A Common Dust Speck

To others it was just a common dust speck. To Horton, it housed an entire world in need of assistance, with hundreds of lives at stake on the brink of being (gulp) boiled. “Common” is subjective, for what is commonplace and boring to one individual may be exactly opposite to another.

Losing to Learn to Appreciate

Having an acquired disability like hearing loss and a balance disorder often teaches me to be appreciative of things I once took for granted. Activated merely eight days before, what blended into the background as a normal, ordinary, and mediocre sound to my husband, was the astonishing, spine-tingling gurgle of sound to me! It took me 15 minutes to finally pinpoint the sound of the electric coffee-maker in his office.

“How could you not hear THAT! What a wonderful sound! It is so distracting! It fills the entire room!” I exclaimed.

“Honey, it is such a commonplace sound it doesn’t even register for me!” he replied.

I was stumped! This gurgle-burp, sigh of steam… commonplace? Doesn’t register? No way!

Subtle cues

If you’ve never had any experience with a hearing assistance/balance assist dog, there are cues that are subtle… even invisible to someone other than their partner. My husband is constantly amazed that I am able to scoot the cart out of the way of a “mother of two in a hurry” at a store when I only have one cochlear implant. Finding the direction of sound is quite a challenge. However, Terry isn’t watching what I’m paying attention to while we shop. If Chloe turns her head and pricks her ears up, I automatically look in the direction her nose is pointing. To me this subtle cue shouts, “Well! Would you look at THAT, Denise!”

When air pressure and bad weather create a vestibular nightmare for me, it is the subtle cues that Chloe and I communicate most effectively. On a “normal day”, I’ll drop something and can slowly bend to retrieve the object. However, on a “bad day”, I only need to look at the object I dropped and intercept Chloe’s gaze… for she has most certainly already noticed the dropped item too. Sometimes I only smile and she cheerfully retrieves the object! Other times I may point and ask her to specifically fetch something. (You don’t ALWAYS want your dog to retrieve dropped items. For example, my husband Terry dropped a large candle from the top of the closet this weekend. I did not want Chloe to retrieve any of the glass scattered over the carpet and had to “shoo” her away!)

Chloe may go through a day and only alert me to the kitchen timer a couple of times, my cell phone, and retrieve my garden gloves from the yard. Those tasks may seem very ordinary and commonplace. Yet without those alerts, my tea kettle would have boiled empty and the chicken defrosting in the microwave may have sat in there all day! I would have missed the call from my husband reminding me that he was working late. I would have had to retrieve those garden gloves myself in the middle of a yard with nothing nearby with which to pull myself back up! So common and subtle cues are subjective. They may be very important alerts that enable me to live more independently.

Just Help

I know people who do things to help others who are never noticed. They don’t want the attention. It can be something as simple as paying a military person’s meal for them when you see them in a restaurant.

Perhaps you help a mother get her stroller up on the curb, or take a shopping cart to the “cart corral” for a customer in a hurry.

Don’t ever underestimate any help you are prompted to give. We are called to serve… to make a difference. Even people with disabilities can help others. I know someone who is blind and deaf who emails “10 Blessings” a day to various people. As I’m the occasional recipient, I can tell you those blessings come on days I need them most.

You don’t have to have money to help. Most acts of service are free.

You don’t have to have a lot of time to help. Most opportunities take seconds.

Don’t ever look at a day as a “common” one. If you really set out to do so, you can make a difference in someone’s life.

If you listen really carefully, you may even hear…

“We are here, we are Here, we are HERE”

Denise Portis

© 2010 Personal Hearing Loss Journal


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2 thoughts on “A Common Dust Speck

  1. I almost missed this! You must tag me for all of them…grin!
    Wonderful stuff, Denise. Over time, I’m collecting the pearls of wisdom and putting them in the Denise corner of my mind.

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