My name is Frieda and I am hearing impaired. Here, you will find stories of my life growing up and what it is like for me to be a wife, a mom of two boys, and hearing impaired.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

CaptiView in Cinemark Theaters!

I rarely go to the movie theater. 

Why?  It's too hard to listen and understand.  Even with the headsets that are available, I still miss out on important details.

Narration?  Forget it.  Who's talking?  Where's it coming from?

Accents?  Straining to listen and understand, it's like squinting to see.

Action?  Sure, I can see what's going on, but background noises/explosions/music can get in the way of understanding the dialogue.

Good luck trying to lip read an actor whose back is turned or is off-screen.

I usually can understand about 50% of the movie, but at the end, I'm left with a ton of unanswered questions.  I try to ask questions to my hubby, but realize quickly that he is also missing out when he is trying to answer my questions.

Why did they break up?

Who is that again?

I didn't catch the last thing they said....

I'm fine with watching a DVD at home, now that there is captioning available on most movies, but feel left out of watching the newest movie release with my family.

Want to watch Tower Heist?  Sorry, too much action/noise. 
Harry Potter?  Ummm....can't understand the accents. 
How about The Muppets?  Nope, can't lipread 'em. Because of this, I didn't grow up watching Sesame Street.

Then I read this post over at SayWhatClub and I could almost hear a choir singing in the background....

Introducing ...  CaptiView!

Captioning in the theaters?  Really?  Not the reflective captioning, which I have used in Disneyland ~ EVERYONE can see it and it can be distracting.

No, this looked like something I really wanted to try.

Where to start?

If you live in Utah, you can go to the UCAN (Utah Communication Access Network) for the 3 major theaters in your area.  I chose Cinemark, as it is only a couple of miles from my house.  I called the theater to make sure they had the CaptiView equipment. 

Want to try this?  Here's how:

First, locate the theater online.

Chose a movie you wish to see.

Make sure it says DIGITAL in the movie showtimes.

Find a link on the page that has movies that are on a CC list.

If it's there, it is CAPTIONED!

Go to the ticketing booth and request a CaptiView.  You may need collateral (driver's license) to give to the ticket agent.

When you choose your seat, you may want to sit towards the back of the theater.  If you are sitting too close, it is hard to look at the BIG screen and "jump" down to the captions below the screen.

Ask the ticket agent to "push the reset" button and make sure the CaptiView is on and set to the correct theater room.

It was a Monday afternoon.  No one was in the theater ... 

Put the CaptiView into the cup holder.  You have to push it pretty hard to get it to stay in place. 

Then twist the flexible metal arm and adjust the view finder to put it in a comfortable position.  Make sure you don't touch any of the buttons on the bottom of the viewfinder, or you will turn it off, reset it, or I'm not sure what else.

Be patient and wait.  Of course all the previews will not be captioned.

Hey, it works!!

Yes, I watched The Muppet Movie, enjoyed it thoroughly, and can't wait to see another movie!

The CaptiView did freeze up about 2/3 into the movie.  Fortunately, it was during a song/dance number and hubby took it out to the ticket agent, who swapped it out for another one, which worked fabulously.  I only lost about 5 minutes of the movie, which is not a whole lot compared to being able to understand about 50% of the movie without it!

Isn't that great?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Hearing Implant for Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Growing up in the 70's, I enjoyed watching the TV show, the Six Million Dollar Man.

"We can rebuild him...we have the technology.  We have the capability to make the worlds first Bionic man. Steve Austin will be that man. Better than he was before. Better. Stronger. Faster."

Then came along the Bionic Woman.  She received amplified hearing in her right ear, a strengthened right arm and could run at 60 mph, just like the Six Million Dollar Man.

It didn't matter that they could run 60 mph, or that his left eye had a 20:1 zoom or that she could throw an object farther than any human being.  What intrigued me the most was her hearing.  I wanted was to hear better.  Hear more clearly.

Do we have that technology?  It appears that we do.  There are implants available for the blind, laser surgeries for contact wearer and cochlear implants for deaf or profoundly hearing impaired.  But what about those of us in the middle?  Those of us whose hearing is not severe enough for a cochlear implant?

Again, feeling caught in the middle, between the hearing/deaf worlds, I see a glimmer of light.  There is now a hearing implant made just for those who have moderate to severe sensorineural hearing loss.  The FDA approved this device a little over 18 months ago and is known as the Esteem, manufactured by Envoy.

This implant garnered even more attention when this emotional video aired in late September, generating over 8 million hits.

Okay, time to dig in a do some research, before I get my hopes up.  My thoughts/reactions are italicized below each question.

What is the Esteem hearing implant?

It is a fully implantable prosthetic hearing device that uses no microphones to process the sound.   Instead, it uses your eardrum to process the sound.  It is surgically placed under the skin, so it is invisible.  This frees up your ear canal, minimizing background noise, feedback and the hollow/echo-y sounds you would hear with a traditional hearing aid.  You can switch the Esteem on and off with a remote control device.

Invisible?  Cool.  That also means waterproof ~ I would be able to hear in the pool or in the shower.  Background noise?  I could do with less of that.  Switch it on and off?  I'm not sure if I'd want to turn it off ~ I'd like to be able to hear my alarm clock without sleeping on an uncomfortable hearing aid.

What are the qualifications for the Esteem?

A stable, bilateral, moderate to severe hearing loss.  From my understanding, it can be a loss from several sources: genetic, damage from external sources, viral infections or aging.  The key is that the loss must be stable, (not progressively becoming worse) and be in both ears.

Normally functioning eustachian tube, middle ear anatomy and tympanic membrane.

Ability to understand speech with traditional hearing aids, equal to or greater than 40%

Minimum 30 days experience with properly fitted hearing aids.

You must be 18 years or older.

As far as I know, I would qualify!  
Anything that would possibly disqualify me from the Esteem?

Yes.  Chronic ear infections, inner ear disorders, recurring vertigo, mastoiditis, hydrops, Meniere's disease, disabling tinnitus, swimmer's ear, scar tissue, excessive sensitivity to silicone rubber, polyurethane, stainless steel, titanium and/or gold.

Nothing applies to me; looking good so far.

Will you reach "normal hearing" with the Esteem?

93% of the patients implanted with the Esteem scored equal to or better than hearing with their hearing aids on a speech intelligibility test ~ 56% scored better, while 7% scored less.  78% responded with clarity being somewhat or much better and ability to understand speech with background noise was 69% or better.

It appears that the device achieves a level similar or better than a traditional hearing aid would.  I guess it depends on the individual and their severity of hearing loss.  Is it "normal" hearing?  I'm not sure. 

What are the risks?

As with any surgery, there are risks.  42% experienced "taste disturbance," 7% experienced facial paralysis, while 18% experienced tinnitus. One year later, 14% had taste disturbances, 1% had facial paralysis, and 5% still had tinnitus.

The facial paralysis is one side effect that scares me.  I experienced a short (thank goodness) and terrifying bout of Bell's Palsy, which paralyzed the left side of my face. 

Future studies?

As a condition of FDA approval, Envoy must follow 181 implanted subjects for five years and provide a report.  Safety, effectiveness, and any other side effects will be noted. 

I think this report will be available in 2014.  That's only two years away....

How much does it cost?

The cost can vary throughout the country, depending on the surgeon, facility, and if you require an overnight stay.  Envoy estimates that it is approximately $30,000.  Per ear.  Ouch.

The Esteem has a maintenance-free, non-charging battery based on pacemaker technology that lasts anywhere from 4-9 years, depending if you keep it turned on at night.  To replace the battery/processor, you would need to undergo a minor outpatient surgery at the tune of about $7,000, although the cost could go down over time...the life span of a new battery in 5 years is expected to be 14+ years.

This is a deal-breaker for many people, and would be for me, as it would wipe out any retirement savings for us.  Our son is planning to attend medical school and we need to be saving for that.

Is the Esteem covered by insurance?

At this point, it appears that it is not covered (or fully covered) by insurance.  Some patients have had success in getting their insurance company to pay for part of the implant.  Study your insurance documents, understand them and if it covers a cochlear implant, prosthetic other semi-implantable devices, it may cover an Esteem implant or portions of it.  Make sure you have the correct procedure codes and any pre-authorization needed before undergoing the surgery.

Will I get the Esteem Implant?

This device looks promising as a whole, although the price tag is enough to scare anyone away.  I've submitted my audiogram to Envoy, just to see if I even qualify.

It looks like I will wait at least two years before embarking on this journey.  That will give the company time to do their follow-up, work out any bugs, and perhaps tweak the performance of the device.  Perhaps by then, our insurance company will include covering the device and/or procedure.

I'm not looking to be the next Bionic Woman.  I just want to hear better, without all the fuss and muss of a hearing aid.

What are YOUR thoughts?  Would you consider having this implant?  I would love to hear from you.

Sources:  FDA Press Announcement 3-17-10FDA Approval, updated 6-11-10, FaceBook Envoy Esteem Patients Group

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

I'm Here....

Habits are really hard to break.

Especially for those who are not hard of hearing.

Whenever I call out, "Where are you?

I get, "I'm here."



I look in the last place I remember seeing him....not there.

Where's 'here?'

Apparently, I'm the only one that has names for every room in the house:  kitchen, front room, family room, etc.

Hubby was in the family room, didn't know what to call it, and said, "here...."


I guess I need to learn not to call out.  Maybe I need a smaller house.  Or a pager.  Do pagers still exist?  Guess I'll rely on texting and searching the house, inside and out, to find someone...

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

CaptionCall Phone

I just got this today ...

It is a CaptionCall phone!

My son called me from Ohio and this is what came up.  It uses a voice recognition software to caption everything the caller on the other end says.

As you can see, it is not perfect, but better than the alternative... Border reviews is actually, "Board of Reviews," but I understand the meaning.

Anything in GREEN has been changed by a real person, who reviews what is being captioned and corrects the word(s) that the voice recognition software may have entered incorrectly.

Get this:  if I have a cell phone message, I can hold the message to the speaker and have CaptionCall translate it for me ~ cool, huh? 

There is a $100 installation fee, but it was waived through a special promotion on  This promotion is good until the end of the year.

Does it cost me anything to use this phone?  No.  The service is provided through FCC fund that compensates telephone companies, making this service FREE to ANYONE who is deaf or hard of hearing.  That includes anyone who is late deafened or wears a hearing aid.  Cool!

The phone belongs to CaptionCall, and doesn't charge me anything to have it in my home.

I'm not sure how often I will use it, because I rely on my cell phone/text messaging more often.

I'm still figuring out how to use this.  If I find out any cool features, I'll be sure to let you know!


After having this for a couple of years, I found that it doesn't work for me. The captioning is very delayed and often the autocorrect feature drives me nuts. If the person editing the captions can't hear or the voice is distorted, the conversation becomes difficult to follow. The software needs to be better in order for the service to be better. I returned the CaptionCall with no questions or pressure to keep it.

For now, I have no land line and use my cell phone for all my calls. I rely on TEXTING, which has been WONDERFUL for me.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

I'm Not Stupid

I love to read the comics and love Real Life Adventures; however, this particular comic struck a nerve.

Several years ago, I ran up some outside stairs, missed one stair and my knee landed on cement.  I had some swelling, no bruising, but had difficulty walking.

After a short trip to a local clinic, the doctor could not find anything on my x-ray and referred me to an orthopedic specialist, hoping he could find a hidden fracture.

I brought my husband with me, and I'm glad I did.

All three of us were sitting in the exam room and the doctor began talking while looking at my file and x-rays.  I was having trouble understanding what he was saying because he was not looking at me.  I glanced at my husband, who was listening intently.

After a few moments, I finally spoke up and said, "I'm sorry.  I'm hearing impaired and I'm having trouble understanding you.  Can you look at me so I can lip-read you?"

Oh, I'm sorry.  I thought you were playing stupid.

Everything he said after that faded away.  I was shocked.  I looked at my husband and shot him a glance.  He was still looking at the doctor and listening to what was being said.

Did I really just hear him say that?  I'm pretty sure he said that.  What else could he have said?  Was he being sarcastic?  I don't know....

I was still reeling, replaying the conversation in my head while we headed out the door to the receptionist's desk and made an appointment.

As soon as we got inside the car, I asked my husband, "Did he really say, 'I thought you were playing stupid?"

My husband's shoulders dropped and he looked down at his lap.  "I was really hoping you didn't hear that," he said regretfully.

Well, I don't want to see him again.  Why would I want to see a doctor like that?

My husband quickly got out of the car and said he'd be right back.  Five minutes later, he came back, saying that he had cancelled the appointment .... and ...

he told the doctor why.

To his face.    *gasp*

What did you say?

I told him something along the lines that he was rude, unprofessional, and never should treat anyone, even if they didn't have a hearing loss, like that.

What did the doctor say?

Oh, that he was just joking around; he has cousins with hearing loss....etc, etc.  I told him that it didn't matter and that we weren't coming back.

My husband, my hero.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Never Mind...

Never mind.

What comes to mind when you hear these words?


Did I really hear that?

I'm not important enough for you to repeat what you just said.

The definition from Wikitonary:


never mind (only in imperative)
  1. It is not important; do not fret; used to reassure or comfort the person to whom it is said.
    I’m afraid I’ve broken your mug. — Never mind, it was old and I was going to throw it away.
    Did you fall over and hurt your knee? Never mind, I’ll put a bandage on it.

  2. Do not be concerned (about someone or something, or about doing something)
    Never mind about me — you go and I’ll join you later.
    Here’s some money for you. Never mind about paying me back; you can keep it.

  3. I withdraw my previous statement.
    You’re a fool. — What did you call me? — Never mind.


Many, many, MANY times, when my husband says it, it just means that the moment has passed.

For example, he may say, "Would you give me a hand?"


Never mind.  I got it.

I bristle when I hear these words and need to remember to reply calmly that I still want to know what he said, no matter what.

He does repeat what was said, and it helps me understand why he said, "never mind."

It makes me feel included.

And that is important to me.

Thanks, honey.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Fortune Cookies

I love Chinese food.  I have a favorite Chinese restaurant that I love in my neighborhood.  I have even been able to replicate one of my favorite dishes there, General Tso's chicken.  Fortune cookies are given with the check.

While searching through my winter coat pocket, I found three wrapped fortune cookies.  I don't put much stock into fortune cookies, but they are always fun to read.

Here's fortune number one:

Hmmmm....I have had several people tell me, that in spite of my hearing loss, I am a good listener.

Fortune number two:

Also interesting.  I have two close friends and the rest are acquaintances.  It is hard for me to make new friends, but I guess now is the time!

Fortune number three: (yes, I opened up the third one....curiosity got the best of me!)

To those of you who are reading this, thank you.  Thank you for "listening" to me and thank you for being my online friend!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Games Kids Play...and Sometimes Adults

I was not social as a child.  I learned how to play by myself.  As a toddler, I was very much the explorer, opening every cupboard and drawer to discover what was hiding.  I never watched t.v. as I could not understand cartoons or even the Muppets on Sesame Street.  Who could lip read and understand what they were saying?  My favorite cartoon series was The Pink Panther ~ no dialogue and full of slapstick humor.  I would watch Mr. Rogers from time to time, but when it came to his puppet segment, I would tune out and find something else to do.

My first birthday party invitation came while I was in Kindergarten.  I distinctly remember one of the games.  It was where your character name was written on a piece of paper and taped to your back.  The party members would give you "clues" as to who your character was.

I didn't fully understand the "rules" and instead wandered from person to person during the game, as they animatedly gestured while giving clues and exclaiming when the child got the "right answer."  Fairly quickly, it became apparent that I was the ONLY one who had NOT guessed who my character was.

A small crowd of children gathered in front of me.  All at once, they began giving me clues at the same time.  A bewildered look came across my face.  I put my focus on the child directly in front of me.  This is what I understood the child to be saying:

"You live on Sesame Street."

"You're green."

"You're mean."

Mean?  Who is mean?  I was confused and didn't know how or what to answer.

The child raised his voice a little louder, enunciating each word,

"You live in a garbage can."

I finally said, "I don't know who it is."

Everybody threw their hands into the air and in unison said,


Two years ago, at a Christmas neighborhood party, the guests were given characters from television shows and movies.  My mind flashed back to my classmate's kindergarten birthday party....

I politely declined to participate and headed straight for the kitchen and asked how I could help with the food.


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Dual Personality

Sometimes I feel like I have a dual personality.  Part of me is outgoing, talkative and social.  The other part of me is quiet, submissive, and introverted.

When I am in small group settings of six or less people, I can be friendly and feel accepted.  Especially if I am surrounded by people that I know.  Put me into a large gathering, and my personality changes.  I become a wallflower, an observer, or even shy.

My hearing loss is a large part of me and a part of my personality.  Recently, I attended a large banquet for my son, who was to receive an award as a high school senior.  It was held in a large, open ballroom located at a nearby university.

As I scanned the multitude of round tables, people and....more people.  It was huge.  People were talking with one another and the "noise" was echoing all around me.  We were led to our table, with name cards indicating where we would sit.

I immediately switched our name cards around to have my husband and son sit next to me on my right, which is the side I hear much better.  To my left, sat one of my son's teachers.  Introductions were quickly made with another set of parents and their son at the table with us.  Seven people at a round table isn't too bad, is it?

After delving into our salads, my husband quietly touched my arm.  I looked at him and then he pointed to the teacher on my left.  Apparently, she had tried to talk to me and I didn't respond.  I looked at her and she repeated herself.  I can't remember what she said, but I believe I answered her question.

I then explained to her that I have a hearing impairment and couldn't hear out of my left side.  I told her jokingly that if she said something and I didn't respond, I wasn't trying to ignore her.

I believe that was the last time she initiated any more conversation with me.  The other part of my personality emerged....the next two hours were spent looking at my food, eating, and trying to figure out who got what award and what everyone around the table was saying.  I would smile, nod, and pretend that I was part of the conversation.  There was just too much background noise to figure out what was being said.  Though the food was good, I was happy to have the event over with. 

The best part of the night?  My son was awarded the University of Utah Chemistry Student of the year and an Academic Award for his GPA.  This was one of the the moments that I am glad that I was a part of and did not miss.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Deaf Disrimination and Jobs

I just watched the show, "What Would You Do?" yesterday.  I enjoy watching the show because of the people that stand up for what is right and wrong.  Depending on the circumstances, it seems like the majority of people "do not want to get involved." 

This particular episode resonated with me.  You can watch it HERE.

In summary, two girls (actors) go into a coffee shop to apply for a kitchen position.  The managers are also actors and they are instructed to tell the deaf applicants that they will "not be able to hire" them.  Why?  Because they are "deaf" or "not a good fit."  "If you can't hear me, how are we going to communicate?" "You can make a list."  The two actors try to tell the managers that they have the skills and that the manager can "write things down" for them.  The managers again tell them that they are welcome to fill out the application, but they still will not be hiring them.

The hope was that someone, anyone, would stand up to the managers and tell them that they could not discriminate against these two applicants.  Sure, the video showed many customers that were stunned and appalled by the actions of the manager.  But....they said and did....nothing.

A couple of people did stand up to the manager, but the most surprising of all were the three people that worked in human resources/recruitment that spoke up AFTER the applicants had left.  They tell the manager(s) that they shouldn't have done that and that it is discrimination.  But what they also told them was that they should just accept the application and NOT hire them.  Huh?  "Just accept it and don't call."

Only one man in the coffee shop openly tells the manager out loud that what he is doing is unacceptable and threatens to not come back for business.   This guy should be wearing a cape.  A true modern-day hero.

This type of action usually happens behind closed doors, but ABC wanted to bring it out into the open to see what people would do.  Did it happen to me?  I don't know.

Well, most of my jobs as a teen were spent babysitting kids for $1 per hour.  I was great at it till I discovered dating and suddenly, I wasn't available to babysit on weekends.  During one or two summers, I cleaned an elementary school.  (My dad was the principal.  Nowadays, you can't hire family members...district policy).  I guess my first "real" job was at a nearby cookie factory.  I was probably one of three people that spoke English.  I befriended several Hispanic and a couple of Laotian girls that worked with me. 

When school started, I had permission to leave for the afternoon as part of "OJT: On the Job Training."  Part of the deal was one of my teachers was assigned to visit the facility where I worked and have one of my managers evaluate me.  My teacher shared my evaluation and I was surprised.  Of course, I was on time, but my performance was lacking because "I couldn't hear."

I was laid off with many other workers during the holidays.  The next summer, after my first year of college, I applied for and got a job at a local jewelry store.  I felt that if I told the owner of my hearing impairment, he would not hire me.  I got the job and it lasted three months. 

I walked in one day and he asked me into his office.  He handed me a pink slip and told me that I wasn't making him enough money.  I also wasn't answering the phone.  (I wasn't the only person working the counter; there were two other girls there and no one told me that I had to answer the phone).  He said that I should get my hearing checked; I walked out the door and cried all the way home. 

From then on, I have been very selective about jobs. One job required a typing test and an interview.  I passed the test and the interview with flying colors.  When the manager called me to say I got the job, I told her that I would be happy to accept, but that she needed to know one thing.

After I told her about my hearing, there was a brief moment of silence.  "Well, will you be able to use a phone?" she asked.  "I'm using a phone right now.  Is it a job requirement that I be able to answer phones?" I replied.  "I guess not," she answered.

Does deaf/hard of hearing discrimination still exist?  Perhaps.  I hope this show opened up doors for recruiters, managers, and owners alike to communicate with prospective applicants and explore alternatives to the job description.  A little bit of education can go a long ways....

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Golf Story

Three men, each with untreated hearing loss, finished their round of golf.

The first one said, "Windy, isn't it?"

"No," the second man replied, 'It's Thursday."

That's when the third man chimed in, "So am .  Let's get a beer."