Activation Complete

A month after having my cochlear implant surgery, the implant was activated on Friday. After the audiologist said “It’s time to turn you on…are you ready?” I kept a straight face and said that I was, and she clicked something on her computer, and boom, activation complete.

I’ve done a shit ton of reading about cochlear implants over the past few months. As with anything that I set my sights on, I completely immersed myself in all of the information available, from ear anatomy to implant brands to user experiences. My husband jokingly told the audiologist that I probably know as much as they do by now that I’ve researched so much (someone was feeling ignored).

From what the audiologist told me and from what I’ve read, there was a range of possibilities for how activation was going to go for me. It was highly unlikely that I would be able to understand words, pretty darn likely that I would hear beeping and clicks and other noises, and possible that I would hear next to nothing. Being the optimistic person I am, I put my money on hearing sounds, but the sounds being so painful that I wanted to rip the implant out.

That wasn’t the case, fortunately!

When it was turned on, it was very overwhelming at first. I definitely heard a lot of sounds, but everything was robotic sounding and hard to make out what was what. After wearing it for a few days and working with the rehab apps I was told to download, I can actually understand some words already! (I plug the ear that isn’t implanted so I can practice with the implanted ear only.) Not so much with conversations, but when my husband plays categories and says a word or two at the time, if I focus really hard, I can make it out more than half of the time. That doesn’t sound very impressive, I know, but from what I’ve read of other cochlear implant experiences, this is really good! (It can take a year+ for some people to understand words at all.)

I bought a couple of skins to jazz up my processor. The Wonder Woman skin didn’t work out, but this Rebel Alliance one turned out nicely!


The A**hole is Strong With This One

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As someone who has had a severe hearing loss from birth, I often have to ask people to speak up. As long as I’m aware that someone is speaking to me (making eye contact) so I can focus and there isn’t much background noise, it usually isn’t a problem.

Unfortunately, background noise is hard to escape. And hearing aids still do little to help with that. So I have to ask people to repeat themselves more often than I’d like.

That doesn’t sound like such a difficult request, does it? It’s not like I wait for someone to finish delivering a long speech before I let them know I need them to speak a little louder, so it shouldn’t be that much of an issue.

Well, it often is.

Thinking back to when I was in school, I can’t begin to tell you the number of eye rolls, scoffs, and rude comments I’ve gotten because of my hearing. More people than not will repeat what they’ve said in the same tone (or even lower, frustrated), and it’s pretty common for people to just tell me “never mind”–other students, teachers, family members.

That bothers me. A lot.

Add to that the fact that some people associate being hard of hearing with being stupid. I have my moments, but I’m not an idiot, typically. Far from it, always at the top of my class, even though I would rarely speak up because I was afraid of mishearing something, responding inappropriately, and being laughed at (experience). I’m sure that my hearing has a lot to do with my social anxiety.

So, that said, imagine my reaction when I saw this today:

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That flew all over me.

The worker couldn’t make such a simple accommodation, but could take the time to write out that rude response?

There just aren’t words. Not nice ones, anyway.

Some of these guidelines for law enforcement officers communicating with people with a hearing loss from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Americans with Disabilities Act resource page should be reviewed with the postal worker. They’re good tips for anyone, really.

• Speech supplemented by gestures and visual aids can be used in some cases.

• A pad and pencil, a word processor, or a typewriter can be used to exchange written notes.

• A teletypewriter (TTY, also known as a TDD) can be used to exchange written messages over the telephone.

• An assistive listening system or device to amplify sound can be used when speaking with a person who is hard of hearing.

• A sign language interpreter can be used when speaking with a person who knows sign language.

• An oral interpreter can be used when speaking with a person who has been trained to speech read (read lips). Note: Do not assume that speech reading will be effective in most situations. On average, only about one third of spoken words can be understood by speech reading.