Friday, December 31, 2010

Two Thoughts for Today


The picture above is a representation of Janus, the Roman god who could look into the past and the future at the same time. The month of January is named after him. At year's end, I think it's an appropriate time to look back over the last year while anticipating a bright future to come.

Dayenu is a thought that is resonating with me today. Have you heard of it before? I recently learned about the concept of Dayenu while reading Ed Dobson's book, The Year of Living Like Jesus. According to Dobson, dayenu, which is part of the Jewish passover celebration, means "that alone would have been enough, but for that alone we are grateful. Dayenu is learning to be grateful for what God has already done and not asking him to do more."

I like the idea of dayenu and have been thinking about how I might apply that attitude towards the people in my life. I want to be grateful for what they have done for me in the past and remove any expectations of what they might do for me in the future. For all of you readers who have left a supportive comment on my blog or dropped me an email, thank you. I am grateful.

Looking forward into the new year, I am inspired by a thought from the book One Square Inch of Silence by Gordon Hempton. While discussing his need for quiet in the wilderness, Jay Salter tells Hempton,

"I come here to renew myself, to remember what it is to be human, which is not to be listening to a lot of things telling me what to buy or who I am or who I could be, but to find out who I am, to remember who I am, and to take that back into the world."


I may not make it to the wilderness, but I hope I can bring some of that spirit to my blog for 2011. Learning what it is to be human, coping with a hearing loss, finding out what I'm capable of, and sharing it with the world.

Blessings to all of you for 2011.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Silent Night

O Silent Night, My Prayer Pictures, Images and Photos

I'll be silent on my blog until after the Christmas holidays. I'll return to share some end of year thoughts. In January, I plan to post a book review of One Square Inch of Silence by Gordon Hempton and include a question/answer interview with the author.

Seasons Greetings to all,
Speak Up Librarian

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tis the Season to Be Jolly

Today I attended my fourth holiday party within the last week. Whew, I don't want to get anywhere near a scale! The first one held last Wednesday was a university staff party. I walked away from the annual raffle with two Christmas CDs. Not bad. I wasn't named Employee of the Year, but a good friend of mine was, so I am very happy about that. She's such a hard worker that she didn't even take time away from her job to attend the party and have the chance to walk onstage to receive her award. Now that's dedication!

The next party I attended was the Chicago ALDA holiday social. This was my first time to attend. I think this event is almost a rite of passage. You aren't really a member of Chicago ALDA until you've been there. Kind of like you haven't attended the ALDA national convention until you've been to the karaoke party. Members of ALDA (Association for Late Deafened Adults) will know what I mean. I've heard stories but haven't been there myself. Yet.

Anyways, the Chicago ALDA social was held on Saturday night in this beautiful Victorian home in historic Oak Park. Doesn't it just look festive and inviting?


I came with my friend Ann, another newcomer to the group. Here the two of us are posed on either side of our hostess, Mary. She told me she has been a member of ALDA for more than twenty years. Ann and I enjoyed getting to meet more of the ALDA membership. Everyone was friendly and welcoming to us. And I have to mention the food at the party was outstanding.


Ann, Mary, and me

On Sunday my family attended a banquet for our afternoon bowling league. In the photo below, Charlie and I are holding the Strawberry Pretzel Salad we brought. This dessert features a pretzel/butter crust, a layer of cream cheese, sugar, and cool whip, and a layer of strawberry jello and strawberries. We topped ours with another layer of cool whip. If you'd like the recipe, just drop me an email.

Charlie and me at the lanes. We bowl
with a father/daughter team from our church.

Below is a shot of the food table at the banquet. Yummy. We ate while we bowled which made for a mellow afternoon of competition. There wasn't much of anything left at the end of three bowling games. Do you think we burned enough calories bowling to compensate?
Potluck Bowling Banquet



Today's party was the library staff holiday luncheon. The library was closed for two hours so no one had to be on public service duty during the party. I enjoyed spending time with coworkers I seldom see due to working in different departments and on different shifts. Best of all, after my table was finished eating, we reconvened to an adjacent area with comfy chairs where one staffer serenaded us on his guitar. He played his own songs which are in a folk music type of style. I couldn't catch most of the words he sang, but I heard the guitar chords clearly. It was so relaxing.

Last year at this time, I took time off for a baking frenzy. This year I've been working and have only made one batch of gingerbread men so far. To be completely honest, my son came up with the idea and made the dough himself. I only assisted with the decorating. In comparison to last December, I was feeling pretty good about my calorie intake. Until I wrote this post, that is. Realizing just how much food I've eaten at these four parties makes me see that I'm not really ahead of last year after all. Oh well, tis the season to be jolly....and well fed.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Luke and Margie May Return in Amazing Race 18


[Note: Video is uncaptioned.]

After last night's Amazing Race 17 wrapped up at the finish line, host Phil Keoghan announced a twist for the next season. Dubbed "Unfinished Business", this race will feature teams from previous seasons who came up short. The race's first deaf contestant Luke and his mother Margie appear in the promo video. Apparently not everyone featured in it will actually be racing. We will have to wait for the official CBS announcement to know for sure. The season will air on Sunday nights beginning February 20.

If you don't know who Margie and Luke are and/or if you didn't follow them on Amazing Race 14 back in 2009, you can get up to speed with my intro and recaps on their progress in the race. Below I have included their interview at the finish line of the race. This video is partially captioned.

If anyone knows if Margie and Luke are racing again or not, let me know!


Monday, December 6, 2010

Waiting on the World to Change



Note: This video does not have captions. The audio is the song "Waiting for the World to Change" by John Mayer. For those unfamiliar with the song, I have included the lyrics below.

"Waiting On The World To Change"

Me and all my friends
We're all misunderstood
They say we stand for nothing and
There's no way we ever could

Now we see everything that's going wrong
With the world and those who lead it
We just feel like we don't have the means
To rise above and beat it

So we keep waiting
Waiting on the world to change
We keep on waiting
Waiting on the world to change

It's hard to beat the system
When we're standing at a distance
So we keep waiting
Waiting on the world to change

Now if we had the power
To bring our neighbors home from war
They would have never missed a Christmas
No more ribbons on their door
And when you trust your television
What you get is what you got
Cause when they own the information, oh
They can bend it all they want

That's why we're waiting
Waiting on the world to change
We keep on waiting
Waiting on the world to change

It's not that we don't care,
We just know that the fight ain't fair
So we keep on waiting
Waiting on the world to change

And we're still waiting
Waiting on the world to change
We keep on waiting waiting on the world to change
One day our generation
Is gonna rule the population
So we keep on waiting
Waiting on the world to change

We keep on waiting
Waiting on the world to change

Saturday, December 4, 2010

My New Audiogram

As I mentioned in my previous post, I had a new audiogram this week. Before the test began, I asked my audiologist if I could have the test done with my hearing aids in so I could see how much they help me. She agreed, but had technical difficulties with her equipment so the result on the pure tones was unusable. On the speech recognition part, I got 88% correct unaided and 100% correct aided. That's good to know as I mainly wear hearing aids to help me understand speech.



This was the result of my latest hearing test. As I had suspected, my hearing loss is greater than before. You can see how much by looking at the graph below where I've plotted both audiograms.



I'm disappointed my hearing has declined a little but not surprised.

Hearing Aid Mishap

hearingaids.jpg
See that tiny tip at the end of the tubing?
That part got stuck in my ear!

On my way home from work and en route to picking up my son from school, I casually reached up to switch programs on my hearing aids. Something I do without thinking every day. This time was different. One of my hearing aids didn't switch programs. I've had that happen before so I tried again. This time it switched but then the sound went crazy with feedback. "What on earth?" I wondered as I reached up to pull it out of my ear careful to keep my eyes on the road. A second later when I glanced down at it on my lap, I noticed the tip was missing. Uh oh. At the next stoplight I felt around my ear and thought I might have touched it. I was almost to my son's school by then so I continued on to get him. When he got in the car, I pulled over into an empty parking space, got out of the car, and checked around the driver's seat and on my clothes. No hearing aid tip. I asked him to take a look inside my ear. He couldn't see it. I decided to call my ENT's office.

Fortunately, the staff had not left for the day and they told me they would wait until I got to their office even though I was about 20 minutes away at the time. I was so relieved to have a plan of action although I did worry a bit in case the tip turned out not to be in my ear. Would the doctor be angry with me for wasting his time? I fretted until the thought occurred to me that as much money as an ENT doctor makes, it would hardly be a waste as I was sure I would be charged either way.

When we got to the office, one of the audiologists took a look in my ear with an otoscope. "I see it," she announced to my relief. Then the doctor came in took a quick peek of his own in both ears and took out something that looked like a thin wire. One of the staff told me to hold very still. In a jiff, he had extracted it. Phew, I was glad that was over. The audiologist left the room to get me a new tip and tube. Meanwhile the doctor was looking at my chart. "It's been more than a year since your aids have been reprogrammed, why not have it done now", he suggested. "After all you've come all this way", he said persuasively. "Do you have time now?" I asked the audiologist when she returned. "Yes, our office holiday party is this evening and I live too far away to go home first. I was just going to hang around here anyways."

With that settled, I decided to go ahead. Despite having an impatient, hungry teenager on my hands, I wanted to get my hearing rechecked. I was pretty certain I wasn't hearing as well as before and having it looked at now beat the hassle of scheduling an appointment around my job for another time. In my next post, I'll reveal the results of that test.

When I wrote about this mishap on facebook, I think I gave the wrong impression that a part of my hearing aid broke off or that a piece of the hearing aid tube snapped off in my ear. That wasn't what happened. I want to clarify that the round tip is a separate piece that fits very tightly onto the tubing. It's slipped off while I've cleaned it perhaps once or twice but never while wearing it. I don't know how this happened but the audiologist says it does happen occasionally. The important thing is to get it out as soon as possible. My audiologist said if I had left it in for a couple days, I risked getting an outer ear infection. Not to mention that my ear felt pretty sore anyways. I left my hearing aid out of that ear all day yesterday just to help it recover. Today it's feeling fine.

I hope this never happens to you, but if it does, get help as soon as possible. I'm glad I did.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

What Caused My Hearing Loss?

Occasionally I am asked, "What caused your hearing loss?" Whenever I hear that question, I immediately suspect the person is asking because a) they assume I must have done something wrong and b) they would like to avoid doing the same thing. Whatever their motive may be, my answer is always "I don't know." After all, that's what my audiologist told me when I asked her. She said it was very common not to know the cause of a sensorineural hearing loss. Even so that hasn't stopped me from speculating what the cause might have been. Here's some of the possibilities I've mulled over from time to time.

  • I used to clean my ears with Q-tips. Did I injure my ears doing that? No, my audiologist reassured me. Good to know, but I've quit using Q-tips on my ears anyways.

  • Was it from listening to music on my walkman? When I was a moody teenager, I liked to have the volume up to block out the cruel world and wallow in my feelings of angst. After I got my driver's license I would "turn it to the right" whenever one of my favorite songs came on the radio. Actually I am still guilty of that.

  • Was it from listening to live music in bars? I liked to go out dancing in my college years and remember one time in particular that I spent part of the night standing next to a speaker.

  • Or perhaps it was more recent noise exposure. About ten years ago, my husband went through a gun phase and taught me how to shoot firearms. We always used ear protection at indoor gun ranges, but I don't remember if we wore them when shooting outdoors.

  • Maybe it was from a louder bang. Once my son and I were walking in our neighborhood when lightning struck across the street from us. Instinctively I pushed my little boy to the ground and threw myself on top of him for protection. I didn't even fully understand what was happening. I saw the brightest light I have ever seen and thought someone was setting up a photography shoot with umbrella lights. Strange how your mind tries to figure things out in moments like these. I remember the light but don't remember the sound at all.

  • Could it have been caused by my aversion to pain? A study published in the American Journal of Medicine March 2010 found a link between regular use of analgesics and hearing loss in men. I've taken plenty of acetaminophen and ibuprofen over the years for sinus pain, headaches, fevers, and muscle pain. Should I have toughed it out instead?

  • Or did I take an ototoxic prescription medicine? My grandfather became deaf when he was given an ototoxic medicine in the hospital near the end of his life. I've checked through lists of medicines with ototoxic side effects but I can't identify any that I have taken. I have had the occasional antibiotic over the years, but nowadays I avoid them as much as I can.

  • Was my loss inherited or genetic? Other than my grandfather's situation of sudden hearing loss, there is no history of hearing trouble on either side of my family. My parents both hear much better than I do. I found this out when my dad created a computer test for me that played musical tones up the scale. When we played his CD we discovered that my parents can hear multiple tones higher than I can. For me the room was strangely quiet while they were continuing to count out the number of tones they heard. No, I can't pin the blame on them.

  • My father was a chemist and since I was a kid has always warned me about the hazards of chemicals. Now that I'm grown and have my own family, I've become the designated painter whenever we do some remodeling. I enjoy painting very much but have to admit that it has exposed me to fumes from paint, mineral spirits, paint stripper, varnish and other household chemicals. Could I have caused my hearing loss by inadvertently inhaling the wrong thing?
I don't know. It may have been the cumulative effects of some of these things and it may not have been from any of them. It's all a medical mystery to me.

What do you think?

My Audiogram in Color



Clever Steve of the Deafness and Hearing Aids blog has unveiled a new Audiogram Creator tool he made. I used it to create this picture for you. I hope it will help illustrate my level of hearing loss. The blue x indicates my left ear's performance and the red circle indicates my right ear's. This is the result from my first hearing test four years ago. My audiologist says my more recent audiograms haven't changed significantly.

I recently had someone look at my audiogram and he told me I was in pretty good shape for someone with hearing loss, that he could see why my hearing loss had gone undetected for some time, and that he could understand why I didn't want to use my hearing aids in certain situations. As you can see from the diagram above, I do have quite a bit of hearing in the normal range. The troublesome part for me is the high frequencies where the consonants fall.

Recently I had a relative introduce me to her friends as someone who had suddenly lost her hearing. Inwardly, I cringed a bit at that. I think it would be more accurate to say instead that I learned of my hearing loss in a sudden manner. Mainly because I was oblivious and in denial before that, but not hearing a fire alarm was something I couldn't ignore! Also I haven't lost my hearing. Not by a long shot. It's just rather reduced from what is typical for someone my age. Heh, at least that's one way to put it.

So wearing my hearing aids fixes everything, right? Wrong. The aids definitely make the world seem a LOUDER place to me. I can hear sounds clearly that are rather muted without the aids, like the way my keys jangle. But if someone doesn't have my attention when they speak, there is likely to be trouble with our communication. If someone's speaking to me in a noisy place or I'm tired or distracted, I'm liable to misunderstand. I also have trouble with people "sneaking up" on me. My husband gets irritated at how often I startle when he comes into the room. My son takes advantage of it to scare the living daylights out of me.

I have people comment that I do "so well" with my hearing loss. I usually take that to mean they're not experiencing any difficulty communicating with me. Actually because of the hearing I have, I often don't feel "deaf enough". I think people suspect I'm faking it or that I have selective hearing and are not interested in what they're saying. It's good to have my audiogram to show that yes I do have trouble hearing.