Friday, July 1, 2011

A Big Surprise and My First Week with the CI Device

We came back home from the Mayo on June 14th.  I was hearing a lot of things but I couldn't decipher what they were.  I heard a lot of pinging tones with some things coming into "focus".  Gradually voices started to come through but they sounded very robotic and muffled.  Dave went back to work the next day commenting that he was going to have to come home later to do something.

I was bored and found myself listening to the TV, the speech was mumbled and difficult to understand.  I could follow along with the Close Captioning, but it was hard to decipher what was being said.  I sent a text  to Jamie as it was her last day in North Carolina and I wanted to know what time her flight took off and when she expected to get home.  She told me that her flight takes off around noon and she'll text me when she gets home.  I figured that she would be back in Colorado around 4pm or so.  Around 6 or so, Dave came home and walked into the living room, then someone came in behind him.

At first, I couldn't tell who it was because it was dark in the living room and the light was behind their back.  But as she came into the light I realized it was my own daughter Jamie!  I was so shocked and surprised.  I was in tears, I was so happy.  I had no idea that she was coming home to stay with us.  I kept crying and apologized for my crying but this was by far one of the happiest moments of my life.  It still makes me cry when I think about this moment.  My dear husband purchased her ticket to go out to North Carolina from Colorado for our niece Ashley's graduation and then come here to stay with us for a week.

Jamie stayed by my side the entire week that she was here.  I wish I could say that I was constantly asking what certain sounds were, but I couldn't isolate one sound from another yet.  We did try though.

That night, we went out to dinner at P.F. Chang's to celebrate the homecoming and my new hearing.  We went home after that and hung around for a little while.  We decided that we would spend part of Jamie's visit up at Lake Superior so Dave was busy trying to get us reservations somewhere along the North Shore.  Jamie was tired as it was a long day of travelling and excitement for her, this would be the first time she slept in the new bed set we put in her room for guests.  I was emotionally exhausted from this wonderful day.   

Dave went back to work the following day on Thursday and Jamie & I went shopping.  We ate lunch at  Olive Garden, then went to Barnes & Noble to pick up the books we would be reading.  We chose Stieg Larrson's "The Girl Who Played with Fire" to read together and I chose Nicholas Sparks "The Lucky One" to read along with an Audio book.  We picked up some other books too.  Both of us love to read and write.

After the books were purchased, we went to Vision World to shop for new glasses for Jamie.  She is still covered under my benefits and was due for a new pair of glasses.  Jamie loved her old frames and only replaced the lenses last time she needed new glasses, but they are pretty beat up now.  We were able to get her eyes checked, contact lenses and glasses purchased and picked up all in the same day.  While we waited for her glasses to get done, we went to Applebees and had Margaritas with Chips and Salsa.  We shopped a little around Northtown but didn't buy anything else.

That night we started reading. "The Girl Who Played with Fire" was originally written in Swedish and translated into English.  The translation was well done but all the names and places were Swedish names so we stumbled over those a lot.  Sometimes we would start giggling when we got stuck on the pronunciation.  The story is good, but it wasn't a good one for reading out loud.  I enjoyed this book, but it definitely isn't for everyone.

Friday morning, we went up the North Shore to the Superior Shores Resort in Two Harbors.  This happened to be the weekend of Grandma's Marathon, so there seemed to be a lot of traffic going North on 35W.  It was cloudy and rainy on the drive up and those clouds seemed to stay with us the entire weekend.

As we drove past Canal Park in Duluth, we could see one of the races going on.  It was cold and drizzling outside so it had to have been a challenge for those runners.  Lots of people were walking around that whole area and I was glad we weren't in the thick of it.  The highway took us through the tunnels under Duluth and onto London Road, then on to Highway 61.  We decided to stay on the Scenic route so that we could get the best view of Lake Superior.  Since it was windy, there were 3 - 5 foot waves on the lake that were crashing into the rocky shoreline.  I couldn't have asked for better than this, I didn't mind that it came with a wet weekend.

We stopped at our favorite smokehouse - Russ Kendall's in the Knife River area.  Picked up some gourmet cheese, smoked buffalo meat and a few different kinds of beef sticks.  From there we went further north into Two Harbors.

Dave almost couldn't get a room at Superior Shores but he managed to snap up the last room available that  happened to be a two bedroom with loft that came with a Jacuzzi tub and a wood burning stone fire place.  As we walked into the place, we were impressed.  It was a gorgeous place with a beautiful view of Lake Superior.  We spent the first few minutes running around the place checking out all the beautiful rooms.  The place had floor to ceiling windows that faced the lake and gave us a 180 degree view, it was a stunning view.  The master bedroom was in the loft with a comfortable King sized bed.  The other bedroom was on the main floor with a queen size bed for Jamie to sleep in, the entire outer wall in that room consisted of floor to ceiling windows that overlooked the little bay area to the left of our unit.  She would crack the window open just to listen to the waves.

We stepped out onto the deck for a few minutes to listen to the waves.  The waves were loud and crashing, but all I could hear was a roaring sound.  I couldn't make out the sound of the waves crashing against the rocks on the shore.  The sound of the waves eluded me this time, but I am sure that if we come back in the fall or a year from now, I will hear them.  And I want to come back to this very place to try again.

The decor was a mixture of old European and North Woods.  I loved it!  I could go on and on about this place but I'll let some pictures below tell the story.  The daylight was fading away, so we went to the restaurant in the resort for dinner.  It was late so there wasn't as many people in the place which made it nice and quiet for me.  We had a nice dinner.  We stopped in a little gift shop on our way out and Dave found some bath salts for the whirlpool tub.

Dave soaked in the tub that night while Jamie & I read our books by the fire place which had a nice small fire going in it.  We read a chapter of the Stieg Larsson book before going into our own books.  We were relaxed and enjoying the quiet evening.  Later we all watched a movie together, then retired for the evening.

We let the fire die down and the darkness envelope us.  I am sure that Dave and Jamie could hear the rain pelting against the roof and the waves crashing nearby, but I blissfully slept in silence.  The cochlear device comes off at night and I hear absolutely nothing.  I used to hear loud bumps and thumps, but the cochlear implant surgery destroyed most of the residual hearing that I had.  But I don't mind, it isn't that much different than before.  I've never had to struggle with the strange thumps and sounds in the night, only the discomfort of the bed.

I was the first to awaken the next morning, as I put on the CI device I could tell that I was hearing the sound of the rain against the roof.  It was raining pretty hard and I looked out at the dreary landscape against the stormy waters of Lake Superior.  Once more, I opened the door to the deck to listen for the sound of the waves, but again all I heard was a constant roaring sound.  I sat down in a comfortable chair and read books for a little while.   

Dave and Jamie were still asleep, so I filled up the tub and relaxed for awhile.  It was nice.  Eventually, I got out of the tub, got dressed and joined Jamie in the living room.  Dave got up a little later.  We decided to go out to lunch at Betty's Pies and eat the stuff we bought from Russ Kendall's for dinner.

Betty's Pies was close by, so it didn't take us long to get there.  We had to wait about 15 - 20 minutes for a table.  I spent a little time doing some Christmas shopping in their little store.  I found the perfect books for some people.  I am such a book freak, I picked one up for myself about all of the waterfalls found on the rivers that go into Lake Superior.  I think it would be fun to hit every single one of them, I've been to quite a few of them already.

When our turn came, we were led to a table in the corner of the restaurant.  It's decor is somewhat kitschy and is meant to be a throw back to the 50's and 60's.  I sat in the corner with my back to a magnetic board behind me that had a list of all the pies available for order.  I decided to take a picture of Dave and Jamie and leaned back in my chair to get a better view, but suddenly my CI device flew off my scalp and stuck to the magnetic board.  It took me a second to realize what happened and then I told Dave & Jamie what happened.  I guess I learned something that day, don't sit so close to magnet boards!!  Lesson learned!  I traded places with Jamie right away.  We all laughed, it was kind of funny.

Our meals were delicious and we enjoyed them but we were too stuffed for dessert so we ordered some pie to go.  Betty's Pies has been around since the late 50's and I've passed by this place hundreds of times but never stopped there.  I always wanted to out of curiosity, but we were usually in a hurry to get to our destination or in a hurry to get back.  It was nice to stop there, but I'll be honest, I prefer the menu and pies over at the Rustic Inn just a little bit further up north on Highway 61.

We stopped in Two Harbors to pick up some stuff for making s'mores since we had a nice fire place to make them in.  We went back to the condo and spent the rest of the day relaxing and hanging out.  We had a fire going all day.  Dave took a very long soak in the tub, he fell asleep and laid in there almost 3 hours.  Jamie took a soak later that afternoon.  I think relaxing in a hot bath with fragrant bath salts or oil is one of the most relaxing things to do.  While Jamie was taking her bath, I mentioned to Dave that I wished we had some wine to go with our cheese dinner and he quickly went into town to pick some up.

We had a delicious meal of smoked meats and cheese with crackers along with a couple bottles of wine.  We had some White Zinfandel and Pino Grigio to go with the meal.  I'm not one to worry about what should go with the meal, I just pick up what I like and drink it.  I am constantly trying new wines, I love going into a wine shop or a liquor store and asking a knowledgeable person what kind of wine I can try.

That evening we made s'mores over the fire, Dave popped some corn, and we put in a movie.  It was a bad movie and I think all of us fell asleep during various parts of it.  Once it was over, we all went to bed.  It was a cold and wet day, but we we were warm and cozy inside.  It was the perfect place to hang out and just chill.

Sunday morning we got packed and checked out before the checkout time.  We stopped in Duluth and had lunch at Grandma's Saloon.  Most of the runners had left town already so the place wasn't terribly crowded.

My hearing at this point was still very difficult.  I could barely understand what Dave and Jamie are saying.  I am hearing a lot of warbling sounds, everything sounds so different to me.

It was Father's Day that day so on the way home, we stopped by my dad's place.  He had come home from North Carolina and my mom stayed behind to help my sister with her cochlear surgery process.  We took him out to dinner at Red Lobster and my brother Andy and his girlfriend Jackie were able to join us.  It was a very nice dinner, but hard for me to participate in the conversation.  My dad enjoyed it and that's what matters.

Jamie and I spent the next couple of days reading out loud to each other from Stieg Larsson's book.  We took out a bunch of CD's and listened to various songs.  I could only recognize a few of them like Queen's "We will Rock You and Joan Jett's "I Love Rock and Roll".  The percussion is very distinctive for these songs but I really can't make out the instruments.   Most of the songs were unrecognizable to me and I can't really hear the words at this time.  It was fun to watch Jamie take delight in listening to the 80's music though.  I would hear this jumble of musical tones and watch Jamie lip sync to them.  One of her favorite pastimes in Boulder, CO is to go to an 80's night at one of the local clubs.

On Jamie's last day, we went out for an early dinner at Pittsburgh Blue, then took Jamie to the airport.  I was heart broken.  I just had the most wonderful week.  I cried when she arrived and I cried when she left. I miss her terribly but she gave me the best gift she could ever give me, the gift of time and my husband made it possible.  She devoted the entire time to me.  I will treasure this always.

The view of the living room from the dining room.

The View from the Living Room looking out at Lake Superior.

Jamie enjoying the view of the lake with a cup of coffee.

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