Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Yesterday, Sen. Vitter of Louisiana offered up an amendment to permanently drop anyone ever convicted of a violent crime from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). According to Robert Greenstein, president of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Democrats in the Senate obliged him. The amendment is for a farm bill, which is currently being debated in the Senate.
Just as no one wakes up in the morning and says, “Gee, I think today is a good day to become an addict,” the same is true about biochemically-based mental illnesses. The fact is that mental illnesses and addiction often run in families and often in tangent – so that the bipolar may also have a drug problem due to attempting to treat the symptoms by using recreational drugs and getting hooked.
I have heard the same thing over and over. “If only he loved me more he’d stop drinking/using” or “If she only took her pills she would not be depressed.” or “He’s just on the pity pot.” Variations on the above from parents, children, and spousal units go on seemingly endlessly.
It might be that an addict or alcoholic can be tough loved to health, but add into the mix a major mental illness such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, and the picture changes radically.
Many years ago, in a galaxy far, far away I had a good friend who was a medical professional who had bipolar disorder. This person was religious about seeing the shrink, taking meds, doing talk and group therapy. However, there is something known as “breakthrough” where brain chemicals can shift, sometimes rapidly and radically. One day my friend awoke convinced the CIA was monitoring everything and we got a call that this person had shaved their hair and destroyed all their furniture looking for “bugs.” They didn’t do anything wrong. They could not help what happened.
When we add in a chemical addiction we add in shame and blame to the shame and blame already associated with mental illness. These folks are even more likely to be considered weak-willed. “If only” they did this or that then life would be fine and recovery assured. Except that is not the way it works.
All the psychoactive medication in the world will not fix a breakthrough. A breakthrough may cause someone to stop taking medication. Severe depression may so immobilize someone that they can’t recruit enough internal resources to do what they need to do. It is like the death spiral of a plane in an old WWII dogfight (air warfare) movie.
Tough love does not help someone who is immobilized emotionally due to mental illness. Holding their feet to the fire may cause them to withdraw further. It is perplexing for individuals in the drug treatment field since they’re used to confronting a person on their dysfunctional behavior. It is often more than perplexing to 12 step members who are trying to cure one problem and potentially exacerbating another.
One must first dry a person out from whatever drug of choice they have before treating the mental illness, but there is no magic bullet. And therein lies the problem.
It does not mean that no one with a dual diagnosis ever recovers. They do. But it is a far more difficult recovery. It takes far more group support from their 12 step group members and an understanding that medications that might be verboten for someone else might be required for a person in DD recover.
If we add to the above issues the issue of being Deaf or Hard of Hearing, and without adequate access to interpreters to assist with the mental health or drug treatment process and it seems an almost insurmountable problem. While much of the 12 step material is fairly easy to understand, if a person has only a 3rd grade reading level much of it is unintelligible.
It is critical that we both insure the adequate education of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, but that we also provide adequate resources to assist in mental health and substance abuse treatment. Failure to do so causes individuals to end up on the streets or in jails and prisons when with care, they might be functional members of society.
There I was, Kindle in hand, sitting on the commode; when I noticed a slight movement on my left. Marching towards me was my biggest fear; my source of nightmares and my cause to panic...a slippery, slimy, scurrilous, succubus of a spider.
I froze, afraid to breathe and watched in horror as the arachnoid, that looked to me to be the size of a small dog, headed right for my leg.
Badly broken right shoulder. Surgery. Still hospitalized.
An Hour In The Life Of A Deafblind Man
I wanted to do something sweet for my wife and stepkids, so I decided that I would get my wife a dozen yellow roses, and a couple of packs of candy valentine hearts for the kids.
I walk to the store, and on the way I realize that I don't have a notepad and a magic marker with me, but I hope that it won't be a problem.
Yesterday I was with a friend I met a couple of months ago. He wears hearing aids on both ears (lucky dog). At one point in the day gave me an exuberant hug and said something to me. On my deaf side. Automatically, I said, “I can’t hear you.” Mind you, I knew he said something, I just had no idea what it was. Literally. No. Freaking. Idea. Just throw out four or five random words – “Sassafras ingenious aardvark coffee chemicals” – coulda been it. (shrugs)
So the guy with the two hearing aids pulled away, looked me in the eye and said, “I’ve never been around anyone like you before.” (subtext – You really can’t hear, can you? Answer: Nope, this is as good as it gets, ever. Tomorrow it may be worse.)
Yup, I think I’ve slipped the line from HoH to the near-deaf. Technically, I have a moderate to severe loss in my hearing ear, but it is how this manifests in communication that matters most. If the moderate to severe loss isolates me from human communication, then that’s exactly what Hellen Keller meant when she said that blindness isolates people from things, but hearing loss isolates people from other people.
On the way home yesterday afternoon, as well as this morning I chewed on the differences between two HoH people. Certainly not all HoH are created equally.
We talked about working around noise – he takes out his aids and I’m functionally deaf – period. In loud echoing areas he needs hearing aids and I’m functionally deaf – 90% of the time. I have a hard time with phones, he’s fine with ‘em. I hear things wrong easily, especially if the person is not looking right at me when speaking – he does well. I am almost totally uninterested in TV and movies because I don’t understand them well without CCs. Even with loud volume there is often music or laugh tracks to cover speech. He likes TV and movies because he grew up understanding them. Like most folks, he came to hearing loss later in life. That helps with understanding the hearing world. Yeah, I grew up in a hearing world, but that doesn’t mean I was actually a part of it.
Now, it may be the bilateral hearing thing. His hearing is limited on both sides, but he HAS both sides and I don’t. It may be that I’ve just crossed the line into the “Twilight Zone” where I’m still hearing stuff, at least, but I’m not understanding what I hear.
This explains why I like ASL so much. I’m often bummed by the fact most people don’t want to learn it, even when it would mean they could communicate more effectively with me. I asked my kid what she’d do when I lost all my hearing and she said, “Text.” Well, okay, but ASL is so much more meaningful. Still, text is better than nothing.
I was reading 4 Ears 4 Eyes yesterday when I happened upon What I Miss About Mosquitos and realized, I too don’t hear them. In fact, a few days ago I was near a place being assaulted by borer bees and I could not hear them either. Since they’re about the size and shape of bumblebees, they are not quiet things. Then we were chatting on a private Deaf FB group and started talking about the sounds of footfalls. And I thought – sound? Steps make noise?
Then I remembered seeing a ballet practice without the music and hearing the noise I associated with a thundering herd on TV westerns. Hmmmm, so walking, dancing, feet on solid surface makes noise. Uh, huh.. Then I remembered BitcoDavid telling me that earbuds make one unable to hear street noises or conversations. Hmmm, really?
After I sent off a document to a firm, I walked up and down the stairs (granted, in my stocking feet) and yes, there is a very soft sound associated with walking. I am not sure whether it is the friction of the foot against the stair or the swish of fabric. Almost subliminal to me. Which explains comments about “walking too loud” or “don’t clomp your feet.”
People sometimes assume the Deaf or Hard of Hearing are soundless creatures. No, quite the opposite. For those who voice (as I do) my voice is quite loud as I was taught to project to the back of a theatre. Apparently, I have only an “outside voice.” Well, not exactly, because I have a much louder voice acquired to be heard over long distances. And since I can’t exactly tell how loudly I speak I don’t have a medium, but I do have a soft voice, which I was told by my late husband was “too soft.”
These hearies! – Picky, picky, picky!
I remember the first time I had the “aha!” revelation that newspapers make noise, explaining the hairy eyeball I’d sometimes get from others while reading a newspaper. I don’t hear high sounds well, if at all, so things like piping songbirds are out of my range of hearing. And I don’t understand how much noise is actually made by dishes rattling and the like. Yes, I hear those, but not that the same volume a fully hearing person does.
If you want a quiet home, go to people who can hear a bug fart at 5 miles, not someone who doesn’t understand that car engines don’t just jiggle when they run, they also make noise. Although, I can hear a backfire. The first time I heard car engine noise I thought the car was falling apart – I was in a total panic!
Now, I used to hear better than I do at present. I’m not sure how much better, but I know it was better in that I heard mosquito whines and knew to get out of the way. I probably missed a whole lot of stuff, but it was good enough to get by.
If we can teach dogs to recognize ASL can we teach mosquitos to spell out “Blood sucker attack!” with their bodies? Probably not.
Where, oh where, did my hearing go – oh where oh where can it be? (Sung to the tune of Oh Where, Oh Where Has My Little Dog Gone?)
Really, I don’t. Why does someone leave a TV on (very loud – blaring) to make an important business call to another person? I finally turned the TV down because it was giving me a headache.
Honestly, I have no idea how the person on the other side of the phone could hear anything said on this side of the phone, and I have no idea how the individual on this side of the phone could hear anything over the very loud noises from the TV. It is one of those WTF moments I have from time to time – when someone complains about my loud voice and then have conversations over the phone with a TV screaming in the room. Nope, I just don’t get it.
Maybe BitcoDavid can clear this up. Is this something like headphones plugging out extraneous sound? Only, I know that the phone can amplify the sound of the room right back into the headset unless you put your hand over the mouthpiece. Hearing people! Who understand’s ‘em?
It is quiet in my room and my hearing aid is out and off. Ahhh….. so nice.
Today was so nice out the dog got walked twice. In fact, I awoke early and did the first tour of the neighborhood while the sky was still brightening – and also took some photos for the photoblog. Later the roomie took the dog on another peregrination of the local streets. About 10 a.m. I decided to take him for a longer walk so we drove to Weir Hill. I should have just walked, but then I’d have had to lug his carcass home because he’d poop out by the time we got there – as in he’d be unconscious with his body wrapped around my neck whimpering “Take me home!” I have to get his stamina up. Anyway, I figured it was early enough not to run into many dog folks. So I decided – what do I need a hearing aid for? You’d have thought I’d have learned from the store experience.
So, we’re walking up the hill and Duke the dog is doing his “Oh, my, other dogs have been here – let me smell!” thing and I’m trying to be accommodating while still going UP the hill. Then, in the splendid silence that is my world I realized the dog is freaking out. As in – there is something in the leaves and pine needles.
It was a nice size tan garter snake, minding it’s own business. Probably Duke scared the poor thing out of a year’s growth. I wondered if I’d have heard rustling of leaves or something rather than just realizing the dog was about ready to levitate off the ground. I’m not really worried about rattle snakes here, but then I got to wondering if they actually have them in New England.
Back to working our way up the hill, which is basically on paths that appear to have been developed by spring runoff and other walkers/hikers – pretty much the kind of path you need to pay attention to unless one wants a broken ankle. And since my daughter broke her leg/ankle in four places (and dislocated it in about as many places) this time last year I was looking where I was going. SURPRISE! Fortunately the big wet dog was nice and happy to see us. Big overgrown waterdog pup. So was the second one.
I wonder how much noise these dogs and their owners make when you can hear? Do hearing people know other people are coming? I suppose so.
The last dog was a lovely Alaskan Malemute – one of my favorite dogs of all time. Lovely bitch with impeccable manners. I was trying to talk with her owner when suddenly he didn’t have any voice and I realized he was totally out of range (which is a few steps or just turning away). Oh, well…
Got back to the car, fished the hearing aid out of the case, put it on and wondered what I missed by hiking half-deaf. Tomorrow is another (better hearing) day.
Someone please explain to me the trend in restaurants that play music so loud that I am swamped by the sound. I have no hearing on one side and significant hearing loss on the other side. I complained and took my hearing aid out. Even when it is “turned down” I feel as if I need closed captioning to understand waitstaff. I can only imagine that in a few years the servers are going to be going, “Eh? What was that you said? Could you repeat that please?” Or maybe we’ll all be using American Sign Language by then. Because we’ll all be DEAF!
What happened to soft music? Even a juke box is less annoying than piping in satellite radio stations at full blast. Do you have any idea how annoying FUN’s “Some Nights” is at 100db? And I like that song, just not screaming through overhead speakers like bombers taking straffing runs. Or Heart’s “What About Love“ crashing through the air like a bomb exploding rather than a song. The only one there who wasn’t bothered was the totally deaf/blind person. I’m surprised she didn’t feel the throbbing of the speakers.
I wish there were a jamming device I could use on the incredible sound. I really do. I am going to load a DB meter on the iPhone and start becoming the Sound Harpy!