Monday, July 03, 2006

Fireworks in 2006

A deluxe fireworks show is so much more than a visual experience. I learned this back in 2001 when I thrilled to my first fireworks display with a cochlear implant. But this year was another memory maker because of an event sponsored by Advanced Bionics at the Hearing Loss Association of America's annual convention at Disney World in Orlando. Imagine experiencing a grand fireworks extravaganza at Epcot in the company of scores of other CI users!

The lady sitting next to me had a first generation implant like mine and we both heard the synchronized orchestral music, the descending whistle sounds as the visual spirals cascaded downward, the bean-shaker sizzling sound with the ones that look like white rain, and the standard launch phoosh and subsequent booms and crackles as the pyros burst into color. Incredible!

I got teary-eyed as I took it all in, thinking about what all of us would be missing if the music and sound were absent. For me, if it had been 5 years earlier, it would have meant turning off my hearing aid because of the pain I always endured in the presence of loud sounds and just standing there in total silence. The display would have been one dimensional, a mere visual display of movement and color. Granted, that visual drama would have been a pleasure, but the difference when you add the sound field is an exponential one. It fits in the issue of quality of life, I think.

Having the blessing of a cochlear implant not only allows me the emotional thrill of all the elements of the pyrotechnics but, more importantly, the too-often-taken-for-granted joy of conversing with my new CI acquaintance about the experience we just enjoyed together. What a spectacular evening!