Thursday, May 30, 2013

Hope, Help, and Healing,
at Memorial Hermann Hospital
Friday, May 31, 2013

This lovely stone was given to me over the weekend by the mother of Stephen's girlfriend.  We had never met, but Omeda and her daughter Kristina have been praying for me since the beginning of my hearing loss.  The stone alone is absolutely beautiful!  The added word HOPE kind of sums up this path that I am traveling. 

From the beginning, I have believed that God has had a plan to use my hearing loss for His glory.  In our family, when we have faced difficult situations, we have often turned to the verse in Jeremiah 29:11, "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."  .  In all of those situations, God has been faithful and brought us through with a deeper love for Him and for each other.  The gift of this small stone, was just another confirmation to me that God has a great future ahead for me. 

Monday evening, after spending the day with Stephen and Kristina, Ron and I headed to Houston.  Just a little side note: Do you know that once you leave Dallas, heading to Houston, there is no where to eat?  By the time we got to Madisonville, Conroe, and the towns closer to Houston, where there were some places, most were already closed.  Just thought I would throw that in here.  We arrived at our destination at 10:30 without having eaten, but we were so exhausted, we didn't care and went right to sleep.

We have some wonderful friends in Houston that we met through our son, Stephen.  Their son and Stephen were close friends while students at Texas A&M University in College Station.  This couple has showered us with the most generous hospitality for several years - far beyond what we could ever imagine.  They were out of town, but left "our" guest room in their home (far better than any 5-star hotel) ready for our visit.  (There was plenty of food in the house, but we truly were too tired to eat.)

Tuesday morning, we headed to Memorial Hermann Hospital in the Medical Center.  Ron had received a call Friday telling him where to park and how to find the office we needed for the registration and lab tests.  The parking garage is across the street from the hospital and there is a sky way connecting the second floors of the buildings.  The area felt like the crossroads of the world and a cross section of society as we looked into the faces of those we passed in the halls and elevators.  Illnesses and accidents (and hearing loss) remove any barriers between people; everyone is there to seek answers and get help.  There were tiny babies and very elderly patients, side by side, waiting and hoping for good news.

We found the hospital to be well organized and the workers to be very efficient.  Each one we met was pleasant, helpful, and cheerful.  At one point after our visit we were going down a hallway discussing where we wanted to go and a gentleman stopped us to see if we needed help or directions.  Everyone treated us in a similar manner.

Never knowing how long it will take for us to find where we are going, we leave very early and normally arrive well before our appointment and we were true to form that morning, arriving about an hour ahead of time, but we each had our Kindles and were ready to sit and read the hour away.  Ron checked in at the desk in the Anesthesia Clinic as we had been directed.  The kind lady pointed to the waiting room for that area and told us to take our seats.  It was not more than about 5 minutes before we were called to a cubicle for our actual "registration".  A lady named Jennifer needed my insurance cards, identification, address, phone number, contact person in case of an emergency, etc.  She quickly filled in her forms, had me sign an assortment of forms, and asked us to return to the waiting room with a stack of copies of the forms I had signed.  In about 5 more minutes we were greeted by a nurse named Maria (with a heavy European accent) and she led us to what I think is the pre-operative area for day surgery.  Maria had a list of questions and mainly focused on height, weight (she gave me a dirty look), allergies to medications, and she copied all my little cards that I carry with my drug allergies listed, medications I am taking, and food allergies.  She said she wasn't worried about the foods (I guess that means they won't feed me) but since I am allergic to shrimp, that is important along with the medication allergies (a shrimp allergy can cause problems with an iodine dye test). 

Soon Maria was replaced with Kathy, a lady about my age with very short red hair and thousands of freckles.  She was a delight with a ready smile.  She wanted to know about any heart or breathing problems and some family history of health issues.  She debated (with herself) if new lab work was necessary since she had copies of my recent tests, and eventually finished her questions and was soon replaced with the jewel of the bunch, Dr. Kristine Luong. 

Dr. Luong just couldn't talk without a smile spreading from one side of her face to the other.  She is an anesthesiologist and although on that day she was doing paper work, she said in June she would be administering anesthesia, so she may be the one who will "put me to sleep".  That would be fine except I would hate to sleep through an opportunity to visit more with her.  We quickly began a comfortable time with her going over (again) all my drug allergies  (Maria had missed copying that page).She asked about past surgeries and thankfully she already had a list (probably from my doctor's office).  She covered family medical histories, and any concerns I might have.

As Dr. Luong went through her questions covering a wide variety of subjects, she asked how many pregnancies I'd had.  I told her that I had four live births and had miscarried a child in the middle of the four, so it had been five pregnancies.  Then I told her that even though she had not asked, I had seven wonderful grandchildren and that sadly I had left the pictures in the car.  She got quiet a laugh out of that.  As we went on down her list, she asked how active I am.  I told her that since the hearing loss I am not as active as before since I am not comfortable walking alone or even going to the gym alone, but that I work full-time, mow my yard, and do a variety of other things.  Then I told her I was not nearly as active as the mother of my seven grandchildren.  Her eyes got big and she said, "You mean all seven are in one family?"  I told her yes, and she sputtered out, "And you aren't even Catholic."  We all laughed and I told her that we were all Baptist.  She was in awe and asked the age range of the kids.

Dr. Luong left for a while after saying that they had decided I didn't need to have the EKG done, but they would do the blood work again since it had been almost 2 months since I had the other work done.  I said that was fine and she asked if I had good veins.  I told her I had always thought so until the last lab work (the work she had in her file) but that I thought it was the lab technician and not my veins that created the problem.  I also mentioned that I bruise easily.  She said the lab people were excellent at their hospital and she was sure that they wouldn't have a problem.  Well, that really put the pressure on Maria who had arrived back to join us to draw the blood.  Maria could not get a vein to cooperate and in the end had to take the blood from my wrist, but did so with a very light touch and no bruising!

Now it was again Dr. Luong's turn to do some follow up.  She had another assortment of questions more directly related to the anesthesia and wanted to know how far I could bend my neck back plus a few more issues.  I had mentioned to her early in our discussion that there is a big ridge in the roof of my mouth and that in a previous surgery many years ago, that had been scraped badly when a tube was put down my throat.  She wanted to see it and made notes about it in my file which was rapidly growing. 

She went over what I needed to do to be ready for the surgery (no eating after midnight, no aspirin, Advil, fish oil, or Vitamin E, starting a week before surgery, etc.) and to tell us to use the valet parking when we arrive (they will take care of the charges on that) and gave a long list of those kind of instructions.  I had noticed  the first time she came in that she was wearing a beautiful ring that I thought might be an engagement ring.  Well, she mentioned her fiance at one point and we got to talking about her ring and the fact that she had picked it out herself.  I told her I had selected mine also and as we compared notes, we found both guys were engineers who just gave us a price range and told us to do the selecting.  We had a good laugh over that, but I should have pointed out to her that my wedding ring was added to my engagement ring when we married 48 years ago next week and that I hope her engineer makes her as happy as mine has made me.  I do hope she is the one who takes care of the anesthesia for my surgery - even if we won't get to visit much.

Time was spent with her describing the type of anesthetics that are used these days (my last surgery was 20+ years ago) and the time it would take for me to wake up after the procedure.  Dr. Chang has said the surgery will take about 2 hours and Dr. Luong says recovery can take anywhere from 30 minutes to about an hour and a half. 

Never have I had such thorough a work-up before surgery.  I was impressed.  Our appointment had been for 10:30, but they started about 9:40 and it was noon before we had finished.  Very little time was spent waiting; almost all of it was in answering questions and getting instructions.  We left that office and Ron went back to the desk where we had checked in to see if they had the information on what we would owe for the hospital portion of the bill.  In just a couple of minutes he was sent to a cubicle where they told him my Medicare and supplemental would cover everything and that we would not owe them any money.  Praise God! 

Our one concern at the hospital had to do with this sign over the door to a lovely coffee shop in the building with the parking garage.  You would think that someone would have thought that maybe a sign proclaiming "pain" in the hospital might not be a real good idea.  I have been told that "pain" is French for bread and that the sign is telling all that this is the place for good bread.  Right...  We did go there to get something to drink since I had gotten so thirsty in the office.  Their pastries were very tempting, but I didn't give in.

Before leaving Houston we went to a quilt shop, a plant nursery having an amazing sale, and Chick-fil-A for our lunch.  The ladies at the quilt shop told Ron about another quilt shop in El Campo and we checked it out on our way home.  It will be on my list for another stop; but probably not the one in Houston.  Both shops were nice but the first didn't carry the kinds of things I like to buy.

Our long weekend was wonderful.  The registration at the hospital went well and it is now:
10 days until my surgery!!!


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Helpful, Caring, Friendly People
Made My Wet Weekend, Wonderful
Wednesday May 29, 2013

This past weekend included Memorial Day, so we planned a long weekend trip to accomplish many things on our "to do list". 

The thing that HAD to be done, was a trip to pre-register for my upcoming surgery, at Memorial Hermann Hospital in the Medical Center in Houston.  That couldn't be done on the weekend or the holiday so we scheduled it for Tuesday, the day after Memorial Day.  I have decided to cover the Houston part of our trip in a separate blog entry due to the length of this entry.

Having the Houston visit after the holiday, gave us a long weekend to do some fun things with family and friends.  Both of us needed a break.  We closed our office at noon on Friday, packed the car, and headed to San Antonio to have dinner with our son, David and his family.  Half way to San Antonio we encountered a blinding rain storm with very heavy winds and got the car wash that I had not had time to work into my schedule.  Each time on the trip when we needed to make a stop, the rain stopped and then started again as we drove on toward our destination!

 We arrived at our luxury hotel where Ron had gotten an outstanding price online.  Our room overlooked the courtyard of this spectacular Doubletree Hotel in the heart of San Antonio.  We met Dave and his family at Cracker Barrel for a delicious supper, great conversation and lots of laughs.  David and his wife communicate with me by either texting me on their cell phones or using the iTranslate program to speak into their phones and having it type out their words.  It was a relaxing evening of food, fellowship, and a little shopping.  Cracker Barrel always has wonderful, fun items in their gift shop!

The only real problem my hearing caused while we were in San Antonio involved my desire to take a bath Friday night after we got back from supper. Ron was exhausted and immediately went to sleep. I was all set for a relaxing, leisurely bath, but I could not get the water in the tub to turn on. I debated my options. Ron was so tired I hated to bother him. I couldn't "call" the desk since I can't use a phone. I thought about going to the desk, but if they offered to move us to another room, that would mean waking Ron and I didn't want to do that. I even looked for email addresses for the hotel, but that still would have disturbed Ron if they came to fix it or to move us. In the end, I skipped the bath and went to sleep. The next morning I explained the situation to Ron and he said I needed to "pull" the knob on the faucet and then turn it. I had tried pulling, but obviously, not hard enough.

I love thunder and rain.  One disadvantage to my hearing loss is not being able to hear those storms and enjoy the rolling thunder and the pitter-patter of rain drops on the rooftop.  Well, you would have thought even a deaf person could have heard the storm in San Antonio that night (but I didn't hear a thing).  Ron woke me the next morning with donuts from Shipley's (my favorite travel breakfast)and explained that it took a while to get them since so many roads were closed due to the flooding!  What flooding???  I had slept through most of the 9.9 inches of rain that San Antonio got - most of that rain falling in a 6 hour period during the night!  We had planned to leave fairly early Saturday to go on to Dallas to see our youngest son, but we waited until about 9:30 to head north when the worst of the storm had moved on out of San Antonio.  

As we headed north the storm traveled along with us for much of the way.  Again as we needed to stop for gas, the rain quit, we got our gas, and as we pulled out of the station, the rain began pouring on our route.  We took the loop around Austin and the rain stopped in that area.  Then we cut back over to Round Rock to go to Pok-e-Joe's for an outstanding Bar-B-Q lunch and got back in the car as the rain started again.  God was with us each part of the trip!  Spring storms in Texas make us think of tornadoes and the damage they can cause, but as we passed the exit to the little town of West, we were reminded of their recent disaster with the explosion of the fertilizer plant.  We pray for the people of West and the many areas recently hit by the springtime tornadoes in the Central part of our country.

We arrived in Dallas late in the afternoon and went to the Christian Bookstore where our son Stephen works.  If you live in that area and have not made a trip to Logos Bookstore, you must add it to your "to do list".  It is a great store and a wonderful young man on their staff named Stephen can help you find just what you need.  We spent time and money at the store while waiting for Stephen to close the store.  There were showers off and on while we shopped.  

I think all of our sons are romantics.  There is a very special young lady in our youngest son Stephen's life and he was eager for us to meet her; and he wanted us to meet her where he had met her - at Logos Bookstore.  He had arranged for her to arrive just after closing time and after we chatted a while he explained that he wanted us to meet her where he did, so I asked where and how it happened.  They took us to the corner where she had been sitting on the floor looking at a book and "reenacted" the event for us as we delighted in watching their antics and obvious feelings for one another.  After a little more visiting, we headed to Chili's for a good supper in a quiet corner.  The young lady, Kristina, had been prepared for my hearing difficulties and quickly adapted to speaking into the microphone on my amplifier.  We all laughed our way through a great evening.

Sunday morning we met Kristina at Park Cities Baptist Church for the worship service and Bible Study.  Another of Stephen's friends joined us for church.  Stephen had contacted the minister that would be preaching the service we were attending (they have several services) and had explained my hearing situation and he graciously emailed Stephen a detailed outline of the sermon. Stephen pulled it up on his laptop and would type in additional comments as the sermon progressed.  I appreciate the help of so many to keep me connected in the worship services.  I thank Stephen for asking and for his minister being willing to help out in the way he did. 

God was not finished.  He had a wonderful gift waiting for us in that service - unexpected and unplanned by all involved except for our loving Heavenly Father.  When Stephen was in college at Texas A&M, he was in a singing group at his church and met a young man named Curtis, who quickly became like a brother to him.  As we got to the sanctuary at the church, I asked Stephen if this was the church where Curtis had served a couple of years before while attending Southwestern Seminary.  He said that it was, but that Curtis was finishing his studies at another location and he didn't think he was on staff at this church any longer.  The music had just started as we entered the sanctuary and what a thrill it was for all of us to see Curtis as the Worship Leader of the service!  This is a very special, humble young man who has touched our hearts over the years.  Curtis was unprepared for my hearing loss, but the big, bear hug he gave me overcame any need for words.  After the service we were able to visit with him and Stephen asked if he was in that service every week (Stephen had been attending another service).  He said he was only able to be there about once every two months, and (in God's timing) it was the Sunday that we were visiting!  God is good!  He gives us more gifts that we can ever imagine and one of those gifts for us this week was getting to see Curtis again.  God is going to continue to use this young man in amazing ways in the years to come.

After church, we went to a small, QUIET, Mexican food restaurant to meet Kristina's mother (Omeda) for lunch.  We had a good lunch in a setting she had selected because of the quiet surroundings.  What a blessing that all of them had taken steps to prepare to make things as easy as possible for me. 

After a good lunch and visit, we headed to Omeda's lovely home in a family friendly neighborhood with huge trees and beautiful lawns.  Ron and Stephen spent the afternoon working on replacing the locks on the house (as per Stephen's request) and Omeda, Kristina, and I were left to have an all girls' visit.  Omeda had prepared a beautiful array of goodies for us to enjoy over the course of the afternoon, and not knowing how well we would be able to could communicate, she had prepared notebooks and pens so we could use them if necessary.  But as I have mentioned before, in a quiet setting, one on one, I do okay with the personal amplifier.  The three of us managed very well.  There were a lot of photos and stories shared over course of the relaxing afternoon at the breakfast nook in Omeda's kitchen.  Again, it was a blessing to me to see how others worked to make my situation easier.  Mother and daughter were gracious hosts.  In the early evening a close friend of Omeda's joined us and added to the laughter and fun.  Norman is just a big teddy bear of a guy with a heart of gold and it was a joy to spend time with him. 

Still, as much fun as we were having, there came a point that I had to go off alone for a while.  My brain was on overload as my hearing abilities were stretched to the limit, so I left the rest of them to finish up the visit and sought a little seclusion.  I hated to miss out, but mentally I was exhausted.  Straining to hear is WORK.  (I think I mentioned that before.)  Ron and I headed back to Stephen's apartment and Stephen took Kristina home.  It was a while before Stephen arrived and I had time to relax and read.  When he got home, he and I sat up visiting until the wee hours of the morning.

Monday morning, Ron started work on the locks on Stephen's place (after getting Shipley's donuts for us as he had done the day before).  Stephen and I went to the grocery store and stocked his refrigerator and I started lunch.  He helped his dad and about the time lunch was ready, Kristina arrived.  Following lunch, Kristina and I baked cupcakes and while they cooled, we all headed to a fabric store in Plano.  I was able to get a few sewing notions that I needed.  Back at the apartment the cupcakes were cool so Kristina and began to decorate them and before long Stephen joined in the fun.

As much as we hated to leave, it was time to head to Houston to be ready for my appointment the next morning at the hospital.  It was hard to say good-bye to Stephen and Kristina.  Reminded me of the song I loved in the musical The Music Man that says, "Where is the good in good-bye...?"

 P.S.  Most of you know that Ron can put on a "gruff" exterior and some worry how the grand kids and others will accept it.  Several (including some of the daughters-in-law) warned him to "be nice" to Kristina - not to scare her away.  For those who worried...
...I think she has him pegged!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Dealing With Deafness:
The Continuing Challenges
Thursday May 23, 2013

It has now been a little over four months since I lost my hearing.  It was four months ago today, on my first visit to the specialist that he mentioned the possibility of a Cochlear Implant.  His comment was that if I did not regain my recently lost hearing, I would be a candidate for the Cochlear Implant.  I had always thought that my type of hearing loss could not be helped by the implant.  What the doctors over the years had said was that I was not a candidate for the implant.  What they really meant was: at that time (in years past), my hearing was not bad enough for me to be eligible for one.  Now, it is bad enough. 

It is just about 2 1/2 weeks until my surgery!  Wow!  Time in some ways seems to be flying and in others it seems so long since I could really hear what was being said.  This week I seem to be struggling more to understand what is being said by others.  A week ago, I developed a sore spot in the outer ear from the ear buds I had been using, so my husband went to Radio Shack and got me a set of headphones.  They are the ones that block noises from the outside that might be a problem to other people, but I don't think that matters to me since I don't hear those sounds anyway.  Unless I press the headphones very snugly, against my head, I hear less well with them than with the ear buds, but the ear buds, besides causing the sore spot, were more uncomfortable.  For now, the headphones are working for me, but not very well.

At the office this week, I managed fairly well when dealing with customers; at least I thought I was doing OK, but a couple of times my husband would get up from his work desk and come take over with a customer when I had totally misunderstood what they wanted.  I thought I knew, but was not even close on one of them and just a little off with another.  When alone at the office, I have to totally depend on the strobe lights to let me know if someone has come into the shop.  Yesterday I was working in my office with my back to the strobe (but where I could look into the showroom), standing under the buzzer, yet several times I had no idea someone had come in until I saw them through the door to my office.  So I gave up on the project I was doing and went back to my computer where I would be facing the strobe light and could see the monitor that is linked to the camera in the showroom.   Others complain about how loud the buzzer on the door is, but I have no clue when it has sounded except that it is connected to the strobe lights.  So I must stay where I can either see the strobe or see the doors that customers enter through.  I can do that, it just limits what other things I can work on between customers.  It is a constant trial and error and balancing act to find what works for us.  It is working, and Ron was able to take care of several customers out of the office this week.

Since I am hearing less with the headphones than the ear buds, Sunday at church was very hard.  This evening Ron (my husband) and I went to supper with my Mom as we do most Thursday evenings.  Mom sat beside me and Ron across from us.  Even with Mom very close, and my amplifier between us on the table (in a quiet, back room of a cafeteria), I heard only about half of what she said.  I had her repeat a lot, but several times just gave up.  Same with my husband, couldn't get it all and sometimes it was just too hard to keep asking them to repeat again and again.  We had been out last night also and I stopped to speak to a family on the way out and as soon as I did, I realized it was a bad idea.  I just couldn't carry on a conversation.  Those are the times I really struggle emotionally.

We are going to spend the weekend with our youngest son and we will be meeting a very special young lady in his life along with her mother.  We will also be seeing another son and his family for a quick visit.  It saddens me to know that much of what is said won't reach my brain.  Both of these sons were very creative when they visited us shortly after I lost my hearing.  The youngest, Stephen, would sit beside me and use his laptop to type out much of what was being said (thankfully he types fast), and I was better able to be a part of conversations around the table.  My enjoyment and participation in group settings is dependent upon the efforts of others to see to it that I can be involved.  None of us like that.  We want to be independent.  We don't want to have to depend on others or  impose on them, but for this period of my life, I don't really have another choice. 

When Stephen was here in early February, he took his laptop to church and typed the announcements and the sermon for me as the service progressed.  I sure wish for him every Sunday.  I might not have missed the Mother's Day banquet if he had been typing out the announcements beside me when that was announced.  Ron helps in the vestibule during the service so he had not heard the announcement either.  When we attend church with Stephen this coming Sunday, I hope has has the battery on the laptop charged and ready to go.  He has always been very sensitive to my hearing needs.  Maybe one of the reasons is that being the youngest, he grew up with me not hearing well.  When the older boys were growing up, my hearing was fairly normal.  Stephen has spent his life repeating things for me and correcting things I have misunderstood.

Today included a couple of doctor visits.  One for me and one for my husband.  His visit was related to his stopped up ears and mine was with my dermatologist, related to my rosacea (a facial skin condition).  All the medications I have been on during this time of the hearing loss, have had a major negative effect on the skin problem.  A couple of the prescriptions have helped (mainly the steroids) but others are making it worse.  So it was time to go back to the doctor for help.  I am not sure he can help much at this point since I am allergic to the one approved antibiotic for the condition.  After a lifetime of not wearing makeup, the time may be here to give in and use it.

As I mentioned in another blog entry, I don't want this to be viewed as complaining, but rather I would like to share with others the truth about what is going on in my life and what others with similar problems may be dealing with on a daily basis.  We all know someone who can't hear well.  My prayer is that you will begin to understand their struggles and become creative in the ways that you can help them stay involved in all the activities they once enjoyed.  Sometimes we don't know how to help; that has been the case with my family, but we continue to try to find the things that make life more enjoyable for all of us in spite of my deafness.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

There Are Going to be Some
Changes Around Here!
Sunday May 19, 2013

My husband has been warned.  There are going to be some changes around here when I can hear!!!!

When I first realized that I had a hearing problem, I told my husband that jokes were the first thing I lost.  So often when someone makes a comical comment on a situation that is happening right then, they make the comment "under their breath" or they whisper it to those around them.  Quickly it occurred to me that I couldn't hear those.  People near the person making the silly comment would hear it and laugh and I would have no idea what had been said.  Often we weren't in a situation where someone could repeat it for me.  Just in the telling of a normal joke, there may be a pun or a play on words within the joke and I would often not hear enough of the joke for it to make sense to me.

My husband and I have always teased each other and for the most part, we know where the boundaries are.  I have told him he can't tell a certain "meatloaf story" to people we have just met; especially if we have just invited them over for a meal.  There are things I would never tease him about in public.  But over time he discovered that he could tell things about me and people would look my way and laugh and I would not have a clue about what he had said.  When I would say, "What did you say?"  He would often turn red, and sweetly say, "I said, I love you."  When he would do that, I would usually elbow him in the ribs, or whack him on the arm, knowing full well that he had not just said that, but still not knowing what had been said.  Now he tells people that every time he tells me he loves me, I hit him.  Well, that is probably true, but I know he deserves it.

So that brings us to the the current times.  I am warning him:  When I can hear, he better watch out!  He will no longer get a free pass.  He can't tell things about me without me knowing what he said!

Seriously, it is true that jokes are the first thing that you lose when your hearing starts to fail.  Think about the things that have made you laugh recently.  Many of those things were whispered.  Some of those things might be best left unsaid, but many are just cute, witty remarks made to bring a smile to someone.

So the standing joke around our house these days is: Watch it!  Your days are numbered!  And he will smile sweetly and say, "I just said, I love you!"  Right....

In just  little over two weeks, Ron and I will have been married 48 years, so I guess the teasing has worked for us.  Even though I may "elbow" him, or "whack" him on the arm, in those 48 years I have never doubted that he loved me and that he was totally committed to me, our marriage, and our family.  Laughter is one of the strongest memories of the time period when our four sons were all living at home.  There was usually an abundance of laughter around the dining table and I sure hate the quiet meals we have now that the kids are gone and I can't really hear enough to carry on an easy conversation.

This afternoon after our guests had gone home, he told me that in the lesson he taught in our Bible study class this morning, the marriage vow to "love, honor, and obey" had come up.  (As usual, I had heard none of his lesson.)  He said that when we arrived home, I was busily trying to get lunch on the table for the 12 of us who were hungry, and that I kept giving him "orders"  for the first ten minutes.  I told him that I was sorry for doing that to him.  I told him I appreciated his help and that I knew he was helping more than ever, now that I have lost my hearing.  He picked up the dry marker board that he often uses to communicate with me, and  wrote: "I'm not offended.  It was just funny."   I thank God for the husband that He gave me and for the gift of laughter.  I plan to laugh a lot more when I can hear what is going on!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Summer Adventure 2013
Thursday May 16, 2013
Have you planned a summer adventure for your family or for yourself?  Is there something you have always wanted to do or somewhere you have always wanted to go?  What are you waiting for?
In my family, I always felt like I got "short-changed" on cousins.  Daddy was an only child and Mom only had one brother.  So to start with, I only had one aunt and one uncle (Mom's brother and his wife).  My aunt and uncle had four children, two girls and two boys.  They were great!  They were cute, fun, cheerful, and they lived close enough that we got to see them at least once a year and sometimes more often.
It is funny when I think back, the oldest cousin is about a year younger than I am and she was the quietest of the bunch.  Her younger sister, about 15 months younger, was as silly as they come!  Oh, she made us laugh!  She could giggle better than anyone I knew.  They had two younger brothers.  Those two boys were adorable, happy, redheads with more freckles than anyone could count.  We loved for them to come visit. 
Time passed and we all grew up, got married, scattered, and rarely see one another.  The oldest cousin spent 12 years with her husband, serving on the mission field in Kenya, where they had four children.  When on furlough from the mission field, they would usually come spend a week with our family.  My cousin would be the first one to "conk out" at night, but the rest of us would be up talking for hours.  She never wanted to miss anything, so she would bring her pillow and blanket and curl up on the floor where ever we were chatting and laughing, in hopes she wouldn't miss anything.  But within a few minutes she would be sleeping soundly.  We would tease her about being a "stick in the mud."  "Where is your sense of adventure?"
Now in her mid-60s, she lives in the Texas Panhandle, but this Saturday, she is meeting up in Williamsburg, VA, with a group of people she has never met, to BIKE across America!  Over the next 3 months they will ride 4,180 miles, going from coast to coast.  The first riding day, this coming Sunday, they will do an orientation ride of 25 miles.  Then Monday they actually leave and ride 49 miles that first day.  Much of the time they will be camping out along the way.  This same lady has run marathons in many cities across our country.   She snow skies, scuba dives, and jogs (for fun).  Ok, now who is the "stick in the mud"? 
My adventure for this summer is hopefully going to take me from a world of silence to a world of sounds.  My trip will be from a quiet, withdrawn life, to a life filled with sounds of laughter, giggles, and bird songs.  Over the recent years my world has basically gotten smaller and smaller as I would struggle to hear and as I have become increasingly uncomfortable in many settings.  At the same time, my cousin has expanded her world as she tries new things.  
When my cousin prepared for marathons, or this past year for the bike ride, she put in long hours practicing to be ready for the challenge.  She got better and better as she did the exercises to become good at what she wanted to do.  When she took up scuba diving, it took practice before she was ready to make trips to tropical locations to dive safely and enjoy the sights in the new surroundings underwater. 
In some ways, my summer ahead will be that way.  When I have the surgery for my Cochlear Implant, I will not start hearing right away.  Following surgery, they wait until the patient has healed, and then after 3 or 4 weeks, they activate the device.  The audiology experts at the Houston Ear Research Foundation will show me how to attach the external parts of the instrument and they will start teaching me how to use it and how to understand what the sounds are that I will be hearing.  The audiologist I have met with has told me that I will need to practice every day by reading out loud, or following the printed word as I listen to audio books.  The sounds coming for the Cochlear Implant are not sounds like you hear every day.  These will be electronic sounds that are basically computer generated sounds.  Patients have to learn to understand those sounds.  I have been told the only way to do this is to practice EVERY day.  It takes about a year for most patients to begin to get the most out of their implant.  The more I practice, the better I will get at understanding what I hear.
My cousin set goals for herself in order to get the most out of her experiences.  I will need to do the same.  Tonight I wrote a comment on her blog, telling her that I knew there would be days when she would wonder why she was doing this.  There may be some days ahead when I am overwhelmed by the loud noises that I don't understand and will wonder why I went through the process.  But I told her that I believed that most days she would be delighted at all she will be seeing.  I expect that most days I will be delighted with all that I am hearing. 
It would be great if sometime in the months following her trip, I can "hear" all about her adventure.  My cousin is a speech therapist, and I think she will want to hear all about my adventure when she gets home.  Often speech therapists are called on to help those who have Cochlear Implants.  Until we can get together and hear about each others' summers, we will follow each others' blogs and keep up with the progress along our Summer Adventures of 2013!  What is your adventure going to be?

Monday, May 13, 2013

"Four Weeks From Today, On June 10th"
Monday, May 13, 2013

This afternoon I went to my G.P. for a follow up visit on how I was doing with some new medications he had prescribed.  I have a lot of allergies and a lot of drug allergies, so it is always a challenge for a doctor to find a medication to do what is needed without doing what isn't needed - like an allergic reaction.  The current problem we were working on was just that: Allergies! 

The Doctor had put me on four medications to try to keep my allergies under control so that I wouldn't end up with chest congestion at time for the surgery for the Cochlear Implant.  The medications are doing fairly well, but I still battle sinus drainage down my throat (my main complaint when we started this).  So today he decided to add a nasal spray, as I requested last month.  First he mentioned a few different types and I told him several of them, I had tried but developed nose bleeds with them.  So he decided on a new one.  The only drawback he said (other than a list of possible side effects that he showed me) was the cost.  He said, "It is very expensive."  So he checked on his lap top computer that he carried in with him and found that my insurance covered it except for the co-pay. 

As I was leaving the office, I stopped at the desk where a young lady always gives me an assortment of paperwork.  This sweet young lady sits in front of me at church most Sundays and it is comforting to see a familiar face on each doctor visit.  One thing I really like about this doctor is that when you leave, this same lady gives me a printout of all that we discussed at the visit.  The printout tells what medications he thinks I am taking, both prescription and over the counter.  It shows the results of any lab tests that were run and it lists all new instructions I was given.  This is so helpful to me when I am not always sure I heard correctly.  One day I mentioned that to him and he quickly told me if I ever didn't understand something, to tell him and he would repeat it.  He has been very patient and good about repeating many things.  Back to the paperwork, last they attach any new prescription orders and list the next appointment. 

When this sweet clerk handed me my papers, she highlighted the next appointment and said, "Your next appointment is four weeks from today, on June 10th."  I told her that wouldn't work since that is the day of my surgery in Houston.  Then it hit me!  Four weeks from today!  Wow!  On May 10th,I had actually thought about the surgery date, but that meant it was still a month away.  Four weeks is much shorter than a month - right?  Anyway, it just really hit me when she said the date, that time is passing and it will be time for the surgery before too much longer.

Before I had left our office this afternoon to go to the doctor, my husband had put in calls to the surgeon's office in Houston and to the hospital there, to find out what our final costs would be.  They had told him to call about this time and they would have the figures for him.  Well, Praise God, the doctor's office said we would not owe them anything.  Medicare and my supplemental insurance will cover it all.  That is great news!  We don't know yet about our portion of the hospital bill or the anesthesiologist's bill, but so far, so good. 

On the way back to work I stopped at the drug store to have that prescription filled that the doctor had warned me would be expensive.  I asked the girl to give me the price before she filled it.  Tap, tap, tap, on the computer keyboard and eventually she said, "$40."  I told her to go ahead and fill it.  When I got my package from the pharmacist, as always, they printed on the information sheet how much my insurance company saved me on my prescription.  This one said, "Your insurance saved you $166.99".  Yikes!  The doctor was right, it was expensive: $206.99 was the regular price.  Oh, my!

Just as I was returning to the office, that very loud noise in my head started.  I believe I mentioned in an earlier blog.  This is just NOISE!  The music was still there, but was almost drowned out by the noise.  It was instantly as though someone flipped a switch and turned on "the noise".  One result is that when the noise is so loud, I talk way too loud, trying to talk over the noise.  Of course no one else hears the noise so they don't know why I am suddenly yelling at them.  We were planning to go to Chick-fil-A tonight to take part in a fund raiser for our church school, (since my husband is on the church school board, I thought that would be a good idea)  but I knew I wouldn't be able to deal with a crowd and my noise, so my husband said he would go pick up our supper there and bring it home. I really appreciated that and since it was already past closing time, I headed home. 

At home, I spent time in the yard filling the bird feeders, the birdbath, and putting out some oranges for the woodpeckers and any orioles still around.  The noise began to slowly subside and by the time I had eaten supper and taken a relaxing bath, I was back to the normal music and no noise.  I have not been able to pinpoint any trigger for the noise to start or stop, but I continue trying things to turn it off once it has been turned on. 

One more important item, not really related to the hearing loss, but is something I mentioned earlier in this blog.  Our son and his wife who live here had invited us over for lunch after church, along with my mother and my husband's mother, to celebrate Mother's Day.  That made it a special day.  But the thing that made it most special, was the baptism of our two oldest grand daughters.  In our church baptism follows the time when a person comes to a point in their life where they realize that they are a sinner, confess that sin to the Lord, and accept Christ Jesus as their personal Savior, realizing that Christ paid for their sin on the cross.  As is tradition in our church, if a child's father is a member of the church and wants to, he is allowed to baptize his own children.  So our son had the joy of baptizing these two precious girls to symbolize that they are being buried to their old life of sin and raised to a new life in Christ.   Here, the girls are waiting for their baptism.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

A Symphony of Sound in the Backyard
Saturday May 11, 2013

Today was a quiet and relaxing day.  There are phrases that we all use that now take on new meaning to me.  Examples of these would be, "I had a quiet day," "Did you hear about...?" or "I heard on the news..."  Phrases like that are now constant reminders that my days are all quiet and I don't "hear" the news, I read it, etc.  That being said, it was a relaxing day and for much of it, I did not use my amplifying device, so it was also quiet.

Since it was Saturday, my housekeeper came for the morning and blessed me by getting my house wonderfully clean while I did other things.  Tomorrow is Mother's Day so there was a little shopping to do.  I went to several places and while I was out I stopped at my favorite plant nursery and bought several plants for the backyard.  After I brought those home, I headed out to buy groceries.  My husband offered to go with me, but I told him I thought I would be fine, and I was. 

After lunch, I sewed for a while on my current quilt project and then spent 2 hours working in the yard - in silence - except for the music I hear in my brain.  If you have been following this blog, you know by now that I love to photograph birds.  As I worked in the yard today, I kept thinking of the things I can't hear and how much I look forward to hearing them.  Naturally thoughts of family quickly came to mind, but there are also all the wonderful sounds in nature that God has given us to enjoy.

This Spring our yard has been filled with doves of several varieties.  This Mourning Dove is said to make a mournful sound.  There were also many White-Winged Doves, and I know that most doves "coo" and that it can be a calming sound.  I look forward to hearing them again soon.

This pair of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks think that our backyard belongs to them and they are almost always there.  They make a very unique sound that can be rather loud in large groups of them; and they do like to be in groups.  These two stay most of the time but about 20 others join them many days to clean out my bird feeders.  They drive me "nuts" some days, but I look forward to hearing them.

When woodpeckers, like this female Golden-Fronted Woodpecker, start pecking on the house or a nearby tree things can get loud.  I remember that, but I haven't heard it in a long time.  Even annoying sounds will be appreciated (for a while).  Besides their pecking they make other sounds.

Warblers can sing a pretty tune.  My bird book tells me that this Kentucky Warbler has a song that is "a series of rolling musical notes."  Wow!  I am eager to hear that.  He is just a tiny little guy that is just passing through on his annual migration.  It is such a treat that he stopped by to spend a few days hopping around on the waterfall in our backyard.  "Seeing" him is a joy.  "Hearing" him probably will be, too.
This Hermit Thrush is also on his way north for the summer and the bird book says his song is "a serene series of clear, flute like notes, the similar phrases repeated at different pitches."  Oh, to hear that!  What an amazing solo from this little bird. 
One of my favorites during migration is this cute little Wood Thrush.  I think he has been coming for several years.  I look forward to seeing him each migration time, but I have never heard him.  Again, my book says he has a loud, liquid song of three - to - five note phrases, each phrase usually ending with a complex trill.  Amazing!  I want to hear it!

Even this toad can sing.  I remember hearing him.  He is loud, and he has friends!  They all try to outdo each other, as I recall.

ALL OF THIS!  Right out my backdoor!  And all of these were here this afternoon, as well as several other warblers, a pair of Green Jays, an Ovenbird, Grackles, a host of Sparrows, Muscovy Ducks and Mallard Ducks, and I never "heard" a thing.  My two hours of yard work was accompanied only by the music by brain plays.  It is good music, but God has a whole symphony playing in my backyard most days, He reserved a front row seat for me, but I don't hear it. 


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Timeline Updates and Future Schedule
Wednesday May 8, 2013

On April 18, a couple of weeks ago, I wrote a blog entry showing a timeline of medical events we had gone through this year.  At that time, there were still some pending medical issues.  Most of those have now been resolved. 

Since that entry, I have returned to the urologist in Harlingen for the cystoscopy and the results were completely normal.  Yea!  Good news!  She asked me to return late this summer for a checkup.  Ron has been back to the lung specialist a couple of times for tests and once for results and all of his tests were totally normal.  More good news!  All his blood work numbers, 4 pages of results, were within the normal ranges.  Praise God!  He has a follow up in the fall with that doctor. 

In the meantime, Ron developed an ear problem.  Horrors!  We just can't have that!  He went to the doctor last week with no satisfactory results, and goes back in a couple of days.  He also will be referred to a specialist for that problem.  Specialist referrals seem to be the norm these days.  I go back to the G.P. May13 for a follow up. 

As for our Houston appointments, we will be going to Houston the day after Memorial Day, May 28, to pre-register at the hospital and to have lab work done.  We are going to add a trip to Dallas onto that appointment and see our youngest son, Stephen over the Memorial Day weekend and meet for the first time, a very special young lady in his life.

The surgery for the Cochlear Implant is scheduled for June 10 (I won't know what time of day until later).  It will be outpatient surgery and we will stay overnight in Houston following the surgery. Our plan is to head home on the 11th of June, going by Hobby Airport in Houston to pick up our daughter-in-law Vickey who will fly in that morning to come home with us for a week to be at the house with me as I recover.  Most of what I have read says the recovery should be easy, but since I won't be able to hear, it could present some challenges.  If I did have a medical need, I could not make a phone call for help.  I am planning to be off that week.  Several people have offered to help, but Vickey offered to come for a week and we decided that would be wise.  She and I will enjoy time together, but it will be hard, because during that time, I will no longer have any hearing in the ear that is to be operated on and we do love to talk!

Once the surgery is done, that ear will have no normal hearing left in it.  So from the time of the surgery, until the Cochlear Implant is activated in early July, I will be more deaf than I am now.  There is a tiny bit of hearing in the other ear, but I can't understand speech in that other ear. 

The risks with the Cochlear Implant surgery are minimal, but real.  Because the surgery is done around the facial nerves for that side, there is a slight chance of damage to those nerves.  Following surgery there can be swelling which could cause temporary problems for those facial nerves.  The same is true of the risk of dizziness.  The middle ear is disturbed and dizziness can result from that - normally if this happens, it is temporary.  There are a few other risks like loss of taste.  These are rare, and usually short term, but should be considered.   When I weigh the risks against the deafness of my world currently, I find it is worth the risk. 

July 2 I have a 2 1/2 hour morning appointment with the Houston Ear Research Foundation where they will activate and program the Cochlear implant.  That afternoon I have a followup appointment with the surgeon.  The following day, July 3, I have another 2 1/2 hour appointment on the programing and adjusting of the device.  We should be able to head home that afternoon. 

That should bring you up to date on our schedule in the weeks to come.  Someone asked if I was doing a count down yet.  To some degree I am, but I guess on the 10th of May, I will think more in terms of the countdown.  Also, there is the countdown to surgery, but that won't be when I start hearing; the hearing will begin July 2.  That means I still have almost 2 months of silence.

At the office a few minutes ago my husband came in and asked me to come talk to a customer.  It is a man named Lupe, who many years ago (over 35 years ago)was a janitor at our church.  Lupe has been deaf most of his life (if not all).  He was surprised to know that I am now in about the same situation, but told me he would be praying for my surgery.  He manages pretty well in his silent world.  He is actually the second deaf customer I have had this week.  I must admit that communication with Lupe and the other man came with some challenges.  I found myself trying to talk to the other man, but he seemed to not read lips or sign.  Lupe does some of both and wrote notes.

Earlier this afternoon , my husband said the lady who is working on my Quiet Quilt, called and said she was coming by to show me what she has done so far.  She brought the quilt, and she is doing an amazing job, as I knew she would.  She had some questions and she had asked me about 10 days ago for a couple of scriptures that she could "quilt" into the quilt.  I had selected one, but not the other until today.  The ones that I gave her to use on the quilt are Jeremiah 29:11, which has been sort of a family verse for many years and has been on my mind all throughout this time of silence.  It says, "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."  The second verse I selected goes with the scenes that I had chosen for the quilt.  As you may recall from an earlier post, I selected fabrics that depicted quiet settings in this beautiful world that God created.  I chose Psalm 19:1 "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork."  God is good! 

Monday, May 6, 2013

Profound Hearing Loss
May 6, 2013

The hearing tests that I take, over and over these days, all come back with the same note written at the bottom of the page: Profound Hearing Loss.  What does that look like in a normal day? 

Recently I received the vibrating alarm clock that I had ordered from Harris Communications.  This company can be found on line and they have lots of items that can help people with hearing problems.  As I mentioned in an earlier blog entry, I was having to gear my life to my husband's schedule since I couldn't hear my own alarm clock.  I am pleased with the new vibrating alarm clock.  It  gently shakes me awake - it is not a violent shake - and I am now back to my old routine of getting up before my husband and making his coffee before I wake him. 

Normally after I would get Ron his coffee, I would turn on the kitchen TV and catch up on the news while I worked around the kitchen.  Now, I must depend on the closed captioning, so I must actually watch TV, not just listen as I would normally do.  This slows down my morning progress if there is something in the news that I actually think I need to know about.

Next in my routine, I go out in the backyard and fill the bird feeders, top off the ponds and birdbaths, and water the hanging plants.  I miss not being able to hear the birds, but I have not heard them very well for years.  That is something I look forward to when I get my Cochlear Implant!   It will be nice to actually hear them singing their thanks for the nice food I put out for them.  Watching the birds in the backyard is fun, even without "sound".

My husband and I own a locksmith business that has been in my family since 1939.  Currently, it is just the two of us.  He opens the office in the mornings and I arrive an hour or so later.  Then he is free to go out on jobs if he needs to.  Currently, one of my challenges is that the amplifier I use has a wire running from the unit to the ear buds.  I can manage to get that wire tangled on anything and everything.  I get it caught on knobs, cabinet corners, the pens chained to our counters, the spouts on the bottled water dispenser!  I seem to spend my day untangling myself from one thing or another.  In the car, I can get it wrapped around the seat belt, I tangle my keys in it, I catch it on my purse straps!  I will be so very glad to not be "wired for sound" anymore!
The amplifier works pretty well one-on-one.  I am able to help most of the customers with their needs.  One added challenge is that about half of our customers prefer Spanish to English and with or without my hearing loss, I am of little help in Spanish.  I tell them my Spanish is "tacos, tamales, enchiladas, and fajitas." and they normally laugh at me and admit that their English is "hamburgers, fries, and Coke."  So we can usually communicate enough to meet the needs. 
Sundays are probably the hardest days for me.  I love to go to church to worship the Lord.  I love the music and am challenged by the Bible study lessons and the sermons.  But currently, I must admit, that I have to make myself go.  My personal amplifier doesn't work for that type of setting.  I will say, that it did help when my hearing was not as bad as it is now.  When I first bought it several years ago, I used it some in church.  Now all I hear is a low rumble.  The music is a choppy, monotone with no distinguisable words.  So I sit through the service in vitual silence, turning the sound down sometimes to keep from hearing the rumble.  I can still pray for the pastor and those in the service.  In our Bible Study class for almost 10 years, I have not really participated in any of the discussion since I couldn't hear enough to be sure what had been said.  I am the class secretary, so I take attendance and then I spend class time writing cards to those who are absent or others in the church who might appreciate a little encouragment.  I write to some of the men connected to our church who are serving in the armed forces on the other side of the world.  There are many at the church who go out of their way to make me feel a part of what is going on and to give me a smile or a hug.  Years ago there was a Winter Texan couple in our church and the wife was so good about coming to sit by me during activities and often turning to me and saying, "Did you get that?"  She just had a God-given ability to know when I didn't have a clue about what had been said.  She was so kind about it and never embarassed me; she just kept me a part of what was going on.  I miss her.  My daughter-in-law, Barbara, is getting good at doing that.  I know that the people at the church love me and are praying for me.  I love them and look forward to being able to be more a part of all that goes on.  I shake hands with visitors and tell them I am glad they came, but don't ask their names because I know I won't hear them. 
Hearing loss is isolating.  I really don't intend to "whine" in what I share, but rather to challenge each reader to think of those in their lives who struggle to hear.  Maybe they need to be encouraged to try a new type of technology to improve their hearing, or maybe they need you to sit beside them and ask, "Did you get that?" 
I sometimes sense that some people try to avoid me, not knowing what to say or how to communicate with me.  It is hard.  It does take time.  But I must tell you that those who make the effort are appreciated greatly.  Just a week or two after I suffered my Sudden Hearing Loss, a friend picked me up to take me to the doctor.  She had a tote bag with her and when we arrived at the doctor's office I saw what was in it.  She had a tablet and a pencil and she wrote pages while we waited, asking me questions, telling me what was going on in the life of her family, and then taking excellent notes while we talked to the doctor.  She was such a blessing to me that day!
My hope and prayer for each reader is that you will look around you for those in your life who need your help.  None of us can meet the needs of all of them, but find one that you can help in some way.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Who Turned on the Music?
May 4, 2013

When I experienced my Sudden Hearing Loss back in mid-January, my world became basically  silent.  The hearing aid I had been using for 8 years was not strong enough to give me any sounds.  I could slightly hear VERY LOUD sounds, but nothing else.  The first several days there was a slight fluctuation in my hearing.  On about the 5th day, I could hear tiny bits of conversation, the toilet flushing, the electronic chime on the door at our shop, but within a week of the loss, those sounds had vanished. 

About the time I lost those few sounds, I began to hear music.  The music was very nice, relaxing, and pleasant.  Then it got very loud.  It is there ALL the time.  When I wake in the mornings, I  immediately become aware of it.  At night when I try to go to sleep it is still there. 

The first few days, there were only a few musical selections, over and over, for hours and hours.  One of the first pieces I heard was How Great Thou Art.  I had been doing research since about the 3rd day of the hearing change, on Sudden Hearing Loss, and continued doing more research (on line) concerning the music I had started hearing.  The best site I found to explain what I was experiencing (and continue to experience) can be found at: if you want a scientific explanation.

There is a rather lengthy article at that site about the phenomenon.  This may become too technical or may tell you more than you want to know, but it is a part of what is happening to me.  From this article and others that I have read, it seems that the brain doesn't like silence; when there is no input, the brain creates its own sounds.  This is brought about because of Sensory Deprivation.  The brain needs sound.  The music is different from what many people experience, called "tinnitus".  With tinnitus, some people hear ringing in their ears while others describe different sounds like buzzing or a rushing wind.  But whatever that sound is, it is normally one tone that is continuous. 

The music is totally different.  In medical terms, this is called "non-psychiatric auditory hallucinations".  Some people hear a voice that sounds like a radio announcer, or a sportscaster while many hear the music.  These non-psychiatric hallucinations, are most common with people who have lost a significant amount of their hearing, but can happen in those with normal or near normal hearing.  (I have mentioned this phenomenon to family members and some who do not have a hearing loss say they hear what sounds like an announcer sometimes.  Another says while mowing the yard, the person can hear music).  The "announcer" is not like voices that talk to you or about you (those would be psychiatric auditory hallucinations).  As one article said, as long as the voices don't tell you what to do, you are OK.  Usually with the "announcer" you can't really tell what is being said, it is just a monotone voice that sounds like an old fashioned radio announcer coming from another room or a distance away.

Interestingly, most people who hear music, hear the old hymns.  Some hear The Star-Spangled Banner (unless they are from Canada and then they would most likely hear God Save the Queen or Oh Canada, or Australians would hear Waltzing Matilda).  In my case, one of the first songs I heard, on about the third musical day, was Waltzing Matilda.  I am not Australian and have never traveled there.  That lasted about a day.  Then I heard When We Walk With the Lord.  During the three months now that I have heard the music, that song is the one I hear the most.  Over and over the chorus says, "Trust and obey, for there's no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey." 

From the first song, I was curious about the phenomenon, but the music brought me peace and comfort.  When my world had been turned upside down, the one constant was God's love and protection for me.  I have never questioned,"Why me?" or doubted His love and perfect plan for my life.  As I have often told friends, this is not the road I would have chosen, but it is the path God has put me on and I will follow it to where He wants me to be. 

The songs I began to hear, repeated over and over the truths of that love and steadfastness.  In the beginning, I would usually hear a male quartet, with a very strong, very deep bass.  The male quartets went on for a couple of weeks before I got more variety in the musical groups.  Normally, I would actually hear the words of the songs and the quartet would sing several verses. 

At this time I have recorded over 50 old hymns along with a few more recent praise songs that I have been hearing.  It was about 3 weeks into the music before I heard The Star Spangled Banner and on about the third day of music, I heard "Hey, Jude" by the Beatles.  That really threw me for a loop since I was not really a fan of The Beatles, but a precious friend had just had a baby and named him Jude.  That is the only reason I can think of for that to have popped up in my brain.

Over time, some of the music has become just instrumental and I can pick out trombones and baritones playing lead in some pieces.  One day last week I woke to Shall We Gather at the River accompanied by a BANJO!!  Where did that come from???  It was a lively way to start my day and I must say it got me to laughing.  I am not big on banjos, but that was a cheerful morning.  Most of the pieces are the same tempo - rather slow.  That one was very lively.

The hymns are the music I have loved to hear all my life.  I love the harmony in the old hymns and the messages that they teach us.  After a couple of weeks I began to focus on the words of those old  gospel songs: Have Faith in God; I Surrender All; Take My Life and Let it Be, and one of my favorites, In the Garden.  All of these reminded me that I could trust God to bring me through this time to have a closer walk with Him, to trust Him more.

Other hymns spoke to me in other ways: Make Me A Blessing, and Make Me a Channel, reminded me I could still reach out to others.  As I use my amplifier at the office, many have asked me about it and said they need one for themselves or a family member.  After writing out the information on the item several times, I ran off copies of the order information to share with those who ask.  Maybe I can help enrich their lives by showing them how to get back into the conversations they have been missing. 

Have a Little Talk With Jesus, Sweet Hour of Prayer, I Need Thee Every Hour, and When We Walk With the Lord, remind me that I need to take time to talk to the Lord and that I can be assured that He is walking beside me on this path.  God Will Take Care of You, and Have Faith in God, remind me to trust Him for my future.  In the words of each song there were things I could learn.  I had sung them all multiple times, but now they had added depth in the messages to me.

Other favorites that I continue to hear remind me that He gave his life for me and that He cares about me and will meet every need I have.  At the Cross, At Calvary, and One Day remind me what He did for me.  But after He gave His life, He arose and lives in Heaven.  He Lives can bring a smile to my face on a dark day.

In the hymns Send the Light, This is My Story, and We've a Story to Tell to the Nations, the words remind me that in these days of anti-Christian feelings, that we are to continue to tell others about God.  Hymns of God's greatness such as Great is Thy Faithfulness, I Stand Amazed..., His Name is Wonderful, and A Mighty Fortress Is Our God, proclaim He might and power.  But then Be Still and Know That I Am God tells me to take time to be quiet and listen to Him.  My ability to hear God's loving voice speak to my heart is not stopped by my hearing loss.

All of these hymns and the others I have been hearing have had an amazing, calming effect on me during some of the hard times.  When I am put in a sound-proof booth for yet another hearing test, the only sound I hear is "the music".  When I am sitting in a doctor's office waiting for hard to hear news, there is always His message in song, reaching out to surround me with His love.  When I went to be fitted for the super strong hearing aid, I began to wonder if that hearing aid were to work, would I be able to still hear the music.  It was not something I wanted to stop.

I may need to explain that when you are deaf, you can not hear anyone speak - including YOURSELF!  When I talk, I have no idea if I am speaking loudly or softly.  The first Sunday after the music started, we were in our Sunday School class which my husband Ron teaches.  He had mentioned to the class about the music.   I sit at a desk along the side of the room and write note cards to those who are absent.  In a little bit (I am told) I started humming or singing along with the music in my head.  They all started to laugh and of course I didn't know why.  But it did give him a chance to explain to them just how deaf I am.  I had no idea I could be heard.

I shared about the music with a sweet lady in whose home we stay when we make our many trips to Houston.  I told her about how I always hear the beautiful old gospel songs and tears came to her eyes as she said, "The angels are singing to you."  A couple of days later, I heard a harp accompany one of the songs.  I think she just might be right.  Sometimes I imagine God calling on some of the angels and telling them, "Today, you will be singing to Linda."

Whatever causes this lovely music, it is totally a blessing to me.  I accept it as a gift from God to help me through this time in my life and if it should ever go away, I will miss it greatly.