Father’s Day 2005

5-30-05

Father’s day is very special to me. Not so much because of my own father, although he was a good Daddy.

But mostly because of what your query stated, what do we do for the father of our children.
I am so blessed. My husband and best friend is a wonderful father to our two teenagers. When my children were very small, like most mothers I was their primary caregiver. Diapers, bottles and childhood ailments were something my husband participated in from the sidelines. He certainly was there for ME, however, which was what was needed at that time in their lives. As our children grew older, my husband really stepped up to “bat” and has hit a home run so many times I believe he should go into the Fathers Hall of Fame.

In my late 20’s as my hearing deteriorated, my husband was not only my support and help, but he was really there for my kids. They were very young, and yet my inability to handle all that was happening as my world began a downward spiral into silence, required that my husband teach them how to cope with a mommy who couldn’t hear. Because of his intervention, I not only gained confidence and faith that I was not defined by my hearing loss, but my children grew up not fearing hearing loss. To them, communicating with a mommy who could not hear was simply communicating with mommy – no more, no less. As my hearing loss was progressive, their daddy modeled the kind of behavior and changes needed to continue communicating with me well. They have seen their daddy work hard to go through school and earn his doctorate in psychology at a rather old age of 37. They have seen him pass up jobs in order to work with and advocate for those with hearing loss. To my children, they know that their Daddy believes a worthy cause and worthy people, are more important than anything else. My children know their Daddy loves them, and loves me.

Our family makes Father’s Day a very special day. The kids write wonderful letters to Dad, and thank him for all the things that he does. And teenagers notice the most unusual “wonderful” kinds of things. Those letters each year mean a great deal to my husband, their Dad. I use to work very hard at making Father’s Day special for him. However, now that my kids are 14 and 15, they make it very special – all on their own.

Denise Portis
Frederick, MD
©2006 Hearing Loss Diary

Attention Wal-Mart Customers!

May 28

I admit it. I love Wal-mart. I go there at least once a week, even though I’ve never actually seen that bouncing yellow smiley face. It’s enough for me to see big signs with advertised “New everyday low price”, and know that “he’s” been there.

This past Saturday I went to Wal-mart and had a wonderful CI moment. As I am have only been hooked up for 2 weeks, each one still means something very special. This moment was special mainly because I had an epiphany! Deaf/HoH people are much more polite than those with typical hearing!

I was on cereal isle trying to decide between Fruity Pebbles for the kids or Peanut Butter Captain Crunch. As I stood there trying to decide to let them have the sugar, or feed them grits next week I heard something I have never heard before. An announcement on the intercom! It happened as if it were in slow motion.

“Attention Wal-mart Customers!” I felt my heart leap within my chest and I felt my grip tighten on the handle of my shopping cart. Fruity Pebbles and Captain Crunch were the furthest thing from my mind. I KNOW that my eyes were as wide as saucers and yep! You guessed it! My mouth dropped open. I clicked it shut as soon as I realized it. This time of year a bug could fly in.

“Will the owner of the Toyota Corolla, blue with Maryland license plates….” Incredible. I was standing at attention, hearing this woman’s voice over a PA somewhere above me. It seemed to be “somewhere” and “anywhere” — reverberating around me. I could feel the hair on my neck stand straight up! (That car commercial on TV. right now, where the men in black suits representing the hair on your arm or neck – you know the one? The men stand up straight, shooting up from a prone position to represent excitement? Well my “little black men hairs were all standing stiff!) In my peripheral vision I could see other customers still walking around, and even talking to their children or husbands! Excuse me!?? This voice from “nowhere” and yet “everywhere” asked us to be at attention!

The PA gave off the license plate number and continued… “You have parked in the NO PARKING zone. Please remove your vehicle from this area!”

I looked around and craned my neck, trying to see if anyone was making a break for the door. Everyone was just, Just, JUST shopping! No one seemed to even be paying attention! I took 4 Giant steps as if I were playing “mother may I?” and looked around the end cap on the cereal isle. Nope! No one was hightailing it for the door!”

The PA announcement ended as quickly as it had come! Was I the only one to hear the announcement with my new CI? Did no one else care that voice made a special announcement, addressing all of us!? How incredibly RUDE. It took me awhile to start shopping again. After all, I wanted to wait and see if the PA said, “At ease Wal-mart customers”. I may have missed that part.

Denise Portis
©2006 Hearing Loss Diary

The Elevator is a MAN!

5-20-2005
The Elevator is a MAN

I headed to Baltimore this morning for my 3rd mapping. This is the first time it’s rained since my hook-up. I thought it sounded very strange on our roof, even MORE strange on the top of my umbrella while sprinting to the car! However, I had to sit and DIGEST the sound a little while, when I heard the rain hitting roof of the CAR! WOW. Not actually a pleasant sound, but I did get use to it. The car sounds completely different when driving on wet roads. The windshield wipers were amazing. Thump, thump… Thump, thump! Now THAT was great sound! I can put up with the sound of rain on the roof of the car if I get to listen to the windshield wipers!

I left a little early because I wasn’t sure how bad traffic would be with the downpour. When I arrived at the parking garage, I craned my neck out the window to see if I could hear the ticket machine that GAVE me a yellow ticket “talk”. Wayne, a fellow CI friend who also goes to JHH, told me that he thought it talked. I couldn’t hear anything except for the click that it made as it stuck my ticket out. (Reminded me of someone sticking their tongue out!) It MAY have said something, I just couldn’t catch it. If there hadn’t been cars in line behind me, I may have hopped out and grabbed the machine by both cheeks(?) and begged it to talk. I controlled myself, and drove on through. At least I knew I’d have a talking machine as I left!

When I walked through the lobby towards the elevator I really switched into “intense” listening mode. I really wanted to hear the elevator ding when it arrived at the first floor. I didn’t hear it, but I’ll keep on trying! I did make an amazing discovery! I knew the elevator “talked”; announcing what floor you are on as it stops at different floors. After realizing this from my 2nd mapping experience, I asked the family what elevators have I been on before that talked! They really had to put their “thinking caps” on, because it doesn’t register to them if an elevator talks or not. Excuse me, but I don’t get that at all! How can you not know what elevators talk? I mean talking elevators are the kind of things I would expect to find in the Smithsonian’s! After the elevator stopped at the next floor to let someone off, I realized it was a masculine elevator! I was sure I heard a feminine elevator earlier this week! I wasn’t about to ask my fellow elevator passengers if the elevators were different genders, however. There are enough folks in the hospital vicinity, who already think I’m nuts! So I am going to assume that I’m hearing it differently TODAY. But it was definitely a man’s voice.

Even though I was almost 30 minutes early, my audi wasn’t busy so she came and invited me back right away. We walked past her office, and I took a deep breath. I realized we were headed for – THE BOOTH! Now in recent days I have heard this described at THE TORTURE BOOTH, so I felt a little panic. Smile! She tested what I could hear with some beeps, and then some simple words like ice cream, baseball, hotdog, etc. Do you know at one point she mouthed “wow”? That’s good, right? Grin!

We were only there for about 10 minutes. She then took me back to her office. She paged the doctor who saw me this past Tuesday to check my “air pocket”. The doctor had a break and so walked down right away to see me. She was pleased to see that the air pocket was completely gone and said she’d tell Dr. Niparko. They advise I stay on the Claritin D to control my allergies until mid-summer at the very least. As I do not look forward to having another air pocket from a tear in the Eustachian tube, I will follow doctor’s orders to the letter. Grin!

My audi hooked my CI up to her computer and we again went over sounds. The first sets of sounds were clicks – sort of like what I remember the old rotary telephones sounding like when you dialed a number. However, this test had various tones of these clicks. I think I did very well on this test. When we proceeded to the pure tone beeps, I was really surprised that I did not hear these as well. Perhaps as I have always had an easier time with percussion types of sounds, I heard the clicking sounds better? When the higher tones were being tested, I am sure I missed some of these. These tones tend to compete too much with the tinnitus in my right (non CI) ear. It makes it very difficult to discern what a tone is, and what is the rrrring, that is always present. She also tested my nerve response, tested how well I heard simple words while her mouth was covered, and then simple sentences.

She told me I was doing VERY well. She tweaked some of the programs again, and added BEAM to one. Part of my homework is to test my t-coil switch in looped rooms (like my church) and the television, as I have an FM loop pad under my recliner. I’m going to have to practice switching to t-coil, however. I am just now learning how to move back and forth from program to program. At least I don’t turn myself “off” anymore – which was something I did constantly at the beginning. I am VERY pleased that even more of the “tin-like” sound is gone from voices. It really does get better and better each time I see the audi. I don’t get to see her for a whole month, however! She said to email her if I have any problems, and she does answer emails right away. She did tell me before leaving that I’m very expressive! She said she really enjoys seeing my face light up in amazement. I really can’t get over hearing her when she covers her face!

I listened to the masculine elevator all the way down. Sigh. It was a different elevator so they must all be men. I suppose I can live with that. Now I need to interrogate the family at supper what ‘gender’ all these other elevators they say talk are!

As I circled down 4 floors of the parking garage towards the exit, I crossed my fingers that a live security guard would not be standing at the ‘ticket eater’ machine. Crossing your fingers never works for me – there he stood right by the exit! I rolled my window down and stuck my little ticket in the machine. I almost fell out of the car AGAIN as I heard it say plain as day, “Thank you very much!” GRIN! How did I miss the ‘very much’ part on Tuesday? Golly, do they teach good manners here in Baltimore or what? I tried very hard to compose myself, and refrained from ‘patting its head’ as I really knew I might be banned from the garage if I kept petting the machines! The ticket machines are definitely feminine, however. Very girly-girl voice, without question!

Lots of homework this month! It’s becoming a lot of work! But it’s worth it!

Denise
©2006 Hearing Loss Diary

May 19, 2005

May 19th

I’ve been trying different programs today. P1 is ADRO, P2 is Auto and is louder, P3 is ADRO and is louder still, P4 is Auto and is the loudest. When using P4, the buzz tends to come back for some voices, especially those of my children.

My son laughs a lot and I noticed that when he laughs I get a buzz-or robotic sound. If he talks with a regular meter, volume and tone, I hear him very well. If he deviates from that at all, he begins to sound like a robot with a buzz again. I’ll have to discuss this with Jennifer tomorrow.

Sara emailed me from Dr. Niparko’s office. She discussed my air pocket with him, and he said that the Claritin D was the right course. He also asked her to tell me to use my fingers and gently see if I could push the air “out” of the air pocket. I had already done this, and I felt a pop in my left ear as some of the air came out. I reported this to Sara, and she said that was great. They are hypothesizing that there is a hole in my Eustachian tube and that it will repair itself if I can keep from sneezing and sniffing, blowing my nose, etc. Allergies! Hence, the need for the Claritin D. She said he may want to see me tomorrow too. However, having said all of that… this morning the air pocket was gone! So I believe the Claritin D is already making a difference since I am sniffing and sneezing less.

I heard something jingling in the car today – like little bells. I couldn’t make out what it was, but finally realized it was the sound of my car keys jingling together when I went over a bump, accelerated, or braked the car. I am amazed at some of the little sounds that I am hearing so well.

I am learning what everyone in my family sounds like, but I’m still watching faces a great deal. I wonder how much I’m hearing, or if I’m ‘reading’?

I’m anxious to discuss the continued slight buzz in voices with Jennifer tomorrow. I won’t see her again for a month!

Denise
©2006 Hearing Loss Diary

Batteries died!

5-18-05

May 18

Well my batteries finally ran out late last night while we were watching American Idol. I still don’t hear the singers very well, but of course after my batteries died I didn’t hear anything. I had to run get my instruction book about how to change them. I didn’t hear any “beeps” though, but maybe it’s because there was a lot of music (noise) coming from the television? Anyway, I guess 5 days is good for batteries. They were fairly easy to change.

Back to American Idol – I had to ask the family, “Did they do well?” Or, “Are they singing well?” I asked these types of questions throughout the 3 finalist’s songs. Some of the songs I knew from memory and could follow along with the closed captioning. I’ve learned through talking with CI users, that music takes awhile. So I’ll be patient. I need to search for some music with only one instrument – that may help. As a matter of fact, one of the finalists last night sang without any accompaniment, and I felt like I was “hearing” him better.

Nothing really new today, however some new sounds included the “beeps” on the microwave as I typed in the time, and I also heard my dog’s tags jingle when he shook himself. My kids are really amazed as well, at some of the quieter things I am hearing!

Denise
©2006 Hearing Loss Diary

A Bubble

May 17, 2005

Yes! I had my 2nd mapping today. I was a mite stressed as I traveled alone this time. Baltimore and John Hopkins is easy to get to, but not to get away from. The going was easy, the trip home made my blood pressure go up!

She (Jennifer Yeagle, my audi) changed quite a few things today and tweaked 4 programs and sent me home with “homework”. I’m to see her again on Friday. She was able to get some of the “buzz” out of the tail end of words that I was hearing.

I did show a place on my head above my magnet that felt “strange”. The only way I know to describe it is, you know when you open a coffee can with the can opener, but then use the plastic lid on it to keep the coffee fresh as you use it? Well you know how the lid has some “give” to it after it gets air in it? Well that’s what this place on my head feels like. At first she thought it was fluid but she finally called my doc down. (He’s on a different floor). He wasn’t in – seems he was in D.C. doing some sort of meeting. So she called his colleague in, Dr. Howard. He said it was an air pocket, and “did I know how rare this was?” He had his intern come in to feel my head too, because “you won’t see this very often”. They were relieved it wasn’t fluid or blood, OR infection. Anyway, he thinks it will “resolve itself”, but I’m to be mapped again on Friday. He wants Dr. Niparko to see it if it’s still there. Evidently, my allergies (which are really bad right now), and my sinus cavity, blowing my nose, etc., are probably the culprits. It evidently rarely happens, but it does on occasion and evidently to allergy sufferers who are recently implanted. So they want me to take a stronger medicine to alleviate my allergies, such as Claritin-D. The goal is that I don’t have to blow my nose and sniff so much. Ya right. Don’t they know how bad a transplanted southern gal’s allergies are when she moves up north to new trees, flowers, pollen? Hello? After almost 2 years, I still have not adjusted, nor have my children.

As I left today and stepped on the elevator I heard it TALK. I didn’t type that wrong, it TALKED to me! It said what floor we were on and the people in the elevator had to motion me inside. I was standing in the way of the sensor on the door, and it would not close. And yes, you guessed it! My mouth WAS hanging open again. THEN I heard technology speak AGAIN!

As I was leaving the parking garage, I came up to the automated attendant machine, and rolled my window down. I stuck my yellow card into the slot like the picture showed, and it swallowed my ticket and said, “Thank you”! I grinned from ear to ear and said, “Your welcome”, and patted the machine with my left hand. I looked up and a real-life security guard (big African American fellow) was standing there with his arms crossed looking at me. He was a shaking his head from side to side, as if saying “some women are plumb crazy!” LOL! Oh well, if he thinks I’m nuts that’s ok. I giggled all the way back to 40-W until traffic started getting bad, and then I quit giggling.

Anyhow, I have some wonderful new tweaked programs to try. She also would like for me to call some automated numbers on the phone and see if I can understand them. She also gave me some listening programs. So I have a lot to do before Friday!

Denise
©2006 Hearing Loss Diary

May 16, 2005

May 16

This morning at breakfast, I reached up to feel my scar. It has almost completely healed. I was a little bit worried about the implant site, however. It felt “squishy” instead of hard like it was prior to hookup. I think there must be some swelling. I looked in the mirror, and you cannot tell there is any swelling by looking. But if I press gently, my left ear also does a little “pop”. So there must be some slight swelling at the site. I suppose that is normal when your head is first becoming accustomed to the coil being attached all day. I emailed Dr. Yeagle this morning to tell her. I see her tomorrow, but I didn’t think it would hurt to just let her know via email while I was thinking of it.

Everything sounds “tin-like” still even in the other programs. But if I concentrate, I can still make out what is said. If one of my family members giggle or something WHILE talking, I have a lot of trouble making out what they are saying without watching them.

The lawn mower sounded like – well a lawn mower today. I wondered what it would be like! Chris was so glad to demonstrate for me and mow the front yard. NOT.

The sound of water is a little painful actually. Isn’t that strange? Like if I’m standing next to the washing machine, it actually hurts to hear it filling with water. I noticed that when the garbage disposal is running, it’s really loud and painful at the very beginning, but then the processor goes into some sort of “mute”, and lightens the sound? It’s hard to describe. Then when I turn the disposal off – it makes sort of an adjustment and goes back to where it was. I need to ask Jennifer about this. I was really surprised by this and tested it a couple of times.

Denise Portis

©2006 Hearing Loss Diary