Sunday, June 30, 2013

Worship Wrapped Up the Month of June
Sunday,  June 30, 2013

On Saturday evening, June 1, 2013, I fell and broke my left elbow.  That basically knocked me out of attending church almost all month.  Well, there were other factors like the Cochlear Implant Surgery, but the pain medications for the elbow often left me very sleepy and the arm was too tender to risk crowds and hugs.  So the first Sunday in June I was in the hospital, the second one I was in Houston, the third one I was not very alert, and the next one I was not comfortable being in crowds.  Thankfully this June had five Sundays so I had one more chance to attend.

It has been years since I have missed so many Sundays worship services in a row.  Other than following the births of our four sons and one very long vacation, I can't recall a time when I had been out so many weeks in succession.  Even when I broke my foot and ankle about 11 or 12 years ago, I was able to return quickly.  One reason was that I had a cast and boot to protect the leg.  Now with the splint/cast off my arm, there is no protection except a sling.  The only protection the sling gives is that it is a warning to folks that I have something wrong with my arm.

Don't misunderstand and think that I feel God is checking roll.  There are times I have seen people come to church when I felt they should be at home in bed and not sharing their germs with the congregation.  That being said, there is a reason that the Bible tells us in Hebrews 10:25: "...not forsaking our own assembling together...but encouraging one another..."  Even though I could not hear one word from of the Sunday school lesson, or the worship service, I needed the encouragement from my Christian family at church.  So many people at church today told me they are praying for me and are eager for me to be able to hear again.  It was good to be back today.

There were other bonuses this morning at church; a life long friend who had visited our church the last time I was there, was there again today and sat with me.  It was good to see her and hear that she has been keeping up with me on this blog.  A good friend from our Sunday school class took us out to eat after church.  One-on-one conversations are about all I can handle these days, so it was good to catch up on what is happening in her life, and good to hear that her daughter will be visiting for a while next month.  Her daughter has been so faithful to send me frequent encouraging cards during this rough time.  This Mother-Daughter duo know how to "encourage one another" as stated in that verse from Hebrews.

After our lunch, I must have been more exhausted than I realized, because I ended up sleeping the afternoon away.  I awoke to find a note from my husband saying that he was at a meeting at the church and would also be buying a new battery for my car.  I didn't mention, that when we got in my car to go to church, the battery was dead.  (Better here than in Houston in the next few days!)  Since I am not driving, my car has set unused for a while.

Now, I need to start thinking about packing to leave tomorrow for our trip to Houston and hearing!! 

Saturday, June 29, 2013

First Full Day in the Office in June
Saturday,  June 29, 2013

Can you believe I managed to get through the month of June and only spent one full day in the office and three partial days?  What a mess I had to go through to have most of the month off!  I broke my left elbow June 1 and had surgery to set it June 3.  On June 10, I had my Cochlear Implant surgery.  So here I am at the end of June.  How am I doing?  Not too bad.

My elbow is healing nicely as far as I can tell.  Almost all of the bruises are gone.  There is still swelling around the elbow, which does not allow full range of motion, but the range is fairly good.  Hopefully that will continue to improve.  The biggest challenge is not using it.  I am not to use it at least until I see the doctor July 18, but it is really hard to constantly remember that.  It is almost impossible for me to open a Zip lock bag with one hand.  So many challenges!

My hearing loss and Cochlear Implant present a different set of challenges.  I am really  having trouble with the ear bud to my amplifier; it keeps falling out of my ear.  They make different size caps for them, but none seem to really help.  I will be so glad to get rid of that "chain" in a few days.  Of course, since that ear bud is in my bad ear, hearing is difficult anyway.  Tomorrow for church I may go back to the headphones.  I think the surgery spot is now healed enough for that.

Back to my mention of a full day at work.  Friday, Ron took me to the office when he went in that morning.  It was the last work day for the month so I had a variety of tasks that needed my attention.   I started on the posting early in the morning.  Then about 10:00 my mom picked me up to take me to the dentist.  I had a dental appointment scheduled for June 3 to check on a chipped tooth, but had to cancel that when I broke my elbow and had surgery that day.  The dentist eventually decided to "let well enough alone" on the tooth since there is no pain. 

Mom picked me up and took me back to the office.  Our oldest grandson was there for much the day and it is always good to have time with him.  Our grand children are home schooled and I often use my time with him to be sure he is up to date on his current events.  He was on top of things this week.  Made me wonder if he has finally gotten interested or if my lack of hearing just meant I hadn't heard anything that wasn't common knowledge.  I think he is just doing a better job of keeping up. 

There was more posting to do, reports to prepare, spread sheets to fill out, and statements to prepare for customers.  I had books to balance and bills to pay.  By mid afternoon I was ready for a nap, but my desk is too hard for sleeping.  By the end of the business day, I was still a little ways from being ready to wrap it all up, so Ron called our friends and set our supper with them for an hour later than usual.  After closing time, he took a deposit to the bank that I had prepared while I finished the reports for the accountant.  All is now done except for balancing the checkbook, but the statement won't arrive until the end of next week.

I was mentally exhausted, but it was a good feeling to have all of the bookkeeping done since we will be closed most of next week for our Houston trip and the 4th of July holiday.  I feel like I have slept through June. 

Speaking of sleeping through a month, our youngest son has had a couple of doctor visits this month to check on a fever and sore throat and ear ache.  It turned out he got a call from the doctor Friday with results on blood work they had done and it turns out he has mononucleosis (mono).  I told him that I had it 50 years ago and would go on line and see what they are doing to treat it these days.  Turned out, nothing has changed.  The doctor's orders are: rest, rest, rest, and lots of liquids, and Tylenol.  So he may sleep away a good bit of a month while he tries to get over this exhausting disease.  Again, his mom can't go help.  That is hard, but there are others who will step in and do it for me.

We finally did join our friends for supper.  This was the first time we had been out to eat all month except for a stop on our way home from Houston.  It was nice to be back to some normal routines.  Our friends the  Lawlers have been our regular Friday night dinner companions for more years than we can count and my friend Pat (Patricia) has spent years repeating things over and over to me, but I have never seen her grow impatient with me or act like something wasn't worth repeating.  Once my hearing improves, our suppers together may be shorter if she only has to say things once.  Friends are treasurers!

I arrived home tired and ready for a hot bath, but first took time to do the mono research for my son.  After sending him my findings, I got that hot bath and then returned to the computer.  Our daughter-in-law Vickey and I have worked out a system for our evening chats.  She calls.  I get on the phone in front of the computer and she does the same 1,200 miles away.  She types a question or statement in a private Facebook message to me.  I verbally answer her on the phone.  Then she types her next comment or question and again I answer her out loud on the phone.  We spent about an hour and a half last night catching up on news with each other.  She, like my friend Pat, is patient and goes the extra mile to keep the lines of communication flowing.

Today was a lazy day.  My sweet housekeeper came and while she cleaned, I got several loads of laundry done.  I had been hungry for oatmeal cookies all week so I mixed up a batch.  A friend from my quilt group showed up with a wonderful meal for us.  She and another lady in the group had gone together to fix some goodies that will probably take care of us until we leave for Houston.  About the time we sat down for lunch, Mom called that she was going to stop by.  She brought some additional treats and was able to stay and have lunch with us.  We had a nice visit and she helped put away left overs before she headed home.  It seemed that an afternoon nap was in order.  The afternoon was spent reading and napping and that is not a bad way to spend a hot, South Texas Saturday afternoon.

God continues to meet all of our needs at the office.  Customers have been understanding about our irregular hours lately and many often ask for updates on my health issues.  Nearly everyone this past week:  family, friends, customers, etc., have asked if I am nervous about my trip to Houston next week to have the Cochlear Implant activated and programmed.  Nervous is not the term that comes to mind for me.  I am not sure I can even put those feelings  into words, but I will try.

I don't have any reason to not believe that I will hear sounds at an almost normal volume.  I say almost normal because they don't set it at full volume in the beginning since that would probably be overwhelming for me.  The volume will be gradually increased over the first month.   I won't know what I will actually hear until they activate it. 

Last week, I read a blog by a man who said in the beginning when his implant was activated, he heard beeps and squeaks which sounded like R2D2 from Star Wars.  Our son Jeff had an R2D2robot that constantly emitted those sounds as it wandered around the house following Jeff's remote control commands to the little guy.  I said if that is what I hear, surely I should be able to understand it after listening to that little robot for years.

The the man said after a few weeks the voices he heard sounded like Alvin of Alvin and the Chipmunks fame.  Again I should adapt well.  One year on vacation our boys had gotten tape recorders that had variable speed control on them.  They would record their voices and then play them back at the fast speed and it did sound like Alvin was with us for thousands of miles that summer.  Of course now that I think about it, both R2D2 and Alvin nearly drove me crazy!  I am eager to hear real voices: the voice of my husband, our sons and their wives, and those precious grand children, as well as our moms and extended family and friends.  It just may take a while to get to that point.  Our youngest grand daughter has only started talking since I lost my hearing.  I am eager to hear what she has to say to her Grandma!

Impatience might be the word to describe my feelings about the trip to Houston.  I want to start HEARING!  I want to be able to ask a question and HEAR the answer.  I want to HEAR when my husband walks into the house, and not jump out of my chair when he puts his hand on my shoulder to alert me to the fact he is home.  My request to those of you who believe in the power of prayer is that you would pray for me to be patient in this whole process.  Pray that frustration would not overwhelm me, and that I would understand all of the many instructions we will be given this next week.  There will be so much to learn!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Day Goes From Boring to Blessed
Thursday,  June 27, 2013

Yesterday started out pretty boring.  I did a load of laundry only to discover that folding heavy bath towels one handed is not worth the effort.  I unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher.  I read for a while and watched the birds.  Some don't "play well together".  They get rather selfish where food is concerned.

Again I had not slept enough hours during the night so I decided a nap was called for.  I slept from about 1:00 until 4:00 and eventually checked my phone for texts.  My husband had sent one a few minutes before, saying he had an emergency job on South Padre Island, and did I want to go with him.  That sure sounded better than the rest of my day had been so I agreed and he came to get me on the way.

South Padre Island (or as I normally refer to it - "the island") is a great place for photos of birds and I had not been there for that in months.  As we drove out there (about 20 miles), the wind was blowing so hard, it was creating sand storms across the road as we neared Port Isabel.  That didn't bode well for my planned picture taking. 

When we got to his job site,I stayed in the car and read.  It didn't take long for him to complete the task so he offered to take me to a couple of birding sites.  One is some property owned by The Valley Land Fund, not far from where he had his job.  As soon as I got out of the car, I knew my chances of seeing birds there, that hot afternoon weren't good.  Sorry I couldn't supplement this story with a photo of the reason, but as soon as I got out of the car, my camera lens fogged up from the contrast between the cool car and the steamy temperature outside.  The photo would have been of a white cat, with an orange stripped tail, wandering through the brush and a few feathers clinging to a nearby bush.  I only saw a few doves across the street in another piece of property owned by the group.

As we had crossed the causeway to the island, traffic was stacked up for a long way headed the other direction, so my husband said he would rather spend the time letting me check on the birds near the Convention Center (normally a good spot for warblers and thrushes), instead of sitting in the long line.  Beside the Convention Center it was hot, humid, windy, and without birds except for two or three grackles.

Ron found a shady place to read and I sent him a text that I was heading down the board walk.  The shrubs were all in bloom and the scent was strong and heavy in the humid heat.  Part way down the boardwalk, I found a treasure trove of birds and spent the next 20 - 30 minutes photographing them.  What a joy to see all of these unique, beautiful birds all in one spot.   The trip brightened my day A LOT!  So I will share some of my photos with you.

There was a flock of about 6 Roseate Spoonbills and a variety of Gulls.
There were a couple of Snowy Egrets and this beautiful Little Blue Heron.
Little Blue Heron.
This Great Egret was outstanding.  I often wonder how they stay so white out in the mud.
There were several Black-Necked Stilts (one of my favorites).  In the foreground is a Killdeer.
The group included at least a couple of White Ibises.
Here is a partial "group" shot.
At least a half dozen Common Moorhens wandered in and out of the area.
There were mother ducks with babies, sandpipers, Pied-Billed Grebes, Grackles,and Red-winged Blackbirds, and as I mentioned before, an assortment of Gulls, all gathered in a small area, allowing me a delightful afternoon with little exertion.



I am so glad my husband took time to take me on that outing.  We then returned home with no delay on the causeway and had supper.  Following that we went to Ron's mother's house to visit with her, Ron's brother from Tennessee and his wife, and Ron's aunt from Louisiana.  We were having such a nice visit we lost all track of time and didn't get home until 11:30.  A nice day!
Discussion at Ron's mom's house, for me, had to be one-on-one.  I just couldn't hear in a group setting.  Ron's aunt has a good friend who has had a Cochlear Implant and she had told his aunt for me to be patient when the device is activated and to realise it will take time.  She had added me to their church prayer list especially for that time of activation.  I would request that from all of my praying friends.  That will be a stressful couple of days next week.
My arm was tired and gave me a little bit of a restless night, but not too bad.  It is getting better every day.  I must constantly remind myself not to use it.  That is easier said than done.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

An Afternoon at the Office
Tuesday,  June 25, 2013
One week from today is when I have the appointment to have the Cochlear Implant activated and programmed!  One week!  I can't say that the end is in sight, because this will just be the start of the next phase.  But the next phase will allow me to return to some normal activities. 
This morning my husband had an emergency job for a customer.  Normally when that happens before opening time, I will go to the office and open it for business.  Then he would come when he finished his job.  Today he said, "NO."  He wasn't comfortable leaving me at the office alone.  I understand, but it reminded me how much my assorted problems are affecting our business.  We have had to close many days for the trips to Houston and for my elbow surgery.  Many other days we have closed for several hours at a time for doctor appointments.  As I have mentioned before, we own a small business that has been in my family since 1939.  It is hard for me to just put up the closed sign and walk away during regular business hours, but sometimes we have no choice.  God keeps providing for our needs.
Today, I needed to go to the office to make up a deposit and pay a couple of bills.  I needed to go through a stack of mail and see what needed my attention.  I keep some of my personal files at the office since I am normally there so many hours each day.  A lot of things had stacked up at home that needed to go to the office to be filed.  Mom picked me up about 1:30 and took me to the shop.  I spent the rest of the afternoon on assorted office chores. 

Late in the afternoon a salesman we buy from, who has become a friend over the years, came in for a while.  As he left, he reminded me that he was thinking of me during this time and checking my blog for updates.  That again brought to mind the many of you are are thinking of me and praying for me during this difficult time.  I think in some way, everyone thinks, "Wow, what I do if that was me?"  Most of you understand that this Sudden Hearing Loss just SUDDENLY  happened (probably why it is called Sudden Hearing Loss).  No illness brought it on.  No accident caused it.  One Friday, I could hear at lunch and couldn't hear at supper. 
So what do we do when we are hit with the unexpected?  We turn to those who have been there for us in the past.  We look to the familiar.  For me, my family has always been there for me.  My husband was still very sick with a bad case of the flu when I lost my hearing, but he immediately picked up pen and paper to communicate.  My parents made sure we kids knew they would always be there.  Dad has been gone many years, but Mom was ready to do anything she could to help.  Our children quickly sought out ways to keep the lines of communication flowing.  Each person helped in whatever way they could.  We often think doctors can "fix" things and give us answers.  That is not always the case.
In my life, the one constant source of strength, comfort, and courage, is God.  If we barely know Him, and a crisis hits, we may know we should turn to Him, but don't know where to find His answers.  For me, those answers are in scriptures I have read and learned all my life.  I didn't have to find a Bible and start searching to know the truth of a favorite verse that means a lot to our family: Jeremiah 29:11 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."  I had no doubt that the verse was true.
Don't think I just sat back and said, "OK, God.  Handle it."  I had to go to the doctors and seek answers.  I spent countless nights (when I was unable to sleep due to the medications I was given in hopes of restoring the hearing) doing research on line.  Looking for answers.  But all the time trusting that God had plans for my good. 
When I look back at photos of me during the first couple of months, I know I was to some extent both in a state of shock and in a state of withdrawal as I sought ways to function in a world where I was deaf.  Holding a precious grandchild sure helps.

Through all that time, though, I never wondered, "Why me?"  If I think that, then am I saying I think it should happen to someone else, but not me?  No, it was more a feeling that somehow God was going to work all of this to His glory and my good.  I just had to keep taking each new step that He gave me peace about.  I don't think I ever thought I would remain deaf for the rest of my life, but I didn't know how God was going to change my situation.  I thought I was not a candidate for the Cochlear Implant, so in the beginning, I didn't consider that an option.  Plus even if it was possible, it was way out of my price range.  God used a high school friend on Facebook (who also sleeps very few hours each night), to show me that I was a candidate and through those long, late night hours on the computer, searching, I found that Medicare would cover a Cochlear Implant.  So I was prepared with information when a doctor asked me if I would consider a Cochlear Implant.  I quickly said that I would.
Have these last five and a half months been easy?  NO!  Have I seen God meeting our needs?  YES!  Have I seen our sons, their wives (and the girlfriend of our single son), and our grandchildren rally around in amazing ways to keep me involved?  YES!  Have I seen my husband step up and take excellent care of me, always putting my needs before his own?  YES!  Am I tired of being treated like an invalid?  YES!  I am eager to return fully to the activities I have not enjoyed for a long time.  I am eagerly counting the days until my implant is activated.  That does not mean that I will hear perfectly the first day, but it will be better than what I have now, and if I practice and work hard, I should be hearing well before too long.

Your prayers are still important.  Your encouragement has been great and I still need it.  I may still have trouble understanding you for a while, but bear with me, please.  Things will get better!  I plan to continue the blog to share my progress.  I want to help more people learn about the Cochlear Implant.  As we go through life, we may each someday know someone else who will go through a similar situation, and each of us will be better prepared to help them.  I am thankful for the Facebook friend who offered me so much insight during those early days after I lost my hearing. 

Before I close tonight, I  promised an updated photo to show the healing of my scar from the surgery three weeks ago for my broken elbow.  It is getting better - both the scar and the elbow.  I slept pretty well last night and it has given me very little discomfort today.  I am also feeling much better, in general.  At no extra charge, you also get to see the scar from the Cochlear Implant which is healing nicely from the surgery to weeks ago.


Monday, June 24, 2013

Another Lazy Day and Sleepless Night
Monday,  June 24, 2013

The last few nights have had a lot of sleepless hours in them.  When I wake, there is some discomfort in my arm, but not real bad.  But that or something else is keeping me from getting a good night's sleep.  I quit the prescription pain medication last week after a bad episode and am taking over-the- counter ones which both surgeons had suggested.  Only problem is they don't work as long.  One pill (not the normal dosage of two) works fine on the discomfort - for four hours.  I hate to get up and take another after 4 or 5 hours of sleep, but I may have to give in and do so.  I usually spend the last few hours of each night in the recliner dozing off and on. 

Each day is better.  The wrist is not as swollen.  Maybe I didn't mention the wrist.  I think I mentioned that at our request Dr. Olson x-rayed my wrist last week.  It had hurt a lot and when he took the splint off, it was very swollen.  He said most of that was due to him manipulating the bones around my elbow, to put them back into place.  The swelling has been going down and the pain is much less.  I have good movement of the wrist and fingers.The elbow is doing fairly well.  The swelling there is better, but not all gone by any means.  Range of motion is fair but not great, and I am still trying not to use it as per his orders.  The huge bruise on my shoulder is almost all gone.  Dr. Olson said that the bruise was due to a tourniquet used on the upper arm during surgery.

Yesterday morning I decided not to try to go to Sunday School or church.  Not being able to hear is a big factor, but also the discomfort in my arm and the need to protect it were major considerations.  Being out of church another Sunday, was just too much, so I decided to go to worship service with our son David and his wife Diana at Village Parkway Baptist Church in San Antonio, Texas.  David was in his place in the front row of the choir and his wife Diana was on the front row of the orchestra playing her violin.  I was on the front row in my sewing room, in front of my computer, watching a live streaming feed of their worship service from 250 miles away.  Isn't technology amazing? 

One of the problems when you can't hear is that you can't hear yourself either.  I love to sing the old hymns at church, especially the ones we do in harmony.  I sing alto and I am by no means a great singer, but I can carry a tune - rather, I could until I became deaf.  With my amplifier turned all the way up and set up next to the speaker on the computer (also turned all the way up), I could sing along on the songs.  I know that I can't hear the music well enough to stay on pitch with it, so at church I don't try to sing.  (Also at church my amplifier is not right next to the speaker, so I don't hear even the rhythm of the song being sung.)  Back to yesterday's service, I was home alone since my husband was at church, so I just sang to my heart's content with that great choir and orchestra at Village Parkway Baptist Church in San Antonio! 

When it came time for the sermon, even with my amplifier turned up and the computer turned up, it was not enough to really follow the message, so I prayed for that service, the one at our church, and for another that I had been asked to pray for.  It was a good Sunday morning.

My youngest sister had flown into town the evening to visit our mom.  After church, they picked up food and brought it to our house and we had a relaxed meal and visit.  My sister has a strong voice and I was able to understand much of what she said.  She is also a physical therapist, so it was good to get her input on my arm.  She did say my scar looks much better than the photo I posted last week, so maybe I can get my husband to take a new photo to post tomorrow.  That will be one week out of the cast.  Today is 3 weeks since the elbow surgery and 2 weeks since the Cochlear Implant surgery.

Today, my husband encouraged me to stay home from our office.  I didn't argue.  I may go tomorrow - not sure yet.  He has been doing a great job of taking care of my hanging plants and filling the bird feeders so I can enjoy them each day. 

Today most of the birds today have been sparrows, 3 kinds of ducks, blackbirds, and 2 kinds of doves.  A green jay made a brief appearance, but flew off before I could get to my camera.  The green jays are nesting in the area so I will keep trying.  It can get crowded at the birdbaths on these hot days.

Previously, I mentioned that there were several possible side effects to the Cochlear Implant surgery.  One is that it can affect your sense of taste.  I have had a minor change there.  I love Dr. Peppers to drink.  They are my soda of choice.  Now they just don't taste the same!  I hope this is temporary.  Also a couple of other foods taste a little different.  Nothing major, but different. 

Another change since my Cochlear Implant surgery is the music that I hear in my head.  It is softer and less diverse than before.  The arrangements are not as complex as before and there is more instrumental and less vocal music.  It is still beautiful, but much softer.  A good thing is that the other noises are way down, too.  I do hear what sound like electronic tones off and on, but rarely.  So my world is quieter.  Hopefully, not for much longer!  A week from tomorrow we go back to Houston to have the device programed and activated.  We are doing a countdown toward that goal.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Accepting Limits and Asking For Help
Saturday,  June 22, 2013

Since it was Saturday, my faithful housekeeper came.  It is always a delight to see her.  She loves the Lord and is not ashamed to say so.  She always cares how I am.  And she is an excellent housekeeper.  I have an allergy to dust.  She doesn't.  She loves to dust.  I am delighted.  But today I was glad to see her because there are so many chores I can't do right now.  In the four hours she was here, she was like a whirlwind and got things shaped up.  What a blessing.

It was a busy day for everyone around me, but not really for me.  I had a sleepless night.  I had an enjoyable on line chat with one of my daughters-in-law last night and after that I got ready for bed.  It was about midnight.  I could not get comfortable.  Much tossing and very little turning since I can't sleep on my left side, and at 5:00 a.m. I got up and moved to the recliner and fell asleep about 5:30 until 7:15.  The housekeeper arrived about 7:45.  Ron left about 8:30 to go pick up our oldest grandson at Boy Scout camp. 

From camp, Ron had an emergency job for a customer, so they went there and started it but he was going to have to get supplies to finish it.  Next they went to Sears to get the window air conditioner unit he had ordered for his mom to replace one of hers.  They went to her house and did that job.  Some where in those errands they got bird seed for my feeders at home and finally picked up pizza for our lunch.

Meantime, while the housekeeper worked and Ron and our grandson worked, I did little.  I  got a load of laundry started, but couldn't get it out of the dryer (had to ask for help).  Made a fruit salad (almost, but couldn't open the jar of cherries to go in it and had to ask for help).  Loaded and unloaded the dishwasher, but had to leave a few items on counter (and ask for help later to put away the heavy ones). 

I used the hose to rinse the windows that overlook my yard, so I could take bird photos without the camera focusing on the dirty spots instead of the birds, (but had to ask for help to really get them clean).   The grass was getting deep in the back yard and that has always been a chore I loved to do (but this time I would have to ask for help).

The guys arrived with the pizza and we had a good time laughing about camp stories with our grandson.  I asked if he found any new friends while Grandpa asked if he lost any friends.  After lunch, Ron went to the office and got the additional tools and parts to finish the job for the customer while my grandson mowed the back yard and cleaned the windows with that super smile you see even when it was about 95 degrees outside! 
Ron got back with the tools for his job, and together the guys filled the feeders and bird baths to keep the birds and Grandma happy.  They also filled the ponds.


Next they transplanted one hanging basket plant.  The birds had been taking the lining out of the basket for nesting material.  The guys had a good time working together and probably joked about Grandma being a perfectionist.  But they had fun.

They left and went to finish the job started earlier in the day for a customer.  Then Ron took our grandson to his other grandmother's house where his aunt was waiting to take him swimming.  He is bound to have enjoyed that after a week at camp and a busy day of helping.

Once Ron got home, I needed his help to go buy groceries.  I can't drive, can't push the basket easily, and found I couldn't even tear off the plastic bag from the roll for the fruit I wanted to buy.  Although I got to laugh when Ron also struggled with it.  They sometimes are really hard to tear.  We just got a few things.  I knew he was exhausted and I had battled an upset stomach much of the day.

We got home and I put supper in a pot (but had to ask for help to put it in the oven).  I told Ron that supper would be in 30 minutes, so he headed to a cleansing bath.  I got the table ready.  Made tea.  Cooked cauliflower and waited for him (I need to ask for help to get supper out of the oven and to open that jar of cherries for the fruit salad).  So while he lost all track of time, I waited and waited.  Eventually we had our supper and it was my turn for a bath (but I had to ask for help getting in and out of the tub safely). 

 In life and in marriage we all know we need to help one another.  It is part of life and it is part of God's plan.  When God created Eve for Adam, it was for a "helpmate"; but I am used to doing at least some of the helping, and not all of the asking.  I know this is temporary; my daughter-in-law reminded me of that tonight.  But some days it gets hard to ask for each thing you need.  We don't
"keep score", so why is it so hard?  A lot of it is pride.  We don't want to appear weak.  Sometimes people feel the other person IS keeping score, but not at my house.  It is just being more comfortable giving than taking, but sometimes the other person needs to learn to "give" and needs the blessing of giving.  I think I will print out that photo of my grandson's smiling face as he cleaned my windows and try not to feel so useless when I have to ask for help.

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Road is Still Bumpy -
But Getting Better
Friday,  June 21, 2013

Yesterday was another hard day.  Again, there are no real problems from the Cochlear Implant Surgery except for not being able to sleep on that side.  I continue to clean and medicate the incision site 3 times a day.  There is a ridge of scar behind the ear, but no one sees it.  Not even me.

The biggest problem:  I can't hear!  It will be about 10 more days before they activate and program the implant so until then, I have NO hearing on the side where the surgery was done.  The other side has had very little hearing for many years.  I use my amplifier in that side but understand very little.  I can hear that a person is speaking, but usually can't understand what the person is saying.  With a FEW people with voices in a certain range, I can do fairly well understanding them, if they speak slowly and distinctly.  But I have only found about 3 people in that range.  Others must resort to the dry marker board or pencil and paper.  It is VERY frustrating. 

It has now been over 5 months since the hearing loss and I am tired of it.  My patience is hanging by a thread!  I can't talk on the phone at all, so no one can call to chat or share news or tell me they are at my door.  This past weekend our youngest son became ill and was running fever.  He went to the doctor and had texted me to tell me that much.  I didn't hear more from him.  I asked my husband and he said yes he had talked to our son but then he couldn't answer any of my "mother" questions about what our son had reported.  So I texted my son again and he called me.  Only I couldn't understand him, so my husband would relay the "mother" questions and then relay answers to me.  It broke my heart to not be able to talk to him.  He is still not well and may need more extensive treatment and I am feeling useless.  Unable to help.

Then that same feeling yesterday came flooding over me.  Useless.  Through all of these months of my health issues, the load on my husband has gotten bigger and bigger.  Yesterday he got a call from his mother that her gas was off.  She uses gas for cooking, heating, and hot water heating.  She lives alone and is 88 yrs. old and is barely able to get around.  A sweet lady cares for her several hours a day, but the rest of the time she manages on her own.  Well, Ron called the gas company and they said a neighbor called that they smelled gas and that the gas man knocked on her door at 10:00 the night before but she didn't answer (duh?!) so they cut off the gas.  He spent well over an hour on the phone getting the run around while I was working in my office, paying bills.  At one point when he finally got the person he needed, a customer came in, but he needed to stick with the phone call.  I sat in my office watching the monitor but knowing I could be of no help either with the customer or the phone call.  Useless.

It is hard when I feel so useless.  After my mom picked me up when I finished the paperwork I needed to do, Ron got hold of a plumber friend who said he should be able to cut 10 days off the 2 weeks the gas company said it would take to help her, but he had to close the office and go meet the gas man and work stuff out with him.  To top it off, his mom has guests coming for a visit.  They may do their cooking and showering at our house if they want to spend their days at her house.  They are all welcome here, but his mom likes to be at her home.  I really understand that.

A couple of weeks ago Ron saw our dermatologist, not in the office but on an outting, and mentioned he was coming in soon to see about a couple of spots they missed last time.  As they chatted, the doctor spotted another more concerning spot and told him to come soon.  So he did.  Reports on tests done made the doctor call him to tell him to come back again.  He goes back Monday.  (Since he has nothing else to do or be concerned about.)  So the saga of our year 2013 continues. 

When Mom picked me up at the end of my work morning at the office, I was ready to go home, but she offered shopping for a new keyboard to replace this one with the blank keys (some of letters are worn off) and lunch.  I agreed to try shopping and then see about lunch.  I quickly became aware that it had been a mistake to try the outings.  I was past my limit of energy.  I had to text Ron for some information about what kind of keyboard to get and his answer ruled out what was at that store. I also needed some information about a Kindle that could be synchronized with the audio books (more on that on another posting - it has to do with the implant).  Either I was not making my questions clear to the clerk, or I could not understand enough of his answers, but I decided it was time to go home.  By the time I got home, I was in "meltdown mode" and my poor Mom got the brunt of it.  The five months of almost no tears had come to an end and I needed to be alone.  Not a good day.  I skipped lunch and eventually fell asleep and slept till almost 7:00. 

Later our friends the Lawlers brought supper to us and stayed for a nice long visit.  It was good to catch up on assorted news since we had not seen them in two weeks.  Ron and Dennis ran an unsuccessful errand for me while Pat and I visited.  It was a relaxing evening after a long hard day for both of us.

I was concerned I would not be able to sleep after my long nap, but I slept well and woke only once during the night, and then got up a little before 6:00 this morning and had Ron's coffee ready for him for a change.  My arm had given me a great deal of discomfort all yesterday and through the night but now seems better.  Mobility increases and it is VERY hard to follow the rules about not lifting, pushing, pulling, etc. with that hand. 


I have now had my lunch and am ready for a nap.  Ron has been going out in the yard every evening and watering my hanging baskets and filling the bird baths and ponds.  I am enjoying watching the activity of out my window.  This immature yellow-crowned night heron came by today. 

 The sparrows are loving the two bird baths and keep the rim lined as they take turns getting a drink, taking their baths, or going to the top for a shower.  It is hot here in South Texas!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A Bumpy Detour on the Road to Recovery
Wednesday,  June 19, 2013

Last night I slept much better than the previous night.  I had taken my pain medication for my arm and slept very well until 5:00 a.m.  I should have gotten up at that time for a pill because the pain was back, but I was able to go back to sleep until around 7:30.  As soon as I was awake and alert I took the pain medication because by now the arm was really hurting. 

With Ron's help I fixed my breakfast and ate and dressed.  After he left for work, I washed my hair, did a little picking up, and cleaned and doctored my ear.  I had asked Mom to pick me up at 10:00 to take me to work.  I told her to let herself in with her key since I would not hear the door.  By 10:00 I was ready and waiting.  And waiting.  And waiting and getting worried.  At 10:30 I texted Ron to tell him I waiting.  He told me to look out the side door.  No one there.  Looked out front and no one there.  Texted back to tell him.  He texted back that Mom was coming.  She arrived a few minutes later.

It turned out that Mom arrived at 10:00, but had brought the wrong key and couldn't get in.  True to my word, I couldn't hear her.  She had also forgotten her cell phone.  She had borrowed a phone from a workman across the street and tried to call.  I did see the flashing light on my phone, but did not recognize the number on the caller ID, so since I would not be able to hear the caller, I did not answer the phone.  So I think (I could not follow all of the story) she went to a friend's office and called Ron. 

It was the usual hot, humid summer day in South Texas, and I know Mom was hot and frustrated by the time we connected.  As I said in an earlier blog: Deafness is Difficult (for all those around me as well as for me).  Eventually, I did get to the office and my original plan had been to stay until 1:30 - the time for my next pain pills.

One of the things people often overlook when dealing with a deaf person is that not only can they not hear you, they cannot hear themselves.  This is why so many deaf or hearing impaired people talk too loudly.  They aren't angry or seeking attention, they just have no idea how loud they are.  Consequently, as I worked in my office, and pains were shooting up and down my arm, I would moan, or mutter, "Ouch",or "Ohhhh", not aware that all my husband was hearing from his office was my "loud" sounds of anguish.  I was hurting, but not as much, I am sure, as the sounds from my office indicated.  Several times he stuck his head in to check on me and I would assure him I was just uncomfortable, not dying.

Meanwhile, I was taking care of some of the chores that really needed to be done in my office.  I went on line and payed the state sales tax on items we had sold and services we had provided the previous month.  I balanced the checkbook and finally finished the rest of my reports for our accountant.  (I had emailed him the figures so he could calculate the sales tax payment, the last time I went to the office for a few hours.  Then he emailed the information back to me that I needed.)

The clock was nearing 1:30; the time when I had planned to leave and the time for the next pain medication which I really needed.  This was the worst day of pain during this entire ordeal of both the hearing surgery and the broken elbow.  I told Ron to call Mom and tell her 2:30 instead of 1:30 and took my pills and got back to work.  Mistake!  I was so tired and so stressed, and had not taken a lunch to the office, since I planned to eat at home at 1:30 when I was to take my meds.  The meds on my exhausted body and empty stomach, were doing their best to knock me out.  I managed to finish making up a deposit just before Mom arrived, but could not get out the door fast enough to get home to sleep.

I know that I put Mom into a state of panic and it didn't help that every crazy driver in town was out on the road, but she managed to get me home.  I was so "out of it", I asked her to stay while I slept.  I just wasn't comfortable being alone.  I slept for 3 hours or so and woke up refreshed, and relatively pain free!  Yea!  I thanked her and told her it was OK for her to leave, but she wouldn't leave until Ron was home.  What a day!  Plus I still need to go back to the office tomorrow to pay bills. 

Feeling better than I had in the last 36 hours, we were treated to a hot, delicious supper brought by a sweet young mother (with a little girl and a fairly new baby boy).  This is when it is hard to let others do for me, when I feel I should be doing for her.  Dennisse brought a wonderful smelling casserole and fresh from the oven rolls, and I remembered I had eaten no lunch.  It was a blessing to sit down to that hot meal. 

Ron helped me with a bath after we had eaten supper and he had cleaned the kitchen.  I think the pain pills are off my list of acceptable medications and I will go to a milder over-the-counter variety.  I think the pain is just from the arm being moved in ways it had not been for a while.  The scar looks better.  There is less swelling, and I think I am back on the road to recovery after a bumpy detour.

Plans are to go back to the office at 10:00 tomorrow and not to stay too long.  I know Mom's day was about as rough as mine and she doesn't get the pain pills.  Hopefully, tomorrow will go much more smoothly.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

"Don't Even Lift A Spoon"
June 18, 2013

This has in several ways been a rather discouraging day.  In other ways it was good.  And I know without a shadow of a doubt, that God is still in control and will keep taking care of me (us).

Last night I had a rather sleepless night.  I slept from 12:00 till 1:00 and then from 5:00 till 8:00.  That is a little less than normal for me.  My arm was bothering me some - not terribly, but enough to keep me from being comfortable.  The 5:00 - 8:00 sleeping was in the recliner. 

Vickey did some grocery shopping for us this morning and then helped me bake some chocolate chip cookies for her to take home to our son Bob.  She finished her packing and Ron closed the office about noon to come home so we could take her to the airport in Harlingen.  Her flight was at 2:00 and we dropped her off just before 1:00 and then we headed to the orthopedic surgeon's office.

Since the surgery on my broken elbow, 15 days ago, my left arm has been in what they called a splint and that was in a sling.  The splint was hard and pretty much like a cast as far as I was concerned, but maybe a little more comfortable.  This afternoon we saw Dr. Olson to find out what the next step would be.

Dr. Christopher Olson is a very pleasant man, and seemed generally pleased when he cut the splint away and checked out the healing progress on my arm.  After he removed the splint, he checked the staples for healing and for any sign of infection.  Healing seemed fine and there was no sign of infection.  So far, so good.

Next he wanted to check for range of motion.  I was able to bend and extend the elbow pretty well, with not too much pain if I did it slowly.  It felt good to have the splint off.  He continued to see what I could comfortably do and seemed very pleased. 
At this point I better give the warning I did last week about photos of my incision.  They are coming next, so this is a warning to the squeamish.

As you can tell from these photos, I do bruise easily.  Dr. Olson had told me in the hospital that he had used about 30 staples.  In the photo I count about 25.  Ron thought he counted 27 as Jessica removed them.  Anyhow...a bunch.  And a significantly ugly scar!  Oh, well...

Dr. Olson brought in his very capable nurse Jessica and then he left the room while he gave Jessica with the task of removing those 25 - 30 staples.  She had a gentle touch and did an excellent job.   I had asked Dr. Olson if he was going down the hall to put on his ear plugs.  He said it wouldn't hurt.  And I told him, "That's what they all say."  He was right.  It was not painful.

He came back to check the incision once the staples were out and sent me down the hall for some x-rays, with a nice young man whose name I did not get, but will next time.  Yes,there will be a next time and probably more after that.  I go back a month from today.

After the x-rays were developed, Dr. Olson returned with them on his lap top.  I had told him I wanted to see them.  Ron had also thought to tell Dr. Olson that I was concerned about my wrist and they x-rayed it, too.  It is not broken but suffered from being jammed in the original fall and being aggravated during surgery to put bones back in place that I had messed up and dislocated.

The x-rays showed what a mess I made of things when I fell!  Shattered instead of "broke" might better explain what I did.  After showing the x-rays to us, he began to talk about what I may and may not do over the next month before I see him again.  Oh my!  This really puts a cramp in my very independent ways!  I am to bend the arm as is comfortable.  No forcing.  No one else (husband, physical therapist, etc.) is to try to move it.  Only me.  I am to only do what I can comfortably do with the muscles in that arm (no help from the other arm).

I am not to use the left arm to push, pull, use for leverage in getting up and down, or ANY lifting.  He said, "Don't even lift a spoon!"  My mouth fell open and I said,  "Not even a spoon???  I'm glad it is my left arm so I can still eat." 

So, you see why I am a little discouraged.  My summer calendar is packed!  Now, Ron's calendar is going to be packed.  He may learn to cook, yet.  Ron's brother, sister-in-law, and favorite (also only, but she will always be his favorite) aunt arrive Monday.  I think they will stay with his Mom, but normally I would at least invite them over for a meal.    We still very much want them to come over, but I won't be cooking.  Not this time unless KFC does the cooking.

Also on that calendar, we go back to Houston in a couple of weeks.  Our former exchange student from Denmark and his family are coming soon (much to our delight).  Stephen and Kristina are coming for a week after that and we are looking forward to their visit.  At least Stephen can cook!  These are all family (including our exchange student who became a son) and will all understand, and easy meals will work well and probably allow for more visiting.  We look forward to each of these and any others who can come.  It will just be different.

At home I can leave the arm out of the sling, but away from home I am to wear it as a reminder to others and to me that I am not healed.  It hurts.  The wrist is as uncomfortable if not more so than the elbow.  I need to figure what I can and can't do at the office.  I need to go in tomorrow to do a few things.  we remembered on the way home that driving was not discussed, but we both know I cannot safely drive. 

So...Please pray for me to be careful in order to heal correctly and fully.  Pray as we adjust to a different way of doing things.  Pray for Ron to be up to the task. 

We were so blessed that Vickey could be here this last week to help.  She was an excellent caregiver.  God met our needs through her loving care.  But she has returned to her paying job in Albuquerque and to her husband who misses her VERY much!  Thanks, Bob for sharing.  We really needed her sweet help.

Monday, June 17, 2013

My Cochlear Implant Surgery Plus One Week
Monday,  June 17, 2013

Just about this time last week, I was being wheeled into surgery to receive my Cochlear Implant.  About this time two weeks ago, I was being wheeled down to Pre-Op to be prepared for surgery to repair my broken elbow, which I broke in a fall while working in my yard.  In many ways it has been difficult to separate the recovery of one from the other. 

Now, looking back, I believe that the surgery for the Cochlear Implant has been a breeze as far as recovery.  The main reason we gladly accepted Vickey's offer to come help after the Cochlear surgery was the varied POSSIBLE side effects.  Thankfully, I have had none of them.  OK, a couple in a very minor way.  One that has been a minor problem is taste.  There is the possibility of loss of taste.  As
with most of the possible side effects, they are usually temporary as swelling in the surgery area affects nerves.  I have found that things do not taste just right.  That is a shame as friends and family have brought food and Vickey has cooked for us.  But is minor. 

Other possible problems include nausea and dizziness.  Thankfully these have not been a problem at all.  Another possible problem is damage to facial nerves.  That has not been a problem.  There can be discomfort in the ear.  This has been one of the minor issues.  Wind, or cold air blowing on that ear has caused mild discomfort, but much of that was just concern that there could be a problem.  Once Ron checked with the nurse and I reviewed some information on the surgery, my fears were put to rest.

Of course the main thing that has changed is my hearing.  Until the implant is activated, I have NO hearing in my left ear.  The right one  had been so bad for so long that I had not been trying to use it until about the last month.  I am using the amplifier on that ear.  I can tell someone is talking, but I understand little of what is said.  This morning before Vickey was up the phone rang several times (I have a flashing light on it so I knew it was ringing).  Knowing I could not hear the caller I ignored it for a while, but finally picked it up and said, "I am deaf.  I cannot hear you.  Please don't keep calling." 

So for the implant surgery, other than the general weakness that anyone has after surgery, I haven't had to depend on Vickey too much.  Where I have needed her is related to the elbow surgery.  I am pretty helpless with one hand.  She has been helping to dress me, but today I remembered an old bra that fastens in the front and managed to dress myself.  I let Vickey sleep late so I could see if I could take care of myself.  I managed to clean the incision (I am to do that 3 times a day and then medicate it).  Then I washed my hair (with a lot more shampoo than necessary since I couldn't pour it in the other hand and instead squirted it directly on my hair).  I was just ready to medicate the ear when Vickey came in and I let her do it.  I believe I could have done it, but might get the medicine on twice as big an area as needed.


One-handed, it is difficult to get things out of the refrigerator that are heavy.  Some larger items may not be heavy but are bulky.  I really battled with the can opener a few days ago and finally had to ask for help.  I am not to bend down, so that makes getting pots and pans out of their cabinet, a challenge. 

Even opening anything with a twist off lid works much better with two hands.  I can't drive.  I know I can't steer most of the damaged shopping carts at the stores.  I can't lift a bag of bird seed.  I have not yet figured out how to sew, but once Vickey's sewing project is taken home with her, I am sure I won't be able to resist the call of my sewing machine. 

Sunday afternoon, Vickey and I spent time in the kitchen.  Bob had requested that I help her make chicken fried steak and chocolate frosting that would "taste like Mom's".  So I managed to prove that I could prepare a meal (almost by myself).

But I did find that I was unable to carry out an old habit involving "taste testing."  Apparently over the years I have used my finger on my left hand to test things and every time I did that, out of habit, I ran into problems.  I can't reach my mouth with my left hand!

When you are a patient in the hospital, thenurses seem to be obsessed with your bodily functions.  This has led to many jokes over the years.  There are good reasons for this preoccupation they seem to have, as I was reminded in the last few days.  Lying inactive in a hospital bed, being sedated for surgery, taking pain medications, sleeping a lot and consequently not eating and drinking at the times and in the normal amounts, can throw off your system.  Add in that I had been on heavy doses of anti-histamines to keep my lungs clear for surgery and it just all caught up with me.  Finally, I am back on track and feeling better.

All of this is to say that the Cochlear Implant surgery has been a breeze - especially when compared to the broken elbow.  I go to the orthopedic surgeon tomorrow to get the staples out from that surgery and hopefully be allowed some use of that arm.  It is 2 more weeks until I see the ear surgeon.  Things are progressing and I guess we will put Vickey on her plane tomorrow.  We will miss her help, but I know Bob has really missed her.  She has been a blessing.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Feeling A Little Weak Over The Weekend
Sunday,  June 16, 2013

There are good days, and ones that aren't really bad, but fall short of "good".  That is how this weekend seems.  Yesterday Vickey and I both slept late.  I had been helping her with a quilt for Bob.  Mostly I have been helping from my spot in the recliner.  I tried not to sleep the day away, but maybe I shouldn't have tried so hard.

Vickey and I worked on baked beans and cheese dip to take to Jeff and Barbara's for a Father's Day cookout Saturday evening, but by the time we got there,  I was exhausted and sleepy. 

We had a great time with family, just hanging around and laughing and enjoying the evening but I was tired. 

One funny time, Grandson Joseph was sent to the patio where Jeff, Ron, and I were chatting.  He had arrived in tears of frustration and sat down, crying.  Jeff asked me if I could hear him and I said "Barely." 

So he cried louder hoping I would be able to hear.  I was using my amplifier which doesn't work too well in my bad ear.  I unplugged the ear bud from the amplifier and told him I could turn off his crying easily.  Well, he got to laughing and trying to control my amplifier.  There are times when the ability to "tune something out" isn't all bad.  In no time at all, we had a happy little boy.

But not long after supper, I was the one to be ready to go home first.  It was a fun time, but my strength was gone.

At home I had a restless night as I tried to do without the pain medications.  The pain is minor, but the medication does help me sleep.  Stomach upset and general feelings of weakness kept me home from church today.  Vickey fixed us a great Father's Day lunch.  What a blessing her visit has been to us.  It has given Ron a break to be able to focus on our business for a few days and Vickey has given me excellent, loving care.  We are very close friends and it has been a treat to have her here.

Another smaller treat, is that the pair of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks that spent the winter at our house, have come around to show us their new family.  Here are six babies, but I think there may be eight in all.