September 9th started off like a typical first day back to school: I missed the first bus to campus, ran into a flock of angry geese while walking down the hill to the NCB building, hugged countless people along the way, waited in line for my usual Tim Horton’s order, hugged some more people, found a front row seat in the lecture hall and counted down the minutes until I finished my first class of the day. You know, just your everyday typical morning for a university student.
Then, my heart sank. My F.M. wouldn’t sync. It’s not working. And I’m in a big lecture hall with 600+ other students. Crap.
I replaced the battery of my receiver. Nothing. I turned everything off and turned it back on again. Nada. I took my CI off and double checked that my receiver for the F.M and my CI were on the right channel/program. Receiver: program 2, check. F.M: channel N09, check. I even reprogrammed my F.M. to several different channels to see if that helped. It didn’t and I was quickly running out of troubleshooting options. Normally, I can fix it in a few minutes with one of the options above but nothing worked. It was becoming blatantly obvious that I had to go without my F.M. for the day. I figured that I’d find out what the problem was once I got home. That didn’t happen. I’m still without an F.M. system.
My F.M. system is my lifeline when it comes to hearing in lectures. Without my F.M. system, trying to hear is like trying to hear with mud in your ears. Everything’s muffled. Professors hardly stay in one spot so it is difficult to read their lips as they are moving about. One of my professors this year literally walks around the whole lecture hall so there are times where she walks behind me and I can’t read her lips. I can only hear part of her sentence as she is walking down one aisle and then hardly hear anything at all until she walks down the other aisle. Since I only hear half of the material and completely miss the other half, the material makes no sense at times. Honestly, I’d take a professor with an accent over a professor that walks around any day. At least, I can still read the professor’s lips despite the strong accent.
In two of my other classes, the professors talk really quietly so it is difficult to hear them in lecture. In my one class, not only can I not hear the professors, I can’t read their lips since the room is darkened to make the lecture slides more visible on the projector screen. In my other class, the volume of the microphone is too low so the professor’s voice is too quiet for me to hear him. I’m not the only one though. Other people in the class have told me they have trouble hearing as well. After a couple of classes, I went up to my prof, explained my situation and asked if he could turn up the volume of the microphone. His response was that it was possible, but that “it would be annoying loud for everyone else”. He did turn up the volume a little bit for me but I still find it to be too quiet.
This is not the first time my F.M. system has broken down on me. In high school, it took four months to get my F.M. fixed after it suddenly stopped working. I had to ship it out to the States and then when it returned, ship it back out again because of a different problem. After seeing me go through that ordeal, my grandparents bought me a second F.M. system to use as a backup. That one won’t sync with my cochlear implant either. So basically, I have two F.M. systems that don’t work and no clue on how to fix them. I have the most rotten luck sometimes.
After a few days, I called the audiology center to see if I could get in to see an audiologist about my F.M. The day I called, they were closed so I left a message. Apparently, they are only open Monday to Wednesday 8:30am-4:30pm. I called them back on Monday morning to follow-up and I got the answering machine again. At that point, I knew that I was never going to get in if I just left them a message so I decided to go in before class that morning and see if I could book an appointment. I’m currently in the middle of transferring over from CHEO hospital in Ottawa to the audiology center at UH so I don’t have a local audiologist yet. Because of this, it took a while before I could get a scheduled appointment for Monday September 23rd. I made the appointment on Monday September 16th so I still had to go through a week of classes before I could see anyone about my F.M. My mom and I also drove down to Sound Therapy, an audiology clinic in Goderich to see if they could help us with my F.M. I go to the Sound Therapy clinic back home but they weren’t open (and wouldn’t be for a few days) so we went to the next available one which happened to be the one in Goderich. My mom picked me up from London at 5:30am and we got there just before they opened at 8:30am. Unfortunately, they didn’t know much about F.M. systems so they couldn’t help us determine what was wrong with it. However, they gave me some suggestions for alternative accommodations to use in lecture and I’m in the midst of discussing some of the alternatives with my Services for Students with Disabilities counselor.
I am beyond frustrated about my situation right now. It feels like I’m in a closed glass box where outside I can see my F.M. working again and everytime I attempt to break down the glass, it doesn’t even crack. Every time, I miss something important in class, it feels like a punch to the gut because that is another hour or two I have to spend trying to teach myself the material at home. Time that I don’t always have. I’ve done everything I possibly can. The only thing I can do now is wait for my appointment on Monday. The faster I get my F.M system fixed, the better it will be.