Brief cyborg report and a new member of the family

I met with my audiologist last week, and she is positively thrilled with the progress that I've made with my implant. I can hear keys jingling (and they sound like keys jingling), the warning bells in my car, the click of the dog's nails on the floor, and a multitude of other sounds. I sat in the backseat of our car and was able to have a conversation with my husband while he drove. I haven't been able to do that in years.

Speech and communication are getting much, much better. To give you another idea of how my communication has improved: when my audiologist and I first met, her voice went entirely out of my hearing range. In order to discuss the results of my exam and my options, she had to pull up a word document and type everything she wanted to say for me. When we activated the implant, I could hear her voice, but we still had to rely on typing to make sure I understood everything she wanted me to do. On our last visit, the only time she had to type to me was when she turned my processor off to map it.

At this point, I have essentially gone from no ability to communicate with her to being able to hear and understand her words with visual cues (i.e. lip-reading). I still don't have a lot of speech discrimination without visual cues, but I am beginning to pick up random words here and there. My audiologist said to be patient--that word discrimination will come. Given everything else, I believe her.

I am doing listening exercises and working to distinguish sounds so that I can improve. And if I haven't said it often or loud enough: Dr. Eric Oliver, Carolyn Wilkinson, Au.D., and the staff at Wake Forest Baptist absolutely rock.

In other news

For those of you who have been following along, you know that last fall, we lost our boxer Bruce to cancer. He was a good dog and my husband missed him terribly--and even though I'm the cat person in the family, I missed Bruce too. So we decided to work with a boxer rescue group to find another dog.

Enter Dimie-girl.

Her official name with the rescue group was Diamond, but she doesn't answer to any name. Her last foster home called her Dimie-girl, and she seems to respond to the Di in Dimie ... sometimes. We're working with her.

Dimie is somewhere between three and five years old. Don't let the picture fool you, she is huge. Macavity seems to like her just fine, or as much as Macavity likes any dog, which is to say he hasn't started peeing on all of his favorite sleeping spots to keep her away. She isn't as bouncy as Bruce, which also makes Macavity happy, because bouncy dogs upset him, especially bouncy dogs that like to give him big licks on the side of his face.

Dimie is reticent, but she is slowly warming to her new environment. She still hasn't mastered the stairs. Unfortunately, she sometimes tends to get excited coming downstairs, and she slips. Unlike Bruce, who would catch his balance and keep coming, Dimie tends to freak out and she locks up. Her front legs shoot out in front of her and she essentially slides down the stairs on her belly. When this happens, it sounds like my house is falling down, the cat thinks she coming to kill him and hides behind the sofa. We run to see what happened to find Dimie standing at the bottom of the stairs somewhat stunned but in one piece. We're looking at getting some stair treads to help her with traction.

She seems a bit forlorn in the picture, but don't let that fool you. She has forgotten herself on a couple of occasions and acted happy. She is not a barker. She whines, so I get to practice distinguishing pitches based on her whines.

So ... say hi to Dimie.

On Writing

As for me, I spent some time this weekend tweaking the website. I wanted to start 2017 with a new look, and I'm happy with the new header and color scheme. It might not seem important to many of you, but for me, playing with pictures on the website is an outlet for my creativity that relaxes me.

Quite frankly, the last portion of 2016 and the first part of 2017 were a bad time for me emotionally. I had to force myself to write and often spent more time staring at the screen than actually writing.

Since my audiologist wants me to practice listening with visual cues, I decided to open a file and see if I could use my text-to-speech program in Word to edit what I'd written. For the first time in about five or six years, I could hear the words as the program read my text. Before I knew it, I was cleaning up clunky sentences and fixing logistics while practicing my listening.

Last night I opened the file, thinking I would just tweak a couple of sentences and then go to bed. I ended up writing for two hours.

I'm becoming more operational by the day, so let the world know: I'm back and I'm angry and there are stories to write ...