I am writing this from the front passenger seat of a Honda Pilot where I am returning from summer vacation with my cochlear implant. And my family. Over the past six weeks my CI and I drove across the country, lived in a cabin, a tent, and a boat, hiked, sailed, and sat around a campfire. I am happy to report we are still in a relationship; my CI and I have proven to be compatible. And my family had a blast.
I learned a few things over the summer, such as sounds are much closer in a tent, the cabin of a boat, and national park restroom facilities. For example, within the close confines of my car, little noises like crumpling a Subway wrapper sound like glaciers crushing mountain ranges. A sneeze sounds like smashing china plates against a canyon wall.
If I could have found the remote control for my CI I would have adjusted my device to account for the close confines, but the remote was so deeply buried in my purse somewhere on the floor of my car under book bag, maps, water bottles, iPads, hats, and a week’s worth of freeze-dried dinners for back country treks. Finding it would have required effort needed for hauling all that stuff to remote camping spots where we trekked to get away from things.
As you would expect, sounds return to normal in a forest, on an island, or in a motel room.
Next to the remote control, the best car trip feature of my CI is it’s removability. Who else in the car can take their ears off? Time for a nap? Turn it off. Kids whining? Can’t hear you. Marital spat? Who needs it? Best of all: I don’t have to listen to the Beastie Boys. Ever.
Although my CI (a Rondo) fits securely beneath all of my hats (and works just the same under a layer of hat), I sometimes removed my electronic ear for its own protection: high winds, treacherous river crossings, etc. A big wind or a flying sail could whip my hat off my head and toss my precious Rondo into a canyon or body of water. I tried wearing my behind-the-ear model (for the first time) but it got mixed up in hat’s chin straps as well as the strap holding sunglasses so rather than risk losing it, I went without. Amazing how well sound carries on the water.
CI Training and Summer Reading
In the car there is plenty of time for CI training and, for those of us whose children might need a nudge with summer reading, you can kill two birds with one stone. Reading aloud is the perfect CI training exercise; the eyes see the word, the mouth speaks the word, the brain hears the word. The brain and CI make the connection and the student finishes summer reading assignments. When my son was struggling with Silas Marner, I read him through the difficult parts until we were both hooked on the story and finished reading it together. So in the future, when my brain hears words like: summat, fiddlesticks, and mawkin, it will instantly recognize, if not comprehend, the words.
My vertigo is barely noticeable nowadays, and then only first thing in the morning which makes waking in interesting places a bit risky, such as a steep cabin loft ladder, a tent with multiple zippers and flaps, or the leap from boat to dock. But vertigo only presents on waking. All subsequent motor dysfunction is my own.
Personal Hearing Festival: Summer Vacation Version
In traveling to places and seeing people I haven’t seen since before the CI, I noticed I was engaging more in group conversations, making comments. I don’t know if they noticed a difference but I did.
This is bad and I’m not sure if I should tell, but I’ve noticed that a couple of times when I was busy or preoccupied I leaned on my old deaf handicap and didn’t bother to respond when I heard someone talking to me in a non-urgent tone. It wasn’t exactly conscious, but I let them think I just didn’t hear. I need to get over this!
I found myself seated in a not too noisy restaurant–engaged in conversation with more than three people. And I found myself seated around a DARK campfire, getting a joke! Who, me?