Friday, May 30, 2008
When I had the spectra body worn Cochlear Implant, I got a really good sound with the piano. When I was upgraded to the newer 3G BTE fo the N22 (read OLD Implant), the piano never really sounded that good after that, not as good as the body worn anyway – I have no idea why this was.
Now with my new Freedom implant, the piano sounds good again – more like I got with the old spectra – there’s a resonance back that wasn’t there with the BTE. Everything sounds normal and in pitch. A scale sounds as a scale should. However once I reach the keys an octave from Middle C and upwards, it sounds like it’s playing another octave higher than again that which is really weird. So midtones – wonderful, go too high, and it sounds tinny and octave higher than it should. Still in tune though which is quite weird.
I am noticing when I make mistakes now – which I didn’t with the N22. I get that clash – much like I know if I’m out of tune when singing. This is definitely a first. Previously with my old implant, I knew I had made a mistake as my fingers on the keyboard knew I had made one, but I couldn't hear the mistake at all, which was really frustrating. Hopefully this will mean I can once again improve on my playing and go back to some more complex pieces. Time will tell!
I’m still singing in tune with this implant so I’m rapt. The cats are still trying to stop me singing by putting their head in my mouth occasionally though. They obviously have no music appreciation!!
I have my 2 months tune-up/mapping with Ellen and Gayle on Tuesday morning 3rd June, and I’m sure they’ll get it perfect for me!!! They’re good like that!! No pressure - absolutely none (Glare!) I want a twang free sound, and perfect pitch for the piano. Thats not too much to ask is it????
So everything is still improving – but I still don’t like phones. I answered the phone this afternoon – and put it up to my wrong ear again, and wondered why I couldn’t hear anything!! Duh! Double Duh!! I’m no longer blonde so I can’t blame that anymore. When I realized the gaffe – I put it up to the correct ear, and was hearing perfectly okay – but as soon as I misheard one single word, I said ‘oh I can’t take this call because I can’t hear on the phone – you’ll have to txt me’. All because I misheard one single word. The person on the other end (stranger), must have thought I was nuts! Probably wouldn’t be far wrong! I don’t know if I’ll ever feel comfy with the phone again, I simply hate them with a passion. Email, TXT, Skype TXT and MSN are far better options. I CAN do it – I just don’t LIKE it.
But hey - there are plenty of things we dislike in this world, and the only way to overcome them is to keep on trying. So I'll keep on trying!!
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
My level of frustration is so high now, that I'm ready to take them to task publicly.
It all started like this...
Empower (yep I'm naming them), is the company that sends me my bills on a monthly basis. In the last bill they sent me a pamphlet 'Would you benefit from the Empower Low User Plan?' The pamphlet listed a few Q & A and gave an 0800 number to ring. I worked out that I would benefit, and so rang the 0800 number.
Now - I'm doing well with my implant, and can hear on the phone pretty well. I got the usual recorded voice messaging system and my heart sunk. But wait - I could follow the instructions.
"Press 1 if you wish to change to the low user plan"
Okay - 1
"Now key in your account number found at the top right hand corner of your last electricity bill followed by the # key"
Okay - I keyed in the ten digit number nad hit the # key.
"This is an invalid number, please key in your account number followed by the hash key"
Okay - I must have got it wrong. So I did it again, checked it all, hit the # key.
"This is not a valid account number, please key in your account number followed by the hash key"
Okaaaaay - I must have got it wrong again - so I did it again - checked it, and hit the # key.
"this is not a valid account number, please key in your account number followed by the # key"
WTF???? I looked all over my invoice - that was the only account number listed at the top right hand corner. There are no other account numbers. I did it again.
"This is not a valid account number, please key in your account number followed by the # key".
I hung up. Started again. Same result. My blood pressure was beginning to rise.
Found another 0800 number for Accounts enquiries. Rung that.
Listened to all the options - found general accounts enquiries, press 3.
"please key in your account number found at the top of your last electricity bill"
I typed it in. Oh my - it got through that time.
"now type in the four digit number (mumble mumble mumble"
Looked all over my bill - no four digit numbers. I obviously took too long...
"now type in the four digit number (mumble mumble mumble on your last electricity bill"
Okay - a four digit number on my bill - nowhere to be found. Nothing. Nada.
"now type in."
Okay okay - shuddup. There's no four digit number on my bill. I hung up again.
Ahhhh - I can ring it again and see if I can find the message to a real person. Rang the accounts equiries number again.
"If you would like to speak to a real person press whyine"
Hmm is that a one or a nine? I pressed 1.
"if you would like to speak to a personal assistant press whyine"
Ok - 1 didn't work - I'll try 9.
"if you would like to speak to a personal assistant press whyine"
By this time i was looking all over the phone handset for clues what 'whyine' could be.
Shaddup - I hung up.
I've just flung off a really rude angry email to them, from their website about the appalling system they have where one cannot get hold of a real customer service person, that they have no customer service, and that I'm now considering changing to a company where I can actually TALK to a real person.
Meantime - I'm still being charged on the high user plan, so I'm paying more than I should.
I'm sooooooooooooooo wild, angry, I think I will go and SCREAM with frustration!
Sunday, May 25, 2008
My burmese is quite bizarre. Being bizarre is a prerequisite in this household. Her bizarre behaviour is to sit on your head. When she does this on my head now, she'll be totally camouflaged. Which is probably a good thing as we don't want to give visitors the wrong idea!!
Anyway - now I'm a lovely dark brown, there will be no more blonde moments. No longer will I do stupid things like those listed here. I will not dribble, or lock my keys in the car in a remote place, or do all those stupid things like that I did in 2007. I'm brunette - brunettes don't have blonde moments - heck, they don't even have brunette moments - they're sensible, calm, and never put a foot wrong.
I look forward to my calm sensible brunette life, I know it's okay as it's already been 24 hours. So far so good...
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
The head of a local whaling association confirmed that fishermen on three whaling boats were preparing to go to sea from Thursday.
To say I'm disgusted is an understatement.
These big creatures of the sea do no harm to anyone. They are intelligent giants of the sea. Their breeding takes years, so killing them means many years for the recovery of their population numbers.
About two years ago I visited a beach up north where something like 40 pilot whales were stranded. I got there too late to help, and many of them died, but some were refloated and herded back out into open water. I had my camera with me...
Here the ones that didn't make it, are all lined up in a row ready for burial.
The area was cordoned off to keep people further away so the workmen could work without hurting anyone. I asked if I could step into the cordoned off area to take photos and I was given permission.
While taking photos, I felt like an intruder. One doesn't take photos of funerals do they? I felt very out of place, but I persevered and am glad I did.
Tying the canvas rope to secure the dead Pilot Whale
On it's way...
to be buried in the sand dunes along the beach a bit in an area that is not so busy.
The others lined up waiting their turn.
Even in death it still manages to smile.
There is no beauty in killing such magnificent creatures of the sea. There is no real reason for killing them for food or cosmetics. There are plenty of products available to use instead of whale.
When will the human race wake up? I give $100 per year to Greenpeace to help the fight against whaling. Do you? Would you?
Monday, May 19, 2008
I had the pleasure of spending the day out in the country at my friends place yesterday. They live only 20 minutes drive from me, yet have 8 hectares of land, and all around them are other people who have about the same amount of land. It's a beautiful spot and yesterday was a beautiful day, so after lunch we went for a walk...
Shared driveway to the other lifestyle blocks.
I was interested to see what I would hear with my implant, and whether I would recognise them without being told. All up I did very well. One of the biggest things I noticed that I was able to hear my friend talk to me as we walked along, without having to lipread her. I couldn't do that in noisy situations in the 'burbs' where there is traffic, but out there was perfect. The only noise around was the sheep..
To be perfectly honest, I couldn't differentiate between the sound of a goat and a sheep. All sounded like an American going aiiiiirrrr with that midwestern twang I still have.
The chooks were friendly but didn't give me any sound.
But then this little bird in its high pitched chatter turned up...
I heard him first before I saw him, and eventually his flitting caught my eye and I managed to get him on camera before he went. Thats when it hit me. I HEARD him before I saw him. I hadn't been able to do that for a whole year. And once I had seen him, I recognised his chatter for the rest of our walk, although he didn't give me another opportunity to take his picture. This little bird is a New Zealand native fantail or Piwakawaka in case you're wondering.
Did I tell you that it was a glorious winter day. Not a cloud in the sky. I mean - this is Auckland - land of grey winter skies. Except not this year. I have proof...
Just here I saw a wild rabbit and a pukeko but they were too far away to get to with my lens. I willed them to come closer, but my will wasn't working properly yesterday!
The weather is making everyone happy and joyful - including the animals. I have photographic proof of this too..
You can see the bigger version of this in my other blog. He's just panting, but he did bark a little, and I definitely heard it as a bark and nothing else. In case you're wondering this little imp is a cross between a Jack Russell and a Silky.
I just love these country letterbox scenes you come across out here. Always in a bunch, and lots of different colours usually. I feel compelled to paint one of these red! Photographically the image would be better if one was bright red. I think it should be compulsory for there to be at least one red letterbox amongst any group, all over the country.
I wonder if I went back with a paintbrush I could get away with it? 'I'm just painting the town red' would be my answer!
No country lifestyle block scene is complete without the miniature horse. It didn't make a sound - but it's very very cute. Probably can't make a sound while it had it's muzzle on. Makes me wonder if it has a tendency to bite! Small things are usually ferocious to make up for their size.
Going back to the house we were greeted by Scuppers asking us WHERE we had been, without HIM??! This is the cat I rescued from a neighbour 2 years ago. He looks well and healthy, and is not related to the kitten I rescued this year, even though they're the same colour.
He's rather gorgeous don't you think? Very friendly - and loves it out here in the country. When I arrived he was playing Cat and Mouse. An hour later he was still playing with this tiny mouse so we rescued it - not a mark on it. The mouse was very relieved to get back to the wild, and we had one grumpy cat for its toy being taken away from him. But he was only grumpy for about 2 seconds..
Finally it was time to leave. I had to go via this road. It was so beautiful, and the light fantastic, I nearly hightailed it back to my friend to tell her I was moving in. Who wouldn't want to live in a place like this?
Don't forget to check out my photography blog over at this link
Saturday, May 17, 2008
I had a wee laugh over this initially because what do 'deaf' people look like??? We dont exactly standout a crowd.
But the conversation made me curious about it. So over to my trusty google button to find out numbers. Numbers of deaf people in Hong Kong is 'unknown'...
Number: : Unknown. In 1982-1983, 1880 moderately- to severely-hearing impaired children were enrolled in Hong Kong schools or other programs.
Prevalence: Audiometric screening programs in schools suggest the rate of profound deafness (defined as greater than 90 dB) among Hong Kong children is 30.3 per 100,000; the rate of severe deafness (defined as between 56 and 90 dB) appears to be 50.14 per 100,000 (1983).
-- (Gallaudet Encyclopedia, vol.2 p.73.)
However, number of deaf people in China seems to be quite considerable..
According to the China Disabled Persons' Federation website, China has approximately 21 million people with hearing loss out of 60 million disabled.
Well they do have a large population, but I was surprised how easy it was to get information like for China, when it was difficult to get Hong Kong. I had expected the ease of information would have been the other way round.
The website for Chinese Deaf culture was quite interesting. Explanations for their sign language and how it is based, the current research that the chinese are doing for the deaf. And the most interesting .. 'Tonal rehabiliation for cochlear implants'. Very interesting, because...
Chinese language is very tonal, especially Mandarin. The tone of a word is everything - a higher pitched tone will mean one thing, and a lower something else. So how do hearing impaired, and profoundly deaf people without sign language get on? Tone is something that you can't lipread. I was also informed that the Cantonese language rarely moves lips. I wonder if Cochlear Implants help with this a little, a lot, not at all?
If anyone reading this knows anything about this topic at all, please leave me a message as I'm very curious.
aka Curious George :)
Friday, May 16, 2008
Steven came and visited me about three years ago from San Francisco, and I took him around to various places in New Zealand. We laughed for the full three weeks he was here, with all sorts of hilarious things happening to us (well - to me in particular), including me jumping of a boat onto the sand with my hands in my pocket and landing face first as I sank quite deeply then tripped, and going away to Rotorua and finding I had packed a pair of sandals, they ended up being two different pairs of the same foot - useless!!
I look forward to meeting up with Steven in San Francisco in July.
Anyway - go and read his blog and his experience of switchon here.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
I needed to go to the Supermarket, and also wanted to go for a walk, so I pulled out my red 'Granny' trolley as my daughter calls it, and left my car at home and walked up to the supermarket. Aren't I a greenie??
It was no peaceful walk though. The first thing I heard was the digger - some contractors are digging drains over the road. What a racket. Then the trucks came and took it away. They were noisy too - from their motors and their beeping warning when they were reversing. Buses whizzed past me, and a kid on the bike also. He had a squeaky wheel. Squeak squeak - it was most annoying. I felt like pushing him off his bike and telling him to oil it!! It was a very high pitched squeak though, really not pleasant.
Half way up the road I came across a mynah bird telling me off for invading its territory. On and on she went, like a nagging housewife with curlers in her hair, and a cigarette out of the corner of her mouth. I'm sure it was swearing nasty blue words at me.
Up past the school. It was breaktime there or 'playtime' so lots of noisy yelling kids, laughter, chatter, balls bouncing on concrete, running footsteps - all the sounds associated with children, but lots of them at once.
And then the supermarket. Why did I get a trolley with a squeaky wheel? I think the squeaky wheels are coming after me, like alien monsters or something. Or do all supermarket trolleys squeak and I just didn't know it?
Topping up my trolley, I heard the satisfying clunk of bottles, of cans, the rustling of plastic packages, people talking, toddlers crying, mother shushing them. I purposely went over to the bulk bins and poured out jaffas just to listen to that sound. Put them back though as didn't want to spoil my walk with sweets!
At the checkout counter, I heard the operator say hello. I told her not to worry about packing anything as I had my own 'basket' and didn't need any plastic bags. She said 'What?'. I told her again. She said 'okay' and kept packing them in plastic bags. I said - you didn't understand me did you? She laughed and carried on. She didn't understand me - not deaf, but absolutely no comprehension of the English language as she was chinese.
This is a real bugbear of mine - but we won't go into that today!!!
Packing my red granny basket, I listened to the rustling of plastic as I took them out of the bags to pack into my own trolley. I heard the cat biscuits roll in their packaging, and squeezed them on purpose to make more noise. I shook the milk slightly and heard it slop around in the container.
On my way out, I heard the sliding doors squeak open - Does everything squeak around here? And then I was chased up the road by another squeaking bike. Ohh thats right - oil is too expensive!! I listened to the dead winter leaves scrape along the pavement in the cold southerly wind. The sun still shined, and the grass sparkled and the leaves on the trees glittered.
Back past the school but this time all was quiet. Just a little rustling in the trees from the wind. Back past the contractors, but now they were taking a break and it was peaceful and quiet too.
Up my driveway, and there were my two burmese cats racing out to greet me with loud meow's. What a fantastic sound.
Only two months ago I couldn't hear any of this. Life is pretty damned good!
Sunday, May 11, 2008
Despite my deafness, I still sang. I would sing around the house, I sing while I run or walk, I sing at the top of my voice on long trips in the car when I'm alone. I just love to sing.
As a young high school student, I still sang in choirs and I could still sing in tune, but as I got older and my hearing got worse, I knew I could no longer sing in tune. When you sing in tune, everything sounds good, and it's a really good feeling, but when you are out of tune, you can feel and hear the 'bandwidth', like a clash. I knew I was out of tune, but I couldn't do anything about it as my hearing was not good enough to figure out whether I needed to go up or down to make it right. I still didn't care - I sang anyway, particularly when I was alone, but I would never sing in public.
Even with my old implant, and my hearing was excellent, I was never able to sing in tune. We used to have singstar nights at home and I would try - but I could never get anywhere with those. Always out of tune!!
Anyway - on my way to my last mapping appointment last monday, I turned the radio on in the car. Couldn't hear anything interesting going on, so turned the tape deck on. A tape of all my old favourites was in there, and so I did what I usually did when I'm in the car alone, and turned the music up and sang.
But that morning it was different. It felt fantastic. I was singing in tune. Wheee - I can start my career off as a singer finally :)
(No one else in my family is enthusiastic about me being a singer - ungrateful sods!!)
My map has settled down nicely, virtually unchanged from 3 weeks ago, and all that was adjusted was the volume. Testing was fantastic too. I had improved heaps. I was tested using HINT (open set sentences without lipreading, that is - sentences where I have no idea what the subect is) in both quiet and in background noise. I was also tested with single words in quiet. Single words are by far the hardest.
One week post switch on my scores were... (April 2008 with new Freedom Implant)
90% HINT in quiet
58% HINT in background noise
29% CNC single words.
52% CNC with phenomes
Last monday at one month switch on my scores were....
98% HINT in quiet
62% in background noise
40% CNC words
67% with phenomes
So all up a big improvement. I'm still having loads of difficulty with background noise out in the real world, and I still have the midwestern twang. I think I need to go and live in Ohio or somewhere!
I was given another sound field audiogram. My hearing had 'improved' and in two frequencies I am now hearing at 20db. If they change the sound to pulsating noise, then my ability to hear goes up to 15db - incredible. I think the difference is that the pulsating sound means it is different to my tinnitus and easier to hear.
I'm off to listen to my ipod and sing to the top of my voice again while there is no one in the house. Hopefully the neighbours won't complain!
Thursday, May 8, 2008
Anyway - I proceeded to the office and they punched all the details into the computer.
"oh - it hasn't expired yet - it doesn't until 13th August"
I showed them my card which definitely said 4th April 2008. They tried to do it again, and again it showed it wouldn't expire until 13th August. Very weird.
So they promptly printed out another card for me, put it round my neck, gave me back my credit card and said it was my lucky day and go and enjoy the zoo. Free. And Free until 13th August! Amazing.
I really enjoyed the zoo, the weather was amazing, not a cloud in the sky, warm in the sun but cold out of it. I caught two really amazing photographs of otters - my favourite animals to watch as they are full of boundless energy and enthusiasm.
It gave me a chance to test out of my implant with animal sounds. At least they don't sound twangy. The otters were much higher pitched than I had ever heard before. They sounded like a dog on helium. They were quite noisy as they were waiting to be fed. Every now and then they'd stand up on their hind legs and peer out the window to see if the keepers were coming with their fish..
They would cry pitifully then pack a sad face for all to see...
I wanted to take one home as a pet as I thought they were really cute. But then I got a reminder whiff of that musky skunklike smell they leave around the place to mark their territory, and I decided they might be better off in the zoo!
We wandered around, found an exhibition of some of the medical exhibitions - the testes of the hippo, which really do show up the human race as puny in comparison. And the phallus of a Galapagos Tortoise. He damaged it rather badly apparently and it had to be amputated. Makes me wonder what he was doing with it to damage it! OSH is obviously not doing their job properly as I saw no evidence of warning signs to help prevent other tortoises from doing the same! He is apparently quite happy but unable to breed of course. He's been named 'Willy'. Personally, I think they should have renamed him 'dewillied', but I guess that doesn't have the same 'ring' to it.
Next section was the bird section. With my old implant, I was able to hear birds really well. So much so that I could recognise their calls and know what was around me. This came in very handy for photography. However with the new implant, I'm not quite at the stage yet to recognise everything, although I am recognising a few. It'll take practise and I will need to visit lots of bird sanctuaries so I can relearn. However, all is not lost. I recognised the fast shrill chirruping of the Zebra Finch yesterday so I knew it was about, kept my eyes peeled, and found it with my camera lens..
I also found the Rainbow Lorikeet, happy as always, chirping and dancing on his branch. This one was really dancing - bobbing up and down, really looked hilarious..
We stopped at every bird cage, and I was very happy to hear very dinstinctively the macaw say 'Hello' to me. Like everyone else around me, he also had a midwestern twang. But I did hear the word hello without lipreading. Parrots are enromously difficult to lipread. If you don't believe me you should try it sometime! I'm sure this implant was taken off the wrong shelf. They took it off the shelf marked Midwestern USA instead of New Zealand Kiwi. Hence the accents that are troubling me!!
While sitting down for a short break, deleting some blurred images off my memory card, I heard a noise. Lion I said. Elephant Rita said. I thought Rita was probably right - after all I'm deaf, and my ears are definitely not to be trusted. It happened again. Lion I said. Lion Rita said - yippee - I was right after all and perhaps I should start trusting my ears again now??
Onto the hippo. They're huge. They weren't doing much. I suppose if you have to lug around that much weight, you can't really do much at all. They're vegetarians - they eat things like cabbage. How can you put on so much weight eating cabbages?? Anyway they just walked around on the bottom of their pond. So instead I watched an agressive male duck. Really aggressive. Then I saw it jump up and down on a female duck. Hmmmm This is while they were floating on the pond. My heart went out to the female (us females have to stick together). She nearly drowned.. (Note to self - do not mate in water deeper than 2 inches).
There must have been something in the air - because the Pink Flamingos next door were acting up too. They were honking loudly, flapping their wings on the water really loudly, fighting, doing funny things with their wings and legs, and generally making a helluva racket. I suspect I was watching some sort of mating ritual. You can really learn a lot at zoos!
I wouldn't like to be on the wrong side of their beaks either, they looked vicious. The sound of their honking was deep and to me, sounded quite croaky. I actually enjoyed their hilarious display, complete with noise, and I think it was the noise that made me enjoy it the most.
No sound at the monkey cages, but I was particularly taken by the cotton top Tamarins. They always look so cute and small. They are always fairly shy though, and hardly ever look into the camera, no matter how many times I call out 'Whisky' as a cue for them to smile.
However, I found out they are vain and I have the proof... The term that comes to mind is 'monkey see monkey do' for some reason. This one is making sure her makeup is not smudged..
Anyway - it was a really enjoyable day, filled with lots of new sounds. The only time I was irritated was when those tourists used golf carts to get around the zoo. They were really noisy and I felt they were intrusive.
A few more pics...
Here's one of a reflection in one of the animal moats. You can see what fantastic weather we had..
And here is the coat of our Tiger. I think it's gorgeous and would love to touch it. Shame tigers are so unpredictable...
Anyway thats it. Next zoo trip will be the Philadelphia Zoo in the US of A. Roll on 7th July :)
Don't forget to check out my photography blog which I update daily.
Friday, May 2, 2008
The soumd I'm just not getting used to is a constant twang in everyones voices. Either everyone talks with a twang and I never heard it before, or the implant comes from Midwest America!
I noticed over last weekend I wasn't hearing as well. I have to keep putting the volume up via another program I have, that is six steps louder. I rang my audiologist on Tuesday afternoon and debated with her whether I should get tweaked this week, or wait until Monday when I have my one month appointment. She slotted me in for Thursday morning, but in the end I decided to wait until Monday. Of course I'm now regretting it as things have now started to sound harsh - but too late - Monday it will be.
I can still use the phone okay - as this implant has an amazing t-coil switch. Amazing as for the last 15 years, I've never had a t-coil switch that really worked on my implant, so used to use the phone without it. I can hear most people on the phone, provided the conversation is 'simple', but if it gets too complicated, or too many instructions thrown at me, I get frazzled and finish the call. The truth is, I still hate the phone, even though I can hear on it - I'm simply not comfortable with it. I even hate answering it when it rings, and I tend not to ring people unless I absolutely have to. I suppose as I get used to this implant, phone use will become easier, and I may even begin to like it. We shall see!
I have got some figures of my previous tests on the old CI22 though, that are quite interesting.
May 2000 I got 94% with HINT in quiet and 60% CNC Words (Hint is open set sentences without lipreading, and CNC words are single words without lipreading) This May 2000 test would have been with the Spectra Body Worn implant.
September 2003 with the brand new BTE 3G for N22 I got 98% HINT in quiet, 70% HINT in background noise (pyschobabble) and 68% for CNC words. So the 3G was a better performer.
In June 2007, when the N22 stopped working properly, I got 41% HINT sentences in Quiet. 12% CNC words, and later 33% in HINT sentences in quiet. So a real drop in performance.
And now at one weeek post switch on April 2008 with the new Freedom implant, I did 90% HINT in quiet. 58% Hint in background noise, and 29% CNC words.
So I'm almost up to where I was in May 2000 after only the first week.
It will be very interesting what this Monday will bring. I live in hope it'll be normal!