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It’s day six of being ‘activated’ and I must admit it’s been very interesting.  I’ll also admit that it’s been an exercise in extreme patience.  During dinner last night, I told Lisa that while I absolutely do not regret this, I can see how some people would go a little nuts in the beginning. I can see how failed expectations can really falter determination and even discourage actively pursuing progression.  Two things are at play here.  Expectations and surrendering.

Because I have no idea what it is to hear high-frequency sounds, I also have no idea of what kind of expectations are reasonable.  A person cannot help but to have expectations. Planning that trip to a place you’ve never been to before during a time that you really, really need a trip, your mind cannot help but to visualize what it’s going to look like. You imagine how it will feel to stroll slowly along cobblestoned streets with colorful flowers, quaint outdoor cafes and wafts of laughter floating by. (Yes, I said “wafts”.) Or that oceanside spot -your toes dug in sand, your hair damp from that incredible swim you just took and a cold, refreshing beverage in your hand.  You keep imagining over and over again what it will look like and you can’t help but to smile in expectation. Ahh…..

And then you get there. Boom.  One of the kids gets sick, your suitcase got lost and the bed-and-breakfast room that you booked smells like mold.  To make matters worse, you’ve got the worst sinus headache known to humankind.  And all you want to do is sleep…because you’re exhausted. You keep thinking in the back of your head, “This was not supposed to happen!”

In this case, while I don’t have to sniff a moldy guest room and I don’t have sick kids to tend to and I don’t have a suitcase I have to track down in a foreign country, I do have ringing in that ear, I’m totally exhausted and I do feel downtrodden, like “What!? This is not the what I thought it would be.”

At the end of every day so far, I’ve had a mild headache, I feel like a sleepwalking, cranky, crabby zombie and my left ear has a strange ringing/rushing sound in it -even after I take the processor off. It was so loud one night that I began to wonder if what I was “hearing” with the processor on was a figment of my imagination!  Albeit, when I woke up the next morning, the sound had thankfully vanished.

Having described all of the difficult parts, and they have been difficult, it’s even more important that I look at the other side of the coin.  I had what some call a “CI” moment yesterday on the bathroom floor while removing a matted hairball from our 18 year old cat, Molly.  A CI moment is a moment when a cochlear implant recipient experiences hearing in a brand new way and it’s extraordinarily exciting. Often times it’s a small moment but so many of those moments make up a mosaic that becomes your new hearing experience -the one that you are working so hard for.

So, back to the bathroom floor, scissors in hand and a very angry old toothless cat, I was wearing only the processor -I had left my hearing aid out so that I could let my left ear do some work.  I had my computer open in the dining room and my YouTube list of favorites was playing. Carefully cutting through this particularly large hairball, I kept hearing -or rather feeling this beat in my head. I shook my head and looked at the cat. She glared back at me.  It was not my imagination -the beat continued. Leaning forward, I snipped another tuft of fur and as she bit my hand with her gums, I thought to myself, “Am I hearing something or am I nuts?”

Moments later after freeing Molly’s offending hairball, I sat down in front of my computer and suddenly realized that the beat bouncing in my head were the notes to Pat Metheny’s “First Circle”.  “First Circle” contains a myriad of high notes produced by an assortment of instruments and human voices.  To the natural hearing ear, it’s a melodic exploration of sound but to my ear, half of the song was inaccessible -that is, until yesterday on the bathroom floor with my enraged kitty.  I could suddenly hear the high-frequency beats and when I realized what it was, it made sense.  It was a definite “CI” moment.

I mentioned surrender.  This is the difficult part.  I’ve noticed that when I “surrender” my expectation of sound, I hear more.  When I stop listening for something, I hear more.  When I was concentrating on avoiding the cat’s attempts to bite me while not scissoring her on accident, that’s when I could hear the beat.  While I’m sitting here typing this, I can hear the  beats.  It’s when I strain and listen for what I believe it to sound like is when the song fades away.  I’m working on surrendering to new sounds and my patience is being worked. Then again, patience is a muscle that must exercised   regularly in order to grow.

When you look back on that trip you took where you had so many expectations that failed to materialize and you felt so left down, you may also remember some super sweet moments that made the trip incredible.  You may have held your sick kid on your lap while watching a gorgeous sunset from the porch swing at the “moldy” guest house. You may have taken a nap three days in a row to help your sinus headache go away, only to find out that you really just needed some sleep -peaceful, uninterrupted sleep. And you may remember laughing so hard with your family that your face hurt.

That’s what I’m working on. Letting the CI moments come so that I can have my own mosaic of hearing experiences.  But I do suspect that the cat will be hairless before this all over.