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Cochlear Implants, hearing loss and more! I carry an interesting perspective: someone who had normal hearing growing up, lost it all slowly as an adult, then regained it with cochlear implants. So I'm deaf, but I can hear - a true miracle. If you'd like to know more about me and my bilateral cochlear implant experiences right away, my two books have a wealth of information - see the links below. Check out the list of upcoming events too - perhaps one day we'll get to meet!


Friday, September 14, 2012

Bilateral Cochlear Implants - Easy Listening Niagara Falls

That title is a bit cryptic - EASY LISTENING NIAGARA FALLS - but that's the best way to describe a wonderful four-day vacation to that most scenic of locations, Niagara Falls.  I had been there are few times in my life, but this visit, for some reason, was especially wonderful.  And that "some reason" was simply better hearing.  Aside from being bilateral - which after four years has given me increased facility with casual conversations - I also had a new software upgrade put on my programs three months ago, called ClearVoice - which dims droning background noise.  Even though that software is geared to better hearing in noise, which it does, it also seems to result in better hearing in general.   And that means greater confidence in every situation, which means casual conversations in any environment.

Thinking back - I started a conversation with someone near the falls, which meant with the roar of the falls in the background.

And then we went on the Maid of the Mist, which is a boat ride that takes you right next to the falls. 

I made sure that I wouldn't get my cochlear implant processors wet - even though they're water resistant, I wanted to play it safe. Good thing, too - because I got drenched!  We were SO close to the waterfalls that I was being doused with spray. 

So I was experiencing sight, sound, and touch - incredible!

Everywhere we went, I found myself striking up casual conversations.  Like when we went on an aerial tram ride over the whirlpool down river from the falls.  It was hard not to strike up a conversation when you're on a cable car that looks like this (that's me looking up).


We visited the Botanical Gardens, which had a Butterfly Conservatory -

and I found myself talking with children, as we all marveled at this enchanted butterfly world.

We explored quaint Niagara-on-the-Lake.

It was all quite idyllic - and I came home with a wonderful feeling of joy - at the perfect weather, the majestic sights - but more than that.  I remembered the last time I had been to Niagara Falls years ago - and the impression I retained was the cloud of hearing loss - looking at the beautiful sights, but nothing more - no connection to the other tourists around me, or even to the nuances of sound.

This was different - sights and sounds - and easy listening.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Cochlear Implants: Book talks and more

I've been busy talking!  Book talking, that is.  I had three interesting book talks scheduled in the past few weeks - presentations to groups with hearing loss and beyond!

Let's start with the National Court Reporters Assn convention, held in Philadelphia last month.  I was asked to present on "The Basics of Hearing Loss and the Need for CART and Captioning Services."  I was really looking forward to doing this one, as court reporters are the wonderful folks who do realtime captioning (CART), something I desperately needed to function prior to getting my cochlear implants - and that I still use depending on the event and environment.  I had intended to speak and answer questions for an hour and then do a booksigning with the remaining 30 minutes.  But the discussions got so intense and meaningful, we overflowed to 90 minutes - and then continued with the booksigning in the hallway!  A few days later, I was delighted to see an NCRA member review of my session posted on the NCRA website - calling my session "beyond inspiring."  Made my day!

And then a few days later, I learned that one of the court reporters, who had attended my session, lent a copy of my book Listening Closely to one of her neighbors, whose daughters have Usher's Syndrome (deaf/blind).  Again, I was delighted to learn that the mother had written a blog about my books entitled "A special book and author"!  I wrote those books to help others, so it was such an incredible feeling to know that goal was being met once again.

The second book talk was at my temple's Book Club.  They had chosen my book, Listening Closely , to discuss.  I was looking forward to this discussion too - new territory for me - as I wanted to delve into the spiritual aspects of my book, not just cochlear implants as miracles, but the interesting circumstances that surrounded the events and writing of this book. We began with the title - that it refers to more than just hearing. Two hours later, we were still going strong, with many opinions and perspectives - but had to stop then because they had to close the building.  I'm looking forward to addressing other groups on this topic. After all, a device that allows the deaf to hear is a miracle - with much to discuss if you listen closely.

And the third book talk occurred yesterday, when I addressed the Morris County (NJ) chapter of the Hearing Loss Assn of America.  Since this group included people with hearing aids, cochlear implants, as well as spouses, I made sure to cover the entire landscape. And that is what is so incredible about my 40 years' experience with hearing loss - it encompasses:
  • normal hearing
  • a slow degenerative hearing loss that provided experience with all degrees of hearing loss - mild, moderate, severe, profound
  • using a cochlear implant in one ear - vintage 1997
  • enduring a device failure after 10 years
  • understanding what sudden deafness is like - as a device failure plunged me from hearing into silence
  • being reimplanted, and comparing and contrasting new technology to old
  • using one CI was like having single-sided deafness
  • the benefits of bilateral hearing with two CIs - particularly from the user's point of view, not just booth testing
With that as background, I mentioned why my blog is called ASK ARLENE, and why my Walk4Hearing team is also called ASK ARLENE !  And ask they did!  And I also did a booksigning - and I know those books will help others understand hearing loss and cochlear implants.

That's what's been keeping me busy - speaking and connecting with others - on hearing loss, cochlear implants, and beyond.