Monthly Archives: May 2013
A few days ago I was getting ready for bed. Dave had just lain down and I was in the process of taking off my cochlear implant processors, removing the batteries and putting them on the battery charger before I put the processors in our Dry & Store unit. I was turned away from him but out of the corner of my eye, I saw him jump up from the bed. He let out a few choice curse words. Then I heard the buzzing from the bed shaker attached to the AlertMaster.
“What the heck? Did someone ring our doorbell?” I left one of my CIs on and went to look out the window. Dave had already gone to the door to check. There was nobody there and nobody that we could see in the vicinity of our house.
“Maybe it was kids screwing around, since we put that sign by the doorbell?” It was just after 10:30 pm and the sign instructed people to use the AlertMaster doorbell after 10:30…maybe we had some pranksters in our neighborhood. I went back to the room and checked the base unit; there was no red light flashing in the area marked ‘Doorbell’ so I felt pretty confident that nobody had actually rung the bell.
I finished with my CIs, got into bed and Dave joined me a few seconds later. Then I felt it again. Pulse Pulse … BZZZZZZZZZ. What the hell?! We checked the base unit and, again, no lights were flashing. Dave turned off the alarm and things stayed quiet after that.
The next night, the same thing happened when Dave got into bed. I was already in bed and ‘offline’ so I was reading his lips as he explained that he thought something was being triggered by him sitting/lying on the mattress near where the bed shaker was situated. He moved some things around and thankfully we haven’t had any more unexpected ‘alarms.’
Then yesterday morning, my alarm went off. This is the Sonic Alert alarm clock that we regularly use when we need to be up early. The thing is, we didn’t need to be awake early yesterday. I never set the alarm.
I was sleeping HARD when the alarm went off, so I was really discombobulated. I looked around in confusion for a few minutes, then grabbed the alarm clock and slid it to the ‘Off’ notch. It was 6 am and Dave was already up, so I walked, deaf and sleepy, into the living room where he was on his computer.
“Hey hon, do we need to be up early today – did I forget something?”
Dave jumped out of his chair; I had scared the crap out of him. (He told me later that at first he thought he was hearing the wind outside; maybe I wasn’t talking as loud as I thought I was?!)
Now we were both confused: Dave because I was wandering around half-awake at 6 am, an hour which usually finds me sound asleep; me because an alarm that had clearly been intentionally set for 6 am had gone off and I couldn’t figure out why.
After we consulted and agreed that there was no good reason for me to be awake (Dave was awake to take his 6 am medicine) I went back to bed. When I woke up and could think a bit more clearly, I was even more confused. This is an alarm clock with an indicator on the side that you slide up to either Buzz, Vib (short for Vibrate) or Vib/Buzz. Buzz means there’s an audible alarm, and that’s a very delicate way of saying it. It’s more like “Piercing Banshee Wail” than “Buzz.” So you can choose to have the audible alarm only, vibrate/bed shaking only, or both. (I don’t bother with the Banshee Wail; it doesn’t wake me up, but it would definitely wake up the rest of the neighborhood!)
So it’s not possible that this alarm was set by, say, a cat paw brushing against it. You have to grasp the thingy and slide it up to the specific setting you want. And Dave has no clue how to work this alarm clock, so I know he didn’t set it. Obviously I was the one who did it, but why? And when? I have absolutely no memory of turning the alarm on before bed. Did I do it in my sleep? Was I on autopilot and just set the alarm before bed without evening thinking about it? (WHY?? I almost never use the alarm unless I have to be up extremely early.)
All was well this morning, but I have to admit I’m a little jumpy after so many days of random alarms going off. I’ll sign this,
“Sleepless in Chicago”
We’ve been watching the news out of Oklahoma with heavy hearts – the images of the destruction caused by the tornado are almost impossible to comprehend. I can’t help imagining how scared the kids in those elementary schools must have been, and how absolutely terrified their parents must have been as they waited to find out if they were okay. My heart goes out to everyone who lost property, suffered injuries or worse, who had to endure the storm not knowing whether they would survive.
Here in Illinois, we get some wild weather at times but mostly in the form of thunderstorms. We’ve never had a tornado in our town; we had that derecho last summer which was scary and knocked out the power for three days, and I remember one instance when Eric was a baby (in the summer of 1990) when there was a bad tornado not that far from here.
We have a lower level with a full bath, so I imagine that’s where we’d go if a storm was in our path. I worry about the cats, of course, because only one of them is tame enough to catch and put in a carrier; the other three we would have to try to herd down into the lower level with us and then pray for their safety. But if a tornado blew through our neighborhood in the middle of the night, let’s be serious: we would stay asleep until it lifted us out of our beds. Well, Dave might hear it, hopefully in time for us to move to safety. But we would never hear our town’s tornado siren; we are lucky to hear it when we’re awake and have our hearing instruments on!
I’ve been working toward making things a little more safe for us at night, when I have my cochlear implant processors off (and I’m completely deaf) and Dave has his hearing aid off (and he’s got a severe to profound hearing loss). Previously, the only alerting device we had in our bedroom was my Sonic Alert alarm clock. It has a vibrating disc connected to it, which you slip between your mattress and box spring (or under your pillow, if you really want to scare the bejesus out of yourself in the morning). It will vibrate the bed when the alarm goes off, and it will also alert you to the phone if you have the phone connected as well. We don’t have a phone in the bedroom (and our phone service is through our cable) so we can’t use it for that. At least we have a way to wake up on time!
I knew we could do better, though. There are all kinds of systems out there for the deaf and hard of hearing which will alert you to all manner of things: doorbell, baby crying, smoke detector, etc. We have a smoke detector (one of three) right outside our bedroom door, but would it wake us up at night if there was a fire? Hell no! Well…again, it might wake Dave up since he has some hearing left. But it definitely wouldn’t wake me up. Some fire departments give out smoke detectors with a strobe light for the deaf/hard of hearing. After exhaustive research, I couldn’t find one in our area and once I realized that the only alerting mechanism was a strobe light, I knew it wouldn’t help me anyway. It might help if I happened to be awake and looking in the general area of the smoke detector when it went off, but otherwise it would never wake me up.
I started looking into these all-in-one systems and just about fell over from sticker shock. They range in price from about $190 up to many hundreds of dollars. I guess they assume that everyone with a hearing loss also has a lot of money! Yes, we want to be safe but we also have to be able to afford the equipment.
There’s a place in our state (Illinois Assistive Technology Program) that will loan, for free, all kinds of equipment to people with various disabilities, hearing loss included. However, the loan is only for five weeks and then you have to return it. It’s a “try before you buy” kind of thing. It’s awesome if you have a short term need, or are really planning to spend big bucks on something and want to be sure it will be helpful before you spend the money. But it’s obviously not a long-term solution.
I decided to fall back on my main avenue for items I can’t afford at full price: eBay. I searched for three different popular, recommended alerting systems to see if any were available at an affordable price. I lucked out in my search for the AlertMaster AM6000 unit. It’s normally sold for $180 and I was able to get it for $19.95 on eBay. It comes with a wireless doorbell and a bed shaker along with the base unit. It also functions as an alarm clock.
You can have the system alert you to things like a baby crying, a smoke alarm (or other audible alarm that continues for at least 12 seconds), even a motion detector. The problem is, all of these things are separate transmitters that cost about $50 each. You could easily spend more than $400 on the base unit, all of the transmitters and a pager that you can wear in order to be notified all around your home.
Our main concerns were the smoke detector and the doorbell. I figured the doorbell alert came with the base unit, so all I’d have to do is save for the audio alarm transmitter (for the smoke detector). After we took a look at the unit, though, I realized I had been imagining that it would somehow alert us to the doorbell we already have. We can hear the doorbell just fine during the day, but if someone rings the bell at night (and it has happened before) then we have no idea. This unit, though, gives you a whole new wireless doorbell that transmits to the base unit. When someone rings that doorbell, it will shake your bed and/or turn a bedside light on and off. That doesn’t help us during the day – if we replaced our current doorbell with the new one, we’d never hear our doorbell ringing! Unless we happened to be lying in bed in the middle of the day, we’d never know there was someone at the door.
We puzzled over this for a while, and then I got the bright idea to have the audio alarm situated between our doorbell chime (in the hallway, by the smoke detector) and the smoke detector. I figured it would alert us to both the sound of our regular doorbell and the sound of the smoke detector.
We set the base unit aside while I went back to eBay, searching for an audio alarm transmitter for a decent price. Just by luck, I found someone selling a “Doorbell Notifier” that had the same item number as the audio alarm I needed. I had a suspicion they didn’t really know what they were selling. But it was only $9.95 with no bids, so I put in a bid and crossed my fingers. A few days later, I won the auction and the audio alarm arrived quickly in the mail. I opened it up and yep…it was the exact transmitter we needed!
We started testing it out and it would just NOT notify us when the doorbell rang. We could see lights flashing on the transmitter so we assumed it wasn’t defective, but we were really puzzled. Finally we decided to try it with the smoke detector and see if it detected that sound. Sure enough, our bed started shaking and the light on the base unit flashed. I took another look at the manual and noticed it said it would alert for any sound that lasted consistently for 12 seconds or more. It doesn’t sound like much, but 12 seconds is actually a long time for a doorbell – ours rings just for a couple of seconds. There was no way it would ring long enough to set off this transmitter.
Dave finally suggested that we put the new doorbell out near the original doorbell, with a sign. I didn’t want to say something like, “Deaf occupants – please use this doorbell at night” because that would be like saying, “Deaf occupants who can’t hear you, so go ahead and rob us blind while we sleep!” Instead I just made a small sign: “Please use this doorbell after 10:30 p.m.” If I saw something like that, I would assume there was a baby or small child inside and it was a quieter doorbell (or something along those lines). In any case, the chances of this doorbell being used are pretty slim, but at least we have it out there so the police won’t break down our door if they come calling again at 2 a.m. (Long story – a misunderstanding regarding my daughter Paige, but it was definitely not an experience we want to repeat since they were NOT happy that it took us so long to answer the door. Our now-deceased dog was the one who finally alerted us.)
I was thinking we did a pretty good job of securing our overnight safety at a reasonable price, but now I’m wondering if we should look into a storm warning system. On the one hand, we get lots of weather alerts in the middle of the night for thunderstorms and I definitely wouldn’t want to be woken up for those. On the other hand, if we have a tornado in the area, I would prefer to know before it bears down on us while we sleep. Looks like I have a bit more research to do!
I don’t remember playing with dolls much as a kid. Sure, I had Barbies…but mostly so I could dress them in the cool outfits my mom bought for them. I had a Shirley Temple doll, basically because I idolized her. I just don’t really remember having baby dolls and playing ‘mommy’ with them. I never fantasized about having a baby and taking care of it; as I got older, I vacillated from saying I would never have kids (I didn’t want the blood tests I knew I’d have to get if I was pregnant) and saying that I would just adopt (that came from a book I loved as a kid, called The Family Nobody Wanted).
So it was a big surprise when, around age 25 or so, I suddenly really, really wanted a baby. I wanted to be a mom. When my oldest, Eric, came along just before my 26th birthday, I was absolutely clueless about babies. I never babysat, didn’t have young siblings or nieces or nephews that I ever took care of. I was not the person who would ask to hold your baby. (In fact, I would inwardly cringe if you handed your baby to me, sure that I was going to make him/her cry.) None of my friends had babies yet. But there I was with my very own baby!
My mom has to get the credit for my baby learnin’. She was there to show me how to burp Eric, how to lay him down for a nap without waking him right back up, how to soothe him. I still pretty much stayed a nervous wreck until he was a toddler, but my mom helped me take a deep breath and not be so terrified that I was going to break my baby.
I was lucky to grow up with a mom that not only took care of me and looked out for me, but was a great role model and friend as I grew older. Rather than pulling away from her in my late teens and my 20s, I confided in her often, asking her advice and telling her my goals and dreams. I borrowed clothes from her too – she was always better dressed than me (even now, at nearly 75, my mom puts me to shame in the clothes department). It was kind of awesome, like having two closets full of clothes!
Little kids always make me kind of nervous – I have a hard time understanding them, and I just don’t have that laid-back playful personality that meshes well with kids. I really wasn’t sure what it would be like with my own kids – would I be able to understand them when they were learning to talk? And it turns out I could understand them just fine. It makes a big difference when you spend all day, every day with that little person – it was easy for me to know what they wanted even when nobody else could figure out what they were saying. Unfortunately, that didn’t suddenly make it easy for me to understand all little kids…but at least I could understand the ones that meant the most to me!
I always felt I was too selfish to be a good mother, and I definitely was selfish in many ways. It kind of drove me crazy when they were little and I had no time to even read a magazine, much less a book, without being interrupted a million times. I couldn’t go to the bathroom or take a shower in peace. It irritated me to pass up doing the things that interested me and instead do things with the kids that I found to be a little boring. But I did it. I snuck in some ‘me’ time at the beginning and end of each day. And as the kids grew (and I grew in maturity) it got easier, and I could feel my attitude shifting. Instead of resenting the things I no longer had time for, I was grateful for the time I got to spend with the kids…no matter what we were doing.
I made lots and lots of mistakes along the way, and hopefully I haven’t doomed my kids to a lifetime of therapy. I like to think they both know I love them unconditionally and completely and wildly. I think we have a pretty good time together (although I can slip into Annoying Mom mode now and again). I hope I’ve set a good example for them the way my (awesome) mother did for me. I may not have realized early on that I had a maternal instinct, but it was always there…it just needed some time to grow and bloom.
Happy Mother’s Day – to my wonderful, much-loved mother and to all of my awesome mom friends!