Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Activation Day

Today turned out to be beyond anything I could have imagined. A table piled deep of paraphanalia that had fit into a huge premium backpack was my first vision that said this is going to be a huge endeavor. Audiologist Sara and her intern Carley were happy to see us. I asked Wayne to come along to be a part of this new event in our lives. For someone who was a great sport amateur photographer in his early years, I'm sorry that he really didn't capture the really exciting moment of me "going on air." But maybe he was just a little overwhelmed himself. Together we are not the epitome of huge expression, but we get lost up in the moment.
     The angels from above didn't break into Handel's Hallaluia chorus, but it was a sweet moment of hearing a slight siren sound and then Sara's voice albeit a little high pitched and mechanical asking me "what can you hear?"  It was not a series of beeps that I heard, but actual words. I had to close my eyes to make sure I wasn't depending on my lip reading. That's when I knew all the indecisiveness, the waiting, the rejections, the final approval, and surgery were all worth it. The best I could show was a little misty eyes and on to the business at hand.

 We spent the better part of two hours finding the right loudness for each group of electrodes, figuring out all that equipment that was on the table and creating baby step programs to get me through the new two weeks before I see her again.
     All the while I am trying to become accustom to my voice interrupting the voices in the room. Quite a lesson in rude butting in I must have developed over the years. Wayne's voice being lower/deeper than the the electrodes' capabilities are being picked up by my other ear's hearing aid. Another perfect marriage is in the works.
     There's a funny bubbling aquarium sound that has actually dissipated over the past few hours since reaching home. We're were immediately met with some unexpected out of town guests and I can actually hear them visiting in the basement while I am fixing dinner. Yes, I'm typing this as dinner is cooking.
      Now that dinner is over and I have had the opportunity to have spent some time listening to voices, cleaning up clattering dishes, and trying s little TV, I can't help but feel that it will take me less than the anticipated months for this to become as close to natural hearing as possible. Are there some down sides? You bet, and I will share those a little later, just to let you know how realistic this adventure is, but for now I will bask in the phenomenal miracle of technology, a skilled surgeon and audiologist, and the countless thoughts and prayers of family and friends who have made this possible.  It's a blessed day!

Now you see it.
Now you don't.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Post Surgery Update

Minutes before my CI surgery
At Home with my new Turban

My excellent doctor's hand work
      I want to share these pictures to show some of the behind the scenes experiences of what happens right after surgery. Sadly I don't have pictures of all the adventures that have happened in the past three weeks, but the fuzzy brain just didn't think fast enough to put a camera in someone's hand. For the most part it has been a quiet time to just let my body heal. I was in the hospital at 8 a.m. and home by 4 p.m. that afternoon.  I was treated professionally, kindly, expertly at St Joseph's Hospital in Denver. I could not have asked for better care. The surgery lasted a little over three hours, and all I can remember is complete euphoria, good will, and gratitude for getting this far. Drugs may have helped kick in those emotions, but I really haven't lost that feeling yet. 

      My surgery was the Monday before Thanksgiving and by Wednesday, with the help of my own Vietnam Vet husband, we made a QOV presentation to Joe Birge. My participation in this Foundation is very important to me, and I didn't want to miss out on this opportunity. This was not a quilt that I made, but from someone else who participates in this great organization.  It was a special honor to just be the presenter this time.

Two days after surgery.
 Well enough to make a QOV Presentation
Pat from Wisconsin's beautiful quilt presented to
Vietnam Vet Joe Birge
      By Thanksgiving Day, I thought I was on a smooth ride to healing.  Actually I was not yet off the pain meds and the new BP meds that I had to start before surgery were not being too kind to each other. I passed out due to a drastic drop in blood pressure that won me an ambulance ride to the ER and a full day of trying to stabilize my blood pressure.  After years of trying to keep my BP from soaring, this was a whole new experience. Many times in these past few weeks I have had a hard time trying to tell if it was the bp meds or the surgery aftereffects that has been causing the fluctuating numbers, dizzy spells, and light headedness. The one thing I wanted to avoid was to confuse medications, but all the doctors were insistent that I start them before the surgery. Now it will be interesting to see who will blame what. Whatever the case, this is one battle I am allowing myself to retreat from. They can figure it out. I have better things to do...like learning to hear again!

    The next two weeks were pretty mild compared to that first one. I worked through the expected pain without any medication. The most worrisome that proved to be typical were these cattle-prod like shooting pains inside my ear. They tapered off within a few days, and were more comical than painful. Then a new sensation came on board that hinted of a miraculous possibility.  I started hearing that "weird water in your ear" sound. Very likely fluid does build up in the Eustachian tube after this surgery, so this is not abnormal, but the key word here is sound!!  If I am hearing this, it quite possibly means that some of my residual low frequency hearing was not lost.  This was one of the drawbacks I had struggled with in deciding to have a cochlear implant to begin with. I had to come to the realization that what little residual hearing I had would be lost due to the electrode being fed into the tiny cochlea destroying any remaining  live hair cells. As I explained in an earlier post, the amount of hearing is like a healthy foot attached to a destroyed leg...not much use. But the good news is that as technology improves, cochlear implant processors (which are electrical) are being developed to add hearing aid (acoustical) capabilities. I was fortunate enough to be implanted with the newest electrode that is designed to prevent the expected loss. So when such a hybrid is available, the little bit of saved hearing may give me an ever wider range of hearing tones. That's way down the line in the future. Right now I am just grateful that I was given the best technology out there to hear more than I ever have,

   Being completely deaf with no use of a hearing aid on one side,  I have stayed close to home, avoiding crowds more than four, and that can be a challenge during the holiday season. But to be honest, I have loved the excuse.  It has made this holiday less rushed, hassle free, and definitely less stressed. My husband has become my new best friend...again. He has definitely been my hero in this trek.  He was by my side to catch me when I passed out. He gently washed my yucky hair while I held a cup over the stitched ear a long 10 days after surgery. He arranged a mini-birthday/Christmas party (of 4!) to help get a little Christmas spirit going. And, today he finished  decorating the tree (this has ALWAYS been a solo duty for me).  My precious friend and her husband from Wyoming traveled down here to pay me a visit this week, which was more delightful than she could ever imagine. We have spent precious moments with our grand-kids making gingerbread cookies. Shopping has been online and minimal. So far this is the best December I have spent in a very long time.

I am less than 24 hours from meeting with my audiologist to have the processor fitted and activated. This is the climax of this adventure, and while the rising action has been sweet, quiet, and calm, I am full of anticipation, doubt, and yes, just a little fear mixed in there. I want to hope for a "rock star" activation, where I hear voices right way, but I know it may take longer than the immediate gratification I desire. I promise, whatever the result, you will definitely hear from me tomorrow. This is too BIG not to share!


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Amazing Grace

Our memories are sometimes wrong or not the same as those who lived the moment with us, but the truth of those memories are more important than the facts. I hold a special memory of my mother teaching me to draw.
What I remember: her studio, an apple, cigar box of colors, the picture window, talking to me, Rich playing war in the sandbox, favorite position for drawing, watching TV, etc.

What I don’t remember:  her voice,  my brother’s picture (but I do remember his accurate drawings), when this happened, if it actually did;  more like a montage of several events... again,  the truth is more important than the facts.

“Mommm, I can’t!! “

Belting out my usual chant of low self-esteem, I dolefully peered into my mother’s utility room that doubled as her art studio.  It was just a tiny room with barely enough space for the washer and dryer and her art easel, but it was a place of magic that transformed blank canvases into portraits of beautiful people who graced our lives. 

I was in my favorite position on my belly, scrawny legs sprawled behind me, feet crossed at the ankles, propped up on my elbows. With the Rand McNally Road Atlas in front of me as my easel pad, and a piece of paper I was attempting to draw an apple my mother had placed in front of me. The autumn morning sun beaming through the large picture window blanketed me and my tiny makeshift studio in the doorway of her art magic.  My cartoonish flat (one dimensional ) round red apple glaring at me while my older brother’s masterpiece abandoned for a sandbox game of plastic green soldier war in the backyard, laughed at me with its authentic outline of a perfect Red Delicious.

 “How does he do that? It looks so real and mine doesn’t!”

Well, first of all, he’s a little older and has been practicing it a little longer. You’ll be able to do that well in a couple of years, too.”

“But I want to do it NOW!”  I bellowed as I flicked the red crayon through the threshold of her studio. With her perfect parent patience, an inherited trait that I completely missed at the gene pool, she reached for the offending crayon that just missed her ankle and walked over to kneel beside me.  She reached for a new sheet of paper and placed it in front of me.

Leaning over like she was about to go into a yoga partial child pose, her gentle voice gracing the top of my ear she said, “Honey, it’s all a matter of just seeing. Let’s just look at it for a moment. Is the shape of the apple really round? “

The apple silently stood at attention as I studied it. Its shape was not round at all but a little long and a bit triangular with bumps at the bottom and a widow’s peak curve at the top where the stem sat. “No, not really.”

“Okay then, use a pencil here and see if you can outline its shape. Look, even one of the bumps is a little bigger than the other ones. “ 

I drew the three bumps at the bottom and began to draw the sides of the apple digging the pencil hard against the paper.  She patted my hand, “Relax, sweetie, hold the pencil a little lighter and your lines will be softer.”  My hand released the death grip on the pencil and I looked up. She took my hand and massaged it just long enough to make me notice how tense I was. She took my pencil and in feather like strokes she guided the lead on the paper to create the right side of the apple, then handed the pencil back to me.  I mimicked her movements and created the left side not totally unlike hers. Wow that was cool. Then I looked at the apple again and proceeded to finish the outline on top.  A tiny glow of confidence was beginning to take root. I beamed up a grin at my mother.

“That’s just perfect, Suzy. Now look at the apple’s color. Is it all a solid red? “As if suddenly changing  its skin, the apple gleamed with gradations of red gold to deep scarlet, with tiny specks of black and brown.  A gleaming crescent of silver like my mother’s coat pin of glass diamonds shone on the side where the sun was touching it.” Mom, this is going to take more than this one color isn’t it? “ 

“Well you have a whole cigar box of colors beside you. What colors can you use?” I reached into the sea of colors making noisy waves through the pool snatching up Burnt Orange, Bittersweet, Maroon, Goldenrod, Sienna, and Silver. Lining up the soldiers of color, I began to doubt how I was going to use them all. Sensing my hesitation, Mom said, “Use your first red and color lightly all over inside the lines. Then take the other colors one at a time and look back at the apple to find that color on its skin.  Create that same place on your apple. “

  I creased my brow in concentration and started the wash of red over the surface, barely noticing mother’s silent retreat from my side.  As each color had its turn claiming its place on the canvas, my apple became something much more than the red apple I first drew. The blended colors became one and I could see a new apple. 

     I really don’t remember what that newly drawn apple looked like, but the lessons have remained, and I’m not only talking about drawing techniques. No thing or no one is just one-dimensional.  Her amazing grace taught me to sit back, relax a little, be patient, study my subject silently before beginning to take on any task or try to create any solution.   Where I was blind before, she had taught me to see.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Leaving the Waiting Room

You would think that a nine month absence would bring forth at least a bundle of joy, gently cradled and ready to show off to everyone, like a new parent wondering how it will change life as I know it. But that’s just not exactly the case here. I am a bundle of nerves, and I am grasping onto a ball of anticipation trying to figure out how this next turn in the road will affect my life.  I’ve researched, questioned, and pseudo-prepared myself mentally and physically to receive that long awaited cochlear implant this coming Monday. 

This baby analogy is not too far off.  I think I’m even nesting a little bit. Doing a little more laundry than usual so my comfortable clothes will be ready to slip on. Making sure the kitchen is stocked up for those easy meals that the hubby can put together without too much help from me. Dusting, scrubbing, organizing, and purging a little more extensively because I know I won’t be able to do it later. Bending over and lifting are big cautionary threats that I must obey for 6 weeks, although not being able to blow my nose far outweighs the need to clean, but there is no way to do that ahead of time.

Like a pregnancy, the details of the last nine months are probably too gross, too mundane, too self-absorbed to bother repeating, but I do have to say that I have lived through the mounds of doctor bills, inconsideration of insurance companies, and a roller coaster ride of emotions.

So what is this cochlear implant anyway, you may be wondering. You can visit this link http://www.advancedbionics.com/com/en/naida_ci_q70.html if you really want to know the technical ins and outs of this tiny prosthesis. I can only really tell you that it will be an opportunity to bring back to life the gift of hearing. This is not a “have to”, life or death surgery; it’s elective.  The protests of my friends and family claiming that I really do so well and hearing better than ever with these last hearing aids, stab me, okay, not stab, but they do prickle a bit. Even I have had to struggle with the realization that my residual hearing will be permanently lost. But I can only relate this to maybe someone who has received a devastating blow to the knee. The leg is mangled and beyond repair, but the foot is still in perfect condition, untouched by the damage. What good is that foot if there is no leg to support it? What good is one or two tones of hearing a snore or a foghorn blast if I can’t hear the conversation of a loved one or the endearing question of a grandchild wanting to know when she can help me make a 3-2-1 cake for dessert tonight?

 I can’t even tell you when I last heard the punch line of a joke. When we are in the throes of telling a story, the inflection and body language are animated and pretty easy for anyone to follow. But as we built to the climax of the last line, our voices hit a higher frequency and then, reaching the best line of the story…POW, we blast the words out faster than a speeding bullet. Anyone with a hearing loss has just missed the G spot of grasping what was said. Asking for a repeat just kills the mood, you know.  

Living with a hearing loss can be done. My deaf colleagues with their admirable pride and lack of shame have tried to show me that they are not broken, and their lives are just as fulfilling as any hearing person’s life can be. But for the most part this is all they have ever known, and being deaf is their normal. They have the gift of communication using ASL. As a post lingual adult with a progressive hearing loss, I never learned sign language and, all too gradually my communication tool, the voice, was lost. When I am with a group of deaf and hearing individuals, my isolation just doubles, because I cannot sign, and I can’t hear the conversations of the hearing people either. But, I have spent the past 30 years proving that it indeed can be done, and I am proud of my accomplishments.

    I guess I can blame the aging process and lack of "umph" to keep working at both hearing and listening (They are two different things). Before, I was too busy to worry about what I didn’t have, but after retiring, I have had the time to really know what I am missing and I want it back. I want more than hiding in my quilt room, looking at a computer, or settling for close captioned entertainment.  Birds singing, visiting with friends in a noisy pub, the gentle car conversations, a musical concert or a play, an energetic discussion of a lifelong learning classroom, the garage door opening to know Wayne is home, the punch line of a joke. Those things and more are waiting for me, and I am ready!

Oh, just so you know, the stories are flowing again, and I will be back not only sharing this amazing adventure, but relating the moments of the past to our lives today. I hope you continue to visit.



Saturday, February 9, 2013

How Do You Deal with Disappointment?

     I wonder how you have reacted to a situation when you struggled though a life-changing decision, and the moment you finally choose the path you will take, something or someone else decides for you that you can't.  It's that "control" thing. The only conflicts we really have in life happen when we don't know what we control. There are so many life-changing decisions where you are your own worst enemy, and you keep yourself from making the choice, but I am talking about those times when it's something else that makes the final say.
     Let's brainstorm some of these -
  • Choosing a life partner and suddenly he breaks it off.
  • Deciding to take that career risk and move to a new place only to find out your company is planning on downsizing within the year, and you're on the list.
  • Deciding to move nearer to your married children and families and then your son is transferred across the country.
  • Deciding to have a life-changing surgery for which you well qualify, but your insurance company refuses to pay.
     Ah, That's the one!!  You have seen my "waffle-itis" in the past posts in making the decision to have the surgery for cochlear implants.  I made the decision, pushed aside my fears, and waited for the approval.  Hearing from so many others that in this day and age, I believed that insurance companies are much more accepting to the surgical implant due to their high success rate, and that it is as much a prosthesis as an arm, a leg or an eye. The news yesterday was so disappointing. Mainly because I was trying to be so optimistic about the process. Another sucker punch that I so dread.

     There will always be missed opportunities, time and money not wisely spent, and other things that we regret. It's just part of life, and I find it pretty easy to accept responsibility for my poor decisions. But I crash when it's not my choice.
    Well, crash for a little while at least. Obstacles are always on our road of life. We still have a choice when an obstacle is lying in front of us.  We can choose to fall into a pity puddle, turn back, go over, around or through it.  Oh, the beautiful image of blasting or choking that stupid insurance reviewer... No, in all reality, I do know I have choices in my perspective and actions that can result in continuing my journey.  I will be fighting this and work toward a better quality of life for me. There's no time for self pity or wallowing in disappointment.
     I know I have a support of so many special people including a daughter bringing me a cheer-up bouquet,  a son who wants to see about getting a loan for me, a BIL with  a calm voice of reason to help me ask the right questions and pursue a course of action, special friends and family through emails and texts to state their support and ideas, and even  a great  joke that made me laugh out loud. God, I love them all!!
    I have also looked for wise words from others that help me move forward. I added a  couple of those quotes below that were especially helpful.

"Joy is sometimes a blessing, but it is often a conquest. Our magic moment helps us to change and sends us off in search of our dreams. Yes we are going to suffer, we will have difficult times, and we will experience many disappointments - but all of this is transitory it leaves no permanent mark. And one day we will look back in pride and faith at the journey we have taken."
                                                              Paulo Coelho     By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept.

" It was one of those times you feel a sense of loss, even though you didn't have something in the first place. I guess that is what disappointment is - a sense of loss for something you never had."
                                                                Deb Caletti    The Nature of Jade

Perspective is so helpful.  When I put this stone of disappointment next to so many other obstacles that have been in my way, it seems to shrink, and I will easily be able to kick it aside.  I wish you the best in shrinking your own obstacles.
Blessings to you all,

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Quality of Life Debate

I've being hearing these phrases a lot lately when it comes to my pending CI surgery:

 "What have you got to lose?"
 "Won't you definitely improve your quality of life?"

 These questions are put to anyone facing a risk in their lives, so look for a connection while debating your own risk-taking decision.

      My mental debate wants to really kick into high gear and argue that I could lose the natural hearing that I have already have with my hearing aides. But, when I really think about it, that "natural" hearing is not so much from the HAs but from my skills of reading lips and facial expressions, and guessing the overall context of what was said, filling in the blanks. My use of closed captioning is also the biggest assistance when it comes to television.  I kept thinking there might come a day when people could wear a CC device and I could read what they say.  Can you imagine the looks on people's faces when I ask them to put on such a device?
      So, there!  The HAs just made everything louder, not clearer. I'm not losing those little tricks and devices.  They will still be there.   Argument goes to the Pro's.  Next Question.

      Oh, yeah, "quality of life."

     No matter what age you are there are 4 elements to living successfully.  These are not MY words of wisdom.  They are backed up with years of scientific research in the aging process:
Stay Connected
Stay Active
Become a lifelong learner
Find purposeful activities

The CON argument: Life as I know it now.
Stay Connected -  Bluetooth isn't strong enough, so I use those T-link wires to put on my phone and hear conversations.  Hello? What? What? Wait a sec, I need to hook up. (pause, pause, rattle, clink) There now, what? eh, hello? Well, there's always email.
Stay active - I hit the gym with a 20 minute walk every day.  That's 15 laps, no ipod, single file, no talking.  Uh,  join the fundraiser committee? I'm a little under the weather right now...
Become a lifelong learner - I'm learning to use Windows 8. That may take a "lifetime,"  sitting in front of a computer for hours. My eyes are blurry. Need a nap. Or, maybe I'll watch that National Geo program.  Dang, it's not closed captioned! Nap it is. A quilting class? Uh, how many will be there?
Find purposeful activities -  I quilt, and volunteer shelving library books. 

The PRO argument: What life could be with cochlear implants (you fill-in the blank with your own dilemma)
Stay Connected - Bluetooth devices, t-mics and direct connect programs will all be available for better phone conversations. All these will help at meetings or groups, movies, plays, symphonies...
Stay Active -  Going to the gym with a MP3 or ipod  may make me stay longer.  I'm up for a lunch date, a committee meeting, or a take a road trip to Tennessee!
Become a lifelong learner - The CI technology is always changing.  I'll have to stay on my toes to learn all the programs and new products that will help me. There are Ollie classes at the community college with amazing selections, energetic discussions, and delightful connection with the learning community again!!
Find purposeful activities - I will always quilt and shelve books, but I still have so much to offer in women's organizations, church, tutoring.

I see I can "con" myself into believing that I follow all those elements of successfully living now. But, I have to go with the pro's on this one. I wish you the best in your own mental debate.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Waiting is the hardest part.

Ouch, Ouch...I had the meningitis vaccine today, but more about that later.  These posts are a little delayed, because I am still in a holding pattern waiting for the insurance approval...my moment when this will all become real.  This is what happened last week.

January 19, 2013

I have had an amazing mental/emotional aerobics week.  I have gone through just about every emotion imaginable, and instead of being completely drained, I feel refreshed, relieved, and calm about whatever is ahead of me.  I think my blood pressure is even a bit lower because of this.

To begin, a week ago, as I was still agonizing over this whole decision process, my daughter was in a road rage accident of some madwoman who didn’t like that she was driving the speed limit in morning traffic. Stephanie moved over as soon as she could to exit, the woman followed her and rammed into her at the stop sign. Wayne and I went to pick up a very frightened, but lucky young woman. The trials and tribulations of online police reports, insurance calls, estimated filtered in and out through the entire week. Staying calm for a child is a mother’s first instinct, and maybe that helped me through the week’s process.  Funny though, I usually go in a corner and have a private meltdown after these kinds of events.

My four hour meeting with the audiologist and surgeon (he was only 30 minutes of all that time, no surprise) on Monday encapsulated the major decisions.  After all that fussing about my hubby earlier, I was so surprised that he stayed all that time, asked questions, and supported me throughout the whole process.  He really is the best partner for me.  We had to learn about all the devices and their programs, make a choice, order all the accessories, and understand exactly what the surgery was like and expectations afterwards, and finally schedule the day of surgery…February 20th.  It seems so much more simple when it is just put into one sentence, but I assure you, by the time it was over, and the nurse took my BP, we all were shocked at it 201/104 reading. This was HEAVY stuff.

All that was left was to get insurance approval, and I have spent the last 3 days in agony with the what if’s.  I even tried calling my insurance company to at least get some sort of answer.  Beyond my understanding, they could not even tell me it was a covered benefit to my policy until they get the pre-authorization from the surgeon. The surgeon would not send it until it was 30 days until date of surgery.  What a silly ping pong match.  I was left with the agony of just waiting, and worrying.  Second-guessing starts to roll in. Maybe I should get a second opinion. But, what would that really do? I get an agreeing answer, no change.  I get an opposing answer, more decisions.  I get, it’s up to you, well, I just wasted my time.

Then in what only I can call a real epiphany,  a favorite Joseph Campbell quote which I have “preached” to others for years whispered to my mind’s ear.

You have to let go of the life you planned to embrace the life in front of you.

 I had planned to spend the rest of my life accepting the slow gradual loss of hearing and stoically trudging on.  The biggest worry I had about this surgery was that I still function (albeit very, very basic functioning) with the little bit of hearing that I have.  It sounds “natural” beefed up with the old hearing aids. With cochlear implants I will lose ALL my hearing and I would no longer be able to use hearing aids if for any reason the CIs don’t work.  The likelihood of that happening is less than 1%, but it is there.  CIs will give me what an amputee has with a prosthetic leg, not the same, but it works better than crutches. 

For whatever logic battle my brain was having, it suddenly made sense to let go of the essence of natural hearing (which is really only 10% of what you hear) to embrace a new way of hearing at 85% or better.  The voices may sound like Mickey Mouse and it will take a lot brain training to re-learn sounds and voices, but I am ready to embrace that challenge. And IF things turn south, and I am left completely deaf… I will embrace that too…. And maybe get a service dog.

Thursday, January 24, 2013



Whatever is inside us continuously flows outward to help form, or deform the world – and whatever is outside us continually flows inward o help form, or deform our lives  ~ Parker Palmer

And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.   ~ T.S. Eliot

You know that cool little anomaly when you take a strip of paper, bring the two ends together, but twist one end before taping the ends together. When you draw a pencil line through the middle of the whole strip the front and back sides become one continuous line.


When I read these quotes, they really hit a nerve. That same nerve that has been plaguing me all week and continues to throb incessantly like my back molar and the soft tissue underneath slowly swelling and causing more pain than I want to acknowledge.

But the emotional nerve is a new row with a loved one.  As much as I feel that she is the one who needs to read , understand, and relate to these sayings, my little back tooth is chanting, “Look only at yourself, look only at yourself…”

I've always quoted my dad whenever some adversity is haunting me with there are always two sides to every story. "You can’t have a piece of bread sliced so thin that there aren’t two sides to it."  Well, if the Mobius strip effect comes into play, this can’t be true. Both sides are one in the same.  A creation of reality are one in the same. But what is reality except perception?  (One man’s truth is another man’s lie.) Definitely a challenge to know which truth is right: the Mobius, or is it toast?

Look at me not her, look at me not her, lookatmenother…

We have endured a long journey together. No matter how much I want to scream out her injustice to me, to speak my truth, to get her to own up to the hurt she caused, I keep arriving at the same answer. We are back where we started. Yes, 2 sides are alike, but keep in mind to believe in the Mobius strip, you have to be just a little twisted.

Monday, January 21, 2013

A Successful life...because?

Imagine yourself 90 years old, sitting comfortably on a porch with a refreshing drink in your hand visiting with someone and you start out saying, “My life has been so successful because….

I really believe I have to give credit to my success in life to the fact that I never stopped learning.  Learning has allowed me to forge through problems, challenge myself, and question my beliefs as well as others.  Looking back at those low points in my life, they were the times when I was stuck in an old belief or habit and refused to see the situation differently.  Whether it was a tragic loss, financial setback, or a physical disability, I failed (or wasn’t successful) when I couldn’t see it as a time to learn something new.

What more important element could there be to success than the ability to learn?  One thing is for sure, failure in a project, relationship, or any endeavor can still be successful if you’ve learned something from it. How cool – I was successful even when I failed. What a safety net!

In my life of ninety years (of course I can only remember the first 60 years of it) I have learned that...

  • the loss of my parents in my 20's didn't mean I quit learning from them.

  • losing a child (although everyone believes that will be the end of them, too) can make you live your life to its fullest a the strongest tribute to his memory.

  • choosing to let go of a tiny piece of myself does not change who I am but gives me the opportunity to let myself grow a different way.  I may had to let go of what was left of my residual hearing when I received these cochlear implants, but it opened doors for me to communicate more with those around me.

  • whatever decisions I've had to make in life, I found new pathways that allowed me to learn more.

At ninety years old, whether I have 10 years or one day, I’m going to learn something everyday.  I recently read a now to be a forever favorite quote…”We meet everyone in our lives for a reason. You are either a blessing or a lesson.”   What will you be, dearie?

Saturday, January 19, 2013

A New Call to Adventure

January 4, 2013

After toying with the idea of having cochlear implants (CI), I am now taking the steps to make this a reality. Some of the fears about just having it done are tabled, and I am just taking it one day at a time…my self-preservation tactic to avoid any kind of sucker punch that may halt the process.

I have been wearing hearing aids for 30 years (actually this very year because I was fitted with my first pair while holding infant Stephanie in my lap) I was able to keep the cost of getting 2 hearing aids every 7 years or so with Voc Rehab, Flex Benefits, appealing to school principal to follow ADA requirements. The cost was usually an up-front one-time payment ranging from $1000 to $5000. After moving to Colorado and not working full time that became a future burden I didn’t want to face.

I met a new audiologist and ENT at the University of Colorado Hospital. I took the first test in 2008 and then again in 2011. I “hear” too well to qualify using my brain to fill in the pockets I don’t hear.  On Dec 31st 2012, I had failed enough to qualify, going from a speech discrimination of 67% to 28% bilaterally. My hearing loss hasn’t changed but the word clarity is in the bucket (aging process sucks)

So now the process of acceptance is in motion. A balance/gravity test VNG (Videonystagmography) and VEMP (Vestibular Evoked Myogenic Potential) was administered last Wednesday, January 2, 2013. This involved trying to get me dizzy by flushing warm and cold water into my ear canals and then measuring my eye movements while wearing a mask and then testing the balance organ by marking neck muscle, sternum, and ear canal electrodes. Evidently I passed that with the knowledge that my left ear is more balanced than my right by a slight margin. Still no indication that both ears could not be implanted simultaneously.

So now I wait 2 weeks until January 14th to meet with the surgeon and audiologist to decide on the right product for my lifestyle, get the info about the surgery and schedule a CT scan to check the bones. I have a library of promo material from the 2 companies and my single solo alone mind to figure out which to pick. THEN the coup de grace approval from BCBS, All of this hassle, testing, money, and false hope have to happen before I can even find out if I can have the surgery. Actually the possibility of not being approved is pretty slim, but how much out of pocket is the big roadblock and my biggest fear. I am preparing myself to hear that this will cost me my deductible ($3000). If I have to pay a 20% over that which would be close to $20,000), I have to call off the deal.  I’m not too thrilled with the $3000, but it’s kind of doable especially if I can work out a payment plan over 6 months. That is my hope. Then my little “Pollyanna Buster” voice says, “Don’t get your hopes up, sister!”

Another worry, trepidation, concern is how alone I feel in doing this. Wayne doesn’t like to talk about it. I just get, “You’ll research it and I will support you.”  Steph and Sam aren’t around and they have their own problems. Friends are too far away, Yeah, I would talk adnauseum about it if I had the chance, but it’s how I deal with the fear and try to make choices.  Actually, I know I can make the choice, it is a personal one anyway, but I also think about the day of the surgery and following.  Historically Wayne is always “busy” when I need/want him.  I feel I have to schedule around him all the time.

I just got the call that my CT scan is now scheduled for next Thursday January 10th at 8:45. So all will be in place for my pre-op appointment the following Monday.  If I put aside all my doubts, this could actually happen by Valentine’s Day.  I have a PEO program that I am supposed to give that day so, I am kind of hoping that it would work for the 15th. Of course if they could get it in sooner, I would go for it.

So now I just wait… going to purge my sewing room, now.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Oh Woe! Where Did My Muse Go?

     I do believe my Muse has abandoned me for a more prolific writer!  She has been my best friend for as long as I can remember.  In grade school when I was the fledgling incompetent and unconfident writer, she would quietly sit on my shoulder whispering, "You don't have to copy that poem as yours - write your own."
     In college, I dabbled in writing short stories but the rejections from professors who "expected better" as well as magazine pink slips, prompted that sweet Muse to say, "Give it time, your writing will grow and it will become something only for you. That's your first audience anyway - you."
     When marriage, and babies, and teaching took up most of my time, that little Muse sat atop my ear chanting, " But what about writing that down?"  I ignored her mostly. I think she took up knitting, but she loyally stayed.
     Kicking into high gear with my writing and even teaching writing little Wilma Writer Muse was in her finest form. She broke out with a celebratory break dance cheering and encouraging and even crying and laughing with every stroke of my pen.  She had finally earned her Best Friend to a Writer Badge, and I was so proud to have her in my corner.  Her pushing and urging even took me to a local writer's group, online classes, journal groups, and creating this blog. Man, she was on fire!
     Then, what? What happened? Where did she go so suddenly? I've been through dry spells before, and she never gave up on me. Why now? Did I say something wrong? Ignored her one too many times?  Or has she just worn herself out? Is there a Retirement Muse Plan? Maybe she's on a Muse Cruise. Seeing the sights of the world that she  missed out on trying to get me to open my eyes all this time.  Well, she deserves it... I guess.  I was a tough client.  But now more than ever I see a need  to make sure thoughts, creations, and gifts of writing flow from my pen, but she 's not dangling on my eraser this time.  I sure hope she comes back...soon.