Monthly Archives: February 2011

Mystify

On any given day, you can usually find me or Dave frozen in position like startled rabbits; head tilted, eyes to the ceiling.  “Where is that sound coming from?” we murmur, as something beeps, clicks or bangs in the distance.

We start wandering around, turning back and forth as the beeping or dripping continues.  Sometimes we can’t even tell what we’re hearing:  “What the hell is that sound?  Is the water running?”

If we’re lucky, Paige is home and she can clear up the mystery with a few words:  “It’s coming from downstairs.”  “The faucet is dripping.”  “It’s Dave’s hearing aid whistling.”  (This last happened when he was asleep and had set his hearing aid on the coffee table, but forgot to open the battery compartment door to shut it off…hence the whistling.)

Being able to localize sound is one of those things we take for granted.  You hear someone call out to you and you turn in their direction.  You hear a car engine and know to look in that direction to see how far away it is.  Something beeps and you walk towards it to change the battery or get your food out of the microwave.

Dave and I have the double challenge of first trying to figure out what it is we’re hearing (for some reason, running water is really hard to ‘understand’) and then figure out where the heck the sound is coming from.  It’s incredibly frustrating!

I used to wear bi-CROS hearing aids, which meant that I wore a receiver on my deaf right ear, and it transmitted the sounds wirelessly over to my left ear, which had a moderate-to-severe loss.  It gave me the impression of hearing from both sides, but was absolutely no help when it came to localizing a sound.  Everything just sounded like it was in front of me or off in the vague distance.

Dave can’t stand the way bi-CROS aids sound, so he doesn’t wear anything on his deaf left ear and just wears a hearing aid in his right ear.  Of course, everything sounds like it’s coming from his right side.

I’ve noticed, now that I’ve had my cochlear implants for over 2 years, that I’m getting better at figuring out where a sound is coming from.  More and more, I’m the one who answers when Dave asks where a noise is coming from.  I can tell if it’s inside or outside (this is more of an issue when the windows are open), upstairs or downstairs, to my right or left.

Sometimes I close my eyes and listen for a while; it just happens.  I can just tell which ear is receiving the sound I’m hearing.  It’s something I’ve never experienced before and it’s not a big dramatic thing – it just kind of happens and my brain makes the connection.  I don’t know how long it took before I realized I knew which direction sounds were coming from, but it’s definitely something that is quietly improving as time goes on…behind the scenes, so to speak.

Right now I can hear my cat meowing and I can tell she’s to my left.  Dave just cleared his throat and my right ear heard it.  I hear a kind of ambient noise and my guess is that it’s the refrigerator…I hear it more in my left ear, and the fridge is behind me and to the left.  It is so cool to hear this way!!

The first few months after I was activated, everything just sounded like it was “in my head”.  I was so busy learning what everything sounded like that figuring out where the sound was coming from was just too much information.  It’s amazing to me how much my brain is still learning and how much it’s adapting, even a couple of years later.

It’s still not perfect; that incident with Dave’s hearing aid happened last week, and I actually didn’t hear the high-pitched whistle at all…Paige heard it.  But I know it will just get better with time, and that’s fine with me!

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Love Is in the Air

I finally found it!  A couple years back I was trying to find this little post Dave wrote about how we met.  I used to have a personal webpage (back before blogs existed) and this was a link on the site called “Our Love Story”.  I kept meaning to post it here so you all could hear Dave’s ‘voice’ as well and, try as I might, I just couldn’t find it anywhere on my computer.  In the process of searching through all the old emails I saved, I also found a really sweet post that he sent to the Say What Club (the online mailing list where we met in 1997).

Since Valentine’s Day is almost here, and I currently have a raging case of writer’s block, I thought I’d post these.  Now, they are old – the first one was written in Feb. 1999, and the second was sent to the SayWhatClub-World list (I’m not sure if it still exists) in July 1999.  I’m not going to change the tense or details, I’m just posting them as he wrote them.  Here they are:

Well, it’s February…the time of the year when the folks up north start to think about how much longer winter will last and the ladies begin to think about Valentine’s Day.

Wendi and I are both members of an online hard-of-hearing group, The SayWhatClub. I had joined back in July of ’97 and she came in a couple of months later. I always tried to greet the new members with a personal e-mail and I did so with Wendi.

When she replied I noticed that her positive attitude and cheerfulness just shone right through her words. We started a correspondence that soon revealed we had many things in common…perhaps the most important was the respect that we each felt for the other person.

We fell into the habit of chatting online (once she showed me what that was) and we began to realize that there was something very special in the way we thought about each other and the closeness we developed in our talks. I certainly wasn’t actively looking for anyone and Wendi had enough going on in her life that searching for love was a low-priority item also.

However, when something is meant to be, life will find a way to open even the hardest heart to the ways of love and that is just what happened with us.

We’ve been together for almost a year now and it has been absolute bliss and we have never had any doubts about whether it will last or is this really the real thing. When love is right, you know it.

This is.

Happy Valentine’s Day!!!!!

This is the second one, sent to the SWC-W list, on the topic of finding a ‘soul mate’:

…The older we get the more sure we become that we know what this perfect companion will be like. We instinctively seem to know the qualities that our partners should have to complement our own strengths and weaknesses.

The problem lies in our ability to tolerate the differences between the real person and the imaginary one. The longer you’ve spent thinking about what this *soul mate* will be like, the more likely you are to be either surprised or disappointed by the real person. AFAIK, no one has ever just wished for their perfect partner and then found that exact same person.

If a person is willing to let go of their preconceptions, they have a very good chance of finding someone that will fulfill their dreams…just not in quite the way they had imagined. I think the keys here are tolerance and flexibility.

I don’t know why things happen the way the way they do in life. Whoever or whatever is behind the scenes making things happen doesn’t consult me on a reliable schedule…unless my life itself is the answer to all the questions I have. <g>

I’d like to think that life works like the Richard Bach books – Jonathan Livingston Seagull and Illusions.  I’d like to think that…so I do. You can see I’m a simple-minded sort of fool.

Now for the story:

When I joined the SWC 2 years ago I was almost 4 years post-transplant and a lot of the problems were easing up. I draw a VA pension so I don’t have to work. I worked on my sister’s house off and on and pretty much did whatever I wanted to.

I didn’t want a relationship…I had remarried my ex-wife after the transplant and that was 15 months of *learning experience*!!  Lol

That little episode led me to the conclusions I stated above about the differences between what you get and what you hope for.   She was just so sure I was going to make her life perfect and she was sooo disappointed when that didn’t happen.

So at the time I joined the SWC I was pretty much doing what I wanted…playing golf every day…reading…running… whatever I wanted within my means was mine to have.

Was I lonely? Maybe…it’s a little different situation than most because there was always a fair chance that I would die suddenly from some complication of the transplant. I’d seen it happen often enough to people I knew like me. I most definitely was not looking for a relationship nor did I think I would ever have one again. I had resigned myself to living by myself for the rest of my life and making the best of it. Truthfully??  There comes a certain peace of mind when you’ve made a decision like that…to accept things being as they are.

So there I was, all by myself, just got my little WebTV and found the SWC on the web and I was busy being obnoxious as hell (I have a talent for it) and then I met Wendi online when she joined the club.

Now, I’m not going to tell you that lights went on and fireworks started exploding and the skies opened up and the big Fella up there said, “Dave, this is the woman for you…your soul mate and lifelong companion.”  But he might as well have.

There was definitely something going on from the first even though I was trying to discourage myself from getting close. When life wants you to go in a certain direction, it’s best to just go. So I did.

I’m not going to bore you with trivial details about how we finally met and all those long nights spent online chatting. But the one thing that stood right out was how often we were both thinking the same thing at the same time.  You’ve all seen the web acronym, GMTA, well, that kinda became our own little motto.

Anyhow, the moral of this long rambling post is: sometimes you have to give up searching for what you want in order to find it.  Best of luck to everyone who’s still looking!!

So that’s the guy I fell in love with.  🙂  Happy Valentine’s Day, from me and Dave.   ❤

Let It Snow

Dave’s liver biopsy was scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 2.  On Sunday, we started getting weather alerts…first they were Winter Weather Advisory and Snow Advisory alerts, and then they started getting increasingly frantic.  Blizzard Watch!  Blizzard Warning!  Worst storm the Chicago area has ever seen!!!!

The original advisories made it sound like the main storm would be Tuesday morning/afternoon.  I mentioned to Dave that he might need to reschedule his biopsy, depending on how much snow we got.  Usually we get snow and the plows are ready for it – we might get 3-5 inches one evening and you’d never know by the condition of the streets the next morning.  So if the worst of the storm was over by 8 or 9 pm Tuesday, the streets would probably be fine by Wednesday morning.

He was pretty casual about it … “We’ll see – usually these storms pass us by.”   So we just kept watching the weather, not really sure what to do.  It’s a long drive if the traffic is heavy – anywhere from 40 to 60 minutes, depending.  If the roads are bad, a 40 minute drive can easily become a 2 hour drive.  We needed to be at the VA hospital by 8 am for his blood work, then up for an ultrasound at 8:30 (for them to mark the biopsy site) and the actual biopsy at 9:00.

By the time Monday afternoon rolled around we had a Blizzard Watch, and it really seemed like there was no way the storm would miss us.  The timing also shifted so that we were now looking at a huge snow storm starting around 3 pm Tuesday, the worst being overnight Tuesday, and continuing into late Wednesday morning/early afternoon.  People were being warned not to even think of getting on the roads early Wednesday.  Dave called to cancel his appointment.

Then he began fretting.  “What if it’s not that bad?  I’m really going to look stupid for canceling my appointment.”  I kept reassuring him that he’d done the right thing, but we’ve had so many big storm predictions that turn out to be hardly anything and I could understand his ambivalence.

It started snowing a bit on Monday night, and we thought maybe that was going to be the snow storm.  We weren’t sure if it would get heavier overnight or if Paige might get the day off from high school.  I woke early on Tuesday to see if we had a message waiting, letting us know school was canceled.  Nope – no message, no snow, and the roads had been cleared pretty well.

On Tuesday, the Blizzard Watch changed to a Blizzard Warning.  The VA hospital called Dave to cancel his appointment for the next day, which was weird – it was a computerized message, saying they would call us to reschedule.  But either way, that helped reassure him that he did the right thing by canceling the day before (even though apparently the computer system didn’t realize that).  Now he was able to breathe easier, knowing the VA didn’t want him there the next day no matter what!

We watched the news, kept an eye out the window, and waited.  And waited.  We were beginning to wonder if the snow would ever start, when suddenly it was like someone flipped a “Blizzard” switch.  Around 2:15 it started to snow.  Paige usually gets off the bus around 2:50 and walks in around 3:00.  By the time she got in, it was really looking like a blizzard…the wind was picking up and the snow was much, much heavier.  Dave had gone out for some last minute provisions that morning and picked up some powdered donuts.  He felt bad about her walking in that crappy weather, so he made hot chocolate for her and had it waiting when she walked in the door, along with some donuts.  🙂

And the rest is history.  It really was a blizzard, in every sense of the word.  Although I lived in Illinois during the big blizzard of 1967, I was only 3 years old so I really don’t remember it.  This was the worst storm I’ve ever seen – the wind was so strong, and lasted for so many hours (it started at 3 pm and was still howling and going strong at 11 pm when I went to bed).

I can’t believe we didn’t lose power, although I’m forever grateful that we didn’t!  We were very worried about Paige’s hedgehog because he really needs warmth – he has a warming light in his cage that we keep on all the time during the colder months.  I was worried about my cochlear implant batteries and keeping them recharged.  I have eight of them – four in the smaller size and four large.  However, they are 2-1/2 years old and don’t hold a charge as long as they did in the early days.  I’d be fine for a short power outage, but if the power went out for a couple of days I would have to plug my charger into the car to recharge my batteries.  I’m not sure how long it would take to recharge the batteries so we were speculating how it would actually work…would we have to go drive around for a few hours while the batteries charged?  (Which, of course, wouldn’t have been possible because the roads were impassable.)  Do you just turn the key in the ignition and not actually turn the car on?  It’s kind of embarrassing that I don’t know this stuff, but really, I never charge things in the car so this is all completely new to me.  I usually just switch batteries out with fully charged ones that are already on the charger, and I don’t even know how long it takes my batteries to charge up…an hour?  Four hours?

Once it was all over, we got about 20” of snow, with drifts up to 5 feet in our back yard.  The driveway had 3 to 4 feet of snow, which was a joy to shovel.  Between the 3 of us, going out in shifts (it wasn’t possible to do it all at once without keeling over from heart failure), it was 3 pm before it was finally done.  Even now, two days later, Dave still has to constantly re-shovel the end of the driveway where the snow plows keep depositing a wall of snow.  (How they manage this I’m not sure, since the roads are clear of snow…why are plows still driving around, and where are they getting the snow they are dumping at the end of everyone’s driveway?!)

Although I love snow, this definitely satisfied my craving for a good storm and I’ll be happy to wait for spring now, thank you very much.  🙂

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