Friday, November 20, 2009

Becoming a Curmudgeon

November can be a cruel month.
It teases and flirts with it's summer like days to remind us of the summer past, but it also blows rain and premature December winds to remind us of what is yet to come.

I sat in a coffee shop on a rather nice November day, and I had this profound sense of not belonging as I watched dozens of people actively on cell phones. Talking, texting, twittering, GPSing, googling, downloading, playing, watching video, playing games, blogging.....

It brought me to this post: I seem to fondly remember a time not so long ago, when we could go to a movie, make an egg sandwich, read a book...whatever....and not have to post about it.

I remember the social network scene that involved real face time with real friends. It was a time not long ago when we could make a flan, BBQ a steak, walk a dog, go to church, lock our keys in the car.....and not have to jump on our devices to tell the world.

It is not there is anything wrong with this new world per say, it is just that I sat in the "FourBucks" and enjoyed my paper and my over priced hot foam, I looked up and at that moment saw a dozen or more people on cell phones doing all of the above I am sure.
It hit me.
Why did these devices, these "Smart phones" seem like the embodiment of everything I want to escape?
They are indeed the inevitable technological development and I thought, give us freedom to be better, to do more, to connect better, and yet in their abundance, I saw the measure of how far I had fallen away from the community of contemporary souls. The distance I have moved from the world I used to inhabit. How quick I became the curmudgeon I dreaded becoming.
I read updates from "friends" on Facebook and get angry at the simplicity of the messages. Not on purpose, but postings seem like a competition to get their downloads out there.

I don't belong here anymore.
My membership has lapsed.
Go. I thought

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Jonesin For Clear Sound In A Noisy World

Thursday, I will grace the wonderful confines of Sunnybrook Hospital. I will visit the building and the people who restored sound to my life in May of 2008 after nine months in a cone of silence. It is a "working visit" as I have an appointment with the world reknowned audiology department for a schedule maintenance.

Sort of like a 25,000 KM tune up and oil change.

My audiologist will ask me how my hearing is, and I will respond as always: "Have none, still deaf as a stump".
But I will also fill her in on how my new digital sound is keeping me in the game sort to speak.

I hear most conversation in quiet, quite possibly in the 90% range when tested in the word comprehension game.
We play the "Repeat what you hear" game in a closed booth where I face the wall and listen nervously to a mechanica man made loud speakerl speaker in the room.

"What time does this train depart for Bologna?"
Me: "What lime does this pain fart in My Sherrona?"

They may or may test me to confirm this. I hope so, I so enjoy messin with the audiologist.

In noise, I, like most fellow CI-Borgs, suffer in comprehension. Put us in our McDonald's at lunch tim, e near a high school where the shrieks and noise make it hard on the hearing to get conversation, and us CIers just sit and nod when asked anything.
"Pass the salt"
I just nod and smile.
Fake it to make it.

I am, however, miles from where I was when I was first activated, and even in noise, I can get the meat of the conversation if I know the topic, and struggle to stay in the game.
Concentration is required, but it works. Follow the lips, know the topic, don't drift off. Stay FOCUSED to stay part of the planet built for hearing.

I just read about a new hearing strategy that my Cochlear Implant manufacturer is launching. It is called ClearVoice, and the reviews have me excited. It is designed for those noisy environments that we suck at hearing. One user described it the difference as "going from hearing a conversation in a jeep with the top down, to hearing the conversation in a high end Mercedes with windows rolled up. Quiet and nice"

I am intrigued, and will pursue with the good medical people at my clinic.

Phones still are the worst part of my "integration" back into the normal civilized world that favors the hearing, and punishes those of us with the "hidden handicap" - D/deafness. But I try and try to talk on the phone.

Some days are diamond and some are stone. Some phone calls are golden and "I get it" I really get it. Some suck as bad as the closed captioning horror and comedy show that networks give us to follow along. CC is worse than muddled hearing in most cases, and I have posted about this, and will continue to push where I can to get proper Closed Captioning for the hearing impaired in this country.

I still wake up every day and ensure I am indeed with pulse and on the right side of the grass. I check the Irish "Sports pages" (the obituaries) to ensure that I am indeed not is some elaborate dream that has awake and having coffee, and in my dream I read about my untimely (or timed!) demise.
After confirmation that I am still amongst the living, I quietly give thanks for what I have. I am one lucky deaf dog to be here, and will never let a day pass without giving thanks for all the love I have in my life, the people, the planet and all it's glory.

And my wonderful cochlear implant that gives me sound.

Glorious sound!

I still want to try "ClearVoice"