Monday, October 31, 2011

I went to a movie with Jamie the other day.  We went to see Footloose which I figured would be a good first movie to hear with my cochlear implant.  I didn’t want to see a movie that had too much dialogue because I knew I wasn’t going to hear every word when I don’t hear every word in normal conversation.  I figured that since this movie was a remake of the original Footloose done back in the 80’s that I had seen dozens of times, I should be able to follow it pretty well.  I did hear some lines, and noticed that some of those lines were switched between characters or used in a different setting than the original.  Call me sentimental but I just don’t think it compares to the original.  Jamie & I watched the original that night and Jamie said that there would good and bad things with both versions but prefers the remake version.  I’ll keep the original just the same.
I didn’t enjoy the music part of the new one – I just can’t tell what the beat is.  I did recognize the original Footloose a little bit, but didn’t recognize any of the other songs. 
Again, I’m frustrated by the lack of perceived improvement.  I feel like I was hearing things  “better” the “old” way.  I have to remind myself that I would have eventually gone completely deaf and this is actually a better option than that.  I also have to remind myself that it could take a year or two before I will have adapted to the new way of hearing.  It just seems like sounds aren’t sharp enough for me to understand speech without lip reading.  I do think that lip reading is a little bit easier, but …. I wouldn’t want to trade off the ability to enjoy music with easier lip reading.  I really liked listening to music. 
Music is a BIG part of everything we do.  You cannot watch TV or a movie without some music being played.  Music is a good mood elevator – and I’ve played music to suit my moods or emotional needs.  To relax, I play relaxing spa or nature sounds.  To energize, I listen to some techno or classic hard rock – to feel inspired I listen to inspirational music.  Right now, there isn’t a lot of music that appeals to me.  If all I get from this cochlear implant is the ability to read lips easier – well….. I don’t know.  But then how long would I have held out before I go completely deaf??
Overall, it’s only been a little over 4 months.  That’s barely 1/3 of the way through one year.  Patience, patience…..

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Planes, Tours and Spanish

First of all, before we get to Planes, Tours and Spanish – I’d like to follow up on my previous story where I talked about the disposable batteries running out on me during my weekend getaway at my folk’s cabin.

During my last adjustment visit with the Mayo Clinic on September 15th, we discovered that the batteries were fine.  They are highly specialized disposable lithium batteries and did not have enough power for my cochlear device at that time.  Both my implant and the external part use power from the same battery.  (Kind of freaky if you think about it, there is a miniscule amount of power being transmitted through my skin from the external device to the implant – but hey – not complaining!)  Anyway, the implant was drawing a lot of energy that the regular disposable battery was unable to provide.   It didn’t appear that disposable batteries were going to be an option for me.

Our daughter Jamie was able to join us at the Mayo and watch me go through my tests and stuff, she was very interested in what was going on.   She watched me as I was going through my series of sound tolerance testing.  Each frequency would start out loud and work down to a very quiet sound.  I would be straining to see if I could hear the next lower sound, but instead the next frequency would start at the loudest level and my eyes would sort of bug out with this unexpected change.  Jamie and my audiologist would get a chuckle out of this.

After my testing, we checked the power usage of the device and discovered that my implant with the new settings didn’t need as much power anymore and that the disposables should last me 23 hours.  So, we went from no usable power to being able to use it for almost 2 days.  Nice!  My audiologist did mention that they had another customer whose implant could not use disposable batteries either and had to buy a special portable solar panel in order to recharge his rechargeable batteries while he was backpacking in Nepal.  I DO plan to visit Nepal someday, so a portable solar panel might possibly be something that I need.  Okay, enough technical information about batteries, let’s talk about some things that happened on our vacation to Puerto Rico!  

We had to leave our house at 2:30 am for a 5:30 am flight to Atlanta on Saturday, September 24th.   Dave and Jamie never went to bed, just stayed up all night.  I couldn’t do it, but I only got about 3 or 4 hours of sleep anyway.  Sleepy eyed, we made it through security.  I didn’t encounter any difficulties with my cochlear device and equipment going through.  Yay!  (Separate story – I’m on a national “watch list” because several years ago  I accidently carried a multi-purpose tool with a knife in my carry-on luggage so I am always anxious with the security aspect of travelling – no liquids and NO sharp objects!!)  We went through those new “non-descript body image” imaging machines, Dave & I still had to go through a “pat down” after going through those.

Anyway, I had a couple of “aha” moments on our flight from Minneapolis to San Juan, Puerto Rico with a layover in Atlanta.  To entertain myself, I brought my CD player for the audio book I was going to read along with along with my iPad and my Kindle.  I pulled out my CD player and the book only to realize that I did not bring a screw to flip open my cochlear device to attach my audio cord between the device and the CD player. It can only be opened by a small screwdriver.  Bummer.  No audio book during this flight anyway.

I made use of my iPad and my Kindle.  About halfway through our the second leg of the flight I could hear one line from the pilot's public announcement.  Clear as a bell "we will arrive at our destination in one hour and 15 minutes."  I am sure that this is minor to most people, but up until now public announcements on planes was about as decipherable as the adults in a Charlie Brown show.  It was only one line, but it was ONE whole sentence!!!  I quick looked over at Dave and Jamie sitting next to me but found them both asleep.  They missed it.

While we were in Puerto Rico, we got to go down to the beach and I could hear the waves.  They sounded more normal to me than ever before.  The owner of the Bed & Breakfast that we stayed at was building a beach house right on the beach and took us to see it.  It was pretty cool.  The house is in a part of old San Juan that we had never dared venture to before.  Not very dangerous in the light of day.

All around us, I could hear the spanish language.  Voices would be right behind me and I could hear the rolling r's and trilling d's.  Of course, I don't speak spanish but it was cool to hear the distinctly spanish vowels.

We had a wonderful time in Puerto Rico, the people are very friendly and lots of fun.  It was hot and sunny.  Our inn was on the outer edge of Old Town San Juan and we were situated between the famous spanish forts El Morro and San Cristobel.  The inn was a run by artist Jan D'Esopo whose artwork covered walls and surrounded gardens.