Wednesday, November 20, 2013

November 20, 2013

10 Months of Challenges and Adjustments Part 2
November 20, 2013

The challenges of adjusting to the Cochlear Implant have been a mixture of laughs, frustrations, and victories.  It is rare that when the Cochlear Implant is first activated, that the patient can understand speech.  I thought I was prepared for that likely outcome, but when I actually understood speech, I realized I was not truly prepared for the probability of not being able to understand speech instantly.  In truth, I really expected to hear, and I did.  The audiologist had warned us over and over not to expect instant results.  When I did have wonderful, instant results, I did not feel the full impact of that blessing for a while.  

Along with that amazing success, came the expectations of the audiologist.  After I initially did so well, I think she was not prepared for the areas where I did struggle.  She didn't understand until recently that I really couldn't manage phone conversations.  She also had told me when I complained about not being about to "pull out conversations" in noisy situations, that it was normal to have that problem.  Since she felt my adjustment problems were "normal", she didn't look for additional problems.  When we visited recently, she spent intense time testing me and the equipment and determined there were two problems with the sound processor that were causing me to not be successful in those areas.

This is a constant learning process.  I am now using the remote control to change programs on the sound processor much more often and experimenting in various situations to see what works best.  I am having more success in noisy situations and on the phone.  The main problem with the phone, involves a limitation. To hear on the phone, I need to use my cell phone with a special cable.  To set this up takes a couple of minutes and at this point, I do not carry the cable with me - it is at home by the computer.  So, I can't really answer a quick phone call.  I can hear a little bit on the cell phone (not at all on the house phone) without the cable, so if one of the kids calls me, I can answer and tell them I will call them back in a few minutes.  Then I get things set up and return the call.  This works pretty well.  There are times I just can't understand something someone said (on the phone or in person), but the audiologist suggested that I ask the person to reword the statement and maybe I can get it.  That is working well because before, they could say the same thing three or four times and I still wouldn't get it. 

I have gotten ahead of myself in the summary of these last months. Picking up where I left off yesterday, just a few days after the activation of the Cochlear Implant, we had a very special visitor: a former foreign exchange student who lived with us about 25 years ago came to visit with his wife and three children.  I had been very concerned that I would not be able to understand them, but our visit was fantastic!  What a joy to hear his voice again after so long.  He and his wife spoke clearly and their English was impressive.  Maybe they both know how to speak so that they are understood since he is a judge and she is an attorney.  The visit couldn't have been better unless it had been longer.  Here he is with his family in front of his old high school.
The next month brought another special visitor; our son Stephen brought his girlfriend Kristina for her first visit to our home.  This was my first visit with Kristina where I could hear really hear her. We had met her in May, two weeks before my implant, and she came when I had the implant, but I was using the hand-held amplifier at the time.  Again, the only way it could have been a better visit, is if we'd had a longer time together.  (But they are coming for Christmas, so we will have some more time.)

Through all this time, I continued to recover from the elbow surgery and went through 9 sessions of physical therapy to try to increase the extension and rotation of the arm.  It just wasn't working.  X-rays showed one bone had shifted and had broken some screws so it was decided that additional surgery was needed to replace a section of that bone with an artificial piece and to remove the hardware from the other bone that had held it in place to heal.  On September 9, I had the second elbow surgery.  Our oldest granddaughter took good care of me for a few days following the surgery.
A couple of weeks later, I started more physical therapy for another 9 sessions.
The arm is still not where I want it to be, but the improvement in the last two weeks has been rapid, so I have hope that in time it will be where I want it to be.  From the beginning I had told the doctor I wanted to be able to get the Thanksgiving turkey out of the oven.  I doubt it will happen by Thanksgiving, but maybe Christmas.  I was able to put an 11 pound ham in the oven and get it out without assistance this past weekend.

A week after my second elbow surgery, Ron had surgery to remove hardware from his leg that he broke almost 20 years ago. Our oldest grandson took care of him for a few days while I ran the office.  
The grandchildren have spent time with us, keeping my spirits up and keeping me focused on what is important - family and the Lord.  
Our son David and his wife Diana along with Diana's niece and nephew joined us to celebrate Ron's 70th birthday in October.  In the photo they are with two of Jeff's children. 
At the end of October through early November I was able to go to Houston to 6 days for the International Quilt Festival.  The orthopedic surgeon gave me a letter to get a pass for me to be able to take a rolling cart on the display floor to carry my purchases since my arm was still very weak.  Ron went with me to do the driving and to get a break away from the office for himself.  Does this look like I gave him a relaxing break?
What is ahead?  I predict continued improvement in my arm.  I plan to continue working with my listening practice exercises to get as much as possible from the Cochlear Implant.  I plan to continue to share that progress and my experiences with others, hoping to help someone along the way to encourage them get help if they need it.

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