Thursday, October 25, 2012

"Eyes. Ear. Mouth. Nose." A Day Later

The response to the Activation Day post has been tremendous.  I'm astonished and touched by the outpouring of encouragement from my blog readers. It warms my heart to know that so many people are reading this story and cheering for me on the way.  For that, I thank you.

That's why it makes a little hard for me to rain on everyone's parade here.  But for the sake of keeping this real and after having some time to reflect on how to articulate this, I'd like to explain what was happening in the magic moment at the end of the video.

Amy was talking, and I was trying to make some kind of sense of what I was hearing.  I had a memory of Amy's voice. And all I could hear at the beginning of the appointment was bells, bells, bells.  Nothing intelligible was coming through. But Amy kept talking in her distinctive voice, and at some point, the sounds that I was hearing with my implant started to resemble what I remembered of Amy's voice.  It was very faint and not intelligible, but underneath all the ringing and bells was a hint of Amy's voice. That was the "A ha!" moment in the video.  In essence, I was able to reconcile what I remembered (thank you, neural networks!) with what I was then hearing.  The video makes it look far more comprehensive than it was.  While I don't discount the miracle of being able to perceive anything at all, I also don't want to give the impression that the implant somehow flipped the "Hearing: On" switch in my brain and now I am ready to go to the opera.

The challenge from here on out will be to replicate the first day's experience times every sound that I was able to hear with my hearing aids, and then add on all the sounds that I wasn't able to hear before.  That's a pretty big registry of sounds. 

So, tonight, I started small, with my husband William's voice.  We did our homework as Amy explained: find a quiet place to talk one on one and start going through words.  Armed with Bright Baby Touch and Feel (the Numbers and Colors editions) and Happy Baby Words, William and I headed to the living room to get away from the dull roar that I'm hearing from my refrigerator.  He started to count, with the Numbers book as a visual cue for me.  And then "I'm going to cover my mouth, and you tell me which number I'm saying."  I closed my eyes to make sure that no one would accuse me of cheating and tried to listen.  I heard nothing but bells.  One guess that I hazarded was "Three," and William had actually said, "Two."  Hmpf. Then he switched to the colors book.  "Yellow. Red. Green. Orange. Purple. Brown. Blue. Pink. Black. White."

At this point, I began to cry out of frustration. Nothing was intelligible.  Still bells all around.  At best, I could tell that there was something in the room generating a sound, but the nature of the sound, its direction, and its source were a mystery (except that I knew it was William trying to read colors to me.)  No "A ha!" moment. He tried again, unruffled by my tears. (He used to do IT desktop support. He knows how to handle emotional people.) Still nothing. We changed our approach.  I closed my eyes, and he read each word five times while I listened.  The word that was most intelligible was "purple."

We switched to Happy Baby Words.  Each page has four words on it, so I suggested that we just work on the first three pages and repeat.  "Eyes. Ear. Mouth. Nose."  Turn the page. "Hand. Back. Legs. Toes." Turn the page. "T-shirt. Shoes. Pants. Dress."  Back to the beginning.  I had William read the first page several times.  "Eyes. Ear. Mouth. Nose. Eyes. Ear. Mouth. Nose." He read the words over and over as I listened. He turned the page and did the same with the second set of words and again with the third set of words.  I had him go back to "Eyes. Ear. Mouth. Nose." over and over. He kept reading, always patiently.  At some point during that tedious sequence, I heard something familiar underneath all the bells and tones.  William's voice was faintly coming through. "Eyes. Ear. Mouth. Nose."

So, this is where the road to hearing begins.  It's not an especially auspicious beginning, and I expect more tears over the coming days and weeks, but at some point, I must be able to look back and realize that somehow, imperceptibly but certainly, I'm making progress.  "Eyes. Ear. Mouth. Nose."


  1. you've got lots of people cheering you on! hugs from chicago :)

  2. Rebecca, I think your sense of humor will really keep you going through all of this. Progress! Progress! Also, this is my favorite line of all time: "He used to do IT desktop support. He knows how to handle emotional people." Love you and praying for you lots and lots! Just watch for the miracle to be unfolded.

  3. So what you are saying is we all really do sound like the adults in the peanut cartoons. :)
    Mwa mwa mwa
    It has been enjoyable to read about your life before and after implantation. My boys checked out a book about ears this week. Every time I read it to them (and it is a lot), I think of you. You are awesome!

  4. When I think about the huge amount of learning and training you have ahead of you, and that you went into this process knowing that, I am so impressed by your courage and strength. I love reading what you, your parents and William are writing because it's such a big miracle broken down into little tiny daily miracles, and there are so many people and so much time involved. It makes me so much more grateful and aware of our Savior's love for us. Thanks for sharing so much with us.

  5. You are amazing, Rebecca! I know the Lord will continue to bless you and your family as you follow the promptings you are given. We miss you guys!