A Moment of Truth…

Defeated. Perhaps deflated is a better descriptor for how I felt upon leaving SacENT Thursday. I returned March 28th for my fourth mapping with James, the audiologist working with me to program my cochlear implant processors and compatible hearing aid. It had been four weeks since I saw him and exactly eight weeks since having my CI activated.

I have been engaging in aural rehabilitation actively seven days a week “working” overtime to train my brain to hear electronically. I wear a processor from the time I get up to the time I go to bed. I work with Don an average of 30 minutes per day supplementing my training with apps and reading while listening on Audible. Just wearing the damn processor is training! I rarely wore the hearing aid as I believed I’d force the implanted ear to hear.

I truly thought I was hearing better than before being implanted. Everything was louder. Too loud at times. I’ve done a good job at fooling people over the years with just how poor my hearing was. Thursday I realized I was fooling myself into thinking I was hearing more because I want that to be the case. I want that badly. My world is louder but loudness isn’t being translated into understanding speech. Lip reading combined with sound is how I continue to function in a hearing world.

So what happened Thursday at my mapping appointment to cause me to feel defeated? James started by testing my hearing in a sound booth with me wearing just a processor. He simply wanted an audiogram which means listening for tonal beeps. Upon completion I pushed him to give me sentences thinking I would do reasonably well. Reluctantly, he did so and it proved to be too challenging for me. I only got one sentence out of six and didn’t even get that sentence 100% right. Mercifully he stopped, recognizing my defeated feelings.

We then returned to his office where he proceeded to tweak the intensity at various frequencies to the 22 contact points surgically threaded through the cochlea. I thought I was at “normal” volume a month ago but I was wrong. My world is louder yet. I now understand what hearing people have to put up with in this noisy world. Four days later it’s still too loud but I am adapting and know I will continue to do so. Our brains are amazingly plastic.

Incidentally, the audiogram showed my implanted ear is hearing all the way across the critical speech range into the higher frequencies I haven’t had since losing them as a 15 month old toddler. It shows the CI is working as it should. Hurray!

As we were leaving (Don accompanies me to these 9AM appointments because I need to be in the diamond lane to arrive on time…😜), I casually mentioned to James that I was sorry I hadn’t gotten a CI 10-15 years ago when my brain was more plastic. He quickly stated that wasn’t true. Rather, it’s my hearing history that’s the problem. Having lost the high frequencies as a toddler means my brain has nothing to remember. CI recipients who lost their hearing as adults are the most successful. His statement took the wind out of my sails for the second time as he told me that when I met with him last December. I now fully comprehend. Thus the feeling of being deflated.

James says I will hear better but I may always need to lip read and that it will take time…lots of time. I’m going to continue to plug away at training my brain to hear electronically but scale back the time I put into it as there are other activities I’d like to do. As I mentioned before, wearing the processor day in, day out is brain training.


Sound Overload and The Joy of Music: the Yen and the Yang

I just can’t take all that noise anymore!

I wasn’t planning on publishing another “musing” quite so soon but this last week has been full of highs and lows. At my last mapping, the audiologist programmed my processor for “normal” hearing. Keep in mind, I’ve never experienced the real world of hearing. What a shock! The bang of cabinet doors, the slamming of car doors, the hum of background music being played in stores, the buzz of people talking in public places. It’s loud!

The worst, though, the absolute worst noise I’ve encountered is at the bridge club or at the Senior Center playing competitive bridge. It’s noisy! I initially took to playing duplicate bridge over social bridge because bidding boxes are used and talking is minimal once play begins. Duplicate was perfect for the quiet world I inhabited. This week I discovered it’s not quiet when between 36 to 72 people are clustered at tables of four playing a “quiet” game. The snap of cards, boards being turned, chairs scraping, the chorus of murmuring voices all bother me now. I went home exhausted after each game last week and immediately ripped off my hearing devices and lay down to decompress from sound overload. My partner commented on my continuous wincing at loud sound telling me, “Wendy, this is what we’ve been hearing all these years. It’s normal.” Ugh! For the first time since being activated I found myself yearning for my formerly quiet world. Hopefully, my brain will adapt over time to this new “norm” of hearing.

Oh…the joy of music!

On the flip side, I’ve discovered music is much better than what I was told or read about when researching cochlear implants. After all, the main purpose of a CI is understanding speech not music. For those of you who’ve read the entire blogging series, you may recall the night before surgery when Don and I listened to my iPod late into the night because I was sure I’d never hear it again as I knew it. Don and I were watching Victoria on TV with sound being streamed directly into both my hearing devices. A scene at Buckingham Palace took place where a young woman was playing a harp. I perked up astounded at the high notes being played and how beautiful it sounded. The hearing aid provided natural sounding music but the processor gave me notes previously out of range. What a discovery!

That led to playing my favorite music on Pandora via the TV. In listening to a variety of songs, I accidentally discovered the low end of the spectrum with a bass guitar that I hadn’t heard in years. Tears of sheer joy flowed! Since I’ve rediscovered music I now have Pandora set up with playlists on my iPhone which is streamed directly to both devices. Not all of it sounds good but it’s much better than initially anticipated.

The law of unintended consequences dictates that I got more than I expected. I expected to understand speech better but I didn’t bank on hearing music better along with all the unpleasant sounds in the world.

It’s a New World of Sound!

The Speech Banana (speech sounds occur in this range)

My Cochlear implant processor has been activated just 30 days now and a whole new world of sound has been opened to me. I’m a kid in a candy store but unlike candy these sound treats aren’t high in calories. I recently went walking through the Lodi Lake Wildnerness Area with a birder friend hearing strange high pitched sounds denied to me since I was 15 months old as a high fever destroyed the high frequencies. My friend identified the various bird sounds for me…chickadees, hummingbirds. Truly amazing! Prior to being implanted I could hear honks and squawks with my hearing aids but never the tweets/chirps of smaller birds.

My car is full of new sounds…the turn signal, buttons being pushed, the windshield wipers. Home is loaded with new sounds…the beep, beep, beep of the microwave announcing its contents are done, the dryer beeping to signal the clothes are dried, the creaking of a hinge as a door is opened or shut as well as the click of the bolt engaging. I hear the sound of our dog, Ruby, groaning as she stretches out on the floor as well as the jingle of her collar as she shakes herself.

The graph pictured above illustrates how much the CI opened up new sounds to me. Without any hearing aids I was classified profoundly impaired having roughly 5-7% hearing in both ears which led me to make the decision to do the CI. My last set of hearing aids amplified sounds to where I could hear a telephone ring, a dog bark, a piano being played as depicted on the graph. A gas leaf blower sounded very loud to me as my hearing aids amplified it to an uncomfortable level. Speech was comprehensible to me with my aids and lip reading in controlled settings. Background noise made it challenging to understand what was being said. I missed a tremendous amount but didn’t always realize it. I thought I was fairly high functioning for having such poor hearing.

The goal of a CI is to bring sound to the speech banana level. After all, human interaction is probably the most important aspect of hearing. As I wrote in my last blog, Don and I have been working hard daily to train my brain to comprehend speech with no lip reading. But thanks to the 22 contact points placed in the cochlea I now have the full spectrum of sound albeit electronic sound.

Thursday, February 28th, I returned to SacENT for my third MAPping appointment with James, my audiologist. I believe MAPping stands for Master Auditory Programming but I wouldn’t want to be quoted on that. MAPping has evolved from the acronym. What’s important is that my CI processor, the N7 (“Nevin”) is connected to their computer software directly so James can make adjustments. During these sessions I listen for the softest audible (threshold) and the loudest volume (comfort) my brain can tolerate. The goal is to reach a normal sound level without being overwhelmed. Then “Katie” Kanso, my off the ear processor, is programmed to match “Nevin”. I couldn’t be programmed at the level I am now on January 31st, the day I was activated or switched on because my brain would have been overwhelmed by sound. That’s why I saw James on February 12th for a second mapping and February 28 for a third mapping. With these adjustments, he was able to gradually lower the thresholds and increase the volume.

I was also fitted with a new state-of-the-art hearing aid in my non implanted ear which is compatible with my CI processors. Wow! What a team they make! James programmed it, then proceeded to set up two new programs for both devices allowing me to enable a cafe/restaurant setting and a telecoil setting. With these additions, I am able to tap into a hearing loop in church, a theater, or even a some movie theaters. The best part: all of it is managed from my iPhone. Modern technology at it finest! The second best part: I don’t have to return to SacENT to see James again until March 28th although I do like and respect him a lot!

Immediately after my appointment, Don and I went to lunch in a noisy restaurant. Right away, I put both devices on the cafe/restaurant setting and discovered it does indeed subdue background noise while allowing me to hear Don well. On Friday night we went to dinner at a popular, very noisy local Mexican restaurant and with that setting I could actually understand him better than he could me. We had a good laugh over that as Don has excellent hearing. Keep in mind I have three tools to help my brain comprehend speech…the CI processor, the hearing aid and lip reading. Trust me, I’m not just “hearing” with my two devices. The CI provides natural volume while the hearing aid provides balance to smooth out the electronic sound.

R2D2’s whistling is more subdued now with the hearing aid providing more clarity to what I’m hearing. I’ve been asked why do I hear R2D2 whistling. The short answer…the whistling represents the high frequency sounds I’ve never heard or not heard in many years due to gradually declining hearing loss. Because of the 22 contact points implanted in my cochlea, my brain has access to those sounds but has to make sense of them which takes time and training.

CI processor + Resound hearing aid + lip reading is indeed a mEARacle!

Another AMAZING feature is streaming TV to both ears using a TV streamer accessible to both devices from my iPhone. It’s crystal clear but I still need closed captioning at this point because I haven’t “mastered” sounds yet from my processor. I can also stream directly into both devices with phone calls from my iPhone. I spent an hour yesterday morning chatting on the phone with a girlfriend catching 90% of what she said. When I ended the call, I bawled! I haven’t heard on a phone without it being on speaker phone in over 10 years. It makes me feel connected again. Truth be told, I’ve cried tears of joy too many times to count!

As for brain training, Don and I are still working our way through Cochlear’s Communication Corner (the worksheets I talked about in my last posting) but they’re much more challenging and fun now as we actually have real “conversations”. I continue to “work” apps and listen to books on Audible while following along on my Nook without my hearing aid to force my brain to hear with the processor. It’s a process, but one that is already paying huge dividends for me.

This has been my world…no more as sounds have been unleashed for me!

Brain Training: Aural Rehabilitation

Brain training exercises…fun, fun, fun!

Karma is getting back at me for the boring worksheets I assigned my students over the years. This is the kind of mindless drivel with which Don and I have been faithfully starting our day along with our morning coffee. Using an aural rehabilitation program called Communication Corner put together by Cochlear, the manufacturer of my processors, we spend 30-60 minutes per day on it. It’s my least favorite brain training activity but I totally see the purpose. Much like teaching children to read, one must be able to unlock/decode words to put it all together until it becomes second nature. We sit across from each other in our favorite chairs and I listen while he says the words and repeats one. The catch: Don covers his mouth so I can’t lip read forcing me to listen and make sense of what he’s saying. It’s challenging but getting easier every day. Frequently he has to repeat a word three/four times before it is comprehensible by my electronic ear. By the way, I wear no hearing aid in my other ear so I’m relying completely on the processor.

Now for bragging rights! Today we experienced a major breakthrough. Don read all 33 sets of words on the sheet shown below with his mouth covered and I, with no hesitation, repeated the correct word the first time with no repetitions. That’s progress and I’m only on day 16 since activation!

Success!

This is a small part of what I do most days. I’ve been spending three to five hours a day training my brain to hear. The other activities I do are much more fun but all of it is exhausting. I share my hearing with a gravelly Darth Vader voice while R2D2 is whistling away the entire time I’m wearing my processor. At home, I only wear the processor but I need the hearing aid as well when I go somewhere.

My favorite rehabilitation is listening to a book using Audible on my iPad while I follow along on my Nook. I get to combine a favorite pastime with rehab…how good is that??? Yes, Darth is reading and R2D2 is looking over his shoulder and whistling but I don’t care as I know they’ll eventually disappear. I used to be envious of friends chatting about how they listen to audiobooks in their car or while cooking, etc. but for obvious reasons I could never listen to them. Now they’re helping me learn to hear. Wow…modern technology! Streaming is a wonderful tool.

On my iPad I have several apps specifically designed for aural rehabilitation. However, my favorite app is one created for middle/high school English language learners called Listening to the News: Voice of America which I stream directly to my processor. There are 20 topics and each lesson gets progressively harder. First I listen to a topic related sentence. After that, I am allowed to view the sentence. I can repeat it over and over until I hear it. I’m now on the third topic and last night while working it, I discovered I was hearing words, phrases and whole sentences even before I looked at the written sentences. Hurray! The topics are actually interesting thank goodness.

Don and I play word games like I spy a clock (something in our living room), I’m thinking of a color, number, farm animal, foodstuff, occupations, etc. He always covers his mouth so I can’t lip read. He reads very simple children’s poetry with lots of rhyming/word patterns while I listen. Then, he repeats back what he says. He reads the poem to me first while I lip read then breaks it down line by line with his mouth covered. Sounds simple? It’s not. Anyhow, we’re finding lots of ways to make it fun. Practice. Patience. Perseverance.

I can’t tell you how much I love and am grateful for Don. Thank goodness he loves language and talking! Oh, and did I mention how much I’m enjoying my electronic ear???

Tuesday, February 12th we returned to SacENT for my second mapping with the audiologist, James. In a future blog I’ll explain what a mapping is but today I want to share my latest toy…the Kanso. Kanso is a Japanese zen principle meaning “simplicity or elimination of clutter.” Already I love my Kanso as it’s off my ear and not competing with the stem of my glasses for space. Remember, I’ve worn hearing aids every waking moment since age 27.

James activating my other processor, the Kanso
My bulky N7 processor on the left with my Kanso on the right
The quarter in the middle gives you size perspective.
The magnet implanted in my head is about the size of a dime.

The Kanso is definitely going to be my go-to competitive bridge processor. To prevent the Kanso from falling off, the black clip attaches to whatever clothing I’m wearing. The line allows me to remove/replace my processor effortlessly while playing bridge. Believe me, R2D2’s continuous whistling interferes with my concentration while tiring me out in the process. I take it off and let it dangle. When I’m ready to wear it again I simply plop it back on my head. The beauty of it all…my hair completely covers it. Admittedly, my hair covers the N7 processor, too, but my hair tends to get caught in the wire attaching the processor to the magnet coil sticking straight out…no thanks.

Lest you think everything’s hunky dory all the time it’s not. I’m still battling the “exiting a rocking boat” syndrome. Sometimes the side of my head aches from wearing the N7. I’ve been activated 16 days as of today. I’ve fought feelings of resentment even anger that I had to spend MY precious time learning to hear. There are so many other things I’d like to be doing but right now brain training is my “job”. I get demoralized listening to a gravelly Darth Vader and especially R2D2. Sometimes I want to yank off the processor and throw it across the room. Reason prevails and I plug away at my new “job”. Twice I put the processor to bed in the afternoon and conveniently forgot about it. But I’ve got “Big Brother” looking over my shoulder as the audiologist knows exactly how many minutes a day I’m wearing it…😩…darn computers.

It’s a marathon not a sprint! I have to keep my ear on the prize…easy listening with comprehension.

Activation Adventure: Part II

Plethora of new gadgets, tools, batteries, chargers, cords and manuals

The good, the bad, the ugly.

The good: I’m finally feeling much better (surgery was 4 weeks ago)! My land legs have mostly returned…when tired I still occasionally experience the exiting a “rocking boat” syndrome. I’m no longer suffering mind-numbing exhaustion just “normal” tiredness. Best of all, I’m hearing better now with the N7 processor and my hearing aid in my right ear than I previously did with two hearing aids! Very exciting for me…will talk more about that in my next posting.

Following activation I decided to unload the tightly packed backpack sent home with me and my N7 processor. Wow! What am I supposed to do with all this? Where was I going to store everything in already filled to the brim cabinets, closets and drawers? Boxes, charging cords, manuals, carrying cases…my head was spinning. Don and I quickly decided we’d figure out one new “toy” each day.

The bad: the first problem we encountered upon getting home was we realized we had no idea how to turn on/off the N7 processor. The audiologist may have told us but he didn’t lead us through “guided practice”. The backpack hadn’t been unloaded yet so we had no idea there were manuals in it. Panic set in until I remembered Cochlear’s website had instructional manuals to download as well as You Tube videos we could watch. Frustration mounted as it turned out to be a 45 minute hunt for the information we needed with both of us searching on our respective iPads. We finally found what we needed but were quite unhappy with Cochlear and the audiologist by then. It’s not obvious either as one cannot just push an off/on button. No…it requires pressing a button and letting certain color lights blink off and on X number of times. Green for on, orange for off, blue for pairing…the blinking thing is maddening!

While searching for information I downloaded and printed out 47 pages of an 84 page N7 manual. Upon unloading the backpack I came across two manuals, a Quick Guide which is all we needed and the 84 page one…grrrrrrrrr. Why weren’t we handed the Quick Guide manual and told that was all we needed for now??? Being an organizational queen, I think Cochlear could use my input.


TV streamer…innocent looking tool

The Ugly: Because it was Super Bowl Sunday, we decided to set up the TV streamer sparing Don the “hair blowing back” syndrome he’d had to endure over the years of living with me. I’m not going to go into the details…let’s just say it was UGLY! We were not able to get it working using a Quick Guide, the TV streamer manual or just plain trying to figure it out on our own. Nada. It’s lucky it wasn’t thrown through the window! We’re saving it for a day when we can get technical support from Cochlear.



Mini Mic+2: my new love/hate relationship

The good, the bad and the ugly: The mini mic+2 has become my new best friend. At the same time I don’t like it. Why? It’s a wonderful gadget for streaming sound right to my processor. At home, I only wear my processor leaving my hearing aid out to train my brain to hear electronically. Don wears the mini mic when talking to me. I still need to lip read but it’s definitely working well for us.

So why don’t I like mini mic+2? It’s turned on through my iPhone and frequently doesn’t pair well. Ughhhhhh. We’ve easily spent 30 minutes more than once trying to get the darn gadget working. Slowly, we’re getting better at it. I’ve had my bridge partners wear it (very effective as it streams their voice right to my new “ear”) but I make sure it’s on and ready to go before I leave home. Bluetooth and streaming are wonderful tools but why do they need to be so complicated?!?!?!

As for the plethora of accompanying gadgets, tools, batteries, charging cords (something’s being charged in our household 24/7), and manuals, I managed to find a logical spot for everything. I did clean out a few drawers and one cabinet getting rid of long forgotten never used items in the process to make way for more “stuff”. Hopefully it’ll all get put to use!

Next installment: aural rehabilitation (training my brain to “hear”)

Activation Adventure: Part One

Don and I arrived for activation full of high hopes and tempered expectations. Earlier that morning I posted the following to my online CI support group as it summed up my feelings and beliefs about the journey ahead.

James, the audiologist, took us to his office and got me started right away explaining what was going to be happening.


I was hooked up to my new Cochlear N7 processor by James but he didn’t turn it on right away. He located the implanted magnet with the N7 magnet determining it was snug enough to stay put then fitted the processor over my ear.


My fitted N7 processor…difficult to locate the magnet because it blends in with my hair so well. Of course, I chose the color!


Before activating my processor, James spent ten minutes testing the electrodes threaded during surgery through my cochlea. He went through a series of beeps to which I was to respond two, three or four depending on the number of beeps I heard. Some were faint making me wonder if I really heard them, others were loud and high-pitched causing me to jump out of my seat. This “test” reminded me of the hearing tests I’ve dreaded over the years.

After determining the electrodes were working perfectly, James switched on the processor and I was finally activated! And who’s voice should appear??? R2D2!!! But he wasn’t nearly as obnoxious as I was led to believe. James gradually turned the volume up until it was uncomfortable. Eventually he got me to a volume level I could comfortably live with. However, I’m supposed to increase the starting volume level (referred to as scan in audiology speak) three times by our next mapping (translation: appointment) on February 12th. I’ve already moved easily into the second level as of this writing.

Once I was at the right volume level James started pairing my new processor with my iPhone which is how I make adjustments. He then began pulling out accompanying tools needing explanations (and there are a lot!) such as batteries, TV streamer, mini-mics, etc. In chatting about these items I was reading James’s lips as I was getting sound from the CI while not wearing my right hearing aid and understanding beautifully. The words were robotic but not unpleasant sounding. At one point, I heard Don ask a question and heard every word though I wasn’t looking at him to read his lips! I excitedly cried out, “I heard that! I heard that!” And tears started rolling down my cheeks as I realized I had recognized speech without lip reading. I leaned over and kissed him as I was overcome with emotion. By the way, Don’s voice sounded like Darth Vader…deep and robotic. I loved it!!!

The look of pure joy!

Truly I thought I was only going to hear squawks, squeaks and whistles, an all too common phenomenon by newly activated CI recipients, so you can imagine my pure elation at actually recognizing speech without lip reading. High hopes, tempered expectations!

On the drive home, Don and I played listening games the entire 40 minutes. I left my hearing aid out and turned my head to avoid lip reading while he spoke. We started with numbers. He would say ten numbers in a sequence such as 11-20. He had to repeat them a minimum of three times but I was able to repeat the sequence back to him. He even changed up the sequence to 10-20-30-etc. and I “heard” that one after two tries! Ironically, 5-10-15-20-etc. proved harder but I did eventually “hear” it.

We then moved our game into farm animals, African animals, and car makers. These were much harder as some I could identify immediately and others he had to tell me. Examples: elephant, no problem. Monkey, couldn’t hear it for the life of me. Cow, no problem. Pig sounded nothing like pig and I’m still not recognizing the porker!

Don wants me recognizing my name…it’s not happening yet. Sounds like Wilma to me so I suggested we change my name to Wilma which sounds like Wilma when he says it. Go figure!

I’ve been unwrapping more Christmas gifts as I discover new sounds I haven’t heard in years, if ever. Turning on/off light switches, removing/replacing the cap on my chapstick (it clicks!), snapping my fingers, Ruby (our dog) licking her paws, trees rustling in the breeze, the sound of Don’s shoes hitting the pavement while walking, programming the microwave…all simple sounds denied to me over the years.

The puzzle pieces are there waiting to be assembled and I look forward to it. I’m already over the moon happy with my CI!

Next: Activation Adventure, Part 2 (the not so good parts)

Approaching Activation!

I celebrated another birthday with a visit to the surgeon! Not my idea of how to celebrate birthdays, but I’m at the point in life where I celebrate birthdays ending in 5s and 0s.

Why the visit to the doctor??? I am struggling to recover from this CI surgery. I am 19 days out and believe I should be right where I was presurgery! After all, it was a relatively simple 90 minute operation at an outpatient surgery center. My body was complaining but being the Type A woman that I am I refused to listen. I was convinced that something was terribly wrong with me. The visit confirmed I am healing slower than the average CI patient (the surgeon expected me to recover faster) but nevertheless healing. Admittedly, I was disappointed as I think I was expecting a magic bullet to prop me up…alas…no such luck. Time and patience is what the doctor ordered. A side note: he had a CT scan done of my head. Afterwards when looking at it Don and I could tell he was quite pleased with his “handiwork” as he said, “Perfect!” and clapped his hands. We laughed…actually I’m glad he thinks so! It was fun to see the implant on the scan…I could clearly see the magnet and the receiver but I still cannot feel them on the side of my head. Good work.

The double vision disappeared last Saturday and I felt I hit the jackpot. But what refuses to go away is my sense of imbalance. I ditched the walker upon regaining single vision but still feel unstable. Think of it as getting off a rocking boat and stepping onto a dock. Others can’t see it but I feel it internally all the time! Not fun. And then there’s the debilitating fatigue. It doesn’t matter how much sleep I get. It makes no difference whether I have  a stay-at-home jammies/bedhead hair kind of day or venture out in the real world fully dressed, adorned with make-up and styled hair. I’m always exhausted! Granted the strain to “hear” with one hearing aid sucks the life right out of me. And now I have tinnitus in the implanted ear competing for my attention.

Venturing out into the real world consists of playing bridge in Stockton. I had to arrange transportation as I’m still not driving and be willing to be away from home and naps for approximately five hours. You laugh but that’s my life post-surgery! I am saving money as there’s no need to put gas in my car and I don’t go anywhere…too much energy required. The silver lining to the cloud…🤪! However, I can shop via the Internet. When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping! New pjs, a 1000 piece puzzle and a wide brush stroke book and pens are my purchases…none of which require hearing!

Before closing, I must acknowledge my wonderful hubby, Don! He’s been a saint listening to my woes, fears, hopes, tears. He’s driven me wherever I need to go whenever I need to go. He’s prepared meals, walked patiently with me as I endeavor to get my 10,000 steps daily (that’s all I can do right now!) and run errands for me. He’s been my ears making necessary phone calls and interpreting what others say when I can’t make sense of it. Honestly, I don’t know what I’d do without him. Thank you, Don, for being there!

The best news of all from the visit to the surgeon: I’ve been cleared for activation as everything is healing nicely! Only five more days…Thursday, the 31st at 10:30AM! 😊 That’s what it’s all about!