Dear Friends and Family,Thank-you for joining me in my journey with my
hearing loss and walk with the Cochlear Implant. I want to start this blog not
only to keep you posted but also share my journey and how God is working in my
life through this trial. I have been encouraged by others in their journey
through hearing loss and the steps that they have taken with the cochlear
implant. One of my goals through this blog is be an encourager to others as
they may take this journey like myself.Thanks for taking the time to walk
with me in this journey and support me through this time. It is neat seeing how
God is working in my life through this time. I hope you enjoy.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

My story published in HLAA Bucks Chapter

As many of you know I been apart of the HLAA-Bucks chapter.  They recently asked me to write my story out for the newsletter.  It was offically published in the Spring newsletter
See below

My mom taught me that God created me special and unique and that I was his special children.  She reminded me of this often as I went through numerous learning and health issues in my life.  And despite this she taught me never to give up and push through.
I was born into a hearing world, so when my hearing drastically went on me it was quite scary yet shocking not for myself but also my family.  I am a very active person and love to bike, run, kayak and gardening, as well as other outdoor adventures.  I am also very passionate with working with young children and currently employed at a childcare center as a teacher.
It is quite a mystery of when I actually started losing my hearing and if I was actually born with a mild loss but was misdiagnosed and over looked.  The reason I say this is I struggle with processing disorder and they also diagnosed me with ADD-inatttentive type but the medication never helped.  It was not until 2009-2010 that I noticed and my work noticed that there was something not right and creating difficulties in my work.  I also started having dizzy spells at this time.  It was not until after pushing my local ENT for a year to conduct a simple hearing test that I was officially diagnosed with a permanent moderately severe hearing loss.  Well things continued to spiral downward as I continued having dizzy spells and my hearing decreasing more and more.  Three months after the ininal test I was profound hearing loss and hearing aids were not helping me much.
After many appointments, tests and second options, I finally found hope with doctors at John Hopkins who figured out what was causing my rapid hearing loss and also the vertigo issues.  I was diagnosed with bilateral menieres disease, vestibular migraines and profound hearing loss.  At this point my hearing and the condition had affected my work, resulting in a leave of absence in October 2011. During this time the doctors and I decided the best treatment for both conditions was to implant my ears one at a time. It was not an easy decision for myself, more my family, but I knew I needed to do it for myself. Part of my decision came from meeting others through HLAA and my family and friends. I received my first implant in march 2012 and went bilateral October 2012.  The surgeries were harder on me than most people. Not only did I have to relearn to hear, but also regain my balance. But I was determined and push through and it all paid off.
My hearing loss has not only affected me, but also my family and friends as it came to a shock, yet something that we are learning to accept. I have fully come to accept it and realize my hearing never will be like normal, but it is to the point I can function in the hearing world.   
After being out of work for 15 months, I am back to the same job, teaching my kids.  Hearing childrens voices is the one thing that brought tears of joy and something I truelly missed.  My balance and menieres is well controlled and I am back fully to all my activities with running, biking, kayaking, etc. 
One thing I learned from my hearing loss is having a disability is not about what you cannot do, it is looking beyond and learning what you can do.  Anything is possible regardless of disability.  Yes my deafness is part of me but does not define me.  Two quotes that my mom encouraged me as she battled cancer and I battled my hearing “Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass. It is about learning to dance in the rain.”  And “God did not promise days without pain, laughter without tear, nor sun without rain.  But he did promise strength for the day, comfort for the tears and light for the way. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Back to Work

Well I am back to work and it feels so good to be back working again.  The adjustment is going well and enjoying being with the kids again.  I am not as tired as I expected that I would be. I also took a phone call on a regular phone and made out most of the conversation before having someone take over.  I was nervous but was ready to take on the challenge.  I was using the ear that was implanted first.
I am able to keep up with my gym exercises and working out each morning.  It actually I find is my coffee for the morning and gets me going.  I just continuing to pray as I adjust and praising him for providing.
Thanks for you support and prayers

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Officially Returning to Work

Well it is offical! I am finally returning to my work. I have actually known since January 7th, but waiting until it was announced at my work to my co-workers.  I am continuing to praise the Lord for his provision and leading me where he wanted me to be.  I do have a new position, I will be now working with infants rather than toddlers, which I am thrilled and excited for something different and just glad to return. 
Thanks for all your praying and support through this journey.  No it is not over and in a way beginning a new chapter in my life.  God is teaching me to trust in him and let him lead me.  I know I will have many stories to share once returning to work. 
THe song "I am" by Nichole Noredman has been touching to me this week.  

Friday, January 4, 2013

Christmas with Bionic Hearing

Last year right before Christmas I received the news that I was offically a candidate for getting a cochlear implant and plans were being made in proceeding.  I kept thinking next year at Christmas I will be able to enjoy the wonderful sound of Christmas.  I knew at that time I would being hearing with one bionic ear but it came to hearing with both ears. 
So many are wondering my experience with hearing bilateral with Cochlear implants.  Here is some highlights of my Christmas adventures:
  • Christmas Music: I started listening to it soon after Thanksgiving. When being activated with the second ear the week after Thanksgiving I tried with that newly activated ear--bad mistake to jump right in, but if you know me I am like curious george in some way have to check it out. Together they sounded better and eventually closer to Christmas it sounded better.  Music still is sounding ackward but getting better and it was a joy listening to Christmas music with both ears
  • December 4: Christmas party with work.  It was great seeing everyone and not only that I just sat back and let everything I was hearing sink in.  I could hear other people talking and the conversation going on.
  • December 16 th: This sunday during church I went with my left processor only to give it some training (new one).  If you ask if I could make out much the answer is no not really, but needed to do it. Afterwards I went to a bunch and had both ears on and was able to make out conversation around the table and I felt more confident in hearing. I went to my first Christmas concert hearing :) I sat in the back and while it was challenging at points with hearing all the words, I was able to hear enough to enjoy it.  Afterwards I was chatting with several people and having conversations one to one in the midst of background noise.  I was amazing myself with the progress as others were too.  Yes I was exhausted but it was worth every penny
  • December 23: I taught Sunday school and was able to make out what the kids were saying most of the time.  It felt good to interact and hear children's voices.
  • December 24: Christmas Eve service.  I went with my family to Blooming Glen's Christmas Eve service.  Again we sat in the back.  This time I found myself able to sing along to the songs hearing the words for the most part.  It just broke my heart being able hear the song "Silent Night" as the candlelighting went on.  I felt as eas interacting with my family afterwards.
  • December 25th:  We traveled down to my sisters in Maryland for the day.  I enjoyed interacting with my niece and nephew and the rest of the family.  It made a difference from interacting at Thanksgiving compared to Christmas, one ear verses two makes a difference. I could hear the conversation and my family speaking to me with little to no repeats. I got some nice gardening tools and more eager to start my garden  
  • December 30:  The Big Christmas challenge with 61 people.  Yes you heard me right. My Dad's family is huge.  I am one of 25 grandchildren.  I was able to have one on one conversations with people with little repeats.  trying to keep us with the conversations around the table was a little hard but made out well. 
  • December 31: Dad and I watch the grandkids as my sister and her husband went out.  It was great interacting with them and able to understand Austin's voice.  Sometimes I give him the nickname mickey as he can sound like that.  yes things on the left still sound a little like hat.  Penny I have made out a couple words with her but a bit more challenging.
With all the dates I have to admit I sound like my Grandpa.  Guess that is a part of the Burkholder in me.
As I am among many changes and transitions right now I am listening to the album Heaven and Earth with mixed singers.  The song "River of Life" is speaking to me in many ways as I continue to walk through these changes.  He is with me all the way.
I continue to be reminded of the quote my mom live by through her cancer and take it as my own through my own journey "Life is not about waiting for a storm to pass, it is about learning to dance in the rain."
As I think of Goals for the New Year my main one is Continuing to remain trusting in God through all things.
I hope that you had a wonderful Christmas and New Years. :)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Pushing through the Ice

The last couple weeks have been intense with Physical Therapy but I am close to being done.  I have come A LONG ways in the last six weeks.  Today I was joking with my therapist and said "when I came in these doors I could not do that."  She replied "I know and we are having you get ready for the circus."  I said "yup."  The different amount of activities for therapy, yes I feel like I will be in the circus or a tap dancer :).  After therapy I will transition to a gym and they are setting me up with a program for me on my own. I never thought of myself joining a gym, but determined to keep going.  I have started to take short periods of running and it feels so good to do. I am more eager to get back to my bike.
This has been a long journey and yet one to be continued as I continue to work with relearning to hear and regaining myself back up with balance and my life.  I will continue to learn what works for me in communication but I know I made the best decision in helping myself and achieve my goals.  No it has not been easy and know that there will be more challenges, but like my title Pushing through the Ice. 
As Christmas is approaching I am joyful for the gift of hearing and my CI's. Thanks to my doctors, therapists and audiologist, along with the support from family and friends and strength from God, making a difference in my life in keeping me positive and determined to push through the ice.  One thing that I have learned through this and will continue to strengthen, is no matter what you may face in life, believing in yourself through all thing and being able to reach your goals.
To me I am able to once again enjoy Christmas music and many sounds that I have been missing for the last several years. 
Merry Christmas Everyone and thank-you for your ongoing support and prayers. 
The song "Breathe of Heaven" inspires me right now as Mary questioned why she was chosen to carry Jesus.  As we all question things in life like myself right now I am reminded that he has a purpose and plan greater than we see.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Hearing from both ears

This past weekend I spent with my sister and finally came home monday after meeting with my surgeon/doctor.  On Saturday morning I spent with my niece and nephew playing with them.  My niece discovered my processor and enjoyed pulling it off my ear, Austin watched what was going on and gave a curious look to me.  I asked him if he wanted to know what was on my ear and he said "yes."  I gave him a simple answer "it helps me to hear you."  He smiled back and than went on playing and we had a great time throwing balls as we were having a snowball fight.
My doctor was greatly pleased with my progress and glad to see me doing so well.  He wants me to continue what I am currently doing and is confident that things will continue this way.   I am to continue to follow up with Hopkins, he gave me another doctor to see as he is leaving JH at the end of the year.  We ended our meeting with getting a picture and a big hug.  He has made a huge impact in helping me so much.  As I am sad that he is leaving, I am grateful for the care and the difference he made in my life in regaining my ability to hear again.  I know that I will be in good hands with the doctor he recommended.  I know that God provided what I needed at the right time and the doctor I needed.
This week has been busy and trying to work with the left ear in hearing speech.  It has been more a challenge hearing speech in the left ear verses when I was activated on the right.  I was able to make out things sooner.  I know it will come.  I am enjoying having the two ears working and being able to tell direction.  I do notice when I remove one processor something is missing.  I love having both ears working and it is a miracle and gift to be regaining my hearing. Yes it is back working to train the hear to hear again and the crazy sounds continue, but I continue to praise the Lord that I can hear. I just keep on swimming forward.
I will leave you with a song that I sang in my care group last night "Never Once."

Friday, November 30, 2012

Day Two Activation:Brain Wired for sound

Today I went back for the second activation session. It has been an adventurous retraining this ear.  Still reading lips to communicate and not hearing speech yet, but it will come.  I am taking parts of the day with interacting with my sister and her family with the new CI only and other parts with both. Talk about Brain Confusion.  Together I understand speech.  But now when one is off it does not sound complete.  No mo single sided Deafness. Basically my audiologist upped the volume and made adjustments. They always start out slow and build up with volume, the reason for many appointments. We continue watching for twitching and so far going well.  The second CI seems to solve that issue. 
Today one of the goals was to figure and get working the one processor.  so far so good in working.  But if it starts doing it again it will be sent back for a replacement.
As I was waiting to go back, I ran into someone who I met at a HLAA group and it was so good to reconnect.  Now we have emails.  I told her I recently went bilateral and on day 2 activation.
One thing I have already started noting is I am able to recognize direction and location of sound easier.  :)   I have already picked up with left CI only my niece crying, roll cart on the floor, I think an airplane, dishes and many other sounds.  It is some hard to figure out what it is but this is a start.  I just keep swimming along.  Yes exhausting but all worth it. 
I did also make a phone call today to my Dad, yes mainly using the right ear but using my cell phone once again, loving it.  He asked about the grandkids too.  We had a great conversation.  
I am continue to feel over-joyed with the progress I am making and regaining my hearing, balance, and being with kids more and more.  When one loses your hearing it is shocking and devasting in adjusting to what works for you.  As I am still adjusting and figuring it out I am finding a lot of hope through the CI and other ways of communication.  I am finding my confidence growing back up and soaking in all what I am hearing.  It is truelly a priceless and precious gift. 
I just thank you for continued prayers on this journey.
"Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice"