grandmother

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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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.  

Dog Talk


I think I mentioned a time or two before that my daughter has a mental health therapy dog who is very productive for folks who are depressed or suffering from stress. ¬†However, she’s also a very bright and adaptive little gal and she’s figured out that I participate in Dog Talk, also known as Speaking Dog. ¬†Her Mom hasn’t really seen us in action before and was flabbergasted when she saw “Baby Dog” (my pet name for her) and me Dog Talking.

When I came in the door I instantly knew Baby Dog needed out. ¬†Her Mom said she’d never seen her that totally focused on anyone. Not long after Baby Dog started talking to me by first lying in front of me to catch my eye, staring at me, and then, when I acknowledged her, doing a very energetic dance to let me know she had to go out NOW. ¬†She’s never done that with her Mom or anyone else. ¬†Just me. ¬†Why? ¬†It’s Dog Talk. ¬†Dogs talk with bodies – they’re largely visual communicators, although they pant, leave scent trails,¬†whine, bark, and make other noises. ¬†Baby Dog (aka ‘Kinley) knows I can’t hear her half the time, but I’m the visual one in the house.

Need food?  Walk to Grandma, walk to the dish (which can be out of my sight in another room) repeat until the old lady gets up to see what the message is (anyone remember Lassie doing this?).  Water Рditto.  Go out Рcatch the eye and do a dance Рthe level of desperation in the dance tells me whether to run for the door or wait for the leash.  She also does a more energetic dance if I need to take the dog poo bag.  And Baby Dog can do no wrong so it a very positive feedback environment for her.

Her Mom was highly entertained and wondered why only I get this very focused and full body communication treatment. ¬†Because only *I* pay attention to her in an almost totally visual way. ¬†Her Mom wishes Baby Dog ‘Kinley would communicate with her as well when she needs to go out.

In addition, she lets me know when someone is at the door with a bounce off my leg (at her weight a little dog bounce is no problem) and, of course, I can hear a modicum of her bark.

She’d make a fantastic hearing ear dog. ¬†But she’d miss her other family pack members too much if she got certified¬†as a hearing ear dog and left with me when, someday, I move on. ¬†But it just goes to show that the size of the dog is irrelevant unless one needs a dog to help steady the hearing impaired person – as in the case of Meniere’s.

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.

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.