Monthly Archives: July 2011

Wide Open Spaces

“When we buy our next house,” I mused, “I would like it to be far enough from our neighbors so that they won’t be tempted to have a conversation with me from their yard.”  I knew I wouldn’t need to explain this to Dave, although it doesn’t bother him as much as it does me.

I’m not a hermit, I’m not anti-social, and I don’t hate my neighbors.  But if I start to walk out onto my upper deck, which means that neighbors from all around can instantly see me, I will turn around and walk right back in if I see anyone else outside.

Here’s the scenario:  I walk outside, to do whatever, and I’m minding my own business.  After a while, I glance over and realize one of my neighbors has been talking to me, yelling from their yard, and I’ve been ignoring them.  Awkward.  Even worse, now that I’ve made eye contact, I’m expected to respond.  But no matter what I say, I will not understand what they shout back.  This leaves me with two options:  casually wave and immediately turn around and go back into the house, or go down two flights of stairs, across the yard, to the fence and have a conversation I really wasn’t planning to have.

Yeah, it’s easier to just go back in the house if I see anyone else outside.

Like I said, I don’t hate my neighbors.  At this point, I really just don’t know any of them very well.  The neighbors to the left were here when I moved in (in 1989!) but were not super social, which suited me just fine.  What I knew of them came from my ex-husband, who was the type to wander into someone’s yard and stand talking to them for an hour.  I could tell that our neighbor didn’t appreciate this gregariousness so I mostly just smiled and waved if we made eye contact.  I know his name, his wife’s name, and a couple of their (now grown) kids’ names but that’s about it.

To the right, we have a rental home.  (Yay.)  Its occupants change every year or two.  At this point, we really don’t bother getting close with these neighbors unless they make the effort and/or seem like folks we have a lot in common with.  The latest batch are young partiers with a couple of young kids who scream outside all the time (the kids, not the parents).  Mildly annoying, definitely not people we would choose to spend time with, but otherwise harmless (other than playing music loud enough that we can feel the walls of our house vibrate – bothering Paige more than me or Dave).  But, you know, they hang out with groups of friends, getting drunk (and, um, other stuff) and that makes them chatty.

I’ve never gotten around to talking to them but Dave has – just neighborly chitchat as he works on the yard or whatever.  They know we both have hearing loss, but to be honest, this never stops people.  They either forget, or they don’t grasp that we can’t understand what they’re saying from the distant comfort of their backyard.  So it really doesn’t help to inform them; it just makes me feel less guilty when I realize I’ve been ignoring them because hey, they should know better!

A few weeks ago we had a big storm come through and everyone was outside, looking up at the sky.  The partying neighbors had friends over.  Dave, Paige and I were watching the storm roll in, trying to decide if it was really going to be a tornado as predicted.  As we scanned the skies, Paige nudged Dave and said, “Hey, the neighbors are talking to you.”  Aw, crap.  Dave looked over and one of the guys waved a beer.  Dave looked confused.  Paige said, “He wants to know if you want a beer.”  (Which was nice – like I said, I don’t hate these people!)  Dave just shook his head and waved his hand in a “thanks but no thanks” sort of way, and turned away.  He doesn’t really care what people think if he gives them the cold shoulder; I’m the one who spends too much time worrying about what other people think of me.

So when we daydream about our next house and we come up with features we would love to have, we do include things like an attached garage and air conditioning.  But we also include lots of space between us and our neighbors.  A wave from the distance is fine, thank you very much.

For What It’s Worth

Heartbeat *

The other day, Paige asked me if I could hear my heartbeat.  I told her no; with my CIs off, I don’t hear anything…my own voice, the sound of food being chewed, my heartbeat/pulse, etc.  I just realized, though, that I don’t hear my heartbeat when I’m wearing CIs either.  I’m not sure anyone really hears their own heart beating, do they?!

Anyway, she was reading a book about beauty queens stranded on a desert island (or something like that) and one of the girls was deaf.  I guess there must have been a reference to her hearing her heart beating, which made Paige ask me about it.  I think it’s hard to really imagine what it’s like to not hear things like your own voice (although, again, I don’t think we hear our heartbeat anyway) and it’s hard to imagine what it’s like to be deaf.  I thought I knew fairly well, since my hearing loss was pretty advanced before I went deaf, and that was nothing compared to profound bilateral deafness.  But I explained to Paige that it wasn’t silent…I was assaulted with noise all the time, noise that I couldn’t escape from, in the form of tinnitus.  That’s another thing you just can’t explain to someone…and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone just so they could experience having tinnitus.

* Am I the only one who remembers this song by the DeFranco Family?  I think the full title was ‘Heartbeat, It’s a Lovebeat’.  It came out in 1973, when I was all of 9 years old.

Alone

I’m completely alone in the house right now, which is weird.  Paige is at the library, volunteering at a Harry Potter party to celebrate the final movie coming out today.  Dave is at the VA hospital, returning his Bravo PH monitor.  It is really rare for me to be alone because Dave and I spend pretty much every hour of the day together.  I used to think I was a loner, because I do prefer to be alone and used to really crave time by myself.  Since I met Dave, though, that’s not the case…I can spend every moment with him and feel perfectly content.  It’s good to know that when we have an empty nest someday, we will enjoy each other just as much.  🙂

Don’t Do Me Like That

We were trying to remember when Dave had that big panel of blood tests, the 15 tubes of blood, so I was looking back through my blog for the date.  I realized it has been over six months since he’s been trying to move forward with his fundoplication (the surgery for his hiatal hernia and GERD).  He had an endoscopy back in January or so, and just had another one two days ago.  This one included a PH study, which I talked about back in January as well – they lodged a capsule in his esophagus to register his PH levels and see how often he had acid reflux.  It took 6 months to get this test!  Now he has another endoscopy plus a manometry test (to check the muscle function of his esophagus) on August 11.  Then he sees the GI doctor on my birthday at the end of August.  (It was supposed to be the end of July, but she canceled the appointment, which is the second time she’s done that.)  It’s really frustrating to me because he can’t start on his Hepatitis C treatment until he’s healed from this surgery, and he obviously won’t have the surgery until September at the soonest, with all the testing they keep putting him through.  We assumed he would be starting his Hepatitis C treatment in early spring, March or April.  Now it looks like he’ll be lucky to be starting treatment before Christmas 2011.

On the other hand, we can’t complain about the fact that he gets free, very good healthcare from the VA here.  It just takes soooo long to get anything done!

Enjoy the Silence

One final observation…I had two instances this week when it was just so convenient to be deaf (not something I often say).  First, we were in the grocery store, just meandering and taking our time (we love shopping in this store) when some kind of horribly piercing alarm system went off.  I think it was a fire alarm – there were little strobe light things flashing and intermittent extremely high pitched tones, but (thankfully) the sprinkler system didn’t activate.  I had to stop and grab onto the shopping cart because the extreme high pitched tones, although dampened down by the AGC in my CIs, made me so dizzy that I couldn’t walk.  We kind of looked around to see what was going on, if an announcement was going to be made or if people were leaving the store or what.  I left my CIs on so I could try to hear any instructions we might be given.  After a minute or so, I couldn’t stand it and just took the magnets off and let them dangle.  My God, the relief!!  It felt so good to just hear nothing.  Everyone else was grimacing and covering their ears.  I told Dave to let me know when it stopped, and we kept on shopping.  It went on for probably 10 minutes and finally we saw some firemen heading to the back of the store (no smoke or anything – who knows what set it off).  A few minutes after we saw them, the alarm stopped and I was able to put my CIs back on.  Very convenient!

And this morning, a guy came by to bury the cable for our internet/cable service.  It’s been lying across the whole backyard for seven months now, and Dave finally called and got a bit nasty with them to get them to come out and bury it.  (It was his second phone call about this; they did this back in December when they came out to do some cable stuff and claimed back then that they would be out in a few days to bury the cable.  They also gave us strict instructions not to bury it ourselves…they must know Dave well, because he was tempted!)  We were having breakfast and suddenly heard this tremendous racket, like a jackhammer, coming from the open windows.  I could barely speak over the noise, and I asked Dave if it was the cable guy.  He laughed and said, “What?  How could that be, unless he has a bulldoz….oh yeah, he’s got a bulldozer in the back yard.”  (!!)  So once again, I took off my CIs and told Dave to tell me when he was gone.  What a terrible sound!

…okay, this blog entry is just a bunch of unrelated thoughts and experiences, but there they are, for what it’s worth.  🙂

Satisfaction

Well, I let 2.5 months slip by here.  Since I last posted, Paige finished her junior year of high school, Dave finally (finally!) saw the liver doctor, summer arrived with an asphalt-melting vengeance, Toby the Dog got his teeth cleaned (and his honking cough got much better), and I did my usual worrying and fretting about The Future.  What else is new?

We put in a garden again this year, after such a roaring success with tomatoes last year.  I say “we” but really, if the garden were my responsibility we would be nibbling on dry husks come fall.  Dave is my Farmer Boy, and he does all of the gardening and yard stuff.  This year he decided to start the plants from seeds.  It was, to me, kind of late in the year to be making this industrious decision (the last week of April) and I was skeptical.  I envisioned tiny, spindly plants under the glare of the July sun, while our neighbors tended to their waist-high robust tomato garden.

I was wrong, okay?  Really, I have no clue where plants or gardening is concerned.  I made Dave show me (nay, involve me) in the process, because I really had no idea how to go about growing a plant from a seed.  I guess I would grab some dirt from the yard, stick it in a Dixie cup and toss in some seeds?  Dave did grab Dixie cups, but he also grabbed coffee filters.  (Wha?)  We got the filter damp, spread seeds on one side, folded it up just so, and tucked the whole thing into the Dixie cup.  We labeled the cups (rosemary, thyme, basil, two kinds of parsley, cherry tomatoes and Roma tomatoes) and then I promptly forgot about them.  I don’t even know if Dave watered them.  (I just asked, and not only did he moisten them with an eyedropper, he did it with rainwater.  And he talked to the plants.  I love this man.)

Every now and then I would peek at them and yay, sprouts!  Dave transplanted them into slightly larger containers with dirt, gave them some time out in the sun, and I sat around doubting their ability to grow big enough fast enough.  And now?  Those suckers are huge.  They are out in the garden, or in pots (in the case of the herbs) flowering and growing away.  They kick the neighbor’s tomatoes asses.  I like to step out on the deck and look over the side at the garden and marvel that those huge plants were teeny little sprouts just 2 months ago.  Talk about satisfaction.

It’s time to find recipes involving lots of basil (seriously, we have many basil plants and I will be upset if they go to waste), lots of tomatoes, and lots of peppers (we cheated and bought already-started pepper plants).  It’s a good thing I’m Italian, isn’t it?  Unfortunately for Dave, he’s heading into a month of gastrointestinal testing for his GERD and hiatal hernia, and guess what he’s supposed to avoid?  Tomatoes.

More for me!!  😉

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