Sunday, February 10, 2008

Okay, I Want It

Alright, so I wish I had started writing all of this sooner. I remember thinking, "I really can't forget things all that quickly, can I?" Apparently I can!

So, basically, I've decided to get an implant. The wheels kind of all got turning when I went to University of Washington's Hearing Sciences in an attempt to get speech classes. I ended up in an auditory class instead. My first class was Feb 6th. So they really couldn't help me with learning speech, and mostly were testing me on how much speech comprehension I had and everything. So thankfully, I have that information on file now! It will be exciting to have something for reference (before-after.)

Intrigued, I started researching early February.

I knew that I did not want it to be manifestly obvious- and hoped that the implant would have become smaller since 1989 (when I was born.) It seemed, upon research, that it had. I asked for information and the UW sent me an packet with a VHS tape in it that was produced by Advanced Bionics, as well as booklets with pictures and information in it. I know better than to take everything by its word, since implant companies obviously have an agenda, being a business, even despite the type of business they are (allowing people to hear again.)

I watched the video, which featured mostly older people who were NOT born deaf, but whose hearing just got worse progressively. The video was a bit annoying to me, since I couldn't really relate to any of the people. But the things they mentioned- being able to hear music better, being able to separate sounds in noisy environments sometimes, etc, really interested me.

Growing up, when people asked me if I would ever consider an implant, I said "No!" because I thought they looked strange and the surgery seemed extreme. (However, I always have said if I have a deaf child I am without question implanting them!) It seems odd to me, now that I've decided to get it along with all the implications of what it might bring me, that I would ever have been so concerned about appearances. What's some "weirdness" if you can hear? But then again, a big factor of deciding to get the CI was appearance, in addition to the benefits it could offer me.

I think so far, people seem surprised and don't really think I'll go through with this. But I will. I mean, when I decide to do something, I may seem to "rush into it." In actuality, however, I've thought about this and researched a lot. I haven't really spoken to anyone, if just because I feel my case is highly unusual. I also don't want to become discouraged by hearing things like, "I hated my CI!!"

I wear an Oticon hearing aid in my right ear. The right ear is my "preferred" ear for whatever reason. However, there are not any significant differences in hearing ability in either ear. I use this hearing aid basically all the time. The only time I don't wear it is while sleeping (and I sometimes do!!) and while showering/swimming. But I haven't had it for too long- perhaps only 6 months!

This is another reason I didn't want to talk to people about their experiences, since it seems like a lot of deaf people who were born deaf and then got an implant post-lingually didn't really like the noise. I refuse to commit to something like this and then "give up" just because I hate the sound. Okay, I'm deaf but I really don't go around with a 100% complete lack of sound at all.

I LOVE sound. I couldn't live without it. Right now I can hear the cars on the freeway outside my window, and my fingers tapping the keys. I think people really underestimate what I CAN hear. However, let's make it clear here. I DON'T understand speech. I underwent some speech classes and "hearing" classes growing up but never stuck to it for whatever reason.

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