“Sidelined” by ‘Daddy, Watch Me!

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It has been an entire MONTH since I’ve updated you all on my Cochlear Implant journey. I wish I could tell you that the reason for the long absence was simply because I was waiting to see if I could give you all a better update with juicier details by waiting longer between posts, ultimately giving me more time to see changes. Surely, that would be easy to buy into–but, that’d also mean I’d be lying.

Truth is, I started doubting this whole process. I don’t see the changes I want to see–or at least the ones that I envisioned. I preached patience over and over again in previous posts– now, I feel like my patience is running on E, just getting by on the fumes.

I’m tough on myself, that’s no secret. I think, what is wrong with me? Am I too dumb to master this? Will my 1 year old son master this before me? This is a life skill, come on Bubba.

I have done some of my homework assignments, it is NOT EASY. I can’t differentiate an ‘L’ sound from a ‘M’ sound from a ‘W’ sound, and so on. Do you know how frustrating that is? It is difficult to do these assignments when every single one comes with a sense of failure. It is no fun being wrong! It is no fun guessing either. Ever Christmas tree’ed’ a test because you really aren’t sure of any of the answers? That’s exactly how I’d sum these homework assignments up.

Dad has done a great job helping me. We started with something my brain knows- family names: Mom, Dad, Elizabeth, Parker Grace, Clayton, Lindsey, Darrah, Todd, Jake, Billy, Donna, Kyle, Kelley, Caroline. Chevy (dog), and Dale Earnhardt. etc. (Just kidding about Earnhardt). These are extremely common words I hear every day. I Know which words are coming (I know everyone’s name in the family (I hope)). I just got to figure out which name was said– without reading his lips. Easy right? You’d think this would be easy-It’s not. I can get Parker Grace because I recognize it’s two separate words. Everything else….ehhh, it was a guess the first few times– until my brain remembered how my Dad sounds during each word. Which got me thinking, this might be a problem…. because no one else sounds like my Dad, every person has his/her own voice. So, I feel like I memorized my Dad saying certain words to me, and that’s it? I can’t give you an answer, but I’ll discuss my concern with my Audiologist next time I see her, and get back to you all.

It’s not just the speech recognition progress that has me a little down- at my last visit with the Audiologist (2 weeks ago), I was immediately told that I looked tired and beat. She asked what I had been doing lately, and I told her I had joined a boot camp style workout group called F3 (Fitness, Fellowship & Faith-please let me know if you want to join!), I was  working out and fellowshipping  with this fantastic group of men at 5:30am 3-4 times a week pushing each other through various challenging workouts. I’m not going to lie, this was a drastic change from my previous workout routine: just simply weightlifting. I was now all over the place, keeping my body is constant motion, continuously challenging my body between strength and cardio. It was a shock to my system, but an enjoyable one. On top of that I took part in an eating challenge. for 3 weeks I cut bread, red meat, pasta, fried foods and sugar from my diet. It’s safe to say I ate a lot of chicken! (For those interested, the eating challenge was surprisingly easy for me, and I felt so much cleaner inside) So, what is my point in telling you all this?……

Audiologist: “You are overworking your body”

Me: “What do you want me to do, sit in my recliner and throw back a few?”

Audiologist: (I will sum up what she states here) Aside from the workouts, your body is already working twice as hard as everyone else’s– trying to make sense of the new sounds. That on top of the workouts, you are putting a lot of stress of your body.

WAIT, there’s more! We then discovered that the area where my implant is located in my head appeared slightly swollen. Just call me an unicorn at this point? Well, guess what her conclusion is? You need to temporary stop doing the workouts, I think that the constant impact with the ground (jumping, running, etc.) is causing the implant to rub (friction) against the not fully healed/hardened area around the implant. The area around the implant has not fully sealed itself in placement.

ME: Okay, umm, I was told I could resume exercise 2 weeks after surgery. It has been over 2 MONTHS!

Audiologist: I don’t think boot camp style workouts are considered “exercise”- you are putting your body through a lot regardless of the workouts.

Alright, you all get the point… I proceeded to continue arguing. I mean how do you motivate yourself after this? This was my head-clearing activity, it got my mind off things. I don’t wear the device while working out. Now your telling me this implant is affecting my life in other ways? The gym was one of the only places that I didn’t need my ears. So, now what? What do I tell the workout guys? I’m weak? I quit? I’m not normal? Of course not, they understand, that’s the purpose of this group-SUPPORT. But, that doesn’t help my personal feelings. Oh, and to clarify this break, I was told to not even JOG! I asked, can I mow my lawn at least?! (typical Eric)

Anyway, I did take two weeks off. I returned just this week…easing back into it by going only twice, allowing my body some recovery during the week if something was to go wrong.

So, what can I report from my last post to now? Well, in one month, not a whole lot has changed hearing-wise. My co-workers wonder if the implant even works, no one sees the changes– that’s frustrating. However, I assure you that there have been changes, but it is progressing so slowly at a snails pace that even I likely can’t notice, or anyone else. Kind of like if you gain 10 pounds….over an entire YEAR, no one will notice. If you gained it in one day, people may pick up on that. The Audiologist told me that it will probably take a full 6 months until I recognize speech. Personally, I don’t see it happening. But, I want to be proven wrong! I will push on.

As frustrated as I sound writing this post I am happy with life. Please don’t feel even a little bit bad for me. This journey is just one aspect of my life, and it is magnified (on purpose) in this blog. There is tons of happiness in every single day of my life– and my wife reminds us of that through her new link-up “100 Happy Days”, check that out and participate if you want! All I ask for from you guys is for a little prayer to not get my ears working, but for a positive mindset moving forward. God bless.

-Eric William


4 Responses to “Sidelined” by ‘Daddy, Watch Me!

  1. Bruce Buckley says:

    Thanks for this very interesting and thoughtful appraisal, Eric! You certainly need to be patient, yet I imagined my reactions to be exactly the same as yours each step of the way.

    Keep up your positive (although sometimes reluctant) attitude. Our prayers are with you!

    Bruce (Jessie’s father)

  2. shayna lo g says:

    Eric! I have watched one of my best friends go through a life altering event when she was in a car accident at age 21 and left paralyzed. Her learning how to take care of herself so she could be independent was a long hard journey for her, and there are times when she felt life was impossible BUT through it all God has given her strength and encouragment. She found the love of her life and no longer relys on any caregivers to take care of her daily routines. Dont get me wrong, her life on a daily basis is still not easy by any means, but having her indepences is the same winner circle feeling as you being able to hear your daughter say “i love you daddy” for the first time. There were many times that she wanted to give up and felt hopeless. The struggles for her were difficult, but God will never put you through something that you cannot make it through! I know it gets very challenging but you have only had the implant for a couple of months. The skills you are having to teach yourself takes years for people to master! And many people still can’t listen clearly lol. Reading your story is inspiring! Keep challenging yourself and never give up! You definitely don’t give yourself any slack, and you need too. I k ow you are a genius but even Einstein can no learn a new language overnight. That’s exactly what yiu are having to do in this new crazy world of yours. Being a new parent I totally connect with your parenting struggles and i will def keep you in our prayers for strength and stubbornness 🙂 you can do this! We know you can! Keep your chin up and know that God , your friends and family are all here to keep you lifted!

    • ke.allbritton@gmail.com says:

      Thank you so much Shayna, that was an inspiring story, and I truly appreciate you taking the time to write it. I’m So sorry to get back to you so late, I just now checked in. I can’t agree anymore with you that God will not put us through something that we can not handle, what’s life without a challenge anyway? That you for all of the support!

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