I have not sat down to write for a while #hearingspanglish. I cannot believe I am 4 ½ months post activation!! My last appointment for mapping/programming was right before the state of Ohio went into the Stay at Home order.
COVID 19 has sent a ripple of change into how we all do work and life. March 16, 2020 when the Ohio public schools closed began the initial realization that I was going to need to do ALL of my work through a computer screen and videoconferencing. A wave of uncertainty and fear about the situation flooded through me. REALLY? I am still learning how to listen with a CI and challenging myself with auditory training.
Eleanor Roosevelt said “You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing you think you cannot do”.
Wow, what a powerful quote when you need to “look fear in the face”. What have I found? By being forced to test my cochlear implant ability, I was amazed and excited to find success. With Zoom and Google Meet becoming my new platform for work, I knew I needed to explore every accessibility option that could be found.
AHA moment!! I had a headset Logitech G330 headset that I had not used because of feedback from my hearing aids. I knew this headset with a microphone was optimal for others to hear me in Zoom and Google Meet and thought I would give it another chance. I honestly did not think that I would be able to understand what was being said in the headset and had initially thought I would use the microphone to talk and use another audio input to hear. I put on the headset and WOW! I could not believe that I could actually hear and understand what was being verbalized! My Advanced Bionic CI has a microphone (TMic) positioned at the opening of the ear where it is natural to listen with a headset. In fact, when I first tried listening, I thought that my right headphone (my hearing aid side) was broken. I switched it around and quickly found out that it was not the headset. My hearing aid was not picking up the sound at the same level. These are the AHA moments I need to experience. It reaffirms my decision of getting a CI and I am in awe of this incredible technology.
Don’t get me wrong, I still have hearing challenges and I always will. But the hearing challenges have gotten much easier and the CI has given me confidence during these moments of virtual communication.
I am grateful for the network of friends and colleagues who also have hearing aids and cochlear implants during this pandemic. There is a network of creative problem solvers and I love to read about what others are doing to overcome these virtual challenges. To supplement my CI hearing, I have utilized solutions as simple as asking others to turn on the video and type into a chat box, to advanced solutions integrating auto captioning into a Zoom call (albeit tricky as Zoom does not have auto captions for the version the schools are using) and connecting my hearing assistive technology. Stepping out with bravery and verbalizing how others can help me on a call is also key to success. I have learned new ways to gain courage and confidence in this new (for now) reality of online working. Everything that I have learned and continue to learn will change and improve my communication as we move forward.
Going back to the quote by Eleanor Roosevelt…. what are some FEARS that you have through these trying times? Have you looked FEAR in the face? I hope you do and as a result gain strength, courage, and confidence in the experiences that you have.