Sunday, June 23, 2013

Part III: Because There's Depression

It's been a few days and on Monday was the first day that I wore the hearing aid for 8 hours but it was also relatively quiet, which made it easier. No construction at work, not a lot of people were in (working from home, mostly) and so overall, it was just easier to have it in. At the end of the work day, I took it off to go home and then when I got home, I put it back in. Some friends came over, a jolly good time was starting to be had and then, I couldn't handle it anymore.

I had taken Kona (hearing aid) off but it felt like it was still in. And everything was loud. Too loud even, to the point where I couldn't distinctly hear anything. Everything was just this massive jumble and I strained so hard to just hear things clearly. My senses or whatever I used to rely on was (and still is) trying to sort through all the extra information. There's too much information coming in and that's not really dependent on whether or not I'm wearing the hearing aid sometimes.

Wednesday, June 19th

Let's talk a bit about the depression. So I go in and out of depression fairly regularly and I hadn't mentioned this to my audiologist (not that I needed to). She did however hint that it would be overwhelming when I got the hearing aid and that at times it might be tough, but I needed to stick with it if I wanted to be successful.

So I've been trying to stick with it as best I can, but it's been tough. I get flustered at times and I'll take of the hearing aid, but then I feel then there feels like there's too much to process. When I put in the hearing aid, I have to reduce the other information that I'm taking in. I don't need to read lips or focus on body language but then I have to deter those processes that are quite normal for me and then focus instead on blocking out the new background sounds I'm hearing as well as focus on the new sounds I should be hearing. (Not sure, if that makes sense, but I'm going with it).

My depression has always been weird, but the sound imbalance and things I need to "learn" and things that I can't "unlearn" (more on that in a bit) means that my depression has been very difficult. There's been a notable uptake in my wine consumption and a whole lot of crying (not just about the hearing aid, but other things that I'm generally sad about).

About the "unable to unlearn" part, because I don't wear my hearing aid all of the time (and supposedly, nor should I), I can't just not read lips, decipher body language, or learn the natural rhythm of someone's voice -- I have to learn when to trade different skills for when it's in versus not. Hence the frustration.

Last night I went to a friend's wedding reception and early on in the night, I couldn't configure the hearing aid right and then part of it just popped out and I couldn't get it back in. I spent a good part of the night fighting with it and not very many people know that I have a hearing aid so it must have looked odd to see my continually meddling with my ear.

I'm working on it though but obviously there are still a lot of things to contend with. But I'm trying, I assure you. There's a part of me that gets overwhelmed, cries into the pillow, and feels that this isn't worth it. After all, I spent many years never really being troubled by this so why should it matter now? We'll see...

Saturday, June 22, 2013

First Ever Giveaway!

Hey there Readers!

I'm still taking the time out to get used to my hearing aid (and if you're so inclined, you can read about that here). In the mean time however, I realized that I have an awful lot of samples that there's no way that I can get through. So I went through everything and for the first time ever, I'm creating a giveaway! 

I've created two sample packs (they are just regular samples, not deluxe) along with one full sized item each. I will not be posting pictures of the sample bags since the content of them are subject to change. The 2 winners are guaranteed at least 5 samples and 1 full sized product of my choosing. Everything is new, purchased by myself and it's a mix of things you've seen on the blog but a lot more of items that you haven't seen. This is not a sponsored post. 

In order to enter, you need to do the following:
  • You must be following this blog -- you can follow with either Blogger, BlogLovin, or any aggregate of your choice, but you will need to comment to verify this.
  • You must be aged eighteen years or older (and therefore okay with giving me your address so that they prize can be mailed). 
Good Luck!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Part II: Adjusting Bagheera Kona Jinx

To review:
  1. Had hearing loss as a kid, we never knew why or how it happened. Could have been that I never had it in the first place, but either way, the frequencies I couldn't hear were not determined till I was teenager.
  2. Continued to not doing anything about it for years.
  3. Finally booked an appointment (last week) and then got my hearing aid this week.
  4. Also, finally named my hearing aid (because I do that) and it is called Bagheera Kona Jinx, or Kona for short. 

Mysteriously surrounded by Kona coffee candies.

I know that toward the end of my last post I started rushing -- with all the typing and my hearing aid being in and on, I was starting to get a headache. There isn't too much that I rushed through though. The fitting and the alteration of the programming for the hearing aid took about a full hour. That included the audiologist walking me through everything and answering all my questions. 

When she first programmed it without any alterations and put it on me, she spoke for a bit and it was... weird. I've used that word a lot the last few days. Her voice was suddenly very high pitched, very mechanical, and all these other sounds emerged that I couldn't discern. She spoke to me for a bit and told me that was the "raw" program set only to the frequencies lost and then turned it down.

Basically Kona (yes, the hearing aid) is programmed for two channels and each have a volume range. My base line program is lower and the last few days I've actually lowered it a bit. Hopefully in a week or so, I can handle the base line program without having to adjust the volume, but for now, there's a lot of sounds I'm not used to and are distracting. The second program seems a lot lower and I've only used it once, which is when I was walking outdoors for a bit. I still haven't quite gotten the hang of turning it on, off, up, or down. Furthermore, it seems like each thing that I do requires some kind of tweak -- if I'm at home, at work, on a call, outdoor, and so on. It's mildly disconcerting a lot of the time.

The first day I wore it (which was on Wednesday), I found myself (obviously) hearing a lot of things I hadn't ever heard before. What this also means though, is that I don't know what these sounds are. It's one thing to be suddenly cognizant of all the sounds that are around you, it's another thing to just start hearing them and not knowing what they all are. So normal sounds and loud sounds are amplified which makes it a bit more scarier but then there are these new background sounds. Suddenly active and passive listening aren't the same things anymore. 

What's probably the interesting thing is that people aren't the same anymore. I don't have the hearing aid all the way up or on all of the time, which means that my senses are somewhat baffled with the insufficient or influx of data being received. For anyone unsure of what that means, it's that when someone talks to me when the hearing aid is on, I can hear them, but their voice is more robust and therefore loud so much so that I find myself trying to really focus on their words instead of their rhythm of voice, which is something I'm used to doing before. Because I need to pay so much attention to the words, I can't focus on them (watching their face) since I need to look away to really process things. 

That's just people... let's talk about the first sounds that I heard. Like my jeans rustling as I walk, my sneakers squeaking, paper rustling when it's at my desk, or water running. One night I heard Shiva (one of the kittens) for the first time without having to put my ear close to him and I started crying. 

When new sounds come in or badger me, I have to seek them out to identify them. I have to know what it is which is sometimes really easy and other times, it's mostly just frustrating. Currently at my job, they are doing a bit of construction and naturally, I can't see where some of the new sounds are coming from. I can't really sit in small rooms because of the amplification of the new and old sounds. Calls are sometimes difficult as well so I find myself taking Kona off to take them.

The other thing about it is that I'm adjusting to the influx of sounds so are the people around me. Sometimes they forget and then I find myself near clutching my left ear. They'll talk to me the way they normally did, which is loudly, in order to convey their message (and they don't always need to do that anymore). Some didn't realize how severe or moderate the loss was, so they've been trying to adjust their own (and that's been pretty intriguing to watch and listen to). 

It's only been three days, by the way. So, my findings are still premature and I've got a bit more to go. At this point, it's time to thank quite a few people who have helped me out in the last three days. My boyfriend has been absolutely amazing as he has tried to learn alongside me exactly what I'm going through. My parents, who watch me through Skype, have also been awesome. And to my three friends who texted me nonstop while I was getting the fitting and programming done, thank you because it calmed me down quite a bit. Of course, thanks to my friends who are slowly learning that speech, dictation, and body language are evolving things for me.

I'll be updating this in a bit (if I remember) in a few days, to see how it goes from there. 

Part I: Hard of Hearing (or Being Stubborn)

So... I wasn't sure where to write this since I have 3 distinct blogs (and some others), but I figured that I'd start somewhere. This is going to be long, so you were forewarned. 

When I was younger, I didn't really know if I had hearing loss or not -- we had those quick check-ups in elementary school which included audio, sight, and the physical and I managed to pass them all.  But at the back of my head, I passed them all because I knew how to space the sounds in the audiology test to pass it and I memorized the eye chart. I didn't really think I was doing myself a disservice since this seemed to be a triumph of being one step ahead. (I was an elementary student so the logic wasn't quite there). A part of me did know that I wasn't hearing correctly though and nor was I seeing correctly but I assumed that this meant that I had to be a stronger person. It just meant, to me, that I needed to work harder. 

Of course, I was proven wrong on account of seeing when I performed poorly on a few tests because for the first time, my last name put me in the back of the class (we were seated in alphabetical order by last name and usually this put me in the front of the class). My parents were trying to get to the bottom of the recent shift in my grades and finally I told them that I simply couldn't see the blackboard anymore. They gave me a quick test at home (they asked me to read a Ritz cracker box from afar) and of course, I did poorly. 

Shortly after that, my doctor decided to retest my hearing as well and the exposure of the loss of hearing came up as well. Instead of using perfectly timed intervals, she dispersed them and found the hearing loss (but in all fairness, I wasn't trying to "pass" that test either). Both of these events happened when I was perhaps under the age 10. I got my glasses shortly thereafter but the hearing... well, that took a while. 

I finally got a full hearing test, audiometer and all, and the results were something like 50% loss in the left ear and 5-10% on the right. The problem with my left ear was that there were sporadic clusters that were missing (or just low) and that they couldn't issue a hearing aid (but they did offer to create custom ear plugs which we did not opt for). So that was the end of that.

I still happily wear my glasses to this day -- I love them all, and it's a part of me. It's been ~13 years (give or take) and now we can fast forward to a few weeks ago. We were in a mall complex swinging by Petco to restock on the kitten's necessities when I saw a hearing aid center and that point, I realized that maybe now was the time to look into it. After all, technology had to have improved in the last few years and even if I didn't have enough to warrant a hearing aid, at least I could figure out where I was in terms of loss.

After checking around with my insurance, I found a place and scheduled my appointment. I was nervous... I figured to myself, what if all this time I had been hearing correctly and I was just nuts? What if I really did lose that hearing, then what I do to adjust? The test itself was the same as I remembered it but actually much shorter, a lot less sounds, and a lot less headphones. When the test was over, instead of giving me a percentage of loss in each ear, they explained it a bit differently and showed me a chart. 

So here's how it breaks down (and this will reference the crude drawing that isn't labelled below), my right ear is fine; that first squiggly line that appears just below average but above the cut-off line for loss? That's my right ear. It's not great but not bad either. The one with a huge slope downward is my left ear. As my audiologist explained it, the frequencies I can hear are in line with hearing vowels. I cannot hear consonants (that the huge dip) and therefore rely on my right ear to compensate. (Please note that the crude drawing is crude and therefore not the exact chart but it conveys the idea of the difference between my ears).

When we did a quick review of my history, she said that likely at the time they couldn't program a hearing aid for my loss because they were analog. Now that hearing aids are digital, they could program one that is specific to my loss and rebuilding the sounds.

Of course, you might have noticed "rebuilding the sounds," which means that there was a lot of work ahead of me. I'd be hearing sounds I hadn't heard as a kid so I'd have to relearn them. In addition, I'd have to learn how to block out background sounds and learn to not rely on all my other senses as much to understand a conversation. I don't know any type of sign language, I never really thought that I spent enough time learning to lip read, but it turns out, I do rely on a few other things. I do rely on body language, the rhythm of a voice to populate missing sounds/words, and I lip read a bit. I logically follow thing and assume what was said at times (so if it were a conversation about astrophysics and I missed a few words, I could try to populate them based on how the conversation was going). 

In other words, before, I needed to really know people to hear them. Active listening and passive listening was going to change. Albeit slowly, nonetheless, it was going to change. 

And so, when the hearing test was complete, after the audiologist coached me through what changes I could expect and what needed to happen, I picked my first hearing aid. I knew, before we left the testing area that I wanted to ReSound Verso so when we went to go finalize the order, I got to choose my colour. I initially wanted to pick the all blue one (and therefore name it "Stitch") but I opted for the glossy black. I haven't named it yet, but here's a product image of it:

I have it and it's been a few days since I've been wearing it. I'd go through it now, but I think I'll save it for another post.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Hard of Hearing

As I've a bit of a medical issue to tend to (nothing major, but if you are so inclined, you can read about it at etcteros), I'll be waning a bit in terms of my ability to test and write. As a result, I anticipate being gone for about a month (or a month and a half) or however long it takes me to adjust. I might update during the time that I am gone but not on the regular schedule. 

Review: Algenist Firming & Lifting Cream

While on a quick trip out to see my parents, I didn't want to lug around too much weight (because, well, my parents would have a lot of things for me to bring back with me) so from my samples stash (this one was courtesy of Sephora when I purchased stuff from the Disney Reigning Beauties Jasmine collection) I grabbed the smallest container of facial moisturizer I could find. 

I admit, I of course did not know anything about this sample, I actually didn't even remember that I had it till I went looking for something to be sufficient for the trip. I knew that I would likely not wear any makeup the entire time I was in New York given the humidity so I wanted to make sure that I had a good moisturizer. Turns out that I had selected a great one. 

So here are my "uninformed" notations:
  • Feels great in terms of texture.
  • Light and airy and doesn't cause oiliness to my skin.
  • Does not react well to the humidity so the rice papers are still necessary to take care of excess sheen. 
  • Does work well on "regular" days (meaning that they weren't around 80° F [27° C]) and no oily sheen would appear.

Now I know that the last two points would do a lot of moisturizers in but let's keep in mind that my face is somewhat difficult. It takes a very specific blend in order to maintain the oiliness in my skin (as demonstrated by my trip to Hawaii last year) which is hard to establish within a week. However I'd like to move away from that point as that's not what this moisturizer is advertised for. Upon looking it up after my trip, I was a bit astounded that I was so naive about this moisturizer. This particular one is formulated without parabens, sulfates, synthetic dyes, petrochemicals, phthalates, and triclosan. Basically it fits the criteria that I prefer to have for facial moisturizers.

The drawback though was just that it carries a hefty price -- full size at 2 ounces is $94. I'm quite glad that I even had this sample of it because it really put it into perspective for me. It's a firming and lifting cream (I know that that says that on the label, but I didn't pay attention) and it didn't quite do anything for me. Not that I expected it to, but not that I saw anything remarkable about it either. Perhaps it was the fact that I was jetlagged and then remained tired for the rest of the week that I had used it. But really there wasn't anything different so for that... Well, it was a bit disappointing. As a regular moisturizer, it's pricey but good and but for what it's supposed to do, it's not that great for me.

Product: Algenist Firming & Lifting Cream
Price: $94 (for the full sized)
Stars: ★★★☆☆
Would Recommend? No.
Takeaway: Although the entire time I used it, I remained blissfully unaware of what it was actually supposed to to, as a moisturizer it was okay. As a lifting and firming cream, it fell short.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Review: The Body Shop Body Butters

I had first heard about these years ago from my friend who had been raving about them. I had somewhat managed to avoid them though since I never really ventured into one of The Body Shop stores. That wasn't because I had an aversion to them, but that I was pretty staunch about using cocoa butter lotions or those infused with oatmeal because of the dryness of my skin. When I went in to find a facial brush though, I figured that it was finally time to give them a shot.

So I bought four except that I was only getting two for myself and I sent two (the Mango and the Coconut) to my mom. For myself, I held onto the Chocomania and Pink Grapefruit. 

Since I'm all about coordinating, which one I use is dependent on the soap scent I'm using. Since I was alternating between a bar of Ivory soap and one from Bubbles Up! (specifically the Chocolate Fudge Marble Soap Cake) I coordinated accordingly with the body butter.

Both scents are obviously very different from one another but both are equally amazing. Their textures were also slightly different from one another. Let's start with the chocolate.

Chocomania boasts that it supplies 48 hours of hydration which is a bit longer than the standard I believe (the others are up to 24 hours). I caught it when it was in store during Valentine's Day so I inappropriately thought it was was specific only to the holiday -- turns out it's still available online. The texture is a bit chunky which is similar to that of shea butter but definitely not as hard and easy to work with. The scent is wonderful, that is, if chocolate is your thing. I would absolutely recommend this in a heartbeat since it's amazing and I'm somewhat disappointed in myself for not giving it a shot sooner.

Pink Grapefruit is an amazingly strong (and therefore delightfully) scented take on the lotion. I was actually amazed at how long lasting the scent of grapefruit was -- add to that that it's quite moisturizing. It may not be as moisturizing as the Chocomania but it still holds it own very well. The texture is slightly fluffier than the Chocomania, but that makes sense as to why.

I love them both and I honestly can't wait till they are done so I can run back in to buy some more.

Product: The Body Shop Body Butters
Price: $20
Stars: ★★★★★
Would Recommend? Yes!
Takeaway: While slightly different textures (based on the skin types that they are for), they work well, feel great, and are long lasting. They are a welcomed addition to my lineup of lotions. 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Review: Dew Puff Bamboo Charcoal

Items were received by Kara's Way complimentary.

As part of my routine, once a week I make use of my facial brush (you can read that review here) so I wasn't exactly sure what to expect from this. Being no stranger to bamboo, I figured it would likely be a bit harsh or at least, as slightly exfoliating (translation: a tiny bit harsh) as my facial brush. Of course, I will remit myself by stating that I really really didn't know what to expect aside from an exuberant Maria (of Kara's Way fame) stating that it was quite soft and surprising.

I got the charcoal one because my skin lends itself to the oily side now while I don't have too much acne issues, it's worth noting that activated carbon assists with the prevention of breakouts.

The puff, when water is added is incredilby soft to touch and wonderfully soft on the skin. I was somewhat amazed, but then the realization as to why they say "don't wring it out" comes into play. You can feel those soft fibers and it often left my skin feeling smooth and soft.

I did use it for a few days (without a cleanser) and I was quite happy with how it worked out. Each day that I used it (for a week), I was surprised at how my face felt -- not too dry nor to oily, it was the perfect feeling for my skin. I almost wish that I could wash my face periodically throughout the day with it to retain that feeling (note: don't do this, it'll end up drying out the skin quite a bit).

As for drying it out, I keep a hanger in the bathroom over the bathtub where I hang it out after I'm done. I squeeze the sponge between the palm of my hands sometimes but very generally, I just let it dry on it's own.

Product: Dew Puff Bamboo Charcoal
Price: $7
Stars: ★★★★★
Would Recommend? Yes!
Takeaway: While rough when dry, add a bit of water and the fibers loosen up and makes for a great cleansing sponge. Leaves the skin feel great and refreshed, and that's without even adding a cleanser into the mix.

Monday, June 3, 2013

A Nail Polish Storage Upgrade

Last year I mentioned that I stored my nail polishes in my BlizzCon lunchbox but since then, my nail polish collection has grown quite a bit and it became unsustainable to keep them in said lunchbox. After checking out different options, I finally decided to grab a tackle box from my local hardware store and voilĂ ! I present my new nail polish tackle box. 

Plano Two Tray Tackle Box w/ Two Spinnerbait Holders

As you might have noticed, I've already run out of space for nail polishes (hence the few bottles on the top tray) but that's why I still have my Scooby Doo Halloween pail. I store a few of my favourites (including my top and base coats in there) for easy access. 

And for any of those wondering, my nails are sporting Zoya's Paz and alternating with each finger is Sinful Colors Pumpkin Spice. 

Red Lady: Nuance Salma Hayek Color Vibrance Lipstick Paprika

I remember when I first heard about the Nuance by Salma Hayek line which is a CVS exclusive, and then spent a huge portion of my time patiently awaiting for it to come into stock (my local CVS tends to not get new releases quickly, it seems). And when it was finally in stock, I couldn't narrow down what I wanted but somehow I figured that I'd take a chance on the lipstick tube of Paprika. 

And I fell in love with it immediately. 

It's likely not much of a surprise that vibrant colours (brighter colours) are something that I'm a bit unused to. Back in the day when I used to wear lipstick frequently, I often opted for gray, dark red, or black lipstick so it's a huge step out of my comfort zone. I bring this up to help readers understand the hesitation with previous tubes of red lipstick. This particular tube however, it's sort of the mid way for me when it comes to red and the dark red that I used before.

It is incredibly creamy and glides on well. It also lasts quite a bit and even though it retains moisture throughout the day, it's not messy. In some ways, I end up thinking about it as a moisturizing red tinted lip balm (please note that it is not, it really is a lipstick but the characteristics is akin). 

Day of wear with e.l.f. lip liner in Bitter (one coat).

Of the ones that I've tried so far, I basically compared them to this tube. It has long been my favourite go-to red and I never feel self-conscious about wearing it. I've always thought of it as quite flattering and it does make me a bit sad that it has once again vanished from the store shelves. For comparison sake, of the 6 others I have tried, Rimmel Kate in 01 was my other favourite and both appear below.

Nuance Paprika & Rimmel Kate in 01.

Although Nuance makeup had vanished from my local CVS, I don't think they've vanished from other CVS stores. The makeup was replaced by the nail polishes which is new for this year and the makeup can still be purchased online. Speaking on Nuance nail polishes though, here's my nifty latest purchase which is a lacquer in Midnight Blackberry.

Product: Nuance Salma Hayek Color Vibrance Lipstick Paprika
Red Lipstick Confidence Level: ★★★★★
Price: $9.99
Stars: ★★★★☆
Would Recommend? Yes!
Takeaway: This is one of my staples as I love the formula and pigmentation. I think it looks great and lasts a long time without ever trully drying out. 

Not Quite a Hiatus

I apologize for going quiet lately -- last month I was prepping for a trip and testing out the lipsticks over on my makeup blog that I had to temporarily suspend the nail polish making for a bit. I can happily say that almost all the people who inspired the nail colours have gotten their batches (with the exception of Kayla). I have another set of prototypes planned and I can't wait!


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