Amanda’s cycling to Rio

Hola!
I’m now on my way home after spending 6 days in Spain. We’ve just lifted off Bilbao for Munich then it’ll be two long haul flights back to NZ.
So what was I doing in Spain? To keep a long story short, my reserve pilot Kirstie James needed to race in a UCI para-cycling world cup to be eligible to race at Rio if she was to be called up (ie if my main pilot, Hannah van Kampen gets injured and can’t race with me or if she called up to be a reserve for our another stoker), and the cut-off date to get Kirstie qualified was when the last round of para-cycling world cup was to be on..Cochlear implant recipient, Amanda Cameron. Paralympics

 

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So Stu (coach), Kirstie and I headed to Bilbao, an old city north of Spain near the border so there are mountains surrounding the area which was pretty. It was where the final UCI Para-cycling Road World Cup before Rio was to be held. Exciting!!
As the purpose of the trip was a simple one, it meant the trip would be short as we had a tight turnaround to get back home and focus on training on track (which is my target at Rio). Kirstie and I were due to race in three days after arrival but disaster struck and our luggage didn’t arrive with us! Lucky I always make sure to have everything for few days in my carry-on luggage… Including charged and disposable batteries!)

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It was a nervous wait for us but my single bike and the tandem finally arrived the day before racing. Half our luggage was still missing and it meant we didn’t have wind-trainers, tools or disc wheels but at least we could race.
Despite me not having a lot of focus on road racing, we finished 6th in the 21km time trial and 7th in the 70km road race, both results I’m really pleased with. It was also Kirstie’s first two tandem races after having only taken up piloting little over a month ago.
In between racing, the three of us got to do a little sight seeing and relaxation. Even when you’re busy or anxious, it’s important to take some time out and enjoy the scenery around you. As I’m a nervous person, I often have to be reminded to breathe and be in the moment. This is a cool short clip with captions (only about a minute long) on meditation. This is something I do often, especially when nervous or stressed (like before a race!) but it’s great to do every moment you can.Meditation – The Huffington Post
Anyway, nearly at Munich! I will write another update soon.

Adiós!

From Amanda Cameron.

Megan’s inspiring story

Megan was born profoundly deaf, but that wasn’t going to hold her back from her swimming dreams. Megan swam in the 2000 Paralympics.

Five years ago, Megan received a Cochlear™ implant and now enjoys hearing lots of different types of birds. Megan is also using the True Wireless™ Accessories and is finding her life easier at work and in the pool.

Watch her story here.

Hamish’s inspiring story

Hamish developed a significant hearing loss at just 15 months old, four month later he received his Cochlear™ implants, and life changed for Hamish and his family.

Upgraded to the Nucleus® 6 Sound Processor with access to Cochlear Wireless Accessories, Hamish has enjoyed using the wireless accessories in his active life. Especially playing soccer. Before his upgrade he struggled to hear his soccer coach over the other children on the field. Now with the Mini Microphone, Hamish says he is able to clearly hear instructions over everything else going on – and his skills are improving!

 

Amanda breaks her hearing record!

Hi everyone!

Cochlear Nucleus 6 Blog  It has been a while since my first blog post and so much has happened. I am especially excited to tell you about my recent upgrade to the Cochlear™ Nucleus® 6!

I am still adjusting but so far I really like them. The main difference is the SmartSound® iQ, which manages different types of sound automatically so you don’t have to worry about changing to a different program. The programs you have in older processors (i.e Everyday, Focus, Noise and Music) can now be all automated!

And another pretty cool thing is that it has wind reduction! It is perfect for where I live – Wellington, the windiest city in the Southern Hemisphere. I haven’t had a chance to experiment with it too much as it’s been winter and I haven’t been outside much. I’ll be sure to let you know when I do.

The first week after the upgrade, it felt like I wasn’t hearing a lot and I was missing background information, which was unnerving. All this is normal while you adjust, I have always been used to having background noise so having less of this now takes a bit of getting used to. I did notice, however that I could pick up speech much clearer and easier.

Last weekend I went out for brunch with a good friend of mine, usually I would have some trouble hearing in the café, but I didn’t. It was great! I was picking up on everything she said. Win 🙂

The Nucleus 6 also comes with optional wireless accessories. There is the mini microphone, a TV streamer and a Bluetooth phone clip.

I have the wireless mini mic and let me tell you – it’s amazing! It is so cool to finally not have to wear ‘special’ earphones or hooks when listening to music – this means when I am using the mic, all I need to do is activate streaming on the processor or Remote Assistant/Control and it’ll connect! I have total freedom moving around with no wires or external receivers; you just have to be within seven meters of the MiniMic.

I have tried placing the mic in front of the TV speakers and found the speech clearer; I have listened to music with it plugged into my phone or iPod and I loved it. I have yet to try it in formal situations but I have meetings at work coming up where I will try this, again I’ll keep you posted. Both the remote and the mini mic stays in my handbag all the time as it’s so easy to whip out when I need it. Cool eh?

The Nucleus 6 is a lot smaller than the Freedom® and slightly shorter than the Nucleus 5. I chose a brown processor to match my hair colour but you can also order coloured covers to snap on. I have the pink (this is Barbie pink, guys!), blue, grey smoke and black swirls. I’m going to customise a set to match my NZ kit so I’ll be sure to post this when it’s done!

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I’ll be back soon once I’ve tried out a few more features, but in the meantime if you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments below.

Amanda 🙂

Letting go and letting him.

The hall is lined with a super warm sleeping bag, a comfy mattress, a bag stuffed full of warm clothes, then a smaller bag that, to me, is the most important of them all – the bag containing Isaac’s Cochlear™ parts and accessories.

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This is the moment that I’d hoped for but am not ready to let happen. This was it, the plan we had as parents. We wanted Isaac to have the same opportunities in life as his three older brothers. The long weekend here in Melbourne hosts the sporting event: “State Youth Games” that my older boys have participated in with not much thought from me. This time is different – but is it?

Isaac is fully independent. He’s able to listen well, assess situations and is part of anything he wishes (all true in my mind). Then I think about the mud, the rain, the games, the … the fact that I’m not with him.

My need to worry is diminished by the Mini Mic and the Aqua+ accessory If it pours with rain (as it tends to do on these camps) Isaac can still participate in the sports without having to be embarrassed by leaving the field. The Mini Mic reassures me that he can be communicated with and hear the calls of the referees and leaders.

So, really what am I concerned about? The fact that my boy is growing up? The fact that he no longer needs me like he used to? I know Cochlear have provided him the very best potential for a wonderful life, and we have skilled him as much as we can as parents, so he can truly live life to the fullest.

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Isaac (middle) with his brothers.

So, it’s a coffee for me, and preparing the laundry for his muddy return and just being grateful that the journey has been all we’d hoped for and worked towards.

Funny, the only concern for Isaac is that he gets the mandatory designer hoodie that comes with those who participate in the events.

So chill out Mum and enjoy the peace of a quiet home for the weekend.

From Mel M.

Cricket, hearing and hilarity with Lance Cairns

By the mid 1970’s I was playing cricket fulltime, whether it was 1st class representing New Zealand or playing as a club pro in the United Kingdom. Hearing problems were starting to arise but I wasn’t too concerned… After all, I was playing sport for a living and the hearing thing was not really a big issue.

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In the early days representing NZ, the match payments were shocking. Then Kerry Packer came on the scene and introduced the new game, 50 over cricket. He gave us coloured clothing to wear, we played with a white ball and half the game was played at night under lights. A brilliant change to sell to the public and boy, did they love it! Here in NZ the players soon became household names, especially with the stay at home housewives. They loved the idea they could switch the television on just after lunch and watch this new game. Lots of husbands would arrive home to no tea (dinner) on the table as the wife was too caught up in the game.

The match fees certainly made it worthwhile to be involved. Australia introduced a tri-series which in the early days involved Australia and New Zealand and one of the other test playing nations. This meant for a number of years we had to spend Christmas in Oz. One of our team priorities for this was to hold Christmas lunch where all the team members would receive a little gift. John Wright was always the MC and when your name was called you went up to the front and got your pressie. He would call my name out very softly, then again a little louder and the third time he would scream my name out as loud as he could. Up I go to get my gift and have to unwrap it in front of the guys – two very large plastic ears which of course I had to put on and wear them for the rest of the function. When we finished I had to hand my gift back in and I was given these ears for about 4 Christmases in a row…The boys found this pretty humorous, which I didn’t mind as it was just the boys having a bit of fun.

Lance Cairns- The-benson-hedges-world-series. Photo courtesy of Sports World Cards
Lance Cairns- The-benson-hedges-world-series. Photo courtesy of Sports World Cards

During this time the Oz and Kiwi boys got pretty close as we were playing against each other so often. Drinks in each other’s change rooms were compulsory after a match and the sessions we had in the Aussie’s room at the S.C.G. were legendary. Doug Walters who started out as a Rothmans representative and later became a Tooheys representative, installed a huge fridge on the back wall of the home dressing room at the S.C.G. which of course, was stocked with Tooheys products the following year and he had installed another huge fridge on the back wall. We always made sure the fridges were empty before we left the ground.

I had an interesting experience one time at the M.C.G. A part of the ground is called Bay 13 and this area attracts the more vocal patrons and maybe a few more ruffians who like to give the fielder near them a pretty torrid time vocally. Because of my hearing, I was always allocated this area to go and field in as they could scream blue murder at me and I wouldn’t take any notice… except once when I heard this female voice calling out “sign please!” I turned around to sign her book, but no book in hand… just her chest. Of course I signed it.

Cheers Lance.

On the road to the Paralympics

Hi, my name is Amanda Cameron and I have just celebrated 15 years with my first Cochlear™ implant. My second one is 5 1/2 years old and I love them both, I don’t know where I would be today without them.

I was born profoundly deaf, I was diagnosed with Usher Syndrome type 1 when I was a bit older, which means deafness and retinitis pigmentosa (slowly deteriorating vision). At the moment I have 20 degrees vision and it’s basically no peripheral vision and I see through a tunnel.

I got my first implant when I was 11. I remember the day of switch-on and it wasn’t a particularly happy day for me. I thought everything sounded awful and it was just a whole lot of beeping and everything sounding the same. However, the first morning with my processor on, I kept hearing these really annoying consistent sounds so I grumpily asked my parents “What is that noise?” They were really amazed and told me it was birds singing which I had never heard before.

It probably took a good few weeks to adjust to the new sounds but after then I was back to normal routine, except with better hearing. I went to mainstream school, continued in my ballet and occasionally went back up to the hearing clinic for re-mapping. It wasn’t always easy but it does get quicker and you learn lots – what used to be an hour and half session with the audiologist now only takes 20 minutes.

I finished school and made the big move down to Wellington to study Architecture. A few years later, I decided I wanted a second implant, reason being I wanted to hear more especially with my deteriorating vision. I thought one was great, but I wanted to be more independent and secure because I have no idea what the future holds for me. I was very fortunate to be able to go private this time, and went for a second implant.

The second time around wasn’t as easy, as I was transiting from no hearing to an implant, whereas the first time around, I wore hearing aids right up to the surgery. It’s still not as great as the first one but I have noticed a definite improvement in having two implants. I wouldn’t change it for anything now!

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I am even representing NZ in sport, and it wouldn’t be the case without my Cochlear™ implants. I race on a tandem bike under the blind/vision impaired category, with a sighted pilot, and communication between the pilot and myself (the stoker) is paramount for good results in training and racing.

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I was never very sporty growing up even though I was always involved in something, I did ballet for 10 years when I was young. I played team sport including netball, soccer, tennis and badminton before I gave it up due to lack of peripheral vision and then I just kept fit by running and occasionally swimming and gym work.

It wasn’t till nearly 2 years ago when I was watching Attitude TV (a documentary series every Sunday morning featuring disabled people and their lives) when I became really inspired by other disabled people in sport, one striking me in particular. That was Mary Fisher, a blind swimmer and a world champion.

It made me crave a challenge and something I could do for myself. I got in contact with Paralympics NZ, who introduced me to tandem cycling. At first I scoffed at the idea and thought the idea of me cycling was ridiculous. But I had asked for a challenge and I am not one to give up so here we go.

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I began a training programme, attended a camp and began competing nationally and internationally. I am not a natural at my sport or the best, but I train and work hard and today I’m in the Academy Squad. My pilot, Hannah and I are currently striving for Podium Squad as we continue our journey to Rio 2016.