Sunday, September 7, 2008

Implants and water

So!! I'm finally back in Seattle which means it's a LOT easier to keep this updated. Just as well, because I have a feeling I'll have a lot to update with. :D Today is on IMPLANTS AND WATER- the all-too-well-known dilemma all implant users encounter, whether they use a body worn processor or a headpiece. The short of it is, we can go in water and our implants can't.

But before I get into that- I was thinking today about how being content is basically a state of mind. But at the same time, you can't really be content if you're not moving forward the way you want or if some aspect in your life isn't how you want it to be. The good thing is, we can usually always change it. I'm not entirely content with everything but I can honestly say that I am happy. And the things that I'm not content with (not enough speech classes, not being done with planning classes, etc) I am working to change asap.

I was also laying in bed the other day, thinking about my implant. I was thinking about how much I regret not having getting it sooner, but how well it's worked out having it NOW. I honestly love this little thing that sticks to my head, that gives me a world of sound I never had before.

While in Colorado, my sister and I were planning to go to this really fun ex-Six Flags park. But they have a water park there. So of course I started thinking about the food-sealer trick of sealing the implant and then using a water cap. I asked my mom to take me to a store where they would have a food sealer I could ask them to demonstrate (and in the process sealing my implant!) but she said no, flat out. Then she realized she had treated an adult like a child (am I really an adult? It felt strange to have my mom call me that, honestly). So she said "You can do whatever you want to, but don't come crying to me when your implant gets ruined. You'd be better off leaving it here."

I yelled at her, "Try going a day without hearing ANYTHING! You'd be crying after a hour" and fled to my room. (Some adult I am, haha) A hour later, my family found me there asleep with my implant in my hand. I was angry and just plain sad that perhaps, they couldn't see just how much hearing means to me.

It means enough that I'd be willing to go to a store, seal my implant, and wear a swimming cap the whole day if necessary. I don't even care when people stare at me, as they did in the shopping lines in Colorado. A small part of me dislikes it, obviously, and feels a twinge of self-consciousness but then I think about what my implant does for me and I stand prouder. I wear it so casually, the blue earpiece always sitting on my ear, and I never say anything about it. It hurts my ear a lot because it's a little heavier than a hearing aid and it presses on my nerves sometimes, but I don't say this. What would be the point? The point is, I can hear and I'm happy.

What ended up happening was I took the implant to the park.

The theatrics we put ourselves through-I was determined to bring it there. I had given up on the idea of wearing it in water because really, I wouldn't be missing out on any conversation thanks to my sister being wonderfully fluent in sign and being the only one there. But I did try putting my implant in a plastic bag earlier before the park, but couldn't find a swim cap and didn't want to risk it. It was a little harder to hear through the plastic bag, obviously, but it worked. It was just much quieter and I feared turning up the volume and maybe at one point it becoming crystal-clear, crystal-sharp and FLOODING me with noise.

I ended up having fun despite the utter silence. But it did make me a little sad- I was laying in the coolness of the water, and I saw a child laughing and laughing as the waves kept nearly pushing her over. I thought, "If I had my implant or hearing aid on, I would be able to hear that." This was some child I didn't even know and I cared about being able to hear her. What's odd is my brain expected the laughter SO much that I could hear a faint laughter- as if my brain was giving it sound. I knew it wasn't really hearing- it was the "voice."

But what's amazing is I NEVER had the "voice" in my head growing up. What I thought in was sign, or the SENSATION of my lips moving, or sometimes a mouth as if I were lipreading. I have little to no auditory memory. Yet, my brain is supplying a voice now. When I scroll through my IPod without the direct connect, I HEAR the tapping it makes even though there is no sound. That was probably the most direct, clear "voice"/sound my brain ever recalled. I was surprised but what's funny is I find that sound annoying! (I love it in a way though, if just because I can hear it.)

But I realized beforehand, as I did with the water, that the roller coasters would be a problem, wouldn't they? So before my mom drove us, I ran into the house and grabbed a big roll of duct tape. They all asked what it was for and as a reply, I ripped a piece of the duct tape, folded it inside out so the sticky parts were on the outside, and put the tape on my implant's earpiece. In short, I taped the implant to my head.... with duct tape!!! You can see a little bit of the tape if you look closely at the picture. My mom groaned but said nothing. My stepdad chuckled. My sister rolled her eyes and said, "You're just really dramatic, you know that?" I smiled in anticipation of being able to hear on the roller coasters.

When we got there, my sister and I ran for the biggest coaster in the park. We got on the ride and swung our legs until the ride began. I heard the announcer speak, the machinery, the -click- of the restraints, and finally the loudness of the ride starting. I checked to see that my implant was secure, and it was fine- UNTIL the loop-de-loop! The magnet (circular part) fell off because my head hit the side of the seat lightly. Then I felt the tape peeling off. Oh no!!! So I clapped my hand to my head, and held the implant there throughout the loop-de-loop. The split second of silence then the sudden shrieking noise of the roller coaster when the magnet was put back on was ridiculous! I pulled it off, the tape's friction stinging my skin a bit. It really had worked pretty well- until bumping it or until the magnet came off! So for the rest of the day, I took off the implant and put it in my pack whenever we were about to ride a roller coaster. Basically, I started to only use my hearing aid. The dimension lost was really disappointing but losing my implant would be WORSE!

My suggestion for amusement parks/roller coasters is to wear a swim cap that's tight enough to hold the implant for roller coasters, or taking it off before you're going on the ride. But put it in a big pack and bring a plastic bag or something to hold your implant in so it doesn't just get dropped in your backpack! As for water- I wouldn't take the risk of sealing it unless it was your spare implant and you had tried it out already in a low-water environment like the shower before actually IMMERSING it. I might try the food sealer trick (search youtube for it) in the shower sometime to see if it works, AFTER testing if the implant even works through the bag, but I don't really swim much in the upcoming seasons, only summer, so I'm not too worried about it.

Rain- the implant holds up VERY well in the rain and I appreciate that. (Especially since I live in Seattle!!) I'm not worried about getting it wet like with hearing aids. It continues to work well! But as a precaution I still usually use a hood if it's raining hard but it looks like it's not entirely necessary! Obviously, it can't be submerged (showers, swimming, etc) but it's not often we spend time submerged! So in average living and wetness, the CI holds up GREAT. :)


Tania said...

Hey Tasha! My name is Tania Karas and I'm a sophomore at Northwestern. I just had a CI surgery yesterday on my left ear so I've been following your blog for awhile. I just wanted to thank you for all the insight you've provided for me and my mom - it's been really interesting to read about what you're going through! I move in to school in a couple days (so soon!) so this will be my first year with the CI as well. I LOVED this last entry about the amusement park...I can totally picture myself in that situation.

I can't wait until my activation so that I can experience the things you've been talking about! Good luck in school this year and I'm looking forward to your next post!


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you gave me this url to ask you 4 your
yahoo messenger.
well anyways you can email me
im kayla by the way

Vezquex said...

Excuse me, but if you can remove it, then how is it an implant?