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Recent questions regarding my implants

I find myself surrounded by curious friends. It’s nice honestly people care enough to be curious. So many questions about a cochlear implants and I wanted to answer some of them in as much detail as was required. So I decided to just post some of these questions and the answers that I’d like to give these friends. I might as well share these insightful, heartfelt and honest questions with you my reader.

On question I hear a lot though the wording more recently is kind of a two parter.

What do you feel you’ve lost since you got your cochlear implants? I’ve heard . this one more than once and I haven’t really answered it till now. Recently a new twist on this same question added What have you lost that you want back?

I guess I’d like to start by saying the gift of been given by my Creator and science is simply beyond words. I am so thankful and feel so blessed for the gift of my implants, my ears. It’s a dream I had for a long time and I always thought it was impossible. I felt it would never happen to me, I always dreamed but it was always just that a dream. Until the day I gt the news that implants would work for me.

It’s been about two years and I’ve been through so much since this began. I’ve heard my son’s voice for the first time and of shared mine with the world. These are things I would never trade for anything of lost. This gift both honest and sincerely has been tremendous and incredible. It’s been a whirlwind rollercoaster ride with ups and downs and it’s happening so fast.

So you ask Michelle what have you lost?

I’ve lost a crutch. I used to be able to pretend I didn’t hear you or I couldn’t understand you. I was able to ignore people a little easier and focus on what I wanted or needed to. Now they know I heard them because I look in the direction of the noise. This indeed can be distracting when I am so used to being able to focus on just what I need to. It’s certainly a little harder to ignore people sometimes that used to be.

Though ignore may not be the word I really wish to use. It’s harder to focus on things because of people distractions.

I have lost some of my other senses like maybe my other senses are becoming a little more dull.

Let me explain I used to be able to stand in the kitchen and feel the vibrations through the floor. I could tell where anybody was in my house just by the vibrations I felt. I just knew without looking what was going on around me. Since I began using my implants I find myself struggling still feel the world in the same way I used to feel it.  The vibration were always my ears my guide. In a way I feel lost without them and I’m struggling with this.

I guess maybe that’s the thing I’ve lost that’s it. I’ve lost some of my heightened sense of feel. On the other side of the coin it’s not as important as the gifts given to me with my new ears.

As far as what I want back that I’ve lost? I guess I really don’t want anything back. Because these past two years have been an incredible ride. I’ve learned so many new things, I’ve done so many new things. A brave new world has opened that just a few years ago I could only dream about.

I’ve read about the sound of birds, nature, and the ocean. I’ve heard all this and more now. I used to wonder what the sound of my voice was like and I’ve heard that too. I’ve gotten to hear them all and more, so much more.  Just a few years ago I would’ve told you that you’re crazy it’s just a dream to hear for me. Just a few years ago I was resigned to the silence of my own thoughts.

I guess better question might be what have I lost that I don’t want? And I guess it’s nearly everything almost everything I’ve lost and I don’t want the twenty-four hour a day silence. I lost not knowing what a bird sounds like, what cricket sounds like. I’ve lost not knowing what the ocean sounds like or the Serenade of seagulls. I’ve lost wondering what my son’s voice sounds like. I’ve lost dreaming of and wondering what it would be like to hear because I have had that dream made a reality.

It’s really hard to see these years given to me as anything but a gift.

Actually it’s very tough questions thinking about what have I lost. I guess one of the things I’ve lost is the rhythm I had. I use to rely on what I felt and how others moved to base my rhythm off of that. It was so easy to zero in on the base and that was how I moved. That was my rhythm, it was the heart and essence of music. Now I have become less sensitive to some of that.

When my implants are on there are so many other sounds to move to and in that way I lost some of my rhytm. Maybe it’s just learning how to filter that music and focus on one side of it so that I can move to that and nothing else. Even now with the implants on I’m less sensitive to some of that and I find it harder to dance.

I try really hard now to concentrate and to focus on feeling things around me. It used to be second nature and today I find myself struggling to hold onto it. Perhaps in time I’ll learn to use these ears better and have some time off free to learn how to feel the vibrations of the world around me again, like I used to.

Or perhaps this is God and nature’s way of saying “Hey, you have ears use them!” I remember correctly my mom used to say that to my sisters and brothers. She would say “God gave you two working ears! Use them!”. I never really knew this would one day apply to me.

What has been the hardest thing about realizing this dream?

Illusions. I had illusion in my dream that I got something like these implants and instantly I would be communicating with people in a way that is natural. I imagined it was as natural for me as for them and it would just come to me. I guess I knew that this would be harder than I thought but still in all of my dreams it was like “WHAM! Hey you have his ears. Look, oh wow I can hear and talk now like everybody else.”

Instead it’s been a trial and a new dream at every corner. It’s been hard work. Don’t get me wrong I’ll take this work any day of the week, its just been a lot more work than I thought it was going to be. It’s taking longer than I thought it would. It seems I work so hard to hear it to learn and its just coming to me so slowly.

So I have really lost an allusion that it would just be natural for me. Its been a challenging and more difficult path than I thought it would be. I really had to work very hard at the simplest things it seems. Learning to filter back ground sounds which took forever. New words like yellow that I struggled with for weeks on end. I always thought it would just be natural but I knew the words that they would just come to me. That surely hasn’t been the case. I’ve struggled with so many words and struggled with so many things. 

What was the hardest thing I’ve had to accept after getting my implants?

After getting my implants I really, really, really wanted to talk on the phone. I wanted be like everybody else. I wanted to pick up the phone and talk to my son and parents. I want to talk to my boyfriend when he is not here. I want to talk to Sarah when I travel.

I want to be able to do things like other people to do. It has been very difficult not be able to speak on the phone. It annoys me because it gives me a headache so quickly I can’t even begin to describe the pain of that headache. I guess that’s been awfully hard because it is something I really, really want.

It seems ever dream that true there’s another one waiting behind it. Something else in the way of the my dreams.

What have I seen as my biggest challenge?

For me the real challenge is to stay focused on one thing at a time and accept things will be slower than I planned. The will move at the speed they are meant to move at. I see there’s a whole new world right in front of me and I want it all. I want every every last bit of it and I want it now.

I’ve had to make myself slow down and I have to stay focused. I’ve been realizing my dream like  I’ve heard my son’s voice. Then it was on to the next thing and the next thing after that. It’s sometimes very difficult to remain appreciative of the gifts that have been given to me in all this.

The gift of sound in itself is something I dreamed of. Then I got it and it seems now maybe that dream is lost in a sea of new dreams. In many ways I feel selfish or unappreciative of the gift that my Creator and science has given me. For so long it was so simple. I just wanted to hear like everybody else.

Now I want to hear, I want to talk, I want to use the phone there’s so much I want now. It’s hard to slow down and to remember he gave me such a big gift already. If I never get the next step it’s still more than I ever could have dreamed before. My dream was so simple and today that small dream has given birth to mountainous dreams.

I’m having the face reality and the fact there may still be things I can’t do like other people. Maybe some things that I want now just aren’t going to be.

What’s next for the implants?

I’m going to get another surgery. This one the plan and thinking is that maybe we take away the noise of the phone. If we can then one more thing, one more dream made a reality. I might go do something relaxing after. I need to slow down because  I still find myself looking for the next challenge. But to concur the next and the next it’s hard to handle when you’re just focus on that extreme but next hurdle.

I guess that’s the biggest hurdle is remembering all the hurdles I’ve over come to just get here.

God has helped me overcome so much already. I mean every little step in this brave new world of sound has been something I have dreamed of and something I was unprepared for. It’s sometimes difficult to remain focused, grounded and appreciative of where I’ve come from and just how far really I’ve made it into this world.

I mean I’m still standing at the face of this huge mountain. I always saw myself on top of it. It’s a momumentus task and it seems every hurdle, every mountains just gets bigger and I find myself wondering I can really do this. Every dream seems larger than life and just out of reach. I’m in a marathon Marathon on new ground that I’ve never run on before. I can’t see the end but I have to believe it’s there. When I’m looking back I see I’ve come so far that I can no longer see the beginning.

It seems I’ve lost track of the simplicity of my dreams and everyday it becomes more complicated. With every step this new world I find myself wondering just how many miles are already covered and how many yet lay ahead.

I know the doctors told me two years minimum but dreams don’t die they evolve just to tease us to make us want more.

What’s the biggest unknown?

I don’t know about others or if they ever know the frustration of realizing a dream just to find out its so large that maybe you can’t do this because what began a simple desire or dream has shown itself far more a mountain than previously thought. Do others struggle to grasp the enormity of their dreams or are they simply content knowing they tried? Do they want more too?

What is your biggest frustration with yourself about your implants and hearing?

I had myself convinced I can do this with such ease. I’d show the doctors they are wrong I’d get this faster, better than they expected. After all every thing seems to have come so easy to me. I’m reading  and write new languages with ease. I’ve learned learned to read lips in four languages. I mean everything has always been easy it seems.

And this I think I want has been hard, very hard for me because it hasn’t come easy. Maybe I just think things have come easy because or time and distance from when I had to learn it. It has been or seems to be the most difficult experience of my life. I guess patience is not one of my virtues.

I don’t know if others ever had that dream that when you take that first step you realize the dream is just so fast and so large and will require so much of you that you just get overwhelmed. I don’t know, I don’t know if others feel that way too. This dream is exactly that. It’s so large and requires so much of me, my time, my energy that nothing else seems real sometimes. Only here, only this dream in this minute is real.

What I have to do is remind myself how far I’ve realy come. Just how much of this dream I’ve been able to conquer, just how much has been given to me because of it. I guess I have to learn a little patience maybe just enjoy the ride. I’ve been on such an incredible journey past few years that I can’t even put into words how I feel.

Looking back what did you think would be easiest?

Speech. I learned 912 words while completely deaf. I thought I’d know those words and be able to start on 913 right away. I thought since I learned so many words while deaf learning them when I could hear would be a breeze. I can’t put into words the frustration of this hurdle. I had to relearn these 912 words before moving onto learning new ones. Today I can speak just over 1500 words and that number is growing slowly but growing. I find myself pushing harder and harder and I still never seem happy with my progress here. I thought words would be the easiest because they are just sounds and there are only so many sounds right?

Twenty six letters in the alphabet so how many sounds could there be I mean duh! Man was I wrong..

Largest realization?

I push myself I always have but I guess one of the things I miss is the crutch. I was always able to point to being deaf for why things seemed harder for me than others. I was able to say I’d be doing better in chemistry if I wasn’t deaf, I’d play soccer better if I wasn’t deaf. When I struggled with something it’s because I was born deaf. When I had trouble with classes at college it had to be because I was deaf. It wasn’t because I just didn’t get it, it was because I was deaf. I was deaf I had a crutch and today that crutch is gone. Kicked out from beneath me. I can’t lean of it anymore. In so many ways I’m thankful that crutch is gone and then others I realize just how much I relied on it in the past.

I guess in a way I miss that crutch also. It was always something I could blame and then find the courage and desire to push little more or to dig a little deeper. I leaned on that crutch and I’d dig deep and find a way to beat whatever it was because I wasn’t going let it beat me. Now I struggle as I don’t have that crutch now. I struggle with the dream that removes that crutch and makes me like everyone else.

I’m going to simply resign myself to the fact that some of the dream may never come true for me. I may never speak on the phone it might always bother me but the meantime I guess it just have to fully realize the dream I’ve been given. I have at least another year of occupational therapy and I have a lifetime of learning ahead of me. This dream was always to big to be a single dream. Deep down I think I knew that but I was still woefully unprepared for just how large it really is.

What if you never fully realize your dream?

If I made no more progress than what I’ve already made. Honestly if my dream stop today and I couldn’t get any further in it, I have to say I’ve been given it all.
I’ve heard my son’s voice.
I’ve shared mine with the world.
I speak more than I used to.
I’ve heard serenade of seagulls and the power of the ocean.
I’ve heard my creators wilderness in all it madness and glory.
I’ve heard crickets, birds, and thunder.
I’ve heard music.
I’ve learned to play guitar.
I’ve heard so much and every dream realized creates a new one in it’s place.

I’ve been given a gift beyond compare and it comes from my creator and science. I can honestly say if my dream ended with my son’s voice, it would have enough. If my dream ended sharing my voice it would have been enough. If my dream had ended hearing the power of the ocean it would have been enough. If my dream ended hearing the voices of those who love me it would have been enough.

I’ve been given so much that if my dream ended today I’ve been given enough and more than I ever dreamed possible, I’ve been gien more than I deserve and more than enough to last and satisfy my lifetime.

I can say I’ve been given enough and still am hopeful for more. But should my journey discover a dream that I can not conquer my life is still complete and my simple dream of sound has been reached and more.

I’ve been given enough….

~Michelle Styles – April 15, 2014