Wednesday, 31 December 2008

New Year's Eve 2008

Last day of this great year!!

I went for coffee with my teacher of the Deaf who was my teacher from when I was 2 years old until 11 years old and since then we have kept in touch as good friends. At lunchtime we went to the pub and had a lovely meal.

This evening I went to my local Deaf Club and it was nice to see my friends there again. We had to wear fancy dress and over the last few days I had been making my fancy dress costume as a clockwork mouse. I didn't win though. But we had a great evening and I spent the first few moments of 2009 stamping on balloons bursting them as we cheered the New Year in. There was another man who is a regular member at the Deaf Club whom I have seen there for years who has a cochlear implant and he had his for 12 years. I had never really spoken to him before and now that I have been implanted we both had a really good chat tonight in BSL comparing our cochlear implant experiences and with his cochlear implant, he remains very active in the Deaf World and Deaf Community like me. Got home at 3am!!

I have a few notes to say about 2008:

2008 - Wow!! What a year of change!! May the positive journey with the CI continue long into 2009.

I find it funny commenting on 2008. I remember Christmas Eve 2007 was when I had received the news that my CI op was going ahead and scheduled for 4th February was confirmed. I remember spending last Christmas and New Year being excited about the fact that I was getting cochlear implanted whilst at the same I was alittle nervous about the operation as I don't like hosptials (because I am very squeamish) and I can't stand being out of action. I have been able to relax this Christmas as everything is going well with the CI.

As I said before in my post of 13th December 2008, I mentioned that, apart from the brilliant support of my Cochlear implant centre, my Mum and my hearing friends and my Deaf friends, I had sort of been on my own from March to July trying to adjust to the cochlear implant with limited support of other adult cochlear implant users (implanted as adults). It was only in July that I started meeting other cochlear implanted adults (implanted as adults) on a regular basis. I met another Deaf CI user who grew up in the Deaf World and used BSL with whom I have regular contact. She gives me good support and continues to support me now and we have become really good friends and we now meet up on a regular basis as we live quite near. Since November, I have met many more Deaf people (BSL users as well as non BSL users) who have grown up with deafness and then implanted as adults whom I have become good friends with too and these are developing all the time. Before July I had to rely solely on the support from my CI centre, my colleagues and hearing friends who help me with the listening practices and my Mum and all of my Deaf and hearing friends with the struggles of adjusting to the world of sound when coming from silent world. They still continue to support me now.

There seems to be (maybe I am wrong) but there seem to be lots of resources and support for Deaf children with cochlear implants. I have noticed that the needs of some deafened people seem to differ to those who are born deaf / grown up deaf in making sense of speech with cochlear implants. Those with more memory of speech and had the ability to comprehend speech pre implant seem to comprehend speech better and alot quicker with their cochlear implants than people like me who were born deaf and never been able to comprehend speech without lip-reading.

I have been made more aware of hearing culture. For those of us who use British Sign Language (BSL) like myself and coming from the Deaf World, we have absorbed and grown up with Deaf Culture and it was for me quite hard work trying to make sense of the hearing world and its hearing culture. From a cultural perspective, meeting more people who have grown up as Deaf BSL users in the Deaf Community implanted as adults and who are still just as involved in the Deaf World who has come through that adjustment or who are still adjusting has really helped my confidence and helped me to understand the processes and the changes I am going through and know that everything I am going through with the CI bad and good are perfectly normal for our group of CI users. It is also good to compare and share our experiences with those who have grown up deaf in the hearing world. It is confidence boosting as we are all in the same boat, share similar experiences, we are not alone and can support each other along the way. Having a cochlear implant does not change who I am, it is just to make life easier for me in the hearing world where I work and my career progression, communicating with my family, communicating with the public and to improve my health and safety in the outdoors and my enjoyment of music. Afterall, its like an extra powerful hearing aid and therefore does not change my preferred method of communication which is BSL and my Deaf Identity. I like to make the most of both worlds - the Deaf World and the hearing world.

I am amazed that there is suddenly a big group of us who have grown up with deafness (BSL users and non BSL users) who have been implanted during the last year and lots of prospective ones too. I am also not the only BSL user who has been deaf from birth who has been implanted as an adult either - and I am amazed here that there are more and more of us BSL users in the Deaf Community considering cochlear implants and being implanted as some of us used to be against cochlear implants full stop (me included). A greater awareness of the needs and cochlear implant experience of all those who have grown up as D/deaf who have been cochlear implanted as adults is now starting to develop as cochlear implantation also seem to be spreading amongst the Deaf Community and it is good that their Deaf identity and use of BSL has been retained. I have several signing Deaf friends (adults) who are now thinking of having cochlear implants and have been asking me loads of questions on what is it like to have a cochlear implant. I shall refer them to my blog.

The staff at my cochlear implant centre and those at the Ear Foundation are fantastic and they really listen to you when you need advice and they give you really good advice or put you in the right direction to get the support you need. Whenever I have problems with my Cochlear Implant and its processor and accessories like batteries, my cochlear implant centre are brilliant at getting me seen very quickly to help sort out problems out very quickly and I am so thankful for everything that they have done for me including all the medical stuff (operation), technical (tuning and CI processor accessories) and for the speech and language side of things as well as support and guidance. And I am also really thankful to my friends who help me with listening practice in the evenings and am really thankful for the support and encouragement that all my friends give as well as my Mother when the going was tough. My Mum told me to explain to people who don't know why I have difficulty comprehending speech is to tell them that what I hear of people speaking sounds like a foreign language that one doesn't understand.

As a result I am feeling so much happier and positive with my CI, and as I have been switched on now for 10 months, it is REALLY improving now since November. I know exactly where I stand now with my CI, music is so much better its beyond belief and I hear so many environmental sounds and its so nice to know about some of the sounds in the environment although I still get confused with some of them and I still can't hear everything as this is all still developing. I still cannot follow speech in groups and still need to lipread when communicating on a one to one basis in an everyday environment. However although communication with lipreading on a one to one basis has improved, groups chats and communicating in noisy environments are still impossible so I keep my expectations low here as these are alot harder.

Roll on 2009 for further improvements and another successful year.

Happy New Year to you all!!

p.s. No photos to show you this Christmas I'm afraid - my camera broke 2 weeks before Christmas - too late to ask Father Christmas for a new one!!

Monday, 29 December 2008

Monday 29th December 2008 - a quiet day

We had a quiet day staying at my parents house. I spent most of the day on my lap top catching up with my blogs, emails and chatting to my friends on MSN in the kitchen.

A few new things I have noticed: The TV in my parents' living room is really really loud and I am in the kitchen which is 2 rooms away!! I couldn't believe it. I asked my mum, is it me or the TV? Mum said its the TV as Dad is going deaf and has the volume right up to near the end. It was funny me commenting on the volume of the TV as I would never have noticed before. I said to Mum that Dad needs to get a hearing aid rather than deafen the rest of the family!! Also later on in the day, my Dad was on the phone and he was really talking loudly down that - I couldn't believe it!! I can also hear new sounds in the house - the central heating tapping the pipes :-)

Sunday, 28 December 2008

Sunday 28th December 2008 - Meeting my Dad's brother

Today we met my Dad's brother and his wife and we went for a really nice meal. It was lovely to see them again, and although I could not follow conversation in the group, it was easier to follow on a one to one. I notice that my Uncle has a pretty strong South Wales accent.

Later that evening I went to one of my friends houses and we played games all evening and had a great time.

Friday, 26 December 2008

Boxing Day 2008 - On the Malverns

It was a jolly chilly day, but we had a lovely walk on the south end of the Malvern Hills from Castlemorton up to the oblelisk past Gullet Quarry. I could hear a few birds that were around and people talking as we past them (not the words) and could hear the crunching sound from the leaves and stones and twigs as we walked on them. My sister and my mum played a game like rounders using a twig and a stone and from 15 metres away I could hear the stone being hit by the twig.

Afterwards we went to a local pub for a drink and for some chips. They had a log fire going and i could hear the snapping of the wood in the fire.

Thursday, 25 December 2008

Christmas Day 2008 - With the family

Christmas Day this year was just the four of us at my parents in Worcester. We had a great day with opening presents, eating, drinking with quiet music in the background. I could hear the music in the background quite well. And although I still can't communicate as a group, one to one communication was easier.

I have been quite lucky with presents this year, I got loads of stuff including a pair of Salomon ski boots, books on the London Underground, some CDs I wanted, the Super Mario Bros Ninetendo game etc.

A great day but I didnt hear the bells on the Cathedral though??

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Christmas Eve 2008 - Home and Worcester Cathedral

After work today, some friends and I from work played Bop it after the pub. One of my friends and I have been playing Bop it in the evenings as part of listening practice with the cochlear implant as it was recommended by another friend who also has her cochlear implant at about the same time as me. I was planning to buy Bop it a few years back but didn't as i realised I wouldn't be able to hear it. After practising, I can now tell when the voice command says Bop it, pull it and spin it... but I cannot get the rest and get incredibly confused with flick it and twist it and pass it and bop it, so still need my hearing friends to help point at which one of those the voice command is saying.

Tonight I drove to my parents to Worcester for the Christmas holidays. I was quite looking forward to it as this would be the first time that we are all at home as a foursome (my sister came to Worcester too) since improvements has occured with the cochlear implant. I was interested to see how much more would I be able to pick up from communication.

We had a nice meal together and mulled wine before going to the Cathedral for the Midnight service. I still can't follow the family chat, but I had noticed that they were relaying and helping me out more as they found it easier to talk to me one to one.

We went to the Cathedral and I was looking forward to this too, as this is a family tradition and we have been doing this for years. I only started asking the Cathedral to book me a sign language interpreter for these services 3 years ago after years of just sitting there not being able to follow the service and therefore not being able to take part. The cathedral has booked me the same sign language interpreter again and it was a lovely service and I was able to take part fully. I was also interested to find what new sounds there would be tonight.

And there were... although I still relied on the BSL interpreter to interpret all the spoken stuff as I still can't make sense of those with the implant. However, I could hear the organ and was very interested to hear how complex it sounded with all the different frequencies playing at the same time. Also it was interesing to hear the choir and to hear the treble and the bass and the harmony going on between the two at the same time - I had never noticed that before either. It was also certainly alot easier to sign along to the carols with being able to hear the carols. Two of the carols that was sung were "O Little Town of Bethlehem" and "It came upon the Midnight Clear" and that along with "Little Donkey" (which wasnt sung at the Cathedral of course) are my fav Christmas carols this year.

An interesting experience.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Tuesday 23rd December 2008 - A sad day apart from the brass band

Found out today that one of my close friends who I went to North Wales with died yesterday from breast cancer. I was so sad and shocked as I saw her last on Friday night (19th December) and she was fine and it was rather sudden downhill decline.

On a brighter note, tonight after work, I went to Tesco again and with tomorrow being Christmas Eve, I had to park my car a fair distance from the store entrance. From my car I noticed that I could hear a brass instrument and a brass band playing some Christmas carols and it sounded like "While Shepherds Watched their Flocks by Night". I could not work out where the band was as I could not see them. Anyway I walked closer to the store and found the brass band playing in the porch at the store's entrance.. I could not believe that I heard the brass band from the other side of the car park!! Wow!!

Friday, 19 December 2008

Friday 19th December 2008 - Peter Rabbit puts on his Christmas bells badge

I have this adorable toy rabbit called Peter Rabbit who is a puppet and he goes nearly everywhere with me and is well loved by myself, some members of my family (my Mum and my Sister) and alot of my friends.

Every year since Christmas 2006 one of my friends put this badge of Christmas bells on his blue jacket and he did the same again this year. I have never heard the bells. This year I heard the bells for the first time and it is pretty noisy. I now have to tell Peter Rabbit to be quiet.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Sunday 14th December 2008 - Family Christmas Party

Every year my Mum's side of the family host a family Christmas Party where we all get together, catch up with news, eat, drink, play games and exchange presents. Today we had another one of these.

As communication for me is so difficult I usually stay with my Mum as she helps translates for me. Today was different. This is the first time I was there with my Cochlear Implant. People were interested to hear how I was getting on. Then we had to play some games and we had to team up with someone who we didn't come in the same car as. I went with my Mum's older brother. And to my amazement, I found that I could communicate with him no problem with lip-read of course. I couldn't believe it, I could never talk to him in as much detail before and this was the first time I could have really good deep conversations with him. As communication was good, we paired up really well in the Christmas games. This has increased my confidence, and I found myself as the party went on, talking to other members of the family on a one to one basis alot more independently and without relying on my Mum. I could not believe it. Everyone was really pleased.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Saturday 13th December 2008 - The Ear Foundation Christmas Party

I went along to the Ear Foundation Christmas Party and had a brilliant time. I met some of my friends who I speak to regularly on MSN, met some of the Ear Foundation Staff and made some more new friends. I find it very interesting to see a large number of born deaf, grown up deaf suddenly be implanted this year including myself and most of us are in our 20s and 30s. We all find that we have similar experience with our cochlear implants as most of us have similar backgrounds and its so good to support one another and compare notes. Apart from the brilliant support of my CI centre, my Mum, my hearing friends and my Deaf friends, I had been sort of on my own from March to July as I didn't really know another Cochlear Implant user with a similar background as me (born deaf and implanted as an adult) who I could meet up with and speak to on a regular basis to compare notes apart from one person who I am becoming friends with who was implanted at my CI centre the week before me and another friend who is the husband of a work friend.

We had a great time together at the party, great to see some of the staff too and enjoyed the quiz and trying to sign Twelve days of Christmas. Well done and thanks to Abi, Katie and Dave who organised it.

There was a new sound coming back to Worcester on the train from Birmingham New Street. I had to change trains at Birmingham New Street. Whilst walking above the platforms to change trains I notice a beep beep sound kept happening all over the place. I have never noticed it before. Then after a while I realised it was text messages arriving in people's mobile phones!! I couldn't believe it. Then once I got on the Worcester train, I sat at a table seat where there was a group of three women who had been shopping together. Anyway they were talking away. I thought I'd use this as an opportunity for group talk practice where it didn't matter if I couldn't follow. I tried to lip-read the woman sitting directly opposite me and I managed to get a few words. But I couldn't get what the other two woman were saying, but I picked up that the woman opposite me was talking about a school using a clip from the Blackadder comedy programme to illustrate something as part of a history lesson and said that it was a good idea to use it.

That night when I got home, my Mum's middle brother and his wife was there and we had a lovely meal together. I still couldn't follow the conversation so still relied on my Mum to translate for me. I noticed my Dad started to help me out too!!

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Thursday 11th December 2008 - What's that noise?

This evening I was at home sorting things out getting ready for going to my parents at the weekend. Earlier in the evening I went up to my bedroom and noticed this really nice electronic high frequency melody sound. I couldn't work out what it was? I thought it was next door's young daughter playing an electronic musical instrument and practising. I wasn't bothered by it so I ignored it. I noticed that I could only hear that sound in my bedroom and not downstairs.

About half an hour I went back to my bedroom to collect something and the sound was still there, but again I ignored it and went back downstairs.

Much later about 12.30am I went back to my bedroom to get ready for bed. I note on returning to my bedroom the sound was still there!! I thought "Gosh - I would have thought she's be tired of practising by now" and thought it was strange that she could be practising at this time of night. Then I decided to glance around my bedroom to see if there was anything that could make that sort of noise and I could not think what in here would make that noise..... then I saw it!.... my hearing aid for my left ear. I had taken it out and placed it on my bedside table. I went over to it to see if it was switched on... and it was!!!! As soon as I switched it off, the sound stopped - ah that is what it was!!!!

Monday, 8 December 2008

Sunday 8th December 2008 - waiting at the bus stop

I was waiting for a bus from the town centre to get my back to my car at a car park as I had to go to a local village hall to help out at the local Deaf Children's Society Christmas Party. The bus was meant to come every 20 minutes and by now we had all been waiting for 40 minutes and the weather was so bitterly cold and we were starting to moan to each other about the unreliability of the buses. Three buses of the same number came by and not ours, so I started chatting to the woman behind me and we were both saying "There's goes another one and where's ours?" I noticed that when she spoke and as long as I could lip-read her, I understood her perfectly well - I was shocked.. I couldn't have done that a few weeks ago.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Saturday 7th December 2008 - Theatre and Christmas meal

This afternoon, I went to a theatre to watch a signed interpreted performance of Hansel and Gretel with some Deaf Children. It was a brilliant performance and I really noticed the improvements in the sound quality. The music sounded brilliant and with lip-reading I could just about lip-read 50% the words of the songs they sang, but for the bits I missed I watched the interpreter. But as for the dialogue, I could hear the voices but I still relied on the BSL interpreter even though every now and again, I might get the odd word through hearing, but that was only the odd word every 10 minutes or so.

Some of us from the South of England with cochlear implants were meant to meet up in a pub tonight for our Christmas meal. There was going to be about 5 of us, but two had to cancel due to illness. The three of us continued to meet and had a lovely evening together and thoroughly enjoyed the pub's Christmassy atmosphere and the food. We met near Henley on Thames. But driving home this night, we had to take care driving as the temperatures dropped to minus 3 degrees celcius - brrrr!!

Monday, 1 December 2008

Monday 1st December 2008 - Christmas Music - A Magical Experience!!

I couldn't wait to listen to my Christmas music CDs with my Cochlear Implant. So on Sunday 30th November I stayed up til midnight when the clocks struck for 1st December. I was in my living room on my lap top chatting to one of my CI friends on MSN. We were both doing the same thing. I then put my Christmas CD on in my hi-fi and played some of the familar songs like Mary's Boy Child, Do they Know its Christmas etc goodness, the music sounds SOOOOO different!! It was sooo much better, it was so full of body and it was so crystal clear - AMAZING!! I really love my music now through my implant and then I decided to compare the sound of the music between my CI ear and my hearing aid ear. In the middle of a song, as soon as I removed the implant, and just heard the music with my hearing aid, there was a MASSIVE difference!! A really really HUGE chunk of sound including the vocal had suddenly disappeared and I was just left with the one note - the lowest bass note that was so unclear and meant nothing!! Then I put the implant back on and the rest of the sound came back and the vocal came back. It was like with the hearing aid I only heard 5% of the music and with the implant it increases what I hear of the music up to 60% as well as giving me some clarity (not enough to distunguish the words of the vocals though). I was shocked. Made me realised - how little I heard through my hearing aids and then I wondered how on earth did I get this far in life with hearing so little from my hearing aids? I suppose I didn't know what I was missing at the time!! Now I want my other ear implanted!!