Getting From “Hear” To There

It is now five months since I have received my second cochlear implant.  For many of us, progress is evident when we once again hear the sounds around us that we once heard.  Many of those sounds are of nature, and what better season is there to celebrate the gift of sound than spring?

Here in New York, we had several unseasonable balmy days in the month of March.  Once such morning, I opened my terrace door and to the sound of a symphony of birds singing.  Although I live in a business district, the back of my complex borders with a nature preserve.  My first thought was that many of the migrating birds must have already flown back.  It seemed there must be a greater concentration of birds than last spring.  Then it dawned on me, — bilaterally, I am hearing their sweet songs in greater detail.

Then we had several windy days that followed.  Hearing the wind whistling while treetops swayed and my windows rattled made me feel like I was once again connected to a universe that announces it’s presence with the eerie sound of the wind.

One of the most profound moments was on one of those balmy nights in March as I was sitting at my computer writing.  Suddenly, lightening flashed through the sky and a quaking thunder crackled and I jumped out of my chair.  I looked out the window and listened again for the next round, then listened to the rain fiercely hitting my window panes.  I tried to remember the last time I heard the dramatic sounds of a thunder storm which always has made me feel a strong connection to the universe we live in.  Lights, camera, action!  I love it!

Some sounds are not as dramatic, but they make us feel more connected to the world we live in.  I live in a mid-rise building, and although I am living here six years, this is the first time I am really hearing what is going on around me.  When I am home, I can hear my neighbor next door talking on the phone from one room.  I can also hear when children return from school around 3:30 and walk the halls and talk to their friends.  I can hear the woman across the hall place her key in her door at about 6:45 p.m. when she returns from work.  I can hear the neighbor below me keeps her TV volume a bit high.  I can hear the funny noises in my apartment when the heat comes up.  I can hear when someone shuts their windows or terrace door.  I can hear the guy on the third floor in the elevator and when he talks to me in the complex gym, although he mumbles.

For a decade or more, I have watched TV with the sound off and just captions.  With the new bluetooth and mini-mike devices  that came with my Cochlear brand processor, I am watching TV and now able to hear voices of newscasters and those of my favorite shows.  I go to the gym and listen to oldies while I pick up my stride and aim to do my 10,000 steps armed with my Fitbit.  I can go to a Broadway show and sit in a seat as close to the front as possible and plug my mini mike into the assistive device and hear the show.  I can hear very, very well with the bluetooth phone clip paired with both processors, something I couldn’t do before.

Most of all, I am now able to have a decent conversation with my two-year-old grandson.  He tells me about his swimming lessons, nursery school, we sing songs, play games, and I feel he is getting to know me even better.  Somehow, he seems to understand about my implant.  Once day he pointed to my implant and said, “That helps you hear?”  The insight of a child.

As a Cochlear Americas volunteer, this past fall I was honored to be part of two videos telling my story as a recipient.  At the time, I was anticipating getting my second implant.  The first video shows several people of all ages around the world reciting the Cochlear mantra.  It is a heart-warming video that celebrates the gift of sound.  If you would care to see the video, go to  Quickly “x” out the screen that blocks the pictures of the recipients and click on the first video.

The second video (and blog) tells my story about my lifelong dream to learn to swim, and how I am living that dream today because of the Aqua Plus device.  Go to , scroll down to April 5, 2016 and view the video and read my story.

Later this year, I am hoping to publish my book entitled Living In The Color Magenta. I will keep you posted.

In the meantime, although the progress for my newly-implanted ear is already up to the first implant I received 11 years ago, I will continue my rehabilitation and listening exercises for a couple of hours each day.  Worth mentioning is the need for all of us to receive aural rehabilitation.  The rewards are vast.  Happy hearing!


2 Replies to “Getting From “Hear” To There”

  1. Dear Mary:

    How wonderful this is and how wonderful you are and look!!! I am so happy when I hear from you and just to gaze upon your precious face. I am thrilled! I want you to know that although I have a device….sometimes I must ask to repeat something again. Sometimes on the telephone after adjusting the volume on my device by increasing it…it still seems like all the words are running together as one word that is impossible to comprehend. I will visit my ENT on Tuesday just to see if it is worst or how if any adjustments can be made. I am still teaching as an adjunct , however the classrooms seem so large that it is difficult to hear when I think they speak so softly. I have never had a class with less than 25 students.

    You Mary G. Whalen have opened my eyes and ears to the world, and I am happier for your presence in it. Your grandson is so happy and blessed and I am too! I have a cousin in Charleston, S.C and I told her to follow your blog. She wears a hearing device and she is much younger than I.

    I sincerely hope we can see each other real soon. Thank you for all that you do for everyone!

    Best always, Dolores Washington-Fleming I am too, Deaf, Gray and African American flavored with Irish

    (Note: This response did not print on the log because the original version which Dolores received was deleted due to an error in the link.)

    1. Hello Dolores,

      I will copy and paste my response to you via email in case you don’t receive this. See the notation at the bottom of your comments.

      Thank you for sharing my blog with your cousin. We are all in this together and can help one another. I hope your ENT can help you. If you are at a point where you may need an implant, perhaps I can help you in your journey.

      Yes, the classroom size at the College is large. Most of my classes had a 31 student cap. I am unsure if I will be returning or not. There are many things to consider even though I love the kids and teaching.

      I hope to see you soon too. In the meantime, peace to you.

      Hugs, Mary

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: