Learning the HARD Way

Don’t you hate “lessons learned the hard way”?  I must be one of those stubborn “souls” that must learn things by bearing the consequences of unheeded warnings.  As a child, I’m sure my mother probably warned, “Clean your room or no watching Sesame Street and ELMO”.  Knowing ME, I likely closed that door on the messy room in hopes “out of sight, out of mind” worked with my Mom.  (Does that EVER… work with MOM?)

Even as an adult, I can still be stubborn.  I have a hearing loss, but “hear again” (in ideal situations) through the miracle of a cochlear implant.  I have balance problems due to a mild form of Meniere’s disease.  But every “lesson” I’ve learned, I’ve learned the hard way.  Anticipating possible consequences was never something I sat around contemplating.  For me… it had to “happen” before I learned to make necessary changes.

These lessons include:

My Hearing and Hearing Assistance Dog

1.  Have Size 675 batteries EVERYWHERE.  In the car and van, in Chloe’s vest, in my purse, in my training bag, in my Bible, in my jewelry box, on my dresser, and in Chloe’s treat bag.  Failure to not have them EVERYWHERE, results in my being caught “deaf” when my cochlear implant dies.

2.  When I get my “20 minute Beep” from my CI, start digging for batteries right away.  Otherwise, when those 20 minutes are up, I’m left having a conversation with someone with my mouth dropped open in surprise at the sudden silence.

3.  Have “clean up” bags everywhere for Chloe.  I even carry them in her vest pocket, that way they are always handy.  Just because she goes “potty” like clockwork at the SAME time, every day, does NOT mean that she will never “up and decide” she needs to go at some random location!  Failure to carry them with me all the time, means that I have to come back to that place to “pick up” after running home for the bags!

4.  Tell Chloe a basic obedience command once.  If I say it four or five times, she will learn to ignore me. Or worse yet, she “counts” and waits until I’ve said “Chloe sit” 5 times before doing it! Give the command after her name ONE TIME, and then correct with an immediate correction should she fail to follow through.

5.  If I don’t hear what someone says… even simply PART of what someone says… do not pretend I completely understand. Failure to clarify means I will likely say “that’s nice” when someone tells me their aunt passed away, when I thought they said “My aunt’s pants are gray”.

6.  Follow up important meetings with an email.  This insures I have received all the information correctly, and will even remind the other person about deadlines and issues we discussed.  Failure to follow-up will likely result in my forgetting something important as I did not hear clearly.

My Balance and Assistance Dog

1.  I wear bangs so that I don’t have to deal with the peripheral of ceiling fans.  Those suckers are EVERYWHERE!  My bangs keep me from easily seeing the rotation, resulting in fewer “tumbles”.  If I wear my hair without bangs because of fashion, I’m usually “in style” but looking up at the concerned faces of people standing over my prone body.

2.  Stay away from caffeine during the day.  Morning coffee is fine.  Soft drinks all day only insure that I am banging into everything by bedtime.

3.  If asking Chloe to brace, check our immediate surroundings first.  If she sees a family member nearby, she may “wiggle” in a brace causing me to fall.

4.  Do not allow anyone to pet Chloe in vest EVER.  If I break my own rule, Chloe will never understand not to “visit” when in vest.  Her moving suddenly or reaching for an outstretched hand means that I will fall. I will fuss at friends and family members should they think “Do not Pet” does not mean them.

5.  If Manganese is suppose to help the tinnitus and balance problems, then for Heaven’s sake TAKE THE MANGANESE.  It takes a good 3 weeks for enough to be built up in my system to work.  Pretend the Manganese is something important… like birth control or something!  If I don’t take it regularly, then I continue to have frequent symptoms.

6.  If someone close to me (KYERSTEN) begs me to ride a roller coaster, or other amusement park ride that actually MOVES in more than one direction, insist on watching from the sidelines.  It’s not like Chloe would enjoy it either!  Caving in to begging daredevils (KYERSTEN), simply means I’ll be sniffing smelling salts later.

7.  When taking a bath, do not lock the door.  Chloe can do a lot of things, but she can’t unlock a door should I fall.  (Like last night… behind a locked door… with a concerned assistance dog looking at all the bubbles thrown everywhere and unable to go get help!) Leave the door unlocked.  You can always throw a bar of soap should someone come in without permission.  (Not that the AIM of someone with balance problems is that great… but I can SCREAM).

Denise Portis

© 2008 Hearing Loss Journal

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6 thoughts on “Learning the HARD Way

  1. Denise,

    I hope to have a PORTION of your honesty and your humor… to be able to be honest about my struggles (and failures) and to be able to laugh at myself.

    You have a gift :0)

    Julie

  2. I am so so so bad about the “do not pet”. I must confess to not making myself stick hard enough on that.
    I love reading your blog, the way you say things and what you say have a purity of spirit and gentleness–refreshing to find on an internet clogged with nasty and unkind. Thank you!

  3. I’m with GDSD – I’m not “good” about not allowing people to pet Emmy. BUT, I do have them wait until I put her into “say hello” mode (sitting, watching me closely), and they are only to pet her rump below the cape line as she sits. Why is it that children follow that instruction better than adults??

    And I’m WITH you on the one “cue.” If Emmy doesn’t follow up I “break” her thought process by interposing a different, easy, almost automatic cue. Like, say, “sit.” Then we can start over with the previous cue and she comes to it as if I had not given it and just refused or done it wrong. Dogs are so “in the moment!”

    Each day with Emmy is a revelation to me – how did I EVER get along without her??

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