The hybrid CI surgery is done (a week ago today) and I'm recovering nicely. People have asked how I am, how it went, what it's like, etc -- I don't have good words for that yet (thanks, meds!) so I shall have to write that later. Right now, I want to write about my college ring.
[caption id="attachment_4992" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Image description: Close-up photo of two behind-the-ear hearing aids. They are nestled on each other atop a dark brown surface. A simple silver ring band, engraved with the Olin College logo, is looped around one of the hearing aids.[/caption]
Like many people with fond memories of their alma mater, I have a fair amount of college pride, and wear my Olin College ring to show that pride.
Unlike most people, my college ring is also an adaptive artifact/device for my two documented disabilities. I'm deaf, and I have ADHD.
I often wear hearing aids. However, I generally prefer to not have sweaty ear-filling plugs and plastic chunks of computer behind my ear when I can get away with it (i.e. I'm not processing auditory input). Logical, comfort-seeking human than I am, I take them off whenever I have the chance.
And then I put them somewhere. And then I go do something else. And then the ADHD kicks in, and I forget I took them off, and I forget that they exist at all, and... well. You know. A few hours later, I'm running around the room going "WHERE ARE THEY? THESE COST THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS!" Bad things to lose.
Solution: college ring as symbol/token. The ring is small, unobtrusive, and it's easy for me to tell whether it's on my hand. (You'd be surprised at how easy it is to forget that hearing aids are on. Please don't step into a shower with them; they don't like that.)
If I am wearing my Olin ring, it means my hearing aids are somewhere on my person. Often this means they're in my ears, but sometimes it means they are in my pocket. (Yes, audiologists, I know you didn't want to hear that. Seriously, though. I don't carry a padded dehumidifier case with me at all times. I just have pockets.)
When I take off my hearing aids, I take my ring off too. I link the ring onto the hearing aids, like in the picture above. This is just enough of a movement that requires time, thought, and focus -- I have to take off multiple small devices from various points of my body, and thread them together -- that it marks something into my memory that doesn't get wiped out by ADHD-brain. When I look for them later, I can remember that decision and (almost always) the location where I put all three things down. Plus, in the meantime, the lack of the usual ring on my finger makes me aware that my hearing aids are not on me right now and I should probably go get them soon.
So there you go. Environmental adaptations. Usage of college ring. And for the record, I wasn't thinking "wow, look at me working on disability stuff now!" or "ooh, transgressive use of everyday materials to make statement about disclosure and identity!" or... eh, not really. I mean, sure. The personal is philosophical is political, and all that. For me -- I am an engineer. I had a problem, and I had things, and I used things to solve my problem. The solution keeps on working, so I keep on using it. That's all.
A wall of colorful sticky notes caught my eye as I walked through Olin College, so I swung in and asked my friend and colleague (and fellow Olin alum) Alex Dillon what the story was.
Turns out he was doing self-determination theory (motivation) research on engineering courses, wanted to get students more interested in it, and worried they were being turned off by big theoretical words like "internal regulation." So, in fine Olin style, he invited everyone to cover walls with sticky notes... and this was the result.
After Alex told me the story, we drew a thing together. Content from Alex, presentation/art from Mel.