Tag Archives: hearing aids

Hearing All into One Ear

You have most likely heard the expression, “In one ear, out the other.” It may not be official living proof, but soon I will get to¬†say that literally speaking (not figurative)…with a more emphasis, “In one ear, transfer to another.” ūüôā

Last Friday I went to get my right hearing aid adjusted. Because it is now my only ear I hear from, I needed a bit higher frequency for normal routine living. We did not go overboard on volume, but enough to where I hear voices better, including my own. The minute I started talking in a normal tone of voice was when we knew the volume was just right.

There was also exciting news! Instead of a cochlear implant on the left side, I am now anticipating the arrival of my new Phonak Cros. Phonak is the brand name of my hearing aids as well as other products such as the Cros. The Phonak Cros is a device that looks similar to a hearing aid, but smaller and has a completely different function. cros_bte_single


This is the Phonak Cros. However, I opted for a light mocha brown instead of blue. It is relatively smaller in size than my hearing aid. There won’t be any need for an ear mold as what you see here goes in my ear. How does it work? Well, since I have no hearing on the left side, I miss cues–mostly dealing with people talking or someone approaching me. The Cros has nothing in part on my left hearing. I will still hear nothing out of this ear even though I wear the device. What happens is that the microphone picks up on the sound (like someone saying “Hello”) and will transfer the noise to my right hearing aid.

If this does not make sense, just know that my right ear will have double time work! It will take time to get accustomed to the direction in which the sound comes; however, I¬†am excited! I am excited to see how it works at the dinner table, in my shopping trips, listening to music in my car, Muffy meowing…it will be interesting!

When you depend on technology for physical needs, it can get frustrating. It is never a surprise to me anymore when in the middle of an important conversation, my hearing aid battery just dies leaving me to transition to full lip-reading. But for all the times of tears, hearing aid appointments, and cost of batteries (I might add), there are blessings. Not only will this new arrangement (in time) help me maintain a bit of social grace, but also the Cros will be linked to my right hearing aid, as was my left hearing aid before, so where I can switch the settings and volume with my left hand as it is my stronger hand.

God is my¬†stronger hand. As I learn to depend on Him daily, I see there is still so much to learn. “Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known,” Jeremiah 33:3. Like the¬†Phonak Cros, God links together the¬†my disabilities with His¬†abilities and¬†carries them all in¬†His hand. It does not¬†stop my life from¬†tears, doctor appointments, and the cost of following God into the unknown but when I do, there are blessings.

I am still learning this dependency–

…It’s amazing
How I forget
Can’t live my life
For lack of it
But the Light of day
I’ve always known
It’s in my heart
I’m not alone

Speak to me
Tell me all the things I need to know
I want to hear You now
Can You speak to me
I’ve opened up Your Word to free me
I want to hear You now

Make Your wisdom clear
The words I hold so dear
Bring the light into my dark
I hide them inside my heart…

*Audio Adrenaline. “Speak to Me.” Lift. 2001.


Filed under Adjusting to NF2, Muffy

Little Joys!

Have you ever stopped for a moment to listen to the water as it drips out of the faucet? What about the sound your sheets make when you ruffle them as you make your bed in the morning? The sound your fork or spoon makes against the dish; the taps your fingers make on the keys when you type; the brushstrokes when you paint on a canvas; the click of your eye shadow case as you finish getting reading in the morning; or the sound of pages turning as you read a book? Little joys!

Yesterday I got my hearing aids fixed! ūüėÄ Funny is perception. It has only been a mere three weeks since they went from usable to unusable overnight. It seems much longer than that! The hearing aids currently are back to where I had them set before–I have them turned up all the way though, as we did not adjust any of the settings due to my last hearing¬†test being in February.¬†At that point in time, my¬†left ear had¬†gunky-dark fluid behind the ear drum and¬†I¬†received some¬†medicine to see if¬†that¬†would¬†clear out. I had my ears checked once and it seemed to be helping¬†slowly. It was not until after the spring break that the tinnitus¬†(insane ringing in both ears) became increasingly¬†loud.¬†So there¬†is much difference in my hearing since February.

Changing the levels now seemed¬†in wrong timing, because¬†I have my MRI/hearing test next Thursday the 23rd. My¬†regular doctor appointments are the following Thursday the 30th. As far as my hearing test goes, I am thinking my left ear has not improved any even if the gunky¬†fluid is out¬†from behind the ear drum. Even with my hearing aid in, I am not hearing much (though I placed it in first this morning and then shut the lid to the case and heard it clear as day…guess that is a good thing!) I do know, however, that I depend on my right ear/hearing aid the most. It used to be the opposite, but I can¬†tell already¬†that my hearing aids are helping…maybe n0t improving¬†my balance but I have not run into as many walls today as I round the corner–little joys!¬†And, after going three weeks with no hearing, I think I did¬†improve my lip-reading and¬†we started incorporating more sign¬†language at home.

My dad is sneaky. He¬†found this¬†website where you can look¬†up words you need and they give you¬†a¬†video¬†of the¬†sign.¬†Last weekend, we had company and at Sunday’s lunch we had the typical tuna sandwiches, chips and salsa, carrots and grapes and cookies for dessert. I see my dad pull out his phone¬†as the others at the table are in conversation. Not thinking anything of it, I return my attention back to lip-reading but sort of just sit in a daze. (I get bad at that. I stare like I am lip-reading but I am not paying attention at all in my mind! I need to work on staying focused!) Anyway, dad never waved for my attention or anything, he just moved his hands. I knew it was a sign, but since he did not mouth the word, I had no idea what it was. Instead of guessing or pointing aimlessly at the table, I just said, “I don’t know what that sign is.” It was grapes!!!

I should have remembered. I learned it in ASL I. Although dad was trying to be sneaky and not ruin the conversation at hand (I think I did ūüôā ), our table then erupted in sign–from discussion of ASL vs. ESL or SEE to guessing¬†the¬†word being signed¬†(as my dad passed on his phone to my sister who put the website and¬†my memory to good use!) Sometimes these conversations are awkward for me as I feel I should be the one to know all the signs (I don’t), but because our guests¬†both¬†had reference¬†and previous experience to sign language, we¬†were able to¬†work through and remember words with sign together.

During these past three weeks,¬†I now¬†have experienced both sides of the spectrum in terms of hearing and hearing loss.¬†Just the other day I read this quote. I think¬†it sums up my thoughts the best way possible:¬†“Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard, are sweeter.”¬†~J0hn Keats.

I am happy to hear, thankful to hear, liking¬†to hear…and¬†I think it¬†is because¬†I had none–that¬†I appreciate it more!¬†Little J0ys!!

PS. This s0ng came to mind this morning:

Carolyn Arends, “I Can Hear You”

Leaky faucet dripping in the kitchen
Rubber squealing — watch out in the alley
Mr. Marley’s probably late for work again.
Birdie singing — telling me to get up
Such a soothing sound floating on the wind
I just keep listening

Funny how You speak to me
In such mysterious ways

I can hear You
I can hear You
It’s so amazing how Your voice keeps breaking through
I can hear You

There’s a church bell ringing out the hour
Like an old friend calling through my window
With the laughter of the children playing down below
You’ve got a way of getting my attention
In the rhythm of life, everywhere I go
Somehow You let me know

If I’ll only stop to listen
You’re in everything

I can hear You
I can hear You
I can hear You
I can hear You

Music video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GtsWtNS-3Og


Filed under Adjusting to NF2, Books and Movies, Family Times, Muffy, Paintings

Waiting for Spring.

Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight,
At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more,
When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death,
And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.*

I am sitting drinking¬†a hot cup of plum tea, wearing a cozy sweater and my feet adorned with my slippers. The fireplace was just on and I think, “This is not spring-like weather.” Even today at lunch, snow frillies fell randomly from the sky and I said out loud, “Winter [has met] its death!!” Well, not quite. But slowly, it is changing.

This afternoon, I worked on sorting through my pictures from vacation. Some I have set out for cards and the rest I put in order and placed them in the photo album. The day we were at Grandfather Mountain, my mind thought of Narnia. It felt like winter…”Always winter but¬†never Christmas.”* The hoarfrost on the trees, fog and gray skies just added to my imagination: This is what Narnia must have felt like.






Winter in Narnia did not end overnight either. And while I am not waiting for magic to weaken, I do just have to be patient–spring will come.

Thinking these hopeful thoughts–I have good news!

I am finally able to wear my left hearing aid!!!! ūüôā For the first time in over a month! It still is not all the way back to normal, but I hear a little. The tunnel feeling is still there when I speak, but I turned the aid up to the highest setting–then put it into the second setting where the background noise is eliminated, and that helps. However, I do not think this is the best option–so I need to get in to have my hearing aid adjusted.

Since some of the fluid is out from behind the ear drum, now¬†my ear is¬†taking small steps back to where it was (I hope)!¬†I have some fluid in my right ear as well, but so far have not noticed a change in hearing too much. The only thing is that I have extensive loud ringing noises all the time in my ears, and so¬†I almost didn’t test the left ear yesterday. I had just changed my battery in the right hearing aid on Tuesday, and figured it would be a waste of a battery.¬†But, I was wrong. I was instead filled with joy even at the smallest sounds.

Another praise is that I no longer have to go to the doctor’s office for weekly INRatio¬†tests. INRatio¬†is a small finger poke test that determines my blood count, due to being on the Warfarin blood thinners. I received my own home machine and kit on Friday and went through the training session. Monday’s test was an epic fail. The plan was to compare my home results with the doctor office results–I went and sat in the waiting room frustrated that morning. But not today! Because my blood count was high Monday, I had another test today. My INR was a success (thank you Mom for your help!) and my number matched the number at the doctor’s office. Now I am on my own!

While we were on spring break, I had a faxed order from my doctor for an INR¬†test (just in case I needed one!) If I did, we would have had to find a¬†medical¬†facility¬†to have the test¬†done–which means registration, paperwork, waiting rooms–you get the point. Not something you want to¬†do while on vacation!¬†Having my own machine now will also eliminate this type of activity. The machine is not very big. I think my make-up bag is bigger, HAHA! So this is just one example I have thought of that makes having a personal INR machine a huge blessing!

On most days, spring may still seems a long way off. March seems to have come “in like¬†a lion” but can’t decide whether it wants to leave “like a lamb.”

‘He’ll be coming and going,’ he had said. ‘One day you’ll see him and another you won’t. He doesn’t like being tied down–and of course he has other countries to attend to. It’s quite all right. He’ll often drop in. Only you mustn’t press him. He’s wild, you know. Not like a tame lion.’*

In whatever way winter leaves or spring comes, I am learning to find hope, joy and blessings in both the cold and warmer days.

*C.S. Lewis The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe


Filed under Books and Movies, Family Times, Random, Uncategorized

Now what?

I have to be honest.¬†I have been procrastinating writing¬†this particular post since Friday. Oh, I tried. And it resulted in tears of frustration. Last week was rough. It was not a good week. I kept finding more things during the day that I could hardly do–the last being I could no longer clip my left fingernails. And¬†I use huge clippers! By Friday night, I just broke down physically and emotionally. I looked in the mirror and could not see anything positive.

Since the decrease of¬†my steroids¬†and now¬†back to¬†them¬†consistent, I have been doing¬†stable. I have full energy back most of the time (at least¬†I feel more energetic) and most of the weight I felt on my upper back is lifted. But I feel it affected my hands on a more permanent level: more weakness and numbness–especially in the right hand as my ring finger is now very heavy from the numbness. I also find I have¬†more curl in the left ring finger… when carrying things I don’t even use that finger. I am having a harder time opening things (especially in the kitchen), putting on makeup, putting in my earrings, unbuttoning my pants in a hurry, putting on thick socks, and typing. In a word: slow. I am getting slow.

I am thankful though that my back is not as heavy as two weeks ago. I have only had a few times of the extreme neck pain. At Thursday’s appointments, I saw some doctors from the Pain Management team. They prescribed these special patches that you place on your area of pain and it helps decrease the pain by numbing it.¬†I have not had to use them yet, but thankful for this because it gives me more freedom to still continue things I would have been doing otherwise. When¬†I use the rice pack, I¬†have¬†to hold¬†on to it or balance it¬†and that gets difficult. They also recommended I get a Physical Therapy evaluation and start PT. It was actually one of my questions as I have been trying to work on my posture–which helps balance, strengthen the back muscles, stimulate bowel movement and just help me in the long-term.

Otherwise, my main doctor and¬†I discussed the steroid pills in terms of steadily staying on them for the time being. I have decided against the other two chemo treatments at this time, but really glad that we discussed things…because it gives me a better understanding for if and when the time comes to reconsider the options. I got all my questions answered. ūüôā

Right now¬†I am frustrated and sad.¬†I got my left hearing aid fixed and my ear cleaned yesterday and I still cannot hear; Which means I am going to get a hearing test very soon! (Monday to be exact).¬†But it is hard. I now realize how much I depended on my left ear. I cried last night¬†when¬†my dad had to write down what he was saying so I could¬†understand. I think it is time for¬†me to take another lip-reading class and touch up on my sign language…although due to the hands, I focus more on lip-reading anyway.

Remember my very first post of the New Year? (You can read it here). I talked about seeing the birds in the winter…their safe haven being the butterfly bush outside my window. Here almost two months has gone into the year and how easily¬†I¬†have forgotten that¬†God feeds these birds and knows their¬†needs (Matthew 6:25-27). In my own life, I have felt like these birds–in the cold of winter, finding a safe haven among the little branches of the bush even though the wind and snow still are all around. Almost as if when I say, “Will winter never end?” But really mean it more towards all the current health problems…finding new daily obstacles is like waking up to realize you have to scrap off your icy windshield again.

Today my cat¬†led my attention to a¬†male¬†cardinal¬†outside on¬†the branches of the bush. When Muffy’s ears perked up, I looked and there¬†it was: brilliant red. ūüôā Of course all¬†around¬†outside was snow, but there¬†it¬†was…in the gusty, snowy wind minding¬†its own business. As the wind started to blow, the cardinal’s actions¬†resembled how I feel at the present moment: clinging for dear life. I watched for a while and asked myself, “And what am¬†I clinging to?” The hopes that my body¬†will go back to the way¬†it was before?¬†Quite possibly.¬†Like I said…this weekend, I just dismissed everything. I did not really even talk to God, because I did not know what to say and I was trying¬†not to be angry about all these new changes. I get tired of change.

I don’t want to be stuck in the ruts of winter months forever, so I do need a change. I need to change back to seeing hope in all circumstances. It has already started. I have been going around and making notes of things that are difficult and possible alternatives. My family has been there with suggestions and support. And I know that God does see my life living with potential. I just finally have to cling to that promise with my whole heart.

‘Let not your heart be troubled,’ His tender word I hear,
And resting on His goodness, I lose my doubts and fears;
Though by the path He leadeth, but one step I may see;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

Song: “His Eye is on the Sparrow.” To read more about the story of this hymn, click here.


Filed under Adjusting to NF2, Hospital Trips, Muffy

My new droids.

Howdy. If you are eagerly awaiting the news of my hearing aids–this post is for you! The past few days have been interesting. I am in the process of retraining my brain to hear noise. Cool. And yet sometimes my first reaction is, “This is annoying!” Noise, noise, noise. I feel like the Grinch who hears the noise of Christmas below down in Whoville. ūüėČ There are exciting noises: I can hear myself breathe.¬†I sound like Darth¬†Vader. ūüėé I can hear Muffy¬†meow, purr and chew his food…which I thought was a frog¬†at first. I hear better on the phone, but will still use Sprintcaptel. I have been trying to¬†listen outside for birds, but I have not heard any yet.¬†Communication is better, but that is part of the hardest retraining of the brain. My¬†parents voices sound the same. I can hear the car engine tick…sort of annoying. I can also hear when the refrigerator comes on. When I text or type, I can hear the keys being pushed. And church echoed this morning, so I actually had to turn my hearing aids down.¬†These are just a few things I have noticed. I was told that it will take 3-6 weeks to get used to these new hearing aids, and that it is easier for someone to adjust to new hearing aids if they have never had them before rather than if they switch hearing aids–(which I agree completely, based off experience!)

On my new hearing aids, I have all these settings and options to learn and understand; right now I feel a bit overwhelmed! The strangest habit for me to get used to is the method of how I turn the hearing aids on and off. These are my OLD hearing aids:

The number “4’s” are the volume¬†control. It was¬†always on number¬†four unless there¬†was¬†times where the background noises were excessive. Then I would turn it down. Also, the switch at the bottom is how I turned¬†it on. Imagine¬†a good¬†seven years of turning the switch off and on…now I have to¬†pop¬†the battery in and out.¬†Old habits are¬†hard to break.

Here are my new hearing aids:

This is only the right hearing aid. Both are this new “chestnut-brown” color and the same size. See how the¬†battery is popped¬†out? That means it is off.¬†It might take another seven years¬†to get used to that method. ūüôā These are like R2-D2! These little “droids” make¬†beeping noises when it changes¬†to a different setting¬†and a little song¬†when it¬†turns on. They are also¬†set so that¬†my functions change automatically. For example,¬†when I put the phone up to my ear…it automatically changes my hearing aid into the new setting.¬†I do have the option to have manual¬†settings. The only one I think that I will probably¬†set for manual is¬†the setting¬†which minimizes¬†background noises. I have plenty of time before my follow-up appointment to think about all the settings and my preferences.

Going to sign off for the evening. This past weekend was a big turn of events in many ways, which leaves me right now very exhausted! This morning I thought of Matthew 11:28-29,

Then Jesus said, ‚ÄúCome to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

¬†Off to make tea, then enjoy some quiet moments reading before I¬†fall asleep. More to come…

Leave a comment

Filed under Adjusting to NF2, Muffy


If I had cable, I would only want it for two things: football and ABC’s The Middle. If you have not seen The Middle, I suggest you rent season 1 from Best Buy and start at the beginning. Season 1 is hilarious! The show is about an ordinary family in Indiana–hence “the middle of nowhere”. ūüėÄ Mike and Frankie Heck have three kids: Axl, who would rather play sports than study; Sue, extremely optimistic and tries out for everything but never makes any teams due to some funny issue or lack of talent (until cross-country made the team a “no cut” team); and Brick, six-year-old bookworm with extreme knowledge who whispers to himself. Every episode presents the family in a real life situation…but ends as a family sticking together.

Some of the best quotes come from Sue. She is quite the character!

Sue sees a possibility in every situation. Most often–although her family tries to tell her simple truths she is missing–Sue’s naive and energetic personality does not get the message. For example: Leap Year. Sue’s birthday is on Leap Year and she is ABSOLUTELY CONVINCED that she is going to have a surprise birthday party, even though the family tells her that she is not. At one scene, Sue comes in the kitchen where Axl is eating a bowl of cereal. She starts asking Axl if he knows any details of the surprise party. Getting annoyed, Axl takes Sue by the arm and leads her to the basement, telling her to wait there and not to come out–Sue’s not understanding he is playing a big joke, thinks it is real. Axl leaves and there is no one in the house. All you see is an empty kitchen and then Sue says from the basement…”This is so exciting!!! ūüėÄ HA! Best part–they DID forget her birthday and woke her up at 4am singing happy birthday. Thus, she was surprised and thought they were planning it that way the whole time. Her family let her assume so. ūüėÄ

I have a surprise for you..no joke! ūüėČ Tomorrow is a big day; a “THIS IS SO EXCITING!” sort of day!! ūüėÄ


The hearing aids I have now are 7 years and 3 months old and let me tell you–that is like dog years in comparison to human years…these things are OLD! Every new audiologist that I meet is shocked at the model of my hearing aids, let alone the fact that they work so well. My hearing aids have been maxed out (meaning the highest possible they can go) since spring of 2008 when my right ear collapsed at a chapel. Before that, we had discussed the possibility of getting new hearing aids, but we were not sure how long my hearing would remain after that incident. To be honest, I thought I would be completely Deaf by now. God had other plans as I still have a little hearing left.

Currently, my hearing loss in my left ear is considered severe to profound sensorineural hearing loss and my right ear is considered moderate to profound sensorineural hearing loss. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association defines sensorineural hearing loss:

Sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) occurs when there is damage to the inner ear (cochlea), or to the nerve pathways from the inner ear to the brain. Most of the time, SNHL cannot be medically or surgically corrected. This is the most common type of permanent hearing loss.

(All Contents Copyright 1997-2011 American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). All Rights Reserved. http://www.asha.org/public/hearing/sensorineural-hearing-loss/)

My hearing loss obviously comes from the tumors on the Auditory nerves. For the most part, the hearing loss has been gradual–except that spring of 2008. MRI results did not show any growth in the right tumor, so it was assumed that the tumor hardened on the inside. This is why doctor appointments can get frustrating, because I can have new physical symptoms but nothing shows on the scans. I have an MRI and hearing test every 3 months. I have been relatively stable since July 2010. A little prayer goes a long way. ūüôā

The only time in these past ten years of NF2 that my hearing ever improved was when I was on the Tarceva chemotherapy pills. That was a happy hearing test!!! Ask my family, I am not a fan of hearing tests. I have to sit and punch the button when I hear the noise. I have such high pitch ringing in my ears that most often I just sit there knowing that I am supposed to be hearing things, but I have difficulty discerning the noises from the ever-present ringing. But most of all, I very much dislike the “word recognition” part of the test. I get asked often if I can hear. Yes, I can hear (with my hearing aids on); however, if I am not reading your lips then you sound Japanese. Words have no meaning if I cannot read your lips. Simple fact: I am fluent in English AND in lip-reading (also American Sign Language, but I lip read so well that I only use ASL and interpreters for church and doctor appointments..or if I chat with a Deaf individual that I meet at stores, etc.)

My current hearing aids have three different settings: Setting 1, I hear everything. Yes, everything. Maybe not quiet things, but there is a constant background murmur! I also hear everything in LOUD proportions. Setting 2 focuses on people who I am talking to and helps to minimize the background noise. Setting 3 is supposed to be for the phone, but when I do call people on http://www.sprintcaptel.com (like a free TTY service), I usually leave my right hearing aid on setting 2. I cannot hear well enough out of my left ear to carry a phone conversation.

If you are a hearing person, what things would you miss hearing the most if you had sudden hearing loss?? Just curious. I miss listening and following along with music; hearing frogs, crickets and birds–even Muffy’s meow!! There are other things: communication with little kids or just my family in general, especially in night car rides or star-gazing chats on the grass. Watching TV or movies with no captions; my grandparents calling me at 7am on Saturday mornings to chat about life and current events; listening to the radio (we grew up on Adventures in Odyssey!!) and hearing sirens, such as police cars, firefighters or smoke detectors. Thankfully, modern technology allows me to have an amazing alarm clock that uses a flashing light and vibrator to coordinate with fire alarms and door bells. I do not use the alarm sound anymore, but the vibrator and light work just fine for me! ūüėÄ Here it is:

See the yellow button? There is a connection at the back for a lamp. So when you have the lamp plugged into the alarm, you turn the light on by pressing the yellow button. The volume and tune knobs are if you want the alarm sound adjusted. On the right side where there are words: the top is “outlets”, which allows you to choose your wake up preferences. I set the combo of vibrator and light. The bottom is for the vibrator. You can choose steady or pulse. My favorite is pulse, because otherwise it feels like a steady head massage. ūüėÄ

I will say one quick note on having hearing aides…whenever my ears get tired of hearing, I just take them out. Instant silence. I realize that I have come to a place in life where I actually enjoy a few hours of silence. In silence, I like observing; I like focusing without being distracted by other noises; I like singing songs in my head or have a conversation with God. Sometimes God seems silent. Like Elijah, I expect to see or hear God in big ways (Elijah looked for God in the wind, earthquake and fire); He came in “A still small voice” (I Kings 19:11-12.) God has done incredible things in my life right down to the little details. Even today, another specific prayer was answered. When I tune into God–not distracted by the noises of the world–even in my deafness, I can hear His still small voice–the voice of Truth–say, “This one’s mine.”



Leave a comment

Filed under Adjusting to NF2, Family Times, Funny Stories, Muffy