Thursday, August 9, 2012

cochlear Implants

this is a different blog post than in months past... a friend of mine brought up how hearing people think that a cochlear implant is a cure all.  It is not.. I have my own story to tell plus hundreds of thousands of stories of other people that have their own experiences and stories to tell.

I got my Cochlear Implant at age 6.  My parents espically my mom questioned if it was the really truly the right choice- and my dad was all like "hey if it helps her then it helps her"  My mom sat me down one day and said....... do you want to hear? What a heavy question for a 6 year old... I just wanted to be just like my sisters... not be different.  I wanted to whisper with them at night, and share secrets in the dark and not have to work to talk to them, or anyone (not that ASL is a beautiful language) I just wanted to be a normal, happy 6 year old.  so I said Yes..... and that started my journey.......

I had to go through a lot of tests to find out if the Cochlear implant would even work and a interview process with the Team at University of Iowa- Iowa City.  They are about 7 hours south of GB.  I don't really remember too much from this time.  it came out that i was a perfect candidate with my right ear and they would do the operation.  They scheduled the surgery for Dec 6th,1990- just so i could have the 2 weeks off from school then winter break then return to school.  I remember having the surgery done- I actually remember not wanting to breathe into the mask.... but it made me really sleepy so i fell asleep... I woke up in recovery but fell asleep again.  I woke up a few hours later because they had to check to make sure i needed to eat.  I was SO, SO tired.  I just wanted to sleep a lot the first day.  After that I started waking up more and I wanted to be more active but it was difficult because of the gauze on my head that felt like it weighed 20 pounds.  I did have a headache and fever- they ended up keeping me just a day or 2 longer than planned to make sure i would make a full recovery. I drove my mother Crazy the next 3 weeks- I couldn't wait to get back to school.

I got back to school and I looked different so it was a little shocking to some of my friends- my dad came to school with me to tell my friends about what happened and why.  I finally got activated in march.. I couldn't tell you what day it was... I actually don't even remember it at all.. but basically what happens is they Map you and you have to listen to tones to make sure it sounds all the same and it sounds good and watch you for reactions to the tone.  Im sure the first time they turned it on and I responded it was probably cute and emotional..I don't remember this at all but I do remember driving back to Wisconsin and we got back to GB and we went to pick up my sisters from my dad's house-my dad and I walked into the house and my dad's like.. she can hear now... and all 3 of my sisters all started talking to me loudly and laughing and making noises to see what I could hear and stuff. My mom said that when they were driving back I was asking what sounds EVERYTHING was making- it was just so much noise! I was thrust ed from a quiet world with crappy hearing aids to this.. loud noisy world!! 
It's been about 23 years now since I've gotten my cochlear implant.. I've flourished.. I've learned how to talk, i can read lips pretty well... I can hear sounds and words and environmental sounds.. Its just if you are talking to the back of my head it just sounds like garbled words being spoken too fast haha.  I can catch a word or two but not everything.  Although if i look at you and can read your lips- I pretty much understand everything you are saying.  I can't hear on the phone like normal hearing people can- it just sounds like words messed up... I know only a few words that i can "pick out" but yeah.  

getting to the real point here though.. I have so many different deaf friends that have cochlear implants... for some of them- they have not worked at all-only hear some or some environmental sounds but its very very limited-some have exposure to a lot of sounds but words and language does not sound different than the sounds.  People like me that can survive with having a CI get spoken language and understand fine and actually are capable of picking up spoken language... and there are deaf people that are completely oral with CIs- which means they just talk and they get a great benefit with the implant- and years and years of training.  not everyone can get the training and sometimes you put in all the work and still not 100 percent capable of getting all the benefits from it that other people do. 

I've also had issues with figuring out who i am because of having a cochlear implant and being able to talk well before (my speech is horrible now) but at that time in my life it felt like like i was in between both worlds like talking and signing... and trying to go between.  Now though, I don't really wear my CI anymore (and I should) and I feel that im more on the deaf end of things- which Im absolutely fine with... I love where I am and I love the rich language and the culture that it comes with and I don't mind dabbling in the hearing world as u know my bf and my children live there but I love being where I am.. when i am with my deaf friends- i am simply at home- it is where I can be myself with my language and communication flows freely and clearly with no frustrations.  It took years though to figure out where I wanted to be. 


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