To pee or not to pee, that is the question..

Have you ever noticed that when you take a dog out to use the “outdoor bathroom” that the dog has to sniff and turn around 10 times and then decide another place is better?  And sometimes decides it doesn’t smell good enough to pee so they refuse to go and then get hysterical when you reach the door – so you have to go back out again?

Just once I’d like to see a human walk around the house, sniffing the floor the walls, the curtains, and find their way to the toilet. Then there could be a sniffing crisis if the seat was up – or down.  Walk around the bathroom with nose to the base of the toilet

“Hey! this isn’t clean enough!”

“I can smell bleach here!”

“What’s that blue stuff ?”

“To pee or not to pee, that is the question.  Whether ’tis nobler to … “

Oh for Goddess sake, would you just go? 

But no, hearing or deaf, sighted or blind, we humans simply bumble our way into the Water Closet, the Bathroom, the Lavatory, the Toilet – and we sit upon the throne and then leave.  Perhaps we should make the same ritual out of it that dogs do.  Imagine the lines at sporting events.

It’s all perspective in the end

I “hear” hearies railing about how deafies don’t listen and deafies railing about how hearies drive them nuts – and then there are the HoH who consider themselves “hearing impaired” which the Deaf find offensive since they are merely deaf, not impaired.  There are the Deaf enough to be Deaf Culture and the deaf who are not Deaf Culture and then the Deaf who are idolized for coming from generations of Deaf parents and grandparents.  The Deaf find the deaf annoying and usually are totally anti-CI and then the CI crowd finds the Deaf who don’t believe in CI’s to be old sticks in the mud.  So there!  Sounds like life happening.  🙂

What brought up this stream of consciousness is Baby Dog.  I take ‘Kinley out to “potty” several times a day.  Unlike some areas of the country, we have lots of bugs – honey bees, wasps (some absolutely gigantic!), and also bumblebees.  Now, bumblebees are the giants of the bee kingdom, in general.  And when they are bumbling from one clover flower to the next they can give Baby Dog quite a start.  I got to thinking.  That bumblebee is as big as her nose.  Maybe a bit bigger.  Can you imagine a bumblebee as big as YOUR NOSE flying up to say “Hello!“?

Yeah, me neither.  No wonder she jumps and runs.  If I had a bee that size come over to bid me a good morning I’d probably wonder if this were Jurassic Park or something.  It is bad enough with the wasps that are the size of half-dollars (I kid thee not).  They occasionally terrorized the 17 year old granddaughter when she tries coming in the front door.  I didn’t believe her until I saw one myself.

So, as with virtually all things, it is all a matter of perspective.  From my perspective she is just perfect, but I think from her perspective she’d like to be a bit bigger than the bumblebees.

Note:  Follow the link to learn more about the bumblebee.  They are really quite remarkable creatures!

Fun things about being hard of hearing

I was listening to a some commentary and swore to Buddha I heard the person refer to reviewing a “tit sheet.”  I admit to sitting there, stunned for a few moments, until I realized the speaker was talking about a “tip sheet.”  It could have just as easily been a “tit sheep” I suppose.

The bottom line is that those of us with hearing loss in the “speech banana” (see below) part of the audiogram usually have problems getting some easily confused words.  It may seem clear as a bell to a fully hearing person, but for those of us with hearing loss it is as confusing as they’re, there, and their to those who  have no idea how to use the words.

I’ve just discovered that “trunk” shouted from upstairs and around the corner could as easily be “bunk” and requires a trip upstairs and around the corner to figure out what’s being asked of me.  And even when I figured out it was “trunk” I thought it was about a car rather than a cedar chest.

And so life goes…

Eh?  What’s that you just said? Maybe it would be easier to just text…  I’m now green with envy since I know someone with a CI who now has only “mild” hearing loss whilst I’m not a candidate for a CI.   😦

Nod to for the speech banana graphic

Hiking HoH

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.

Wiki media – brown common garter snake

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.

Sugar cubes, handkerchiefs and horses

As a HoH kid growing up in rural Idaho I quickly discovered that I could relate to animals – especially dogs and horses – better than to most people. Why? Well, because horses and dogs don’t talk with words, they talk with their entire being – as if they were deaf.  You can read ears, tail swishes, quivers, and snorts or growls.  They are total communication creatures.

I never really understood why I got along so well with farm animals until recently. I’ve been reading two books sort of simultaneously. One is Zoobiquity and it talks about the treasure trove of information Veterinarians have on medical problems that relate to the human animal as well as all the critters they are trained to treat.  The other is a book called Animals Make Us Human by Temple Grandin.  I  highly recommend these books for the physical and emotional insights provided.

In particular, the Grandin book explains to me why I was largely so simpatico with dogs and horses.  They communicate in ways I could see and respond to. As a HoH kid I was very attuned to behaviors rather than words – to expressions.  To this day, I remember faces far more easily than names.  I learn how to get places by landmarks rather than written directions (turn left, go 1/4 mile, etc.).  I see seasons change – don’t need a calendar to tell me when to plant or harvest.

When I was in my mid-teens I realized that I could train my colt to perform tricks.  I’d already taught his dam (mother)

Thanks to Superwoman 79, photobucket, for a good likeness of my former colt.

to drink out of a soda bottle by holding it between her teeth and lifting up her head so it drained into her mouth.  Cute trick, but in this case I decided to do something Gemini could make a name for himself with.

It began with a sugar cube and a handkerchief.

First I presented him with a sugar cube – beloved by all horses (although not particularly good for them).  And he lipped it off my palm with great gusto.  Then I put a bandana on my palm and put the sugar cube on it.  In a little while I folded the handkerchief over the sugar cube and he learned that either a red or blue bandana equaled a yummy sugar cube.  I started sticking the bandana and sugar cube in an easily accessed pocket.

Soon, every time he saw a farm worker with a handkerchief in his back pocket that little horse would sneak up, lip the edge of the bandana and sort of nudging the guy with his head in an affectionate manner until he could get a corner of the handkerchief with his teeth and pull it out.  Then he’d lift his head and trot off, waving the bandana like a flag.  Triumph!  And sometimes he’d curl his upper lip back in a horse laugh.

Just shows what a HoH kid who is into behaviors can pull off with one little sorrel half-Arabian colt and a Quarter Horse mare.

Like Grandin says, animals make us human.  🙂

ASL Meetup #2

We missed David from Deaf In Prison tonight.  Seems he was tied up somewhere.  Hope, not literally.

Someone asked me this week if I was concerned about going to heavily populated areas because of the risk of being bombed.  I responded that I cannot live my life in fear.  That being said, when I was with a customer this week who was lugging a black backpack I locked it in the car trunk once he didn’t need it in the store – no point in scaring the natives.

Anyway, we had a good turnout at the Meetup and I reflected on how relaxed I am there.  I am still learning and sometimes I don’t “get” the sign, but just as I do for others, people finger-spell the word for me.  It is so relaxing to be somewhere I can understand what is being said.

12 people there tonight (myself) This panoramic function is sort of fun.

It’s also interesting because no one tries to talk over someone else.  We only have two eyes so we have to take turns talking.  Doesn’t mean there can’t be more than one conversation going on because we have enough folks to have various conversations going on, but no one jumps in and interrupts unless it is to say, “excuse me” (moving between two people to go somewhere) or flapping a hand at someone to get their attention for some reason.  In some ways sign can seem rude (like the old sign for “fat”), yet on the other hand, people don’t talk all over each other like hearing people do.

One gal and I wondered if the reason we have such a hard time with names is that we don’t recognize voices the same way hearing people do.  Then a hearing signer said she has trouble with names as well.  There goes that theory.  🙂

We continue to be a fun mix of the deaf, the hard of hearing, the hearing, and people who want to learn to be ASL Interpreters. Who knows, maybe someday you — dear readers — will end up signing at a Meetup somewhere and thinking, “Wow, this is just totally cool and neat.” 😉

Out with the old, in with the new

Apparently it was time for an update.  I was bored silly with the grey on grey of the prior theme.  Granted, it did focus on the text, but… this one has a bit more verve to it.  And I admit that I am color starved this dreary spring. So, voila! We now have red and blue as well as a bit of beige to make the words “pop.”

Speaking of “in with the new,” I’ve been using my iCom more now that I replaced the charger cord.  For those of you who are not sure what an iCom is, it is made by Phonak (maybe other brands have similar items – I dunno) and it can be used for a variety of things.  I can listen to iTunes using the iCom and my bluetooth hearing aid.  Only the sound isn’t all that loud for places like the gym.  And, I admit, that sometimes I do something – bump something – and suddenly I’ll hear The Eagles wailing “Desperado….why don’t you come to your senses…” and start looking around to see where the sound is coming from.  So, mostly, I avoid the musical functions I can access with it.

The iCom really makes life better for me when I am on the telephone.  Since my only phone is my iPhone that means I am one of those annoying people who do talk on their cell phone in public.  And I’m Hard of Hearing and trying to talk loud enough for the iCom to pick up my voice.  You get the picture… And to make it worse, there is no headset hanging off my ear with a flashing light.  I sometimes see folks with what looks like a large metal beetle on their head and they’re talking to themselves – but the metal beetle has a flashing light so I know they are on the phone.  Not so with me since my hearing aid does not come with a flashing light to indicate a connection.  And, honestly, I think I’d rather not have an LED flashing in my ear.  No, I just look like a well-groomed street person talking to herself.  Except I have the iCom hanging around my neck.  Not exactly a fashion accessory and I’m sometimes asked what the heck it is – a fair question.  At least I’ve never been confused for a mad bomber as I once was while wearing a different type of FM loop system.  Things are less stressful at the Federal Court these days since apparently bombs and iCom are not closely associated.

The only problem with the iCom is that it eats up battery life in my hearing aid like batteries are free and it runs out of steam fairly rapidly.  I’m not sure how to keep it charged during the day and I don’t have the money to get multiple ones.  I suppose that’s a problem for another day.

Do you hear what I hear?

As a Hard of Hearing person with progressive Sensorineural hearing loss  I not only struggle with a gradual decline in hearing, but  I hear things that are not able to be heard by anyone else around me. Part of this is tinnitus, a phantom form of pseudo-sound manufactured by the brain, but I also hear other sounds that don’t exist anywhere else except in my head.   (Stop looking at me like that!)

In general, when people hear sounds that are not real, we start suspecting mental health issues, but for the Hard of Hearing phantom or pseudo sounds are often a way of life.  Tinnitus can be anything from a low, rumbling noise to a high squeal.  It can interfere with what hearing we have left.  Sometimes my hearing aid increases tinnitus, sometimes it helps suppress it.  There is no real rhyme or reason to it.  There are times I have ringing, buzzing, and high-pitched squeals that could be considered a form of torture that go on for days.  There are times I am blessedly free from them.

This week, at the Symposium on Deafness, Mental Health and the Criminal Justice System at Bridgewater State University in Bridgewater, Massachusetts, I was thrilled to learn I’m not really crazy  after all.   Dr. Brendan T. Monteiro of Manchester, England,  a specialist in forensic mental health and the Deaf spent part of his lecture on pseudo sounds that are not psychiatric in nature.

As someone who has heard a cat say “Meow-sha” for “Marsha” when I knew the cat was meowing, I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to know this is normal!  I may or may not be “normal” but at least my strange hearing experiences are not abnormal.

An individual who has had at least some hearing during their lives has had exposure to music and voices.  Our brains are naturally wired for both sound and vision, so it is not a surprise to find that in a state of sound deprivation our brains  will fill in the blanks for us.  So kind of it to do this for those of us with hearing loss.  So scary when it happens and we wonder if we are losing our minds.

Not only does the brain attempt to fill in what we don’t understand of the spoken word, it can also add a little spice to life by adding unwanted tinnitus sounds that fill our auditory field in a most annoying and unwelcome manner.  We can  also hear vaguely formed music that isn’t quite recognizable and may be loud or soft – often on the very edge of our hearing – while there is no music playing. On the other hand, it might be quite loud and obnoxious and still not quite recognizable.  It may be the brain interpreting the fan on the refrigerator as music or it may be purely filler noise such as the tinnitus.  As long as the music is not perceived as a message from a deity or someone or something else – and as long as we are not going to react to it and harm ourselves or others it is a no harm/no foul situation.  Every now and then the bonging of the car door (when opened with the key in the ignition) sounds like a major chord.  I thought it was a problem with the hearing aid – apparently not.

Another form of pseudo sound is hearing faint conversations or voices that are not really there. Again, this may be some faint sound we’re hearing that our brain is attempting to make sense of, but unless we are getting “messages” that are encouraging a behavior or causing fear, this is a natural thing and not to be confused with a psychiatric condition. It can be rattling, though, if we are home alone.

And then there is the issue of the squealing hearing aid.  Mine has had terrible feedback as of late – to the point I am wearing it less and less because of the infernal racket.  I went to the hearing aid tech today – it was squealing so loud in the waiting room that he could hear it across the room and then – as soon as he started looking at it – it subsided and refused to squeal again.  It is like the washer that malfunctions until you call the repairman, pay $100 for the visit and then works just fine…   So far, so good.  (crossing fingers)  I suppose.

Do you hear what I hear?  If so, you may be suffering from hearing loss.

Pushing the limits of experience

An individual of my acquaintance who happens to be legally deaf and legally blind has been teaching me about limitations and how to push the envelope.

One day when we were at a large box store with an electric shopping cart this person hopped in
one and decided that day was the day to see if it could be done. I found myself wanting to give unsolicited advise about how bad an idea this was. Instead, I bit my tongue, developed a few
more white hairs and reminded myself – “Friend, not parent.” In the end, only an aisle display met up with the back of the cart, and I didn’t get a nudge until the check out line got crowded. Most of the problems were in my own mind and of my own making (or dread).

Sometimes when we see someone with a limitation we figure there is no ability to expand a boundary.

But what if we are the ones who are wrong? Are we the ones who are disabled by an inability to see beyond perceived limitations? When there is a situation which is low-risk, why not step back and allow for experience and experimentation? There’s always another bottle of hair dye, after all – and perhaps a bit of deep conditioning and split end reduction.

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.