I can hear…sort of

My ear infection is a thing of the past. Or, I hope to never have to experience anything like it again.

I was deaf, for crying out loud. I’m used to being hard of hearing, but deaf? That was…foreign to me.

Even though most of the people in my life thought I should just get used to it, I couldn’t just get used to not hearing anything, or practically nothing. I still heard the 5yo”s screeching, and the 7yo”s homework complaining, but the phone, or tv, or my husbands voice, they didn’t come through very clearly.

I was deaf. And I didn’t like it.

Today, I can hear like I did before the infection. And on a day like I was having today, which was full of challenges beyond my control (you know, kids, mostly), I was missing my deafness. I was yearning, as George Costanza was heard saying on Seinfeld, for silence. Utter and complete silence was what I wanted, and didn’t get.

But it’s a double-edged sword. I don’t really want to be deaf. I just want to be able to turn off the annoying noises that make me irritable whenever I feel like it. I know I’m not alone; most parents, especially moms who stay at home, have this yearning from time to time.

But I am glad to be back to a somewhat normal existence. I still don’t answer the phone, but I do occasionally make a call if I feel like I will have a quiet environment and the person on the other end has a voice in a frequency I have less trouble hearing than someone else.

I wondered what to do with this blog. I thought I should keep it. For now. Because I am still a  hearing-impaired person, with a digital hearing aid in my left ear and no hearing in my right ear.

So I came back.

 


Be careful what you tell your preschooler

I am sick to death of being sick.

Does Swimmer’s Ear cause sinus infections? I’m pretty sure it’s all related. Just after I got my ear vacuumed and I thought ‘finally all is back to normal’ I started wheezing and sneezing like it’s going out of style.

They told me to keep the hearing aid out of my ear until the infection is completely gone. Since I can hear about as much as I did before the infection, and my ear finally feels dry and mostly normal again, I have been cheating a bit here and there, wearing the aid for a couple of hours only when I felt it was absolutely necessary:

  • At my 5yo’s birthday party (Why there? I do not know. 14 kids between the ages of  4 and 7 make way too much noise for my liking.)
  • At Halloween. My dad is in the market of considering buying a smart phone and wanted to ‘practice’ on my Blackberry, so in order to tutor him, I wore the aid for a bit. There were a few questions in between trick or treaters yelling at my door.
  • At school drop off two days after I spent a day at the spa. Why not the first day after the spa? BECAUSE I did not know my 5yo advertised the fact that I spent the entire day at the spa to everyone at school. I was approached my more parents and kids than usual asking me about my pampering…

Note to self: be careful what you speak in front of Sonja.

Other note to self: ban her from owning or borrowing any internet-technology device until she’s 18 or you’ll end up finding yourself or your life all over Twitter, facebook and YouTube.

Hey, wait a minute…I already do that to myself.

:)


Drive-throughs

The drive-through is a prominent, metropolitan feature of the North American city. I would say here in Canada there are probably not quite as many drive-throughs as there are in America, but in my city, there are plenty. Coffee is a big one (Tim Horton’s) but the standard fast-food chains abound as well, especially out in the suburbs.

I don’t live in the suburbs. I live in the city and I can walk to Mom-and-Pop shops, delis, and little bakeries or butchers without needing a car. BUT, I do drive and have access to a car, and the drive-through is sometimes a part of our lives.

Or it was.

I have mixed feelings about the drive-through. As a hearing impaired person, it’s always hard to hear anything that I can’t see, especially words (unlike music, for example). I don’t use the drive-through much, but sometimes I really want a coffee and I really don’t want to battle parking and walk and stand in line and and and….

Coffee drive-throughs are probably the easiest to handle for me. Especially when I’m without kids. Kids always want donuts and then they have specific requests and then they change their mind and I have to engage in a conversation with the machinery outside the car window…I hate that. Much like the phone situation….I don’t want to talk to the machine, I just want to order my coffee, watch the screen that tells me what I ordered and how much to pay at the next window, and move on.

When I lost my little bit of hearing with my ear infection recently, I couldn’t even entertain the idea of a drive-through.

It wasn’t something I thought I would miss, since I rarely visit a drive-through anyway (I can count on one hand how many times we’ve used one in the past year)….but there was hockey practice and it was early and the Tim’s was right next door to the rink and I really wanted a decent cup of coffee…

Little inconveniences like that, the wish for something instant and not being able to get it, that was an adjustment. The expectation to have all conveniences within reach all the time that comes with city living…and then not being able to use them whenever I feel the pressing need…it was a little bit disconcerting.

How is that for being spoiled? I feel spoiled just typing this out…

My hearing is somewhat restored. I have yet to visit the drive-through.

But.

At least now I feel like I have the choice. And that is big for me. It’s also a psychological boost: I feel like them. I feel like I belong to the regular crowd who can, whenever they feel like it, go through the drive-through.


Denial, hearing loss, and self-advocacy

Few people wear clothing that don’t fit them right, or feel uncomfortable. Many people don’t leave the house if their hair isn’t ‘just so’. I don’t know anyone (other than growing 7 year old boys) who wear shoes that feel too small or tight or are otherwise ill-fitting.

But hearing aids? I have heard, and experienced myself, the lack of will to go get them adjusted or changed if they don’t work properly or don’t fit right.

My grandmother in Switzerland was in her 90s when she died. The few times I saw her after her70th birthday she often complained that her hearing aids didn’t fit well, or didn’t sound right, or didn’t something or other. She didn’t wear them often.

Her hearing deteriorated a lot over the next years, as my mom can attest to, since she saw here pretty much yearly in the last 10 years or so.

But it didn’t occur to my grandmother (I think)  that it could just be that the aids were maladjusted. I don’t think she cared too much either, she did isolate herself quite a bit toward her last few years, and only went out occasionally for essential shopping. And like me, she did like to leave the aids out when at home. Turns out, her hearing aids were at least 10 years old and she couldn’t remember the last time she bought new batteries.

She just didn’t want to wear them. So she didn’t keep up with the care for them. They were out of date and the batteries were likely dead. And she didn’t care. Or so it seemed to me at the time, and frankly, I could understand. Sometimes it’s easier to not do something and be without and stay home and not worry about it. And she deserved that, after all the years of caring for everyone else all the time. So what if her tv was loud. So what if she didn’t feel like conversing. So what.

I rarely wear my aids at home. I don’t really want to hear the amplified sounds the children make anyway….I got me some noisy children here…. :)

Take the two-day argument over some Pokemon cards he found on the lunchroom floor and gave to his sister. Now he wants them back. I really, REALLY don’t care about this and frankly, I should wear the aid without the battery just to tune out the excessive noise about that whole thing. Sheesh.

Anyway. It occurred to me over the years that I too had all to readily accepted when something didn’t work right with my ears. Perhaps this was because once or twice I got poor service from either a medical professional who wasn’t up to the task of having the right bedside manner, so to speak, regarding a hearing impaired person, or perhaps it’s my culture (Swiss, which is middle European) that easily and readily accepts blame for something. I remember once as a kid I was playing on a teeter-tooter with my sister and I managed to get my ankle caught. I was 5 or 6 and cried, limping, to my grandmother’s house, complaining of swelling and pain. She took good care of me to handle the injury but at the same time she said ‘you should pay better attention next time’.

I always remembered that.

So then as a self-absorbed, very isolated, hard of hearing teenager living in a new country learning a new language with hearing loss, at age 14+, well….I just blamed myself all this time that I couldn’t hear. Or that the aids hurt. Or that the aids squeaked. Or that the aids didn’t make me feel better….

It took many years to learn that I was the only advocate for my hearing loss. (Well, my mom was my biggest advocate but at some point I became an adult and had to take charge myself). Many years later, when I was offered to try out something different to help solve my complaint about a situation, I went ahead and did it. Why not? Some people in this industry of hearing impairment truly do care and truly do want to help. I tried a type of aid and when I didn’t like it, returned it and tried something new.

I’m still not happy that my right ear doesn’t hear anything anymore. I’m not happy that an aid can’t help it. But I’m ok, since I still have hearing in the other ear and the aid works well to help me function at an almost normal level.

But I’m once again reminded of how important it is to be a self-advocate with my recent situation of Swimmer’s Ear. And it also gave me a taste of what could be if I did in fact lose all of my hearing.


Relief from a vacuum cleaner

My infected ear has been relieved by a vacuum cleaner.

Not a standard vacuum cleaner, mind you, but one designed especially to vacuum out crap inside your ear. And not the ones that you find in Google Images, which you can purchase and use on yourself (which I do not endorse, I’m just saying I saw some images).

I’m talking about the equipment the hospitals use on people who have ear infections. Read the rest of this entry »


My phone tried to kill me

I’m sitting at the computer, plunged into silence with the family out of the house, minding my own business. Concentrating. Actually enjoying the silence, for a change.

Then I heard a male voice talking. Scared the living daylights out of me. Is there someone in the house?

I turned around. No one here. I walked to the door….it’s open but unlocked. I lock it. I walk to the side door, and back door, and lock both as well. I had left everything open because it was so sunny and warm….

Then I closed all the windows too.

I want a dog. A dog to alert me to noises I can no longer hear.

As I walk back to my computer in the living-room, assured there was no intruder in the house, I see the blinking light by the phone.

Aahh…someone must have spoken on the voice-mail. That is the voice I heard.

This is going to take some getting used to.


Selective hearing

There are two females in this house with hearing problems.

Me and my 5 year old little girl.

I have a medical, real hearing problem. One that was diagnosed by a slew of medical professionals. It’s called progressive hearing loss, among other terms.

My little chickie also has a hearing problem. One that was diagnosed by me. It’s called selective hearing.

Now which of the two is more annoying to me?

Go ahead, guess…

*Sigh*


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