Accessorizing the Cyborg Way

This week I went back to work. I work at the Marriott Courtyard in Edmonton. I work in the hospitality industry because it suits me: I love people.

Hellen Keller said, “Blindness separates you from things, but deafness separates you from people.” Every deaf person knows the truth in Keller’s words. They also know they she hard it harder than most of us (being what’s now called “deafblind”). Still, going back to work fostered a lot of anxiety. By Dr. Liu’s account, the surgery was “pretty routine.”

When you agree to a cochlear implant, you sign an agreement. One of the first items in bold uppercase is the following note: AFTER SURGERY YOU WILL BE DEAF ON THE IMPLANTED SIDE.

So you’re sitting in a room being told you will regain access to sound, but you have to agree to do the one thing you have spent your entire life aiding your hearing to fight against: you will be deaf. Stress? Heck yeah. Emotional? oh Baby. Exciting? Like you would not believe. I signed the agreement because I want access to sound. I want a cochlear implant. I was profoundly hearing impaired before surgery. Now my right ear is completely deaf. And I can’t tell the difference. Honestly.

Managing the paradox of “I’m choosing to become deaf so I can hear” demands more than a little trust in your treatment team. I do trust them. They’ve been as honest and forthright as you could hope. Heck, my first evaluation meeting started with, “Just so you know, 100 percent of cochlear implant recipients hate the way they sound.” Yeah yeah, whatever, let’s move on. I’m looking forward to hating how it sounds too…because SOUND! I’ll learn to love whatever it sounds like.

Last week I went back to work. It was exactly one month after surgery. Before coming back, my hotel’s senior managers invited me for lunch. We had a wonderful meal where I shared my experiences in the process, the surgery, and recovery. I suspect I’ll be doing a lot of “show and tell” – probably for the rest of my life. But I’m good with that.

My husband made tent cards branded with the hotel logo explaining to my guests that I might struggle more than usual with my hearing. The hotel is also printing small business cards which explain my hearing loss, the implant, and then links to this blog and podcast if guests want to follow-up.

I’m so grateful to my general Manager Chris, operations manager Nicola, and the entire staff at the hotel. They’ve been so kind and helpful – it’s a huge relieve to have one less thing to think or worry about. Feeling isolated is a debilitating problem for the hard of hearing and deaf. I’m so grateful for the management and staff at my Courtyard Marriott (downtown Edmonton).  And hey, be sure to stop by the Riverside Bistro! It would be my pleasure to serve you (and answer any questions you might have).

You always want to look presentable with you work with the public. My stylist friend Stephanie gave me an amazing cut a few weeks ago, but my head is still so tender that I find it hard to style it the way it should be styled. I have to get my haircut before activation day anyway, but a couple of times my husband has looked at my experimental hairdos and simply said, “No.” We laugh because the problem is real: how do you DO your hair when you don’t want to TOUCH it?

Hair and accessories are all on the outside. My best accessory is going to be my kanso, but my favourite accessory right now is my implant. I mean, look at these pictures. What’s not to love? I’m wired for sound!

Wired for sound.
Wired for sound.