Ed and I took a much needed vacation to Key West last week and I was able to really relax and enjoy some new adventures, all thanks to my amazing bionic ear.
First of all, getting through the airport in Indy is normally a breeze. We have some of the shortest security lines in the country. But I’m always still nervous – nervous that I’ll miss some instruction I’m given or not answer a question that I’m asked and I’ll be pulled out. This time was no exception, and I was even more nervous going through security with an implant in my head and a magnet and computer attached to my body.
I had nothing to worry about. Supposedly, Advanced Bionics is someday going to send me a medical identification card that says I have this device in my head (I’ve heard of people getting these 6-12 months after their surgery), but I really didn’t need one. (note to self: be sure to get this before the cruise to Mexico in June). I had read up beforehand on what to do in the security process – can I wear it through the scanner/metal detector? Can the device parts go through the x-ray? There are differing opinions on this. I wore it through the scanner – no issues or comments*. I packed my extra batteries and charger, and AquaCase (including cable and headpiece) in my carry-on and sent them in through the x-ray. It was a 4 day trip, I didn’t think it was necessary to bring my backup processor or any backup parts other than the AquaCase stuff. (I am told the processor itself should not go through the x-ray, but should instead be hand-checked.)
There were a couple of things I knew I wanted to do this trip: sit by the hotel pool and do nothing, and go out on a boat and go snorkeling. The first one is easy and I did a lot of it. The second was a scary adventure. First, I’ve only ever been in the ocean once in my life, and it was on a beach where I swam out maybe to chest-depth and there were very few waves. I’m not a hugely strong swimmer as it is, so the idea of being out in the middle of the ocean was pretty daunting. I had no clue how to snorkel (this is not something that is done often in say, South Dakota or Iowa or Colorado or Indiana). I’ve been out on boats before, of course, on super big lakes, but never on the ocean. Add in having to take out my hearing aid (thus being almost completely deaf and having no sign language) and scary things are that much scarier.
So we did it. We spent the whole afternoon on a boat on the ocean. They took us a couple of miles out to a reef and then it was time. There were a couple of other people who had never snorkeled before, so they and I hung back for a little extra instruction. I may have let another girl jump in before me, but I was ready. I had switched to my AquaCase on the trip out and was hearing with it just fine, although not perfect as I had to take my hearing aid out as well. I had it clipped to my swimsuit strap and stuffed under my life vest. It was now or never. I jumped in – and admittedly freaked out a little bit when I couldn’t quite figure out the snorkel – but then it all clicked…and I loved it. And I could hear the other people talking, and splashing, and someone laughing – oh wait, that was me. It was amazing, I can’t wait to do it again!
The other especially cool thing about this trip was when we had some extra time to kill downtown before catching the shuttle back to our hotel, we opted to go to the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum. The audio tour is apparently one of the most popular things about this museum and provides a wealth of information that you can’t really get otherwise. So again, why not? I opted to give it a try, and it was awesome. I used the duophone setting on my devices, so I could hear in both ears, and just held the audio device up to my ear (okay, my t-mic) like anyone else could do. And understood.
So the point of this post is not the awesome things I did on vacation. While they were awesome, the point is that my cochlear implant has allowed me to be much more adventurous and less scared of life than previously. Again, one of those things where I didn’t quite realize how much of myself I was holding back due to my hearing loss. Now that there’s no excuse, well, there’s no excuse – it’s time to just do those things.
*the return trip was from Ft. Lauderdale, where they had extra high security due to a recent shooting. I was sent in a line that had a classic metal detector, and I told the TSA agent I didn’t think I could go through it due to my implant, and she sent me to the regular scanner line, no issues. I did learn later that I probably could have gone through the metal detector, but I didn’t want to endure a pat-down, so I didn’t risk it. But the fact that I could even have this conversation with the TSA agent was awesome.