Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Cell Phones and Cochlear Implants

Last week I got my very own cell phone!!!!

That's another huge "CI" type hurdle for me - never in my wildest dreams, even after having my Cochlear Implant activated, did I think I'd ever own a cell phone, but after talking to my parents, and my bf, we all thought it was best that I have one on me, especially after a car accident last fall as a result of some seizures I had, AND after the VA Tech massacre - we thought the peace of mind/security of being able to contact them in case of any emergency far surpassed the cost of a phone plan.

I did some research, and spoke to a bunch of retailers (Bell, Telus, Fido, etc,) to find out what plans they offered - none impressed me. Finally, I went to the Rogers Wireless store in the mall and told them what I was looking for as well as the fact I had a CI. Apparently they had never dealt with people with CI's before, and I wasn't aware of the limitations with cell phones (telecoil compatibility etc. - and for that fact neither was I - call this a learning experience.) I got a fantastic plan, but the phone they gave me "for free" with the plan (a Samsung) was not compatible. When I tried to use it when I got home, I got horrible static interference.

So that night I did some research and came across a website called "Phonescoop" and was able to print out all the T3/M3 and T4/M4 cell phones available. I went back the next day with my phone and explained my situation. They offered me a LG phone for an extra $85, but I told them I was pinching pennies as it was, being a college student, just to afford the plan that they sold me the day before.

I told them about the list of phones I found online that were CI-compatible, he asked me if I would mind running home to get the list, so I did.

When I came back, I gave it to him, and I also told him that I thought the plan was fantastic, and how I hoped we could find a phone I can use so I could stay with their company (it's a great plan - it included 700 minutes, in my price range, where every single other plan from other companies only offered 150 minutes unless I wanted to pay $60/month or more.)

The guy said to give him a moment, he went in the back, and came out with a box and asked me "can you swing $25?" I told him I could do that...

And for that he gave me a brand new Motorola Razr!!!!!! I tried it - NO static or feedback, and it came with a ton of goodies that the original freebie phone didn't have. If I was happy then, that's nothing to say how I feel now!!! What fantastic people!! I've used it several times and it is clearer than my house phone!!! I am on cloud 9 - just could not be happier.

So the moral for this story - make sure you get a Telecoil compatible cell phone if you have a CI - see if they'll let you use a particular phone for a day or 2 and then if it doesn't work for you, return it for something else.

And if you are Canadian, I also recommend Rogers Wireless!!! They get 2 thumbs up from me!

In other news - I'm back in college finishing the last of my upgrading of my high-school classes - even though the Biology 12 class I am taking is too dang easy, I only got a C in high school because of the lack of support I received way back when. The thrill of being able to understand my instructors without difficulty doesn't wear off. I love it!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

*cough, sneeze, hack*

Tis the seaon to be sneezin....and boy am I ever. I can thank my beautiful nephew for giving me this lovely cold. Hopefully it will run its course soon.

I get nagged from time to time *you know who you are!! LOL* to update my blog. I admit I've been lax, as the novelty of my CI wears off, but at the same time, every morning when I put it on I'm still awed by the fact that in the 10 seconds it takes to put the processor in place and turn it on, I go from complete silence to sound. It truly amazes me.

I'll be going in to St Paul's sometimein April for my yearly evaluation and re-map. Looking forward to that. Each mapping just seems to make everything even better than before.

Today I had a fun CI moment - my Mom is babysitting my niece and nephew and called to see how I was, and my nephew Evan who is 3 got on the phone and we had a nice conversation (which revolved around his plastic dinosaurs for the most part, and how he doesn't want his younger sister Emily *whom he not-so-affectionately calls an Emmysaurus when he's upset with her* to touch them.) It was so sweet - especially hearing him say "Goodbye Auntie Neece - I love you!" It just warms the heart.

I also had the most amazing conversation recently with one of my best friends. She lives in Ontario, and we met online about 10 years ago. We've met in person only once, and at the time I didn't have my hearing aids (long story) so I had never heard her voice. It was just so amazing when she called me up and I was able to hear her! After a few initial stumbling moments as I got used to her voice, we talked for over an hour. It was wonderful. I'm gaining confidence and using the phone more and more, with many other people. The only difficulty I have is "recognizing" voices on the phone. I almost always have to ask who it is, I'm not sure if voice recognition is something other CI recipients have a difficulty with as well. Only my mother, my brother and my boyfriend cause no problems. I know them off the bat.

I can't believe its almost been two years...time has just flown by. The things I can do now that I never could before --- from watching videos on YouTube.com and not having to worry about misunderstanding them, to videos on CNN.com, going to the movies and usually understanding most of the dialogue (it depends a lot on whether there is a lot of background noise/music. While I can see why hearing people enjoy Surround Sound, I find that it makes picking dialogue out of a movie at a theater much harder.)

I even enjoy watching TV shows that aren't closed captioned, and sometimes intentionally turn the CC off on some of my favorite shows (usually news programs and/or Discovery channel - people tend to speak very clearly.)

I've also been heartened to see that on several message boards that I participate in, there are more and more individuals who are willing to listen to first-hand experiences instead of just throwing propaganda that 'they heard the friend of somebody who heard another person say...."

There have even been some people who initially were anti-CI realize that CI's are NOT the death knoll for Deaf Culture, and it will continue to exist and thrive. When HA's first came out, they, too were dealt with suspicion and hostility. With time, CI's will be as normal as HA's.

I've been asked from time-to-time if I now consider myself a hearing person, or a deaf person. The fact remains that when I remove my external processor, I'm completely deaf. When I put it on, I can hear. I don't introduce myself to people as a hearing person, I prefer to say "I am deaf, and with the aid of a CI I can hear." Its interesting that I can have the dual identity of deaf and hearing. I don't hear 100%, but then even my hearing mother doesn't hear 100%. Its all in the way you visualize yourself. I'm HAPPY - I think that's the best way to identify who I am. A very HAPPY individual.