Monday, November 12, 2012

"Do not give up, the beginning is always the hardest....

I have been away from my blog entries for quite some time.....a month to be exact. I couldn't bring myself to write until now. The purpose of sharing my journey from the beginning was to help others understand better the process involved in getting a cochlear implant, to share my feelings, my milestones and so much more. I am a private person but I knew at the beginning of this I had to step out of my comfort zone to share my journey. I had become an open book, so to speak. This last month was the one of the most difficult for me. I wasn't ready to share it with the whole world. I felt very vulnerable and it's still hard for me now because that means I am exposing my weaknesses. I like to be strong and I like to show that I am strong but I understand now that experiencing these weak moments are leading me up to the now and making me stronger for the future. I came across a quote, "Your journey has molded you for the greater good, and it was exactly what it needed to be. Don't think that you've lost time. It took each and every situation you have encountered to bring you to the now. And now is right on time." I realized then it was okay to have these moments and to try to embrace them the best way I can. Every situation and trial that I battle, every milestone that I triumph is exactly how it's supposed to happen. God is in control. I need to trust Him always.  Every stepping stone, every stick thrown in front of me and hurdling over every one of them is testing my will in ways I never thought possible. I've had a lot of sticks thrown at me this last month and it was a very trying month. There were times I wanted to give up. My emotions were stripped so raw. My mind was in overload.....sensory overload. I was mentally exhausted. I fell into an almost  depressed like state for two weeks. I was trying to deal with a new life of sounds. It was a much quieter world the last 44 years. Then.....I was thrust upon this very noisy world. High pitch noises I have never heard in my entire life that many with hearing are used to were apparent everywhere. I had adjustments almost every week. There were some setbacks. There were some changes. There were some improvements. As my longtime teacher once told me, it is like a wedding dress fitting. There will be many alterations and fittings until I find the "right fit". The last month was spent trying to get used to the high pitches. Then bringing in the lows a little bit at a time. The metallic taste in my mouth came back when the low pitches were brought in. I would get the metallic taste in my mouth when deeper voices were more prominent. My audiologist called Cochlear Americas to ask about this. She was told it is normal and should go away over the course of the next few weeks or months. It just means one or more of the electrodes are close to my nerve endings. She tweaked it around a little bit. She turned off three electrodes and moved things over to the other electrodes. She also adjusted the high pitches to where it wasn't so overpowering. Things were looking up. I struggled through those two weeks of feeling really down. I thought a lot about how it would've helped to be more prepared and more informed before the surgery. I think it would have helped more if I had a mentor before the surgery and support along the way. I believe that it is a service that should be provided along with the surgery and adjustment appointments. Only someone with a cochlear implant can truly understand what I am going through. They may not have the same experience but they will understand. I hope that I can provide that support to someone in the future. As hard as a hearing person will try to understand, they cannot. Until they walk in my shoes. My family has truly been my rock. They hold me up. They push me. They give me much needed emotional support. I don't have any regrets and I know that my reward will be greater in the long run. One day I happened to walk in my daughter's room to talk with her. I was immediately drawn to her mirror where she had quotes written all over with a colored dry erase marker. Two quotes spoke to me, "You've got what it takes but it will take everything you've got." and " You were given this life because you're strong enough to live it." It really struck a chord in my heart and tears sprang to my eyes. I knew then that I needed to pull my bootstraps ups and snap out of this. Time to get to work. The first thing I did was look for a support group online on Facebook. I found one called Cochlear Implant Experiences and it was a closed group. I joined and it was exactly what I needed. I shared my experiences and wondered if they were normal. I had many responses immediately from all over the country. Many experienced what I was experiencing and gave me much encouragement. They all said things will sound normal on the average of 4 to 6 months time. Some experience it earlier but that seemed to be the average. This gave me hope! I checked in almost daily to read others' experiences and to ask questions. I seemed to be right on track. It helped me tremendously. I was able to move forward much quicker having that kind of support. I got to work. I got on a website that was suggested to me by a gentleman I consider a mentor that my Mom introduced me to after I had my surgery. This website,  is used for learning English but is very useful for learning to listen to sounds of words. I try to practice 15 minutes at a time because that's about all I can start with. There will be two words side by side that almost sound alike. For example, bus and boss, cut and caught, etc. I click on each word to listen to the sound of the word. Then below those words is a quiz. After I practice I will click on quiz and try to listen to which word is being said. I got a lot wrong at first but I am starting to get some right. It takes practice! I feel like I am in elementary school all over again and that is hard for me at times but I keep reminding myself I did this before and I can do it again. I will get there. I also turn my hearing aid off for a few minutes throughout the day and just listen with the cochlear. I try to do that and just learn the different sounds. I am starting to differentiate the sounds and pitches. I also told myself that I need to pace myself at work since I work in a very noisy dental office. I now wear it half a day while I am there until I get more acclimated to the high pitch dental sounds. My Mom started sending me recordings every few days to practice listening to her voice. We downloaded the Smart Recorder Lite app on our Iphones. She records a sentence or two and sends the recording to me along with a text of what is said. I listen to it over and over. She would say simple things like, "Good morning Lisa. The sun is out. I hope you have a great day. I love you." Keeping it short and simple is what works for me now. I actually had tears in my eyes last week as I listened to one of her recordings because I felt like her voice is starting to come through more to me. I felt like it was another small turning point. Voices still sound mechanical but it is starting to change. High pitch sounds are becoming more tolerable now. It is not entirely comfortable yet. I'm working on it. I am learning where each high pitch sound is coming from. I now know when my microwave timer is going off. I can hear the two beeps when the timer goes off. The other day, I was cooking dinner over the stove and all of a sudden two beeps went off and I looked over and sure enough, the timer went off. It took weeks of practice but this week I didn't have to guess where that came from. That was another small turning point. Some noises are annoying. I now know when someone is coming in the back door. My screen door squeaks so loudly when closing. So annoying and I've been getting on Todd to oil that back door! I have finally figured out Andrew's whistle. He loves to whistle all the time. His whistle is so profound and loud. At times I have to stop Andrew and say "shhhh". The other day while doing laundry I kept hearing this clanging high pitch when I was in the other room. I walked towards the source and sure enough, it was one of Hannah's jacket. It was the zipper clanging inside the dryer. I took the jacket out to air dry. It's nice to know I have some control! One wow moment I had this past weekend which I felt was huge to me was the music at Hannah's cheer competition in Waynesville. The car radio still bothers me at times so I wasn't sure how I was going to do with all the girls screaming their cheers along with the music. I was prepared to take it off at some point. Wow, the DJ music was so loud and just radiated throughout the gym. I was there for five hours. I listened. As time passed, I actually enjoyed it! What was amazing to me was that I was hearing other instruments other than the drums. Before with my hearing aids, I would only hear the drums and the beats. I looked at Todd and asked him what I was hearing other than the drums. He said it was the keyboards and guitars. It was crazy! I was starting to make it out the longer I listened. It wasn't annoying. I could tell the difference in different songs. Alot of them were fast songs. Then at the end of the competition were two hip hop groups that performed. The first hip hop group really touched me. I loved the hip hop music! I listened and I was able to hear some soft melodies and then some strong beats along with it. It was just a different kind of music and I liked it! Who would have thought.....a 44 year old liking hip hop music? It was a huge day for me. To actually sit there for five hours without being uncomfortable, enjoying the music and feeling it in my body was a monumental day for me. I caught myself swaying my body to the music at times. I was ready to dance! So, I feel like I am turning around the corner. All these small turning points are leading up to bigger milestones. I am getting stronger each day. As I end this blog entry, I am reminded of Matt's favorite scripture which is also one of my favorites.....Phillippians 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me".

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