Category Archives: Hearing Loss

Rainy days

It’s raining today. Storming, actually. It’s been awhile since we had a thunderstorm during the day like this. We’ve had a couple overnight, but those are no fun because I can’t hear the thunder. I don’t wear my cochlear implants overnight. Usually my daughter tells me all about the storms the next day because though she usually sleeps soundly, she is sensitive to the noise. That and she worries about lightning striking and all that. So it makes for rough nights for her, while I secretly envy that she can hear the thunder.

So. Today’s storm is nice. It’s dark and cloudy though, which makes me want to go back to bed (which I did) and stay in my pajamas all day (which I am). I’m also roasting a butternut squash to make soup, so the house smells like autumn. My sister and I have our annual retreat to the monastery this weekend, and this year we decided against planning an elaborate menu and instead are each bringing a homemade soup. We think between soup, salad, and snacks, we should be set for the weekend.

My plan for this year’s retreat is to get a big head start on my book. I want to read through the past five years of journals in order to get an outline or map of sorts of what I’m going to say. That’s a giant task and not something I feel like I can do sufficiently while I’m here at home. Distractions and all. I am very easily distracted.

I still feel like I have this nagging voice that tells me I can’t write a book, not one worth publishing anyhow. That voice I need to just keep telling to shut up. Lots of people less qualified than me have written books so I have no reason to believe that voice.

What else is going on? I started leading Financial Peace University this week for my church. We have a small group but it happens to be very diverse. People from every walk of life. Newlyweds, single, married with kids, empty nesters. It should make for some really interesting discussions as the weeks go on. I’m very excited to be doing this class. For one thing, I needed the refresher, for sure. But also it just feels good to be able to give back and serve God in an area I feel like He’s given me a passion for. I was a ball of nerves this first week, because my vision loss and difficulty hearing still give me great social anxiety, but everyone was extremely understanding and gracious. I’m confident it’s going to be a life-changing class for everyone.

Speaking of social anxiety, I’m also in a women’s weekly Bible study and yesterday was my first time going. I attended last year and loved it so much, I’m doing it again. However, I had a lot of trouble hearing people in the discussions as well as reading the materials they hand out every week. There’s not a whole lot I can do about the discussion because you can’t expect to completely retrain people to speak a different way just for that one hour a week, so I’m learning this is an area I have to accept not being able to hear everything. I just have to accept and be thankful for the words I CAN hear.

As for the lesson handouts, I had been scanning them into pdfs every week so that I could read them in high contrast on my computer or tablet. That was kind of a pain, but it worked well. It only occurred to me after the class had ended that I should have been scanning my answers to the questions as well, because every week I would get to class and struggle to read my answers during the class discussion. This year I am super excited because they offer the lessons and questions in pdf format, so I don’t have to do all the scanning! It may be hard for others to understand my level of joy here, because until you’re faced with the daily difficulty in seeing and hearing things, you just can’t imagine it. I know it’s something I took for granted, for sure.┬áIf you are reading this and you have fully functioning eyes and ears, will you please just take a moment to thank the Lord? Because not everybody has that luxury. It’s so hard, people. Not impossible, just hard.

Well, my squash is roasted so I need to go saute some shallots and garlic and get the soup assembled. After that perhaps I’ll do some crocheting. I’m on my third of thirteen afghans for each of the nieces and nephews. A perfect rainy day activity, wouldn’t you say?

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Sleep

I sleep pretty well these days. I don’t have the burden of sound that most people have. I never have to worry about being woken in the middle of the night by the dog barking at a neighbor heading off to work the third shift, or a thunderstorm passing through. I don’t even have to worry about my husband’s snoring anymore, though I had been married long enough when I lost my hearing, and I had already learned to sleep through it.

My kids started school today. My son started middle school, which starts earlier than the elementary school does, and is located quite a bit further away from our house. Those two factors mean the school bus comes a full hour and a half earlier than his younger sister’s bus. It makes for an early morning, but it went surprisingly well today! I woke up at 5:30 to give myself time to brew my coffee and wake up a little before waking him up (He had set an alarm but slept right through it, as I had expected he would).

Y’all, I was really dreading 5:30 am but I woke this morning feeling surprisingly rested. I checked the sleeping log that connects to my watch and it said I went to bed at 11 pm and had over 3 hours of deep sleep. Six and a half hours of sleep, 3 of it deep sleep. This really surprised me because I generally sleep a full 8 hours or more and get almost 3 hours of sleep. So getting more sleep apparently wasn’t really helping me? I guess it’s all about quality, not quantity, because I had a full, busy day today and did not feel the overwhelming urge to nap. I survived an entire day that started at 5:30 am with NO NAP. What?!?! I don’t know if this is a fluke or what, so I’m going to see if I can keep it up, going to bed at 11 and getting up at 5:30.

I have to say, I really enjoyed 5:30. It was super peaceful in the house, and I was able to wake up at my speed (i.e. slow as molasses). I read my devotional, and just eased into the day. It was really nice. It was just me and my coffee, and Jesus. I’m looking forward to tomorrow morning!

I guess R.E.M. is still my favorite band

I had several vivid dreams last night and all of them were filled with the music of R.E.M., which is ironic and weird but also really awesome because I was able to hear and enjoy the music with working, human ears. In one dream I was actually chatting with Michael Stipe so that was an added bonus. He was his strange self but also very laid back and easy to talk to. Which was nice because even in my dreams I suffer from a little social anxiety. Ha!

Those types of dreams are so refreshing and a blessing to my heart. I consider them a gift from God and I am thankful for them. I’ve been deaf for a solid five years now but I will never lose my love for music.

Fingernails on a chalkboard

“Like fingernails on a chalkboard”… this phrase dates me, I suppose. They don’t use chalkboards anymore, do they? But if you know the phrase, you’ll understand when I say that listening to most music now, with my cochlear implants, is an experience much like listening to someone scraping their fingernails on a chalkboard. It’s just that unpleasant. But I still, after five years, desperately miss music. So I’ve been trying to visit different genres than what I was used to, in hopes that something might bring me the same joy. What I’ve found so far that sounds good to me is plain piano music, drums, some hip-hop, and techno. Anything with a lot of different instruments or voices or a combination of both is just too much for my processors to handle. However, if it’s a familiar song and I can pick out the melody, it’s tolerable and somewhat enjoyable. So a lot of R.E.M. songs are still enjoyable to me and invoke good memories. They have been a favorite of mine since high school when I first heard the “Out of Time” album, and though many songs on the album are too grinding to listen to, just as many are pleasant and bring back happy memories. Actually, I could say that about several of their albums.

And then ironically, one band I used to hate actually sounds better to me now, and that’s the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Weird phenomenon, I know. I still stubbornly refuse to like them.

I’m loving the Pandora app for helping me branch out and find new music. If I hear a song that I really like, I’ll start up a station using that as a base, and it introduces me to all kinds of new, yet similar, songs. Current example (now playing): I find many of The White Stripes songs work well for my processors. They use clean beats that don’t get muddled around with the vocals, from what I can tell. Also Daft Punk, Stanton Warriors, DJ Krush. These are artists I have never heard of, and that probably most of my friends have never heard of, but that doesn’t really matter, does it? It’s music and it sounds good to me and brings me joy. That’s why God gave us music, right? I like to believe that’s why, anyway.

Music makes my heart happy

Okay. So it seems I’m not on my computer as frequently as I would like to blog (I keep it upstairs in my bedroom) so I’m gonna try blogging from my phone when the mood strikes. Which is surprisingly and nerdly (making up words here) often.

What I want to share about today is music. Music has always been very important to me. I have a sort of eclectic mix of what I like, mainly because I don’t care to just listen to something because other people say it’s good. If it makes me feel something good inside, it’s a winner in my book. When I lost my hearing I lost what I had with music, and that was devastating, but they tell me my brain can learn to appreciate music again, with time and practice. Right now it all just sounds weird and mechanical, but they said if I listen to familiar music, stuff my brain would remember, it would get better over time. Problem is, I have trouble remembering what I used to listen to.

Enter The Office. I’ve been rewatching the show on Netflix cuz I loved it when it originally aired. Still makes me laugh out loud. One character on the show, Andy Bernard, will occasionally start singing songs that were semi-popular at the time. In one episode he was singing a song by the Indigo Girls and I recognized it immediately. Yes!! I had forgotten them but I remember I had a cassette tape I used to listen to on long road trips to see friends, or my drives to work at the Pizza Hut two towns over.

This didn’t bring back a flood of music memories, but it was at least a key to the particular time period that I knew held lots of my formerly favorite music. So, I started a Pandora station with the Indigo Girls and over the last few days I have been spending a little bit of time each day building the perfect station for retraining my brain with my very own personalized “oldies”.

So far it seems to be working, and I’m having fun singing along to all these songs I forgot I knew.

In other news, the kids had a show day today so they are hanging out with me at home. And it’s sunny outside, so the sun just dances off the blanket of snow outside. I love this season!

Cherishing the silence

I’m finding that I do my best thinking when my “ears” are off (my cochlear implant processors). Even at night, when the house is quiet. It’s just a whole different kind of quiet, because all I hear is the low ringing tones of tinnitus and absolutely nothing else. You probably don’t realize there is noise to be heard, but just try plugging your ears for a few seconds and you’ll see what I mean. There’s a word for that noise but I can’t think of it at the moment. Ambient maybe?

What’s funny about me enjoying this silent existence is that it used to terrify me. So much so, that I needed medication just to sleep at night. But 4 years of deafness and now I welcome the silence. It’s helpful to retreat into myself, to focus my thoughts, but mostly I embrace it because it’s now my favorite time to talk to Jesus. He meets me here in the silence. He was here with me every day while I wrestled with hearing loss and vision loss back in 2013, and he’s never left me since. I don’t share this info often, but there was a song I used to sing during that time, over and over and over mostly in my head, and it brought me peace and comfort when not much else did. I’ll post the lyrics below because you might see how unbelievably appropriate it was for what I was going through. The interesting thing about it, no – miraculous – is that prior to losing my hearing, I had only heard that song one time that I can recall. It was in a movie that I watched once years ago. How on earth could I have remembered that song? Only God knows. But boy, did that song ever save me from a really ugly and scary time in my life, and I believe it will now forever be my theme song.

Losing my hearing and vision was an enormous life changer for me, for obvious reasons, but God has used it all to bring about incredibly wonderful changes. The biggest change, and the one I am most grateful for, is that it solidified my faith in Jesus. He showed me through that song, through the support we received from family and friends, through Scripture, through the fact that we survived it all, that He will never leave me.

So. When I’m settling in for the night and am taking off my ears and entering the silence, I am delighted to talk to Him. He is my peace, forever and always, amen.

Jesus, Lover of my Soul

Jesus, lover of my soul

Jesus, I will never let you go

You’ve taken me from the miry clay

Set my feet upon the rock, and now I know

I love you, I need you

Though my world may fall, I’ll never let you go

My Savior, my closest friend

I will worship you until the very end

I suck at consistently writing

Did I really just go an entire month without even thinking about blogging? So much has happened, I don’t even know how to update you properly.

I’ll say I do believe the unplanned hiatus was a result of the medication I’m now on for anxiety. It starting working right away, but I discovered it was actually working a little too well. I went from being anxious about every possible thing, to not caring about much at all. Even the important stuff. So a few days ago I started taking half a dose, and that seems to be working out well. I’m caring again but I’m not having panic attacks, and that makes me very happy. I’m praying that I’ve found the right balance and look forward to moving on with my life.

My daughter turned 8 a couple weeks ago. My precious baby girl is 8. She’s growing up too fast for me. I just need her to slow down. She is currently obsessed with unicorns and animal print – two things I have zero interest in or experience with, so I’m sort of watching her from afar, in awe of her sense of self and unashamed quirkiness. I know she’ll look back on these days and wonder what she could have been thinking and ask me why I didn’t forbid her from making these disastrous fashion choices, and I cannot wait for that day. I was her age during the 80’s, so I have plenty of those groan-worthy memories to look back on.

We threw a party to celebrate right here at the house, with a handful of Natalie’s friends from school and the neighborhood, both old and new. The girls gave themselves Jamberry manicures and ate unicorn cake and rainbow sherbet. Then at the end we had time leftover so the girls put together a fairly rowdy game of Simon Says. It was really something to be on the outside, seeing her in her element and enjoying spending time with her friends. She just seemed so grown up, so “Eight.” It’s one of those days I hope I never forget.

2017-11-11 15.17.45

In other news, I went to a new audiologist today to update the programming of my cochlear implants. While the audiologist I had been seeing was nice and all, we never felt like she really knew much about the technology for my implants. I think she probably dealt more with hearing aids. With my last programming, my husband was positive that it was a big change in the wrong direction, and that I ought to find a new audiologist. Well, I finally did and it certainly paid off. The office only services people with cochlear implants, so that is their specialty. We knew as soon as we walked in that we were in the right place. The visit took a solid two hours but it was thorough and I left feeling a ton more confident about my hearing level and speech recognition. Exhausted, but confident. I’m looking forward to the days ahead, for every opportunity to hear all the typical sounds in a new way with this new and improved programming. Technology truly is a wonderful thing.