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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Hearing Aids Maintenance or How I Bug My Audiologist

Today I visited my audiologist for a maintenance appointment. Usually I wait until one of the ear pieces on the end of the eartube has broken before scheduling an appointment. But this time, nearly eight months has passed with everything intact and I thought I'd better check in. I also wanted to discuss my program settings with her.

As always, I came into the office full of questions. My first one was, "How often should I be coming in for eartube replacement?" I had in the back of my mind that this needed to happen about every six months. My audiologist corrected me on this saying for my hearing aid if nothing is broken, then it's a matter of personal preference. Some people don't come in, others come in every six months. Apparently the good advice she gave me at my last appointment about cleaning my earpieces with alcohol free baby wipes has extended their life. Before it seemed as though I was getting replacements every 4-6 months.

Next, I discussed my program settings with her. I told her that I've been running my hearing aids almost exclusively on my second program - the noise reduction one. I also told her that I've been wearing my assistive listening device more and more. She looked over my charts and the graphs of my current settings. Her recommendation was changing my first program so that it is identical to the second program in noise reduction and speech enhancement. Then she boosted the volume setting a bit on the first program but not so much that I would be startled by the increase in volume. She suggested giving this a try and then letting her know my experience with these settings. Reassuringly, she was very open to the possibility of future adjustments if needed.

Then I brought up some other questions that have been bugging me for a long time due to a previous mishap involving heat and water. Do I need to take my hearing aids out if there's a light misting of rain or if it's sprinkling? I pointed out that I do have long hair which covers my hearing aids. She told me that hearing aids are laboratory tested for these conditions and that I don't need to remove them. I tested her with a follow up question. What about when cooking in the kitchen and I'm boiling water for pasta and there's a lot of steam? Patiently she replied that even in that case it was okay to keep my aids in. Putting them in a dry and store at night helps. When I mentioned that to be safe I had always taken my aids out in these situations, she replied she wished everyone were cautious with their hearing aids but I didn't need to be quite so careful.

Time for my final question. I told her I belonged to a local hearing loss support group and asked if it would be okay to send her some flyers for our next meeting. She was delighted. She said she would set up a special display for them there and in the other office in a nearby town. I ended my appointment on a positive note.

As today she only had in stock an eartube for my left aid and needed to order an eartube for my right, she reminded me as I was leaving that she would contact me when the part had arrived. Goody, I thought, this worrywart will have time to come up with even more questions.

Does your audiologist answer your questions to your satisfaction?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Photo Fun for Friday: September Scenes

Dew kissed pumpkin in the morning light.

Colorful varieties of mums for sale.

Arrangement of pumpkins and mums on a hay bale.

Leaves sporting the first blush of autumn color.

Egret reflection on a quiet pond.

I've saved the best photo for last.
I received this one by email from Tigerman.
Isn't he a great photographer?!!!

What does September look like where you live?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

New Site for Captioned Internet Videos

Update 12/28/2010: The website is no longer available. However, the funny captioned video at the end of this post is still worth a look.

Ask and ye shall receive. Matthew 7:7

Just last week at work, I was complaining to my coworkers about the lack of captioning for Internet videos. I get annoyed to find a video story online that I'd like to know more about only to discover it's not captioned.

Did you know that YouTube is the 4th most visited website in the world? Without captioning, this incredible source of entertainment and news is not fully accessible to the deaf and hard of hearing community. But now there's a new website called dedicated to providing access to YouTube videos.

The wonderful Bill Cresswell has teamed up with two other men, Jeff and Danyoul to provide this service. They accept requests for captioning through the forum on their website. They also offer an RSS feed so you can stay current with the videos they're captioning. Be sure to visit their site and if you like what you see, spread the word.

Below is my favorite video from their site. Everyone I've shared it with has gotten a good laugh from it. Enjoy!

Monday, September 21, 2009

New Season of Heroes Features Deaf Actress

Heroes season 3 starts tonight on NBC. On several episodes this fall, a deaf actress named Deanne Braye will be appearing as Emma. According to her website, it's possible that she will be featured in the second episode on September 28. She will appear for sure on episodes airing October 5, 12, and 19th. Mark your calendars.

To learn more about Deanna Braye, visit her website.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Dog Walk for a Good Cause

Portrait of Sarah and Rusty taken by Sarah's son.

Rusty enjoys meeting and greeting the other dogs
who have gathered for the dog walk.

The dog walk was organized to raise money
for a search and rescue dog (pictured below).
This bloodhound can help recover children lost
in the woods, locate elderly people who wander
away from nursing homes, and even track criminals.

It was a perfect autumn day for a walk in the
woods with our canine companions.

Have a great week, everybody!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Jennifer Aniston Plays Deaf in "Love Happens"

For my deaf readers, this is what he says in the clip:
"Excuse me, I'm sorry."
"Hi, uh. Do you remember me from the hallway upstairs? You dropped your pen." [She says nothing.]
"Um. Would you like to have a cup of coffee?" [She looks over his shoulder at a cardboard cutout of him.]
"Ah, right. Um. Well, we could bring him along if you want. Double your pleasure."[She signs her response.]
"I'm sorry. I..."

But what is she saying? What I'm seeing is that she's telling him it will "never work". Can you tell me more of what she's saying?

I'd also like to know what you think of the fact that Jennifer Aniston's character Eloise isn't actually deaf? I kept waiting for the movie to fill us in on how Eloise knows ASL. But that question is never answered in the film. At one point she and Aaron Eckhart's character go visit her mother and I'm thinking "Aha! Her mother must be deaf." But no, that wasn't the case. When the film has been seen in its entirety, the scene with her mother seems totally unnecessary. I left the theatre wondering if a subplot or two were left on the cutting room floor.

One review says "Learn from Jennifer Aniston a smart way to dodge Aaron Eckhart's approach through a new clip from Brandon Camp-directed romantic drama." Oh right, so young beautiful girls will now be learning sign language to discourage unwanted romantic attention. To me this whole scenario implies that there's something unattractive or off putting about being deaf.
Here's a comment from Jennifer herself on the scene. The source is an online article about an interview she did with Good Morning America on September 9th.

During one scene in the movie, Eloise pretends to be deaf to ward off the advances of Dr. Burke Ryan (Aaron Eckhart). Mathison asks Jennifer if she herself has ever pretended to be deaf to get rid of a guy and Aniston replies, "No, I have not, but I thought that was kind of clever."

What do you think?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Photo Fun for Friday: Zoo Animals

Macaw: Much too cool to look at you.

Flamingo: Now how do I get back up again?

Prairie Dog: Who are you looking at?

Cattle: Oh, my aching head!

Camels: Oh, our aching backs!

Tiger: Blehk! The zoo food tastes awful.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Picnic Brings Together HLAA and ALDA Support Groups

Over the weekend, I attended an HLAA/ALDA picnic at a park in Indiana. Some of you who have been reading my blog, may remember the picnic from last year where I brought my dog along with me as an icebreaker. This year I felt comfortable enough to venture out on my own. Upon arriving at the busy park, I wondered if I was in the right spot as there were youth soccer games being played nearby. Then I noticed that several people gathered beneath the picnic shelter were signing and I knew for sure I had found the right place.

I saw several people I had met before which set me at ease right away. I spotted Julie (pictured) right away and got put to work helping her set up a table of brochures and pamphlets. Working on this task allowed me to make a new friend, Jennifer, who had come to the event from Indianapolis to represent Bionic Ear. I enjoyed learning how getting two cochlear implants have improved her hearing. Her mother who was with her wore a t-shirt with Jennifer's audiogram on the back. The audiogram showed Jennifer's unaided hearing, her hearing with hearing aids, and her hearing with cochlear implants. I was so happy for her to see how much the implants had improved her hearing! I also noted how much better she hears than I do in the higher frequencies.

I also met Ken, a man close to my age who has had a similar hearing loss experience to mine. I could really relate when he commented that he can hear people speaking, but comprehending their speech can be a different story. He also had some amusing hearing loss anecdotes to share.

I was very moved by a conversation with a man whose name I can't remember now who spoke of feeling accepted in the deaf world after experiencing rejection in the hearing world. He is married to a woman who's deaf and I'd be interested to know more about what their life is like together. Many deaf people attended the picnic which inspired me to want to improve on my signing skills so I can interact more fully with them the next time.

One funny thing happened that I just have to share. I was eating with Julie and Ken when a woman named Ann joined us at the table. When we were introduced, I was struck by the familiarity of her name. I asked her if I had met her at another event but she said no. Later on near the end of the picnic she came up to me and said, "You're Speak Up Librarian." I said "Yes". Then she explained that she'd seen my moniker on a flyer for my t-shirts and told someone she wanted to meet me. To her surprise I was the person she had sat next to at lunch. She hadn't noticed the shirt I was wearing with "Speak Up" on it and so hadn't made the connection. She knew me not from my blog but from my email address and my work on the Hearing Aids Insurance advocacy bill. She told me how much the research material I had sent her had helped her. She shared her confidence that this bill would be passed very soon in Illlinois. Hooray!

Last but not least, I made my first t-shirt sale. An older deaf gentleman was very interested in purchasing my "If you want to be heard, you need to speak up" T-shirt. He doesn't have a computer of his own, so I arranged to order it for him and then deliver it when it arrives. Fortunately he lives near where I work, so we'll see how this works out. All the flyers I had brought with me to the picnic were picked up and I received a positive response from everyone who talked to me about the designs.

During the four hours I was there, I interacted with many others not mentioned here. I've never been to a family reunion but this event had what I would imagine was a similar atmosphere. A feeling of belonging and an opportunity to get to know others better. To paraphrase the Cheers theme, "Everyone may not know your name, but they're all glad you came!"

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Don't Be a Target

Target on His Head
Originally uploaded by zoom in tight

Recently I attended a self defense for women workshop. I have been feeling particularly vulnerable lately due to the fact that I can no longer hear people walking up behind me. I wanted to learn what to do if I were taken by surprise by someone with an intent to harm.

The most important lesson I learned was to establish the mental attitude that "NO, this is not going to happen to me!" when faced with danger. You have to be ready to fight and prepared to fight hard and fast and smart. Never follow an attacker's directions to go to another location. Instead turn the table on him and give him more than he bargained for!

My instructor emphasized the importance of preventing oneself from being targeted in the first place. Her words got me thinking about the safety factor in letting others know of my hearing loss through wearing buttons, T-shirts, stickers, etc. Acting on the suggestion of fellow blogger Danielle I purchased some stickers which my doctors can use to attach to my charts so they are reminded of my hearing loss when I come to their offices. That product really appealed to me.

But some of the other products I found online made me uncomfortable. There were T-shirts meant for those who walk in public parks that said on the back of the shirt the wearer would be unable to hear someone behind him. Yikes! Is that necessary? With so many people wearing ipods these days, I don't see why one would expect to get someone's attention from a distance. I also saw car window decals which seemed particularly risky to me as many attacks against women take place in parking lots. The decal seemed like it might make the car owner more of a target.

What is your opinion on and/or experience with these kinds of products? Is personal safety a factor in your decision to purchase items that announce your hearing loss to the world?

In my next post, I'll share an alternative option that I feel safely addresses communication needs with grace and humor.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Honest Scrap Award

My faithful blog commenter Jelly from Cuteness of Curiosity has awarded me this prestigious award. Now I have to come up with 10 honest things to tell you about myself. And try to make them interesting and worthy of your time. And hope you don't hate me after learning the TRUTH!

  1. I've always looked younger than my age. It was first commented upon when I was around 10 years old. Unfortunately instead of seeing this as a blessing, I've always been uncomfortable with it because I think people don't give me credit for being the mature person I am. (Don't laugh!) When I was assistant manager at a library branch in my late 20s, I remember eyebrows being raised when the circulation staff would bring me over when someone asked to see the supervisor. I looked like a teenager then. I've tried wearing my hair shorter and dressing in suits, but nothing helps. I'm destined to look youthful. Eventually, this is going to be wonderful. I would have thought it would be by now but no, not just yet.

  2. I can't stop biting my nails. Yes, I've tried. Over and over. I've had friends offer to take me to a salon for a manicure if I would only stop biting long enough to grow my nails out. Hasn't happened yet. Any suggestions?

  3. When I was in a country music phase, I was crazy for George Strait.

  4. In my college days I once attended a Whitesnake concert.

  5. I hate opera and ballet. They are too high culture for me. Refer to #3 and #4 if that seems hard to believe.

  6. I've secretly been obsessed with Jon and Kate Gosselin this summer. And the tabloids aren't writing all those articles just for me!

  7. I once had a boyfriend who enjoyed going to tractor pulls. Those super noisy events are the ultimate in boredom (after opera and ballet, of course. Just kidding). Surprisingly, that relationship didn't last. Oh, the noise my ears would have had to endure if we'd only made it work.

  8. I'm afraid of guns but I did learn how to shoot one several years ago. Target shooting was kind of fun, but overall I still don't like them!!!

  9. I haven't read all the classic literature you would expect a librarian to have.

  10. If you're still reading this, I'm amazed because who would be interested in all these confessions? But if you've persevered with me, here's my big secret: Wearing hearing aids has taught me that the world is just too noisy and loud. I prefer my private, quiet world better. I long for a hearing aid that will amplify the voices and sounds I want to hear and keep most everything else muted. Until then, I will continue to wear my hearing aids selectively.

Now I'm going to pass this esteemed award on to the following bloggers:

Tag, you're it! Here's the rules: 1. Link back to the person who gave you the award. 2. Forward the award on to other bloggers. 3. List 10 honest things about yourself. Have fun, ladies!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Photo Fun for Friday: Nearly Flower Free

Orange marigold. Perfect for fall.

The mushrooms in the backyard morphed!

Closeup of the underside of the mushroom cap.

Hey, who's that under the mushrooms?

More Marigolds

"We're not much bigger than a marigold."

"Can we come in your house, pleeease?"

" Whoa! Look at that BIG pumpkin!"

"Hey! Look at me!"

"Aww, you just had to go and copy me, didn't you! "

"What mischief can we get into next?"

"Mom, are you done playing with your camera yet? I'm hungry!"

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Oops, did I hear that?

My problem isn't saying the wrong thing. It's hearing the wrong thing and then repeating it back because I think it's funny. I've gotta learn to save these gems for an appreciative audience like those of you reading these words. At least I hope you think they're funny.

So, here's my latest lulu...

Yesterday I was working at the reference desk when a coworker who was going to be working the next shift complained to me about having off desk work she'd rather do instead. What she actually said was "I'd rather pull ERIC microfiche." But what I heard was "I'd rather pull hair off my feet." I gave her quite a look and then asked her to repeat herself. When I said, "Oh, you've got to hear what I thought you said," and then proceeded to tell her, it was her turn to give me the look.

Hey, it's not so bad working at the reference desk. I wouldn't pull my hair out over it anyways. That had me chuckling inside all afternoon.