Cochlear Implants Are Different

Most of us have seen the videos of a someone who has been deaf their whole life who  receives a cochlear implant and can suddenly hear. (or maybe people just send those to me)  The wonder on the their face is very touching and can be described as miraculous.  I will not get into the debate over whether or not a child, a person who has been deaf since birth, or a person who has lost their hearing should be implanted, that is a very personal decision that I have no right to weigh in on.

I do want to talk about how not everyone with a cochlear implant hears the same.   Recently I read an article that talked about having a cochlear implant, the person writing the article has been deaf his whole life, does not have a cochlear implant, and has chosen not to get one, I respect that decision.  Many of the commentors did not.  The comments on that article were argumentative and down right rude.  I found it very interesting, and a bit disturbing, that so many people assume that the experience they have with their cochlear implant is the same experience everyone would have. That simply is not true.

Yes, it is a miraculous thing to suddenly be able to hear.  (for some for the first time, for others to hear again, like me.)  The thing is, we have no idea what those people are hearing.  It could be words, or it could be clicks and whistles or a combination of many sounds.  If you never heard a sound before, would your face not show amazement?  We cannot judge what they are hearing by a simple video.  My audiologist told me that they she cannot understand what I hear, because she doesn’t have a cochlear implant and if she did, it could be totally different.  Some people who only hear little bits might be able to hear more later, some will not.  I met a lady at the Hearing Loss Association meeting who has cochlear implants and she can hear very little.  She cannot hear speech.  Her cochlear implants allow her to hear emergency signals, and not much else.  I am amazed at how well she gets by with reading lips, but she does get lost, and I do wonder how much she misses.  Often she simply smiles and nods, something I find myself doing way too often.  But she is very grateful for the hearing she has. I can’t imagine.  There are some people who hear almost as well as a normal hearing person, I can’t imagine that one either. 

So many people assume that cochlear implants are like hearing aids,  They are not!  Hearing aids amplify sound, but the person can still hear the way they are supposed to, just not as well.  In other words, no one had to implant something in their head to help them hear sounds.  “a cochlear implant bypasses damaged portions of the ear to deliver sound signals to the auditory (hearing) nerve.” (WebMD)  I have a device that was surgically implanted in my head and through the cochlea of my ear to deliver sound to my brain.  I do not hear with my ears.  No matter how high I put the volume on my cochlear implants it will not improve my hearing.  I know it’s confusing, but trust me, I’ve had both, a hearing aid and a cochlear implant, they are not the same in any way.

With my hearing aids I could turn up the volume and hear, no they were not perfect, I still had trouble with wind, noisy situations….all kinds of things.  The point is that the only thing that a hearing aid can do is amplify sound, if that will help you, that’s great.  I honestly wish I could still be helped with hearing aids.  I was not deaf without them, without my cochlear implants I hear nothing.

When I started losing my hearing I asked my doctor if I should learn sign language, he said, “You will never be deaf”  I realize now that he meant that even if I lost my hearing, he would simply give me a cochlear implant.  Which he did.  In hindsight I should have learned ASL (American Sign Language) before I started needing it.  I do not believe he understands the limits of the device

My audiologist warned me that some people do not hear speech with their CI’s, some only hear arbitrary sounds (clicks, whistles…)  She told me that people who have had hearing often do better than those who have never heard.  Their brains simply do not have anything to relate the sounds to, that isn’t always the case though.  (again, I know it’s confusing, we’re just different)  I heard speech immediately, but it sounded strange.  Everyone sounded like Mickey Mouse, luckily I like the Mouse, but it did get a bit annoying.  Gradually I began to hear people the way I remembered they sounded.  It’s a little funny that still sometimes when I meet someone new they will sound a bit like a cartoon.  And do not ever ask me to understand an accent.  

In the comments connected to this article people talked about how they could talk on the phone, play music, go to plays….and they spoke of them as if everyone with a cochlear implant can do those things.  I can’t.  I cannot talk on the phone, and those caption phones are a joke.  They don’t keep up with the caller and they get a lot of stuff wrong.  It’s more annoying than simply saying, “I can’t do it”  and that’s sad.  I miss music.  I miss music so much.  I am literally tearing up just writing those words.  I sing often, but I can’t remember the words to many of the songs, so I make them up.  I want to be playing carols this time of year, but alas it will not be.  I can’t hear it.  I can hear the melody, but the words, nope.  And that makes it just sound garbled.  I do so miss music.  I have been able to go to the movies thanks to the caption boxes, but it is difficult.  There is one theater close to me that is looped, (A  hearing loop (sometimes called an audio induction loop) is a special type of sound system for use by people with hearing aids and cochlear implants. The hearing loop provides a magnetic, wireless signal that is picked up by the hearing device when it is set to ‘T’ (Telecoil) setting.)  So the sound is piped right in my ears.  You would think this would be perfect, but it’s not, I still needed the caption box, but I didn’t use it near as much.  It’s an independent theater though, so I’m still out of luck when I want to see a popular movie.  I cannot imagine going to a live event that has not captions. 

Being deaf is very isolating, even with a cochlear implant.  It’s very hard for me to go out alone, to attend a party, to take a class, go to a restaurant, or…well, so may things.  I’m lucky I have a husband who helps keep me active, and understands my fears, many people do not have this.  If you know someone with hearing loss, reach out, they need all the friends they can get who understand their challenges.

This post got to be a bit longer than I intended, but I hope I’ve helped some of you understand a little bit more about how differently those of us with cochlear implants can hear.  Just because you know me, and my struggles doesn’t mean that the next person you meet with a cochlear implant will have the same issues I do.


If you’d like to know more about me and my cochlear implants you might enjoy this post  What it’s like to have a cochlear implant  Just remember, it’s only my story.

*The photo above is of me with my CI taken a couple of years ago.  Yes, it really is orange


What’s it like to have a Cochlear Implant?

me with CII got my first cochlear implant (CI) in July of 2011, and my second in September of 2013.  When I was going through that time I wrote some about it but I’ve never talked about what it’s like to live with my cochlear implants (CIs).  A friend of mine asked me a few questions about it recently.  I’m here today to answer some of those questions.

What exactly is a Cochlear Implant? – To put it simply, a Cochlear Implant is an electronic device that can help provide a sense of sound to someone who is deaf or severely hard of hearing.  Let me see if I can explain this in my own words.  There is a part that is on the outside of the head that consist of a microphone a processor and a transmitter.  There is part that is on the inside that is the stimulator and the electrode array.  Sound comes into the microphone and goes through the speech processor to the transmitter  (the microphone and processor are the parts around the ear, the transmitter is the part that is on the outside of the head – it is held on by a magnet connecting it to the receiver/stimulator).  The stimulator is in my head, between the skin and the skull.  When the sound comes in to the stimulator it is then sent to the electrode array it then send impulses to the auditory nerves.  For a better explanation please go here.   (you can see the microphone, processor and transmitter on me in the photo at the top of the post – yes mine are orange -, and in the second photo below)

Cochlear Implant
This is a photo of the receiver/stimulator and the array. The array is the wire it is what goes in the cochlea of the ear and sends impulses to the auditory nerves. The stimulator is right on the inside of my head.  The transmitter connects to the stimulator by a magnet.

cochlear implant 2
This is a photo of a microphone, processor, and transmitter. You can readily see the microphone that hooks around the ear but there is one at the top you can’t really see. Many processors have microphones that are not readily seen.

Why did you get cochlear implants? – I lost my hearing due to Meniere’s Disease.  My hearing loss happened fairly quickly.  I was diagnosed bilateral in November of 2009.  In 2010 I got hearing aids, within 3 months of having my hearing aids I couldn’t understand anything out of my left ear.  That sent me on the tract to getting my first CI. (July 2011) By the time I received my first CI, the hearing in my right ear deteriorated to the point that my hearing aid no longer worked.  It took a little while, but I soon got my second CI.(September 2013)  Why did I get cochlear implants?  because that was the only way I would be able to “hear” anything.

How does a cochlear implant work? – I’m going to quote this straight from the National Institute of Deafness and other Communication Disorders site.  “A cochlear implant is very different from a hearing aid. Hearing aids amplify sounds so they may be detected by damaged ears. Cochlear implants bypass damaged portions of the ear and directly stimulate the auditory nerve. Signals generated by the implant are sent by way of the auditory nerve to the brain, which recognizes the signals as sound.”

Do you hear the same with a cochlear implant as a you do with normal hearing? – No.  Some people can understand words and sounds immediately, other people can only hear clicks and whistles.  It is a completely different way of hearing and your brain has to be retrained.  When I was first activated I could understand a lot of words from the start, but everyone sounded like they had been sucking on helium.  A lot of Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse voices were around.  Soon my brain started to remember what certain sounds sound like and I started hearing things the way I used to, for the most part.  When I hear something I’ve never heard before things can sound very odd.  Sometimes when I meet a new person their voice will get that cartoon sound until I get used to them.  The longer you use your CIs the better you hear with them, so 10 years from now I should hear better than I do now.

Do you now hear like everyone else? or is it odd?  What is your hearing like now? – This is the big question isn’t it? What is my hearing like now?   First I’ll tell you about challenges I have that a lot of people with CIs have, then I’ll tell you about my personal challenges.

I often can’t hear when someone speaks behind me.  If there is noise in the room I have a very hard time hearing.  (the newer CI’s are better for this, even though I have a newer CI I still have a hard time)  In groups it is very hard to keep up with what everyone is saying.  I am much better at conversing one on one.  I find I it is much easier for me if the person is facing me so I can read their lips while they are talking to me.  Between the two of those I do pretty well, but put me in a crowded room, and I’m lost.  Heck, put me in a room with more than one person and I can get pretty lost.

I think I might be able to hear better if I had more practice, I’m not sure.  Most of the time I only talk with Stuart.  I talk to my doctors.  I talk with our roommate, but I have a very hard time understanding him.  His voice is deep and I simply cannot understand most of what he says.  It makes things difficult, and sad.  But for the most part I don’t see anyone else.  Since we moved I haven’t met many new people, it’s hard to get used to groups and hearing other people when I don’t have the opportunity.  However, it’s also really hard to put myself out there in those situations because I get so lost and confused.  It does make meeting new people even more challenging.

Unlike most people with cochlear implants my hearing fluctuates.  Some people with Meniere’s who get CI’s end up still having fluctuating hearing.  Normally this happens when we have vertigo, our hearing will change and we need to get our CI’s adjusted.  My hearing doesn’t fluctuate just when I have a vertigo attack it happens every day.

Let me tell you what an average day for me is like.  I’ll get up and put on my cochlear implants, at first it takes me a little bit to get used to suddenly hearing sound.  Everything sounds a bit loud.  Then things will normally calm down and my hearing is stable for a few hours, but every evening my hearing will change.  It’s hard to explain what it sounds like, it gets hollow sounding and can sound way too loud.  I’m always telling Stuart to please be quieter.    Sometimes my hearing will change throughout the day.  I will often say, “I’m having a bad hearing day.”  I’m thrilled when I can say I’m having a good hearing day.

When I take my CI’s off the world changes.  Suddenly the only thing I can hear is my tinnitus.  (When I have my CI’s on the sound of the outside world helps me to not notice my tinnitus as much.)

I don’t know sign language.  I am working on learning some, but I haven’t been able to take a class.  At times Stuart and I can only communicate by me reading his lips and the little bit of sign language we know.

What is a challenge you wouldn’t normally think about? – This one is easy, having the headpiece suddenly fly off  because I got too close to something metal.  I have a bracelet that I wear sometimes and if I put my arm up around my head the CI headpiece (the transmitter) will jump off and stick to it.  It’s kind of funny, kind of annoying.   Other times when I want to lie down the headpiece won’t stay on.  This is annoying, especially when I’m sick.  I deal with vertigo better when I can hear what is going on around me since I can’t focus on anything, but during an attack I need to lie down, this often knocks my CI off and I can’t hear anything out of one ear.

Does it hurt? – Well the surgery hurt, but it wasn’t so bad.  It is actually an out-patient surgery.  Does it hurt on a day-to-day basis?  Not really.  If the magnets that are holding the headpiece to my head are too strong it hurts, but then I can change that.  I have screws that are very close to the surface right behind my ears.  One ear is worse than the other.  Most people don’t have this problem, normally when it heals fat and cartilage form around the screws and you don’t notice them, for me the screw is right up against the skin.  Sometimes this hurts.  Sometimes my processor and glasses will rub on them.  My sun glass arms are thicker than my daily glasses and they will cause that area to hurt.  If I can lie down on it, it hurts a bit.  Other than that, no it doesn’t hurt.  If I didn’t have the screw issue I really wouldn’t even notice I have them on.

Now I just have to share the funniest thing I’ve misheard due to my hearing loss–  Once I asked Stuart what Jesus was other than seen as a prophet and son of God.  The answer I heard was, “Jesus was Jimmy Buffett”  I busted out laughing.  “Whaaat?  Jesus was Jimmy Buffett??”  What Stuart actually said was, “Jesus was a Jewish Carpenter.”  I still get the giggles when I think about Jesus being Jimmy Buffett!

Migraines, Vertigo, Disequilibrium, Pain – mix and repeat often

Where have I been you ask?  Or perhaps you haven’t noticed (don’t tell me, I want to think I was missed) I haven’t been commenting as much on other blogs, or chatting away on mine (I know for a while I’ve been a little silent here so you probably didn’t notice), I haven’t even been able to answer emails in a timely manner.  I logged on today and I had over 230+ emails in my inbox.  Normally there are about 30…so how many days has it been??

I’ve been much sicker, if that’s the word to use, lately.  I’m not really sick, it’s my chronic stuff, plus a little oops added in. First I’ll tell about my oops.

I know in my last post 30 things you may not know….. I mentioned how hard it is for me to wash my hair.  It’s normally easier in the bathtub than the shower (I’ve fallen too many times in the shower), but I’ve decided that my bathtub is evil.  I’ve had heart palpitations in the tub and nearly passed out, I’ve slipped a few times trying to get out, once I smacked my head against the wall.  My latest fight with the tub?  I pulled the tendons in my left ankle, and knocked everything out of whack on that side from my foot to my lower back, while I was lying in the tub.  Yes, I said, LYING IN THE TUB!  Only me right?  Ok, it was a little more than just lying still.  I had scooted down in the tub to rinse my hair, then I pushed with my feet to scoot up – my left foot slipped and went in a direction it shouldn’t have.  But I must say, it really didn’t hurt. When I got out of the tub I could stand fine as long as I didn’t go up on my toes.  So I’m thinking, no big deal.  Then Stuart looked at my ankle and said, “Oh My!”.   My ankle was very swollen!!  My lower back hurt, but my ankle really didn’t.  If you touched the swollen area it hurt, but not much.  This happened last Friday night.  On Wednesday the swelling was down and I had a massage, she helped the leg and back, but last night my ankle was swollen again.   (not that I’ve been on it, I had vertigo all day yesterday so I was in the bed.)  So now you know.  I am afraid of my tub and shower….makes it pretty hard to keep up personal hygiene, but I manage….thanks to that darling man of mine.

What else had been causing me frustration and just plan fear lately?  I was supposed to have the Botox shots for my migraines on the 18th, my doctor was sick and they had to reschedule….they wanted to make the appointment in November!  We are leaving for Tucson, AZ the last week on October, we won’t be here in November.  So they scheduled it for October 20th…I cried.  I had the worst time with migraines this past month.  Right before my period started the pain started…they gave me special medication for that time of the month, it didn’t work.  I had 15 days out of 20 were spent in a dark room, often without any hearing device on because the light and sound would make me throw up.  Throw in some vertigo, and we have a great party going on.  Luckily, the appointment has just been changed to October 3rd.  This should be during my period, so it will be a real test.  Big problem now?  If it works I need to have another shot regimen in 3 months, we won’t be here.  I’m not sure I can find a neurologist in Tucson who would be willing to see me just once to give me Botox injections.  Actually, I doubt I will be able to, so it will be more like 5 months between injections.

Recently I’ve been having more vertigo, and constant disequilibrium.  Frankly, it scares me.  I’m pretty sure some of this is Cerebrospinal Fluid Pressure.  We changed my medication that controls the high pressure to a times released form instead of the kind I have to take numerous times a day (I kept missing one).  Since I’ve been on this new version of this medication I’ve been having symptoms like I did when my pressure was too low.  I started back on the regular form of the medication yesterday, I hope this really is what’s wrong.  Because the vertigo is scary.  I’m proud of myself about how much better I’m dealing with it.  I don’t panic as much, I’m sure I would if it was a severe attack.  My biggest fear I have is that when a severe attack hits it will never end.   I’ll give you an example of my days…Yesterday I woke up to the word spinning, slowly, but still spinning…this went on all day.  Luckily, I was able to sleep through some of it.  Then when it actually got to be bedtime, I couldn’t sleep.  So many things going through my head.  I kept thinking, something doesn’t add up….but I’m not sure what…at least I finished Uncle Tom’s Cabin…and still laid awake until 5am.  Today, I’m not spinning, but I can’t walk straight.  I can’t move my head at a normal speed or I will fall down from the disequilibrium.  In the past 48 hours, I’ve been to the bathroom once unaided.

OK…I know this is another venting post.  But I’m scared.  What if the change in medication doesn’t work?  Then why is this happening?  We’ll figure it out, or I’ll learn to live with it!  Right?

The other night I was talking to Stuart and told him that sometimes I envy people who don’t have to feel like I do.  Of course, he said that’s natural, part of self-preservation and all that….  I then told him, I would gladly be the only person in the world who had to feel this way if no one else ever did.  And I mean it.  The thought that others go through this is heart breaking to me.

The Lorax
photo from

I do have some good news about my hearing!  (unfortunately I had to cancel the last 3 appointments I’ve had with my audiologist because I was too ill to go, so I can’t tell you what she has to say, but I have some Wow! news.)  Stuart got The Lorax DVD from Netflix and we curled up in bed and watched it on the computer.   I used the direct link cable and linked the computer sound up to my processor.  I didn’t expect to hear any better than I hear the TV, I thought I’d mostly read the movie, as usual (thank goodness for closed captioning!), but this was different!  I heard the movie!!  I heard the characters the way they were supposed to sound!  I really heard it all, just right!  Isn’t that amazing?  That gives me hope that one day my CI will give me sounds that are normal.  Right now, I hear better with it than my hearing aid, but sounds are a bit off, however, I understand things more.  It’s coming along!  And The Lorax is my new best friend!


A Day of Wonders (Cochlear Implant activation)

Tuesday, July 31st, I woke up to this beautiful site:

Tulips from my hubby! What a wonderful surprise!!

I had an appointment with Dr. Kaylie to check my incision at 1pm, and then I saw the audiologist immediately afterward.

Dr. Kaylie was pleased that I didn’t have as much pain or vertigo with this surgery.  The incision looked great, and all was a go for activation….well, to get my processor.  Dr. Kaylie already checked to make sure the Implant was working when I was in surgery, so that wasn’t a worry.  The implant was already working, but I couldn’t hear anything without the processor.  It was time to get the processor.  So off to see Sara, my audiologist.

It was very interesting to have the processor hooked up.  At first I just heard a series of beeps, (that’s what I was supposed to hear).  She was determining the volume each frequency should be. Then I was able to hear speech, and when I first heard her talk I busted out laughing!  She sounded like a cartoon, then I heard Stuart speak, and he sounded like a cartoon…heck, I sounded like a cartoon.  I kept giggling every time someone spoke. Everyone still sounds cartoonish.  A very silly cartoon, like on Rodger Rabbit.  It’s amusing but also quite difficult.  Sara reassured me that all of her patients tell her that it gets better, but everyone is different.  My brain has to be trained to hear a different way.  Now I’m not hearing as a normal person, I’m hearing by having my auditory nerve stimulated.  That kind of blows my mind. (I know my hearing will get better and better as time goes on, but I also know I may never hear like normal ears hear any longer.)

You would not believe how much stuff I got with my processors. Two HUGE boxes full of stuff.

These are the boxes all the parts came in. The coffee cup is in the picture to show scale. It’s a regular sized coffee mug.

This is some of the pieces for the Harmony processor. Yes lot’s of extra stuff. I’m so confused by how I’m going to organize all of this stuff….just look there’s even more in the next box…and this doesn’t include things I’m using, like the processor, and the battery chargers…ect.

This is some of the items that came with the Neptune processor. This is the processor that can be waterproof, and it clips on instead of going behind the ear….but all this stuff, I have to figure a way to organize it, and understand it all. : )

I was joking in the last picture, I was shown what everything did, I just need to work with everything to make sure I understand how it works without anyone telling me, or me having to look it up.  Especially all the connections to hook the processor straight up to the iPod, or things like that.  The different ear hooks for different things with the Harmony.  All the accessories just to make it different looking and some to clip the Neptune on to me, like an arm band and a lanyard…ect.
I have a drying box to keep the processors free of dampness.  Each processor came with one, but I like one better than the other.  There are different carrying cases, but neither will help organize all the pieces.  I feel like I got some very useful items, some fun items, and some useless items.  But it’s been like Christmas for a couple of days just playing around with all the pieces and figuring out how to wear them.

Here’s some photos of me with my CI hooked up with the different processors :

Me with the Harmony processor on….I was playing around with the different colored pieces you can snap on to it. The part that hooks to my head….by a magnet…that’s green, I have that in white, black, red, brown, and light brown….and of course lime green. Where the blue is, I have some funky snap on parts there, they are all silly – stars, rockets, rainbows…ect. Or I don’t have to wear one and it will be a light brownish beige.

This is the Harmony from the side. I have the larger battery on the processor in this photo, so the back part (where the blue is snapped on) is longer than it is with the smaller battery. Of course the larger battery last longer than the shorter one….about 4-5 hours longer I think.

This is me with the Neptune on. I just clipped it to my shirt to show what it looks like. When it is waterproof, it’s actually smaller (you take the controller off, so you can’t change the volume or anything when you are swimming, but who would have time?)
Please excuse the way I look. No makeup, in a sloppy t-shirt…and taking photos of myself. How atrocious! haha

So there you have it.  Me and my Cochlear Implant with the 2 processors I picked out.

Remember, picking out a processor is a very personal thing.  I would never say mine is the best, if you are getting a cochlear implant, do as I did, read up as much as you can on all the ones available, then decide which one will fit in you the best.

Also.  Everyone has different experiences with their CI.  I’m hearing words, some people do not hear words when it is first turned on.  Others hear words that are much clearer than what I am hearing.  Some of it depends on how long you have been deaf, I don’t know the other factors…I just know we are different.  So don’t think my experience is the same experience you will have.

The wonders continue!

OH….I did hear my cat purr last night, and it sounded like purring!  I was thrilled!  The one sound I’ve had a hard time getting used to is my own breath.  I feel that’s strange….hopefully I’ll get used to it soon.  Breathing shouldn’t be this loud….should it?  I’m sure it’s something that will end up just going into the background.  I remember when I got my hearing aids the sound of my hair brushing against them drove me crazy….later I didn’t even notice it.

Don’t Forget!! #HAWMC Day 22

Today’s Prompt:   The Things We Forget. Visit and make your own version of a short memo reminder. Where would you post it?

Instead of creating a reminder on list on-line, I posted notes through-out my house.  Things we need to remember.

How many times have I forgotten to take my medication? Too many! Now I keep them all sorted by day and time to take, and have them where I won't miss them. Must remember to take my meds!

2 Things I have to remember before I can take a shower.
1 - Take my hearing aid out. Yes I have gotten in the shower and started to wet my hair and realized...Oh NO! I have my hearing aid in! Luckily no damage done, but this I must remember!
2. Because of the vertigo and disequilibrium, I cannot take a shower without someone near to hear me if I need help. I've fallen a few times, or ended up sitting on the shower floor just trembling in fear. I need to swallow my pride and ask my husband for help.

My hubby needs noise to sleep, so he leaves the bathroom fan on at night. This doesn't bother me because I take my hearing aid out. However, in the morning the first sound I want to hear when I put my hearing aid in is not a wind tunnel!!!! Since my hearing is distorted, the fan doesn't just sound like a little fan, it sounds like I'm in a huge wind storm. So honey, please remember to turn the fan off.

The 2 notes are on our front door, things we don't want to forger when going outside.
1 - I have an emergency kit made up in case I have an attack when I am out. This item we should never leave home without. Also I need to drink a lot of water with the medication I'm on, and I also need to have water close in case I have to take emergency pills. A Must that we Cannot Forget when leaving the house!
2 - I'm often spent by the evening, so Hubby needs to water the plant in the front. We have a small area with herbs, and some flowers. He often forgets to water. This has made for an unhappy wife. So Watering the Plants out front...Important not to forget!

Very Important, Every Day, a note to myself "Remember You are Loved!"

Writer’s Choice – #HACMC – Day 7 I Heard a Bee Buzz.

With Meniere’s I have fluctuation hearing loss, with eventual permanent hearing loss.

If you are a regular reader you know my situation, if not I’ll fill you in.

Right now, my left ear has 0% word recognition and cannot be helped with a hearing aid, my right aid has about 80% word recognition with the help of a hearing aid.  However, the hearing fluctuates.  My hearing fluctuates more with weather changes, and  when I have a Meniere’s attack.  (to learn more about Meniere’s please see the page above).

One day a few weeks ago I woke up and could barely hear.  Every sound sounded like it was coming through a busted speaker.  The same went on for 3 days.  I admit this had me concerned.  When I lost the hearing in my left ear, the majority was lost in just 3 short months.  The loss started in this fashion.  Sounding like a busted speaker, having a tinny sound.  Normally, in my right ear when the hearing fluctuated, it simply dropped, then would return, sometimes not quite all the way, but when it dropped, it was just a bit softer, not this tinny sound.  So I was nervous.  And I realize, this could still be a sign of potential nerve damage.

However, in about 3 or 4 days, I had a vertigo attack.  Classic sign of a Meniere’s attack.  Fluctuating hearing, then a vertigo attack, ending in complete exhaustion.  When I woke the next day.  I could hear again!  I was so thrilled.  I had a horrible headache, but I could hear.  Who knows how long this hearing may last.  I decided to do something I rarely do, I took much medication to get my headache under control, and went outside hoping to hear some birds.  Sadly I didn’t hear any birds.  I was not the right time of the day.  But being outside was so nice.  I decided to sit on the back porch and enjoy the beautiful spring late afternoon. Soon I was joined by a friend.

Photo courtesy of mr.brown thumb
click photo to be taken to his blog.

A huge bumble bee decided I would make a good friend.  I was out on the back porch for at leash half an hour possibly more, this lovely bumble bee kept me company the entire time.  He would come closer, then go a little bit away.  He faced me, then raced away and buzzed right back.  I talked to him and told him how beautiful he was and how I was out there hoping to hear things I may not hear much longer.  As if he could hear me, he came up right beside my head, I could not only HEAR this beautiful Bumble Bee BUZZ, I felt it!!  He then came around in front of me and looked at me.  I know, this was just by chance, and perhaps because I had on a bright orange shirt.  However, no matter how long I live, and no matter if I lose all of my hearing, I will never forget the day I heard a bee buzz.

What? You’re Breaking Up…

Let’s talk a little about hearing.

What?  Okay, let’s not actually “talk”, let’s type a bit shall we.  Ah, that’s better, I can understand this much better.

Recently I saw the Audiologist and had my hearing aid adjusted.  By recently, I mean 2 -3 weeks ago.  I was amazed.  I was hearing things I didn’t know I’d been missing.  For days I kept asking Stuart, “What’s that noise?”  I do believe I was driving him crazy.  He kept having to think, what noise? then he’d realize, oh, she heard the truck outside, or the plane over head…I hadn’t been hearing these things.

Then my hearing started to drop.  Just like my left ear did this past summer.  It started sounding like a busted speaker.  Things didn’t just get quieter like it originally did when I lost the majority of the hearing in my right ear.  In my right ear, after each Meniere’s attack I simply didn’t get all my hearing back, things got duller, softer.  This is different. Things sound tinny.  Broken.  Today it’s a bit better, but it’s still there.  For some reason, my left ear’s nerve was damaged.  Dr. Kaylie said it’s not that uncommon with Meniere’s patients.  He said the way I was losing my hearing in my right is more right is more common, but it’s not completely uncommon for it to happen like the left.  My worry is, the left ear’s hearing dropped so suddenly.  It fluctuated a bit for 3 months, then it didn’t come back.

I just tried to watch something on Netflix.  I didn’t realize it didn’t have subtitles, but since I had my hearing aid adjusted if I listened with my iCom (it puts the sound right in my hearing aid) I’ve been able to watch some things without subtitles.  This show started, I could not hear anything.  I checked the volume on my computer, it was all the way up on the computer and on the site.  I could only hear tiny little squeaks.  I would not have thought it was anything if I wasn’t trying to hear something.

It bother’s me so much that Netflix has so very many movies and shows that are not subtitled!!!  It’s ridiculous.  They have a list of some they do have (it is not inclusive) and there is no way to sort it by genre or anything worth while.  You can sort it by title, year, rating, and how many stars it got.  Big deal.  I’m looking for a Sci Fi movie…help me out here.  Geez. We usually have to order discs because more discs have subtitles.  Ummmm, if the discs have subtitles why aren’t they available on streaming?  Really.  Do you realize the market you are missing??  OK.  Off Soap Box.

My worry about the hearing loss.

image from Wikipedia

I know I will need a cochlear implant.  I really don’t want to be completely deaf this late in life.  But will they go ahead and do it with everything else going on?  Or will they need to get this all settled first?  What if I completely lose my hearing in just a few short months?  Or less?  (I know I’m looking on the dark side, I’m just looking at the worst case scenario, and remember I went through this last year.  And right now I can barely hear!)  So, tomorrow we are going to call the audiologist and make an appointment for a hearing test.  So I can be armed when I talk to Dr. Kaylie.  So I can ask him, if I need a cochlear implant soon, will we need to wait until the intracranial hypertension is under control first?  Heck, couldn’t another hole in my head be a good thing?  cause a little leak in there doc, just a slow leak…yeah….then I won’t need the shunt.  hahaha

Does anyone out there run a fever at night?  Or know why you might?  I had all the test run recently…autoimmune, inflammatory…ect.  all perfect.  Even my fatty liver is not fatty.  It has fat on it, but the liver itself is not fatty.  Great news.  No autoimmune markers….so yes, I am allergic to wheat, and intolerant to gluten, but I do not have Celiac.  *sticking my tongue out at a certain doctor*  Why am I swollen every morning?  I had that answered by one of you lovely friends.  Bed bound people retain a lot of water.  So I’m trying hard to move more, but not move so much that my pressure gets all raised and I get a spiked headache.  I’ve also cut way back on the salt.

Anyone else out there have hearing troubles?  I know you are out there….do you think you will ever have to get a cochlear implant?

I’ve said it before, and I’ll probably say it again…what a difference a day can make.

Today was a breath-taking beautiful day.  The sun was shining, it was in the 80’s F….yes the 80’s on the first day of March!  A good friend of mine just got married!  I’m so very thrilled for her, you may remember me passing along the candle lighter award to her….Congratulations Fiona and Jeremy…I adore you!

I slept longer than I have in a long time, I woke up with a minimal headache (my normal every day type of headache).  I was still seeing double but it didn’t seem to last as long.  I lounged in bed for a while with the window open and enjoyed my breakfast.  Then I read a bit on the computer and decided to get dressed for the day.  We were refinancing out house to a better rate, and we had to sign all the papers at the lawyer’s today, so I had places to go.  I decided to start getting ready very early.  About 2 1/2 hours early.  Just in case.  I wanted to do a little then rest, do a little more, rest…eat lunch….rest….you get the idea.

You would be so proud of me…I know I was.  Darn I should have gotten a picture!!  I French braided my hair.  I’ve never been able to do that!  It has always turned out lopsided or with straggling hairs, but usually it is a “Dutch” braid.  A French braid lies flat against your head the Dutch braid is kind of backward, it looks like a braid stuck to your head….it sticks out.  It’s kind of neat, but not what I wanted.  And…imagine this, I did it on the FIRST try!!

I tried on a few things to wear, but the one’s that I don’t look like a blimp in were too hot, I admit I was getting sad and upset.  Then I thought of a white tank top with an orange cap sleeved sweater over it that has one button around the abdomen that makes me look much thinner.  I actually put on makeup!!  I got ready, got dressed, and got down stairs….all by myself.  I was beaming with pride.

Stuart and I decided if I felt well enough after our visit to the lawyer we would have a date night and go to Fishmonger’s.   I LOVE crab legs.  I know he just got them for me on Valentine’s day…but it was so nice to have a date night with my hubby.  In a restaurant right across the street from where we met.

Fishmonger’s is one of those little seafood restaurants that make you feel like you are on the Carolina Coast.

This is the type of tables they have there.

I am having a very hard time with my hearing.  Stuart needs to step up his ASL practice.  On average I have to ask someone to repeat themselves at least 3 times, and after that I just drop it.  It’s too embarrassing.  And it’s usually just some small talk.  I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned it here, and I’m too tired to look back and finish this so I’ll give you the short version.  Saw Audiologist on Monday.  She thinks I’ll need a cochlear implant soon but the requirements change with insurance companies.  We have new insurance starting this months.  (they are going to love this) The first question Stuart is going to call and ask is what

their criteria is for covering a cochlear implant? The surgery cost between $30,000 and $100,000 and our out-of-pocket will be $150 Yay!!!

So I may have told you…forgive me.

So while we were out, it came time for my medication. All of a sudden I had a sharp pain in my head, I asked what time it was, exactly time for my medication! I asked if we happened to remember….ooops, nope. So I was 2 hours late taking it. By the time I got home, I was not able to walk unaided, I was slurring my words, I had to really concentrate to understand things…’s kind of funny, in a way I feel like I’ve taken some drug…like a downer or something. But it’s all being caused because I missed my medication. Ahhhh!

Right now I’m running a fever again. Every night, only at night. Strange huh? I take some Tylenol it goes away.

I still have a lot fo figure out with all of this, and it will take some time. It is apparent that I’m getting better with the side effects and I’ll probably get even better when I get some potassium (Diamox is known to deplete potassium.) I have been trying to eat a banana a day, but it’s hard when that’s the cap on the amount of fruit I can eat in one day. So we went to buy some and the store was out. How rude!

I’ve been watching these cooking shows and now I’m just dying to cook. But I need to be more steady on my feet for that. Perhaps I see some slow cooker meals in the future. (much less dangerous, I can just instruct Stuart.) I bought some herbs recently, and got a free ounce of Saffron….oh….what will I do with this delectable spice?

Also, if you have never heard of or tried Pot Herb – it is a mixture of Chives, Chervil, Parsley, Thyme, Marjoram, and Bay leaves. This was delectable in Chicken Soup..and just on chicken….I can imagine so many things to do with this blend…why have I never heard of this french blend of spices before?


What a difference a day can make. Do I feel this much better from all the well wishes? The joyous feelings I have for my friend? The fact that the Topamax was uped? The beautiful weather (you know I got to take the top off!!), or have I once again, simply decided enough. I can’t stand to live with you like that! Get up! Pick yourself up…even if you need help, and find something that satisfies you. even something small…and build it up again.

That’s why I say those silly expectations I had for this life…they must be fluid now, and change as I do.

Thank you all for believing in me.



Hearing Tests and finding me again.

I thought some of you might be interested to see the results of my past two hearing tests.

There’s a lot of information there.  The biggest thing that makes it hard, is the word recognition.  They simply can’t fix that with the hearing aids.  So, according to the latest test, I’m recognizing about 84% of the words I’m hearing in my right ear…and that’s if they are at the right frequency.  I’m not deaf!  Some things are difficult, but hopefully this is temporary, and if not…I’ll learn.

We still have much hope that things will change.  My doctors believe the hearing in my left ear will get better.  We’ll just wait and see.

I know many of you are concerned for me right now.  I’m doing OK.  Really.  It’ll  take time to process everything  Yes, my life’s plan will need to change.   I’m trying to look at things differently, not looking back and thinking of what I’ll miss, but look forward at what I can accomplish.

Last night I was writing and drawing and thought I’d share something I wrote:

Journal Entry Sept. 8, 2011

What started me on this journey?

The need to write and draw is now overwhelming to me.

How did I ever give this up?  How did I lose so much of ME?

***Hey You!***

Yes, You – That girl you look at in the mirror every day —

Welcome Back!

p/s  Please don’t leave again.  I’ve missed you.

Thank you all for so much for all the support.  Yes, I’m going through a rough spot…but with the support I get from you…my dear friends…it’s easier.

I never dreamed I’d feel such an out pouring of support from people I’ve never met in real life.  Many of you have reached out to me when I’ve needed it most.  I only hope in some small way, I can give to you as you have given to me.  thank you.

Recovery is a bit rough this time. (this is my 150th post. You guys are awesome!)

After all the warnings from previous procedures that my pressure could spike afterward…and it didn’t…well, I thought it just wasn’t going to happen to me.

Ummm. WRONG!

My  pressure spiked, and my head has been killing me.  I’m taking Diamox to lower my pressure, and that scared the bejebez out of me.  (No, I have no idea how to spell Bejebez but if you use phonics, it sounds right…doesn’t it?)   Any way, I’m petrified that I’ll get my pressure too low, and start spinning and all of that mess.

I’m having the weirdest tinnitus in my left ear.  Sounds like a rail road train, (sometimes), other times, it sounds like a very loud squeaky swing….and just all kids of things…but that’s not the weird part.  It changes if I put my hand near my ear.  If I touch around my ear, it gets louder!  And if I hic-up (which I seem to do very often), it has a very loud DING-DONG.   Driving me insane.

Think I may have taken too much Diamox yesterday (Dr. Gray was pretty vague on how much to take, take it until the headache stops.  Up to 1500mg at one time…notice not in one day…but at one time.)  Feeling kind of lost there, but since I couldn’t actually talk to her, well, Stuart doesn’t think to ask some things.  But yesterday, the world was spinning, I was amazed I wasn’t throwing up.  The world was really moving!!

My usual spot for the past week. Lots of love surrounding me.

I’ve spent the last 6 days in bed.  Well,, I tried to get up to the couch a couple of times…so I was probably up for about 3 hours total.

I feel so helpless.  Stuart usually has to help me get to the bathroom…even pull my pants down…how humiliating!  And then the most humiliating thing…and I really thought I was better about this…is when he has to give me a suppository.  I just feel so …. dependent…helpless…and just icky.  When your husband sees you naked, it shouldn’t be to put medication up your butt! Or help you go to the bathroom!  Yuck.

I feel like I have some terminal illness, and I’m just waiting to die.  It reminds me so much about taking care of my mother when she was so sick.  I know she never planned for her daughter to have to do private things for her.

And to top it all off, my hearing aid BROKE!  For the second time!

You may remember this picture below when I was showing off my new hearing aids:

The one on the left, is the one that keeps breaking.

For the second time now, I was cleaning my hearing aid, just rubbing it gently with a tissue, and the little part that holds it in your hear, has snapped off.  I’d only had the second hearing aid for about a week.  I’m so ticked!  I’m asking them to make me a new one out of the same stuff the right one is made from.  It is a much sturdier material.  The clear plastic, just cracks, like old dried up plastic does.  It’s so strange.  I’m getting a hearing test on Sept. 6th, and they will order the new hearing aid then.  (I think they have to make a new mold for this type of insert.)

I think that’s all for today.

I did want to mention, If you liked seeing and hearing about how my art has been helping me through all of this, I started a new blog that just talks about that.  It’s called Create To Heal .  Come see me, let me know what you think.  Join me in my journey.  Create Art.  Have Fun. Feel Better!