I got a bit emotional when I saw her smiling face. There is some slight bruising by her eye that I wasn't expecting but other than that, she looks terrific!
I think the thing that made my throat tighten was that I'm not there to witness this with her. I was certainly around when her hearing went away. I had mentioned this to her in an e-mail or instant message or comment on her blog earlier in the week. When she goes in to have the implant turned on, there will be sound. I'm so excited about this!
When I was a little girl, my mother could hear. She used to have records. I remember her owning not only Jackie Gleason albums (?), she also had some Joan Baez and Herb Alpert. As the years rolled on and I grew up, I became aware that Mom was hard of hearing. It never got any better. There wasn't a miracle hearing aid that would cure her. Some hearing aids worked for a while. Old fashioned, the hearing aids would whistle fiercely with feedback when we hugged her. Sometimes they'd whistle on their own and she had to be told. "Ma, you're hearing aid is whistling." If you walked into the kitchen in the evening, it could very well be that her hearing aids would be on the kitchen table, humming away with feedback on their own because she forgot to turn them off after she took them out. We'd just turn them off for her ourselves so that the batteries wouldn't wear down.
We got a volume control for the telephone handset. When picking up the phone after Mom had used it, one always had to turn the dial to a smaller number. Her hearing loss was progressive. By the time I was a teenager, her hearing loss was significant and couldn't be ignored. We got used to making sure that Mom could see our face when we were talking to her and to speak clearly, no muttering and no exaggeration. It was frustrating for everybody. I was sometimes not so good at dealing with my own frustration. I would accuse her of not being as deaf as she was acting when in fact she was deafer than she let on. I also took advantage of the fact that once her hearing aids were out, she wouldn't hear a thing until morning and took my time about coming home at night. Teenagers can be so rotten and self-absorbed. Sorry about that Mom.
It was so hard for her. She and my father had split up and she was trying to raise the four of us while trying to deal with progressive hearing loss. I remember that in 1981 when I was a senior in high school, she could still use the phone if she was talking to somebody she knew. We had little ways of plowing through a conversation so that Mom could understand most of the important stuff. Towards the end, her phone use was very limited. She would be able to ask questions and hear our yes or no answers. By 1982 she wasn't using the phone at all.
We have been using TTD machines for years. I've got one here at the house but it is on my bedroom shelves. I can still run and get it if I hear the tell tale squeal of a TTD machine on the other end of the phone. There is also a deaf relay service in Washington, but I don't know how I could use that on an overseas call. The computer has really taken over in the past 10 years or so. We've got e-mail and instant messages. It really has improved communication between us dramatically!
Now Mom has gone for a cochlear implant. She has documented her journey up to this date on her own blog. She has the right kind of deafness and was clever enough to live near the US expert in the field and got him to perform her surgery. All we can do now is wait. Wait for her to heal up and for the first week in April to hurry up and get here. April is when her implant gets turned on and tuned in.
I think there is a way for her to hear MP3 files after she has been through her tuning in process which takes at least three sessions. I'm having George make some recordings for her. He plays the guitar and piano. Even though he's not a professional, I'm sure his grandmother would be pleased to hear it.
I would dearly love to be there to witness the grand tuning in, sadly I can't. She has said that I'm the first person she is going to call when it's tuned in and I can't wait!