Monday, April 8, 2013

Day 4 at GDF- April 5th

It was looking like rain for us this morning, so original plan had been to head to the Mall and then to the pet store with the dogs. :) However by the time we loaded up and got going out from the Foundation, the sun was trying to peek through and we hadn’t gotten any rain. So we decided to head to San Remo, a nice neighborhood with pretty houses and pretty flat sidewalks. The block we were on was essentially a large rectangle with rounded corners and then a shoot off for a wheelchair ramp on the corners. Which is one of the more difficult corners for a blind person to navigate, as there’s not the definite sharp corner to determine which direction they are headed.
As Favor and I got out of the van, we had the pleasant surprise of seeing Miss S again, Favor’s sister, working with her trainer across the street and going past in harness.

Miss S in harness standing at the side of her trainer at the corner, waiting to move forward at his command.   Her ears are perked up and she's looking at the camera interested in the dogs over here.

Favor did an awesome job taking me around this long and large block and we are really doing well together so far. She's still a little fast, but she's slowing down as I tell her steady. That is until she realizes we are within scent distance of the van and then she starts pulling to get back to the van and Greg. LOL!

Then in the afternoon we went to Petco to get her an XL Kong and a slicker brush to use on her. We walked through the store and she was a little distracted but I was impressed with her since as soon as I told her No! she was back on the job immediately and focused on me again and working.

From there we went to the mall and it was great to see her work in the real world. :) We went into Barnes & Nobles first and did the escalator and WOW, she's so graceful about going on and off!.   We then walked to the center of the mall and Greg put a walkie talkie on me.  Then he turned me loose after showing me the layout of the mall. Funny thing is- not 50 feet after he let me go- a mall cop came flying up on his motor scooter and stopped me saying "Ma'am, you can't have dogs in the Mall." I just kind of looked at him and Simply said- It's a service dog. He then looked down at me as he was in front of me at this point and said Well OK, sorry for questioning you. But he continued to follow me and then Greg with my class mate too headed to the restroom. We were like really? As much as we are here, you don't get it?
It was a little different reaction from the public though, as with Rei, people would simply smile and keep going. Quite a few people recoiled from Favor today, fearing the Shepherd that she looks like. Overall she did really,really well though. I'm impressed with her attentiveness too. Nothing seems to get pass her and she has been impeccable in keeping me clear of obstacles. She did run me into a bush once, but hasn't done it since re-working it.

We came back and had dinner with the whole group and then went downstairs to talk about ADA and access issues.   After the lecture, Favor and I came upstairs and she played and played with her kong about the room, happy as a lark.   She wore herself out and I went to bed a tired lady!   So as the saying goes- an exercised dog is a good dog! :)   This picture holds true to that!
Favor asleep on her bed with her paws up under her and her kong between all 4 paws and her front paw on top of the kong as if to say- I'm keeping this safe, it's my favorite toy!

Day 3 at GDF- April 4th

It was a really good day today! :) We went into downtown Smithtown and did the Backwards P this morning. This was a lot of stores and obstacles on the sidewalk and crossing a street without a traffic light. We each did this route and Favor dis an amazing job of taking me around each and every obstacle.
We then went to a route called the Horseshoe, shaped as a horseshoe and typically has some obstacles that have to be dealt with- such as broke up sidewalks, a pine bush that hangs over the sidewalk completely, and often vehicles parked over the sidewalk as well. Favor and I went in both directions this afternoon around the horseshoe. She's getting better and better all the time and worked very nicely since Greg was in the van following instead of foot with us. :)
Favor also finally did both today for her bathroom break, even with Greg around too! Yay! Now if I can just get her to eat her food. :) We're getting there, one day at a time! :
I think we were both worn out after this morning though- she was snoring on the floor here beside me and I got a 20 minute nap in before they'd called us out to take the dogs out before dinner. :)
After diner, we had our lecture in the downstairs TV lounge with just the three of us that are working with Greg. We covered the basic stuff of handing the dog, brushes, where to get stuff we need and so forth.
After lecture, I headed up to the room and we called it a night.

Some shots of Favor in some downtime either between sessions or in the evening.

Favor with hind legs on the floor, front legs laying on the bed and her bone between the paws and in her mouth- looking at the camera with an innocent face. :)

Night all- I'm a TIRED Puppy!   Favor sprawled out on the flloor out cold asleep.

Day 2 at GDF- April 3rd

We got up and I put down the 4 cups of food that Favor is to get and she starts to eat a little bit, but Greg knocks on the door to let me know to feed her and she quits eating and refused to go back to her bowl. So we head on outside to break and she does pee for me but makes it clear her focus on on Greg, pulling at the leash and looking back and hesitant to leave his presence. We then go down to breakfast.  Goodness the cook is gonna make me gain all the weight back I've lost since starting weight watchers!   Kevin and Ann Marie can do some amazing tasting stuff!  Favor early fell to pieces when Greg walked in the room and sits at the other end of the room. A quick QUIET stiffles the whines and yips that had started up and she laid nicely under the chair, but her eyes were glued to Greg. We went back to the room and tried to get her to eat again to no avail. :(  Soon it was time to meet up in the gathering room to load up in the van for our first walk.

Our first outing was to head to Kings Park, the simple loop that is in a quiet area and flat.   Greg and I took off  and she kept looking back at hime a lot. and boy was she pulling hard.  Her movement too is completely different to what I'm used to with Rei.   With the lab, you can feel each foot hit the ground through the harness, and a rhythmic motion of the shoulders moving back and forth.  Where with Favor, it's very much a pat, pat, pat, pat, almost in a steady beat, but very light and springy.   Don't get me wrong she can take anything you dish out, but she reminds me of a deer almost- both in the face and in her movements. 

We got around the whole loop and I opted to sit on the bench and Greg told me if I wanted to do the loop again a second time, I was more than welcome to.   He got out with one of my classmates and his dog and they took off.   I gave them a good while to get down the path and Favor whined a bit and was eager to look for Greg.   After it'd been several minutes, I took off in their direction and you'd thought I had a runaway horse in the harness instead of a dog. LOL!   She was on the move where she'd seen Greg go.   Of course we caught up to them fairly quickly and I had her stop and then did an about to head back to the bus.   By this point the muscles on the back of my left arm and over my left shoulder were just screaming in pain as well as both of my calves.   I made it back to the bus and we got in and chilled out until we headed back to the foundation for lunch.

Favor standing at attention with the harness on, watching off in the distance closely.

We came back to the foundation and ate lunch and then after lunch, since I knew about Favor's mom and sister, the employee that was caring for Favor's sister while her trainer is travelling, had come down for coffee and Greg mentioned this.   The employee offered to let me come up and see her as Miss S looks VERY different than Favor.   Miss S looks like the collie, where Favor looks like the shepherd.  They are about the same size in body, but Favor is a s a little taller I think. 

Miss S- with longer hair, the collie face but tan face and under body like the shepherd, but a light grey and black mottled back and stripe down the tail where the black saddle on a shepherd would be.

Greg worked with us individually  around the grounds to do stair work and outside around the two squares.   As the other  two classmates were having their turns, I took her down to the grooming room to give her a good brushing since she's blowing coat after the bath she got yesterday. I let her go and went to throw the mound of hair away across the room. Came back and sat down and she cocked her head and looked at me and started wagging her tail, came running over and jumped up, both paws on my shoulders and licking my face.  :)   Miss Favor just made my day and melted away the blues that were setting in with missing Rei. :)

We then did our stair work and walked the square outside to the curbs.   She pulled immensely and I wondered if if she was too fast, but I remembered too that Rei felt like this in the beginning with a pretty hard pull.   We did the two blocks once with Greg and then once on my own.   As we were headed in, Greg saw another employee with a collie/shepherd cross puppy, who happens to be a niece to favor. :)   The pup was absolutely adorable so we went over to say HI! and get some puppy kisses! 

I am standing outside with the residence building behind me, holding the leash to Favor in my left hand and at my side and in my right hand, holding the mostly black pup. She has the tan markings at her feet and on her face, but not as much on the sides as Favor does.

After heading it was nearly time to break and water the dogs again, so did that and she came outside and peed, but wouldn't do a number 2.still.  She was still whining and looking for Greg pretty bad, and he explained that the German shepherds were the worst at transitioning over.   She was slowly coming around though.

After dinner was the transition/grief share lecture for us two re-trains and t the equipment lecture for all the new handlers.   This time brought some tears but we talked about fun things we remembered of our dogs that we'd retired and it helped to talk about it with someone that was in the same position as I was.

From here we went up for bed and called it a night!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

A New Guide Dog- Meet Favor!

Since Rei has been facing various medical issues, the very difficult decision was made to retire her.   Thus this meant re-applying to the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind and the prosepect of training with another very young dog again.  

I filled out my application and completed the process as needed in early January, and very shortly after received word that GDF thought they had a dog that would be a good match for me and needed to get my home interview done ASAP.    We got that done and basically I told them I wanted another Rei. :)   I told them I wanted a dog that could handle stressful situations and LOTS of kids on a regular basis and walked at the quick pace I like to walk.   I told them too that it was important to me to have a dog that was quick to make decisions and go with it, allowing me to not focus so much on directing the dog, but on my surroundings.    I said that I preferred smaller females but I'd take whatever they thought they had that would fit the requirements above. :)

So I was invited to come to the April class at GDF to receive a very different breed.   I would be receiving a Smooth Coated Collie/German Shepherd cross.    We got our stuff all together and flight arrangements were made and then it was time to finalize Rei's retirement.   We

Day 1:   Arrive in NY.
We had the kids spend the night at a friends house so that they wouldn't have to get up super early, since I had to be at the airport around 6:40am.   Mike and I got up and gathered the last of my stuff and headed to the airport.   They gave him a pass too to assist me back to the gate, so we worked our way through security and then went on to the terminal.   We hadn't eaten breakfast and since we had to be there so early, we had planned on eating breakfast together at the airport.  We did so at Champs and had a really good breakfast burrito there :)   Then we made our way to the gate and a lady called out to us and asked if I was headed to GDF too.  She was headed to GDF for her first dog and a little nervous.   Unfortunately we werent sitting close together and the plane was a full flight, so we didn't get to talk on the flight.   We took off and made our way to Reagan Airport.  Then we caught our connecting flights there and met up again at La Guardia in NY. :) 

Trainers Barb and Jody picked us up and we mad the 45 min drive back to the foundation, arriving there about 2:30pm.   When they were able to get our bags all unloaded and brought to our rooms, it was about 3pm as I began to unpack my suitcase.   Opening up my suitcase, I saw Rei's harness laying there to turn back in.   With a knot in my throat, I picked it up and walked down the hall to find a trainer.  I came to Jody first and the tears just began to flow as it was the final piece of Rei's retirment.   I turned and headed back to my room and continued to unpack.   It wasn't terribly long- about 4:30pm that my trainer, Greg, came to the door and came in.   He asked if I wanted a dog today, and I simply replied- It would be nice. :)   He said that he had a female smooth coated collie/german shepherd mix that  he had trained by the name of Favor.   He said too that he hadn't been a fan of the smooth collies when he worked with them in the past, so when he was asked to work with Favor, he wasn't crazy about it but was willing to give it a shot since she was half German Shepherd too.   Well, the rest was history and she stole his heart. :)   He quickly said he'd be back in a few moments and left the room in a hurry.

The amazing part of this is the circle that this has come to in my relationship with GDF and my dogs.   If you will remember, both Honey and Rei came from the same Asheville, NC puppy raising group.   Libby Bagwell was the Puppy Advisor for that group and I was already friends with her too as she was a part of raising both Honey and Rei, and she had rasied SAM, in memory of Matthew Thomas.    Well, Libby is the caretaker of a German Shepherd breeder for GDF.   Roxy had been bred to a merle colored smooth coated collie and had a litter of two puppies, both females.   One was fuzzy and looked like a collie and the other was Favor, who looked like a German Shepherd.    So I'm still connected to the Asheville Puppy group, even with my third dog from GDF. LOL!   It also turns out that Favor is the FIRST GDF bred smooth collie/german shepherd cross to graduate as a guide dog.

So Greg brought Favor to the room and little did I realize what I had in store for me.   As he handed me the leash, she spun around and when he stepped back she began to yelp, whine, and cry and amped it up even more when he left the room as if I was killing her!   Greg gave me a few moments with her and asked if I wanted to walk her up and down the hallway.   We tried to make our way out the door and she literally flipped like a fish around backwards and whining all the way as she was NOT happy about the fact that I was on the end of the leash instead of Greg.   We struggled to get up and down the hallway several times and before I knew it, it was time for dinner.  

The three of us that got our dogs and were doing combo training, we brought our dogs to dinner and Greg had to sit at the other end of the room furthest possible from her and she was up and down all throughout dinner.  We made our way back to the room and I was able to get a few pictures of her and she came up and nosed me to see who I was, but paced back and forth around my bed and to the door and back over and over and over again.  We went out for our first break at 8:30pm and she was willing to pee but for the most part watched Greg's every move.  We came back in and I put the blanket down that I'd brought for her and gave her the bones too that I had.  She soon tied out  or became bored and settled down on the blanket that I'd offered for her.

Favor standing attentively looking to the door for Greg to come back.  She stands very tall, her back nearly even with the top of my bed and the black and tan markings of a typical shepherd.

 Favor standing at the door looking at the handle listening for Greg.

Favor on the blanket and playing with a bone for her.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Finishing off the Year 2012

Ok, back to 2012...

May was a VERY busy month for us!  

We had Pup Putt- which KT and her group did two holes this year, the one being the John Wassen Memorial Hole, which was dedicated to Mr. Wassen's life.
Then as Mom, I had three field trips on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday with each kids!  Rei sure got a workout that week!

First up was AC and his class to downtown Indy and the Zoo!

Then was MD's clas to the Brownsburg Challenger Space Center to learn all kinds of neat things about missions to the moon.

Then we travelled with KT's class to the IN State Museum.  

All three days were loads of fun and very enjoyable, but this sure was one pooped Mom and Pup by the end of the week!

We quickly went into June busy with multiple gymnastics and AAU basketball practices for the girls and found ourself into July before we knew it.\

July brought new things for us, and unbearable hot weather and a drought the hit the Midwest with record breaking heat.   

First our family tried out the new rock wall climbing place called The Crag, and absolutely LOVED it.  Especially KT and AC, who shimmied up every wall in the place.   

July was also our annual trip to TN for the Whitehead family reunion and this year we had a little added bonus, that Rei's puppy raiser was actually free this year to get together as well!

The Whitehead reunion this year saw a lot of kids and all of them played together well and had a good time even with the heat outside.    There were games, lots of food, and lots of chatting too amongst all the adults.
We also got to visit with Rei's puppy walker, Erin and her current guide dog puppy in training, David.   He was quite a handful at this time but she's an excellent raiser!

August saw the kids going back to school with KT in her first year of middle school in 6th grade, MD in 3rd grade, and AC in 1st grade.  

Lots has been happening in the last 6-8 mos!

Fall led into winter and we soon found Rei slowing up more and more and becoming more hesitant to work.   We made several trips to the vet and eventually wound up going to an orthopedic and neurology specialist to try to figure out what's going on with her.   When nothing was confirmed from these visits, she gave us the answer herself unfortunately. :(

She began to refuse to eat her food and was becoming sick as well as having really, really horrific gas that was the most foul smelling thing any of us or our friends had ever been exposed to before!   The final symptom that pushed us to do bloodwork, was she had the runs all weekend.  We tried multiple things and ultimately right at the first of the new year it was determined by blood work that Rei has Irritable Bowel Disease. :(  

We began a heavy regimen of medications and shots to improve her appetite, work on stabilizing her gut, and hopefully get her feeling better again.   She responded very well to the medications and her speed came back to nearly normal.   However I quickly figured out that with our active lifestyle that when I took her to a place of high stress, it would stress her too much and cause the IBD to flare up and the symptoms above would rear thier ugly heads. :(     So it was decided that it was indeed time to retire Rei to a lifestyle of leisure since she' has more than earned it in her working lifetime with me.  

This was an extremely painful decision as I had also gone through the process in October and November to be evalauated and identified as a candidate for a Cochlear Implant.   My surgery was scheduled for January 9th, 2013 and I had 10% speech recognition in the left ear and 8% speech recognition in the right ear.   As my vision has progressively gotten worse, I am struggling more and more to catch the visual cues to be able to hold a conversation on my own. :(

I chose Advanced Bionics for several reasons and ultimately glad I'd done so as Advanced Bionics has come out with a new processor to be released this summer with the technology to link and communicate with my Phonak Hearing aid in the other ear.   While the left ear was my better ear, both ears were so bad and Mike is typically on my left side more than often in situations like the car, in church, etc, in which I figured I'd increase chances of hearing him by doing that side first.   Thus I went with the AB Neptune- a waterproof processor that runs on a AAA battery and has a clip that is on it to clip in your hair, on clothing, or an armband.

So I had the surgery on January 9th and was somewhat nervous but excited to get the process started, as I'd heard so many good things about the CI's.   Mike went with me and I came out of surgery and everything had gone very well.   However there is where things started to get hairy.   In recovery I started getting sick and unable to keep anything down, including needed pain meds.   This went on into the night in which a second trip to the pharmacy was needed to pick up some anti- nausea meds to help with this.   Thankfully this worked well.   Within 3-4 days I was able to shower and such, but was getting some pretty serious vertigo when I would stand up to move about in the house.   The surgery was on a Wednesday and on Monday, my first real day home alone, I went into the other room to meet someone at the door and by the time I came back to the couch, I was in a room spinning whirlwind that terrifying as if I closed my eyes it only made the room spin even more.   I quickly called my dr and they called in some meds for this as well and thankfully that cleared up very quickly and took care of it completely.

Then came activation day on February 6th, 2013.  From here are my updates:

Feb. 6th: 
- Just beeps and tones so far. Still at the office.
- Alrighty, already on setting 2. :) Now just gotta take time to let these high tones work themselves out. :) Hearing more and more environmental sounds. :)

- Ok have to laugh, I just jumped when the phone rang or the first time and heard it through the CI. That was totally weird. LOL

Feb. 8th:
- Moved up to level 3 today, but have to day I'm wiped, all the high tones are quite draining!

- Busy day today- to the school for the morning and follow up with the CI Surgeon. I'll admit yesterday was getting frustrating awith all the high tones. A couple of times wanted to pull the processor off and chuck it across the room. Trying to stay positive and remember this is a journey, not a race and to be patient. :)

Feb. 13th:
- CI mapping no. 2 today. Still adjust ring but high tones backed way off thankfully! Now have homework assignment for every day so we are getting there. Now have volume control. Ready for speech to start kicking in but know its still really early.

Feb. 15th:
- Oh my gosh!!!! I'm hearing words! Alex is here working with me on practice lists and I hear the words! He sounds like Alvin, but I can hear them. I have to look at him since they sound so different, but I definitely hear them!!!!!! Sooooo excited!!!!

Feb. 17th:
The last 36 hours have been interesing and fun. :) I have discovered I can hear the kids and women's voices - all sound like Alvin though. I have discovered that while I can hear Mike's voice, it is only in certain conditions- quiet and I can really focus on him, but if he talks in a really high pitched voice like a girl, then I can hear him! LOL! New things every day! :)

Feb. 20th:
All I can say is Wow, Wow, WOW!

Since my last email a lot has happened. Last Friday I realized I was hearing words! I was only hearing the higher pitched voices, but I could hear them. Alex was working with me on my words and it clicked. I could heard the kids and other women's voices, but was unable to hear Mike unless he talked in a high pitched girly voice. We've had some pretty good laughs with this. :)

This morning I went for mapping #5 and at 3 weeks post activation. They took me into the sound booth twice today where the first time I was hearing between the 30-40 decibel range and then we came out and made some tweaks to re-test and got that up between the 20-35 decibel range across the board!!! "Normal" hearing is at 20 decibels. :D :D :D There is a dip at the higher pitches but she thinks she can flatten that out with time. I go back in 2 weeks for my next mapping/appt.
This testing was to hear the sound/tones itself, not words or much else, just to hear the sound at that level. So I didn't realize I was hearing at such a higher level until we got back in the room and saw the chart sitting on the desk as my audie played with the computer. I said Holy Cow!!! Is that really what I'm seeing???

I'm not hearing normal speech yet, but over the past couple of days I've started hearing the lower toned voices in the Heliumnized voices/alvin voices with the higher pitched ones, so that tells me my brain is starting to pick up on those. We changed a handful of settings and turned on the Clearvoice program that is supposed to minimize background noise and pull out voices. My audie said with her patients it was a 50/50 things. Half of them love it and half say they can live without it. Well I'm in the half that loves it. :D

At the moment things sound really loud, but we went to Chipotle for lunch and I was actually able to order my food completely on my own for the first time during lunch rush for in VERY long time. Mike was just like uh what do I do, he was ready to jump in as he normally has to do, and I didn't hear a couple of times, but with a repeat, I got it completely on my own! :)

It was almost emotional too as we sat down and I dialed the sensitivity dial back (this is the distance range of microphone- so I can change it for when I want to only hear what the person in front of me is saying or dial it out to hear someone across the room better) and Mike and I were able to have a full conversation with him speaking at a normal voice throughout our lunch for the first time in nearly a decade. :D Needless to say it was a bit awkward as we are not used to talking in places like this. LOL!
So we are on the road to the right direction and my audie is pleased so far and we continue to work at it. I've just gotta get my listening homework in daily and keep working on that so that the speech will come! :) I absolutely have regrets so far and really excited to see what the next appt in 2 weeks brings!

Update on Rei: She was having a lot of accidents last week and upon calling the vet as they increase in frequency, a urine sample revealed a UTI. So now that she's on meds for that, it's going MUCH better. :) She's feeling a lot better and the accidents have stopped. :) We are still slowly weaning off the prednisone for her and I had my phone interview with GDF and that went well. All my paperwork is now turned in and just waiting fo word back from GDF at this point.

March 13th:
This was 2 wks from the prior appt- 5 wks post activation. Up until the last 3-4 days before that appt I'd been feeling really good about things and feeling like I was hearing well and then all of a sudden things just tanked! Not sure what happened and my audie wasn't either, but I couldn't hear diddly squat for those last few days before my appt!
So first thing we did was go in and do a new mapping to get me back to hearing decent again and got that in place and then went into the sound booth.
Now prior to implantation- I'd tested at hearing 10% speech recognition in the left ear and 8% speech in the right ear. So with this new test after a new mapping, I tested on 25 sentences with just the CI and then 25 sentences with both the CI and my right Hearing Aid (HA). The results were a pleasant surprise for me- which I am hearing 13% speech with the CI only and then 72% speech with the CI and HA! So it was already improvement over where I was with just the two HA's. :)
My audie was a little concerned though, as she really wants to get those numbers flipped though- as this is telling her that I'm still relying heavily on the HA. My brain is working, the CI is working, we just have to get the two working together now and that's going to mean a LOT of work on my part in doing homework, listening exercises and the kicker- Time. -which is my biggest issue. ;) She is concerned that if my right ear were to tank on me suddenly, we'd seriously be up a creek w/o a paddle and I'd be pretty non functional.
So my homework is to be doing the listening exercises and doing my best to do it on a regular basis. Work! I go back in 2 weeks on March 27th just before I leave for NY for my new guide dog, just to be sure everything is going well and make any last minute adjustments to the CI mapping before leaving town for 2 weeks.

Feb. 28th: And so the CI surgery billings begin....
Claims to BCBS so far and then goes to Medicare part B after denial/payment:
Surgery claim for hospital: $97,916.90 - unprocessed
Surgery claim for CI Dr/Specialist: $2,940.03- denied
Surgery claim for anesthesia: $1,215.00 - They paid this but we have our deductible, so have about a quarter of this to pay- Flex account coming through for that though! :)
God will provide, I will be faithful, I will be faithful and not complain. Please remind me this when I do complain. ;)
March 27th:
7 weeks post CI activation!!!!

I'm not gonna lie about it- I didn't get much of the homework in at all over the past 2 weeks. I've been crazy busy at the school, running errands and going to different appts for Rei and with setting stuff up for her retirement party that we held last Friday. The last two weeks I felt like I was hearing more but since I wasn't getting the homework done was afraid I hadn't progressed much. I've begun to have the feeling that I wasn't hearing as much out of the right ear too. However I am finding that I can definitely hold my own in ordering food in a noisy restaurant, talk to people in a group setting and so forth, which I've not been able to do before. I also heard the robins tweeting for the first time two days ago! I've heard bird noises before, but I could actually hear the tweeting this time. I had to ask Katie if this was what it really was, but it was. :)

Last night Mike and I worked on the homework where he was reading sentences from a paper that I've never looked at and for the most part, I was able to repeat them word for word back to him! Which was a little creepy almost- he keeps telling me I'm running out of excuses for not understanding him now! LOL! We did figure out though that I'm getting some trail off high pitched whine noises at the end of words that have an "i" or "e" sound. We also figured out that I'm doing really well with mulch-syllable words and sentences as I'm able to put the context together well and figure them out- which is good as my brain is putting more and more together and probably using the CI more and more as it should be.

So we went in today and yeah she smacked my hand for not doing the homework, but she was really happy after we came out of the sound booth. We told her about the sounds at the ends of certain words and what I'd been experiencing. She was thrilled that I was able to hear the birds and was surprised I knew what they were. She also was happy that I was really noticing the ability to function and hear well in group settings. :)
So we went in the sound booth and did 3 tests. First we tested speech recognition with just the CI which I was at a whopping 52%!!!! Up from 13% two weeks ago. :) Then we tested the CI and Hearing aid together and I was up to an amazing 93%!!!!!!! I don't know if I've ever had that much speech recognition ever. I do still struggle and use a lot of lip reading and this was in the quiet environment of the sound booth but Hey! I'll take it! :D Lastly just to make sure my hearing wasn't changing in my right ear, we did a hearing test on both the right and left ear unaided to see what I have. My right ear hasn't changed and there were a very few low tones I was able to hear in the left ear, which was surprising since you normally don't have any hearing left after implantation. She was very happy with all this so we discussed last minute tactics and how to set up my processor to be waterproof- so I can be good in the rain if we are caught out while training in NY. I also learned how to hook my processor directly into the laptop, so I can work on my exercises while there in NY in the evenings. I've also gotten a hold of some audio books which I have paper copies, that I intend to take with me and work on listening to while I read along in the paper copy. :) I'm excited!
On the financial front, we haven't received much yet, but then the hospital for some reason still did not have Medicare in their system for everything. I made the call yesterday and got this all worked out. They had received the denial from Mike's anthem insurance for the surgery and have just sent the bill to Medicare to see what it will be then. I was instructed to contact them back after the bill comes to me and it is processed through Medicare and then they will evaluate if they can do any financial assistance. So we are still not sure what our portion will be at this point. Just praying on it and know that God will provide us a way to handle this. :)
In regards to guide dogs, we will have Rei through Saturday mid day and then Melissa & Isaac Crowe will come to pick her up and take her home with them. It's going to be a hard day for sure. I then fly out early next Tuesday morning, April 2nd to be gone through Friday April 2nd and will fly home with my new dog then. I will try to update everyone as we go along on this journey. :)
Thank you for all of your prayers and support and will definitely be in touch! God is soooo good to us! :)