Monthly Archives: April 2014

April 2014 Update

It’s been a while since I did a general update. I’m also in one of those “I don’t have anything to write about!” moods. I feel like I can talk just a bit about a lot of subjects, none of which is hefty enough to warrant a full post. So here’s my ‘little bit about a lot of things’ update. (It may be just a few things, but we’ll see. Sometimes I get going and before I know it I’ve typed five pages.)

First, Dave’s dental quest. I last talked about this in February, and he’s since been to the dental college that was recommended. He’s had three appointments so far. The first one was just a general exam to decide if they would accept him as a patient. That took about 30 minutes and was just $10; we suspect they looked into his mouth, glanced at each other in barely-concealed glee, and did a little jig while they confirmed his acceptance.

The second visit was a full exam with x-rays, and this cost $53 (we don’t have dental insurance, just a dental plan that they aren’t a part of, but their fees are about half the normal fees for the procedures they do). After this visit, which we thought would take maybe 45 minutes and instead took TWO HOURS OMG, Dave looked me in the eyes and solemnly said, “You can never go here. You would hate it, Wendi.” I’d been waiting for him all that time because we thought he’d get his treatment plan at this visit, and he might need me to be his ‘ears.’ Apparently they are very, VERY thorough, and this exam was not without considerable pain for poor Dave. They didn’t give him a treatment plan, just another appointment for a cleaning and the treatment plan. He told me not to come with him for that one.

The third appointment was not as long; I think he was home within an hour or so. Instead of the cleaning, they did a quicker exam and took pictures; Dave talked with the student, Reggie, who was in charge of his treatment as well as Reggie’s instructor. The instructor wants him to have a thorough cleaning before they begin work, so thorough that it will take two visits. (I shudder to think of this.) That’s where we’re at now – the first cleaning is May 5th and we still don’t know when he gets the full treatment plan. They mentioned pulling a couple of teeth, giving him a partial denture on the bottom (no dentures on top), probably some fillings, and a crown was also mentioned, but Dave is planning to ask them to just pull the tooth. No clue what it all might cost, but so far it’s been very reasonable and we are feeling optimistic. It will be SO nice for him to have a full, working set of teeth! Even though it takes three times as long and has been painful, he is really happy that he’s going to the dental college. As a Big Dental Baby, I am happy to continue going to my dentist who gives me quick, casual cleanings.

Just a quick comment on something I read in Daily Writing Tips (they get emailed to me). There was a discussion regarding the use of two spaces after a sentence, and the conclusion was that we should be using just one space after a sentence. When did this start?! I was always, always taught that you put two spaces after a sentence. I think it looks terrible and smashed together with just one space. It’s just instinct for me now; I’m not even sure I could just use one space without having to go back and delete the extra spaces. Is it just me? Am I adhering to some weird, ancient ritual? (And if so, I don’t care … it will always be two spaces for me. [Can you picture me standing stubbornly with my arms crossed?])

I’m reading a book called Heft (by Liz Moore) right now, and it’s fantastic. This was a book I really hesitated to read; I found out about it via a recommendation to someone else. I checked it out on Goodreads and it had many good reviews (and boy, those Goodreads folks can be harsh with reviews so that’s saying something). But the description of the story just didn’t grab me – two main characters, one a grossly overweight man confined to his home, and the other a teenage boy who’s obsessed with baseball. The baseball thing is really what made me hesitate, because I’m not a sports person and have no interest in reading about sports, except maybe gymnastics and ice skating. But there were so many good reviews that I went ahead and got the book and figured well, I can always stop reading if I hate it. I started it yesterday and was immediately pulled in. The sports references (baseball and football) are just small ones, here and there – no pages full of in-depth detail of games and such – and the story mostly touches on the boy’s home life, his friends, things of that sort. I’m about halfway through it and already feel confident enough to recommend it.

Speaking of heft, I’m still trying to lose mine. (What a good segue!) I’m ever so envious of those people who are like, “Oh, I lost 60 pounds in six months!” because I’m just now nudging the 30 pound mark (27 pounds as of yesterday) and it’s been seven months. But I’m not complaining, because I had no big event or goal weight date in mind (no class reunions or weddings, for instance). And I’m not exactly eating lettuce and quinoa over here; I still splurge on pizza once a month, lasagna, things like that. I didn’t change my diet much at all, just how much of it I eat. It’s pretty awesome to be losing weight while still eating the same things I used to eat, so I guess it’s fine that it’s taking a long time. Then again, it’s not like my diet before was bad; my appetite was the main culprit.

But anyway, what I meant to say was that I still can’t tell I’ve lost weight when I look at pictures of myself. I can see it a little bit in the mirror, although I think my face looks the same as it did nearly 30 pounds ago. If it weren’t for the scale, and fitting into smaller pants, I would probably think I lost maybe five pounds. I don’t know if it’s because I’m short and everything is compressed into 5’1” of me or what.

For instance, we went to Goodwill and I got some new clothes. One thing I noticed is that I still can’t really wear a size medium in shirts. I look at them on the hanger and think they’ll fit me, and then I try them on and I look like I’m stuffed into a sausage casing. I do know I have to watch the brands; some of them are junior sizes, I think, and that’s part of the problem. I know I can wear LL Bean or Lands’ End in medium (they mark them as size 10-12). Larges are just a little too big for me, so I’m in a weird in-between place with shirts. I think I have really wide shoulders; I know it’s not my boobs, sadly. I did get a few size medium shirts, and a pair of Not Your Daughter’s Jeans in size 8. Now that was exciting, even though they fit me like a glove. I can zip them and sit down in them, and I can’t even remember the last time I could say that about a pair of pants in size 8.

I took a picture of myself in the jeans and one of the shirts and put it on Facebook. I was mainly excited about the price of the outfit ($7.50 total!) and not really crazy about how I actually looked in the photo. I rationalized it by reminding myself that I’m losing weight mainly for health reasons, and I need to stop worrying so much about how I look. So I posted the photo and then I regretted it. “I look fat in this picture!” I sighed, while Dave tried to convince me otherwise. I think my face looks the same (I really wanted to see my face get thinner, I have to confess.) I think my thighs look huge.

It didn’t help that when I did a search on the jeans to find out their retail price (I love doing that after a Goodwill shopping trip), I came to the manufacturer’s page and they said to buy a size smaller than your regular size. So I’m all excited about squeezing into a size 8, but according to them it’s really a 10. Don’t tell me that! Let me think I wear an 8 now, okay?! On the positive side, the jeans retail for something like $105 and I paid $2.50 for them, so I guess it’s okay that they’re playing fast and loose with the sizes.

The SayWhatClub is having a convention this summer and we might go; it’s in Madison,Wisconsin so we could easily drive. It depends on where Dave’s at with his teeth – he wants to have his dentures first, and I don’t blame him. We’ve been to an ALDA convention and two HLAA conventions, and we always have a good time. (Just to clarify, these are conventions for people that are deaf or hard of hearing. All the workshops are captioned with CART, and they are a lot of fun because everyone there will do whatever takes to communicate.)

Oh, and one last thing – I haven’t gotten the Vaseline package yet, but when I do I’ll definitely update. I think there is a racetrack in Joliet that does the NASCAR thing; you can buy ‘experiences’ where you either ride in the car with a trained driver, or you actually drive the car. That’s not too far from us, less than an hour’s drive, so it would be awesome if that’s what it really is!

Advertisements

Here Comes Speed Racer

I read the email subject line in confusion. “You’re the Top Vaseline Badge Holder from the J’Adore VoxBox”!” What? I read it again as it slowly sunk in that the email was from Influenster and it was in reference to the box of samples I’d received in February, what they called the J’Adore VoxBox.

In exchange for the free samples, all you really have to do is acknowledge that you received the box, and fill out an exit survey when the program ends. In between, though, you can do all kinds of things to win prizes from the sponsors of the sample box. You can review the items, post photos to Twitter and Instagram, ‘like’ the brands on Facebook, create Pinterest boards and Youtube videos, you name it.

Each brand had different tasks you could complete, if you wanted to. If you completed all the extra tasks, you earned a badge from the brand. I couldn’t complete some of the badges because I don’t use some of the apps/websites that were required. I don’t, for instance, have Instagram on my phone because it’s got no memory whatsoever and I can’t put more than one or two apps on it. (I have four on there right now and I have an ever-present ‘Low on Storage Space’ warning that drives me crazy. I can’t wait to upgrade when this contract is up at the end of July!) I don’t do videos of any kind, so if the badge required you to make a Vine or Youtube video, it just wasn’t happening.

Some of the badges were within reach, though, and I completed the tasks even though I never expected to win anything. The badge referenced in the email was for Vaseline Men’s Spray Lotion, which was actually an item for Dave. It’s good stuff, and I was already using Vaseline lotion for myself (it’s one of the few that I don’t feel like I need to wipe off after I use it – it sinks in without feeling greasy). I had no qualms giving it good reviews, and Dave really liked it as well.

So the sample box program had ended, and I never heard anything from any of the brands for which I’d completed a badge. ‘Ah well,’ I thought, ‘It was fun and I’m not surprised I didn’t win.’ I mean, there are thousands of people who get this box and participate in the extra activities. That’s why I had to read this email three times to realize it was not a joke:

“We’re pleased to announce that you’re the top Vaseline Men Spray Badge holder from the J’Adore VoxBox! To thank you for your participation, Vaseline is sending you on a high-thrill ride in a real NASCAR race car in a timed racing session!  You will also be receiving a bottle of Vaseline® Men Spray Lotion Fast Absorbing and a bottle of Vaseline® Men Spray Lotion Fast Cooling.”

After I accepted that this was for real, I started to panic a little. “Hey hon,” I called to Dave. “Can you come here and read this?” Dave read the email and looked at me in silent confusion. “Um, I don’t know if I want to do this,” I started to fret. “I don’t think I want to drive a race car!”

Now I was just nervous. I mean, what the hell?! I never expected to win the grand prize for this badge; I thought I might be one of the people who won a free bottle of lotion, maybe. I didn’t even really believe that people actually won the grand prizes of these contests, to be honest.

I am not somebody who is impulsive, who likes to do things on the spur of the moment. I like to plan everything out and worry about every little thing that could possibly go wrong. After I had my moment of fear, I started thinking about it some more. I mean, I don’t watch car racing but it goes without saying that the car would be going really fast, which is something I’ve never experienced. It could be kind of cool, you know? I kept re-reading the email and realized it said I won a RIDE in a race car, not that I would be driving it, so that calmed me down. (I was really scared when I imagined driving the car, to be honest.)

The email finished off just by asking me to confirm my address if it had changed. That leads me to believe that the package is going to be mailed to me. Originally I was thinking it would be this BIG DEAL, like they’d be flying me to some racetrack and taking my picture and using it for promotional purposes. None of that is mentioned though, and I would think they’d tell me if the NASCAR track is somewhere far away. I suspect it’s going to be a voucher to be used at a track (they have a bunch of them across the US) that I can redeem for a free ride.

I know it’s crazy to be scared of winning a grand prize, but I was seriously unsettled when I thought I’d have to fly somewhere alone (something I just will NOT DO anymore) and drive a race car. I know it’s an awesome prize, but for a scaredy-pants like me it was just terrifying. It’s kind of embarrassing to admit, but there it is.

So we’ll see – I’m betting on the voucher/coupon thing, to be redeemed at my leisure. If that’s the case, my only worry is whether I can wear the helmet over my two CI processors. (I definitely don’t want to be without my hearing in that circumstance!)

Now that the shock has worn off, I have to admit I’m just a little bit excited. What better way to force myself to try new things? Imagine me, flying around a race track! (Just be glad I’ll be in the passenger seat.)

A Spring in My Step

Spring has been dragging its heels this year, peeking around the doorway and then retreating. For the past two days, though, it’s taken a big, bold step into the room and we have been enjoying 70 degree temperatures in the western Chicago suburbs.

The sudden warm weather, temporary as it may be (it’s supposed to be in the 40s on Monday, with a chance of snow), has made me think of summer and all that goes with it. Especially hot weather. And shorts.

Now, I haven’t worn shorts in public in over ten years. I had a huge, loose pair of shorts (so long they almost came to my knees) that I would wear around the house on hot summer days. But my thighs have not been available for public consumption in a long, long time. It was a public service, believe me.

Checking out a Pikachu car with the kids; one of the last times I wore shorts in public.

Checking out a Pikachu car with the kids (one of the last times I wore shorts in public).

Capri pants or clam diggers were my go-to summer attire. And if it was murderously hot (which, to me, is anything above 85 degrees) then I stayed inside and enjoyed the comfort of air conditioning. To say that I am not a hot-weather-loving person is an understatement. I actually think summer may be my least favorite season; I would rate them, best to worst, as follows: fall, spring, winter, summer. I love snow and HATE hot weather, so winter beats summer in my book. I do like thunderstorms, though. And if I lived somewhere that was not humid and the summer temperatures never passed 75 degrees, I would put summer in second place.

I was messing around one day this past December, pulling pants out of drawers where they’d been stashed for years. These were my ‘maybe I’ll fit into them again someday’ pants, and as I very (very) slowly lost weight, I’d try them on to see if they fit. Most of these pants were cropped, too skimpy to wear outside at the time I tried them on. I was hopeful that I’d be able to wear them once spring and summer rolled around.

When April arrived and brought some actual spring-like temperatures, I tried the pants on again. I was really excited to see that they were now too big on me; I’d bypassed the point where they fit perfectly, because it was too cold to wear them at that time. So now I was faced with a pile of pants that I could slide off my hips even when they were zipped up. I did have fun with this, putting on the pants and then calling for Dave. “Look at this!” I’d say happily, as I lifted up my shirt to show him the pants listing lazily around my lower hips. After I was done, though, I realized I now had nothing to wear when the dreaded hot weather rolled around.

Since I’m still trudging along on the weight loss path, I didn’t want to spend tons of money on new clothes. And, well, let’s face it – I never want to do that. I buy all my pants at Goodwill, for less than $5 apiece. So visited our two local Goodwill stores and I lucked out, finding three pairs of capri pants and one pair of shorts between the two. Yes, I said shorts.

My problem with shorts is my thighs, okay? Let’s just get it out there. I am super-short and I have never had long, beautiful legs. Even when I was skinny, my thighs were heavy; it’s just how I’m built. I used to despair over this and spend all kinds of time doing leg lifts and other exercises meant to tone problem thighs. I stood in front of the mirror and grabbed the back of my thigh, watching as it magically shrunk in diameter, despairing because I knew it would never look that way naturally. And when you have large thighs and you sit down in shorts, they spread. It is not attractive. Even worse, big thighs rub together when you walk. It’s physically uncomfortable, and usually the shorts bunch up weirdly in the middle, making things look even worse.

I actually did some web searching on ‘shorts for people with big thighs’ to get some tips. I already know that short-shorts are out for me. I’m more in the Bermuda shorts camp; I need some fabric at least halfway down my thighs. One girl mentioned that she buys her shorts a size bigger in order to give some extra leg room, so I decided to try that.

The funny thing is, if you’re short (I’m 5’1”) the general advice is never to wear cropped pants because they make you look shorter. I had to go with the lesser of two evils in the past, and I chose to look shorter rather than expose my legs. The difference now is that I’ve been exercising on a daily basis since the end of October. It’s nothing to brag about; I’m not running marathons or doing CrossFit or P90X. Twice a day I pull out my mini trampoline. I do a mixture of fast walking and jogging for 10 to 20 minutes in the morning (before I’ve had breakfast) and 20 to 25 minutes about an hour after dinner. So my legs are still big, but they’re more toned than they have ever been. And I finally feel brave enough to wear (longer) shorts in public.

So we’ll see. I’ve got the one pair, and I might cut off some of the jeans that I’ve outgrown and make them into shorts (utilizing that one-size-bigger advice). If I really get brave, I might even let someone take a photo of me wearing them. Not yet, though … one small step at a time. 😉

You’re Deaf – Now What?

Each time I lost my hearing (1993 for my right ear, 2008 for my left), I was surprised and disappointed by one thing: I was not offered any type of support for dealing with such a monumental loss. And this is not to say anything bad about my audiologists and doctors, because I really like them. But other people have mentioned it too, the lack of resources, information and support for late-deafened adults, or anyone suffering from sudden loss of hearing.

In 1993, the only thing offered to me was a different type of hearing aid, a bi-CROS that brought in the sounds from my newly-deaf side. I was thrilled with my new hearing aids, so no complaints there. But I had lost so much hearing that I could no longer hear my alarm clock for work each morning. I had NO idea that there were ALDS (assistive listening devices) for hearing loss, beyond an amplifier for the phone. The audiologist didn’t tell me about them. My husband at the time was the one who talked to the audiologist and found out about an alarm clock that would shake the bed to wake me up. I mean, they sold them right in the office – why wouldn’t she offer that information, knowing I had just lost all the hearing in my right ear and had a profound loss in the left?!

The internet was in its infancy in 1993, so the alarm clock and new hearing aids were the full extent of support I received. In 2008, my loss was much greater because I was now completely and totally deaf. They couldn’t offer me hearing aids. I didn’t know sign language, and neither did any of my family or friends. Yet again, once I got the hearing test that confirmed I was hearing absolutely nothing, I didn’t receive any information on how to deal with being completely deaf. That just blows my mind.

They put me on steroids to see if my hearing would come back; just like in 1993, they didn’t help. When I went back in for the follow-up visit, I was prepared. Thanks to the internet, I had done my own research. I knew I could receive a free TTY if the doctor signed off on it, and I knew about cochlear implants. I was the one who asked if I could get CIs (although hopefully if I hadn’t immediately asked, they would have offered it as an option). I was the one who asked if they could help me get the TTY. I found the state lending program that also gave me a flashing light for the phone (not that I was using the phone at that time).

Can you imagine losing all your vision, going to the doctor and having them say, “Well, yep, you’re blind,” and then sending you on your way? You have to hope they’d give you a list of resources for cane training, a service dog, learning Braille, programs to voice text for you, etc.

I didn’t find online sources of support until 1997, when I suffered from a horrific ear infection in my good ear. I spent almost two weeks without my hearing aids, using just the very limited hearing in that ear – it was already profoundly deaf, and I spent much of that time with my ear filled with medicine and covered with a cotton ball. I was a single mom at that time, and I was scared at how close to ‘deaf’ I really was. I had been able to fool myself into complacency with my hearing aids, and not having them to rely on really scared me. So I started searching for hearing loss support groups, hoping to meet other people like me. I have never interacted on a regular basis with someone that had hearing loss, so I didn’t have any real-life support of that type.

I found the Say What Club, and they are still active today. Back then, it was just one or two mailing lists; you signed up and they assigned you to a list, and then you would receive everybody’s emails. That was where I first learned of CIs and many of the ALDs I’m familiar with today.

I also joined SHHH, which later became HLAA (Hearing Loss Association of America), and ALDA, the Association of Late Deafened Adults. These are large organizations that have websites with lots of information, newsletters/magazines, and yearly conventions. Nowadays I am also a member of Illinois Cochlear Implant Chapter, which has local meetings every other month.

A view of my left CI (purple metallic color)

A view of my left CI (purple metallic color)

If you’re dealing with hearing loss, whether it’s recent or not, it can really help to be part of an online support group. I love email because it eliminates communication barriers; real life meetings are also nice because all the ones I’ve been to are captioned with CART. Now that I have my CIs, I usually don’t need CART to understand at a meeting, but it is still hit or miss whether I’ll understand a question from someone in the audience. CART captions everything being said, and it’s nice to utilize it for those soft-voiced questions or for a speaker with a heavy accent.

Losing your hearing can really isolate you. It’s tempting to want to stay home and avoid social interaction because it’s so exhausting, trying to read lips and follow conversations. It can be disheartening to be part of a large group and have no idea why everyone is laughing. Being part of a support group means that these people know what it’s like to have a hearing loss, and they don’t mind doing whatever needs to be done to be understood. At conventions, you’ll see people facing each other and reading lips, signing, writing notes. I still remember our first ALDA convention in 1999, when we joined others for dinner and dancing. We didn’t know how those who were deaf could follow the beat, until some friends showed me and Dave that if you hold onto a balloon, you can feel the vibrations of the music. How cool is that?!

Hopefully audiologists will catch on and realize that more needs to be done to support a newly-deafened adult. I would be curious, if anyone out there is a parent of a child who was diagnosed with hearing loss, if they were offered sources of support and help by their audiologist. Is it just adults who are sent off to deal with this on their own?

%d bloggers like this: