Category Archives: Family
In October 1997, I was a single mom in Illinois and had just joined an online hearing loss support group called The Say What Club. Back in those days it was an email listserv, and one of the ‘welcome to the list’ emails was from this guy, Dave, in Michigan. In my introductory email, I explained that I was deaf in one ear, and had just recovered from a terrible ear infection in my other ear (which had some hearing left). During the ear infection, my ‘good’ ear was plugged with antibiotic-soaked cotton and I was temporarily totally deaf. It terrified me and made me want to learn sign language. (Side note: Even now that I truly am totally deaf, I still have never been able to officially learn sign language. I know a few signs and the alphabet.)
Dave offered to send me some sign language books and videos, and we started to exchange emails. He always called me ‘kid’ and I had no idea what he looked like. “What a nice, friendly old man,” I thought. We were good buddies – he was smart and funny and, well, a smart-ass.
A few months after I joined, I offered to build a web page with photos of the SWC members. People started mailing their pictures to me so I could scan and upload them. (This was 1997, okay?!) Then Dave mailed his photos.
‘Hey!’ I thought. ‘This guy is not that old. And he’s pretty cute. Hmmm.’ (He was nine years older than me, BTW.)
We kept talking through email, then IRC chat (where, yes, we did slap each other with wet trout), and finally phone calls – that was a big deal for two hard-of-hearing people. Months passed.
On March 14, 1998 I was supposed to go to a concert at the House of Blues in Chicago, and my friend Renee bailed at the last minute. The kids were at their dad’s and I was sitting around, bored, when Dave called me. When he found out my plans had been canceled, he casually said, “Why don’t I come over?”
So I took a huge chance, meeting a ‘stranger’ from The Internet. He got lost on the way to my house (this was way before GPS, and I think he printed out a map from AltaVista – ha!) and just as I gave up hope and assumed he wasn’t coming, the doorbell rang.
We clicked instantly and had a wonderful time. He introduced me to his WebTV, which he’d brought along. (“I’ll never need a computer, this has everything I need.” Famous last words.) He came back for another visit two weeks later, the next time the kids had a weekend with their dad. On March 28, we had our first official date. We went out for Chicago-style deep dish pizza (his first time trying it) and then to see the movie Titanic in the theater.
After that, we always celebrated on March 28 with deep dish pizza. Twenty four years later, I am carrying on the tradition with a deep dish Lou Malnati’s pizza that I had shipped to the house. The things we do for tradition!
Posted in Cochlear Implants & Hearing Loss, Family, Memory Lane
Tags: deafness, hearing loss
I used to work with a lady, we’ll call her Molly. She was older than me (in her 50s when I was in my 30s) and completely dependent on her husband. He did all the driving, he made phone calls for her. (English was not her native language, although she spoke it really well; I am not sure if the phone call thing was just a phobia or nerves related to speaking the language.) I remember feeling sorry for her, that she was always so nervous and not able to do so many things on her own. I often had to cross-train her and she was just completely flustered over things outside of her regular routine.
Friends, I turned into Molly over the years. Once I went deaf in 2008, Dave really stepped in and I became so dependent on him. He made the phone calls, he did the driving. (The driving came about because he was completely deaf in his left ear, so if he was the passenger he could not hear me talking to him if I was driving.)
When he was diagnosed, in my heart of hearts I knew everything would fall to me again someday. Liver cancer, if surgery or transplant is not an option, is usually fatal. But I envisioned a slow decline, where things would become my responsibility in a trickle, with Dave still here to ease me through. And that did happen in some ways. As he lost confidence in his ability to drive, I took over. He was with me, though, to help me navigate. (We’ve lived in Michigan since 2014 but as a passenger, I never paid attention to how we got where we were going. I was too busy sightseeing or talking to Dave.)
I had never used a lawn mower ever in my life. The summer of 2021 found Dave too weak to push our lawn mower, so I had him show me how to start it. Afterwards I came in and flopped on the bed, heart pounding, because it was so difficult to push that mower around. I suggested we upgrade to a self-propelled mower and that was a world of difference. He never really taught me about maintenance for the mower, though, or how to put it up in the winter, things like that.
There were so many things he didn’t show me. His decline was so fast and so unexpected, I don’t think either of us realized what was going to happen. So I’ve really had a lot of ‘firsts’ in the months since he died.
I talked a lot on Facebook about my issues with the car tires. I’d never in my life put air in a car tire, and this is the first car I’ve owned that had a warning light for tire pressure. The first time it came on, I tried first to use our air compressor, then an air machine at a gas station (which turned out to be broken), and finally I pulled in to see our mechanic in town. I went in, told him that Dave had died (this was just a couple weeks after he passed) and started crying hysterically as I explained about the tires. I was so, so mortified. He was kind and calm, and checked/filled my tires right then and there.
In addition to never putting air in a tire, I’ve actually never been in charge of car maintenance in my life. First my dad did it for me, then my first husband, then my dad (after I got divorced), and then Dave. I’d never taken the car for an oil change, nothing.
So I kept having to put air in the tires every few weeks. Dave used to say that cold weather would make the pressure drop, and I asked my mechanic about it too. He agreed and said it wasn’t unusual to have to refill them more in winter. I figured it just seemed excessive to me because I’d never done it or even been aware of it before. We have an air compressor (that I still don’t really know how to use) and Dave used to check and fill the tires with it (how often, I have no clue).
One thing Dave did tell me was that he completely trusted our mechanic and I should go there with any car issues. This was not light praise – Dave was very picky about who he trusted with the car if we needed work done that he couldn’t do himself. So when I decided I wanted the tires inspected, just for my peace of mind, I took the car back to Tom, our mechanic.
The first couple times I stopped in, all the racks were being used. Tom isn’t really an appointment kind of guy, so it was hit or miss if he could get me in. I was actually starting to wonder if I was just being paranoid; maybe I shouldn’t bother with this. But still, it would make me feel better to know that all the tires were okay. (They are only a few years old, but I know that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re all fine.)
So on Saturday, I made a phone call. This is a HUGE deal for me because I have a lot of trouble on the phone. There’s a delay effect, and I have CI electrodes turned off in my higher pitches, and also nerves that play into it. I can do it, but it is a LOT of work for me and I hate it. I don’t even try with the cell phone; I use my captioned phone at home.
I struggled through the conversation but I did it – I asked if it was a good day to bring the car in, and he told me sure, how about in 20 minutes?
The inspection was far more thorough than I expected. They came and asked me where the wheel lock key was and I was like, “Um … I don’t even know what that IS.” Tom explained what it was for, and that it was usually in the trunk or glove compartment. I told them they were free to rifle around and look for it, and they actually found it five minutes later! Tom showed me what it looked like and said they’d put it back in the glove compartment so I’d know where it was in the future. They took all the tires off and checked them.
It took about 45 minutes before the guy doing the inspection came in and triumphantly said, “There it is!” He was holding a screw. There had been a screw in one of the tires!
They got me all fixed up, only charged me $15, and I was home about 1-1/2 hours after I left. The whole drive home I was beaming. Not only did I follow my instincts and it turned out to be the right thing to do, but I had done all of this MYSELF.
It probably sounds ridiculous to most of you, just like how I pitied Molly all those years ago. But I know will find my confidence and self-reliance again in these little increments.
Posted in Family, Grief/Bereavement, Not Related to Hearing Loss
Tags: bereavement, cars, grief, independence, self-reliance, widow
“Hi! I need to have my husband’s name removed from my bank accounts.”
I watched the young bank teller’s face as if I’d be able to read her lips, even though we were both wearing masks. I was the only person in the bank, so it was quiet and I was able to hear her response just fine.
“Oh!” She hesitated. “Um, we usually have the person come in to the bank themselves to do that.”
I thought maybe I hadn’t heard her correctly, so I asked her to repeat. She did. And then I said, “Well, he’s dead, so that would be … startling.”
Instantly I thought, why am I joking around?! But it was better than crying, right? And I couldn’t blame her, I didn’t make it clear why I was removing him from my accounts. She was very sweet and contacted a rep for me to work with.
So that was my day yesterday. Everyone was very kind, and I now have the kids listed as beneficiaries on all of my accounts (I didn’t even realize I could do that for checking and savings accounts – it will make it much simpler for them when my time comes).
It’s been 3-1/2 months, and I feel like I’ve turned some kind of corner. When I last wrote, I intended to write about fear next because I was absolutely consumed with fear at that time. I seriously wondered if I was becoming agoraphobic; everything scared me and leaving the house felt terrifying. Driving was a huge obstacle. I could not get over my fear of driving somewhere alone and getting in an accident. The actual act of driving didn’t scare me; I realized that if I thought about driving somewhere with someone else in my car, the thought didn’t freak me out. But being alone while I was driving just did me in.
I have no clue why. It’s not like I didn’t spend the majority of my life driving places alone, and this was well before cell phones even existed so getting help was really a challenge if you blew a tire at night on the expressway, you know?
But here I am in mid-January, and that has all kind of faded. I’ve driven on snowy, icy roads. Got through a really big snowstorm. Got through the holidays. I look at things as challenges to be worked through instead of obstacles that make me want to sit down and cry. No clue what’s changed, if it’s just time doing its magic or what. But I’m grateful, because living in fear was no way to live.
As for the holidays, on the night before Thanksgiving Paige was here and she helped me transfer Dave’s ashes from the cardboard box they’d been in to the place we chose for him. After our visit to the funeral home on that sunny day in September, the kids and I had discussed what vessel we might want for Dave’s ashes. We knew we wanted something unique that really represented him. Eric offered to make a base and memorial stand with his 3-D printer.
I did some online searches and was fascinated by all the options out there. I searched for options for coffee lovers (Dave was very, very into roasting his own coffee beans and brewing methods for his coffee, and he collected vintage coffee makers). I smiled when I saw a Folgers coffee can mentioned as an option. We didn’t drink Folgers, but it did make me take a closer look at his coffee pots. I talked with Paige about it when she visited in October, and asked if if she thought it was a good idea or silly to even consider. We looked at what he had – some things were far too small and others just didn’t seem right. But there was one, a Sunbeam vacuum pot, that he really loved. We even brought it with us when we went to the Hearing Loss Association of American convention in Nashville in 2009.
So that was decided. On Christmas Eve, Eric arrived and brought his gift for Dave. Not only did he make the memorial stand, he also made two photos that can be illuminated to personalize it even more. Eric included so many elements in the stand that symbolize Dave – the Detroit Lions logo (he was a devoted, if resigned fan), his Kast Iron motto, his favorite color (gray); even the castle motif, which is a nod to Dave’s love of fantasy and sci-fi books (especially Game of Thrones).
Right now the coffee urn is on a shelf by the kitchen; I was going to move it and the kids felt strongly that it should stay by the kitchen which was Dave’s favorite part of the house and where we tend to congregate during visits. There’s no electrical outlet there so I have the illuminated photos on my desk for now. But the stand is made so that they can be placed right in front, if I wish, and I’m sure some day I’ll move everything to a place where I can plug that in.
In the meantime, Dave is here with me as I cook and learn how to bake the bread he always made, and brew coffee. (Not in his urn!)
I’m making jokes again. But it feels good to smile.
Posted in Family, Grief/Bereavement, Not Related to Hearing Loss
Tags: bereavement, grief, memorial, urn, widow
I debated whether to write about this, but it’s been on my mind and I feel like writing will help set these emotions free, if that makes sense. First, a little backstory.
A few weeks after Dave died, I was vacuuming upstairs. I have to unplug the vacuum as I move from room to room, and when I got to my bedroom, it didn’t work. There’s a wifi extender plugged into that outlet and it had been working earlier, but when the vacuum didn’t work and I went to unplug it, I noticed the lights were off on the extender. I plugged the vacuum into a different outlet and it worked. Went downstairs and turned off the breaker marked for our room, turned it back on, the outlet still didn’t work. Now, our house is old and weird, and some rooms are on two different breakers, but if that’s the case then Dave never marked the breaker for this outlet. I was feeling pretty overwhelmed and just figured, fine, I won’t use that outlet.
This weekend I was thinking about it and decided to see if we had a multimeter so I could check the outlet. I’d been with Dave when he bought supplies to put new outlets in and had a vague knowledge of it, but I don’t feel able to do that myself. (I need to find a local handyman that I trust to do this stuff!) I thought, though, he might have a multimeter so I went downstairs and went through his tool chest.
The top two drawers were filled with screws and random things, and the big bottom pull out drawer area had a bunch of stuff plus a big paper bag. I pulled out the bag, opened it up, and stopped. It was filled with boxes of his oral chemo medicine, Stivarga.
My first thought was that he kept the boxes (which each had three bottles inside, a one month supply) to store small nuts and bolts or something. I pulled them out and realized they were unopened. Boxes and boxes of his chemo, never opened and stashed down here in his toolbox, where he knew I’d never look.
I brought the bag upstairs and unloaded it. The boxes went back to June of 2020.
Now, at one point I had questioned him about having extra medicine. He always kept his current chemo bottle in the pantry, and I must have noticed it had extra pills or something. He was supposed to take 4 pills with his morning meal (it was a big deal, had to be low-fat and under a certain number of calories) for three weeks, and then he got one week off. He explained the extra pills because he had made the decision to start with two pills on day one, three on day two, and then the full dose of four pills for the rest of his cycle. I never questioned it again.
He started this medication in September 2019. There was no way he’d have that much extra medicine sitting around. And when I started checking the ‘filled on’ dates of these boxes, I realized that May of 2020 must have been the last time he took his chemo. Either that or he was taking a super low dose, like one pill a day instead of four, and that’s why he had so much extra.
Why he stashed them instead of throwing them away, I’ll never know. Whether he was taking his chemo at all, I’ll never know. Why he didn’t tell me, I’ll never know.
My first reaction was just … complete confusion. Then anger. Then betrayal. Then sadness. It’s taken me a few days to really process how I feel about this.
In the end, I think that he must have had side effects he never told me or his doctor about. And he must have decided he didn’t want to continue this treatment, either at the full dose or at all. He most likely didn’t tell me because he knew how upset I got about things like this. He watched me fall into deep, deep despair for months when he was first diagnosed. He knew I was full of anxiety and sadness back then, that I climbed out of it after a lot of introspection, and I imagine he figured I couldn’t handle it if he told me he didn’t want to continue treatment.
I actually had talked to him about this a couple times and told him his treatment was always up to him – I would never pressure him to do or take something, because it was his body and his life. But I assume he figured I might say that but in reality, still be completely freaked out. And if that’s the case, he was right about that, and he did me a favor. I would have had a really hard time knowing he wasn’t on his chemo.
One of the things I had a hard time accepting was what I thought was the swiftness of his demise. I assumed once a treatment wasn’t working or his liver took a real hit, it would be about a year, year and a half before he got really bad. This happened in a matter of months. I thought.
But now I realize, no, he hadn’t been on chemo for over a year. It puts things in a very different perspective for me. I realize he took matters into his own hands and did what he wanted to do. This was his decision. And somehow that has brought me some peace. It’s very weird to write that, but it’s true. He made a choice, and I have finally accepted that.
I can’t change any of this, and that’s also something I’ve accepted. It’s been a very strange few days and today is the first day I feel somewhat at peace with this new knowledge. What a thing, though. It truly knocked me sideways for a while there. I felt such sadness for him, knowing he must have been feeling really bad, much worse than I ever realized. What I wouldn’t have given to have taken that away. But he found a way to do that. It was his choice.
Posted in Family, Grief/Bereavement, Not Related to Hearing Loss
A Different Kind of Silence
It’s been many years since I posted here and, honestly, I never expected to resurrect this blog. I think most blogs have gone by the wayside now, not that that really influenced my decision to stop writing. Mostly I stopped because there wasn’t much to say – I have been deaf and hearing with cochlear implants for well over 10 years now, and my ‘hearing’ (such as it is) has not changed in years, nor will it. It is what it is. And that’s fine! But it left less to talk about.
And then, less than a month after my last post here at the end of February 2018, Dave was diagnosed with liver cancer. I was completely and utterly blindsided and brought to my knees by this, and the only thing on my mind was cancer. Dave, being a completely different soul, was not bothered in the least; in fact, he seemed bemused by how hard I was taking it. He kept telling me he felt fine, it was no big deal, going through the leukemia and that treatment in the mid 1990s was far worse and he made it through that. No worries! But oh boy, did I worry. I didn’t want to write here about how I was processing all of this because I knew Dave read my blog, and I was determined not to bring him down with my worrying.
His cancer was found really early, via a tumor marker on a regular series of blood work that he got. He had no symptoms. And he hung in there for over three years, feeling quite well for most of those years. I settled down emotionally and got used to living with this diagnosis hanging over us. We had a lot of fun, did a lot more work on the house, welcomed two new grandbabies in January 2020. And speaking of 2020, we didn’t mind the pandemic lockdown at all. We really did lock down, too, since Dave was going through cancer treatment and the cancer had spread to his lungs. We did not want to take a chance on him getting covid when his lungs were already taking a beating. So we made the most of spending all of our time together, and I actually look back on that time with gratitude.
If you follow me on Facebook, you know that Dave passed away on September 27, 2021. He was doing quite well at the beginning of the year, but a bunch of things happened in April and May that sent him on a sharp decline. First, the oral chemo he was taking (Stivarga) stopped giving him the stable results we’d seen for over a year. The nodules in his lungs were increasing, and his tumor marker was going back up. Dave was also desperate to get dentures, which involved having all of his teeth pulled. His oncologist put forth a plan where he would get stereotactic radiation on his lung nodules – two weeks of near daily treatment – and then a second radiation treatment called Y-90 on his liver lesions. We were excited about this plan, because if he could knock the tumors back a bit, he could continue on the Stivarga which he was tolerating pretty well. (A previous oral chemo drug had made him quite sick.) Dave had had a Y-90 treatment in 2018 with no side effects, and the doctors (radiation and regular oncologists) thought he would do well.
Well, he didn’t. He had to go off the chemo for his dental surgery, and he lost lots of blood. He was barely recovered from that when he started the lung radiation. He developed a persistent cough after that, but otherwise handled it well. Then the Y-90 – oh man. They obliterated his liver this time, and it could not recover. He was so, so sick. They couldn’t put him back on his chemo until he stabilized, so we watched his tumor marker number shoot up while all his other liver tests went crazy. He handled all of this with such good spirits, stayed positive the whole time, through the fluid in his belly (I was draining him daily, 2 to 3 liters usually) and the enzyme values that went crazy because of the fluid being drained. He lost so much weight and became weak, to the point where most doctor visits (which were at the hospital, involving a long walk from a far parking lot) involved either me dropping him off at the door, or just getting a wheelchair for him – something he always used to scoff at.
I honestly don’t feel up to recapping his last days, but as I said, his body finally gave out. I’ve been writing on Facebook, sharing my experience living without him, and thought it might not be a bad idea to start writing here. Not necessarily to replace the Facebook posts, but to add to them. I suppose there might be some overlap at times, but I don’t plan to just put Facebook posts here and repeat myself.
I did consider starting a new blog. I know anyone who is still following my blog at this point was most likely interested in posts relating to deafness, cochlear implants and hearing loss. The subject matter is going to pivot, to how to deal with grief, living alone, the loss of a spouse and soulmate. Not necessarily all gloom and doom, because I do like to lean heavily on humor to get me through the days. Anyway, I realized that the title of this blog still fits what I plan to write about. I mean, Sudden Silence – it fit when I first went deaf, and now I find myself in the midst of a completely different sudden silence, one that happens when the person you spend all your time with (literally 24/7 in our case, for most of the 23 years we were together) is suddenly gone.
This is most certainly more than I planned to write today and I apologize for the super long post. We’ll see if I keep writing, but hopefully I will. If you’re out there reading, thanks for being here.
Posted in Family, Grief/Bereavement, Not Related to Hearing Loss
Tags: bereavement, cancer, grief, liver cancer
When we first walked through the house in April, it was basically empty – no furniture or window treatments, nobody currently living there at the time. After we decided that yeah, we were gonna take a shot at buying this house built in 1900 (!), we came back and took a closer look. I’d found out the hard way, from a house we’d signed a contract on a few weeks earlier, that it was a good idea to open those cabinets, look in the closets, really take your time and decide if you can make this place work. (We backed out of the other house after the inspection turned up some Bad Things, but I also hadn’t realized that the kitchen cabinets were actually horrible inside – I never bothered to open a door or drawer. Doh! The market was insane at that time and we were basically jumping at any house that hadn’t been sold out from under us.)
As we slowly inspected each room, opening cabinets and drawers, we realized that there was actually quite a bit of stuff still here. Pots and pans, dishes, silverware, lace curtains (still in the packaging from the dry cleaner) hanging in the closet. The upstairs storage area, which I call the attic but really isn’t – it’s just a small room at the end of the upstairs hall with lots of space for storing things – had some holiday decorations in the back. There was a propane charcoal grill on the back deck. Stuff like that.
We tried to piece together the story of these left-behind items. The seller hadn’t lived in the house since 2011 or 12. I found a whole kitchen cabinet filled with inkjet cartridges, markers, first birthday invitations, even photos, and our seller was not in any of them. Leftover invoices in the same cabinet had somebody else’s name, a couple with a small child from the looks of things. I assumed they were renting the house and, for whatever reason, took off in a hurry and left a bunch of stuff behind. I also assumed it would all be gone once we actually took possession in June.
But it wasn’t gone. We opened the door with our new key, walked in, and found all these things in the same places we’d last seen them. So I ended up with a couple of new pots and pans, donated most of the dishes, gifted to Paige all the things she needed for her new home, and tossed the junk in the trash.
I pretty much forgot about the holiday stuff. I mean, it was June and the holidays were the furthest thing from my mind. Once November rolled around, though, I started eyeballing potential spots for a Christmas tree. You might remember my dilemma when we moved to the little house in Niles, a house so small that there was no possible place for a full-sized tree. (I actually considered not having a tree that first year, until Dave insisted that we look at some pencil trees.) To have multiple possibilities for tree placement was a novelty for me; even in Illinois, there was only one real option for where to put the tree (and I still had to move furniture to fit it in).
“We need to buy a tree this year,” I reminded Dave. “I hate to spend the money, it would be cheaper to buy it after Christmas, but that pencil tree is just not big enough. We’ll put that one out on the front porch.”
He held up a finger to stop me. “Hang on.”
He went downstairs (we have a Michigan basement here, so I try to stay out of it as much as possible). A few minutes later I heard something thunking up the stairs, and then a six-foot Christmas tree appeared in my kitchen.
He peeked around from behind it. “It was downstairs! It has lights on it and everything. It’s from Bronner’s!”
I mean, what are the odds?! This tree is the perfect size for the family room, and it is gorgeous.
I did suggest that we buy a second tree during the after-Christmas sales and put it up in the living room or dining room, but Dave shot that down. Can’t blame a girl for trying! 😉
Posted in Family, Not Related to Hearing Loss
Saying Bye to Beanie
We think Sabrina, or Beanie (as we call her), is getting ready to cross the rainbow bridge soon. She’s 15 now, and back in November she was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism. She’d gone from about 12 to 9 pounds and just seemed constantly anxious and agitated. Once we started her on thyroid medicine she seemed to improve. She didn’t gain any weight back, but she maintained her weight, her fur seemed less unkempt, and she just seemed more settled and happy. She also corrected some litter box issues she’d been having. All seemed right in Beanie’s world.
But 2016 hasn’t been kind to her. She lost some more weight, down to 8-1/2 pounds, then gained it back. She started moving slower; you can really tell she’s a senior kitty. And a few days ago she had some kind of incident, possibly a mini-seizure. Dave found her lying down with one of her back legs kind of up in the air, and she seemed dazed. We waited for her to come out of it, watching to see if she seemed to be in pain (she didn’t), and she slowly came back to her usual self. But I can tell when I pick her up that she’s lost weight again (I don’t want to know, so I haven’t weighed her). She’s still eating and drinking, taking her medicine, but we can just tell she’s getting ready.
Dave and I talked and decided not to take her to the vet unless she seems to be in pain. All of my previous cats ended up being put down in the vet’s office, and I’m sure that’s what they would do to her if we brought her in. I don’t want that, unless she’s suffering. For once, I want one of my beloved cats to die peacefully in her own home. I want her to be surrounded by the things she loves and the people who love her. I want to honor all the happy days she’s given us.
I watched this series called Time of Death a while back, and it made a profound impact on me, totally changed how I view the process of dying (which I was terrified of before). I know she’s a cat and not a person, but I want to apply some of that philosophy to how we handle Bean’s last days with us.
This is an excerpt from a previous entry, and it sums up Miss Sabrina about as well as anything:
Our oldest cat, Sabrina (aka Beanie) was in residence for about ten months before the former-feral girls joined the household and rocked her world. Beanie is the sweetest, friendliest cat you could ever hope to meet. If you come to our house, you’ll meet Beanie. She’ll stomp toward you on her squat little legs, look you right in the eye and meow softly. She’ll stare at you, wearing you down, until finally you give in and pet her on the head. Beanie loves being petted, even on her stomach. She’s so docile and loving; sometimes she purrs so loud that we have to turn up the volume on the TV. (If we’re watching TV, she’s almost always sitting with or on one of us.)
Beanie’s a little weird about sniffing your hand, though. She seems to have a sensitive sniffer, and often seems offended if you let her sniff your hand. This is a common thing to do, offer your hand to an animal so they can sniff it first, and it might look like Beanie is slightly repulsed by your presence. Don’t be fooled, though; she loves everybody. She just doesn’t necessarily like the way they smell.
Beanie often seems put out by the fact that she’s so far below us, walking on the floor when we’re apparently up in the heavens. She’ll follow us around and meow pitifully, or sit on the floor in the bathroom while I do my makeup or brush my teeth, staring at me sadly. Finally, I give in and pick her up; I carry her round the house with me or I put her on the counter so she can watch me. She settles in happily and starts purring; no more meows, no more sad looks. Beanie really needs to just be carried around the house in a sling, the way I used to carry the kids when they were babies. To make Beanie happy, all you have to do is pay attention to her.
And don’t make her sniff your hand.
She is a wonderful, gentle, loving cat – we couldn’t be luckier to have been her family for the past 11 years. I wanted to write this now while she’s still with us, when I know I can publish this post, then walk into the bedroom and give her a kiss on the head and tell her how much I love her.
Posted in Family, Not Related to Hearing Loss
Tags: cats, hyperthroid feline, Sabrina
A Perfect Storm *
There’s four words that I never said during either of my pregnancies:
“My water just broke.”
However, that’s precisely what happened to my daughter on Monday night. Let me backtrack though, all the way to late November.
Thanksgiving came late again this year, didn’t it? I started decorating for Christmas the weekend before Thanksgiving, although I did wait to put up the tree until Nov. 28. I also started Baby Watch that same week.
Paige’s due date was originally Dec. 15 and then they changed it to Dec. 12. She and Eric both came about 9 days early, and I just had this feeling that Storm would arrive early as well. She was having a really smooth pregnancy, not a lot of morning sickness and no high blood pressure (which was my nemesis). She started having Braxton-Hicks contractions pretty early on, something I remember very well from my own pregnancies.
On Nov. 19, she had an ultrasound and they said Storm was 5 lbs, 9 oz. We figured he still needed some growing time, so I started thinking he’d come closer to his due date (if not after). In the meantime, Paige planned to keep working right up until he was born, if she could. That was another similarity to my pregnancy with her; I ended up working until two days before she was born. (I finished my week at work on Friday, went into labor late Saturday night/early Sunday morning and she was born at 5:37 am on Sunday.)
She had a weekly doctor’s appointment on December 2nd and they told her she was 2 to 3 cm dilated and 80% effaced. Her hips were starting to really hurt so they stripped her membranes to help things along, and scheduled her for an induction early on December 8th if the baby wasn’t here by that time. She kept going to work and then getting sent home because being on her feet was making her have non-stop contractions. All through the week I was getting messages from her saying that the contractions weren’t stopping and were anywhere from 5 minutes to 2 minutes apart. She even went to the hospital one morning, but they sent her home because she wasn’t dilating.
I started carrying my cell phone everywhere (usually I just leave it lying on my desk) and Dave had already hooked up one of our bedroom lights so that it would blink on and off when the phone rang (hopefully waking us up if she called during the night). I woke up frequently every night to check my phone and see if I’d missed any messages from Paige about being in labor.
When I was pregnant with her, they stripped my membranes on a Tuesday (I was 3 cm, 75% effaced) and she was born on a Sunday. Since her pregnancy with Storm was so similar to my pregnancy with her, I figured she’d have him on a Monday – five days after the procedure, just like me. Still though, she was having so many contractions and false alarms that I really thought it would be sooner, possibly the weekend of Dec. 5-6.
The weekend came and went with no baby, so we started planning for the induction on Tuesday morning. We had a bag packed with all kinds of things to keep us busy for possibly hours, since this was her first baby – Phase 10 (a card game), chargers for my CI batteries and our tablets and phones, money for the vending machines (because we no longer use our debit card after it got hacked – we’re waiting for the chip and pin version to come out). I put together a goodie bag for Paige with lip balm, hair clips and ties, magazines, her favorite candy (and Michael’s too), Goldfish crackers, bath gel for her first post-baby shower, and face wipes. I set the alarm for 4 am so we could be there at 5 am (even though we’re only an hour apart, they’re in an earlier time zone than us).
Monday morning she sent me a message saying her contractions were hurting more, and weren’t going away when she sat down. I had a feeling this was it – it was exactly how my labor with her started. She went to the hospital around 10 am and we didn’t hear anything for a long time; then around 1 or 2 pm she said they sent her home because she wasn’t progressing and was still 3 cm.
We were messaging back and forth, and she was fretting because her cervix was being so stubborn; she was afraid she’d have to have a C-section on Tuesday. I messaged back, “It’s not inconceivable that you could still go into labor tonight.” She said, “True.” That was at 3:15 pm.
Dave and I ate dinner and then settled in for some TV. We were watching The Good Wife when the phone rang. It was Paige.
Dave answered and there was silence on the other end. He hung up and I checked my phone. At 7:40 our time (6:40 her time) she had messaged me: My water just broke
Well, we went crazy. Dave called her back and got her husband, Michael. They were already at the hospital (it’s just a block or two from their house) and he said they were telling her she still might not have the baby until tomorrow morning. The doctor would be in at 5 am to check her; she was still 3 cm.
Dave said he’d call back in 15 or 20 minutes to check on them, hung up and we kind of wandered around aimlessly, not knowing what to do. Do we go to the hospital if they said she wouldn’t have the baby until the next day? Finally 20 minutes had passed, and Dave called back. He got Paige this time.
I was reading the captioning, and he had the volume turned way up so I could kind of hear through the handset as he talked to her. She was very breathless (turns out she was having a contraction at that moment) and said the contractions really hurt. Dave asked if she wanted us to come to the hospital and I could hear her yelling, “YES YES YES YES!” I flew around and had my coat on and everything together in just a few minutes. Hearing my little girl in obvious pain just kind of flipped a switch in me. We had to get on the road STAT.
We made good time and found the hospital pretty easily. We had to be escorted by security onto the labor and delivery floor because it was after hours (around 9 pm their time). When we walked in, I took in the scene: Paige in bed, getting ready to push, with Michael on one side and his mom, Renee, on the other. His sister, Aleigha, was standing back and there were a couple of nurses and a doctor in the room. Right away they said only three people (besides Paige) could be in the room, so Dave and Aleigha left and went to the family waiting room.
Renee said we had perfect timing, and she was not kidding. I couldn’t believe that in a little over an hour from her conversation with Dave, Paige was already at the pushing stage. For her first baby! I thought, seriously, we would be there for 24 hours or more.
She’d been given some pain medication that made her kind of loopy and out of it, so she fell asleep. (She didn’t want an epidural, but I doubt she could’ve gotten one even if she did because things happened so quickly.) She basically slept most of the time that we were driving. When she woke up, apparently, she had the urge to push. And that’s about the time we arrived.
She pushed for maybe 15 minutes. They started breaking down the bed, and things happened really quickly after that. I was kind of standing back from the bed, to keep out of the way, and I decided to move further down … just in time to see my grandson enter this world. It was completely amazing.
When it came time to cut the cord, the doctor asked if anyone wanted to do the honors. Michael shook his head no and I found myself stepping forward, something I never thought I would do. What a special moment!
Storm Dovahkiin Reeves was born at 9:18 pm on December 7, 2015. He weighed 7 pounds, 13 ounces and was 20 inches long.
We think he is the most beautiful grandson ever. We’re pretty darn proud of his mama and daddy, and so glad that he came into this world surrounded by people who love him.
Best early Christmas present ever!!
* Credit to my friend Facebook friend Theresa for the title to this blog entry 🙂
Posted in Family, Not Related to Hearing Loss
Tags: baby, baby boy, becoming grandparents, birth story, new grandson
Words Are Very Unnecessary
On our way home from Dave’s one-month checkup with his hepatologist in Fort Wayne, we stopped at Subway for lunch. Although we like the food, Dave kind of hates going there because the ordering process confounds him. They ask a lot of questions, and for someone with hearing loss that’s a real drag.
I have an easier time with this kind of thing (as long as it’s in person) because I lipread, so I am usually the one to order. I just consult Dave first to make sure what he wants, or if he starts to order himself then I will relay the questions to him if he misses them.
Since it was just a light lunch, we did our usual and got the same sandwich in the foot-long size, and then split it. This location had a drive-through but we decided to go inside because I really struggle to understand anything through those speakers.
We were the only customers, and as we walked up to the counter the guy started talking. I wasn’t close enough to read his lips and had no clue what he said (he was talking really fast and also had a bit of a southern accent). I did my usual and just assumed what he probably said based on my past visits to Subway.
I told him the type of sandwich we wanted and the type of bread. He said something else that I missed, but I knew they usually asked about cheese and I thought I’d caught part of his question. “Did you say something about pepperjack cheese?” He nodded, and I confirmed that we wanted it. Then he asked if we wanted it toasted, which caught me off guard. I had to have him repeat the question a couple of times. After I answered him, I added, “I’m deaf and I’m reading your lips, so that’s why I sometimes miss what you say.”
Now, usually I add that I have cochlear implants and I hear with them; that way people know that I do hear sound but they also know that I’m reading their lips as well. But I figured eh, this is just a quick lunch order and why go into all that detail? Here’s what happened when I just let that statement hang in the air without further clarification:
The guy stopped talking.
He had been keeping up a constant patter while we were there, which was making it hard for me to tell if he was asking a question, making a comment about our order, or even perhaps just talking to himself. My statement silenced him, and what a gift it was!
He quietly made the sandwich and just kind of looked up when he got to the veggies, waving his hand vaguely in the direction of the options available. I smiled and said we just wanted tomato, nothing else, and no sauce.
Obviously he thought I couldn’t hear anything and there was no point in really talking to me anymore, so he resorted to his version of sign language – and it was perfectly fine with me (even preferable, if I’m being honest). I thought it was kind of hilarious; it’s been a long time since I’ve had someone react that way when I say I’m deaf. Even before I got my CIs and I really couldn’t hear, when I told someone I was deaf and reading lips, they would still keep talking to me the same way they had been.
(Before I get to my next story, I have to interject and say that Dave had his viral load tested at this appointment, and we got the results yesterday. As of one month into his three month treatment with Harvoni and Ribavirin, he has cleared the Hepatitis C virus! He never cleared it in 2013; he went from over 4 million to 11,000 but that was as low as it went. This time he started at over 3 million and BOOM … now it’s undetected. ! ! ! !)
The other hearing loss-related thing that happened around here was during a power outage. The power really doesn’t go out very often here, and when it does they get it back on within a few hours (at the most). It seems to go out at weird times, though, not during storms. The last time was about a week ago, after we’d had some rain come through. During the storms all was well, but about 3:15 in the morning my eyes just kind of flew open. I could feel that something wasn’t right; I just didn’t know what it was. I realized Dave wasn’t in bed, and then I looked over at the clock and saw that it was off – we had a power outage. (Dave had realized about five minutes before me and was getting candles.)
It wasn’t hot so we didn’t have fans on (or else the room suddenly getting hot would have woken me up). I realized that when I’m sleeping I’m more sensitive to light (and the lack of it) than I realized. I always assumed I wouldn’t wake up from a strobe light on a smoke detector, and that I’d need something that vibrated the bed to wake me up. (Those systems are, by the way, very expensive.) Now I’m kind of wondering if the strobe light would actually do the trick. I must be more sensitive to that kind of thing when I’m sleeping since I don’t have hearing to rely on. Very interesting!
Hep C, Writing, Fitbit, House
“It says here that I should eat ice cream every day.” Dave looked up from his computer screen and smiled.
I have to give him points for trying – ice cream every day would take the sting out of going through treatment for Hepatitis C a second time.
His new treatment starts next week, and it goes for three months this time. He’ll be taking a new drug, Harvoni (I keep wanting to call it Havarti, like the cheese) along with his old friend Ribavirin. No interferon shots this time, thank God. We couldn’t remember if he had to take the drugs with a high-fat snack the way he did last time, so he was doing research to refresh his memory. (Turns out it was the boceprevir that required the high-fat snack, so no requisite Hershey bars or peanut butter this time around.)
This regimen should have way less side effects, although there will still be a few from the Ribavirin. (If he was treatment-naïve, he would just take the Harvoni which has very few side effects.) We’ll be making bi-weekly trips to Fort Wayne to pick up his medicine (he gets a two week supply each time) and have them check his labs.
I didn’t mean to let so much time go by without an update. I was taking an online class on how to make money from your writing, and it ended this month. By the end of the class I was feeling like I just wanted to write here and not try to actually make any money by writing – and then I stopped writing here, go figure. It was pretty eye-opening, though, and I’m glad I took the class. I had a lot of misconceived notions about writing for magazines, for instance. I didn’t realize that you don’t actually write a piece and submit it (unless it’s an essay, which I discovered is the type of writing I prefer). A magazine article is just an idea when you send a query to a magazine – ‘Hey, how about I write on this subject for you?’ – and then you wait to find out if anyone is interested. If they are, then you write the article.
And a book – well, my memoir has been stalled for months, so it’s not like I was on the verge of being done or anything, but I was still thinking of book publishing as ‘write a book, submit the manuscript and hope it gets accepted, if it does then the publisher promotes it and you hope people buy it.’ No sir. It’s more like, write a book and then try to convince a publisher to accept it by showing how popular you are and all the things YOU can do to promote it. I have NO desire to try to sell a book. I don’t want to have to give talks or readings, I don’t want to do interviews, I don’t want to spend my days begging my friends to buy my book. I just want to write, man. So I figured, screw it, I’m just going to satisfy my urge to write through my blog. And then, like I said, I stopped writing.
I was very caught up in the whole ‘I am not a writer if I don’t get paid for what I write’ thing and it was really messing with my head. So I backed off of everything for a while, I guess.
In other exciting news, sort of related to writing, I got a Fitbit last week. Influenster offered me the eBay Guide badge, where you earn a $25 eBay gift card by writing two eBay guides. It took forever and a day to have both of the guides accepted (they read them and approve them one at a time) and then to actually get the gift card, which was sent in the mail. While I was trying to figure out what to spend it on, they offered me an eBay Guide VIP badge for another $25 gift card. I decided to do two more guides, and held onto the first gift card so I could combine them. The second gift card came via email and voila, I had $50 to spend on eBay.
I had done some research on the Fitbit, and decided on either the Flex or the Charge. I don’t use it for phone stuff so the only thing the Charge really offered that the Flex didn’t have was an on-screen display. I did some pricing and realized I could get the Flex for very little of my own money, so that sealed my decision. I finally snagged a slate blue Fitbit Flex for $60 with free shipping, used my $50 in gift cards and got myself a Fitbit for the low, low out-of-my-pocket price of $10.
I am properly obsessed right now, and I do find myself extending my workouts to get in at least 10,000 steps a day if I can. I don’t really bother with the calorie portion of the app because I use the Livestrong MyPlate website to track my calories, but I do take note of the calories I supposedly burned (according to Fitbit) versus the calories I consumed (according to MyPlate).
I am holding steady with my weight, and I just have seven measly pounds to get to my ultimate, in-my-dreams goal. However, I’ve been within 4 to 7 pounds of that goal for nearly a year now. Maybe the Fitbit will take me over the top. If nothing else, I’ll be more active. Win, win!
Now I’ve gotten a third eBay Guide badge, the VIP Plus, for another $25 gift card. I completed those guides and they were accepted right away, so I’m waiting for the gift card (it usually takes a few weeks). Let me just say, finding topics that I could write on was really hard. You have to use the Influenster topic suggestion tool and use something from there. You click on this ‘inspire me’ button and it spins around and throws out a topic. Most of them were for things I’d never even heard of, or had no idea what to write about (how to replace a manual transmission; pricing Pokemon cards; birds of Asia). I lucked out with a couple of candle topics, one on canning, DIY hair stuff, things like that. It took a lot of clicking to get there, though.
I think we are finally ready to give the garden a go. Dave is out burning the brush pile right now; it has to go because it’s currently in the area we plan to till. Well, I think we may have someone come in and do the tilling for us. We’ve figured the cost of renting a tiller AND a truck (because we can’t fit the tiller in our Hyundai Sonata), and it may be cheaper just to pay someone to come do it for us with their own equipment. One way or another, though, the garden area should be prepared in the next couple of weeks and we can finally begin planting. One more thing – we finally started a compost pile. I’ve never had one, so I keep having to dig through the trash to pull out vegetable peelings, egg shells and the like.
We will miss this little house when we move on, but it won’t be until 2016 at the earliest. Last year was so full of trauma and upheaval, and we are looking forward to just staying put for this year. It is so nice to wake up every day feeling relaxed, wondering where the day will take us. Every day we find new flowers coming up, new buds on the trees. I’m already looking forward to mulberries and raspberries.