Tuesday, December 20, 2005

What an amazing year!

YOW!! It's already mid December and I've not done an update for over two months. Sorry. I've received a few emails with well-planted shoes in my butt telling me to get in gear - so here I am.

First off - in October I had my final follow-up for this year, one more re-map and all my questions answered which was really cool. I'm still using ADRO minus the 4 electrodes that I found offensive because of the higher frequencies (4, 5, 6 and 8). I also received my personal audio cables and WOW what an incredible difference it makes when it comes to hearing music!!! I plugged in my CD player and popped in one of my favorite Randy Travis CD's - which also included a few songs that I had not yet learned (I had found that with music - I have to "learn" the lyrics first (usually by Googling them up online) and memorize them/read them along with the singing in order to learn to appreciate the songs. Once I have them committed to memory, recognition of songs afterwards was a snap. I could walk into a room here a song that I "learned" was playing and recognize it which was really cool) so anyway, I'm listening to some of the songs I know....and one that I DIDN'T know came on and wonder of wonders - I was hearing the words clearly! I was just sitting there - REALLY HEARING a song I never knew, for the first time and understanding it!!!! It’s so different when it’s singing because speech is drawn out and not as crisp/clear as regular talking. I was floored. ANOTHER first!!!

After my October remap, I was asked by Dr Pijl to come back 2 days later and speak to a group of students in the Masters Audiology program with him. I was honored to be asked and the meeting was great. Dr Pijl had a bunch of PowerPoint slides which covered topics ranging from different causes of deafness, how it affects the person physically, how it affects them emotionally, subjects such as isolation, communication challenges, and then how the CI works (it got pretty technical there for a bit but I was fascinated!), what a CI can and can't do, etc. I was asked to give them my personal experiences with my deafness following meningitis, the challenges I faced growing up deaf, and how my life has changed since implantation, including how I felt before/after the surgery, before/after activation etc. This was concluded by watching a LIVE BROADCAST from one of the operating rooms where Dr Westerberg did a CI implantation!!!!! IT WAS WILD!! I mean..it was absolutely amazing to watch the entire implantation from start to the last suture. (and funny too because they weren't able to get audio feed for some reason so when Dr Pijl had to be called down to the OR to test the processor they put a piece of paper in front of the camera that said "Sipke (Dr Pijl) come down to the OR now please" LMAO!!!!) It concluded with another pieced of paper that had "The End" written on it!

It was just another amazing experience -in fact there were a few people there (including Cindy the other audie) who had never seen a live implantation done! I was so honored to be able to witness *EXACTLY* what happens LIVE!!! Wow.... even thinking back on it - it was SO cool! (A funny side note - one of the male students is a bit squeamish and he went pale for a while there when they did the first incisions and he saw the blood! Poor guy lol!)

I might go back for another presentation in February to speak with another group of students and I'm hoping I do - it was such an enjoyable experience.

CI moments still happen on a daily/weekly basis. Anything from hearing somebody in the mall who is standing behind me talking, to understanding the PA system announcing sales specials at SEARS yesterday, to listening to my 2 year old nephew say "That's cool!" and "more please" when I babysat him this weekend. To listening to my 2 month old niece coo and babble when I talk to her (now THAT is an amazing thing to hear!) I am using my personal audio cables with my CD all the time - the clarity is unbelievable. When listening to music through the speakers there's always a little bit of distortion - not so with the cables. In fact - I put on my The Mama's and The Papa's CD the other day and was listening to "Monday Monday" and for the first time I realized that it was the MEN who were singing the song, while the girls echoed it in the background - I never could hear that over the speakers! WOW! For a minute there I had thought there was a ghost in my processor!!!!

Speaking of which - I got my new processor in the mail and the new transmitter because the cable leading from the processor to transmitter had split. Everything's peachy now. I don't go back for another follow-up until April (my one-year follow-up).

I have to say - it’s really amazing when the #1 dream of your LIFE comes true!!! Hearing is the best gift I ever could have received. A thousand Thank You's to Dr Westerberg, Dr Pijl, Cindy Gustin, and the rest of the crew at St. Paul's hospital for making this dream a reality. You've brought happiness to my life that can never be measured.

Merry Christmas everyone! On "It’s a Wonderful Life" there is a line: "Every time a bell rings, an angel earns its wings"

Maybe now that I can HEAR those bells.........