Thursday, 25 August 2011

Me? Deaf? Oh yeah, that's right.

Was it only last year that I used to deliberately seek out strangers so I could practise my listening skills? Wow. All I need to do now is head out of the house with my son and wait for people to approach me instead. Seriously. If you have access to a baby, you should try it some time. I can often pre-empt their comments, and that’s no challenge. ‘How old is he?’ ‘What’s his name?’  ‘Oh, he’s a happy baby, isn’t he?’ ‘Oh, he’s a grumpy baby, isn’t he?’ Sometimes they say weird stuff that throws me off guard. ‘So you’re not working at the moment then?’ Erm … no. (But would you care to explain my burning eyes, aching shoulders and feet and vomit-ridden piles of laundry?)

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Just how loud can our little boy cry?

* Loud enough for two different nurses in neighbouring ICU units to come rushing in to his room at the Children’s Hospital one night to see what was going on. (His nappy was being changed.)

* Loud enough for Jase to hear him from outside when he pulls up in the driveway each night. (Arsenic hour.)

* And yes … (sometimes) loud enough for me to hear him crying without my processors on. Oh boy was I surprised to hear him hark up in the 20 seconds it took me to brush my hair this morning. I confess I stared at him in surprise for a few seconds while I matched the faint, cute little cry in my head with the bright red, wide-mouthed, writhing little baby in his cot before I hurriedly put my processors back on and picked him up to soothe him. (He was hungry.)

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

NICU babies and hearing

A visit to a different audiology clinic this week – the one at the Royal Children’s Hospital.

Our son passed his newborn hearing screening test with flying colours, but he is still going to need his hearing monitored pretty closely over the next few years. Makes sense, you’re probably thinking, given his mother is deaf and wears two cochlear implants. But, oddly enough, my hearing loss has nothing to do with his situation. Rather, it’s his stay in the NICU that doubles his chances for hearing problems – not the noise exposure, like I initially thought, but his dependence on antibiotics and on oxygen for a prolonged period of time.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Out of (brain) practice

So … it’s wonderful to be able to play the piano again but I have to confess something. I did not have a grand “oh-wow-this-sounds-amazing-again” moment the first time I played it, after my piano tuner left. Rather, I had a “woah-has-this-piano-been-tuned-at-all” moment. Before I could question the work of my very talented tuner much further though, I remembered that my brain is out of practice.

Clearly it’s what happens after a five-month break from playing. The piano sounded somewhat … er … terrible. Not as bad as after my CIs were switched on, thank goodness, but definitely muddled. Pachelbel’s Canon made me shudder, as did Mozart’s Turkish March. Debussy’s Clair de Lune, my favourite, sounded a little sweeter to the ears. Perhaps more familiar to the brain.

After 30 minutes or so, the piano sounded much better. But I am going to have to find the time to sit at it regularly to stop that from happening again!

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Hypnosis with cochlear implants?

I was watching a documentary on SBS the other night about the way brain research has evolved over time. There was a segment on hypnosis and it got me wondering …

Does hypnosis actually work on somebody with cochlear implants?

Now … I’m in no way volunteering myself! I was just curious! If hypnosis works by shutting down various parts of the brain, would somebody with cochlear implants, who receives sound directly to the brain and not the ear, even be able to “hear” the hypnotiser’s words?

Just one of those little things that I wonder about sometimes!

Monday, 30 May 2011

Do your dreams have sounds?

It's a question that is often asked to deaf people. For late-deafened people like me, people often ask if our dreams stopped featuring sound after we lost our hearing. And, if so, did the sound return to our dreams after we got cochlear implants.

When I became totally deaf, my own dreams stopped featuring sound. Did sound return to my dreams after I got cochlear implants? No. At least I don’t think so. Thing is, with 100% silence at night, you do tend to sleep pretty deeply. I only occasionally remember my dreams, and sure enough, they are all silent.

Except for the last nine weeks …

The difference? I’ve been wearing an alternating processor each night, thus giving my brain access to sound.

My dreams feature sound once more. I seem to constantly be having conversations with people in my dreams, or listening to environmental sounds. It could just be the broken sleep at the moment that’s making them more vivid, but I believe the presence of sound makes my dreams easier to recall at the moment also. 

Something for the neuroscientists amongst us to ponder perhaps ...

Friday, 27 May 2011

The sounds of our baby boy

I always knew that getting cochlear implants would help me hear, and therefore respond faster, to my baby crying. Little did I know they would also help me monitor his well-being in other ways. While I was pregnant, and getting regular foetal monitoring, there were often times when I was chasing him around my stomach with the receiver, using only the faint sound of his heartbeat alone to ‘find’ him again.

During the birth and in the weeks thereafter, my cochlear implants were crucial for communicating with our son's doctors and nurses in noisy environments.
And now, at home, yes – I can respond to his crying. I’m learning to recognise the different types of crying. But I can also use sound to gauge when he’s had enough to eat. When he needs to be burped. By wearing a processor at night, I can tell when he’s vomited and needs quick attention. I can tell by his breathing whether his head needs to be repositioned in the bed. Best of all, I can tell that he’s breathing.

And in amidst the sounds that help me care for him, there are a bunch of others that always bring a smile to my face.