Caroline Schwabe: My Beautiful Cyborg

Deconstruction, Podcast, Podcasters, Religious Trauma, Secular Grace, Spirituality
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I begin every streaming interview with a question, “hi, can you hear me?” Never has an affirmative answer to such a mundane question been so profound as it was with this week’s guest, Caroline Schwabe. Caroline had progressive hearing loss and eventually could no longer speak on the phone even with hearing aids. Almost by accident, she was referred to a Cochlear implant program in Canada during a routine hearing test. January 28, 2018, was her last deaf day. She has been on a three-year journey of rediscovery after receiving a Cochlear implant.

I’m deaf-not-deaf.

Along with her husband, Andreas, Caroline co-hosts a podcast called My Beautify Cyborg about her Cochlear implant journey. It describes the hopes and fears leading up to surgery and the joy and rediscovery after turning on the implant. Caroline’s gratitude and joy is infectious and comes through in each episode.

Caroline and Andreas had experienced major disappointments and hurts from the Church. At the same time she was going through the implant process, both she and her husband were slowly leaving the Church. If not a full blown deconstruction, they have been asking very hard questions and wrestling with the answers. This episode is unique in that there are two parallel stories: one of regaining hearing and one of questioning one’s faith.

Podcasts have played an out sized role in Caroline’s rediscovery of hearing and language recognition, including this one.


My Beautiful Cyborg

Links for Cochlear implant information



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Podchaser - Graceful Atheist Podcast


“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats


NOTE: This transcript is AI produced ( and likely has many mistakes. It is provided as rough guide to the audio conversation.

David Ames  0:11  
This is the graceful atheist podcast. Welcome welcome. Welcome to the graceful atheist podcast. My name is David, and I am trying to be the graceful atheist. As always, please consider rating and reviewing the podcast on pod or the Apple podcast store, and subscribe to the podcast wherever you are listening. Special thanks to Mike T for editing today's show. On today's show, at the beginning of every streaming interview that I do I say something along the lines of Hi, can you hear me? Never before has the affirmative answer to that mundane question been more profound than in the case of my guest this week. Caroline's Schwabe. Caroline's progressive hearing loss was expected due to family history, but no less devastating. The expense of hearing aids and testing and all of that work was daunting. And she was beginning to lose her ability to be in a conversation. She couldn't speak on a phone anymore. Until that is she became eligible for a cochlear implant, which transformed her life. Along with her husband on dress, Caroline co hosts a podcast called my beautiful cyborg that is about her journey of hearing loss and the cochlear implant and the regaining of her hearing. Caroline is about to tell us that story. But intermixed with that is devastation about her husband wanting to attend seminary and that falling through, and various church failures that affected them deeply. So in the midst of regaining her hearing, Caroline was also in some forms of deconstruction. The thing I want you to listen for, and the emphasis is on the word Listen, is the joy that Caroline expresses. When I'm trying to talk about secular grace, it is about thriving, not just surviving, and Caroline is thriving. And you can hear the joy for life, the joy for regaining her hearing, the joy for the simple things that she had at one point in time lost and has now regained. Here's my conversation with Caroline Schwabe.

Caroline's Schwabe, welcome to the graceful atheist podcast.

Caroline Schwabe  2:48  
Thank you, David. Thanks for having me.

David Ames  2:51  
I will acknowledge here that we have had previous conversation and we may refer back to that a few times. But Caroline, you have such a very unique story that I'm gonna let you get into in just a second. But what was really kind of tugged at my heart. It was telling me that my podcast and other podcasts that deal with faith deconstruction was such a major part of of your life. So I'm kind of just teasing here. We'll get to why that is. But let's begin with what was your faith tradition.

Caroline Schwabe  3:27  
I was born to German immigrants to Canada, and they raised they baptized us kids into the Lutheran tradition. So I grew up going to Sunday school and got involved with the youth there. My parents weren't really involved in the church, weirdly, but I enjoyed it. I actually, the Sunday school thing was kind of the obligation that my parents wanted to fulfill their baptismal promises that they made during my baptism. But as I got a little bit older and got involved with VBS, it was all me I wandered over to the church by myself and I, and in terms of the youth group stuff, I got involved on my own too. And, you know, I, I just liked it. There was a sense of community and I liked the tradition. I liked the ritual, actually, of church, and just the feeling of being there with people that I knew and just I was kind of a spiritual kid, if that makes sense.

David Ames  4:29  
It makes complete sense. Yeah.

Caroline Schwabe  4:30  
Yeah. I kind of had deep thoughts when I was even just a little girl. And, um, and then just carried on with that through high school and stuff. And when I was 19, I went to like the first national Canadian Lutheran church youth gathering that was in in Thunder Bay. And I had met this guy at the sandwich machine, and I was like, I'm not here to be boys. Yeah, I'm gonna go now and And my friend and I were sitting in the bleachers at Lake had University and we heard this unbelievable beautiful piano music just resonating through the auditorium there. And I was like, Where's that coming from? So we, the two of us ran down to the piano was this guy had just met at the sandwich machine. And he's playing this just gorgeous music. And someone like rang the lunch bell, and everybody disappeared. And it was just me and this guy sitting at the piano. So I, I actually settled up next to him. And I played piano at the time, too, had taken, like the, the more regimented route to playing music. So I read music, and I practiced, and then I would be able to perform a piece but only after several weeks of practicing and learning. And this guy was just playing. He's he says, oh, yeah, it's original. I'm like, What do you mean, it's originally so I wrote it. And he had these beautiful hands, and I couldn't believe he was single. So we fell in love immediately. And Andreas and I got married apart me engaged the very next day. So we were engaged very, very quickly. And, you know, when as, as we have talked about that, it's been really interesting, because the day after we were engaged, so like, the third day of knowing each other. We all just sort of laying it all out and telling each other the things that might be we were trying to be very, very honest. Okay. And, and so he told me some stuff. And I said, Yeah, well, I'm probably going to be deaf one day, too, because my mom's deaf and it's genetic. And it's on her side of the family. And he's like, Oh, by the time that's happening, they will come up with a solution for that. Okay. So he, and and that gives me some comfort, you know, knowing that he was okay with it, and that there would be something for that later.

David Ames  7:04  
Right? Can we just acknowledge that that's a pretty big deal. That's a pretty Yeah, after three days of knowing each other, you're engaged, and you drop the bomb that you have genetic propensity towards deafness.

Caroline Schwabe  7:19  
You know, I agree with you wholeheartedly. And at that moment, because it was such a big part of my life. I mean, my mom was just deaf. So that was just normal for me. Yeah. It's really hard for me to explain. But to me, it didn't seem like the worst thing in the world or a big deal. It was like, when this does come about, you're going to have to learn to deal with that, like, we're going to figure out how to communicate. And I'm going to read lips just like my mom does. And I'm going to probably have hearing aids and all this stuff that, to me was kind of normal, it was just had always been part of my life. Obviously, from the time I was born, so my mum was a little older. She was 36 when she had me and so by then she was already wearing hearing aids. And I didn't know any other way to go through life, but to have someone in my life with hearing impairment. So yeah, I do absolutely acknowledge it now, but at the time, at the time, I didn't think too, too, too much of it. So anyway, he was pretty brave. Yes, in that regard. And he also told me, and we were both very much on the same page in terms of our faith and our approach to life and our outlook on the future and just the things that are important in a marriage. So he told me, he wanted to go to seminary and be a pastor and I was interested in going to university and working towards becoming like a deacon s or what they call it in the Lutheran church at that time was a parish assistant. Okay. So and that was like the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod was was the the sort of mother organization from which the Lutheran church Canada had been born. So in case anyone's interested, that's the flavor of Lutheran. Yeah,

David Ames  9:20  
no, I think that's important, right? Like the the diversity of faith backgrounds is important. And so there's going to be somebody out there who's, you know, Missouri citizens or candidate literally from Canada. They're going oh, that's my story.

Caroline Schwabe  9:35  
That's exactly right. And you know, it does make a difference in terms of some of the, the understanding of faith and theology and all that stuff. So when I moved out here, the plan was that we would work for a couple years and then Andres would go to seminary and then we would be a pastor and I would be pastor's wife, you know, usually plays piano and teaches Sunday school and helps out in the church. And so I'd basically be a church worker, whether I liked it or not. And I was I was all up for that. So that's, yeah, that's where we came from. But I don't know if you want to go into how we left the church right away, or Yeah, I

David Ames  10:21  
think just because I know a little bit of the story. The plan to do seminary didn't pan out exactly the way you intended. Correct. So you want to tell a little bit about that story?

Caroline Schwabe  10:31  
Yeah, yes. And no. Because it was a pretty, it's a pretty terrible strike. So we saved up all our money, and we made all the necessary arrangements to take that step and go to school. So we moved, and Andreas quit his job. And he was ready. And it was, he was supposed to start right away. And he went in to the seminary for something I don't even know what and they said, Oh, you're just on time, the President just waiting to see you. Or, sorry, the one of the deans, okay. And he's like, I don't have a meeting. And they said, Oh, yeah, you do. You went in. And they. Now I just need to preface this with all of the years that everyone we knew, had encouraged Andreas to go into the ministry. These were people from the Concordia University where he had attended, where he was he had graduated from these were parents and family, friends, these were professors at the seminary itself, anyone within our churches, I mean, it just goes on and on. Every single person encouraged him to go into the seminar. And he goes, he goes into this unexpected meeting. And he's told that his application has been declined. And they and they wouldn't tell him the reason. So I think that a lot of listeners might be able to understand just how devastating that news would be. This is the future that we have been dreaming about for at least five years. We were already married five years by this time. This is the only thing we've ever intended to do with our life together. And now we're being told that that's not going to happen. And not only not only is it impossible, but there's no there's no reason that we're going to tell you Ouch. Yeah. Andreas. I mean, I think it's very understandable that he struggled tremendously. And so did I just kind of went through life like a zombie for the next little while, and he suffered all sorts of physical and emotional difficulties from, you know, anxiety and nausea and sleeplessness, and just suicidal thoughts. And I mean, he was quite devastated.

David Ames  13:13  
Yeah, justifiably so. Yes.

Caroline Schwabe  13:15  
Yeah. And I think for my, I can only really speak to what I was thinking at the time, but I remember, I was angry, but more so I just felt a sense of powerlessness. I was like, you know, there are these powers that be these lead, quote, leaders of the church. And they clearly pull all the strings here. And I'm just a little it's gonna say, peon member, like, I'm just a plebe. And I, you know, I can change things in my household, and I can have an impact on things that happen on my street and in my community. And, you know, maybe even in my congregation, but after that, I just felt a sense of, Wow, I'm just, I'm powerlessness here in this situation. And so I made a decision for myself in order to protect myself that I would no longer get involved in any of the politics of the church. So or, or even really get into any of the committees and leadership. So I did teach Sunday school. I think I sang in the choir a couple times and sort of, I don't want to say a state at the periphery, but I didn't get into the meat, the nitty gritty of church stuff. I kind of I closed my heart a little bit at that point. I was just so injured.

David Ames  14:42  
Understood. Understood. Yeah. So you said explicitly that the the people in your lives were, you know, pushing Andrea not pushing. We're encouraging Andrei is to go to seminary. Did you also both of you have a sense that God was guiding you to do that?

Caroline Schwabe  15:00  
I certainly did for myself, like I, more than anything to be honest, I wanted to be a mom, and, and raise kids. And that didn't work out either, by the way, but that's another story. So I can't speak for Andreas, I know that his faith was very deep and very strong. And he was very committed to not only his, his faith, and his, you know, personal faith life, but also to the church in quotes that the church the you know, we believe that or sorry, it's hard to change your language when you change your thinking about spiritual things. So when I say we, I mean, the tradition in which I grew up the Lutheran tradition, they, yes, believe that all believers are the church. So Right. And that's the quote, but there's also that concept of the institution, so the Lutheran Church in Canada, and then we have sin, it's within. And you know, that there's, there's always going to be church politics. So that's what I'm talking about. Andreas was very, you know, involved and committed to the organization as well.

David Ames  16:19  
Right. I guess the the impetus of my question is, there's an element of feeling rejected, feeling rejected by the organization. But there's this added layer of this is supposed to be something that that God is guiding you to do. And so there might have been, and I'm curious what your experience was a sense of God rejecting you as pastors.

Caroline Schwabe  16:45  
I know that he's most certainly felt rejected by the organization. And I think that we always, to be truthful, I think that we've both of us have always kind of separated in our minds. And in our hearts, there is a difference. There's the organization and the earthly. That's the best word organization of these people that believe the same thing. And then there's, there's your personal faith in what you believe, who you believe God to be. So I didn't personally feel rejected by God, I was like, this world, this earth thing, and these people are Turks. And there's something wrong here. And you know, you talk about, in general, it's I was like, yeah, there's still you're still gonna find problems in the church, because it's made up of people and people are sinful. And that's, you know, that's always jammed on you throw it is how sinful we are. Yes, so it wasn't a huge surprise that oh, there's, it's not perfect. So that I always kind of wrote it off to that. I didn't, like I said, I didn't personally feel the sense of rejection from God. And I don't think Andres did, either. But I can't really answer that question for him. I know, he was devastated. And he was very depressed. And he certainly felt he has had lasting repercussions from that. In fact, he has PTSD from that incident, because of that sense of rejection, like, just shame and self hatred, and lots of really ugly stuff that came out of that. And I suppose that must tie in with his sense of who he is, and his value as a person. But again, I think maybe one day you're gonna be chatting with him as well. And

David Ames  18:38  
yeah, absolutely. And I'm sorry, to it feels like this was a very leading question. And I didn't mean for it to be that way. So I think I read you loud and clear. That was devastating enough as he is. And so Oh, yeah.

So you mentioned earlier, you were kind of feeling like a zombie for that time period after that. Is this the beginning of the hearing loss as well?

Caroline Schwabe  19:10  
Yeah, I'm actually the hearing loss started a little bit before that. So I was only we were only married for a year or so I was 21. By the time I had my first pair of hearing aids, and that hearing loss continued as the years went on. So my hearing just degenerated year after year, I would get tested regularly, and we would spend we spent an awful lot of money on hearing aids which is really important you need to aid your hearing if you if you have a loss. What happens is if you don't aid a hearing loss, your brain kind of forgets to understand to be able to interpret words and so it's a use it or lose it type of situation here. Yeah, and Andres was very encouraging And, in fact, he was most often the one who said, hey, it's time we need to, to upgrade your hearing aids. He convinced me to get my first pair of digital hearing aids all those years ago. And I didn't believe that they would be that different than analog AIDS. But he played a clip online of sound recorded through these new swanky new digital hearing aids. And I said, I said out loud, I call bullshit. And he said, Caroline, let's just, let's just try it. And we're talking about a lot of money we're talking about,

David Ames  20:36  
and you're young, and you'd probably don't have the cash on hand for that kind of thing.

Caroline Schwabe  20:39  
No, it was always a burden. But we that's what I'm saying. He was very, very supportive and always said, like, nothing's really more important than this, Caroline you, you need to be able to hear to function and to have the kind of life that we enjoy. So a social life, and just, you want to give yourself the best chance. So we did we bought those aids, and, um, you know, just to kind of give you an idea, we're talking about $7,000 for a pair aids back then. It's a lot of money. So it was a big decision. But yeah, it was great. And to be truthful, also, that was the last pair of hearing aids, that made a big difference for me, because my loss just continued over the years. And by the time I was 1448, it was time to get a new pair again, and both of us that, like, we're going to spend a lot of money again, and is it really going to help? Because I've already got the best, most powerful aides available right now. And I'm suffering,

David Ames  21:50  
right. And you said, I think specifically 15% speech recognition in ideal conditions, that's kind of where you were at?

Caroline Schwabe  21:59  
Yeah, can you imagine that. So just to give you an idea of how this works. When you go for hearing test, you they put you in a sound booth. So ideal, right, like you should be able to hear a pin drop in there. But as a hearing impaired person, you don't. So you're sitting there and they do the series of beeps, and you just click a clicker every time you hear a beep, and those those tests are fine. But then they do a word recognition test. And they start where you can still see them. Okay, so my word recognition, when I could read lips was actually pretty good. It was like in the 90 percentile. So 94 or something like that. But the minute they covered their mouth, and I could not see the words

David Ames  22:47  

Caroline Schwabe  22:49  
it was, I hated it, it was the most frustrating thing is like failing a test, but you've got no chance of passing it in the first place. So yeah, 15%. And in my left ear and 11% in my right ear, for Yeah, so it was really, really crappy and awful. And I will also mention just that, since since we're talking about faith in the church and all that it was no secret in our congregation that that I had hearing loss. And Julius would advocate for me and try to get them to put a new sound system in and because I mean, I wasn't the only one. There were lots of all these in our congregation, mostly all these people. And, you know, hearing loss is invisible. He can't see it, I look fairly normal somewhere. And there's, there's no visible disability there. And a lot of times, those of us who do you struggle with hearing, it gets embarrassing after you ask two or three times, pardon me. So you, you, you, unfortunately, adopt this bad habit of faking it. So you're not and you smile a lot and you laugh on cube and everybody else laughs even though you didn't get what was said. So the problem is that we make it worse for ourselves because we make it look like we're normal. And we can hear when really, that's not what's happening. And we're being left out of social situations and any conversation and I couldn't hear the sermon. I couldn't hear anything that was going on at church. So the one accommodation that was made for me was that a few pastors would print up the sermon, and I could follow along while they preach. So that was like the only accommodation that ever happened for me in church, for my hearing loss. But we did keep going to church even after the seminary thing and we kept going and we kept going because we were faithful and we wanted to do the right thing. Yes, you know, so yes, the hearing loss just continued and it just go Kept deteriorating. In the meantime, we got really involved with cycling and kayaking. And we had this other group of friends. And yeah, it was great. It was actually a good time of life and a weird time life because I was getting different differ, but our group of circle of friends was getting bigger and bigger. And it was really exciting. And we would go on these beautiful kayaking trips to like Vancouver Island, Pacific Rim National Park, I mean, take a gang with us. And, and, and I did these crazy bike races and endurance. It was like, sort of an interesting time really, to be not able to hear but so physically active and socially, actually engaged, right? So our friends were pretty good. They would try to include me and make sure that I knew what was going on. But it's it's really hard, because like I said, people forget it's invisible.

David Ames  26:01  
Forgive me, sometimes I like to find an analogy of just my own experience. And I don't mean to minimize in any way. My experience trying to learn another language. When I speaking to a native speaker, it isn't so much that I don't know the words, it's that my brain doesn't pick up the sounds they're making. And I wonder if it's analogous. Is it similar?

Caroline Schwabe  26:25  
Well, you mean being deaf? Well,

David Ames  26:28  
I mean, yeah. Again, obviously, this is a totally different thing. Make that 100%? Clear. But But yes, the loss of speech recognition specifically, yeah, you're hearing something. But it isn't translating into words for you.

Caroline Schwabe  26:43  
Yes, it that is a lot what it's like, and it's also there are so many Monty Python sketches and others. Oh, if you think about Charlie Brown's teacher, wah, wah, wah, like you're just you're hearing some sound. But no, consonance. That was my experience. And in fact, in fact, when I took my hearing aids out towards the end of my deafness, which sounds weird, but we'll get to it. I took I took my hearing aids out, and I remember going

I would make all the constants and I got nothing. Oh, wow. There was just silence. And I thought, Wow, I'm so like, How can I be this? And how can I be this Dev? Without even realizing that I'm here that I got this death now?

David Ames  27:51  
Right? It snuck up on you.

Caroline Schwabe  27:54  
It sneaks up on everybody. We're sadly, the person experiencing the hearing loss is always the last one. To know it. It's always a family member or colleagues or somebody who says, you know, something's going on, you know, you're not catching what I'm saying. And I know people try to be gentle about it, but the person with the hearing loss is going to deny it. Left, right and center. Yes, there they will, every time. And so I was no longer in denial. I just didn't realize how little I was catching despite, despite the frustration, and the isolation and the difficulty following any instructions, just as an example. There was so much it was so obvious. And yet when I couldn't even hear continents at all, it was still pretty striking. So to answer your question, it is like another language. It's like just hearing someone with marbles in their mouth or someone brushing their teeth and trying to say something to you. You're like, Oh, I know you're speaking but those sounds aren't making words. Right? Okay, that's what it's like. So you there's no information being transmitted. The only information I got was through lip reading, and body language. And I was pretty good at it. I mean, I was working through this whole entire time. I was serving tables in hotel restaurants. That's what I have been doing. For for my work for all my life. And so to think that I manage that is actually kind of remarkable. I just have found a million coping mechanisms. And just so many people asked me, How did you do that? How did you work as a server while you were Dev? And I tell everybody well, first of all, this the the Clients are sitting. So they're fixed. They're in a fixed spot. One of my pet peeves with certain people get up and walk around and then ask me for stuff. I'm like, you have to face me and speak clearly, we don't understand what you need right now. Anyway, they would, they would be in a seat, and I could move myself around to the place that I could see their lips and understand. And usually people, when they put their order in to their server, they'll point to the item on the menu. So I would you always use that as a clue. And just several other things that I made work for me and my colleagues were always really wonderful and helpful and understanding and compassionate. So that was, that was good, too.

David Ames  30:42  
What I always hear when I hear someone describe the compensating mechanisms that they have to do for whatever they're overcoming, is what a genius you had to be, like, how many other forms of information you are gathering, in order to make, like you say, information out of that data?

Caroline Schwabe  31:00  
Yeah, I received a few compliments from some dear friends before it's like, my one girlfriend in the States. She was in Seattle. And she said, Caroline, I think you're brilliant. I mean, I don't know how you can come up with considering how little information you're getting. You're still able to carry a conversation. I mean, wow. And later on, that wasn't even possible anymore. i One of the things that happened during a hearing test once Andreas came with me, and he sat with the hearing a practitioner who was doing the test at the time. And during the word test. I was you know, bombing Right. And, and this, you're supposed to say, whatever you can hear. So if you only get a portion of a word, say that word. The the practitioner says the word ditch. Okay. And I find your laughing I know what you think. But I heard I just didn't care. I just didn't know what he said. So I hear I said girge. Like, I just was like I heard Gert So ever since that day Andreas and and he just about fell off their chairs laughing at this made up word that I came up with. And so anytime I misheard a word after that, we would say, oh, yeah, Gert, like it was just, you heard something that wasn't actually said. And then sometimes the conversation can go on this tangent. And you start talking about this other subject that you thought you heard, I thought we were talking about this. And so I carry on that conversation, and you're going on in a completely different direction. When really were originally, you're talking about another subject entirely.

David Ames  32:49  
I can relate to this from just family members who were older, who the same thing, you're having a conversation with them. And it veers off some direction. You're like, I don't know how we got here, but I'm going with it. I'm going to wing it. Good for

Caroline Schwabe  33:02  
you. Good for you. Because that is the correct thing to do. Just go with it. Yeah, it's absolutely embarrassing when you when that happens. I recall several incidents when in a social situation, that's what happened and it and just mortified. And I think I just didn't say anything for the rest of the night. Because, you know, you feel so stupid, even though it has nothing to do with intelligence. You're just absolutely buried in this. Being being mortified that you you've made this horrific social error. I'm gonna give you one example because I think it's funny. This is Long time ago, and I was on a Skype call with my mother in law. And we were discussing the this 25th anniversary that we were going to put on a dinner for Jason's sister, and talking about the dinner menu and blah, blah, blah. And I hear mom saying, oh, yeah, because they have they have chickens. And I can just let it go. And we continue talking about the menu in the day and all of that. And at the very end of the conversation, I said, Well, Mom, what about the chickens? Andreas turns very slowly looks at me. And he's like, I'm completely out of my mind. What are you talking about Caroline, and Andreas had this way over the years of being able to sort of memorize everything. Every conversation we're having every every sound in the room, he would just somehow make like a mental record of that of the the audio. And so he after looking at me like I was insane. Went through the conversation with ah, they have tickets, they have tickets for Friday night for a choral performance or something. And same thing I felt like such an idiot like How did I get chicken out of tickets? But we're talking. So one of the things that, you know, I like to say is, hey, context really is important. And especially when you're talking to somebody who cannot hear, if you just say, we're talking about the date now, okay, so we can't do it Friday, because they have tickets, it got it as a hearing impaired person, you just, you're so lost all the time. So just if somebody just takes that one minute, to catch you up, and give you some context, do you have a hope of going forward? Right and being included?

David Ames  35:43  
Okay, I think we've got a bit of a visceral feeling for that hearing loss, obviously, not to the depths that you experienced, but we're starting to get a picture for that. We're going to get to very quickly here how technological solution that has changed your life. But before we get there, a quick question about faith. Obviously, you've had the devastating experience of being rejected by the seminary. But did you associate the loss of hearing as with with your faith in a negative way? Or or was it just not an issue?

Caroline Schwabe  36:20  
It was it had nothing to do with that? I am, to be honest, no, I, it was one of those. So I'm kind of a positive person, just generally, I'm, I'm happy. Just in general, I like to embrace the beautiful things in life. And so I always said, you know, I couldn't have picked a better time in history to be deaf. If I have to be deaf. This is a good, this is the time to do it. I don't have to use a big horn. Right, right. Not only not only do we have sophisticated amplifiers that we put into our ears, these hearing aids and they become they're getting better and better all the time. Technology's advancing, but also, we use email, we use texting, every pretty much anything you want to watch is going to be closed captioned, or you can find a way to get it closed caption. So there are all these tools that we can tap into. And I always just said to myself, Oh, there's worse things in life, you know, and frankly, it blows me away that I didn't even realize the devastation. You know, you, you realize that in hindsight, that oh, man, my life was a disaster, like, maybe not a disaster, but

David Ames  37:46  
it was suffering.

Caroline Schwabe  37:47  
It was suffering. And I do remember at one point, I said, I suggested to Andres, that we go to the Deaf Church, because I was like, I can't. I'm not part of the hearing world anymore. But I'm not really part of the deaf community, either. So I felt really stuck and trapped between two worlds. So at that point, yeah, I felt I felt the devastation, but I would say that I leaned on my faith where I, I, it wasn't a reflection of God or anything. It was just life. It was just the burden I had to bear. And I didn't realize how heavy that burden was until later. Till now. Right?

David Ames  38:43  
So obviously, we're, you're able to hear me this conversation

Caroline Schwabe  38:52  
I have to take every single time I have a video or a phone call now. It I get a charge out of it. It's thrilling to me that I can do this. You get just you know, to highlight how great that is. I also have to just mention, I couldn't make a phone call to make an appointment. Just like I just need a dentist appointment. Andreas, can you please call the dentist so that I can make an appointment? And it's this rigamarole every single time and then also just a little complaint? In general, there are these webs a lot of places will say Oh, you can book online. So you go you click to book online. And you know what the message that comes back is Oh, thank you. Thank you for your appointment request. Someone will phone you shortly to confirm and abort to set up the appointment. I'm like that is now what's called booking online. I was so pissed off every time that happened, including my hearing aid practitioners face I was like, Are you effing kidding me? Seriously. You deal with Deaf people all the time. You This is bullshit So I actually ended up getting the the personal phone number mobile number of the receptionist, the lead receptionist, and she would just she and I would just email or text back and forth. I was like, this is really stupid. This is not catering to your client. Oh, but anyway, so that's just my little pet peeve there that I had to mention. It's just ridiculous.

David Ames  40:36  
So do you want to tell us then about the technological solution and how that changed your life?

Caroline Schwabe  40:41  
Yeah, absolutely. It's the most exciting and it's the thing I love to talk about most. So as I mentioned earlier, and I'm 48, and it's time for a new pair aids, oh, man, here we go again. And this time, we just really didn't have the seven to $8,000 to drop. So we decided that we would pop in at Costco, and they do have a really decent Hearing Center and a lot of Costco locations. So we ran in there to see if maybe they had some less costly solutions. And I booked a hearing test with a really lovely girl, who I did not notice had any hearing impairment, but she did. Okay, her name is Melanie and she is Alberta's second pediatric cochlear implant team 30 years ago, and she made my appointment. And she also is the art She is a certified audiologist. And she is the person who did my testing. And at the end of the testing, she asked me if I would mind whether she did a few more tests. And I said not at all, you know, yes, please. Right. And then she asked me one question. She said, Do you still use the phone? And I started just tears rolling down my face. I'm like, Nope, can't do that anymore. And she very gently said, Caroline, I, I'd like your permission to refer you to the cochlear implant program at the Glenrose hospital. It's called the Glenrose rehabilitation hospital. It's like the only hospital in Alberta devoted to rehabilitation. So I was walking out of there thinking, This feels like hope. Well, I I didn't know I was deaf enough to potentially qualify for a cochlear implant, because anything I'd ever learned up until then was that you had to be completely like, like 99% Zero sound. So the way that hearing is measured is by they call it thresholds. So, you probably need a typical hearing person requires 20 dB of sound to to hear to understand any that that information coming in. As you lose hearing, you require higher DBS. So my audiogram indicated that I required 75 to 80 dB of sound just to perceive it. Which which means, I mean, that's really pretty tough.

David Ames  43:19  
Something to me, like I know that's relatively loud,

Caroline Schwabe  43:23  
at DVS. quite loud. And then if you anyway, so it occurred to us at that moment walking out of Costco, wow, we've arrived at this place where we're that depth. And I say we because Andreas and I have always, he's always shared his hearing with me. You know, he's always been been there to help me as we engage in any social interactions. And he's always just made every effort to help me, as I've continued here, and so that was amazing. That was May 2017. And through the summer, I was invited to the Glenrose. I was, you know, the appointments were just made for me, I just showed up. And there's a series of testing that they do. First, I should say that after my first hearing test at the Glenrose, I was approved to enter the program, meaning now we're going to test you further. It looks like you could benefit from a cochlear implant, but now we're going to find out whether that's true because there's there are several factors that could cause an issue or just problems that might mean that you would not be a good candidate. So they did all that testing through the summer. And by the fall, we received news that I was indeed approved. As a candidate, so now, I'm going to get a cochlear implant. And this news was riveting. I mean, we, we were hopeful, but you, you always kind of hold back that bit of hope. Because you could still be rejected from the program, you could still be, they could find something in the way that your physiology is, or they do. Like they test the way your synapses fire in your brain and says anything, could be something that would mean an implant would not be beneficial for you. So when we got that news that I was actually accepted as a candidate, we were just floored, and I was immediately, profoundly grateful. And I said, we have to do something to express that gratitude. So that night, we started a podcast. And it's just, it's called my beautiful cyborg. And we just started talking about how we were feeling about going into this journey, what the process was, and we were basically doing a play by play about every appointment and every new thing that came up and everything we learned about the journey and, and I was still deaf at the time. So the fact that I got through those podcast discussions is kind of remarkable in itself. I mean, we we recorded, oftentimes, we would record an hour and a half and get maybe 20 minutes out of it maybe. Right, right, because I would just do that thing where you go off on another tangent or I just miss your the question. Yeah, it was, it was challenging, but really exciting to see.

At the same time, that year, all that year, Andreas, had been writing a blog. And it was pretty controversial. And I have to backtrack a little bit to the beginning of 2000. I think it was 17, it might have been 16. So he might have already been writing that blog for some time. But the Lutheran church, Canada, Alberta, British Columbia district, had this church extension fund. And you might be familiar with that type of thing. And some of our listeners might might be familiar with that. So it's where members invest money into this fund, where the churches can access for things like building a new building, or perhaps a church extension, or, you know, those types of projects that banks aren't really happy to lend churches money for. And what happened was this fund in Alberta, British Columbia had been mismanaged. So, so greatly to the point that they had lost $80 million of investors. Wow, yeah. And these are old, faithful Christians who are just giving their money to the church for for God's work. And a lot of people that was, for a lot of investors, this was the retirement fund. This was this was, what they how they were gonna, you know, get to stop working, or whatever. And they had a lot of trust in this thing, in this this organization that was supposedly caring for their cash. And so, Andreas blog was a source of information for the victims of this crisis, this financial crisis, and he was not loved at all, by the leadership in the church. In fact, he received David he received death

David Ames  49:02  
threats, oh, man,

Caroline Schwabe  49:04  
he was cajoled. He was he they, you know, various people tried to get him to stop this blogging and and then on the other side, the victims were calling them and emailing and trying to get more information and really being supportive of him. And this went on for a long time. And we kept going to church. Despite this thing, and this, this, the the, the church did nothing for the victims, you know, they they didn't reach out to them at all. They weren't even they were halfway honest about like the first letter that they received from the Senate was get this that the investment had a sufficient cash shortage. And what does that even mean? Are they even into bankruptcy? Right? So bankruptcy protection. And so, needless to say, we were upset about this. And, and it was a big deal in our something that we talked about a lot at home. And eventually, right around the time that I was receiving more information about my implant, the Lutheran church Canada had its national convention in Kitchener, Ontario, and my family, I grew up in Toronto, in Mississauga, Ontario. So I went to see my family, while Andreas went to the convention. And when he came back to me, from the convention, he was like despondent, he was just, I couldn't believe I've never seen him like this before. And he said, a motion was made to discuss this financial loss. And it wasn't even seconded. They won't talk about it, they won't talk about it. And I looked at Andreas and I said, I wouldn't be part of any organization that treats people this way. Not a community League, not a social club. Not a work organization. I we have we are leaving the church, we have to leave the church. And this wasn't a brand new novel idea. I mean, we had suffered, we had suffered all kinds of just negative situations in the church, even after the seminary incident. So it's not it's not like this was a novel idea that it was time for us to leave.

David Ames  51:36  
But this was kind of the straw that broke the camel's back.

Caroline Schwabe  51:40  
Absolutely. And that's exactly what it has it what it was, and we hadn't yet informed our congregation. So but we knew we were on the way out. So mid December, my surgery was booked for December 12. And shortly before that, like a week before, our then pastor came to do a house visit, and just check in with me do a little prayer before surgery, right? And he said, Well, Caroline, you must be You must be feeling some fear, you must be a little bit afraid, because any surgery, you know, has its risks. And I say, You know what? I'm not really scared. This isn't. This is something that I'm choosing to go into. It's not I don't mean surgery, because I have cancer, I need surgery, because I want the best tool, the best, the very best technology to give me a chance of hearing better, and improving my my life in general. And I'm not really I'm not really afraid, well, he's basically trying to convince me that I should be afraid. And I said, You know what, Pastor, if I, the worst thing happens, and I die on the table, well, then I guess that means I get to go to heaven, and I'm gonna here. And if I make it through the surgery, and my implant is activated, I get to hear so either way, it's like a win win. I'm really excited about this, this is the best thing that's ever happened to me. And honestly, he was confused. He just didn't know where to what to do with that. It was it was a short visit. And he took off. And so I had to convince him that there was no no reason to fear here. Which is bizarre to me.

David Ames  53:27  
Sounds like just utterly lacking in empathy to, you know, to read what you were trying to express was your experience in that moment, rather than his his idea of what it might be?

Caroline Schwabe  53:40  
I agree, and at the same time, I think it would be I think that would be a difficult thing for anyone to hear. I think that, you know, if you're a good friend of mine, or if you're, you know, Andreas said that was hard for him to hear too. Because what I was saying was, If I die, I'm willing to take the risk of death to get my hearing. I mean, that's, that's pretty profound. Yeah. That tells you how bad it was.

David Ames  54:11  
I think you're hinting at what a dramatic moment this is for you literally contemplating. Even dying, almost feels worth it to you at that point in time. What was the experience going through the surgery or and even before we turn on, so to speak, the switch? How did that feel?

Caroline Schwabe  54:31  
The surgery is kind of a blip. Like anyone who goes through the experience is terrified of the surgery like you're just you just are your, your body reacts to you. And every single recipient recipient that we've talked to, has had the same story. You usually get sick, like four days, three, four days before surgery, because you're so stressed out and you're and the lead up is is exciting, and you're anticipating what it's going to be like I can of course, you can't imagine, and there are no promises when you go in to receive an implant as to what how much you will benefit from the implants, there's a great variety of outcomes, they're getting better and better and better. And so you the chances of it being an improvement were excellent, really, really good. But there's still no guarantee. So the physical aspect of it, I mean, I could go into the, there was a little bit of pain, but discomfort and some tinnitus, and some, you know, you feel isolated, because you you're as deaf as you you've ever been, right? What happens is through the surgery, you'll typically lose any residual hearing you might have. So now you have zero sound coming into the ear that's implanted. And that was the case for me. So it was a very quiet seven weeks and seven weeks is very long between surgery and activation. But because it was December, Christmas was in there. And the schedules were kind of all over the place. So typically, from surgery, to activation, it's around four weeks, three to four weeks, you know, they let the scar the incision heal up a little bit so that you can put the processor onto this. So there's an internal component, and an external processor that is attached magnetically to your head through so there's a magnet in the head and a magnet on the processor opposite magnets, and they just attach easily. Yeah. So that seven weeks goes by what we tried to keep ourselves busy. With like some crafting projects, Andres bought a 3d printer, which he has used extensively and become really proficient. And so but we pretty much hunkered down. We were at home for the majority of that time. And I did work for part of it too, which was a challenge. I know. Crazy. But anyway, you do what you would you need to do, right? And the lead up to activation is just so exciting. And you're just dreaming. I remember thinking it's like, knowing that you're going to pick up your brother who you haven't seen for 25 years, and you're gonna see him at the airport again, he can't wait to see that dear, beloved person again. And as like, I can't wait to meet my hearing again. What's it going to be like? And how much am I going to get? And what's it going to sound like and oh, you're just full of hope and anticipation. And on the 28th of January 2018. Andreas held up a piece of paper in front of his mouth. And he said, boat, car, dog house a couple of words. And it's Marley doing this. We know I'm gonna get zero. I can. I don't know what you're saying. Yes. And you said it's just we just need to do this just because January 28 2018 was my last Deaf Day. Wow, the 29th They turned on my implants. So now I've got sound coming in. And it was unbelievable. First of all, the sound when you're first activated is not like anything that you've ever, ever ever heard before. It's just completely foreign. And I don't know how to describe it to you. It's, it's, it's like an otherworldly sound. But as time goes on, and your your brain makes an adjustment, and mine did it very, very, very quickly. Within a couple of hours, I was eight I was perceiving words. And in fact, I have some accessories that come with my implant and my processor. So I I'm we're having this conversation right now, using a phone clip that transmits the data via Bluetooth to my processor and that's how I'm hearing so I'm not wearing headphones. And I'm I'm just dreaming to my head.

David Ames  59:31  
So is so amazing.

Caroline Schwabe  59:34  
It really is and and the other thing I have is called a Mini Mic. It's called the mini my to buy cochlear and I can attach it to someone's lapel and they can be quite a distance away and I'm just getting it's a microphone so it's streaming directly to my head also. So Andres took the Mini Mic out into the hallway app activation like at the audiologist at the Glenrose and he In the hallway with the door closed, and I'm hearing him saying random numbers, and I'm getting the numbers. Wow. So he's the day before he's standing right in front of me and I can't get any single word. And after with my implant, I'm hearing random numbers. Without seeing. It's just absolutely incredible. By that evening, I was able to hear every word streamed to my implant that we were, we were watching a YouTube video about sound and hearing and actually concerts for hearing for cochlear implant recipients. And I remember thinking, I'm getting all the words, but I, they're just like, it was just a wash, but they were just kind of, I'm hearing them all, but I'm not getting any meaning. So, so I thought to myself, I'm going to have to just memorize, remember, memorize a sentence so that Andreas believes that I can hear this. So I'm in the kitchen streaming. And I heard the words spectral and temporal resolution. And I run into the living room. I said, Andres, she just said, spectral and temporal resolution. I don't even know what that means. And he just looked at me like, it was just unbelievable. I don't know how else to express that was like a light switch from one day to the next. I was deaf. And then I could hear Yeah. So after that, I had a hard time sleeping. I didn't want to go to bed because I just want to be listened to. Right. Especially having conversations with Andrea's so we would stay up till one in the morning. And I mean, I had to get up at 430 to go to work, you know, the next day. But it didn't faze me. I was I was on adrenaline.

David Ames  1:01:57  
I think a really interesting story you told in our first conversation was, you had the first experience of talking to one another in bed at night with a light off.

Caroline Schwabe  1:02:07  
It was actually in the living room. But yeah, okay. No, that's okay. Yeah, but same thing. Like, can you imagine there's no such thing as pillow talk, and all of a sudden there is Yeah, yeah. Wow. So yeah, we're in the living room. Because we have long conversations. Now. We just can't. So why wouldn't we? Almost like getting to know your spouse again? For the second time, and it was time. Yeah, it was time for me to like, really, I think it was midnight, and he's just turn the light off as a signal like, time to go to bed. It's it. We've been doing this for hours and hours, and you need some sleep. But I could still hear it. Just stayed. And we just kept talking. I think it was another hour and a half before I finally said, Well, how can you believe we just did that? Yeah, we just had a conversation in the dark. Yeah. I mean, maybe for hearing people that sounds ridiculous, because that's just normal. But it's not normal when you're deaf, and you can't talk between rooms. And now we can just think, or just as an example, I'm preparing some food in the kitchen. And I can now I can have a conversation while I do that, where it that was completely impossible before I would have cut my fingers off, for sure. Guaranteed. So it's anything I was doing, I needed to stop and face the speaker and try to understand what they're trying to tell me. Right. So our life has changed in tremendous, beautiful ways. But the other thing that changed was that I did continue to try to listen to music when I couldn't hear. I just cranked up the volume as loud as it would go, whether I was wearing earbuds or if it was like a speaker in the kitchen. I would just it was blaring all the time. And we listened to familiar songs. So that I would just know I would my brain would fill in a lot of the sounds right? But music with music with my CI was a completely new world. In fact, it was a little bit disappointing at first because I couldn't quite I didn't recognize certain songs that were very familiar to me.

David Ames  1:04:21  
Interesting. Yeah.

Caroline Schwabe  1:04:22  
Because I was only able to hear a portion of the song and now I was getting all of it. Right. So just to give you an example, it's like seeing a class picture and, and, and you're zoomed in on one face and then all of a sudden you can see the whole the whole class. Yeah. So that does not look the same. And it takes the brain a little bit of time to be able to put everything in place. And then once I got music, I got a handle on music, which took probably three months. I mean, I got music pretty quickly. Yeah, but it just got better. Better and better to the point where it felt like now I'm just listening to music normally like you do, right? Which is also pretty remarkable for CI recipients a lot of times they never get there. But after that, I started listening to podcasts. Yes. And wow, this was a, it just opened up a whole, completely new world for me. I hadn't listened to the radio for years and years and years. Now I get to listen to the things I'm interested in. And, specifically, you know, ideas about life and impressions of the world and just learning I was voraciously consuming podcasts and loving every second of it. And I would wake up in the morning and wonder what I'm gonna get to listen to today. What can I get me ears? Yeah. So. So I felt like there was this, this huge learning curve happening. And my brain was just opening up. And I felt like I was coming back to life. In fact, I caught myself saying at one point, before I was alive, like it just it was a slip of the tongue, though. Wow. And what I meant was before my implant. So that's the kind of difference that it made to me.

David Ames  1:06:28  
Can we say here that one of the things that the podcast as a podcast as rather than just music is for that speech recognition. And you had gone through that seven weeks being totally deaf as well. And so you were kind of relearning how to understand speech?

Caroline Schwabe  1:06:45  
Yes, I was getting that quite a bit, just from my daily life. Because Andreas and I do talk a lot. And also, I was working. So there was a lot of conversation happening with my guests. And I was so excited, I would talk about my implant to anybody that would listen. But you're absolutely right, that it was excellent practice for a speech comprehension. And in fact, I was struggling with the phone. And listening to podcasts most certainly helped me become more adept with hearing on the phone, through Bluetooth streaming. So after several months of, okay, first of all, after a failed attempt at using the phone, or several failed attempts, I just had a limited understanding. And it was it was very challenging. Then I listened to podcasts for probably three months straight, like every second of the day. And then I tried the Phone Clip again. And it was like almost like magic, almost instantaneous, I was able to make a phone call normally, without any problems. So that was definitely a rehab tool, as well. One of the weird things about CI sound is that often, in the beginning, especially there's no discrimination between male or female voices. So that was something I was working on with podcasts, because often there's two people like to a co hosts talking. And so I was learning how to decipher the informant, the format of the voice, so the character of the voice of the person speaking and yeah, it was, it was a really exciting, beautiful time. Unfortunately, at the beginning, I was looking for Christian podcasts. So I listened to a lot of sermons early on. And, and that was, you know, but it was just all sort of more the same. And as we began to grow in our understanding of the world, and just our take on life. And the further away we got from our active involvement in the church, the more I started feeling liberated, intellectually. So I felt I no longer felt the constraints that the church tends to put on people about what we're permitted to exactly engage in and what we're permitted to learn about. Yeah. So I was like, first of all, the one of the pastors that I was listening to ended up being fired by his congregation. I mean, it was a huge debate. I don't even it was so bad I thought, oh, yeah, just another one of those guys. Wow, why was I listening to his garbage when he's actually just a shitty person? Yeah, he's a shitty person.

David Ames  1:09:44  
Yes. file now free to say that. Yes,

Caroline Schwabe  1:09:48  
completely. Yeah. So in in that liberty in that freedom. I started exploring and I think Andrea suggested, the mind shift. podcasts and you were a guest on their podcast. So that led me to the graceful atheist podcast. And since then I've been listening to several others as well. But one of the things that struck me very deeply and very profoundly was that I felt comforted by so many things that you had said, specifically, one time, in the the anonymous Jeremy episode, I remember you saying, now if you feel foolish for believing this stuff, don't beat yourself up. Like, you know, if you have these regrets, or something, basically, that was what you were saying. And I was just bawling in the backyard listening to this. Because at that moment, I was I was filled with regret about all these years that I had, I don't want to say wasted, but certainly considering constrained myself by continuing in this organization that we cultured, and I realized then that I felt so liberated to just love without any condition, and not feel the necessity weirdly to be judgmental of people. I could just love them as they are, where they are, how they are exactly who they are. Yeah,

David Ames  1:11:30  
I know, I know exactly what you mean. Like, you don't anticipate that that is going to be one of the results of letting go of religious dogma as, Wow, I can just love people, and there's no restraint, there's no guilt, there's no feeling obligated to correct something like, and that is incredibly liberating and freeing.

Caroline Schwabe  1:11:51  
It's, it's wonderful. And you're right, you don't anticipate that you. In fact, it's it's a fearful thing. And that's the other thing that I've benefited by, through through various podcasts and specifically yours, that there's no need to feel that guilt anymore. There's no, you're just sorry, I sort of lost track of what I was gonna say. But what I'm, what I'm really getting at is that sense of freedom and liberty. That's what I was gonna say, actually, you're fearful and you're scared, because you're gonna lose this thing that you clung to, for all these years. Yeah, whatever that thing is, whether it's the ritual or the community, or the other the habit, frankly, of just having this faith tradition, or the practice that you do, you're just used to doing that, and you do it. And that's the way that you live. And that's what you that's how people that's their impression of you that your church going person and all this other stuff this. So it's really actually scary to leave, and to take that big step. But you're right, that liberty and the freedom that comes from that, too, is off the charts. So not only is my life completely brand new in terms of this hunger for every single sound. But also, the shackles have been shattered and reduced and just they're off, right? There's no limits. Ah, and so I was listening just this morning to your most recent episode, and you were talking about the concept of meditation. And I have to say that the kind of attention I'm able to pay to certain sounds that I get just in regular life, that type of thing that you probably or most people would probably just walk by, right? Is is very, very striking. So I'm on my way home one day, walking down the street, and it's spring, probably March after activation, and the snow is melting. And I'm walking by a storm drain and I stop in my tracks. I'm like, Ah,

David Ames  1:14:25  
this is so beautiful. Yes. Just listen to

Caroline Schwabe  1:14:29  
trickling her land to plunk. Yeah. And oh, it was just the most magnificent sound hearing the water running down the storm drain like this ugly thing, this horrible, ugly thing. Or we have these old old doorknobs in our home. They're the crystal doorknobs that we're in old homes, and we just kind of think they're cute, so we kept them. But you know there's a spring in a doorknob. So I get up really early in the morning and I'm I'm just exceeding the bedroom. So I'm trying to not make any sound for Andrea so that he can just keep sleeping. And I'm slowly turning the knob back to close the door. And at the very end, there's this barely audible and yes. Tell somebody that makes it being like it's a beautiful spring sound. So these are the kinds of things that I would almost call that a type of meditation. So I spent all this time just contemplating all the beautiful, magnificent things that that come to us by sound waves. And I want to say, like, it's soul touching. And I know this is an atheist. But But it's interesting, because you guys talked about the soil this morning to on the episode that I listen to this morning. And it was the Depo bit deepest level of experiencing. And I thought to myself, there's something about sound and music. That is, that is soul touching, it is the deepest level of what we can experience in this life. And I can't really emphasize that enough, like, when you don't have it, you don't know you're missing it. But let me tell you, in this situation, when I'm getting back, it's just so striking her moving. Sound is. And I have to think about that more. And, you know, I feel as though I'm at the very early stages of if you want to call it a deconversion there's there's a lot of stuff going on in, in our understanding of who we are as human beings, and part of this beautiful universe. Yeah. And I have a lot more work to do, in terms of, you know, everybody talks about how it takes years and years to get through a D conversion process. And I really believe that wholeheartedly because, yeah, it's already been a couple years. And I feel like we have a long way to go yet.

David Ames  1:17:28  
I think you're at an exciting point in that you have all the questions. And and there's nobody telling you, you have to come to these conclusions. You get to go explore it, just like you've explored the new soundscapes that you're experiencing the music, the podcasts, the intellectual pursuits that you are interested in now, there is nothing that stops you from exploring your curiosity to find out and so I absolutely respect. You know, you don't need to come on the podcast and say I'm a hardcore atheists, you know, wherever you're at, you're asking really important, deep, profound questions. And wherever you land is exciting and up to you. That's the exciting part.

Caroline Schwabe  1:18:11  
It really is. And just that opportunity, I feel as though not only am I finding myself, again, through my hearing, but also I'm finding myself again, in in the context of faith, faith, or whatever you want to call that. Because I know that it's difficult to choose the right words for that journey.

David Ames  1:18:37  
Yes. Well, and the episode you were referring to as Michael Mahvash. And we basically, that's what we were talking about is that like, these words are useful for a reason they express something about the human experience. And even if I personally stripped them of supernatural elements, they still function in some way or another. And so it's hard to express things without them. So

Caroline Schwabe  1:18:59  
I agree. And also, you know, we get, we get in those habits of using lots of words that are associated with the church. And so it's tricky sometimes to just shift them or think about them differently. But But you're right, absolutely. They are useful. And I'm grateful for that.

David Ames  1:19:16  
Yes, Caroline, this has been an amazing story, I have to tell you absolutely unique. One of the most interesting stories that I've heard, and I appreciate, I can't tell you how grateful the I Am, that this podcast has done anything been any part of your discovery of your hearing of the new areas of intellectual pursuit that you can explore in any comfort that that is giving you I just am incredibly grateful for that. I would be remiss if we didn't give you an opportunity to do a bit of a public service announcement announcement about about hearing loss. What would you tell People that is important for them to do.

Caroline Schwabe  1:20:04  
Thank you for that opportunity, I think it's extremely important. So the first thing that I think it's just so important is just get your hearing tested. Even if you don't feel that you experienced any loss at all, it doesn't hurt just to know where you're at, it doesn't physically hurt at all, it doesn't cost a lot of money. And if you find out, you've got great hearing, good for you, go get tested again in a couple years. And just make sure that's still the case, it's really important hearing health affects us in a multitude of ways. It's it's physiological, psychological, social, emotional. Also, as I mentioned, if you don't eat last year, you could run into a lot of trouble, including having a greater propensity to dementia and other cognitive issues in the future. So get your hearing tested, just just be mindful of it. And if you do have any hearing loss, find a way to aid that, find a way to make it happen to get yourself a pair of hearing aids, not only will you appreciate being more connected, but also those around you will appreciate the fact that you can communicate better get your hearing tested. It's an also, if I may two things, I guess when you get your hearing tested, it's very important. But also, if you're ever in a situation, where you think, Oh, that's really loud. Or if your ears are ringing the next day. Please, please don't, don't do that. Again, like learn from that experience. If you're if you're having ringing in your ears, you have put yourself you've traumatized your ears, right. So protect your hearing, make sure that you're going to be wearing earplugs when you're in that kind of environment. If you go to a concert or anything like that. It's more valuable than I can tell you.

David Ames  1:22:05  
Right here. Yeah, I hear that literally. If you the listener are interested in hearing more of Caroline's story, and I think the the wonder and the awe of the process that you went through, you can check that out at my beautiful cyborg, the podcast. And I believe that's just available on all podcasting systems. Yes,

Caroline Schwabe  1:22:29  
it is. And there's also a blog that is available to read, especially if you do have hearing loss and you struggle with podcasts. That's a good way to go. Or I know oftentimes, it's a family member that hears about the podcast or the blog, and then that person refers the hear the person with a hearing impairment to the blog, and then they can read about it that way, because the whole story is pretty much there, too.

David Ames  1:22:55  
That's amazing. And we will of course have links in the show notes for you. So Caroline, thank you so much for sharing your story.

Caroline Schwabe  1:23:02  
Thank you David, too. It was a joy to chat with you today. And I really appreciate our conversation. Thanks.

David Ames  1:23:13  
Final thoughts on the episode? Wow. Caroline's is an amazing story. And Caroline is an amazing person. I cannot imagine what it would be like to lose one of my senses. And then to regain it. Imagine the gratitude that you would feel Caroline expresses that gratitude and that joy for life, joy for listening to the creak of a door or the drain of a sewage system. That's the kind of joy I want in my life. And I am inspired by Caroline. I greatly appreciate the honesty with which Caroline tells her story. I was lucky enough to have a conversation with both her and Andreas earlier before the recording of this episode. And the devastation of the rejection from the church leadership Andreas trying to go to seminary and their hopes for going into ministry. The devastation of the financial failure of the church that they were a part of came through so deeply they were crushed by these events. No wonder you begin to ask some questions. I do want to make it clear. Even Karolina and I discussed that maybe the word deconstruction is a bit too strong of word. I think Caroline still believes on some level. And that's okay. As I said near the end of the episode, she's getting to ask those questions and go search for the answers and follow wherever that search leads. That's the exciting thing is that nobody is telling her or you where you need to land. I also find it fascinating that the hearing loss wasn't the real beginning of deconstruction. It was in some ways after she regained her hearing with the cochlear implant, and listening to podcasts. And from Caroline's first email to me through our first conversation and the conversation you've just heard, I am incredibly humbled, and incredibly grateful that this podcast played even the tiniest part in helping Caroline through that process of language re acquisition. I love the story of podcasts being a major part of her life, as she learns to hear again, regain proficiency at language acquisition. Caroline, thank you so much for being on the podcast. This was an amazing conversation, and I have been deeply affected by it. Thank you to both you and Andreas for your honesty, and your willingness to tell your stories. The secular Grace Thought of the Week is about gratitude. I love the way that Caroline expresses such great gratitude and joy in these very small things. The creek of adore the click of a knob while it turns the water in a storm drain. These wonderful things surround us all the time, and yet we don't see them or hear them or acknowledge them. I often say that is very difficult sometimes to be grateful for the big things to really feel gratitude for big things like like the privilege that you may have, or the house that you live in or the job that you have. But the little things can have a profound impact on your attitude of gratitude. Being thankful for waking up in a warm bed on a Saturday morning, being thankful for talking to your partner until midnight, being thankful for the rain falling on your face. Being thankful for being out in nature and hearing the wind blow through the trees. These little moments if we can stop and acknowledge them, will greatly impact our attitude of gratitude. I for 1am Grateful for Caroline, I am grateful for you the listener, I am grateful for those of you who write me your stories and who are willing to come on the podcast and tell your stories that I get to be a tiny part in that process for you is incredibly humbling. And I am eternally grateful for that. Thank you. As always, I have some amazing conversations that are coming up. As I've mentioned before, I have Sam and Daniel interviewing me, I've just finished editing that. And I'll be interviewing Sam and just a little bit. And so both of those will be out shortly on our respective podcasts. I've recently interviewed Michael from Reverend bones who has a new album out called Escape from heaven. Michael is an activist focused on the damage that purity culture does to everyone. And that was an amazing conversation. And then I just recently had a conversation with Amy Rath, who runs the nun life podcast, which is a great podcast please check it out. She is amazing and inspiring. And I can't wait to share all of these conversations with you. Until then, my name is David and I am trying to be the graceful atheist. Join me and be graceful human beings. Time for the footnotes. The beat is called waves for MCI beats, links will be in the show notes. If you'd like to support the podcast, you can promote it on your social media. You can subscribe to it in your favorite podcast application. And you can rate and review it on pod You can also support the podcast by clicking on the affiliate links for books on Bristol If you have podcast production experience and you would like to participate podcast, please get in touch with me. Have you gone through a faith transition? And do you need to tell your story? Reach out? If you are a creator, or work in the deconstruction deconversion or secular humanism spaces and would like to be on the podcast? Just ask. If you'd like to financially support the podcast there's links in the show notes. To find me you can google graceful atheist. You can google deconversion you can google secular race. You can send me an email graceful atheist At or you can check out the website graceful My name is David and I am trying to be the graceful atheist. Join me and be graceful human beings

this has been the graceful atheist podcast

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