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I hope you all enjoy my efforts here!

Apr 28, 2009

Lessons in Planning

Here is the last of my posts, detailing my adventures. This one is a "not so great adventure", but a lesson for me otherwise.

When I returned home from Celebration, I had gone through some of my cochlear equipment stored in my closet. I realized that because I had two cochlear implants, I actually had an 2nd battery recharger that I wasn't using. I was recharging all my batteries every night on one recharger, and letting the other sit in a box. I took it out and determined that I needed to find some place else to keep it, where it would be nice to have 2nd recharger. I hadn't figured out where though.

While packing for St. George, I thought, "Wait! I don't need to pack my battery recharger, I can put the spare one in my suit case. Maybe that's where I can keep it, make it my spare recharger!" I thought I was pretty brilliant! Unfortunately, I NEVER thought to check it out and make sure it had all the parts I needed. Since the cochlear implant is sold world wide, it comes in a kit, where you can select the particular plug your country uses, and attach. I didn't notice that NO plug was attached.

I have a wonderful day on the first day of my trip. In the evening, my first cochlear device beeps at me, warning me that there's only about 5 or 10 minutes of battery time left. Cool, I'll go get the recharger and start it going, inserting the battery I wear while the other one charges. No problem! When I pulled the recharger out of the suitcase, went to plug it in, and noticed, no plugs, the bottom fell out of my whole world. I was immediately horror stricken, as my mind raced all over trying to figure out the impact and what to do. When my spare battery died, which would happen part way through the next day, I would be rendered deaf and in an utterly silent world! I still had a two and a half more days of vacation and fun planned. What would I do without my hearing.

I do have the ability to wear regular hearing aid batteries to power my devices, rather than the recharge ables. However, you must have a little insert to put the batteries in, in order for this to be a viable option. I NEVER packed those inserts! Years of experience found regular hearing aid batteries were in my purse, as they ALWAYS are, but there were of no good without the inserts. I was horror stricken.

Connie, bless her heart, didn't really get what the big deal was. During the years since I've been implanted, she's lived in Southern Utah. We've not had that much time that we could spend together, as we used to, during the many years before implant, when I wore only one hearing aid, and really heard VERY little in comparison to what I do now. So what if I go deaf? That's the person she's used to. She keeps having a hard time taking in all the things I can hear. Me, on the other hand, am now SPOILED by sound! It's made my life easier, and just like the device I wear, named the "Freedom", it does give me freedom.

We had a full calendar of events planned for the 2nd day of my trip. A visit to a ghost town, a hike in Zion's canyon and etc. I was really excited for all that. However, now I was going to go deaf. Do I turn around and drive back to Salt Lake the next day, virtually ending my trip? Connie and her husband were sure I could get a plug that would work on my recharger, at radio shack the next morning. I knew I couldn't. My implant parts are specially engineered by the remarkable Jim Patrick and team in Australia. However, I humored them and we spent the next morning visiting Radio Shack, Batteries Plus and Best Buy, searching for a part.

Once my friends believed me that there would be nor parts locally, we went back to their home and called Cochlear. The nearest place to get the part was Salt Lake (no surprise to me!). However, Connie, bless her heart, realized that we were actually close to Las Vegas. They had lots of places in Vegas. She called the different numbers of Implant Audiologists in Vegas, until we found a wonderful lady who was willing to help us. She had a Freedom sitting their, waiting for a patient who wasn't going to be healed enough from surgery to wear it for a couple of weeks. She took the part out of their kit, and would have Cochlear send another part for them. Not only that, she'd do it for FREE. We just had to drive the two hours to Vegas. For the chance to hear, I would do it gladly! :)

By the time we got to Vegas to her office, it was 2:30 in the afternoon. Gone was our ghost town visit and Zion's hike. More bad luck, she was with a patient when we arrived. Implant audiology appointments are often about an hour or so long, as we "map" the devices to give us hearing. Yep, we spent an hour in the waiting room. After this little adventure, we set out for the Bellagio, ended up at the Mirage (don't know how that happened, as I distinctly put "Bellagio" into map quest!). That was how we ended up seeing the white lions and tigers I wrote about above. We only had two short hours in Vegas, before we had to drive back for a commitment in St. George.

My lesson: "When it comes to my hearing, plan, and make as many back up plans as you possibly think of. It's too important to hear, in the way I life my life. I will make it a point to always pack the inserts that take hearing aid batteries. Secondly, test and try out everything before you pack it! I will NEVER allow myself to be at risk of missing the incredible gift of sound, and living my life to the fullest as a result. Plan A, Plan B and Plan C if necessary will now be a part of all my travel plans!

Apr 25, 2009

4 Wheeling Divas

It has taken me much too long to do the more recent posts I promised, detailing some of my fun travels. When I first decided to renovate my life, I felt like I was "missing out on life". I spent my life in front of the TV, and life just passed me by. There were so many things I had never done, and didn't know if I ever could. Being nearly 400 lbs, linked to my oxygen tank 24/7, I felt there was no way I'd ever get a chance to really have some great experiences.

All the experiences I had due to Cochlear Celebration at the end of March, and my spring vacation in Southern Utah at the beginning of April, were sublime. At one time, I never could have believed I could do the things I've done recently. It was with great delight, that I discovered I was invited to play with my friend Connie on her "new husband's" toys! They have 4 Wheelers. I've never gone 4 Wheeling before, and was delighted at another chance for more opportunities to really LIVE my life and enjoy some absolutely awesome moments. Here are the photos

Here I am, first thing in the morning, all decked out! I borrowed Connie's hat put on my sunglasses and was raring for adventure!

It was pretty cool to find all the unique formations out in the Southern Utah desert. This little "hole in the rock" was one of our beginning finds during our ride.

How in the world could I be able to fit into the crevice in this rock and turn it into my personal little chair! At the moment I sat in this rock, I was marveling that I could actually fit here, and do something fun but small like this as part of my adventure.

Here we are, my friend of some 26 years, Connie, astride our "ride for the day! We had a BALL!!

In my learning to enjoy the moments, I've discovered that instead of hiding from the camera, like I used to, I always MUST, MUST ham it up big time. In previous posts, there is ample documentation of my odd sense of humor at work! With this picture and the one below, I pretend to be a 4 Wheeling daredevil!

This was one of the most beautiful formations that we rode through!

At this place, there were ancient pictrographs from the early Native American Inhabitants. What an awesome thing to find.

We stopped and had lunch by this little river. I was actually suprised to see this little river running through the desert

This picture to me, had the feel of Rocky on the top steps of the museum in I think that old Sylvester Stallone movie. I couldn't believe, that "effortlessly", I climbed up to the top of this particular stone formation, with the stone path that went straight down! At one time in my life, I wouldn't have even tried to climb up there. I dared, it was EASY, and I felt heroic and excited to be alive, as I stood up there at the top! Life IS great!

Apr 19, 2009

Lions and Tigers, Oh My! (and dolphins too!)

I spent a few days in Southern Utah for my spring vacation this year. I was so lucky to be able to spend lots of quality time with one of my best friends who lives in La Verkin. One day we made a quick little trip down to Las Vegas. While trying to find The Bellagio, my iPhone mapquest took us to The Mirage! Go figure! Since we ended up there and couldn't find The Bellagio, we made the most of our mapquest error and saw the dolphins, white lions and tigers that are there. Just thought I'd share the pictures! Hope you enjoy them!

Connie and I, inside The Mirage.

A mother dolphin and her baby.

It is amazing to see a white lion. My first sighting ever!

I took this photo because it was amazing that the lion had pulled up the sod and was eat/attacking it!

White tigers enjoying a relaxing day! :)

Eleven month old tigers playing in this picture and the one below. It was fun to watch them run, chase and tussle with each other.

Apr 17, 2009

Wilderness in the City

I search now for ways to be physically active, as it's really a key to my eventual success in this weight battle. My Jenny Craig director advised me to find things to do outside with the weather being so nice, rather than keep searching for a good gym alternative. She suggested this, since I stated how much I hate working out, in the same breath as I'm telling her about a gym search. For now, I've decided to follow her advice and see where it leads me. Thanks to my friend Diane, she helped me out by introducing me to the Jordan River Bike Path that runs along the the Jordan River. I kind of knew it was there, as she's been there many times and told me about it. However, between my two vacations, we fit a small walk in it. After my return, we did a two hour walk in on the last beautiful day before stormy weather came back to roost a while. I was amazed to find all this "wilderness" type landscape in SLC suburban area. I've driven past so many of the areas where we walked, never seeing the hidden paths and realizing what was really there. I thought I'd share the pictures I or Diane took on our two walks through SLC's wilderness! :)

You're kidding me, this is suburban SLC???

More wilderness in my city!

Thanks to Diane for introducing me to this part of the "city"!

Shall I plug my nose and dive in?

Nah! I'll just close my mouth and dive in! My day isn't complete if I don't ham it up for the camera!

Wow! I had no idea this fascinating pathway and river wander right under the freeway I drive!
Looking out at the river while mid-way across! I enjoyed the view!

Apr 12, 2009

More Coming Attractions

I've had a productive evening posting, as you can all see from the previous two posts. However, there's so much more to post! I've been having so much fun, I just can't keep up! Shortly upon returning home, spring vacation arrived! This year I actually planned something fun to do during this time. I went on a trip to St. George area where one of my best friends lives. I've got post to write and pictures to share from that trip. Titles you can expect to see in the near future is: "Wilderness in the City?" "Lions and Tigers Oh My!" (short posts for this, maybe just pictures). "Four Wheeling Divas", and less fun but still to be shared, my experiences and "Lessons in Planning". I'll be in touch!

Celebration Rocks!

This is my last post about Cochlear Celebration in Anaheim! I wanted to share some thoughts about it, ever since I got back! As you've seen by some of my posts, there's been so much to write about, it has taken me time to get to this.

At Cochlear Celebration in Anaheim, I was fortunate to be in a room with literally hundreds and hundreds of people with cochlear implants (I think around 500 to 700 people with them). Everyone from young toddlers to seniors was sporting their implant! It was absolutely incredible! I loved the instant connection and the sense of family that I felt during the whole time.

What's more, due to my own personal journey to change my life, live in the moment and celebrate the "now", I think I enjoyed myself more than I ever have before. I discovered the real me. I discovered that I am an extrovert! I would have never have guessed this at one time. I made so many new friends, lived so much joy, I couldn't contain it. I frequently would dance around with joy. People would watch me and laugh or smile. I wasn't the quite little mouse in the corner that hoped no one would pay attention to me. I felt like I had charisma and drew people to me. I had my own little "Celebration" dance that I frequently did. The music would be playing as we'd enter some of the big events. I'd be dancing and singing, "Celebration!" One old man said to me, "Do you ever run out of energy!" I laughed and smiled, "NO!!" He laughed and said, "I used to be like that when I was young!" I was flattered! Every time he'd see me, he'd laugh and joke with me about my energy!

At Celebration, my batteries kept being charged up and there was more energy than I could keep in my body. I had to let it out. Gone was the shy, isolated person. I'd make friends, be greeted the next day when I'd see the people I'd met the day before with warm hugs. Wow! Instant laughter, instant joy! Oh, and you know what, I found out I am a FLIRT! (You can ask Diane about that one, she got to watch me really go at it!) It was so common to see everyone with a cochlear implant, that after the Celebration ended, and my friends went to Disneyland the next day(Remember "Four Old Ladies Do Disney" post?); something was profoundly missing. I noticed no one there had an implant (except my little group). It was an affirmation to see so many people wearing one, and celebrating, as did I; their own little transformed lives!

What happened to the woman who didn't want to live past 50? What happened to the woman with an oxygen tank who couldn't walk 10 feet without her lip turning a little blue? What happened to the woman who was so embarrassed if anyone noticed her. Obviously, she was NOT the real me. She was buried under tons of fat and negative attitudes. The real "Ann" was on display and having a ball at Celebration 2009! I AM everything I dreamed and wished I could be. The hard work to change how I THINK, is paying off big time. The hard work to loose all the fat that I was hiding behind is paying off as well. The person who could barely move, was at the hotel gym at 10:00 p.m. trying like he dickens to work out hard enough to get her heart rate up to where it was supposed to go! How did she get this fit? While I'm not as fit as I could be, apparently my Jenny Craig program has been awesome for my heart. I had a 13% incline on the treadmill and a high speed (where I felt like I could hardly hang on), before my heart rate would go where it needed to be. Huh? My resting heart rate was usually above 100. Now, it's closer to 50. I'm transformed in so many ways!

I'm grateful to have gone on this journey. I am transformed. The transformed person, can squeeze every ounce of joy that is possible to get, out of the event I've wanted to attend for years, Cochlear Celebration! Celebration! Celebration!! Yes, dance and sing with me, "Celebration!" "Celebration!" Whoo Hoo!!! :)

Pioneering Heroes

Sometimes I wonder if people understand that a big miracle has already happened. Hard work and decades of work on the other side of the world (Australia), during the early 70's on up is directly responsible for transforming my world. Above you see the picture of my number one hero. I haven't been fortunate to meet him, but he is Dr. Graeme Clark. He is the pioneer who did the impossible. His father was a pharmacist who was deaf. Customer's would come into the pharmacy and try to ask in quiet embarrassed voices for private personal items. His father couldn't hear and any attempt at privacy was lost as voices had to be raised. Dr. Clark vowed to find out if there was anyway to help those that are deaf, like his father. He spent years researching, even standing on the street corner begging for money, when there was none to support his research. Without his dream and passion, my life wouldn't be what it is now. I hope to one day meet him. Maybe at Cochlear Celebration 2011 if I'm lucky!

Dr. Clark's first employee was the engineer, Jim Patrick, who's picture I took at Cochlear Celebration in Anaheim. He is the one who had to figure out how to make it all possible, do the engineering. I was fortunate to hear him speak at Cochlear Celebration in Anaheim, to meet him, converse with him, as well as to give him a hug and thank him for all the work he did that transformed my life and those of thousands other. He said in his speech, that there are 120,000 people with implants now. That's 120,000 lives changed. When I got my chance to talk with him, I told him that 120,000 was too small a number. There are millions of lives changed, when you think of all the families who's lives were/are also changed. He had a little petri type dish that contained electrodes that like those that are inside my cochlea. They looked like little specks of gold. When I looked at the same specks in the microscope, I saw the intricate detail of each of the golden rings (as they looked like they were), that will have have finely engineered wire the size of a human hair going through their center, before implantation. I'm amazed. I listened with interest as Jim Patrick talked about the many milestones in their research. He talked about things that happened in 1976, 1978 and etc. Each time he mentioned a date, I'd think of what I was doing in those years. As I told Jim later, if someone had told me on those dates, oh so many years ago, that a man like him was doing the research a half a world away from me in Australia, that would transform my life, I wouldn't have believed it. We NEVER know who is out there working on the next miracle that will touch us. I'm grateful for the current miracle, as well as for the once in a lifetime opportunity to personally meet and converse with one of my pioneering heroes. He was a very enjoyable to chat with later at Disneyland, as we waited for the fireworks to start. All the time, I was thinking, "Pinch me! Am I really standing here shooting the breeze and talking to my hero?"

Rod Saunders is my next pioneering hero. Of the three men I mention here, he is no longer with us. He attended the last Cochlear Celebration in 2007, but passed away later that year. So I wasn't able to meet him in Cochlear Celebration 2009. He was the first person to be implanted with the cochlear implant. I remember all the thinking and struggle before my first implant. Was it worth the risk? In truth, the risk were very minimal for me. I'd already seen lots of people with implants, such as my sister. I had lots of data available to me. Even so, it was a difficult decision. Rod Saunders had none of that. My processor fits on my ear. His processor was a whole roomful of computers. He underwent a surgery no one had ever done or had before. He could only hope to hear when he went into the room, once a week, or however often he went in there as a research subject. He had no clue if he would ever hear, if the surgery would succeed. He was willing to try. That to me is the ultimate bravery. Because of him, 120,000 people can hear now, and millions of lives of their family and friends are touched. While I never will be lucky enough to meet him since he has passed on. Yes, Diane (my friend who reads my blog and frequently posts comments) I am jealous that you got to meet all three of men I've written about here! :) Though I will never meet him, I can still honor him and the role he played in bringing about the miracle I experience every time I attach the processor to my head and turn it on. The sound is on, I'm on the air!
Thank you Dr. Clark, Jim Patrick and Rod Saunders for all the passion, hard work and sacrifice that allow me to talk on the phone, listen to an audio book, enjoy music, overhear jokes, quips and funny remarks, understand the voices of the children, hear the babble of the infant and connect easily with the people I love. Thank you for all the little children I see, learning to talk, listen, hear and be fully part of their families. Isolation isn't something they will have to live with due to this miracle. Their achievements in the future are limitless as this miracle allows them to soar more fully and easily to future greatness. I'm grateful for the opportunity to live a life, touched by a miracle and the pioneers that made it possible.

Apr 5, 2009

Four Old Ladies Do Disney

When Cochlear Celebration ended, myself and my 3 Utah friends stayed behind to spend a day at the theme parks! We certainly didn't fit the normal demographics of Disneyland and California Adventures! Just thought I'd share some pictures! Here we are, screaming on California Screaming!

Adventurous old broads, ain't we? We didn't stop there! Three of us went for a ride on the Tower of Terror! Here, we are again, being dropped out of the sky! :)

I tried to take a picture at one point in the day, and all I got was "tired old ladies" pictures! Don't you agree?

Being a polite photographer, wanting to help the ladies be at their best, I politely said the time worn photographer's phrase, "Smile!" Tired ladies no longer! They look alive! :)

I couldn't resist adding this picture of three of us posing with the letter "A"! If you notice, I'm sitting on the ground here! That in itself is a minor miracle. It wasn't until this last year that I dared to sit on the ground. There was a time I couldn't make it up off the ground without someone on each side of me lifting me up, taking great care to not touch on my bad knee on the way up. Plopping onto the ground to fit in the picture with my friends is a victory of sorts!

Disneyland and California Adventures wore me out! However, there were so many victories in the day, that I'm glad I went. Victories: 1) Being able to spend the day on my feet without too much difficulty. 2) Being able to walk miles and miles, no oxygen in sight. 3) Being able to keep up with the group and walking fast. I used to always lag behind everyone and it nearly killed me to try and walk faster. 4) Being able to fit in all the rides!

Apr 4, 2009

The Price of Embarrassment

I had a lot of fun, engaging in the art of "snappy and witty repartee"! It's not very often I find anyone who's sense of humor clicks with mine and we have tons of fun with this. In one such round, I managed to embarrass him, leaving him speechless! According to his friend Carol, no one is able to do that. After rendering him speechless, he proceeded to pull a dollar out of his bill fold and pay me for that one! The comment that left him speechless, was after he compared something (I can't remember what), to being as difficult as undoing a woman's bra. I cooed back, "I didn't know you had so much experience with that!" He was speechless and couldn't find anything to say in response. The whole group of us laughed as he sputtered, trying to find something to say!

We snapped another picture of him giving me the dollar, in case the lighting was bad on the first picture.

So here I was, crowing with excitement that I could embarrass him and feeling pretty good. Then Carol asked me, "Ann, what's your last name?" What did I do? I certainly didn't answer her, I went searching for my name tag around my neck to show her. You have to understand it was a habit to show name tags with all these cochlear implantees, as it's hard to hear specific names. However, in the midst of hunting for my name tag, I realized what I was doing. The whole group laughed uproariously at my not knowing my last name, without searching for it. I was laughing right along with them in sheepish embarassment! Carol then became the proud recipient of the $1.00, just for embarassing me!

The price of fun? It can't be counted. There is joy to be found, moment to enjoy, in just having simple conversation, laughter, and exchanging witty repartee (I think Diane would call that flirting!) :)

Apr 1, 2009

Where's Goofy?

So does my title lead you to think that I'm going to talk about the Disney character that can be found here with his buddies at Disneyland? I DID see Goofy, and all his friends, but I FOOLED you, (It's still April Fool's Day for at least another 20 minutes!) If you guessed the goofy below, you're WRONG! :)

The real subject of the blog is living in the moment! When you in the moment, you can find joy and goofiness anywhere! Below are three other possible winners you can vote on for the "Where's Goofy"? contest. Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present to you some other possible
candidate for Goofy?


Above you I present candidate #1! Don't ask this innocent little photographer what in the world she did to deserve such brazenly goofy treatment!


Here we have Candidate #2! Believe it or not, this gentlemen can be found all over Cochlear Americas materials and videos. Yes, yes, he is a likable fellow, but I daresay none of this materials shows the Goofy #2 that this naive' little photographer had an encounter with. Believe me, she's not paparazzi!


What? You know her? Really? Well, ladies and gentlemen, I now present for your voting pleasure Candidate #3, Ms. Little Skinny Herself! :) For a little "illegal swaying of the voting bloc", let me present one little tidbit. You'd have never found Goofy #1 or Goofy #2, if Goofy #3 wasn't egging them on! (Vote me, vote me!)

Now that I've presented your three voting options! The polls are now open! (Management regrets to apologize for the elimination of the Disney Goofy. He just wasn't goofy enough for this competition and is out of the race!)

In addition to the voting options below, I have a challenge. Can you figure out what all three "Goofys" have in common! The only clue I will give you is that they did all spend the last weekend attending Cochlear Celebration. Please enter your guesses along with your votes!

(Here's crossing my fingers for a certain someone to win the "Where's Goofy"? contest.)