The long dry spell is almost over


Due to one thing and another this blogger is moving back to the States in few days. I’m headed for Texas. Why Texas? Family.

I’ll be landing in a college town with a center for the deaf and hard of hearing (yea!) and will certainly have more to comment on when I’m in a community in which I have the opportunity to understand some of the communications. :)

Being in Mexico has been fascinating. The people are very kind. My ability to learn Spanish has been about nil. I just can’t understand it. Them’s the breaks. I wanted to try to go to Cabo, but there were serious storms and other issues that got in the way and I finally decided not to bother.

So the car is almost entirely packed (final loading of top rack tomorrow) and then I’ll hit the border and hope not to get caught in secondary screening (which would take many long, hot hours). If it doesn’t take hours on end I’ll head out for Arizona on the first leg of my journey.  The wee little doggie and I are going to visit a friend in Tucson for a couple of days before pushing on.

I wanted to poke around in New Mexico, but not sure I want to drive a long way to see the sights. Still pondering. I was considering Las Cruses, but they just had two bombings there – and people are afraid for me in Mexico!

Hearing doesn’t get better over time


I have not been nearly as much of a gadabout as I used to be in the states. Partly it is lack of familiarity with the area, including the fact GPS is just not as useful here. Partly It has been a lack of things to do that are of interest to me. But as time goes out and I get around more my hearing loss is driven home to me time and time again.

I went to a meeting yesterday dealing with ex-pat issues from private health insurance to resident visas to wills. It was held at a small restaurant/bar. Lots of noise from ocean out the back door to music being played over the huge TV, to general sounds in a restaurant/bar.

Often I feel like being an English speaker in a Spanish-speaking country is like being deaf for a different reason. However, when you’re with 6-8 people and basically you can’t understand much of anything that’s going on and they’re speaking English all of a sudden I find myself trying to sign with people who don’t sign.

I’m told to go out and make lots of contacts and build a community locally and yet getting out and communicating is nightmarish.

Recent attempts to find a deaf community have been fruitless.

A Day at the Beach in Winter


Winter winds blowing in off the Pacific Ocean in Baja El Norte chill to the bone. Doesn’t matter if the weather app says feels like 54˚because the wind cuts right through a layered t-shirt, sweatshirt, and fleece jacket like a sharp bladed knife chilled in the fridge. Sunlight helps, but in the morning hours it isn’t strong enough to make a difference. Humid and cool is still humid and cool and backed by air velocity it is downright chilly.

Knowing friends in Massachusetts are shivering in 12˚ temperatures while buried IMG_3864under three or more feet of snow is of absolutely no use because nothing feels warmer here based on that knowledge alone.  Walking the wee little doggie in the lee of buildings to try to keep the wee little doggie and the wee little doggie’s person warm(er) is becoming a daily occurence when it comes to the morning constitutional.

Remembering a 1989 trip moving from -33˚ Fairbanks to 33˚Anchorage in a day. That was a 60˚temperature variation in just 8 hours. Leaving in a Mouton lamb parka and ending up pumping gas in Anchorage wearing a sweatshirt and a light cloth windbreaker and thinking how warm it was! Cool, cold, warm, and hot are all relative. Still no help when it comes to shivering against the wind coming off of the ocean.

It’s supposed to get into the low 70’s tomorrow. That will be nice, as long as the freaking wind isn’t coming like a fan over cold water.

I do not need a HA to know when I’m shivery.

 

That Voice of Mine


Although my hearing loss is  pre-lingual (18 months old) I apparently had better hearing as a little kid than I have later in life because I picked up speech. I might not have been able to hear everything other people did, but I heard enough that I have a good speaking voice.

Because I have a good speaking voice it seems to confuse people who equate the ability to speak normally with having no hearing loss.

I can’t hear you.”
“Yes you can, you’re talking to me.”

And, no, I don’t have a “deaf accent.” The “deaf accent” is not  an accent but a unique atonality in which the voice sounds “hollow” or “flat” as a result of not hearing normal voice resonance hearing people can access normally.

At any rate, I have two speech modes: soft and loud. What I consider a “normal” tone of voice is considered loud by anyone other than another person with hearing loss.

I’ve been asked why I don’t have a middle volume. Probably because I have no idea what that volume is. When I wear a HA I can hear myself better so I tend not to project as much. We can probably attribute that facility with project on all drama training in high school learning to project to the back of the auditorium. But, even with the HA I’ve been told by a number of people that I still speak too loudly.

At my age I’m not sure that there is a cure for this idiosyncratic way of speaking. On the other hand, HoH people love how I enunciate and project, so that’s the flip side of the issue.

Wee Little Voices


Ahhh, the voices of small children. Barely audible in the best of cases. The upper part of my “speech banana” is pretty much gone.

While walking the wee little doggie today a young boy was with the horse concession near the beach. (Are they on vacation today?) He asked me something. I might have walked by and pretended not to hear, but I had heard something and I’m not rude by nature.

He might have asked about the dog, many people do comment on the wee little doggie as she’s quite the looker. He might have asked if I wanted to rent a horse. He might have said many things. I had one thing I could say: No hablo español. We will chalk it up to not speaking the language rather than not being able to lip read a little boy speaking Spanish.

The horses, sadly, were undernourished and not well-groomed at all. I feel sorry for the horses I see at the riding concessions. I used to have horses as a child and teen and spent many hours grooming them and making sure they had sufficient food and water. Different cultures, different values.

Down South of the Border


Getting into Mexico has never been a problem. Not for me at least. I don’t bring in much stuff and don’t have to stop and declare things. They’ve looked in the trunk once, shrugged, and waved me on because I don’t keep a lot in the car.

Getting back into the US is always more fraught with difficulty. And depending on the Border Patrol Officer (BPO) one can meet the Incredible Hulk (in terms of the anger quotient) or Officer Friendly.

I find it odd that the more Caucasian the officer the more friendly the officer, at least to date. I’ve actually started keeping a tally on the matter I’ve been so intrigued by this finding.

This makes no real sense to me. The BPOs that I’ve come close to calling for a supervisor over are all either Black or Hispanic. And I’m wondering if they feel, in some way, that they have to be raving maniacs to prove their loyalty. If that is the case then I feel sorry for them because no one should have to feel that way. On the other hand, no one on the receiving end should have to deal with that uncalled for nasty behavior.

I always lead off with my passport, a cheery hello, and the fact that I am hard of hearing and need to be able to read their lips. The same ratio holds true regarding response to that issue which leads me to wonder what creates the nasty attitude since not all of them have it.

Yesterday was a terrible day at the border (hours and hours of wait time) and yet the nice young Officer Friendly with “hero hair” was very responsive to my hearing needs. We didn’t talk more than a minute or two because with several hours of backed up traffic behind me no one wants to contribute to more backup. After two minutes I wanted to name him and claim him as family. Very polite. Very responsive. I’m sure he can be tough if necessary, but it wasn’t necessary.

Then there is the issue of Garita Center, which is a website that gives cross times to get into the US. My mind boggles at its metrics. I now interpret 20 minutes to mean: at least one hour. One hour means: at least three hours, minimum. Probably not worth checking the website any more.

 

When The Dog One Depends on Goes Missing


My wee little doggie is my best pal. She lets me know when someone is at the door (although we are still working on the fact the big bell is the same thing as a knock on the door) and all sorts of things other people take for granted that they will hear.

Yesterday was a busy day at the casa with the property manager and the maintenance guy here a couple of times. Antonio (maintenance) was here twice dealing with the chiminea problem (smoke backing up into house) and after he left I was missing one wee little doggie.

There were options for why I could not find her: 1 – shut in a dressing room or other room where I could not hear her (it has happened before). 2 – jumping in Antonio’s car (this has happened with a friend, so not unlikely). 3 – got out the door and wandered.  After checking the house twice I checked the immediate vicinity, then sent an email to the property manager to ask the maintenance guy if she was in his car uninvited (it was going to be COLD again). Then the house to house search was on with one of my neighbors who has two dogs.

Twenty breathless minutes later one of my other neighbors with dogs walked down the road with the wee little doggie under her arm. Wee little doggie was cold and scared and had gotten way down the end of one of the little dirt side roads here.

Joy!

I have had problems with her slipping through the wrought iron door before and thought I’d closed it off enough to prevent such IMG_3753an incident. After I got her home I got serious with the tape (until I can install a dog gate or something) and there is no way she’s getting out through that! Hey, it is messy, ,but it works! :D I’m not sure my heart can stand another panic-stricken event like that!

2015


Here starts a new year. I admit that since the wretched catastrophe that befell me in May of 2013 I have been more out of the game of blogging than in it. That is what happens with multiple fractures impeding typing with a dose of traumatic head injury on the side.

However, my adventures as a Boomer Hard of Hearing (HoH) person have taken a new turn and perhaps deserve a new look at things.

This morning, whilst walking the wee little doggie near a beach in Baja California a local taxi drove by and a cherub faced manIMG_3719 leaned out the window (bless his hearty nature as it was almost freezing last night and barely 40 by then) with a broad smile on his face and said the same things I have heard Charlie Brown’s mother say in cartoons for years: Waaah, waaaaah, waaaaah, waaaaaah.

Since I was picking up dog poop at the time I wasn’t sure if the message was “Thank you for cleaning up after the dog.” or “Isn’t this a lovely day?” or “I’m so happy to have survived the cold last night.” or possibly “Happy New Year!

In addition to the normal confusion of folks with hearing loss  I am HoH in the land of the Spanish speakers. And my attempts at learning Spanish are pitiful, sad to say.

Before I could just be the sometimes gracefully aging (sometimes not so gracefully aging) woman who looks confused because she cannot hear well. I am aware I might be confused for someone with mild dementia because of my sometimes nonsensical responses to questions I mishear. Now I am the woman who wonders if it is the language, the accent, or the fact she’s still largely deaf as a post that is on point.

So I smile back, I wave, and I hope that I have not committed to robbing a bank. “Le gustaría robar un banco ?” (Please forgive any blatant linguist errors as I am using google translate.) It is this sort of deaf nod that can get people with hearing loss in trouble deep.

My replacement hearing aid (HA) should be here within a month. But even then it is unlikely I will wear a HA to walk the dog since I am almost always alone when that happens. The dog has other ways of letting me know what is happening other than talking to me.

Internally I now giggle a little. I can now be the gringa who doesn’t understand Spanish and forgiven for that by the locals far more than Americans ever forgive non-English speakers. Although, I must admit that when I just don’t respond at all it must be frustrating for them as it is when I am in the US and don’t respond at all because I don’t hear the warning or question.

Today I will hope the words I didn’t really hear were “Feliz Año Nuevo.”  Happy New Year.

And a Happy New Year to all of you from one of me. :D

Socializing With Hearing Loss


Originally posted on SayWhatClub:

Staying Active With a Hearing Loss

Some friends have invited you to dinner. Your heart and spirit are tempted but pessimistic thoughts kick in. Your mind calculates the whole scene before it ever happens. The environment will be noisy and the total concentration is takes to hear will only result in words here and there, especially with so-and-so who never speaks up. Everyone will face different directions as they talk so there’s no hints from lip reading and of course the hearing aids pick up everything but the conversation. It’s easy to see yourself giving up, leaning back to watch it all play out before your eyes not understanding a thing and not feeling a part of it. People will laugh and you’ll be forced to smile without understanding. You will feel more alone at that table with friends than you would at home… and there will be a headache…

View original 2,071 more words

I bet you thought I died


Its been awhile.  That’s what happens when life runs away with you.

I lost my HA in my travels and need to get a new one. I’ve finally determined after an arduous search that it is not between the seats in my car. :(  I hope my insurance is still in force, although even with that it is $750!  If not – there’s no way I can come up with another $3k.

Yesterday I took a friend to a major medical center in a major metro area I’m not familiar with. The ER was not private vehicle friendly and my friend is in a wheel chair. I ended up having to use the ambulance area because that was the only way to get her in and time was of the essence.

Thankfully, someone came out to help her while I darted inside trying to get help. The problem came when I got boxed in by ambulances and could not go out the front or the back. I had one in front, two to the sides and one behind.  Unfortunately, the car does not have thrusters like a Harrier Jet and cannot rise straight off the ground. Need to look for that option next time. (right…)

A guard asked the (no lights/no siren) ambulance behind me to move. This made no sense as that one had a passenger it needed to drop off and the one in front of me did not.

Let us add to that a winding drive going down a hill with huge curbs jutting here and there. And a passive-agressive ambulance driver who moved barely enough to let me out. I’m sure he was irritated, but really…it made me take longer.

And then the fact I couldn’t understand – or sometime see – ear
the guards who stood behind me to yell at me which way to move. I kept saying, “I’m Hard of Hearing! I can’t hear you!” So a bunch of them gathered – behind me.  (sighing)  On my deaf side.

It was a mess. And my wee little doggie was still alerting about how sick my friend had been.

I did get out without hitting the curbs or the ambulance. Whew!

I acquired a few spectators who stood around shaking their heads and shaking their fingers including a guy who looked like Santa in a wheelchair with hair almost down to the ground who was very condemnatory. What? There’s nothing on TV? No reality show?

I wanted to jump out of the car and yell at them – you try doing what I did – crossing an unfriendly border with a sick person in your car who is having problems breathing. And do it while remaining calm and chatty to keep the person more at ease. And then drive to a major hospital in a part of a metro area you’ve never been to before. Where there is no non-Ambulance drop off point. See how well you figure things out.

I did not get out. I did not yell. You’d have thought the half-dozen guards there would have done some crowd control, but nooooo.  I drove down the block, stopped at a fast food restaurant, let the dog out and calmed her down before our long drive back.

Just another day in the life of the HoH woman engaging in random acts of kindness.

I hope my friend is okay. I haven’t heard anything yet. No news is good news?