August 1997


I suppose it is only fair that the next section be on the up-side. I am happy to say that despite all of my other medical appointments (Oh, I forgot to mention my eye and dentist appointments. No cavities!), I did make it in to my audiologist in July to test and re-program my Auditory Brainstem Implant (ABI) Speech Processor. (Before the summer, I thought I’d make at least 4 trips down… but I am (kinda) happy with the one.)

I go through a whole battery of testing since it is still an experimental device. One set of the tests consists of a video monitor set-up in a sound booth. A speaker is shown and the audio is played through the speakers. Then only the speaker is shown (no audio). The intention of the test is to see if the ABI is improving lip reading skills. The funny thing was that I did 80% better than the last with just the lip reading whereas my lip reading and implant score was only a little improved. Another test uses environmental sounds such as a car horn, baby crying, girl speaking, doorbell, vacuum, etc. I am given a booklet that has four pictures on each page. A sound is played and I have to guess which picture matches the sound and then go to the next one… (I know, it sounds rather remedial.) I was very excited to take the test this time because I could actually recognize quite a few of the noises. Now, it is in a controlled setting (the sound booth), but it is still exciting to know that the potential is there. I then went through the numerous exercises required to program the ABI. The ideal situation for me is still a quiet environment with a speaker I am used to communicating. (It also helps to have a good idea of what the subject of conversation is.)

. . . HOT TUB!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!
I am there! I really like hot tubs. One of my nicest memories was a late Spring night in ’96. We were in California, nestled between mountain ridges. The moon and the stars shone brightly in the sky. The air was rather brisk, but the night was made perfect as we slipped off our clothes and slithered into the hot tub; the steam rising to caress our bodies, the sweet motion of the spa jets to take away the day’s pains from our arduous journey. Yes, boys, there was gold in them hills–gold!

(portions of the above passage are completely factual)

. . .

[8/2006: the context of this excerpt included some references to watching Seinfeld at 12:30am, so I am assuming that J. Peterman catalogue-speak was fresh in my mind]

Head

Continuous headaches(severe in the a.m.), make it difficult to concentrate.

Spine

Updated MR Scan showed no change in tumors.

Leg

Pain has increased in frequency and severity (hurts almost all the time).

Low response to pain medication.

Noticeable weakness.

Needle-like sensations in right foot (arch) and toes.

MRI scheduled for Friday, August 29, 1997 to investigate possible schwannoma/neurofibroma.

ABI

Testing and re-programmed in July. Progress has been stunted by other physical ailments.

… I forgot to tell you earlier about the Rolling Stone issue I got today:

the advertisement for Fruit of the Loom underwear actually had a miniature pair of men’s underwear in it!!! complete with the name brand on the waist band and similar stitching, etc. like the ‘real thing’.
It was quite humorous. I started cracking up while my Mom was on the phone. I didn’t know who she was talking to, but she ‘shushed’ me… I guess it was business… I held it up to her right away and she just about cracked up on the phone.