There are days when my impatience makes me want to chunk my cochlear implant processor. But not today.
My school district's audiologist brought an FM system for me to try out in my classroom. Hearing my students read to me has been an ongoing challenge since I lost my hearing, and it hasn't improved much with the cochlear implant.
I'm trying to be patient and forgiving of myself. I have only been activated for 5 weeks, and I can tell that I am getting better. I'm still considered a baby borg, and my hearing with the implant isn't so great right now. But the work I do in my classroom has been very difficult since my hearing loss, and I find that I beat myself up countless times during the day because my hearing is lacking. I have really high expectations of myself, hearing loss or not. So I asked for help. And I found it. I'm the only classroom teacher in my district with a cochlear implant. I'm pioneering new frontiers.
With the FM system, I plug a receiver into my processor and sync it to a pocket-sized FM transmitter. A lapel mic is plugged into the transmitter and students can read into the mic. I am able to hear my students' voices directly in my CI. And because the transmitter and mic aren't directly attached to my processor like my personal lapel mic from Cochlear is, I don't have to worry that an excitable first grader may leap up from the table and yank my processor from my head! It's not perfect. But it certainly is better.
I decided to test it out in my afternoon reading group. I carefully clipped the mic to the collar of a student I needed to test on sight words. He smiled sheepishly as I did it. Then I asked him to talk so I could test if the mic was positioned well. He grinned at me and asked, "What do you want me to say?" I told him he could say whatever he wanted. "You can say, 'supercalifragilisticexpialidocious' if you want."
"You heard me?" he asked. (He was surprised! I must miss a lot of what goes on in my room!)
"I heard you," I said. "Now read those words for me!"
My heart was smiling.