Join Date: May 2006
Location: San Antonio, Texas
My own CI experience, my views on CI and ASL and Deaf Culture and Society
My own CI experience, my views on CI and ASL and Deaf Culture and Society
I'll also be posting this one in my own thread that I've had since 2006 which documents my entire CI experience as I believe that this post also pertains to my CI experience. So, I apologize if you see two posts that are the same but in different threads. This thread here is to discuss this topic, and the same post was also posted in the other thread because it is also part of my entire CI experience.
I was implanted on October 11th, 2006 and was activated 5 days later (my clinic typically activates people the day after surgery but I asked them to hold off for a few days because I was not up for the long metro bus trip across town to get activated the day after surgery) and I was activated on October 16th, 2006. I could hear many different sounds right off the bat. I have a long list of different sounds that I heard in the first month after being activated. It's in a box - I moved downstairs in October due to hip dysplasia and safety issues and am very lazy with organizing so a lot of papers are still in several boxes. There were also a few sounds that I did not hear for the first couple of months after activation and one of them was cars. Then one day I was walking home on a busy street and all of a sudden, the cars was SO LOUD! O.O And I had to get a new map so that the cars wouldn't sound SO loud. After several maps, things began to sound better. I've since learned how to enjoy music and I enjoy music quite well even without understanding the lyrics, and am quite happy. I hear bass quite well and the beats too. My fiance likes to listen to a lot of rap music and he will play a lot of rap music in the truck when we are out and about, and I am able to follow the beats to the rap music quite well - the bass and the beats makes it easy for me to follow, I think. I, though, prefer to listen to a lot of rock, metal, and some Japanese techno music. I even have a mp3 player, tons of CDs of music laying all over my apartment, and before I reformatted my computer I had about 10 GB of music on it. I have about 4 GB on my computer now. I could add more but most of the music that was on my computer before the reformat are already on the CDs laying around the apartment, so no need to put them back on the computer unless I want to transfer them to my mp3 player. My surgeon, before he implanted me, he was quite frank and honest with me about the expectations and the possible outcome of the CI surgery and activation and told that even though he is agreeing to implant me, that due to my hearing history/background, I should not really expect very much from it except maybe sound perception, and he made sure I understood that and that I would accept that. Six months after the surgery and after several post-surgery follow-up visits, I came back to see my surgeon for the final post-surgery check-up, and he asked me how have I been doing with my implant. I told him that I've been able to hear many different environmental sounds (even though I don't do so well at memorizing them - gotta work on that) and that I have been able to hear and enjoy a lot of music even though not following music as well as I do now, I do quite well, just minus the lyrics. He was quite pleasantly impressed and surprised at that! He was NOT expecting much if at all to begin with. No, I cannot understand speech even though I can hear people speak but that is to be expected with my hearing history/background. I would of course like to understand speech just for convenience (writing back and forth with hearing people gets old sometimes and I lose pens or they run out of ink all the damn time!) but it is not something that is a huge deal to me, as I already know it most likely will not happen anyway. If I don't achieve understanding speech, that is okay with me. It's the music that is the biggest bonus for me really than it is to hear and understand speech.
The decision to get a CI was entirely 100% mine. No one EVER pushed me. When I was 10 years old, I was at Lion's Camp and I saw a girl with a CI and I was like, "What's that?" and then when I learned what it was I became interested in it because I didn't get enough benefit from hearing aids anymore by that point - all I could hear was voices and nothing else, and absolutely no speech, and had quit wearing them at that point for that reason, and then a friend in my cabin made the most ridiculous comment ever about the CI and swimming that even to this day I still laugh at that comment. I was like "WTF" and laughed at that silly comment. About 6 months or so later after that I was offered a CI when I was about 11 years old, but nothing came out of that offer. The audiologist had offered it as an option when my dad took me to the audiologist for my mandatory hearing test for school or something but it didn't happen, and for the longest time I did not know know why. I had wanted the CI, and was upset and quite pissed off for quite a long time that I did not get it. (A couple years ago I wrote my dad an email asking for the truth about that day and why I did not get the CI - he used to say that it was because he could not afford it and for the longest time I have always known that was bullshit because he has a big house and a pool and he always buys a new truck and a new car every single year and he also has a big trailer home but when I wrote him this time, he finally told me the truth, he said he had gotten pressure from the Deaf community not to implant me - "NO" was the only answer from the Deaf community (my mother and I were heavily involved in the Deaf community before my mother passed away) I really wish my dad would have sat down with ME and discussed the CI with ME and asked ME what I wanted because I WANTED the CI at that time - whose body was it - was it my body or was it the Deaf community's body? NO - MINE! And I would have said YES, fully knowing there was surgery involved). My dad and his wife then decided to enroll me at Sholes so I could stay in the neighborhood and I was placed in all the same hearing classes as another girl that had a CI (I think this was the same girl from Lion's Camp but my memory wasn't and still isn't all that great) and we were provided an interpreter and the girl with the CI told me that she had gotten it when she was 3 years old. That made me think that you could only get a CI if you were a very small kid. So I thought that I would never get the CI ever, and that made me even more upset. I went back to WSD and then shortly after that I was turned over to the state because my dad's bitch wife did not want me around anymore and I spent several years in various foster care placements and eventually came back to WSD when I arrived at a Deaf foster home. When I came back to WSD the students there were SO ANTI-CI that I was afraid to even say anything about the CI, and kept quiet for the longest time, and pushed it out of my mind and forced myself to forget it. It wasn't until I came to San Antonio and it also wasn't until I came to AllDeaf.com that I learned that CIs were still an option and I began to consider CIs again as an option. When I first came to AD in 2006 there were quite a bunch of CIers here on the forum and I then felt safe discussing CIs here at the time and was able to explore the options of getting a CI and do my own research, and I then was able to feel safe in saying "I want a CI now" and was able to feel safe enough to call the local audiologist to ask for a referral to a CI clinic and I actually thought the entire CI candidacy process would be drawn out over a matter of six months to a year, after reading the other CIers' experiences, but nope. I got an appointment quickly, was approved in about two weeks, and was supposed to have CI surgery in one week but postponed my CI surgery because my fiance had a kidney stone and I wanted to make sure he passed the stone first before we could go ahead and schedule the surgery for me because I did not want him to be in too much pain. He passed his kidney stone in about a week, and then I scheduled my surgery and I got implanted a week later...I think the entire candidacy and approval and surgery process was about 3 weeks to a month. The weekend following the surgery I had to wear a bandage but I still wanted to attend the DAW (Deaf Awareness Week) Festival anyway as it was something I did NOT want to miss, so I still went. I was very nervous about going there with a big bandage on my head and braced myself for the resulting questions and possible insults from other Deaf people about my decision to get the CI, due to my prior experience with the anti-CIers at WSD back in high school, but surprisingly the Deaf people were like, "Why the bandages?" and when I told them that I'd just had CI surgery, they were pretty much "Oh, okay" and treated me like I was just another Deaf person even though I had just been implanted. Of course, a few Deaf people respectfully disagreed with the CI but still had plenty of respect and was not rude at all, and they even said that even though they do not agree with the CI they still respect me and would still be my friends no matter what. I told them I respect their opinion and that they are fully entitled to their opinion and I appreciated their being my friends no matter what. And the best part was that there was ABSOLUTELY ZERO insults thrown at me at all from ANYONE at DAW - which surprised me! I was impressed. I had come to DAW fully expecting insults from a good number of Deaf individuals, but no one said anything negative. I wish we had that kind of respect at WSD in high school back then, but oh well. I guess maybe because we are all adults now and we now know that it is silly to not be friends with or not respect someone who has a CI just because that person has a CI or wants a CI. It's just silly. And I have proven that just because I have a CI, doesn't mean I would abandon the Deaf culture....of course not. I still socialize at Deaf Bowling every Sunday when I am feeling well, I go to DAW festivals, I go to Deaf Day at Six Flags, I go to every NEAD poker party unless I am not feeling well, sometimes I go to other Deaf friends' personal parties if they are in the northeast area of San Antonio (I attended a Deaf friend's New Year Party just this past January and it was a blast!) and I go to every Deaf Nation Expo in Austin every time Austin hosts it, sometimes I will go to the movies on a night they have the CC on depending on the type/genre of movies they are CC'ing (although last weekend we ended up getting a refund and was very disappointed because the theater had some problems with their CC machine or whatever it is and the CC turned out very transparent - see-through, very hard to see - and I could not read it because I could see the movie pictures through the letters and that clashed and made it very difficult to read - we had come to watch Fast and Furious) and pretty much the only things I haven't gone to is the Deaf night at Starbucks and that is because that is at the Quarry, on the far side of town, and we do not ride the bus at night, and the Deaf nights at bars and that's because we are not really into the bar scene due to all the nasty cigarette smoke. We usually have the Deaf Superbowl party every year but this year we did not have that because the deaf organization that hosts it did not have sufficient funding to host it this year - it is very expensive because we have to reserve a large hotel room for the Superbowl party for up to 100 people. I was SO disappointed! Even though I do not care at all for football, I love to go to the Deaf Superbowl party anyway every year because up to 100 people shows up and that makes for a LOT of fun and socialization and a lot of poker games! About a year ago or so we had Keith Wann come here to San Antonio and I and my fiance went to watch him perform and that was great...Keith Wann is so hilarious. I've got his autograph in my room. We have DPHH every month or so here in downtown San Antonio but I do not go because it's at the bar and I hate cigarette smoke *cough cough cough*. I've come to really love the Deaf community here in San Antonio and have made some great friends here and I've come to consider the Deaf community here in San Antonio to be sort of a "family" to me. I enjoy all the Deaf events and other things thoroughly.
So to those who think that CIs will make Deaf culture disappear...that will NOT happen. I believe that all that will happen is that more CIers will become part of our Deaf culture. Some CIers will stop wearing their CIs and start using ASL only and be a part of the Deaf culture. That's fine. Some CIers will still continue to wear their CIs and will already have learned ASL as little kids and have continued to use ASL up into adulthood, and they will still be part of the Deaf culture. That's fine. And some other CIers will still wear their CIs and will have recently began to learn ASL, and they can still become a part of the Deaf culture. That's fine, too. We shouldn't exclude anyone just because of their CI. Remember when hearing aids came out - for you old enough to remember the 1950s or 1960s? When hearing aids first came out (I don't know what year they first came out - 1950s or 1960s? I don't know the entire history of hearing aids, just some of it) all the Deaf people were so very against it and claimed that hearing aids would destroy Deaf culture and take ASL away from us. Now, this is 2009. I see so many of the Deaf people I know who have hearing aids, and they are still very much a part of the Deaf culture, and they still use ASL, too. Hearing aids hasn't destroyed Deaf culture like some Deaf people claimed in the past. There are also some CIers here and there, and many of them, although not all, do use ASL, me being one of them. I have used ASL since I entered WSD at 6 years old, and I am 28 now, and I will always continue to use ASL. They are still here, and Deaf culture and ASL are still here, and Deaf culture and ASL are HERE TO STAY, no matter what technology comes out now and in the future. Deaf culture is a SOCIETY - where many people who have something in common - being Deaf - comes together and socialize and associate with one other and have become a community and an institution of collective activities and interests and having something that everyone can relate to, and where people are distinguishable by the Deaf identity no matter how varied the Deaf people are in that society. No technology can take that culture away, that society away, and ASL away from the Deaf people, no matter what a bunch of snobby AGB elitists say, and no matter what the anti-CIers says. The AGB elitists know NOTHING about our society, they know NOTHING about our culture, and they know NOTHING about ASL. I believe that as long as we keep using ASL and encourage ASL (and please also include those of Deaf people who also like to speak - some do like to both speak and sign - also some like to just speak sometimes and then sign at other times, whatever suits them at the moment - that is their choice as well), as long as we keep ASL a crucial and large part of the Deaf culture and society, Deaf culture and society and ASL will never be destroyed no matter what technology comes out. I do not think that it is technology that can take away Deaf culture or society from us, but rather the lack of ASL. No matter what technology (HAs, CIs, BAHAs, whatever comes out in the future) comes out, as long as we keep ASL, Deaf culture will not disappear. But if you take away ASL, that is what can make Deaf culture disappear. See what I mean?
I fully support ASL, English both written and spoken language, hearing aids, CIs, and speech therapy being offered at schools as an all-inclusive toolbox, with ASL and written English being the one be made mandatory all through pre-school to the 12th grade years, with the rest of the toolbox being offered as options depending on what the individuals want or what may suit the individuals the best. It could vary a lot in the student population. All could have ASL and written English, but some may want ASL and written English only with no HA, no CI, and no speech. Some may want ASL and written and spoken English and HA or CI and speech, some may want ASL and written English and HA or CI with no speech but just music or whatever, etc. It could depend upon the individual. I do not believe there is a "one size fits all". Tailoring the all-inclusive toolbox to fit each individual could work. But the entire toolbox should be made available at all schools that have Deaf students.