Friday, January 07, 2011

Cats, cats, and more cats

Beginning a new year always gives me pause to reflect on the passing on the former one and to be conscious of the subtle tinge of excitement over the prospects of a new uncharted one that lies ahead. The year 2010 will be remembered in the Adams household for its hospital stays (Gerry and my Dad) and as a magnet year for attracting needy kittens.

On St. Patrick's Day, we coaxed 2 stray babies out of the backyard ferns. Adorable bundles yet no takers when we spread the word about available felines for adoption. I marveled at all the kitty sounds - - - purrs, squeaks, meows, and licking noises - - - that were new to my bionic ears.

Fast forward to five months later. It began as a typical work day yet we managed to squeeze in a restaurant dinner to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. In the late evening, we were delivering a body to a funeral home located in a rough downtown Orlando neighborhood when the tiniest Siamese-looking kitten came ambling around the corner of the building. We both stood frozen behind our guerney and stared at the huge ears and saucer-size eyes that were staring back at us. There were no residential dwellings around, just a busy, dirty industrial area with lots of dangerous daytime traffic. Where did "it" come from? It surely can't survive here! Oh, my . . . what to do. An anniversary gift?

Much to our amazement, he/she allowed us to put him in a towel and carry him to the truck without so much as a whimper or any other frightened protest. We stopped on the way home to purchase milk and kitten chow. Gerry applied some flea treatment before I nestled him in my arms for the night. Our other "children" expressed a variety of reactions to this unexpected intruder, ranging from playful curiosity from the two young guys of 5 months earlier to outright disdain (i.e., hissing and swiping) from the mature ones.

A trip to the vet the next day gave us the verdict: he is a Ragdoll breed, slightly cross-eyed (probably why he was dumped), 8-weeks old, and only weighing in at 2 lbs. 6 oz. The doc pulled out a long scoop and Gerry exclaimed on behalf of the wee one, "And you're going to put that where?!" Thankfully, bloodwork was negative for feline leukemia, but the little guy had roundworms, earmites, and fleas. So the medicines were prescribed, the bills paid, and William Sburg (named for Williamsburg, VA, the town in which we were married) became ours.

So our kiddos are growing like weeds and life continues into 2011. Quite a crowd converges in the bedroom at night and who gets to curl up behind a bent knee depends upon who gets there first.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wacky Wednesday

At the risk of sounding like I'm destined for a Halloween freak show, I'm going to admit to something here: I actually look forward to driving the work van through a car wash. For a mere $3.00 on Wacky Wednesdays, I've paid for a serenade of whistles, wooshes, and whirls that is a celebration of sound.

Did you know that not all drive-thru washes are created equal acoustically? My favorite one is located in a neighboring community. It has more tantilizing high frequency water sounds: more gushes, hisses, spits, splashes, sprays, tinkles, and drizzles. Even the long mop strips and fan blowers have a more soothing sound than the closer Jiffy job in our town.

Yea, I can guess what you are thinking - - - it doesn't take much to keep Sheila entertained. That's true. This condition probably stems from years of loss and deprivation. You see, I can still remember back to those dismal days when a car wash sounded like a dull faint rumble and was always an experience accompanied by an ever-present fear that something might hang up or break down and I'd be forced to talk to an attendant. More accurately, an attendant would have to tap on my window and shout something, and I'd blankly stare back without a clue in the world.

Well, today is Wacky Wednesday. I'm already grinning with anticipation!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Tenth Anniversary

It was ten years ago today (Sept. 19) that Gerry and I pulled away from the curb in front of our Virginia townhouse in the pre-dawn hours on our way to an event that would forever change my life. Yes, a whole decade ago I was clad in one of those non-fashionable surgical gowns and was signing all those anxiety-producing hospital forms that released Johns Hopkins from all liability should anything go wrong. With the exception of local anesthesia for some stitches and novocaine for wisdom teeth extraction, I'd had no experience with hospital meds and had never gone "under the knife". Was I really electing to have a foreign object permanently implanted in the side of my head?!

And as the saying goes . . . and the rest is history. Ten years ago I began this blog as an avenue for recording the impact of my cochlear implant(s) on all aspects of my life. Month after month, year after year I've attempted to share my thoughts about my "rebirth" of sound. My metamorphosis has been an incredible adventure - - - from those painful years of struggle with declining hearing, though the gradual transition from hearing primarily with my eyes to hearing with one-sided electronic circuitry, and then finally to the full spectrum of bilateral sound processing. Writing this journal has given me an outlet for expressing my profound gratitude to God for His gift of restored hearing.

As a butterfly enthusiast, I take great delight in following the life cycle of many species that grace my garden. One of my neighbors even stops by on occasion to ask me how my "worms" are doing. I know it's a anthropomorphic leap to attribute human thoughts and emotions to these natural wonders, but I confess to chatting with the caterpillars, talking to the chrysalises, and praising the butterflies as I pull weeds and edge borders. So, you see, I do know what they are thinking.

I feel a great kinship with the lone caterpillar who must face unwanted change and be forced to withdraw from a life of sound and his interaction with the known world. Observing the startling chrysalis transformation, I try to tell him that this new state of isolation will not be forever. But he cannot hear me. Cocooned in silence, he waits and hopes for a better tomorrow.

And then it happens - - - the touch of the Divine!

The change occurs from within, often imperceptible to a watching world. As the new life emerges from the chrysalis, a struggle ensues which I've read is an important part of the toughening process. Any interference from well-meaning observers would cause his demise. He must do the work himself. His heavy, fluid-filled wings must dry in the sun before he can fly. I've been an eye-witness to this miraculous event on more than one occasion and I'm totally awestruck each time. I know what he once was and what he has become.

Do you ever wonder
if the butterfly remembers his former state?

I know that I will never forget mine.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A New Product on the Horizon

There's a new external processor just released for my "first" ear, and I'm getting excited. I'll be sharing as soon as my C-1 Harmony arrives! Thanks, Advanced Bionics engineers, for continuing to work on behalf on us long ago recipients!

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

A New Modus Operandi

The busyness of life has kept me from writing for two months but it has not kept me from thinking about writing on my CI Journey blog. Since Christmas, Gerry and I have experienced life as it is normally lived-out - - - with some joyous times, some very sad times, and mostly times of the drudgery of work and daily chores. Does that sound like your life, too?

For someone who spent so much of her adult life in the dark, so to speak, these last few weeks have been pretty amazing. My severe hearing loss used to keep me in a constant internal state of apprehension. Before every new experience was fear - - - a fear that I would not be able to hear enough to function. I would always be on the alert for the best place to stand, the best place to sit, and the best person to be with for "hearing" help. My radar was always attuned to lighting issues that might reduce my ability to lipread and to activity pockets that meant disturbing noise levels. I dreaded new experiences because they usually spelled trouble.
The last two months have made it so clear to me that my modus operandi has really changed. In January, it never occurred to me before we joined my parents on a Caribbean cruise to be concerned about whether I would be able to hear. In February, when a dear family friend asked Gerry to give the eulogy and sing a hymn at her husband's funeral, my thoughts were about such things as how to comfort and what to wear since it was a graveside service in the winter. It never crossed my mind to worry about struggling to hear people who would be soft-spoken and emotional (both factors make hearing more difficult). The church buffet dinner following the funeral would be in a large social hall, a setting notoriously difficult for those with hearing loss. I didn't even register that idea until days later when it dawned on me that it was a non-issue!

Now that spring is finally coming to central Florida and a welcomed whiff of warmth is in the air, I've been reflecting on life at the start of 2010. Having such amazing hearing in both ears now has established a mental change in my approach to life's events that I had not really stopped to consider until now. There's been an imperceptible ushering in of a new normal. This lack of concern re: my hearing is truly monumental for me and a kind of rite of passage.

Speaking of rites of passage, my dear hubby is about to experience his own season of change. He decided that it was time to address his mild high frequency hearing loss, a state of affairs so typical of 'older' military guys who had careers in and around aircraft. His hearing aids are now on order, and he is scheduled for fitting the first week in April. Did I mention already that a change is in the air? Ah, life . . . (sigh) . . . full of joy, of sorrow, and of the common, ordinary things that bind us together.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


Oh, to be able to hear Christmas music - - - how glorious!! I suppose it took years of sound deprivation to cause me to be forever in awe of the gift of music. At Christmas it comes home to me in spades. Gerry gave a mini concert on Thursday at our community celebration dinner. I sat in the back of the clubhouse to give him a "high sign" at certain times, signaling the adequacy of the volume level. His deaf wife!! Ho Ho Ho

By the way, do most people have an all-time favorite Christmas song? Mine seems to change from year to year. This Christmas, my favorite is the short chorus:

Emmanuel, Emmanuel
His name is called Emmanuel
God with us
Revealed in us
His name is called Emmanuel.

The mind-boggling concept of the great God of the whole universe condescending to come to earth to "be with us" has really gripped me this year. Maybe it's because this promise of His presence and ever-present care has been so obvious in 2009 with Gerry's health issues in February and with many friends, neighbors, and extended family members struggling with disabling conditions and chronic illnesses. I suppose that goes with the territory as senior citizens. Often I find myself at a loss for words as someone dear to me is given devastating news, or I'm stunned by an email from our church prayer chain. How do people cope? I'm then drawn to the Psalms or to my hymnal to regain perspective. Emmanuel means God is with us.

Merry Christmas

Matthew 1:23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”

Friday, October 02, 2009


You gotta check this out:

My goodness, people really can sound like rain! What blows me away about this video clip is that I can actually hear it so well and can make my own acoustic comparison with the sound of the authentic wet stuff. Now think about that for a moment. I had spent decades unable to hear any precipitation, with the exception of a frightening experience with golfball size hail pounding my car one afternoon after school. I think I could register a loud thunderclap by the faint shudder of the "boom", but maybe it's just by the memory of its sound.

Shortly after activation back in 2000, I remember sitting in the passenger seat of our car in the parking lot of Burwell-Morgan Mill, an old (circa:1785) grist mill in Millwood, Virginia, awaiting the end of an unexpected afternoon shower. To be honest, I was far more enamored that day by the sound of the downpour than by this beautifully restored historic landmark, the oldest operable merchant mill in the Shenandoah Valley.

What is it with me and my love affair with water anyway?

Tuesday, September 01, 2009


It's time for N.C.I.S. - no, not the TV show but a "Non-CI Snippet". The last time I wrote something unrelated to my hearing journey was one year ago, so I suppose it's OK to get a tad side-tracked.

My CI buddy Denise grew up on a farm. She knows all about such things as pullets and shares with such wonderful wisdom and whimsy. Maybe she was even a 4Her as a kid, won one of those ribbons at the county fair, or helped her mom with the canning. Did you, Denise?

Me? Well, I lived in the country for the first 8 years of my life. I do remember the dairy farms we would pass going to and from school every day, but I never milked a cow or held a pitchfork in my hand. My parents had a small vegetable garden at the far end of the house and I have a vague memory of seeing tomato plants, radishes, and rhubarb growing there. My interest in plants back then was practically nil, unless you count collecting seeds to glue on construction paper in art class. I was into swimming in Culvers Lake, exploring the woods that surrounded our house, climbing trees, and doing such environmentally irresponsible things as catching lightning bugs in a jar stuffed with grass and sealed with a lid I'd mutilated with an ice pick so that the little buggers could survive the night on my dresser.

Why am I writing about these memories? Because today I harvested my first pineapple and I'm as proud as punch!! I started the plant a few years ago from a discarded top but never really expected any produce. When my 3 strawberry plants yielded some juicy red morsels (generally half-eaten by birds before I could pick them), I began to wonder if maybe, just maybe, this summer I'd see something more than boring green blades on my half-hearted Hawaiian experiment. And then it finally happened - - - a tiny bulbous thing instead of another leaf.

Did you know that it takes months and months and months for a neglected, unfertilized pineapple to become worthy of a knife and a fork? In the end, my little midget was not a prize winner in size but the flavor, by golly, was over-the-top delicious!

Now, farm-raised Denise could put a spin on my pineapple story that would leave the reader both entertained and enriched. I love the way she always gleans some spiritual lesson from ordinary events. In my case, perhaps there might be several applications, such as how patience yields its fruit in season, how it's best not to judge a book by its cover, or . . . hmmmm, maybe . . . learning to hear with a cochlear implant can be like growing a pineapple: it can take considerable time and practice before the brain gets the full benefit/yield from this technological miracle. (That last sentence sure sounds like a Forrest Gump-ism)

To be honest with you, though, my sense of accomplishment over this juicy morsel is certainly unjustified. The same is true for the variety of orchids that adorn one of our crepe myrtle trees. All I do is hang them there; it's our awesome Creator who graces them with long-lasting blooms for us to admire. I did nothing to merit a pineapple or an orchid bloom. And I did nothing to deserve to have such successful cochlear implants!

So this side-tracked musing of mine is turning out to be a non-N.C.I.S. after all. I guess I am so very grateful for the gift of restored hearing that even harvesting a pineapple reminds me to thank God for sight, smell, taste, and hearing.
Maybe I should see what God would do with a banana plant.
He makes all things beautiful in His time. Eccles.3:11

Thursday, August 13, 2009

A Dream CI Moment

I awoke this morning with a marvelous, lilting melody replaying in my head. Instantly, I realized that my waking state was ending a delightful dream. I'd been standing at some kitchen sink, hands plunged in soapy water and crocodile tears streaming down my cheeks. My mom had approached me, a look of genuine concern etched on her face. "Shesh, what's wrong?"

With difficulty, I gained enough composure to tell her that I was not upset over the drudgery of the task at hand but was completely overwhelmed by the hauntingly beautiful song of the flute that I could hear so clearly in the background. Classical music was coming from somewhere else in this house (unknown places are common in my dreams; it's people that are familiar to me). I was so thrilled with this extraordinary tune that tears flowed freely - - - another unusual event in my dreamland.

The melody stayed with me as I showered but, sad to say, was gone by the time I got dressed. Yes, I'd have written it down as soon as my feet hit the floor if I'd been Mozart or Handel. It's now lost forever, but at least I can still smile over the memory of having an actual CI moment in my dreams!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Water: Acoustic Friend or Foe?

The sound of a babbling brook is on my list of favorite things to listen to. Maybe its high rank is due to the fact that its soothing sound was lost to me for over 20 years. Maybe it's because mountain streams bring back memories of happy times in my youth. I was a water kid whose idea of a great time was hiking in or along a rocky creek bed, logging in endless hours at a water park, tubing in a mountain lake, or even swimming in a motel pool.

Not all water sounds evoke such pleasant emotions. In fact, running water in the bathroom sink sometimes reminds me of those painful dark days of profound hearing loss when I would be embarrassed to discover that I had unintentionally left the water running. No sound = no clue to turn the faucet to the OFF position. I remember how running water would also supply sufficient white noise in the teacher's lounge to cause a major decrease in my ability to understand the words of my colleagues, or to interrupt any communication with my mom in the kitchen as we worked together to prepare a family meal. Any background noise was an enemy in those days.

I am very fond of waterfalls, too, but more for their visual beauty than their sound, I think. Most waterfalls are loud enough to drowned out conversation if standing nearby. Last month, while attending the national HLAA convention in Nashville, Gerry and I were delighted to discover several man-made charmers inside the Gaylord Opryland Hotel. The place is a lush rainforest-like wonderland with 11 acres of indoor gardens, complete with dancing fountains, meandering streams, and noisy waterfalls. We managed to make time for an indoor boat ride to see one of the larger waterfalls from a lower vantage point.

To say that the Gaylord Opryland was a spacious, acoustical challenge is a bit of an understatement. Aside from the water sounds, consider that the glass roof enclosing the resort was 15 stories high, the main restaurants and cafes were open-air, most of the walkways were elevated, and the place was sold out (2,881 rooms!). In the presence of so much background noise, I did not expect to be able to participate in conversations while out and about. After all, I am really a deaf person who hears through 2 implanted processors. Yet, while standing in one of the shopping corridors, I asked an employee for directions to the ladies room and understood his answer! I chatted with fellow Advanced Bionics CIers amongst the throngs and followed the dialogue! Gerry and I conversed while walking the "miles" of walkways without a problem! An incredible experience for this bilateral bionic babe.

Monday, June 01, 2009

A Unique Anniversary Card

I have a cousin who has a heart of gold . . . and possesses disgustingly creative genes! The two of us have never lived near each other, rarely see each other, and are both too busy to maintain regular correspondence via email or snail mail. But she is one of those rare people who senses when you need a long-distance hug, a word of encouragement, or a simple thinking-of-you message.

Sherry, who resides in Connecticut, wanted me to have an anniversary card to celebrate my first year of bilateral hearing. That she even remembered the event warmed my heart to the core. Since no Hallmark or other retail store stocks an appropriate card commemorating the miracle of restored hearing, Sherry decided she'd just have to make me one.

The cover (pictured here) is probably too small to see the special details, so I'll describe a few of the embellishments. The word "Sounds" is in the upper left corner near a picture of a clock with the words "Tic-toc" to the right. Below are some adorable baby birds with "Chirps" glued above them. Next is a small segment of a musical composition threaded to a woven, beaded cord that stretches the length of the card. The word "Conversations" is affixed to a painting of 2 people enjoying one another's company at teatime.

Now, I ask you, is there a more personalized and appropriate cochlear implant card to be found?!? I bet you wish you had a cousin Sherry . . . or maybe you do. Why not tell her how very special she is.

"A man has joy in an apt answer.
And how delightful is a timely word." Proverbs 15:23

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Life is full of discoveries, mostly inconsequential tidbits rather than monumental, life-changing revelations. Yesterday I learned that donkeys (aka: burros) love human contact and possess the temperament of a devoted canine. I've lived for nearly 6 decades, and I never knew that. Important stuff, huh?

Well, today I discovered that when I whistle, the sound registers as 2 distinctly different pitches to my bionic ears. My left ear hears it as a lower tone than my right ear, I suppose because of the difference in the implant technology of my older C1 on one side and the new Harmony implant on the other. It seems really weird since I'm blowing one tone and hearing two!

Life is full of discoveries . . . .

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Bilateral Birthday

The day came and went without fanfare - - - no birthday cake or even a cupcake with a single candle! A whole year of surround sound made possible by the "birth" of hearing in my right ear, yet we did not celebrate.

Was it because it was the dreaded tax day? Was it because it was a typical Wednesday workday? The day that always marked the return of the hummingbirds when we lived in Virginia? Maybe it was because it was my second cochlear implant instead of my first one, less dramatic somehow to add more sound than to initialize it from silence or useless hearing aid amplification? The second child in the family has less baby pictures in the photo album, doesn't he?

A recent comment from a neighbor, "You probably hear better now than the rest of us.", may be a clue to our lack of celebratory spirit. My hearing is so normal, so natural these days that it is easy to forget that it is abnormal, unnatural for a deaf person like me to function as I do. A twinge of discomfort and anxiety does invade my relaxed state of mind on occasion, such as when someone leans over to whisper something in my ear or when I enter a crowded restaurant with ridiculously loud music bellowing forth from the ceiling speakers. But there are also times when Gerry will request, "Say again, please," and a trace of a smile will grace my lips as I marvel over the fact that I heard the comment.

You know, we really should have celebrated. Bilateral hearing is truly wonderful, and I am profoundly grateful! Belated parties are great fun, too. I think I'll drop some hints.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Il Divo

I have always loved acapella male choirs and the wonderful harmonizing of skilled quartets. Gerry used to sing barbershop when we lived in Virginia and his weekly practice sessions were such a treat for me.

I'm a bit behind the times, I know, but I've only just discovered the foursome, Il Divo. When you consider the fact that Christians were tortured and executed in the Roman Coliseum, this rendition of Amazing Grace 2000 years later is truly amazing.

Amazing is a word I often use to describe the sound I get from my cochlear implants. To think that I would have never heard Il Divo if not for the miraculous gift of bionics!!

The setting of this music clip is a coliseum in Croatia. Enjoy.

Saturday, February 14, 2009


I have always loved march music. Play me "The Stars and Stripes Forever" and I'm toe-tapping and on the edge of my seat in eager anticipation of the piccolo solo in the middle. I adore the piccolo, I suppose because it reminds me of a songbird singing its little heart out. Or maybe it's because that high frequency serenade was missing in my life for 20+ years.

We attended a concert tonight that was billed as a tribute to John Philip Sousa. (There are some wonderful perks for those of us who reside in a town with a university that is renown for its music department.) We sat in the front row in the balcony, but I was really in 7th heaven! During the second musical piece, I nonchalantly detached my headpiece from first one ear and then the other to compare the sound of the xylophone and the wood block. I loved the clarity and sharpness of the new Harmony, but I also missed the mellow bass fullness of the clunkier sound of the old C1. So these occasional experiments were conducted as quickly as possible because together the two CI's provide the creme de la creme of sound in a live performance.
Take a bow, Stetson University Symphony Band.


Ah, the look of healing. Ain't it grand? Gerry's now off his pain meds, and we are both rejoicing over the speed of his recovery. I'm often saying to him, "Hon, would you say that again, please." because his swollen tongue makes him sound like a TV drunk. I had forgotten how much clear diction affects how well my implants work for me. He's such a good sport about my frequent requests for repeats and gives it another try.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A Week Later

It's certainly not a bowl of cherries to spend eight days in the hospital, but there are always blessings to consider in light of the alternatives. Apart from the obvious great medical care available in the U.S. of A. that so many other countries would die for (oops --- that didn't come out quite right), I'm so grateful that we have insurance to cover the whopping costs that Gerry's many tests and procedures were piling up.

Even that uncomfortable, sagging child-size roll-away bed I slept in every evening was a blessing because I really wanted to stay by his side as his team of doctors tried to diagnose the problem. (Can you find me in the picture?) He was wheeled out at 10:00 pm on Friday night for an MRI which uncovered a major problem, 80% blockage in his left carotid artery. This was NOT the cause of his "event" last Wednesday but was indeed a dangerous situation --- a stroke just waiting to happen. A vascular surgeon came in on Saturday night to explain the recommended surgery and to schedule it for Monday, his first available opening.

With each new day came a visit from several different nurses or the occasional case worker, student intern, and the all-important hospital specialist to check on him and to give us a report on his CT scans, blood work, EEG's, EKG's, etc. All negative, thank the Lord, but perplexing since the cause of his previous troubles was still a mystery. Hearing these scores of visitors was challenging for me because the majority of them were non-American with heavy accents.

Now here's a pretty picture! A day and a half after carotid endarterectomy and a few hours before discharge. Gerry's voice is at least one octave lower, sounding like Louis Armstrong, and his swollen tongue makes eating and speaking a bit of an effort. Time should allow these nerves to heal.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Ears for Emergencies

I was never more grateful for my CI's and bilateral hearing than yesterday. Gerry had an "episode" while we were in the work van. He pulled over, white as a sheet and clammy to the touch, and said to me, "Call 911." Using my cell phone in my left ear, I could hear the dispatcher's questions, such as, "Is he having trouble breathing?", "Can he move his legs?", "Is the nausea any worse?", I could relay each question to Gerry, then hear his mumbled responses in my right ear. While the EMT's tended to him, I handled the steady stream of questions with only a few, "I'm sorry - would you say that again, please."

We are still in the hospital since all the tests may take days. I drove home in the evening for essentials, like my CI battery charger, and thanked our merciful God for the ability to hear and for His promised presence and care for us.

Friday, January 23, 2009


Last weekend we celebrated Dad's 84th birthday by going to the final Orlando showing of "Riverdance", the famous Irish music and dance extravaganza. Imagine the thrill for me to hear this marvelous production with both ears!I must confess, by the end of the show I had a dull headache 'cuz I just couldn't bring myself to turn down the volume on my CI's. I wanted to experience the full spectrum of surround sound from start to finish, every tap and shuffle, every penny whistle and drumbeat. From the melancholy haunting wail of the Uilleann bagpipe to the flat clank of the cowbell - - - I loved it all.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Friday, November 21, 2008

Cell Phone Success

I am so proud of my "new" bionic ear. I gave it quite a test today and it passed with flying colors. The work-out was a lengthy cell phone conversation - - - not a call in the quiet of my own living room and not with a familiar, "safe" voice of a family member. I was in the passenger seat of a very noisy Chevy van with my "new" ear next to the window. It was Friday afternoon and traffic was heavy. I was talking with an acquaintance from Atlanta whose voice I was not accustomed to. Holding it to my ear to take advantage of the built-in t-coil and the T-mic, I never once needed to say, "Pardon?" or "Could you please repeat that; I didn't catch what you said."

This event means nothing to a person with normal hearing, but to this phone phobic who is deaf as a do-nut hole, it was a shining moment.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


During our prayer request time after Bible Study on Tuesday, Linda quietly exclaimed, with her eyes gazing at her hands, "I have one kitty." My mind immediately began to consider the possible reasons for her obvious distress: something has happened to her other cat? She's about to tell us about something terrible that has happened to her precious kitty?

Then I hear " . . . new doctor . . . in renal failure stage 3 . . . I'm waiting for blood test results . . . drinking more water . . ." and I begin to suspect that maybe I've misunderstood something. What's the matter with her darn cat?

Try as they may, these dear ladies who attend our neighborhood Bible study just can't seem to abide by the one-voice-at-a-time rule, especially during the prayer request time at the close of our bi-weekly gathering. Each one feels compelled to add what they know about the details of the prayer concern. With everyone talking at once about this and that -healthy diet, the negative impact of stress, a great aunt who had - I'm at the mercy of catching a word or phrase here and there from poor Linda who is seated across the large circular table.

And then it dawns on me. Oh, she said that she has one KIDNEY! I try to suppress a smile, which is certainly not an appropriate response to Linda's current tribulation. Hearing loss can still get me in trouble from time to time, even with two great cochlear implants.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Electronic Buzzing

The mystery of that occasional electronic buzzing sounds since my last mapping has been solved. I had assumed it was the wider IDR on my new program slot, but not so. Strange as it may seem, I figured it out when riding in Mom and Dad's car.

Gerry "looped" their car years ago so that my hearing-impaired mom could be a part of our conversations. All the passengers wear boom mics and Mom flips a switch on her remote which activates her t-coils on her hearing aids. Voila - - - our voices go straight to her Phonak aids and she stays in the "loop".

Well, we were pulling out of the driveway and Mom's knee rubbed on the boom mic protruding from the seat pocket. My Harmony ear made a crackling "kkkrrr" sound and I thought "Hey, what's this about?". She touched the foam covering the tiny mic and I heard a rustling sound again.

The light slowly began to dawn on me; I sensed the approach of an "Ah-ha" moment. I retrieved the mic, passed it up to Gerry in the driver's seat, and asked him to talk into the mic. Mom commented, "Sheila, I don't have my t-coils turned on yet." Gerry started talking and his voice was immediately in my right ear.

So . . . . mystery solved. My audi must have activated my t-coil on program #3 when she put the wider IDR setting in that slot. It's no wonder that I buzz when I get close to the TV or walk through those sensor panels at the drugstore. Since I prefer the 80 IDR for everyday listening, that buzzy t-coil needs to be moved to another program slot. Guess what I'm going to request next time I go to Tampa for another mapping?

Monday, September 15, 2008

CI Semantics

Oh, the world of techo-lingo abounds with cochlear implants. Words and acronyms, such as threshold, compression, spectral channels, RF, NRI, AGR, IDR, HiRes -P, HiRes -S . . . . what does it all mean? Well, the bottom line for me is this: if my audiologist works her magic on the computer and I hear better as a result, I'm a happy camper.

At my 6th mapping session today, I asked for a wider IDR for my last program slot, position #3. The letters IDR stand for Input dynamic range. The "standard" IDR default setting is 60, I think, and the maximum on my new Harmony is 80. This is the widest in the CI industry and a unique feature of the Harmony processor.

So what, you ask? The bigger the number, the bigger the sound window. That means that my world of sound has now expanded outward if I switch to slot #3. A wider IDR is designed to allow me to hear more loud vs. soft and near vs. far away sounds.

What have I noticed so far?

  • fuller, louder choir at church on Sunday. WONDEFUL!!

  • easier to hear a book-on-tape through the car speakers - the voice seems to "come through" better somehow

  • clearer sound on the TV - I catch more words without looking at the screen

  • hearing some soft electronic buzzing when close to the TV and when walking through the monitor thing-y at the drugstore entrance. I remember having this annoyingly loud with my digital hearing aids but not with my CI.

I've heard other CIers with Advanced Bionics refer to this IDR setting as their "music program" since softer softs and louder louds makes quite a difference for music buffs. After just one week, I think I like it as my daily setting. I may prefer to switch to program #1 in a noisy restaurant, but I haven't been out to eat yet. Humm . . . excuse me . . . "Gerry, . . . ."

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Non-CI Moment

Some wonderful moments do not involve sound. It's no secret that I'm a butterfly lover, not because of their melody but because of their incredible symmetrical beauty and their remarkable power of metamorphosis. I even think the caterpillars are gorgeous.

I love providing them with host plants for their eggs and with flowers for the adults to feed on. I do the gardening and Gerry takes the photos - a good team approach.
This morning we were entertained by a visitor we'd never had before and who graciously allowed us to take his picture. I theorize that his resting posture may have something to do with the dreary week of downpours from Tropical Storm Fay that we've just endured. We've had a record-breaking amount of rain, deluging weather that is distasteful to butterflies as well as people. This butterfly is called a red-spotted purple admiral. Isn't he a charmer?