Happy Thanksgiving to all my Canadian friends & family! As an American living in Canada, I still find it odd to celebrate Thanksgiving in October. American Thanksgiving has so much tradition and significance that the Canadian one seems to be missing – like football, Black Friday, a 4 day weekend, and of course it’s the whole kickoff to Christmas. The plus side? We try to celebrate both Thanksgivings – woo hoo!! One thing the two have in common though is the theme of thankfulness.
Today, I have a lot to be thankful for. At this time last year, I was still heavily drugged up and recovering from my first surgery. If you read my last post – year in review – you’ll get a good idea of all the amazing things that have happened so far. I’ve had almost a year of hearing with my right CI and just over 2 months with my left CI. So keeping with the Thanksgiving theme, here are my top 17 CI Thankful Thoughts for 2017.
17. Tinnitus – you will have to read my other posts to truly understand the relationship I have with my tinnitus. Suffice it to say, I would not have my two CIs if my little friend, Tinnitus, wasn’t my constant, incredibly maddening companion.
16. Undercut Hairstyle – What’s a hairstyle have to do with CIs you ask? Well, to start, mine makes it easier for me to pop on my magnets every morning without funky chunks of hair going directions they’re not supposed to. It’s a versatile style that I can wear up or down. Plus, when my hair is up, I can totally show off my processors. That’s a big plus in my book!
15. Podcasts – I’m incredibly thankful to the genius behind the idea of podcasts – a personal soapbox for anyone with a dream, the guts to speak what’s on their mind and a microphone to record it. And a computer & software & probably a bunch of other stuff that I don’t have a clue about… So I’m also thankful to all those dreamers who do put themselves & their ideas, creativity, and expertise up in the cloud for people like me to LISTEN to. Because it’s really important to listen a lot when you have a new CI, and listening to interesting, good, clear audio is great for training!
14. Rechargeable Batteries – My Náida Q90 processors use rechargeable batteries – AB offers a huge variety of power sources for my particular processors but I love the rechargeables! With my old hearing aids, I would have to replace the batteries every couple of days. This gets expensive over time! I not only hated the exceptional cost, but also the amount of waste. With my rechargeable batteries, I get 15-16 hours with the small 170minis (my fav) and about 27 with my large 230s. This means I can go the whole day without having to replace them and simply pop them on the charger at night so they’re ready to go again in the morning!
13. T-mic -Another brilliant feature of my processors. The T-mic is a small microphone that is attached to my processor and is positioned right in front of my ear canal. It’s flexible so it can bend which allows me to wear headphones or talk on the phone normally (just by putting the phone up to my ear). If you’ve never worn hearing aids, you may be scratching your head at this one – but here’s why this is a big deal. Most hearing aids and all the other CI brands have mics on the processor (the part that sits on the top of your ear) so when you want to use the phone, you have to try and position the phone higher so the ear piece is at the top of your ear, which is incredibly awkward – and looks kinda funny too. Plus, forget wearing normal headphones – with processor mics, you have to get gigantic over the ear ones or wear them in a funny position which can be very uncomfortable. Oh – and I can even use earbuds!! Earth shattering, I know!!
12. Noise Program – My noise program is a special processor program that my audiologist tailored for me. It utilizes UltraZoom which focuses my incoming sounds through a narrow window in front of me and the ClearVoice setting on high. These two combined give me amazing clarity in exceedingly noisy settings. So good in fact, that I find myself out “hearing” my super hearing hubby and other normal hearing people! Going out to dinner or group events is no longer the struggle it once was.
11. Music – Music has always been a huge part of my life – not from a professional standpoint, but solely because music moves me. When I went deaf, this was one thing I missed so much. After getting my first CI, my determination to listen to and enjoy music pushed me to train heavily with it. I truly believe my intense training with music has helped improve my hearing in general. I am SO thankful that I can hear music again and that it was a major motivating factor for me in my training.
10. iPhone – iPhones are great & everyone loves them (except the crazy people who like android – 😉) but did you know that they are an incredible tool for those learning to hear again? The voice recognition is great & has helped me countless times when trying to communicate without my CIs (remember, I’m still deaf without them!). My iPhone holds all my music – all my favorite songs I knew by heart – these are the songs I trained on – and I can sound hound lyrics when I hear a new song and can’t catch all the words. There are so many apps that I can use on my phone to help me learn to listen better, too – at home, or on the go (not while driving, of course…). Plus, the Bluetooth capabilities allow me to link directly to my compilot and stream sounds straight to my head. Oh – and I can’t forget the flash feature that I use as my alarm – seeing as I don’t sleep with my processors on, even the loudest alarm would never wake me. The strobe flashing does the trick! Technology is amazing!!
9. Training Apps – I think the training apps deserve their own number, and I actually ranked them above my iPhone because they are so integral to my progress. My favorite training apps are Hear Coach & Angel Sounds. What makes these apps so useful is the progression of levels and tracking. You have words being spoken, but then as you improve, the programs introduce background noise to make it more challenging. Like any skill, the more you practice, the better you become. The tracking capability lets you see how you are progressing, even unlocking subsequent levels. It’s like a video game, but super beneficial! Recently I discovered a new app called Auralia Pitch Comparison – this app is helping me improve my music appreciation even more (and validates my thoughts on my current pitch perception).
8. Compilot – The compilot is the interface between my processors and any Bluetooth or hard wired device (that has a headphone jack). Easily my favorite gadget of my processor kit, my compilot connects me to my iPhone, kindle Fire, TV, computer, laptop, and even the assisted listening devices in movie theatres. I wear the compilot around my neck and when I connect to anything, it streams that sound directly to my processors, bypassing all the background noise that makes hearing difficult.
7. Facebook Groups – I belong to a few groups on FB that are CI related – the two biggest are the Advanced Bionics Cochlear Implant Users Group & Cochlear Implant Experiences. These groups have been an incredible source of support for me in my journey and now I try to return the favour by supporting others going through the same thing. While each of us may have very different outcomes and experiences along the way, the journey itself is something that only those who get a CI can ever truly understand. This is why groups like this are so important. It lets us know we’re not alone.
6. The Candidates I Am Mentoring – I have only just started my mentorship journey but have already met some amazing people and have been blessed to be a part of their journey. I had such a great support system when I first started down this path so now I want to be that support for others. It fills me with such joy to see others embarking on their way to better hearing and to see the progress they make. It’s not always a happy experience either, but I hope to be here to provide a shoulder to cry on or to celebrate their milestones. I am so thankful that they are letting me be a part of their lives and I look forward to developing and strengthening our friendships for years to come. If you’re looking to connect with someone, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I’m happy to share in your journey too!
5. My AB Cochlear Implant Consumer Specialist, Kimmi – Being a mentor is a new thing for me and I’m blessed to have an amazing teacher and guide. Kimmi is the CICS for all of Canada and just happens to live only a couple hours away from me. I’ve had the pleasure to meet with her both online and in person and she has proven an invaluable resource. I’m sure I’m driving her batty with all the techy questions I keep asking, but she always finds the answer for me. See, I want to know everything about my new ears and how I hear. I figure, the more I know, the better I can make my hearing and hopefully the better I can help others! So I’m very thankful to have such a kind, patient, and knowledgeable friend in my corner!
4. My Big Brothers – Dave & Nate – Dave was the first in my immediate family to get a CI and he really paved the way for me. Nate followed shortly after Dave and so seeing how well the two of them did with their CIs, made it that much easier for me to take that leap. I remember them encouraging me a couple years back, saying that CIs blow HAs out of the water. Guess what? They were right! At the start of my journey they were always there to answer questions and cheer me on. I honestly don’t know if I would be hearing right now if it wasn’t for them going first. 🙂 Love ya, bros!
3. My Family – First and foremost, my hubby who has been my rock through all the ups and downs. It’s not easy living with a moody, depressed, deaf girl, I’m sure. Even though he has never experienced deafness or tinnitus, or CI surgery and training, he has been so very supportive. He held me when I cried of desperation from the ceaseless roaring in my head. He took care of me as I recovered from 2 surgeries. He picked up the slack when I could no longer perform my usual duties in our business. And he shared my joy in my successes. I would be lost without him. I’m thankful for the rest of my family too – my mom, my kids, and my “adopted” family of friends who took interest in this adventure and cheered me on.
2. My Audiologist, Sylvie – Sylvie quite possibly played the biggest role in this journey of mine. She saw the desperation in me as I struggled with deafness & debilitating tinnitus and had compassion to help push my first surgery through as quickly as possible. When I was still struggling after going completely deaf in my left ear, she advocated for the second implant and expedited the process as well. I owe a lot of my success in hearing to her skills as an audiologist. I’m so thankful to have such a kind, compassionate, and skilled CI team.
1. Being Bilateral – My biggest gratitude goes to being bilateral. I am still awestruck every day by how much better the 2 ears sound together. I find it ironic that I named my blog “2 ears are better than 1” before I even knew how one ear would sound. I never dreamed two would be this good! Not a day goes by that I’m not thankful for my bionic ears.
So there you have it – my top 17 CI Thankful Thoughts of 2017. Thank YOU for taking the time to read my musings. Until next time…