chair was more comfortable because I had my own butt groove imprint in that chair…..When we got done….she gave me the results of the tests.  When I had the old device….I scored abotu 56% on the hearing tests……….with the new one……..I improved to 69%.   Either I am getting better at these hearing tests, or the new device is just the best thing in the world…….

Well……..coming up on six years of being a cochlear implant wearer……..what a ride.

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Its Like Buying a New Car….

Since I had a major upgrade done with my cochlear implant, I feel that I should write a little something about it. I went from having a Freedom processor to what is called a Nucleus 5 processor, which is lighter, less bulky, and OH MY GOODNESS clearer. (head over to cochlearamericas.com to see what I am talking about). My Freedom processor was about five years old, and has been through so many “drops” and cracks and a lot of places. It was getting to the point of where it would be a hassle to put it on because of the pieces wouldn’t connect right and I had to hold it in a certain place just to turn it on. I did not like doing that. So, last fall, the talks began with my insurance company and my new audiologist at University of South Dakota about getting a new processor. in January, it finally came in the mail, and that day was like Christmas morning for me. I opened up the box, and it was just so pretty. I did a lot of research on this particular processor, and I just couldn’t wait to have it activated.
Well, February 23rd was the appointment. It was almost three weeks of waiting, and “suffering” if you will. I wanted the new processor so bad because I was unable to use the telephone function on the old one. That was a part that I “kind of” missed the most.
Anyways, my wife had to work, and we were babysitting that day. When she came home to get ready to go to the audiologist, the snow outside was getting nasty, nastier by the minute. We loaded up my Tahoe, and off down to Vermillion, a 20 minute drive, we went. While I am no stranger to driving in harsh conditions, I could not help but think back to the day I finally found out that I was approved for the surgery. It was a rainy day in Pittsburgh, and my windshield wipers quit working on me halfway to Pittsburgh that day. Strangely, the same thoughts I had that day were also to be had on this day……..”Finally got a chance to do something, and I am going to wreck on my way to my date with destiny.”
The similarities did not end there. When we got to USD, I just couldn’t stop with my nervousness. I kept looking outside and the snow was falling even more harder. (Just like in Pittsburgh, it was raining harder). My wife was scared of the drive home. It was supposed to get worse as the day went on, but with my experience that I had from the Pittsburgh moment, I knew it was going to be ok.
The activation appointment went smooth. The new “N5” processor is so smooth, and so clearer, I was just amazed and inside…….deep inside……..I was just so happy. The best part is that my telephone function now works and in fact, with a remote control for my device, I don’t have to press any buttons to activate the telecoil on the device. It automatically detects it.
The appointment was over, and we had to drive back home. Just like it was in Pittsburgh, the snowing “kind of” stopped, but not really. And the roads….much clearer. We made it home safe, and a new “era” in my cochlear implant life began.
Of course, I wanted to check out the features of the device, so I went into my office, and played with it a little bit. First thing I did was call my mom….and she was so happy. I told her that one, its lighter, and two, it sounds more clearer, and three, the remote control. She said “You want to hear number four?” She told me that I was speaking clearer on the phone, and that she doesn’t have to yell on the phone anymore. I never realized she yells on the phone when talking to me. So…chalk one up for the new processor.
Just like the first couple days I had with the Freedom five years ago, I began to develop my migraine from all the new sounds. By the end of the night, I didn’t care. It was probably the best migraine I had ever gotten. Totally worth it.
Not only is the N5 more effective, it is also more cost effective. Instead of using THREE batteries, it only uses TWO, and this time, unlike with the Freedom, I got two rechargeable batteries, the battery charger, and some other cool “toys.”
Plus, and this is the coolest…..they (Cochlear Americas) are trying to develop an app that I can use with my Driod phone that may eventually take the place of the remote control. “Of course, there is an app for that.”

Bring You More Than A Song…..

I’ll bring You more than a song/For a song in itself/is not what You have required/You search much deeper within/Through the way things appear/You’re looking into my heart….

(Heart of Worship, Matt Redman)

 

Today I have finally got the piece that was broken fixed.  Actually, it came in the mail.  It is amazing how such a little piece can make a major difference in whether or not I hear.   The same applies to batteries.  If I don’t have batteries, I don’t hear.  Simply as that.   I finally went back to work tonight, and I have to tell you, I have never felt so much better.  Ever since Thursday night when I discovered the broken piece, I went into a very deep funk, almost a depression.  My wife even made a comment that I was a completely different person in days since.

Today, the piece (battery holder) finally came by FedEx, and when I turned it on, I have to tell you……it was like I was born again.  The world came alive, and all the sounds that I was so used to hearing around my place just popped out at me.  I felt like a huge burden was lifted.

Anyways, tonight at work, as I was working alone, as usual, the above verse kept popping in my head.  Its from a great worship song by Matt Redman.  The reason this verse kept popping in my head was because deep inside, I believe that this happened for a reason.  I had taken the fact that I am  able to hear for granted, and I have forgotten what it meant to me to be able to have this gift from God.    God gave me this gift five years ago, and I have gotten away from giving back to Him.    In the course of my work tonight, I had two conversations with two different people about hearing aids, and cochlear implants.  One lady had just moved here to Yankton, and was asking me for whom to go to in order to have her own cochlear implant checked up.  I gave her the audiologist that I am currently working with, and told her that she will be taken care of if she goes to her.   The other family was a family that I have helped and spoke with on numerous occasions about their own experiences as a deaf family.    This all happened within one hour of each other.   Not long after the last encounter, the verse began popping into my head, and I caught myself singing it to myself.    It made me think of how selfish I was to take for granted that I have this capability to hear with this amazing technology, and it is not to be taken lightly.  God gave me this gift, and He also gave me a purpose…..to reach others and to teach others about cochlear implants and to share my amazing story concerning how He came through for me.     He allowed this past weekend to happen so He search into my heart, and to see where I really was with Him.

Now I know where I am, and my faith has be restored, and I have a renewed passion for sharing and teaching others about the cochlear implants.    If you can, listen to the song.  Its a great way to restore your faith.

 

It has been two days since my cochlear implant battery holder broke.  Without it, the external device does not function, and thus, I can’t hear anything.  At first, I was upset because the device is my lifeline.  Without it, I can’t function.   I can’t communicate.  And I can’t hear nothing.   I had to miss two days of work so far, and a third day tomorrow as well.  Will I lose my job because of this?  I shouldn’t because I have a note from my audiologist explaining why.     My wife called Cochlear to order the new battery holder, and had it overnighted.  Thinking it was going to be here on Saturday, I looked it up on FedEx site, and it is not coming til Monday.  So, a whole weekend of not hearing a thing.

In the past, this would normally excite me.  With regular hearing aids, I would welcome the chance to not hear anything.   But ever since I got the cochlear implant almost five years ago, I feel like a completely different person with it.  So, this weekend feels like a lost weekend for me.  I am sitting here watching basketball and football games with no sound, and for the first time in my entire life….I HATE IT.    I feel so lost, so out of touch with the world because of it.  In short, I feel like I lost my best friend.     My wife says that I am a different person without my implant being available, and she is right.  I feel like a recluse, and that I am not a part of the world.

This makes me realize how much I love my cochlear implant.  i love what it has been able to do for me, and what I have been able to do with it.    Granted, I was able to finally get my week’s school work done, but it wasn’t that much to begin with anyways.  Since I am unable to do anything until Monday at the earliest, I have one more day to reflect on how fortunate I am to have the cochlear implant.   This device is my life, my lifeline, and that is why i call it the greatest invention ever made.

In the next coming weeks, I am working on getting a newer model.  I have had the Freedom model for five years now, and I am working on getting a newer, much better N5 model.  Reading the material associated with the N5 model is making me anxious to see when I will be able to get it.  Its lighter, smaller, and more powerful, and amazingly, its also waterproof.  I am ready for that change.

Back to hearing no sounds….again…I miss it.  I miss how the world sounds, and I am not myself when I can’t hear what is going on around me.  I feel worthless, and I don’t ever want to feel that way again.

It has been awhile since I have been on here. In the past four months, my life has completely been changed. Where do I begin????….For starters, I got married in June to a wonderful beautiful woman. The light of my life. The one who makes me happy….makes me smile…Ok…you get the picture.
Also, I have been so entrenched in my school (Penn State, baby!) and even though this summer I am only taking one class, Psych 200 (basically a Statistics class), that class (and its a four credit class) is kicking my behind in learning. Who knew that making a data graph and trying to interpret it was such hard work???? Plus my job is not being easy on me making me work such wacked out hours…mostly late shifts, and I don’t like that. I am not complaining….I am glad I have a job, but still….

So back to the title…..Am I still a poet? Do I still write? Sometimes…but mostly its a no to the second question. The first question I still wonder about, and just the other night, a sleepless night at that, I pulled out an old notebook, and jotted this poem down. Take a peek. Comments are welcomed : )

Do you know how long it has been
Since I have laid my words down?
I can’t even remember
But you know what they say
Once a poet — always a poet
I can’t even remember how it feels
to flow my words onto the paper
So many events to be inspired by
So much joys — so much excitement
I had gotten caught up on this thing
called life
I had simply forgotten how it feels like
To be a poet
And so I wonder — am I still a poet?

Its been awhile since I have written on this thing, and tonight, I couldn’t sleep.  Just a lot going through my mind and the past couple weeks have been really trying for me.  In less than a month I will be getting married, and I am scared to death about it.   I am excited about it, but at the same time, am I ready for it?  I want to marry this lady more than anything, and I know I don’t deserve a love like this.    This past Sunday, my pastor Jeff spoke about deserving.  He said that he hates that word.  In a sense, so do I.   Going through my mind is this poem (also a song from Third Day) titled I Deserve?  Its on the Conspiracy Number 5 album, and I love this song.
I tasted fruit that was forbidden
I murdered trust that you had given
And now I’m living in a place that’s not my home
The pain in your heart made you regret
The moment we spoke, did you forget?
Will my transgressions bring us all to our sweet end?
Maybe I’m just being too hard on myself. I don’t know
Or is it that your mercy is much more than I deserve?
Betrayed by more than just a kiss
I did much more I must admit
Instead of letting it all end you bring new hope

I don’t deserve anything God has given me.  I accept it with an open heart, and of course fear in knowing that it can be taken away from me…..I have blessed more than ever in the past couple weeks and months not only financially but also spiritually and mentally.  My life is perfect with Tammy, and I love what is ahead of us, but I also “fear” it for I know as I said above, it can be snatch away from me.  I don’t want to lose anything God has blessed me with me, and everyday, I pray for His continued blessings.  He gives us more than we need, more than we “deserve” because He wants us happy.  But He also knows…..we must continue to praise Him no matter what happens.

What God has given, He surely can take it away.

I pray now Father, for your forgiveness, and your mercy. 

Just the other day, Tammy asked me if I would like to get the second implant.  I love my implant on my right ear,  and early on in the process of getting that implant, I had thought about getting the second implant.  But I have decided against it at the time, and just wanted to live with this implant for the time being.  Now, the time has come again for me to think about getting the second implant.

I am going through the process of Social Security in the state of South Dakota, and they have asked me to take a hearing test for them to determine if I am really deaf…..Seriously???  Yes, I know.  But somehow, because of the life that I live, I have been able to live a life that most hearing impaired or deaf people struggle to live.  I live with my bride to be, I am working a little, and I attend classes online at PSU (Penn State).    But I am deaf, and I want to “take advantage” of this as much as I can.  When I told her they wanted me to take a hearing test, she brought up the notion that they might want me to get a second implant.  I had completely forgotten about doing that until she mentioned it.  Now…….I am wondering……….again.  Should I?

Your comments would be nice, and appreciated.

Welcome to My New Blog

I have decided to use this account to post my cochlear implant journey.  As you read them, some of the dates are going to confuse you.  These blogs were written back in 2006 and 2007 when I first got the cochlear implant.  I am now almost four years into having the cochlear implant, and I am loving every minute of it.

To keep you up to date, I am now living in South Dakota and I am planning a June wedding with my wonderful beautiful bride to be, Tammy Hauger.  I am also a student at Penn State, taking classes online, and I am majoring in Psychology.  As for what I am going to do with that degree, I am not sure at this moment.  I would love to work with kids who are going through the process of getting the cochlear implant, and I also want to work with families who are thinking of getting the cochlear implant for their kids.  If you have any questions about the experience please ask.  I am more than willing to help anyone with the journey.

Wow. That is all I can really say after two years of having this cochlear implant. The past two years have brought so many life changing events, and so many new and wonderful experiences. I have tried to write a poem that captures everything about the great things that have happened to me, but I am, for the first time, unable to really capture what I really want to say.

From talking on the phone with my family, to hearing new voices, and new sounds, I am in still in amazement at the technology and everything that has been available to me. My self confidence is soaring, and my shyness has somehow dissappeared………….not all the way, but in most cases. I am not the same person I was before, and I am still learning new sounds, and having new experiences in this continued journey. I have gotten into my comfort zone, but every day there seems to be something new and exciting happening to me as far as sounds go. I am hearing new voices almost everyday, and I am learning new sounds. Its the greatest blessing I could ever have. Thank you, Jesus for this.

The best experience in year two was my trip to Michigan. I was able to take a walking tour on a trail, and I was able to hear so many sounds………..especially the sounds of a raging water brook, and waters rushing through a stream. The sounds of nature, and the sounds of the forest were so beautiful to me. I was just in shock as to how beautiful it sounds. Nature as nature intended. I also took a boat tour around one of the Great Lakes, and it was just beautiful. Out in the middle of the lake, with just the water sounds……..so comforting and so at peace. That is why I hope to be able to go back as soon as I can. It was the best weekend I ever had.

My nieces stayed with me in my place for a week, and to hear them as they sleep, especially Abigail in her crib……..so peaceful, and so wonderful. Made my heart sink when I woke up one day, and they weren’t there in my place anymore.

My brother’s wedding in Vegas was a treat in itself. Walking through the casino, through the crowds, and being able to carry a conversation with my family…..hearing only them, and no one else…..made the trip all the more enjoyable. (That me with my mom, James, and my dad in the picture above.) Flying with the implant is a treat as well. I can’t go through metal detectors, so that was something I had to endure. Not fun to have to be hand pat down, but it was worth it. I had a great time.

 

i cannot believe it has been one year since I have gotten the cochlear implant. I have been able to do so many things and experience so many things, I do not know where to begin. In the past year, I have gone through so much, its hard to put down into words what I am thinking, and what I experienced. Keep in mind that I was hearing things for the first time, and that I was going through emotional periods of adjustments, and of trying to figure out what and where things were coming from.

My greatest experiences (in order).
1. Hearing my mother’s voice, my sister’s voice, my brother’s voice, and my nieces voices. The day that I heard them for the first time was raining, and it was cold those days.
2. Telling my mother to quit yelling at me. She said that she was not used to me having “this thing.”
3 Third Day Concert. Fourth Row. Greatest show I have been to. I was able to hear the music, and understand what was being said.
4. Pirates Game with Sandy Wilson. It was actually my second game, but the first one was rained out. Sandy and I sat right behind first base, and we got to the park a little early, so I could take it all in. Sitting there, and hearing all the sounds of the park inspired the poem, “Music Of The Ballpark” and made me fall in love with baseball all over again.
5. AFC Playoff Game (Steelers Vs Jaguars) with my brother. This was actually my second trip to Heinz Field with the implant, but the first one took place right after my turn on date, so it was still new. This time around, being used to the sounds, I was able to actually enjoy the game, and all the Steeler Manics that were all around us. It was a wet game, a Steeler lost, but it was still an awesome experience.
6. The Mike Duncan Project opening up for Aaron Shust. Being first row allowed me to get fully adjusted to the sounds, and it was a great concert put forth by my buddy, Mike.
7. Talking on the phone. I don’t have to explain this one to you. Just being able to talk on the phone to various people, and not be dependant on others to make the calls for me…….huge breakthrough for me.
There you have it. I have a lot more experiences to share, but they will all be told in my next book, which I am currently working on right now.
Some Things I Am Still Wanting To Happen (in no order)
Visit To Tullahoma to hear my friend’s voices
A walk through the forest
A night out in the forest