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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!


Anonymous said...

Ann, you will laugh really hard about this someday. Those wearing a CI will laugh right along with you. We understand. I have been on trips where something doesn't work out. You just have to put on your thinking cap and work it out. You did a wonderful job in solving that problem.

Diane L.

Anonymous said...

Ann, I feel for you! I knew right away it was a big problem. I had the experience of Jamie coming to visit and my old processor broke! I only had one and had to do without sound the remainder of her visit as it was on a Saturday. Needless to say, I was at my audiologist early Tuesday. Glad you were able to solve the problem, because of a wonderful audiologist!

Ang said...

Ann, what a terrible problem - good job figuring it out!!

I am glad that you could find a wonderful audiologist!! What a blessing!