grandchildren

The benefits and drawbacks of being hard of hearing


Benefits

1. When my daughter and one of the grandkids are having a conversation and need a little privacy I can look away from them and they have privacy – all I hear is the murmur of voices.

2. If they need even more privacy because the conversation is, um, energetic, I can take my hearing aid out.

3. When my grandson is playing games on the iPod that are annoyingly loud, I can take my hearing aid out.

4. The younger generation loves texting. I love texting! Win-win!

5. I do not need to hear to crochet. ūüôā

Drawbacks

1. Talking to me from the next room makes communication impossible.

2. Yelling down the stairs is similarly pointless.

3. Talking to me when the TV is on, the X-Box is being used, and someone is listening to music on the iPod means your chance of success is very poor.

4. I am often baffled by what that potential noise is. I refer to this (mentally) as the Name That Noise Game. Yesterday night I leaned out the door, looking around to see if we were having another rainstorm. It was the shower upstairs.

5. The sounds of chewing. Do you hearing people actually get used to that?  Hearing aid out.

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The Joy of Bunk Beds


When my daughter brought me home to her place, I ended up sharing a room with my 7-year-old grandson. ¬†I’ve got the bottom bunk. Overhead are thick, firm, wooden slats. I don’t believe anyone realized how useful they would be. I’ve been able use them as therapy bars. First I could use my left hand/arm to help whilst my right arm/shoulder was a shattered disaster. Now I’m using them to help lever myself and the knee around. When we do the shoulder again, and when the right foot is eventually fixed I suspect I’ll be appreciating the joys of bunk beds again.

Except for times when I’m bed-ridden (such as for these few days) I am usually here just for a few hours of sleep. ¬†“The boy” (which is the term I use to identify my grandson to the dog) is the one who uses the room during the daylight hours when he is here. “The boy” and I both have hearing deficits, mine are merely catastrophically worse than his (thank heavens). He tends to have a big voice (as do I) so most of the time I can hear him better than most – sometimes way too well. ¬†And “the boy” is also McKinley (Baby Dog’s) favorite rough and tumble playmate. Every dog should have a wonderful boy to roll around the floor with, to play tug of war with, and to romp and play with until totally exhausted. They usually collapse at the same time. Life is good.

The eldest girl is more of a momentary angel gliding through Kinley’s life giving tummy rubs, soft kisses, and tummy rubs. The younger girl is presently doing her imitation of the grinch. ¬†This too will change. Fortunately, in a small home with an amazing number of people here (the VNA personnel were amazed as adults and children popped into existence at the top of the stairs), there is always a kind word and pat for McKinley. ¬†And I never miss knowing someone is at the door here because of McKinley’s “announcing” visitors – although it would be good if she’d announce just a wee bit less.

If the pro’s don’t get it , who will?


Yeah, I’ve been gone awhile. ¬†I guess when I’ve got nothing to say I just don’t say it. ūüôā

Today I took my grandson to his biannual hearing test and ENT examination. Now, you would think that everyone from the office staff to the MDs and PhDs there would “get it” that you look at people when you’re talking to them, speak clearly, enunciate, etc.

That would be a “No.” And that boggled my little pea brain. ¬†Excuse me?

Actually,the front desk people were the best. The MD turned his back on me AFTER I explained I am signficantly “hearing impaired.” ¬†The audiologist did the same @!#$! thing – Hi, I’m grandma and I have severe hearing loss – let’s feel free to go ahead and turn your back and jabber to the wall. ¬†When I said, “I can’t understand a thing you just said.” the audiologist turned and said. “Don’t you have your hearing aid on?”

No, I didn’t rip her head off and hand it to her, but I did look at her like she was crazy.¬†What I thought was – WTF?¬† What I said was, “Yes, I have it on. You need to look me right in the face when you talk to me or I cannot understand anything you say – it’s that bad.

And all these folks are working with Deaf and seriously HoH kids for a living?  Really? Where is Worf when you need him for a really dramatic face/palm.

At least on part-two of the doctor’s visit the doctor actually looked at me when he spoke around 90% of the time.

So they gave me a handout for his teacher and I’m now wondering if I should copy it and send it back to the doctor and the audiologist so they can be reminded:

Focus the person’s attention before saying the important facts of your utterance.

Speak to the person at close range in a lively, well-projected voice.  It is not necessary to shout.  It is more effective to use a natural, energetic voice at close range.

Let the person see your face when you are talking. ¬†(In other words, don’t talk to the computer screen or the wall.)

Show the person what you mean when a visual demonstration is appropriate.

When the person says “Huh?” or “What?” repeat or rephrase what has been said without acting irritated.

Do not attempt to communicate across the room: go over to the person before you speak.

Be careful not to punish the person for failing to follow an instruction that might not have been heard – or heard clearly.

In a classroom setting, seat the person close to the spot where the teacher usual stands when addressing the class. (note, if the person has better hearing on one side, pay attention to communicate on that side.)

The student probably will miss comments or questions from other students in the class, particularly those with soft voices.  It is helpful for the instructor to repeat to the entire class what another student has said.

Check the student’s understanding of spoken instructions before the student begins individual seat work.

Help the student keep a sense of humor about miscommunications that arise because of a hearing problem. (i.e. it is the job of the communicator to get the idea across Рtake responsibility for the communication so the student can be made to feel okay about not hearing a bungled communication. In addition, never laugh at the student.) 

There.  Now I feel better, I think.  

It’s all the cat’s fault


The Tuxedo cat known as Sylvester managed to get into the room and knock a bottle of bubble liquid (sans the top) off of a dresser Рit hit the floor and splattered in a most astounding manner, catching me in the spray pattern.  It is now 12:30 at night and I am wide awake.  Sylvester split when I came up out of the bed like Oscar the Grouch.  The door is closed now, but I am still awake.  My head itches and I wonder about the kids checking the dog for fleas.  Can humans get fleas?

There’s plenty to think about, although the truth is that I’d rather sleep. ¬†Fat chance. ¬†Tomorrow I have a schedule a NY Taxi driver would envy, only I won’t get paid. ¬†Drop one kid off at field hockey, pick another one up from Dad, figure out what to do to keep him entertained for awhile before going back to the school to pick up the field hockey maven, then make sure the iPad is charged for the little guy whilst I am at physical therapy (yeah, that should be fun and I’m assuming there will be a bribe somewhere in there to keep him calm), then back to town to pick up Ms. Field Hockey at her job at the Donut Shop, and then round up Ms. Gymnastics so we can get her ready for her lesson.

I’ve also got to fight with the State Department (yes, that’s right, the State Department) to get a copy of a death certificate from South Africa. ¬†I swear, when this is over I am going to write a BOOK! ¬†Only it will have to be fiction as no one will believe it. Argh! ¬†The man has been dead since last December, just give me the death certificate, will ya!? ¬†Fer god’s sake!

I’ve got lists of tasks that need to be done – people to contact about the Deaf Innocence Project – deans of law schools, department heads of deaf related agencies in Boston, clinical psychologists who can sign and evaluate the deaf, HEARD in DC to get names of prisoners in Massachusetts, and so on and so forth. ¬†I guess I’m doing this in fits and starts between the other duties as assigned for this week.

Because of the injuries I often have one good day followed by several days where I can’t quite get out of bed and if I do I can’t quite function the way I want to. ¬†It slows everything down. ¬†Was just told it can take up to 2 years for the bone in my arm to heal entirely, although it seems to be well on its way – more or less. ¬†I’m grumping less about the rotator cuff now that I understand it had to be split to put a screw through it and into the head of my humerus. Still, the darn thing is a real PITA.

Today I was listening to a book on tape (me and any car in the vicinity) and ended up pulling off to the side of the road to learn words for “adolescent, juvenile, crime, criminal, illegal, leave, left and there” among others. How? ¬†I have a great¬†ASL Dictionary on my iPhone. Not going to drive and gawk at them.

I’ve got to contact the Apple store – there’s something wonky about the iPhone – it won’t back up – fortunately I have an extended warranty. ¬†I guess going to the Apple store happens on Wednesday because I have no idea how to work it in before then.

I think my new SIL just “got it” about how deaf I am. ¬†He had someone over chatting business today and I took out my hearing aid and told them, “I took out my hearing aid, so I’m functionally deaf now – you can talk and I’ll not understand a word.” ¬†A little while later his visitor said (loudly to me) “Wow! ¬†You were telling the truth.” ¬†Apparently the SIL had been trying to get my attention with NO LUCK. Yup. ¬†Deafie – that’s me. ¬†So later he started talking loudly to get my attention and then I explained to him that he needed to talk TO me – as in face to face – for me to really hear what he has to say. ¬†Life is getting better. ūüôā

So I’m rambling tonight – it is all the cat’s fault. Really. ¬†It is. ¬†Now all my busy things are circling around my head. ¬†Go to sleep, little blogger…

Sounds


As most of my gentlereaders know I was seriously injured in an accident about a month ago – resulting in a badly broken shoulder and surgery – as well as other consequences we won’t go into now. ¬†From the first time I saw the surgeon – three weeks after surgery – I was trying to get permission to drive (didn’t get it) and work out (didn’t get that either).

I recently had the good fortune to get permission to drive on any day I am not wearing a sling or taking anything stronger than Tylenol. ¬†Need I say that the sling is gone as are the stronger painkillers? ¬†I am still not allowed to “work out.”

This morning, on a lonely road in New Hampshire, I was riding along (alone) in my automobile when I started feeling rhythmic bumps and thumps that seemed to be emanating from the front of the car. Not really being able to hear what the noise was associated with it I pulled off the road and spent some time examining the tires to make sure I had not picked up a bolt or other large object. ¬†Nope. ¬†Back in the car, the bumps and thumps continued. ¬†By this time I’m feeling unnerved. ¬†Is it a wheel bearing? Master cylinder? Loose strut? Shock? I’m driving very slowly in case the car breaks down. ¬†Finally, I turned the car onto a different road and suddenly it is fine. ¬†Clearly, I was experiencing pavement problems. ¬†I’ve never had that happen for miles on end.

It got me to wondering. If I could hear the sounds associated with different problems, would I have recognized it was not a tire, not a bearing, not a strut? ¬†I mean, mechanics ask me what sound the car is making if I bring it in for service and mostly all I can describe is the feeling I get when I’m driving it. How do I know what it sounds like? The first time I ever really heard the motor I thought it was going to fall out of the car or something.

Later today my daughter, her husband, and son decided to go for a hike. ¬†I said, “Me too!” and my daughter inquired as to whether I was permitted to walk. ¬†“Yes!” ¬†I had permission to walk – the right half of my upper half may be broken, but the other bits and bobs are working as well as they did before.

I put on my cross-trainers (good for anything from aerobics to weight training Рcertainly good for hiking, right?), got out my walking poles with the nice pointy tips on them and we piled into the car to head to the hiking trails.  The kids learned something new Рthere is a calorie free/carb free version of Powerade Zero to be had at the store.  And I got to walk. (Big cheesy grin)

We went to Willard Brook State Forest and started out on the Friends Trail, then veered off on a Yellow trail. ¬†I’d guess we walked about a mile or more before we headed back. ¬†The trail was sometimes broad and flat, sometimes rather steep and narrow, filled with standing water, rocks, and even a¬†couple of fallen trees. ¬†I never slipped, tripped or stumbled even once and never needed to depend on the walking poles. I’m very sure footed except on extremely slick surfaces – where almost anyone will have a problem – or if I am tangled up by wires or ropes.

I had a blast. My grandson and I often outpaced the grownups (I guess this means I am not a grownup). ¬†I could have gone twice as far, but I suppose it is good to start slowly. My only gripe is that it costs $5 to park and who can pay THAT every day? ¬†I’d like to go back, but I need to find a way to get in without paying that amount of money.

I saw movement by the trail and pointed out a tiny brown toad – probably not the size of a quarter – to my grandson and daughter. ¬†I’m good at seeing things. Hearing? Meh.

All the time we were there I kept hearing rushing water, like a waterfall.  Finally I asked my son-in-law where the rushing water was.  He told me it was the wind in the leaves of the trees.  There was wind overhead but not much near the ground Рmore is the pity, as there were lots of gnats. Again I wondered what the difference is between the rushing of wind through the leaves of the trees and a distant waterfall.  I guess I will never know.

Often I hear a sound and guess at what it could be. Sometimes I’m right. ¬†Sometimes I’m wrong. ¬†Environmental noises are sometimes really tough. ¬†I visited my friend, Domi, yesterday and I kept hearing little noises that sounded like the bubbling mud pots of Yellowstone as I remember them. It was her dishwasher.

Settlement reached in police abuse of deaf motorist


Reported in today’s news by UPI, a deaf motorist in St. Paul, MN will receive a settlement of $20,000 with $73,000 to go to Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid. ¬†According to the report the police officer responded to being notified the person was deaf by attacking him with an irritant spray and then brutalizing him with the help of other officers.

There were apparently other violations of his civil rights including being denied an interpreter while in jail which resulted in an earlier settlement.

Unfortunately, in the case of settlements there is often a hold-harmless clause which admits no wrong-doing.  There is no information as to whether the officers involved are still employed, whether there were sanctions against the officers or whether the police department is doing training regarding deaf citizens.

The last paragraph of the article states: ¬†So far this year, the city has settled or is scheduled to settle two lawsuits totaling $267,500 stemming from allegations of police misconduct. Some $1.29 million was paid out in 2012 to settle lawsuits against the police, the city attorney’s office said.

Again, this points out the extreme need for training of the police in dealing with the deaf and hard of hearing, as well as the problem of police brutality.

When I say I am deaf what does that mean?


My ambulance and hospital experience really pointed out to me that when I say, “I’m deaf” it seems to mean close to nothing to the hearing world. ¬†If I can voice it then I’m exaggerating.

So what do I mean when I say I’m deaf? ¬†I could say Hard of Hearing, but that is even less clear – less descriptive.

Without my hearing aid on (and its been off a LOT recently because I could not get it in my ear) means that I can’t understand 90% of the conversations in my daughter’s home. ¬†Sometimes I don’t even know if someone is talking. ¬†At other times I know they are talking but I can understand nothing of it.

It means that I can’t hear wet shoes squeak on linoleum or the sound of a whistle being tooted on outside. ¬†It means I can’t hear the school bus come, but I can watch the dog and know that the bus is here. ¬†And it means if I am wearing my hearing aid I want to scream at the sound of the squeak of wet shoes and the shrill whistle being blown. ¬†God save me if I have a HA on when you turn a car stereo on and it is full blast.

Without HAs I’m in a world of my own. ¬†I read a lot. ¬†My daughter’s therapy dog is my best clue as to when something is happening. ¬†She makes me long for a hearing ear dog even more.

Being functionally deaf means I don’t understand the words to songs. ¬†I generally don’t recognize voices. I may not hear cars coming and if I don’t pay attention I could be road kill. ¬†It means not hearing rain on a fan in a window so if I know it is going to storm I have to check so the fan doesn’t get wet and short out.

It means that quite often I hear two-thirds of what you just said and my brain is madly plugging the bits and pieces into a framework and filling the gaps to make sense of it all. Its hard work. Please don’t make it harder by looking away when you speak. If I really don’t get what you are saying I may make you spell a word out for me. ¬†I don’t accept, “Never mind.”

Just when you least expect it there will be a lull in the background noise and something said sotto voice will ring true in my ear and I’ll hear it. ¬†How? ¬†I don’t know how. ¬†It just happens. ¬†Its a rarity, but clearly you think I can hear it all the time.

If someone says to you, “I’m deaf” the best thing you can do is inquire:

Do you need an interpreter?

Do you need a pen and paper?

How can I best speak to be understood by you?

Thoughts for the day on life in my quiet life.

She did a magnificent job


My eldest granddaughter was devastated when her Grandfather abandoned the family.  She was poleaxed (as was I) when he died so unexpectedly.  My beautiful, gentle, loving, compassionate granddaughter was never given the opportunity to tell her grandfather goodbye.  He died half a world away and she was denied so much as holding his hand or kissing his cheek.  It is the sort of loss which is irrecoverable.

What does one do with that sort of grief and pain? ¬†When my mother died I went into the fields around the farm and screamed into the sky. ¬†It was the day I gave up on “God” because “God” gave up on me. ¬†We’ve never been on good terms since, and deity has been demoted to Higher Power. ¬†Instead, I’ve the Tao, the Buddha, Celtic heritage spirituality, and the Higher Power of the 12 steps.

Life and times have changed. There are no fields to go to and scream out one’s agony. ¬†Instead, we have the Internet. ¬†She tweeted her farewell and blessings on the Grandfather she loved and lost, not once, but twice. Why does love have to come at so great a cost?

Life is so fleeting.  So fragile.  We often make such hideous blunders without meaning to.  We often harm innocents Рboth adults and children.  It is the children who suffer most, their spirits crushed, consumed by feelings they were to blame for the debacles created by the adults in their lives.  It is why abuse and neglect is generational Рwe get it from our parents, grandparents, or great-grandparents.  Hopefully, there are other family members to pick up the mantle of love and responsibility and help the innocents recover from profound loss.

“Fly High, Grandpa, Fly High.”

We are all flawed human beings Рeven my perfectly imperfect eldest granddaughter.  All I could do was tell her that her Grandfather loved her as much as he was able.  As an adopted child who never bonded with his adoptive parents or elder sibling, his ability to accept or express love was severely damaged.  So he showed his love  in the only way many men of his generation could Рby buying things.  He already knew how kind and intelligent she was so he loved to hear the stories of her walking down the aisle at a restaurant, waving to everyone as if she were Miss America.  In his heart, he always knew she actually WAS Miss America.

Our eldest grandchild was his first chance to learn how to love a child. ¬†He was amazed at how tiny she was, how perfect those little fingers and toes, how soft her white-blond curls. ¬†He was terrified he’d damage her by touching her. ¬†She was his chance to learn how to love – how to really reach beyond himself and his own terror of relationships – to reach inside his patched and tattered soul – and give something more than he’d ever given before. ¬†He talked her through colic by distracting her. ¬†He became a furby after hers broke, making Furby noises.

And our eldest granddaughter? As always, she did a magnificent job.

Grandma got run over by a reindeer


Thanks to Byakko for the “Can’t hear you!” graphic.

Is there a category for noise trauma?  There is PTSD as a result of war, natural disaster, and other sorts of trauma – why not noise?

I went to a large suburban mall which shall remain nameless to meet my daughter’s family at a Rainforest Restaurant.  Being an avid photoblogger, I got there early to find a few photo ops.  Bad decision.

While I’ve heard that many malls were almost empty on the 24th, this one was packed. Christmas music was blasting over the loudspeakers. People were shouting over the loudspeakers in every known language of the world and put me in mind of the biblical story of the Tower of Babel. The vendors in the middle of the hallways were hawking their wares.

Suddenly I realized I could not understand anything at all – not one word. The entire sound sound picture had just turned to mud. Sometimes I ducked into stores that seemingly were playing their own Christmas music at high volume as well. I fiddled with my hearing aid – it has a few settings. Considered taking it out.  Shrugged and kept going.  It ended up being a surreal experience.  So much noise. So little ability to comprehend anything.

Thanks to Misspoetik for her ASL graphic

At one point I was walking down a hall when a young female vendor literally jumped in front of me – startling the bejesus out of me – and began yammering in my general direction while shoving something at me.  At this point, something snapped and I started signing at her – not in a particularly nice “tone of voice” – about my being deaf and not wanting to hear from her unless she could sign. I plead temporary insanity since I then shoved past her and stalked off.

I did stop and buy two loaves of bread from a very nice vendor who worked with me, stepping up close when I asked, speaking clearly and distinctly when I told him I could not hear, and very gently helping me sort out what I wanted.  It was the highlight of my experience. Yes, I realize going out on the 24th was insane, but I wanted to see the grandkids.

The Rainforest Restaurant (Cafe?) is a cacophony of sounds from the elephants to the hooting primates to the faux thunderstorms and god knows what else. The elephants made small children scream and cry, so apparently I’m not the only one disturbed by the noise. Before the meal was ordered I was popping Tylenol like candy and finally took out my hearing aid. I couldn’t understand much of what was being said, but at least it was at a much lower volume. I got to visit with my daughter and oldest granddaughter – sort of. The younger kids were an hour late and the little guy was out of sorts and almost asleep by the time we decamped.  By the time I got home I was so exhausted that I went to bed at 7:30 p.m.

I honestly do not understand how “hearies” do it.  Aieee! I very much miss having a hearie with me who can understand it all.

Post Sandy Reflections


Today is a departure from our more or less regular comments on my journey through life as a HoH Boomer.

For the past two days I’ve been pretty much sleeping through Sandy the Frankenstorm. ¬†Why sleeping?
Because I could track the pressure put out by Sandy through the changes in my headache – one variation was an invisible super-sized wrestler trying to yank my cranium in half and the other extreme was the gnome inside said cranium hammering a 10 penny nail from the inside trying to get out. It wasn’t until today that the pounding has become a less insistent pulsing. There are still storms around, but none with the incredible low pressures of Sandy. Sandy on 10/30/2012 headed south on 495——>

Around where I live power outages reigned, but we did have water and compared to the Halloween storm of last year – this one was warm so the temperatures are doable. Apparently, though, Sandy took down a high tension power pole about a mile from the office building where I rent space – sort of between it and where I live … so zowie… it took out both.

And we are LUCKY! ¬†Incredibly lucky. ¬†No flooding. No trees crushing people to death. No major catastrophes. My daughter and her middle daughter saw a power line catch on fire today, but they were not harmed by it. In fact, I’m at my daughter’s now, camping on the couch since she has all the amenities.

We are truly blessed. Everyone is alive and well. ¬†We have been mildly inconvenienced, but that is all. I got to spend time with the most precious children in the world (IMO) and I know that all the people I cherish most are blessed with a roof over their heads, food in their mouths, warm beds, and love. We may fuss at each other, but we’re so very fortunate to have what we’ve got – from the poorest church mouse among us to the wealthiest city mouse we’re okay.

We are fortunate to have a government that responds quickly with FEMA for badly damaged areas when we could be like Haiti or other areas were we have no help, no hope, nothing but our own two hands. We have much to be thankful for Рeven with the damage and the sad loss of life. It could have been much worse.  So thank you, Higher Power (universal for everyone) for your blessings.

Tonight I sleep with a hearing aid in so I can hear my iphone alarm and I’m lucky to have both the hearing aid and the phone. ¬†G’night all. ¬†Be well and be blessed.