Monday, December 29, 2008

Things Must Happen for a Reason

The other day, I went to Flare’s Christmas concert at her school. Since Angel, my youngest, was sick, she stayed home with Hubby. It was strange for me to be going there by myself, without one or both of the girls with me. They are almost always with me wherever I go.

Unfortunately, the gymnasium was dark. I could barely see the chairs lined up from the lights reflecting off a HUGE Christmas tree. I thought I chose the second row. (That’s my cue to know when to stand and when to sit by observing people in front of me.) And I also thought I was close to the middle, but I wasn’t. I was on the third row, a little off from the middle. I was given a program to follow along with the concert. Again, unfortunately, it was TOO dark to read the program!! I found myself envious of the others who could read in the dim light. The students in the concert often moved around, to stand together and sing and then return to their seats…in the faint light. No one tripped or stumbled.

I felt a little better when Flare said she couldn’t read her program, either, because of the dim lighting. I knew it wasn’t just me.

CI Moment...sort of...

But before the concert started, I had a sort of a CI moment. I was overhearing snippets of a conversation taking place behind me. I heard, “…just got in last night….they are staying here….leaving on the fourth….” Which to me meant that some relative of theirs came in last night and will be staying till January 4. I felt a little guilty about it, but it wasn’t like it was supposed to be a big secret or anything and I didn't turn around to see who was talking. I just felt like I was eavesdropping (without even trying). There wasn't a lot of noise or anything, so their voices were very clear to me.

After the concert, I waited until most of the people around me exited from their seats. I walked slowly down the dark path towards the light at the end of the “tunnel” (a pathway along the edge of the gym) near the back entrance of the school. Flare needed to pick up some textbooks and told me to stay right where I was. No parents allowed by the lockers. (Her words, I’m sure. LOL.)

Then we needed to cut across the school auditorium to get to the front entrance. I stopped right before entering the auditorium to stuff the program into my purse and take out my hat and gloves. I dropped a glove and bent to pick it up. A man on the side of me watched me. I think he said something, but I just smiled and said, “I got it.” Then I put the gloves on. A child walked around me. I smiled in that “oh, what a cute kid” smile as she gazed up at me. Then Flare came up to me, realizing I wasn’t behind her anymore. “Mom, you were standing in her way. She was in a wheelchair.”

RP Moment

Wheelchair? I did not see a wheelchair. “Someone was in a wheelchair? I only saw a child walking around me." She informs me, "That was _____ in a wheelchair."

I instantly replayed what happened. Me, stuffing the program in my purse, getting out my hat and gloves, dropping my glove, putting them on…the man looking at me and the child walking around me….I was mortified. How rude did they think I was??? Did they wonder why I didn’t courteously move to let her pass? It was DARK and all I could see was a sea of faces reflected in very dim lighting offered by the EXIT sign above the doorway. That child was not a child, but a studentin a wheelchair. Keep in mind that I had no idea anyone was in front of me. That area in front of me was too dark for me. It was the doorway to the auditorium.

Then I thought some more. Had I not stopped to do the purse thing, would I have continued to walk and walk right into the girl in the wheelchair?? How would that look? Which was worse? Was this one of God’s mysterious ways of protecting us? I always think about how well-timed things seem to be, like walking round the neighborhood. Sometimes I don’t hear a car back out of the driveway. Had I have been in the path of the driveway a few seconds ahead of time, I might have been run over. I like to think of it as one of God’s many ways of sending our guardian angels to protect us, even to put a seed of thought into our minds to pause and do something.

Then Flare and I walked through snow-covered sidewalks to the bus stop. There was a special enclosed area with a bench inside for people waiting for the bus. We waited in the cold, snowy weather, a little buffered from the winter wind, but some of the frigid air stretched out and icy fingers brushed by us and blew inside the enclosed area.

I had studied the public bus route online. It was supposed to drive by every half hour. Within five minutes, the bus came and went. What? Didn't the bus driver see us inside that little enclosed bus stop area? Were we supposed to step out and stand at the curb? It didn't even stop or slow down.

I figured we'd wait another half hour and when the bus made its rounds again, we'd get out and stand by the curb.

Nope. Nothing. An hour came and went and no bus. We ended up walking, toes and fingers numbed to the bones, into the (OH-SO-WARM!!) hospital lobby and asking for a phone to call a taxi. The receptionist there immediately made a call for us after inquiring which taxi service we wanted. She must make a lot of taxi requests for other patients/visitors.

So much for that bus experience!! It was too cold now for Flare to walk the two mile trek home from school and I wanted her to try the city bus. I figured she’d be home around the same time anyway. She’s stubborn about taking the bus (just like I am, too, but I figured we’d both cure ourselves of that. Sigh. It didn’t turn out that way). It’ll be a while before spring comes and she can start biking to school again. Sigh. I am upset about how things worked out. I don’t know if the bus service just shut down at that time or what. We had been under a four-day attack by Jack Frost (with about 2-3 inches of snow the past four days at that time-each).

It must have taken me about a good hour to calm down after getting home that day. I was so frustrated about the bus situation. I really had to stop and think again. This is the way life is and it is up to me to work with the cards I’ve been dealt. I can’ go around complaining all the time or just shrug it off. That's life.

So I am just going to file it away in the filing cabinet in my memory bank, label it “An RP Day” and take out the folder to review, to objectively and retrospectively tell myself that I couldn’t change anything, but most of all, that I am NOT alone. It happens.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Twelve Days of Christmas

On the 12th day of Christmas my CI gave to me

Twelve sneakers squeaking,
Eleven singers singing,
Ten bells a-ringing,
Nine children laughing,
Eight birds a-chirping,
Seven leaves a-rustl’ing,
Six dogs a-barking,
Five Tickin’ Clocks,
Four chugging trains,
Three ringtones,
Two ringneck doves,
And a wondrous smile on my face.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, everyone!!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Squeezed In

I finally got a new Mircolink receiver for the cochlear implant (CI). I mentioned to the vocational rehab counselor that I would need to have a new receiver because the old one with the HA (hearing aid) would not be made to fit the CI. Every receiver is made for a certain HA or CI. This receiver will be used for my wireless Phonak Zoomlink (pictured below). This is my FM system.

At the last appointment I had (the 3-month mapping) the audi said that the receiver still had to be cleared through the system. In other words, paperwork was slow and some compliance guidelines had to be followed.

She emailed me lastweek and said that the receiver was ready and that I could wait till the 6-month mapping (in February) or I could come in earlier. I said that I wouldn’t mind waiting for the February appointment.

Then she emailed back. DVR had budget cuts and rules about purchasing devices and having them (the devices, such as HAs, FM systems, and any other item that would help a DVR client in the workplace or at home) be sent to the client. In my case, I had to come in and have the receiver be fitted to my CI by the end of the year. I might miss my chance of having the receiver or wait until I am approved for one all over again. So, I was given a list of appointment times that were open for the month of December.

I was able to select the time and day of the appointment without any problem, hence the title for this blog post, Squeezed In.

Since I had a problem with the music program when using the personal audio cable (for use with MP3 players, CD players, etc), I thought I would get that looked at, too.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I had no problem with the TV/HIFI cable. I was getting sound through the cable. It had a built-in volume switch on the cable. I was able to get sound at volume 3. It had volume control switch numbered from 1-5. I wondered if I had a bad cable for the MP3 player and had that replaced. Still nothing. The audi thought maybe the volume wasn’t loud enough on the music program. She adjusted it significantly and I still wasn’t getting any sound. Then she pressed the button on my CI to the “EA” (external assessory). Whaddaya know? That worked. Hubby was playing around with the volume on the MP3 player which was still connected to my CI. Whoa!! It was loud!! I jerked up in surprise. LOL. Good. Now it works.

Then the FM receiver. I saw that it can only be connected to the disposable battery cage. I can only use disposable batteries with the FM. I cannot use the rechargeables. Funny thing: That was my biggest deciding factor to getting the Cochlear Freedom vs. Advanced Bionics or MedEl. (I am not knocking AB or MedEl; I know there are very many happy AB and MedEl customers.) Why is that “funny”? Because once I came home with the CI after activation and once I had the rechargeable batteries recharged, I didn’t use the disposable batteries again. I liked using the rechargeables. But the dischargeable batteries will come in handy as a back-up (for short trips and stuff so I wouldn’t have to bring along the recharger).

Anyway, once the receiver was set, the audi wanted to test it. She told me to turn off my HA in the other ear. She was going to step into the hallway and ask me two questions.

I heard her very clearly. “What color is the shirt you are wearing?” and “What did you eat for breakfast?”

When she walked in, I was already digging through my jacket and zipper-front sweatshirt to see what color my shirt was (LOL, I forgot what I was wearing!!) and told her it was white and that I had two pieces of toast.

She was impressed and glad that the FM system was working so well for me. Heck, even I was surprised. LOL. It was a lot better than with just one working ear with the hearing aid. I guess it was the degree of hearing loss I had, too. Instead of working with just half an ear, I am working with one and a half ears.

I still think of myself as deaf, though. I don't think I'll ever really have "normal" hearing. It's as close to "normal" as I can get. I'm happy with that.


CI moments? Hmmm.

When I was in the bathroom, I could hear Onyx whining through the closed door.

When Hubby comes in the house, I could hear the jingle of his keys as he plops them on the kitchen counter when I am in the living room, my back to the kitchen.

Someone brought up shopping carts. Last weekend, I had a sort of a marathon Christmas shopping spree. I was at Wal-Mart and I had a noisy cart. It felt like something was broken and I kept looking at the wheels. It was disturbing and not at all pleasant-sounding.

Last night, Angel needed to memorize her memory work. (For the last few weeks, it consisted of all the recitations and songs that she will say and sing with her group for the Christmas service.) She panicked when she saw how big the paragraph she had to memorize. She whined that she "can't do it" and I told her to just work on one sentence at a time (just like she had to do with all her other memory work.) We got through the whole paragraph in 15 minutes. By that time, even I memorized it so that I could correct her if she missed a phrase or something. Then I told her to sleep on it and this morning I recited the paragraph to myself and thought that she shouldn't have any problems, either. She recited it with a beaming smile because she remembered it. :)

And, how was YOUR week?


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Friday, December 05, 2008

Rather Annoying Noises...Surprising CI Moments

Glitter Grapics

There are some sounds I knew were there. I’ve heard them before, but I had no IDEA that they were as annoying or as loud as they were.

The other night, Angel wanted me to blowdry her hair. I complied. I didn’t want to have her go to bed with wet hair and wake up with “bed head” or worse.

Who knows what it might look like in the morning?

The moment I turned on the hairdryer, I was surprised that it was LOUD. And. So. Annoying.

Granted, I don’t wear my CI or HA when my hair is wet, especially not when blowdrying my hair.

Wow. Is that thing LOUD!!

I knew it made noise. I still had some residual hearing in my left ear which has always been my better ear. It was just a motorized hum, a kind of a white noise. Just a bunch of hot air blowing around.

Well, the blowdryer doesn’t just have a hum, it has a LOUD, annoying hum. Talk about VOLUMIZERS on hairdryers!!)

How can hearing people stand it? Whoa. I think I could never think of it as “white noise” because I rarely blowdry Angel’s hair anymore. Sure, I use it a lot, but, again, I don't wear the HA or CI when I use it.


Now the next surprising “noise” I am going to share with you isn’t new. I knew it was there, but really had no idea it was THAT loud.

Hubby fell asleep on the couch watching TV. He started snoring. LOUDLY.

I look at Angel and say, “Does Daddy always snore that LOUD?”

Angel: Mommy, I can hear him from my room!!”

Me: Really?

Flare: Mom, I can hear him snoring downstairs while I’m in my room.

Me: Really?

What bliss!! I can sleep through his snoring. I don’t sleep with my HA or CI.

(Sorry Hubs….yes, I know...I snore, too….I bet you snore louder…winks)

Even Topaz snores. LOUDLY. (Whoa.) Even though Onyx snores sometimes, but not that LOUD and not always. She more or less just barks what I call “bubble barks”. She just gets air out of her closed mouth and then she just has this “puff of air” bark. (Sweet dreams...chasing that obnoxious squirrel, are you?)

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The benefits far ouweigh the negatives about getting the CI, even annoying noises. At least I'm not exposed to them ALL day. :)

Music: I still use the TV/HIFI cable to listen to music on the computer. It works just fine. I need the volume switch on 3 in order to pick up sound. (It has a volume switch numbered from 1-5.)

I’ve tried the personal audio cable on Hubby’s MP3 player. Nothing. I don’t hear anything. I put the music program on my CI on full blast. Nothing. I tried it on Flare’s iPod. Still nothing.

I emailed the audi. I told her I didn’t know if the cable was a dud. This cable didn’t come with a volume switch.

She ordered me a new one. I would have to exchange it with the one I have and return it.

I tried it again. Nothing.

The audi thinks that I just need the map on my music program to be set at a louder volume. I’ll wait till the six month visit to get it looked at.

It still works with the TV/HIFI cable, so I’m happy with that…for now.

I still surprise myself, though. I can hear sounds through closed doors. It’s not clear, but it’s there.

That's it for now. :)


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