Monday, August 23, 2004

All Your Sounds Are Belong To Us

Well, the cats hate it, that's for sure.

The new alert system is, if not a dream come true (that would be getting my hearing back) certainly a daydream come true. Husband and I agreed that if even one or two of the components worked, the kit would be well worth the cost. Instead, each and every one works like a charm. All together, I now have a:

- smoke detector/fire alarm
- TTY that can be used with any standard telephone
- alarm clock
- room noise alert
- door knocker alert

The latter is the coolest because we have set up the 'control center' in the master bedroom and I was concerned that the signal might not go all the way from the front door to the upstairs bedroom. However, it works like a charm.

Whenever there's an 'event' - someone knocks at the door, the telephone rings, or the alarm clock goes off - my bedside lamp (which is plugged into this system) flashes on and off and a 'bed shaker' (a disc the size of a ladies' compact which goes under my pillow) vibrates very strongly. The central unit also monitors room noise and if there is prolonged loud noise (baby crying, drunken in-laws fighting, cats pulling down a china cabinet), it sets off the alarm (flashing lamp, shaking). By glancing at the Alertmaster, the brain of the whole operation, I can tell whether it's the front door, the phone or the alarm that's going off. For example, in this picture:

there was ambient room noise happening (I was singing "All Along the Watchtower") so the green light is on over "room noise". If the phone had been ringing, there would've been a flashing lamp, the bed shaker would be buzzing, and the green light would be on over the "phone" icon.

(For the geekier amongst us, this:

is how everything runs thru the Alertmaster unit.

The smoke detector, as I mentioned last week, is a unit unto itself and let's hope we never see it in action again. But it's there, and it's working.

Hard for me to explain how happy these things made me - especially the door knocker. (It sits on the inside of the front door, safe from the elements, by the way.) It's a really unpleasant feeling knowing that you could never know if someone was at the door. It's important to me to know that the phone has rung, even if I can't answer it; I check to see if there is a voice message (light on phone blinks). If not, I know the call wasn't important. If yes, I can direct Husband to it as soon as he gets home. It's important to me to have a TTY so that in an emergency (or, as I get more comfortable with it, not in an emergency) I can make a call using a relay operator. (911 is easy; you just dial and leave the line open, and they'll come eventually. *That's* a godsend.) These things just made me feel happy. The weekend was just ... happy.

Happy is not what the system is making the cats. They spend a lot of time, as do I, curled up on the bed reading or watching tv (well, I read and watch tv, they snooze and occasionally do the New York Times crossword). They are not impressed when the alarm goes off. Flashing lamps, bed vibrating?!?! They're utterly freaked out and almost invariably run away, much to my disappointment. I feel so badly for them. But sometimes I can coax them into seeing the alert (about 15 second long, unless an event such as a door knock is repeated) through and settling back down. I know that eventually they will adjust to it but I hate seeing them distressed for now. I knew this change in my life was going to affect 'everyone' but I honestly didn't anticipate it upsetting the cats' routine.

Ah well. I guess nobody in the family is immune to having to adapt to this thing.



Blogger Pamela said...

I stumbled across your weblog today via the new Blogger toolbar, and read a bunch (but not all) of your entries, and I think what you're sharing here is wonderful.

Communicating about what it's like to face a hearing loss is something the Internet needs to know. You're spreading diversity and promoting tolerance for differences.

Have you ever read the novelist Ellen Glasgow? She became deaf in her 30s (I think the time was somewhere around 1920) and spent the rest of her life coping with that disability, winning the Pulitzer prize for literature despite it. She talks about her deafness in her autobiographical book, _The Woman Within_. Might be interesting to you.

3:00 p.m.  
Blogger ronnie said...

Thanks for your kind comments, Zelda... this blog is mainly to help my family and friends keep up with this ride I'm on, but if it helps others understand what deaf people's worlds are like, it's a happy side-effect.

I had not heard of Ellen Glasgow but your comment certainly piqued my interest! I'm going to look into her work.

Thanks again,


1:50 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Ronnie,
I've read a few of your blog entries and just love them! I'm a student in the hearing healthcare field and am constantly searching for people's personal experiences to help me try and understand what it is like to lose your hearing (no one could possibly understand without going though it, I'm sure) However, I really enjoy your blog entries and wish you luck with your cochlear device :)

7:52 p.m.  

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