Saturday, August 31, 2013

August 31, 2013

100th Blog Entry
Saturday,  August 31, 2013

When I started writing this blog, I did it for a variety of reasons.  We have a lot of family scattered away from here and this seemed to be a good way to keep them updated on my progress.  For several years I have had some involvement with the Winter Texans who worship with us at First Baptist Church, Brownsville, Texas, during the Winter months and several of them asked me to keep them updated on my hearing situation after they returned north for the Summer.  Finally, I wanted to be able to share the story of my journey toward a Cochlear Implant with others who might face the same situation some day.  It has been an interesting journey to say the least.

One of our sons, David, set up the blog site for me and got me started with it.  Our son, Bob, has been helpful in several aspects of this adventure.  I appreciate their help.  Writing is one of my favorite activities, so this seemed a natural outlet for that interest.  My first posting was April 13, 2013 and as so many of us often comment, "I wish I had started sooner."  I did fill in those missing dates with a timeline entry done a few days after I started the blog. 

Earlier today I had decided that tonight's blog would be some statistics about the blog, but little did I realize until I started writing tonight, that this is the 100th entry!  I feel like I should celebrate.  There are so many things to celebrate:  100 entries, readers from 50 countries, and most importantly, I CAN HEAR!!  When I get discouraged about something, or someone I can't hear, I must remind myself of how far I have come and how far ahead I am of where I was even a couple of years ago.  The hearing is not perfect, but it is amazingly good!

Looking at the report page that I can access for this blog, they give me an interesting amount of information about my readers.  I don't know who you are, but today I had 2 viewings from Jordan and that made the 50th country that viewers have come from.  I can see a listing of at anytime of the top ten countries for the day, week, month, or all time.  As of this writing, I have had a total of 9,228 "page views".  Some countries listed in the top ten might surprise you.  First is the United States of America with 7,769 views, followed in second place by Russia!  There have been 405 views from Russia, 311 from Canada, 86 from Germany, 54 from France, 37 from Ukraine, 29 from China, 26 from Spain, and 22 each from the United Kingdom and Poland.

My report page tells me the operating systems being used to access the blog.  The vast majority are using Windows (63%), but surprising to me, iPhone, iPad, and Android phones account for 23%.  That means that almost 1/4 of you are reading this on small personal wireless devices - not sitting in front of a desktop computer as I am.  Mac computers account for 7% of the views.  The report page also tells me what browsers are being used (that means little to me) and a lot of other pieces of information that my sons might find interesting, but are beyond me.

Roadblock, Detour, or Speed Bump on My Path to A Cochlear Implant? is the most viewed posting I have written.  That is where I told about breaking my elbow just before it was time for my implant surgery.  I typed that blog one handed while laying in my hospital bed following my elbow surgery.  Praise God for Answered Prayers!!!  I Can Hear!!!  Thank You, Dr. Chang!!! written on July 2, after the activation of the Cochlear Implant, was the second most viewed entry.  Most of you rejoiced with me about that good news!  You were all very interested in the entries about the actual surgery and about the equipment for the Cochlear Implant. 

When I was college age, I don't think that they offered a degree in Statistics as they do now.  If they had, I would have been very tempted to take that path of study.  I am fascinated by statistics and what they can tell us.  But I think we all know they don't tell the whole picture and they can be manipulated sometimes to present a different picture of a situation.  The thing that is more important to me than these statistics is what people are learning from these postings.  Many of you have said that you are learning things that can help you with a friend or family member who is hard of hearing.  Some have said that they now better understand what it is like for their mom or grandfather or some friend who struggles to understand conversation and sometimes just "tunes out" after a while.  I do pray that the blog can help in that way.  One person have told me that a friend is now seeing Dr. Chang for evaluation for possible surgery and another is considering a possible appointment.  Others have asked for his name and information to possibly contact him.

Many of you have left comments on the blog site.  Others have found that difficult and have either left a comment on Facebook or sent me a private message.  It doesn't matter where you comment, but don't hesitate to add a note or ask a question if you would like.  I wish I could know how the people around the world have found the blog and what it means to them.  The only comment I have had from a stranger in another country is one from a Cochlear Implant doctor in India.  It would be interesting to hear from others around the world.

Thank you all, for taking time to read these blog postings.  Your encouragements mean the world to me.  I have tried to be honest in what I share.  There have been great days, and difficult ones.  I want you to know the truth about the journey.  It is not over.  There is still much ahead, so don't think this is a "farewell to the readers"!  I will continue sharing the journey and would appreciate reading any comments you want to share.

Friday, August 30, 2013

August 30, 2013

Enjoying the Grandchildren
Friday,  August 30, 2013

You didn't overlook yesterday's posting.  There wasn't one.  Yesterday was one of those days when things don't go as planned.  I was up early and had taken care of things at the house.  I was getting ready to go to the office and suddenly got hit with a very upset stomach to a point of it making me weak and shaky.  I texted Ron and asked if he had committed to any jobs outside the office for the morning and he said his only commitments were after lunch, so for me to stay home a while.

My guess as to the cause of the stomach upset, is the antibiotic that the dermatologist gave me for a facial skin problem.  He had tried it once before and I got very sick, very fast.  This time he tried 1/5 the original dosage but after 3 doses, I was in much the same condition as I had been after that original dose with the full strength.  So I think this is ruled out.  The problem is that this is the only antibiotic approved for the condition - Rosacea. 
 
Since I was home yesterday morning, I did take time to relax and enjoy the birds and then I spent some time working on the quilt with the bird photos that is currently on the design wall. I was able to get the top five rows all together into one section.  There is still much to do but it was good to be able to see some progress.
Shortly after noon, I showed up at the office and Ron headed out for much of the rest of the day.  I worked on an assortment of things to get ready for the end of the month.  Again, I had no problem hearing the customers.  I am amazed at that.  I have struggled with that for so long.  We went to supper with my mom after work and had a nice visit.  I do still struggle to hear Mom.  She is 90 years old and her voice is a little weak.  Once I got home I did a couple of quick chores in the yard and then spent the evening reading and sewing a little.

Today our oldest grandson came to the office as he usually does on Fridays, but also our oldest grand daughter joined him.  She has some allergy problems and they were replacing carpeting at their house and so we agreed it would be good for her to spend the day at the office.  It hit me part way through the day that our office/shop is far from clean and when they send her to our office to prevent allergy problems, that is funny!!

Our grand daughter kept very busy all morning helping me by cleaning the glass doors, windows, and showcases.  Then she helped restock the display racks of key rings and decorative keys.  She worked hard.  After lunch we agreed she could relax and play.  I had taken some fabric squares and she went through them and selected 9 that she wanted to piece together.  She worked for a while on that and then wanted to try a computer game.  She discovered a new game to her (one of my favorites) - Spider Solitaire.  She loved it! 
Ron was out on jobs much of the afternoon.  Just before closing time, our second oldest grand daughter was dropped off to come spend the night with us along with her older sister.  All of us went to supper with our regular Friday night supper friends.  We had a nice supper and a good visit before heading home to let the girls enjoy the LEGOs without the boys around.  They spent a couple of hours designing forts and houses before requesting a movie and a snack before bedtime.

Over the last two days, I have spent time with the Immersion Reading and have not had time to do the practice exercises on the Cochlear DVD.  I have had several irritating spells of the tinnitus - loud sounds in my head.  The doctor says they should diminish as my brain gets more used to the implant.  I hope so.  Sometimes the sounds are overwhelming.  Tonight as I tried to visit with my friend over supper, I had the tinnitus, the music in my head, the amplified a/c in the restaurant, and conversations around us as well as the one we were trying to carry on.  A little bit too much sound.  After silence, I hate to complain, but it can get irritating. 

On another subject, my arm/elbow has been less painful the last few days.  I don't know if it is since I am not doing the physical therapy sessions, or if it just that it continues to heal.  The one bone is healing well, but the other is not and that is the reason that surgery is scheduled for September 9 to take care of the top of the radius bone.  It is hard, as I am in less pain now, to think of starting over with the surgery and pain, healing and therapy, but I do want full usage of the arm and I don't have it at this time.  I did notice tonight that the inward motion of the arm is about the same and the other.  It is the outward extension that doesn't measure up.  It will be 3 months on Sunday, since the original break.  So in about 10 days, we start over again. 


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

August 28, 2013

Cochlear Implant = Communication
Wednesday,  August 28, 2013

This morning at the office, my husband was working on a job for a customer when I arrived.  I had a question or two for him while he finished up his project.  Then he followed me to my office and sat in the desk across from mine and talked about a couple of things.  Then he went to wait on a customer and came back.  Another customer interrupted us and he returned.  Later I followed him to his office to continue a discussion.  What were we talking about?  I don't remember.  Was it important?  Not really anything earth-shattering.  Why am I telling you?  Because, we COULD have a conversation!  We are no longer limited to just the necessary exchange of information.  We can again just talk about each other's opinions on a subject and laugh about the silly things customers ask.  We can talk about our plans for the day or the evening.  We can talk about our kids and our grand kids.  Again, nothing special, but the things that you might spend an hour on the phone talking to your best friend about.  He is my best friend.  He knows me better than anyone else.  He cares about what matters to me. 

For the last several years we have talked less and less to each other.  He would say that if we talked very long, his throat would start hurting from him straining to talk loud enough for me to hear.  I would get tired of asking him over and over what he had said or would be embarrassed to ask for the third time.  We still have to sometimes have something repeated, but now I am repeating for him as often as he is repeating for me.  Since I can now hear myself speak (before I couldn't) I am not talking as loud and he realizes he has some hearing loss.

Now I remember what part of the discussion was about.  Last night his Kindle died!  If you know Ron at all, you know that he is an avid reader.  He fought for years against getting a Kindle since he always bought his books at Half Price Bookstores and figured there weren't bargains in the eBooks.  Now he knows there are.  He also says it is much easier to hold the Kindle than the thick books he normally reads.  Last night I told him he could borrow my Kindle since I am mostly using the Kindle Fire now, but just not to overload it with Sci-Fi books.  We have insurance on the Kindles so I knew he would get his fixed or replaced soon.  When I got to the office he told me he had contacted them and they said he would have a new one by Friday and he should then return his to them within 30 days.  In the past, he probably would have said, "I talked to Amazon and they are taking care of replacing the Kindle."  Instead, he told me all about the conversations with the various people and how helpful they were and the sympathy he got from the first service person he told about it.

That is what I have tried to share often on this blog.  A person who is hearing impaired is excluded from the everyday events in the lives of those around them.  Did it matter that I have all the details?  Not really, except that in our daily lives, that is the way we share with each other.  We tell them about what happened in our life that day.  We share the good and the bad, the funny and the frustrating, the silly and the sad.  Now, we can do that again.  Remember the first morning after they activated my Cochlear Implant, I mentioned we were almost late to our appointment to have further adjustments done on the sound processor.  Ron told the ladies at the Houston Ear Research Foundation that it was their fault that we were almost late since we were having a conversation in the car on the way and he missed his turn.  He has missed talking to me and listening to me as much as I have missed talking to and listening to him.

This afternoon I had an appointment in Harlingen (about 30 miles away) with the Urologist, Dr.  McCormick, I had seen in the spring for an ongoing problem.  When she came into the examining room, her first statement as she peeked around the door was, "Can you hear me now?"  I laughed and assured her that I could hear her.  (We didn't meet her until I had lost my hearing, so I had not ever really heard her.)  She grinned and wanted to know all about it.  Our assorted doctors and my dentist have been among the most interested in my progress.  They are delighted with the results.  My appointment was just a follow up and she went over a few things and then said she would see me in a year.  Yea!!!  Although we both really like her and would not mind chatting with her again, not seeing her in her office for a year would be very nice.  Ron does have an appointment with her soon, but I doubt I will go with him.

From there I went to the office of my thyroid doctor, Dr. Concha.  I see her once a year and when I looked at the appointment card recently I saw that although they had put the date for the next appointment on the card, the receptionist had failed to put the time on there.  The appointment isn't until December, but since her office is a block away from Dr. McCormick's, I decided to just stop in and get the time - also remember, I don't do much on the phone.  I got that taken care of and headed to my next stop.

When in Harlingen, it is hard for me to leave town without going to The Picket Fence, a nice little quilt shop not far from the doctors' offices.  I shopped and found a few things I wanted and then the ladies mentioned that they had not seen me in a while.  I explained where my summer had gone: elbow surgery and Cochlear Implant surgery and assorted trips to Houston.  Also, I had not really been able to do much sewing with the elbow problem.  Of course they wanted to know all about what was going on, so I filled them in.   Ever wonder what I buy when I go to a quilt shop?  Check out the photo of today's purchases.  There are a lot of great new Texas fabrics on the market this year!

It is almost time for hummingbird migration and I need another hummingbird feeder, so I stopped at Lowe's in Harlingen to look for one.  I didn't find what I wanted so I headed home and picked up my supper on the way.  Ron came in later and again, we must have talked for over an hour.  He had sat down at the computer and I had about half of this blog written.  He started reading and laughing.  I asked him if I was right in what I said.  He thought a minute and said, yes, I was.  I told him in the past he would have come in and told me that he was home and then gone to his study for the evening.  He said, yes, that was probably true.  Instead he had sat down and talked and talked and listened and listened (maybe not in that order).  We have a lot of catching up to do. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

August 27, 2013

Listening Practice - the Cochlear Way
Tuesday,  August 27, 2013

Today I spent a lot of time on the listening exercises provided by Cochlear to help me better adapt to my implant.  My perfectionism reared its ugly head.  It is so hard for me to accept not being able to tell the difference between the sounds that are played. 

I started by working on what they call "pure tones".  The program would play 3 electronic tones, and I was to select the one that was different.  As I mentioned recently, when I play notes on the piano, going up the keyboard, using both white keys and black keys, eight in a row will all sound the same.  So in these exercises, sometimes the differences are obvious, but sometimes, all three choices sound the same to me.  Playing them over and over and listening very closely, I can sometimes detect slight differences, not in the pitch, but rather in the intensity of the sound.  So, there are differences, but I don't know how that translates to me being able to enjoy music.  I will continue with the exercises and see if they help.

Then I worked on the vowel sounds.  Hot and Hat sound a lot alike to me the way they are pronounced in this program.  Pull and Pool I also managed to miss every time.  If they had someone with a Texas accent reading the words, maybe I would do better.  Again, when reviewing the errors, it was still hard to tell the difference.  I did several sessions in each category.

The final exercise section was sentences.  They would display four words on the screen and I was to select the one word that was in a sentence being read to me.  If there is any background noise, I don't do at all well.  Each of these exercises confirm the problems I have in every day activities.  The more background noise there is, the less I can understand of what is being said and music doesn't sound melodic.

I then spent an hour or more with the Immersion Reading, where I listen to an audio book as I follow along with it on my Kindle.  The reader in the book I am currently hearing, is harder to understand than the one in the previous two or three books I have done.  I did download the audio for another book.  There are several authors that I follow on Facebook.  The writer of this particular book had notified her Facebook followers a couple of weeks ago that her book was on sale for Kindle.  I had downloaded it at that time and so today, I found that her book had the audio available for the format that I use in the Immersion Reading.  Since I had gotten the book at a bargain price, I decided I could get the audio to go with it.  She is a Christian fiction writer and I know I will enjoy the book. 

Just as a side note:  Very often when I read a book, I will write to the author and tell her (or him) what I have most enjoyed about their book.  With email being so easy to use, it only takes a few minutes to do that and almost all of the authors have written back - often within an hour or two.  I have had some amazing discussions with these authors.  I recall one who had written a magazine article I really liked and I wrote to her.  It happened to be just a few days after the attack on the World Trade Center in New York on September 11.  She wrote back and we shared stories of how the events had touched our lives.  She lived in Hawaii and she said American Flags were not readily available on short notice so people took to tying red, white and blue plastic grocery sacks to fences or strips of red, white and blue fabric.  I shared how my sister and her husband were stranded in Alaska when all the planes were grounded and how people who had been dropped in the Alaskan wilderness by bush pilots were not being picked up at appointed times.  How quickly we forget those days of hurt, confusion, and patriotism.  Guess I got off the subject, but I would like to encourage you to write to an author some day if you never have done it.

A customer came in for some small items and was eager to chat.  She lives near Houston but this is the only place she can find that small item she wants.  (I didn't tell her I get mine from a supplier in Houston, but they don't sell to individuals anyway.)  She mentioned she was concerned that we could be closed since she had not been here in a couple of years.  I did tell her that we have had to close often this year for medical needs and she might call first.  I ended up telling her about the Cochlear Implant and about how my grand daughter Rachel, had prayed long for Grandma to be able to hear.  I told her how I had to go deaf before I could have the implant and now be able to hear.  She got teary eyed and got goose bumps and said, "I just have to hug you."  She was so touched by those faithful prayers of a  little girl.  I must say, I know the other children in that family also prayed for my hearing, but it was Rachel's prayers that I most often heard and heard about.

Ron was out of the office much of the day and so after I locked up I stopped at the grocery store before coming home.  I spent a while in the backyard enjoying the blooming plants, until the mosquitoes began enjoying me.  I hope I am not boring you with my hibiscus photos, but there are two huge bushes side by side and I am not sure they have ever bloomed as beautifully as they are right now.
 

Monday, August 26, 2013

August 26, 2013

Rainy Days and Mondays...
Are Actually Pretty Good
Monday,  August 26, 2013

The day started with an early morning appointment with my dermatologist.  He is such a nice man.  As I mentioned, my visits to him have been when I couldn't hear, so it was nice to hear him today.  He is a happy man and almost makes going to the doctor a pleasure.  I think I have just had too many doctor visits this year.  He did give me another copy of prescription I lost shortly after my last visit.  That last visit was just before I broke my elbow, had elbow surgery, and had Cochlear Implant surgery.  He understood that maybe I was a little distracted.  He did freeze three spots that have concerned me.  One was a spot in my hair and the freezing gave me an almost instant headache which lasted about half of the morning.  I could hear and understand him pretty well, but I could not understand his nurse.  Again, the sound processor picked up his air conditioning system very well.

Following that visit, I went to visit my daughter-in-law and the grandchildren.  I had made a big batch of chicken salad last night and Barb and one of the kids love it so I took them some.  I stayed to visit for a little while and it was nice to start my work week with smiles, hugs, and cheerful children.

Somehow I had gotten off without my cell phone this morning and though I can't hear to talk on it, I use it a lot for texting, so I returned to the house to get the phone before heading to the office.  As soon as I got about a mile from home, it started pouring rain.  What a blessing to the parched lands in South Texas.  We have had several showers in the last few days, but this was a very good rain.  By the time I got my phone and took care of a couple of other things I wasn't sure I could get to the office because of the rain.  I got about two blocks from the house and the intersection was flooded, so I texted Ron and he said to go back home and wait until it cleared off.  Once I was back home, I spent a little time sewing and in about 45 minutes it had drained enough to head to work.  As the rain slacked off, the birds converged on the feeders.

Due to the rains, I wasn't too busy at the office until after lunch.  I got a few things done and spent a lot of the time in the afternoon with customers.  My sister Janet has been in town since Saturday evening, and she and Mom came by for a brief visit but I got so busy, they headed out to go to the Art Museum and returned later to finish the visit.  She headed back home this evening.


I did run some errands, taking the prescription to the pharmacy, taking some things to my mother-in-law's house and picking up some things from her for my husband to take care of.  Late in the afternoon, our friends, Craig and Rhonda, stopped by to return a plant they had borrowed to decorate for a reception.  It is always a treat to have friends stop in for a visit.  After work, I headed to pick up the prescription and then came home.  Ron ran an errand or two before he came home. 

The evening has been relaxing.  I did spend time with the Immersion Reading.  The audio books are read by professional actors, but each book has a different reader so there is the challenge of adapting to another voice.  This one is a little harder than the last.  The choices in the audio books that are made for this particular format are limited.  They say there are I think about 15,000 such books, but many are not ones that I would read and the ones I am using are not my first choices of books, but are affordable choices.  I think I mentioned the best choices run about $20 by the time you buy both Kindle and audio versions.  But these are alright.

I talked briefly to one of my sons and to one of my daughter-in-laws this evening.  I think this may have been the first time I have done the phone with this son (the one who lives here in town).  The first couple of minutes were difficult but it got better as we talked longer.

Things that should be so simple (like listening to your son on the phone) are not simple.  It gets hard to keep asking for something to be repeated.  As the audiologist reminds me, phone conversations are very difficult since you have no visual clues.  You can't see facial expressions or do any lip reading.  So I just keep trying, as long as they will be patient.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

August 25, 2013

Sunday Summer Church Picnic
Sunday,  August 25, 2013

The end of summer seems to be here, not by the weather, or by the calendar, but by the starting of schools around town tomorrow.  What a great time to have a church picnic.  What wonderful planning that they set up for the event in the church gym since as the closing notes of the closing song were sung at the end of the morning worship service, the rain started.  Men had been grilling hamburgers and hot dogs all morning so they were about finished when the rains came.  The badly needed rain was very welcome and I think a few people who had not planned to stay for the picnic, changed their plans and decided to wait out the rain while eating lunch with a great bunch of folks.

Hearing continues to be a challenge and an experiment at church each week.  During our Sunday school Bible study time, I did well today.  We had a great group of friends and a new visitor.  I did fine most of the time, with the exception of a few prayer requests voiced from the group.  I did chat briefly with the visitor and did fine.  I would have avoided that in the past.  Chatting with individuals is going very well.   The larger the group, the greater the challenge.

The worship service was much harder.  I think I have mentioned that the sound processor picks up mechanical noises very well.  I don't know if it was the air-conditioners or what, but I was getting a lot of noise in the service.  I tried all the settings, but none seemed to help.  When it was time for the sermon, I stepped out into the vestibule as is becoming my habit, and sat near one of the speakers.  Our pastor in charge of mission activities, Tracy, preached this morning.  It was an excellent sermon.  Tracy speaks clearly, but very fast.  I didn't get it all, but most of it.

The music continues to be very hard on me.  I love music.  I love hymns.  I love the piano music.  I am not loving what I am hearing.  I think I need to put more training effort toward that, but I keep running out of hours for those projects. 

The Cochlear Implant web site sends out information  frequently and has assorted tips about different areas of the hearing needs.  The one this time was about the phone usage.  There are a few cell phones that work better with the Cochlear Implant than others.  I am needing to replace mine anyway, so I did read most of the information in this current mail out.  One of the things it said was "practice, practice, practice."  Right.  There is a Cochlear store, and I am wondering if they sell extra hours for my days.  If so, I may take up a collection and buy a few.

Following the service I headed to the children's wing of the building to gather grandchildren.  My youngest grand daughter is always the first pickup.  Then we went to get her next two older brothers.  One had been promoted to a new class and so the youngest boy was the next pickup.  He is active.  He is strong.  He is always on the go.  He ended up holding my hand on the arm with the recovering elbow.  He quickly started pulling and I told him that was my arm that had the elbow surgery.  He immediately calmed down and stayed close, not pulling on the arm at all.  That was a treat - obedience and concern.  After a little bit he suggested that I let him be on the other side of me and his sister (who is calmer) could be on the bad arm.  I love that kid.  Always thinking.  It didn't work.  I kept him where he had to stay calm. 

We got his next oldest brother and the older girls from children's church and then all headed to the auditorium.  We visited for a while and then set out for the gym and the great smelling food.  One lady stopped me this morning to ask for the name of my doctor who did my Cochlear Implant.  She has a friend whose husband is suffering from severe hearing loss and she was going to pass along the name of my doctor to her friend.  I also gave her the web address for this blog and suggested they do some reading to find out what was involved.  I hope if you have friends or family members who struggle to hear, that you will pass it on to them.

The gym was noisy, but standing with a group of family members in line, I was able to hear them just fine and did pretty well at the table as we ate.  We were at a round table and anyone who struggles to hear has trouble at a round table, but I did have some good conversations.  Progress continues, but as the audiologist and the doctors constantly remind me, the hearing will never be the same.  It is not perfect, but it is so much better than what I have had for years, that I will continue to practice and do the listening exercises and try to get all I can from it.



This is our son and three of his children.  The one in the orange plaid shirt is the one
 who wanted to hold hands on Grandma's good arm, so he didn't have to be calm. 

On an elbow side note, I have noticed that since the arm stays partly bent all the time (I can't get it straight down beside my body), it tends to stick out slightly and the last few days I keep bumping into door frames.  I guess by years of habit my brain thinks it knows how closely I can walk to the frame, but that is not longer correct.  I need to start paying closer attention as I walk close to things.  I spent yesterday saying, "Ouch."

Ron had to go to the office and get the minutes for a meeting he had to attend at the church this afternoon, so he didn't come home after the picnic.  We had both cars, so I came home, checked emails, etc. and napped for a couple of hours.  The next hour or so was spent in the kitchen chopping up ingredients for a huge bowl of chicken salad.  Yummy!  But chopping was painful on the elbow.  I don't chop with that arm, but rather hold items and that is hard.  So I was constantly revising the way I would hold things and it slowed down the whole process, but I finally ended up with a great reward for my efforts.  I am set for work lunches and evening meals for a few days.  I will share some with a couple of other people on my way to work in the morning.

Tomorrow morning I have a very early appointment with my dermatologist.  That should not take too long, but this will be the first time I have really heard this man.  I started going to him right after I lost my hearing and have had the assorted temporary helps during the visits these last eight months.  He is a very friendly, pleasant man and I look forward to hearing him tomorrow. 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

August 24, 2013

Slow-Paced Saturday
Saturday,  August 24, 2013

Today was a very slow-paced, relaxing day.  Ron was home for a while this morning, so I didn't have to be so concerned about listening for the doorbell when my housekeeper arrived.  Thankfully he was home because I was in the kitchen baking cookies, with the dishwasher going and the TV on and I did not hear my loud doorbell even though I had the Cochlear Implant sound processor on.  He came in and asked me if I was wearing it and I said yes.  He told me I had not reacted when the bell sounded.  I pointed out all the noise around me, but we were both disappointed I had not heard it. 

Ron went to the office to get some work done and I did some laundry and worked in the yard briefly.  I cleaned and refilled the hummingbird feeder since I noticed it was empty late yesterday and the hummingbirds were not pleased.  The yard was filled with sparrows, doves, a couple of Great Kiskadees, and a Green Jay or two.  I grabbed the camera for the Great Kiskadee and I think this may be the best photo I have to show the brilliant yellow on the top of his head, even though the photo was through the double-paned glass in the window.  I think he was showing off!

Ron called to set up an appointment for me with my hair stylist.  She and I are still working on a style that better covers the Cochlear Implant.  She said she thinks one more month of growth will help a lot.

I spent part of the morning and part of the afternoon working on the bird quilt that is on the design wall.  I made some fairly good progress.  I had to stop and do some cutting and that is difficult with the elbow pain, so I limited what I cut today.

Then I decided to go to the grocery store.  Ron had warned me that traffic was heavy today.  Everyone must be shopping for back to school items, but I didn't think they would all be at the grocery store.  They were.  I just got what I had to have and left.  Pushing the cart without straining the weak arm is difficult. 

I downloaded another book for the Immersion Reading and was blessed today to get a real bargain.  A book I bought a couple of days ago for the Kindle Fire qualified me for some $1 books and the only one I wanted off their list was also available with the audio version which was only $1.99, so I did very well on that one.  That reminds me, I started reading a book (paperback) this evening called Faking Grace.  It is Christian fiction and is a story about a young lady who needs a job and fakes being a Christian to land a job at a Christian publishing business.  It is a light-hearted look at some of the things we do as Christians, which are not understood by non-Christians.  I have just read part of the first chapter, but I think I will enjoy the book.  I wanted something "light" to read, but this may also be convicting as it looks at the phrases we use, the bumper stickers, etc.  I think I picked it up the last time we were at a Lifeway Bookstore in Houston.

After the grocery shopping, I was back at the sewing machine, while I had some chicken simmering on the stove.  I got a message that my sister Janet had arrived in town and she and my mom were on the way to our house.  I had not seen her since my Cochlear Implant had been activated and she was delighted to be able to converse with me.  It was nice to hear her!!!  Interesting as I sit here writing about it; I think I have mentioned that most voices sound higher pitched than normal, but I think she sounded "normal" to me.  Don't tell her I think she is normal. 

Janet and Mom visited for a while and then the three of us went to supper.  Ron was tied up doing paper work at the office he needed to finish, so he did not join us.  It was nice to relax and chat about our kids and things going on in Janet's life. 

Too bad we only get one Saturday a week!  I enjoyed this one.

Friday, August 23, 2013

August 23, 2013

Divine Appointments
Friday,  August 23, 2013

What a busy day!  Lots of things were going on today and being able to hear them is such a blessing.  On Friday mornings Ron usually meets our son Jeff for breakfast.  He left for that and I got up and got ready for my day.  There were things to do at the house before I headed out.  I went to the backyard to check on a few things and ended up working out there for about 30 minutes.  A couple of shrubs near the back door were taking over and soon it was going to be a challenge to get out that door.  I got my clippers and cleared the pathways around it. 

My plan had been to go to Staples to get some office supplies, but on the way I changed my plans a little.  I had been meaning to go by the hearing aid store and talk to them.  There were times during my stretch of near deafness that I got very frustrated with them.  I wanted to hear.  As I left their office the next to the last time (probably in March), I was so upset.  I was trying out a high powered hearing aid and had been in for adjustments - again.  It just couldn't work.  My nerves were raw.  I had an appointment with Dr. Chang, the surgeon set for a few days later.  I wanted to be able to hear him.  As I left the office on the verge of tears, all of a sudden, it hit me: if I could hear, I wouldn't be going to Houston. 

A few days later at the end of my 30 day trial period, it was time to either pay for the device or return it.  I wanted to talk to the lady and I was still considering buying the device since it would be the only thing I would be able to use to hear at all until the Cochlear Implant was activated in early July.  But it was a lot of money for a few short months.  They had called me to come in that morning.  When I arrived, the lady was too busy to see me.  In frustration, I took off the hearing aid and gave it to them and told them I guessed that answered my questions and helped me make my decision.  If the lady had come to talk to me, I might have paid thousands of dollars for that aid.  Instead, I think God helped me not spend that money for a short term help.

When I left the office, I remembered a device I had bought a few years ago, an amplifier, and I came home and got it and found it helped more than the hearing aid that would have cost so much money!  God protected me from a bad financial decision.  I had not been back to the office.  One of the ladies, Gracie, had helped me all she could.  I just could not be helped with that hearing aid.  Not being able to be helped by a traditional hearing aid is a criteria for being a candidate for the Cochlear Implant.  Gracie had been helpful throughout the process and so this morning I picked up some flowers and took them to her and thanked her for that help.  Gracie and her boss had heard all about my success with the Cochlear Implant from friends of mine who are also their clients.  They were delighted with my success and it was good to be able to hear them and carry on a conversation with them. 

When I left there I returned home for the birthday gifts that I had forgotten to take with me when I left the house.  Next I headed to Staples to get the supplies I needed and then to get to the office.  Thankfully my grandson was there so he could unload my purchases when I got to work. 

My grandson and I spent time working on pricing merchandise and visiting.  We had lots of customers to wait on.  Around noon we ate our lunches and visited some more.  A friend from our church, Don, picks up our two oldest grandsons on Friday afternoons and works with them doing assorted projects.  They work on taking apart and repairing computers, creating web pages, doing electrical wiring projects, and helping out at the church.  We kept busy while waiting for Don to arrive.

Have you ever had a Divine Appointment?  I did this afternoon.  Before Don arrived for the boys, a customer had left a key for me to copy while he went to get some money to pay for it.  When he came back, he paid for the key and then began to talk.  He told me that he had only been in our store once before and that was when he was 8 years old.  (My guess is he is in his late 50s now.)  His 12 year old brother had brought him.  After he grew up, he moved away and had just recently returned to Brownsville.  Then, this is where I started to see that this was one of God's planned conversations.  He mentioned that he used to go to that Baptist church down on Elizabeth Street and sit in the balcony.  I too, loved sitting in the balcony at that church building.  That is the church I grew up in and where we are still members.  Our church (that Baptist church) had moved to a new location 33 years ago, and the man had been away from here for longer than that.  When he returned to Brownsville a few weeks ago, he visited that church building, but found another church now owned the property and the Baptists weren't there.

He had been struggling since returning and had walked to the employment office one day (probably 2-3 miles from his apartment near our business).  As he walked home that day, discouraged, with the temperature 102 degrees and the sun beating down on him, a lady stopped her car, and asked if he needed a ride somewhere.  He told her that would be nice.  He told her how discouraged he was and she asked if it would be alright if she took him to talk to someone.  She took him to West Brownsville Baptist Church where the pastor talked to him that afternoon and led him to the Lord.  He looked at his fingers a minute and did a little counting and said with a grin from ear to ear, "I accepted Christ as my Savior 10 days ago!"  He just couldn't stop smiling!  My grandson was standing with me as the man shared his story.  He said that the people at both churches, the church meeting in the old First Baptist building and the people at West Brownsville Baptist, had been very friendly and nice to him  but he knew he belonged at West Brownsville Baptist.  He was just bubbling with joy.

About that time, Don, our friend, arrived.  I waved him over to join the conversation.  I introduced Don to him and asked the man if he spoke Spanish (he had been talking to me in perfect English).  He said yes, he spoke both English and Spanish.  I told him Don helped to run the Spanish language Christian radio station here in town and when he asked Don what the name of it was, he said he was already listening to the station.  He asked us if our church still had groups who would come in the summer and go to different parts of town and have Bible classes (Vacation Bible School) for the children.  We told him yes, that groups still come to do that.  He told us which area he had lived in, and said that a group would come there and he used to go to their meetings and loved the Bible stories and the snow cones that were served.

He continued to talk and share how he can't stop telling people about Jesus and how happy he is now.  He left  but returned later in the afternoon to ask if I could make some change for him so he could do laundry and then said he had a question he wanted to ask.  He wanted  to know if it was OK for him to wear a cross - just a plain cross with nothing on it.  I told him that would be fine.  He had grown up in a home from another denomination and knew there were differences in the way things are done.  May no one squelch the fire burning in this man's heart that is overflowing with the love of the Lord.  We talked about how to share that excitement with others.  He is doing a great job of it.

He told me that First Baptist church used to send a bus to his neighborhood and bring them to church.  He remembered that at Thanksgiving and Christmas the church would bring a big box of food to his family with a big turkey in the box.  You could see on his face just how much that had meant to a little boy growing up in a family that didn't have enough money for special meals for the holidays. 

What a blessing his stories were to me this afternoon.  I could hear him.  I could hear the joy in his words.  He was so excited, his words were coming out in torrents and I had to stay very focused to catch them as they flew out of his happy heart.  What if I had still been as hearing-limited as I had been for so long?  I would have missed a major blessing today.  Sometimes, it is easy to get bogged down in the every day things.  Sometimes I need to hear that 50 years later someone remembered kindnesses done to his family.

At the end of the work day, I hurried to the Post Office to mail those birthday gifts.  Then, Ron and I met our friends for supper.  We had a nice visit, some laughs and some good food.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

August 22, 2013

The Ripple Effects From the Deafness
Thursday,  August 22, 2013

My lack of ability to hear still causes problems.  When I am wearing the Cochlear Implant's sound processor, I can hear.  When I am not wearing it, I can't hear.  It is as simple as that.  And I do mean CAN"T HEAR!  I mentioned that we had rain in the middle of the night Tuesday night.  When I got up Wednesday morning, I went into the garage to get a load of clothes out of the dryer.  There was a portable work cart that my husband uses on locksmith jobs, sitting next to the back door just inside the garage.  I could not figure out why it was there.  It had not been there when I put the load in the dryer late the night before.
Occasionally my husband will use that little work cart to work on some locks that he brings home, but I was not aware of any pressing job.  I was curious each time I passed the cart and also a little frustrated because it was in my way, but I didn't mention it to him.  Late that evening, he explained why it was there.  It seems that when the thunderstorm (that I never heard) started, he decided to get out of bed and go turn the sprinklers off since he didn't need to keep watering the lawn.  The pump for the sprinklers plugs in beside the dryer in the garage.  He unplugged the pump, and then when he was ready to come back in the house, he noticed he had locked himself in the garage.  This has happened before to him.  In fact it has happened to him several times. 

In most homes, one would simply knock on the door or ring a door bell or as a last resort knock on the bedroom window.  In most homes, that would work.  In our home, that doesn't work.  He could knock all night.  He could ring the bell until dawn, but I would peacefully continue to sleep.  I can not hear those things when I am not wearing the sound processor.  We even have a special VERY loud door bell on the front door.  As the housekeeper can testify, without the sound processor, I don't hear a thing!  So he did what he always does when this happens.  He gathered the needed tools and drilled out the lock and got in.  Then he set up a new cylinder for the lock and it was all fixed before I got up.

Maybe because he can drill and replace the cylinder, he doesn't think to check the lock on his way out the door.  Our locks are not the normal ones that most homes have; they are a little more advanced.  He can handle that.  What he has trouble with is remembering to check the door on his way out.  Poor guy.  As I said, most people could just wake the sleeping person and ask them to open the door.  It doesn't work that way at our house.


 Today was a rather normal day.  Wow!  Normal!!  That means I could hear.  I did some sewing on a current quilt project before I went to work.  This project was started 5 or 6 years ago (at least).  It uses photos I have taken of birds in the area.  Those have been printed on fabric and then I framed each one with fabric that goes well with the photos.  As you can see from the photos, I still have much to do, but am making progress.
 
At the office, I worked on a little bit of bookkeeping and waited on customers most of the morning while Ron was out on jobs (probably getting paid to drill out cylinders and replace them!).  At one point while Ron was in the office, he was tied up on a long phone call.  A customer had come in but needed to talk to him.  So rather than have the man pace the floor, I began talking to him.  I used to do that many years ago.  Just talk to the customers.  I have avoided that now for a long time.  One of my favorite questions to ask people is, when you aren't at work, what do you like to do for fun?  Do you have a hobby?  This was a man who is probably in his late 40s, and his answer was that he does Drag Racing.  He goes to a town about 70 miles away that has a speed racing track.  We had a very interesting conversation about that and about his daughters - one likes to go watch and the other doesn't.  This is what I have been missing for years.  Just talking to people.  I have felt so isolated for so long!
 
Our son Jeff, who lives here in town also stopped by looking for some papers he had at our office.  He stayed and visited.  His dad was out, but I could enjoy a conversation with him.  I didn't spend the whole time asking him to repeat or pretending I heard what he said.  We just talked - like normal people.  It is when things like that happen that I thank God for answering the prayers of Jeff's daughter Rachel, when she continued to ask God to , "Please let Grandma hear."  Thank you God, and thank you to the medical people who have perfected their skills to make this surgery possible.  Thank you to the man who invented the Cochlear Implant - as I recall he died a few months ago, but I thank God for giving him the ability to create such an amazing engineering masterpiece! 
 
God has gifted each of us to do unique things.  I hope that we are each seeking to discover that talent or gift and developing it to the fullest.  Your gift may not be inventions, design, or engineering, but it may be gardening, letter writing, or teaching (someone had to teach math to that inventor).  Whatever your gift or talent is, I hope you are using it to touch the lives of others for good.
 
During the afternoon after Ron returned, I did some Immersion Reading in a new book I downloaded last night and then spent much of the afternoon designing a calendar with bird photos that I took mostly during spring migration this year.  There was an offer from Shutterfly (an online company that makes items using your photos) for one free calendar, so I couldn't pass that up.
 
After work we had supper with my mom and I continued experimenting with the remote to the sound processor to find the best setting for the restaurant noise.  Then I did birthday shopping for a couple of people in the family who have birthdays next week.  Now if I can just get them mailed!  It was late when I got home, but I must tell you, shopping in Brownsville with limited hearing has some advantages.  Oh, the arm was much better today, far less pain.  That is a very good thing. 
 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

August 21, 2013

Aches and Pains When it Rains
Wednesday,  August 21, 2013

In many ways, this has been a difficult day.  For one thing, I just spent an hour writing my blog and then it disappeared.  That is a first.  So I will try again.

Today I woke very early due to pain in my arm with the healing elbow.  It was hurting too bad for me to go back to sleep so I read a while before my vibrating alarm clock went off.  During the night we had a thunder storm and a nice amount of rain.  You may recall I mentioned a couple of weeks ago at Physical Therapy I mentioned to the therapist that my arm was hurting more that day.  He told me I would be able to predict weather better than the weatherman from now on by the pain in my arm.  Today's pain was much worse than it was the day we had that conversation.  There is a tropical wave in the area and tropical activity normally lowers the pressure, so maybe that is why it was bad today.

 On the way to the office I stopped to pay the utility bill and then headed on to work.  Once there I took some over-the-counter pain medications.  The arm was not getting any better and I wanted some relief.  Ron left on several jobs and was gone for about 3 hours.  I stayed busy with customers while he was gone, but many were ones I could not help so there were frustrations.  Hearing was not a problem.  Getting them to understand me was more of a problem. 

Ron brought me some lunch when he returned and then left again for a while on a couple of jobs.  He was also having pain in his leg from the weather, but had some jobs that had to be done.  Once he got back he offered to let me go home.  I accepted without a second thought.  I delivered one lock for him on my way home.
Time spent in our yard usually relaxes me, so I headed out there when I got home.  As soon as I opened the door to the backyard, this female Mallard, hopped out of one of our ponds and headed to the man-made lake out back.  It baffles me why they prefer our ponds to the large lake.  Silly birds!

I spent time photographing some of the flowers and checking on the birdbaths and ponds.  This is a new plant (an ixora) that we just got last week and it is still in the pot.  There are four of them that need to be planted soon.  While in the yard I could hear some of the birds but they weren't coming to the feeders today.
The rain over night had rinsed the dust off the plants and perked them up so that the yard looked lovely.  It was nice to see these hibiscus bushes covered in blooms and looking even prettier than a few days ago when I shared a photo of them.

I spent most of the afternoon doing Immersion Reading and finished the book I had been working on.  It was a good story, but had a little bad language in it.  I do get spoiled by the Christian fiction that I normally select.  My favorite Christian authors are sometimes available in the format for the Immersion Reading, but their books are more expensive.  By the time I purchase the Kindle ebook and the audio book the cost is around $20 on their books.  After I finished the book, I went to the computer and selected some others that were more affordable.  They should be good. 

This evening I tried to talk to two of our sons and one daughter-in-law.  I was only able to hear one son well enough to converse.  The other son and the daughter-in-law just couldn't be heard by me tonight.  It was frustrating.  I don't recall if I had tried talking to the daughter-in-law before, but the son I couldn't hear is often hard to hear.  I don't know if it was me or the connection or what. 

Now that I have had more pain medication, I am heading to bed and hoping the arm pain lets up enough to allow me to get some sleep tonight.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

August 20, 2013

The Good News Is...
The Bad News Is...
Tuesday, August 20, 2013
 
This morning I had to be up earlier than usual since my car wasn't available when we went to get it last night.  That meant I had to take Ron to the office in his car, drop him off, and then head to the Orthopedic Surgeon's office for my check up on the fractured left elbow.  It was time to see what he thought after the 3 weeks of Physical Therapy.  He was not pleased with the range of motion.  By his measurements, the outward extension had not really improved.  The inward range was better and the rotation was better but neither was as it should be.  He wasn't pleased and of course, I haven't been pleased either.

He sent me down the hall for x-rays and when he looked at them he said (This is the part: The Good News Is...) the bone with the plate and pins was looking very good.  The piece of bone that had not been reattached in surgery was filling in nicely; (This is the part: The Bad News Is...) but the two screws in the "radial head" were a problem.  One was broken in two and the other was bent and both had worked out and are not where he put them.  He says the "radial cap" needs to be replaced with a Biomet Radial Implant.  He indicated it would be a fairly small incision and that there would be no cast after the surgery and movement and light lifting would start right away.

He sent me for another x-ray and after we discussed it for a while, I asked him if he was going to be doing anything to the plate.  He said he thought it might be good to go ahead and remove all that hardware as long as he was in there.  I am in agreement with that.  I want the plate out; it is a problem to me.  When I rest my arm on a desk, etc., it bugs me.  So, that will mean a larger incision etc., but I prefer to have it removed. 

He wants to give the bone with the plate a little more healing time before he removes it so we have scheduled surgery for Sept. 9, a Monday.  It will be at Valley Regional Hospital and will require an overnight stay.  I should come home the day after the surgery.  There will not be a cast.  I will be moving the arm the day following surgery. 

Wish this wasn't necessary, and in fact he said we could leave it alone and I would just never have full range of motion, but that doesn't fit my lifestyle.  I want it to move well and currently it does not.  You will recall at the time of the original surgery, the surgery was delayed one day to wait to have this very part on hand in case he needed to use it, but he had decided that he didn't have to use it.  The screws didn't hold and so now we go back and do it.  I am OK with that.  I am glad he tried to save the radial head and am sorry it hasn't healed right. 

At this point I have an appointment to pre-register at the hospital Sept. 6.  Surgery will be on Sept. 9 (won't know the time until I go on the 6th).  Then we scheduled a follow up visit to Dr. Olson on the 17th.  In the meantime, I am to be careful with the arm.  He said I could do some of exercises from PT, but nothing to force the arm and only minor lifting.  We would appreciate your prayers as we face this next challenge.
 
When I first went into the examining room there was a lady I had not met before.  I introduced myself and had guessed right, she was the surgeon's wife.  I immediately liked her.  She has a quick smile and a kind manner about her.  After Dr. Olson had finished the exam and we had looked at all the x-rays, he took me to his wife's office and she the scheduling for the surgery.  Like everyone else who looks at my file, she shook her head and asked what antibiotics I CAN take.  I told her whatever they gave me when he did the first surgery had been OK, so I suggested we go with that one.  I really did enjoy chatting with her.  I tried to make a quilter out of her, but like so many of us who have done any quilting, she said she had tried and had some "unfinished projects".  I think every quilter has some of those. 
 
All of that is not the best way to start a day, but I had really felt that this is where we were heading.  I did not think that the extension was going to improve and I want full use of my arm.  I have grand children to pick up, love, and play with.  I have a yard that needs my attention (Ron is not the perfectionist I am when it comes to mowing), and I want to put 20 pound turkeys in the oven without having to wake Ron before daylight to do it for me.  I want to be able to do the things I have done in the past.  I am not ready to give up the things I love, and if that means a few more months of recovery, so be it. 
 
Dr. Olson said that the recovery would take a couple of months before the new radial cap is set well.  That takes us to near mid-November.  I have my plans for the International Quilt Festival in Houston the end of October and early November.  Ron had offered to go with me again this year.  He did that last year and I had told him, "Never again."  Today I back-tracked and told him I might just have to take him with me to carry things for me.  That is what he did last year, but it seemed he was never where I could find him when I needed him to carry a load to the car.  A lot of what I just said, is teasing (in retaliation probably for him calling me a fat head Sunday).  He did help carry things and it may turn out that I will need to do that again this year.  We will see.  Thankfully the two classes I signed up for provide the fabric for the class.  You can bring things to add, but most of it is provided so that means I don't have to carry it all to class, just from the class.
 
The rest of the day seemed to be spent contacting the family to let them know what was planned.  Then I was able to chat on line with a friend who knows a little more about these things than I do, and she helped with some of my concerns.  Some people who have either worked in the field or have had similar problems have a real gift of encouragement to others going through rough times.  She has been a help so often through this year.  Her husband had been nearly deaf and had surgery 40+ years ago to correct his problem and she has had a lot of helpful hints to offer.  She is also very knowledgeable  about injuries such as mine from a job she had for many years.  I really appreciate her help.
 
After work Ron and I went to his mother's house to have supper.  Ron almost always eats with her on Tuesday evenings, but I don't often go with him.  I had not been there since my implant had been activated, and she was delighted to be able to carry on a conversation with me.  I also let her know about the upcoming surgery but she was supportive and felt it was the right thing to do.  Ron always picks up supper on the way over there.  She usually eats hers quickly, but ate little this evening.  Maybe she was just glad to get to chat.  She was looking good. 
 
Once I was home, I took a few minutes to enjoy the yard.  We had a shower this morning and the air was clean and clear.  I checked out a hibiscus plant we had bought on one of those trips to Houston.  I love the blooms on it.
 
The huge hibiscus plants by the ponds are in full bloom and I love the way they add such lush beauty to the yard.  I mentioned to Dr. Olson's wife that taking photos with my left arm not working fully is hard and it is one of the many reasons I want it to work right.
 
As for the hearing, I waited on a lot of customers today and was able to hear them all just fine including the man who said the key I made him last week didn't work.  Problem was, the key that didn't work, clearly said Wal-Mart on it.  He just couldn't believe he would have gone anywhere else for a key, because, he said, "I always come to Landreth's".  I let Ron deal with him.  I could hear, but just couldn't figure a way to convince him that we had not messed up. 
 
It continues to frustrate me that I can't handle phone calls.  I am fine with Ron answering incoming calls, but sometimes I need to place calls and hate to have to always ask him to do it.  I needed to order checks today and it was a shame to take his time to do that chore.  There are issues like that every day and he doesn't complain, but I know there are other things he could be doing. 
 
One day I made the comment to Stephen's girlfriend that 2013 had not been a great year for us - so many illnesses and physical problems.  Then she reminded me that I got my Cochlear Implant in 2013 so that I could hear.  She is so right.  Compared to that blessing, what is two more months recovery for the fractured elbow?  God is good.  We will manage with the help of God and our friends.

Monday, August 19, 2013

August 19, 2013

Physical Therapy Evaluation
Monday,  August 19, 2013

My car needed to go in for a check-up today.  Why not?  Ron and I keep having them and the car is getting a real workout these days.  The brakes needed work and a couple of other minor things needed attention, so Ron took it on his way to work and I took his car to the Rehab place for my Physical Therapy evaluation.  The head of the department is the one who does the evaluations and he was comparing today's results to those when I started 3 weeks ago.  I have had nine sessions so far.

One of the first things he did was measure around the elbow, at the bend.  It had gone down two centimeters.  At the start it was 4 centimeters larger than the other arm, so I guess that means half of the swelling is gone.  Next he measured hand strength.  Earlier, the right arm (undamaged) was at 50 pounds and the broken one was at 8 pounds.  Now the damaged one is up to 21 pounds, which is a nice improvement, but there is still a long way to go.  Of course he had an assortment of questions about the pain and flexibility.

The next thing he did was measure the angle of the extension.  It had improved by 15 degrees, but still is 40 degrees off from where it should be.  When the arm is pulled in, there was some improvement, but again more is needed and there is more pain on that position than on the extension.  With the extension, that is just as far as it will go, it doesn't get to a painful point, it just stops.  He also checked hand rotation and says again, it is better, but not good yet.

He would do a test and return to his computer and enter a variety of data and then check another function before again returning to the computer.  Later he gave me a sheet which I had filled out on the evaluation before therapy started.  I was to high-light what it was now compared to then.  There really was little change in that I still can't open a jar with a tight lid.  I can barely open one with a lose lid.  My pain level is similar, but maybe in different areas.  I still can't mop a floor or vacuum the house (these are on the evaluation sheet).  He gave me a sheet of exercises to do at home.  They include some from earlier and some new ones.

It is obvious that the arm with the broken elbow is getting better, but there is still a long way to go.  He asked if I wanted to continue therapy if the doctor orders it.  I said yes, I want to continue; I am not content with where it is now.  He is recommending 2 times a week of more aggressive therapy and the doctor will look at it tomorrow and decide what he wants me to do.  I see the surgeon at 8:30 tomorrow. 

The evaluation appointment took around 30 minutes and I had a few minutes to talk to the man as he walked me out.  He is from the other side of the world as are so many of our doctors.  He has a Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Boston University and says he has been here 22 years and loves it.  His wife is not as happy here as he is.  I told him I liked his staff and thought they were very friendly and upbeat.  He said he was very proud of his staff and thinks they do a great job.

From there, I headed to the office and before long Ron left on a couple of jobs.  I spent much of the day doing Immersion Reading.  I have noticed that if I turn the volume down some, I sometimes  struggle to understand.  I know that sounds like a, "Well duh...." statement, but it shows me how important it is that the people I talk to speak up.  Whispers are not going to be heard.  If the volume is up, and I am reading along, I understand every word with no trouble and don't even feel I need the printed words.  As I turn it down, I become dependent on the printed words.  I think I will slow the speed down tomorrow when I turn down the volume and see how I do.

The office wasn't very busy today so I did a lot of reading.  Mom stopped by for a few minutes.  While she was there, she wanted a demonstration of the Immersion Reading.  She said at the volume I was using, she couldn't hear it with her hearing aids on.  I did fine with all the customers today including an elderly man who spent 15-20 minutes relating a long story to me.  In the past it would have been hopeless.  I would have either just stood there and smiled and nodded, or told him I needed to finish some paperwork in my office.  Now I could enjoy the conversation with him.  He obviously just needed someone to listen.  I had never met him before.

We closed a few minutes early to go pick up my car.  Ron told the man we would be there at 5:15.  We arrived at 5:05 and he was closed.  That conversation must have lost something in the translation.  So I will need to take him to work in the morning before my 8:30 doctor's appointment. 

He had another job to do after work, so I rode with him and shopped a few minutes at Wal-Mart while he did the job.  We stopped for supper on the way home and it made for a long day, but I was glad I didn't have to fix supper when we got home.

This is not related to either my Cochlear Implant or my broken elbow, but just a side note.  Our youngest son had sent me a text this afternoon telling me that he tried to call last night but missed us.  I told him we were home and when he told me the time, I said that I had just taken off my sound processor and his dad slept through the ringing phone.  For all of our married life I have been the one to answer night time calls and Ron's brain hasn't learned that he needs to take over that chore.  As we texted back and forth, he said that the day had been good as he started a new semester.  I told him I thought I needed a "back to school" photo of him as he started his last semester in the seminary.  He laughed and said he didn't think of it.  At supper I told Ron that our last child was starting his last semester and that we would no longer have kids in school after this.  He laughed and said, "Don't believe it."  He could be right. 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

August 18, 2013

Sunday Means Time to go to Church
Sunday,  August 18, 2013

A beautiful Sunday morning greeted me today!  Ron and I were both up a little earlier than usual and actually made it to Sunday School a little earlier than usual.  Most of the people in our class are over 65 years old.  Most are well over that.  A few are younger, but just enjoy my husband's teaching.  Usually those who are not in class are accounted for, everyone knows why they are out.  We have one couple who are quite elderly and they have both been in poor health, so we know why they aren't there.  One lady has been out with back problems for a few weeks.  One man has to work some Sundays.  Basically, most of us who are there have been together for many years.  We do a lot of teasing in our class.  We do have fun! 

Most of the people in our class had heard about our quick trip to Houston this past week and were eager to be reassured that everything was OK.  It was their questions that got my husband in trouble.  I have mentioned before that he was going to get in trouble when I could hear again.  Well, he put his foot in his mouth this morning and I heard him do it.  I love the beet red color he turns when he gets caught saying something about me that he shouldn't.  He was explaining that the lump I had felt was actually the Cochlear Implant and that the swelling had just gone down and that is why I could now feel it.  He also mentioned that the doctor said usually the swelling goes down 2-3 weeks after the surgery.  It had been over 2 months since my surgery.  So, his comment had something to do with me being a "fat head".  I was sitting across the room and said, "I heard that."  The laughter rang out and that is when that shade of red crept across, no, engulfed his face would be a better description.  It was funny.  We all laughed.  If I didn't know he loves me from the top of his head to his toenails, I might have been offended, but I knew he was joking and after he made that long drive to and from Houston in one day, he deserved one laugh at my expense.  One is all.  He better not try it again.  Honestly, I was not offended.  We have been married 48 years and there are many things we can tease each other about and a couple of things I have told him are off limits.  He respects the limits.

Those people in our class have prayed for us often over the years, but most have been faithful in praying during this year as I first lost my hearing and then as I went through medications to try to restore it.  Next they prayed as I went down the road of seeing if I qualified for the Cochlear Implant and then prayed when I had the surgery and continued while I was without much hearing assistance as I was healing from the surgery.  They rejoiced as the implant was activated and I was able to hear.  They have all been a part of this whole process and deserve to have some laughs with us.  They have been an important part of this entire process, and we thank God for them.  They have made a very difficult year bearable.

When it was time for the worship service, I headed to the auditorium and a few other people who had heard about the Houston trip wanted more information.  It is so nice to be able to understand what they are saying.  I still mess up sometimes in figuring out what is said, but my percentage is much better. 

As has been the case every Sunday recently, I did have a lot of trouble with the music.  One lady had stopped to chat with me on her way in and she was very excited about how well I was doing.  I did tell her that the music was a problem.  Years ago, she and I were in church choir together, so she knows my love for the music.  I told her that there is no way I can learn a new song at this point.  I also told her, that this morning I was wandering around the house singing the old hymns and at one point my husband raised his eyebrows at me indicating (I think) that I was singing a little too loudly - I had not yet put on the sound processor because my hair was still wet.  Then I told her that when they take the old hymns and set them to new melodies, I am at a total loss.  A few minutes later the words to one of the wonderful old hymns appeared on the screen and she turned and smiled at me because she knew I would be delighted.  But, they sang it to a new melody.
I must say that I would not have tried to sing that lovely hymn with the congregation even if it had been to the original melody since I don't know, when I am singing, if I am in the same key that they are.  Let me see if I can explain this.  God gave us about 30,000 little hairs in the cochlea to transmit the sounds we hear to our brains.  The Cochlear Implant has 22 channels to try to replace those 30,000 tiny hairs.  So if you were playing notes one at a time, going up a piano keyboard, if you use both black and white keys, 8 of those in a row all sound the same to me.  How do I know?  I just went and tried it out, starting with Middle C.   When I get to the 9th key, I can tell it is a different note, but then the next several all sound the same.  So if I heard a song and figured out they were singing the traditional melody, I wouldn't know which of those 8 notes was the one that the song started on.  I could be in a totally different key from everyone else and have no idea how far off I was. 
Several people tell me that scripture says, "Make a joyful noise unto the Lord".  I know that is what the Bible says.  They say, just sing anyway, it doesn't matter.  It does matter to me.  I do sing and  make a joyful noise to the Lord when I am not singing with someone else or with accompaniment.  An example of that would be when I was getting ready this morning and wandered through the house singing some of my favorite old hymns.  Sometimes in the car I sing.  Sometimes in the office at work I sing.  Sometimes I sing along with the music in my head.  But not with a group at this time.

After church, we went to lunch with my mom.  We had a nice visit and then headed home.  Ron again slept the afternoon away and I read.  Later our older grandsons showed up with the sisters of the groom who was being honored yesterday.  They were returning plants that had been borrowed for the reception decorations.  Again, it was nice to be able to talk to people and understand most of what was being said.  After that I did a lot of the Immersion Reading for 2 or 3 hours. 

I had conversations on the phone with two of our sons this evening.  The conversations were a struggle but they are getting a little easier.  I continue trying different settings for the phone use.  I also explained to one of them that when I ask him to repeat, his voice seems to get higher, making it less likely I will understand.  I told him to practice speaking very "low".  They are doing all they can to help.  I appreciate their efforts.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

August 17, 2013

Greeting Friends in Various Places
Saturday, August 17, 2013

For the first time in a while, I could sleep as late as I wanted.  I slept until 8:00.  My hopes had been for something closer to a 10:00 wake-up time, but I knew I wasn't going back to sleep, so I got up.  The morning was relaxing.  Ron was out, so I fixed breakfast, got my hair washed and dried, checked emails and Facebook, and then got ready to go to the grocery store.  This was my first full grocery shopping trip alone since I broke my elbow.  It was a challenge a couple of times, but I got it all done and thankfully Ron was home when I got back so he could unload the groceries.

When I have a "quiet" day like the one I had this morning, I understand a little more how hard it is for a person living alone to adapt to the Cochlear Implant.  The audiologist keeps reminding me to wear  the implant all the time except when sleeping, taking a shower, or washing my hair, etc..  When I know I am going to be the only one at the house, it is tempting to leave it off and not deal with it picking up sounds like the ice maker dumping ice, my hair brushing across the sound processor, and every day noises like that.  So I can understand a person living alone not being as faithful about wearing it all the time. 

The next problem for a person living alone while wearing a Cochlear Implant is that they are not hearing human voices as much.  This is where the Immersion Reading can come into play.  When I am using the Immersion Reading on my Kindle Fire, I feel like someone is reading to me (they are) and I am following along in my copy of the book.  I remember in elementary school we took turns reading aloud in our reading books and everyone else was to follow along in their copy of the book.  This is much the same way and almost for the same result.  I think in elementary school we were having reinforced, the sounds of the words as we saw them on the printed page.  This is having those sounds linked up to the words on the page. 

A person who has already been hard of hearing for several years before getting the Cochlear Implant, has probably been withdrawing from social activities, so by the time they get the implant, they have a very small circle of friends that they are visiting with regularly.  Since the phone is a challenge, that means someone needs to go to their home in order for them to be listening to speech.  You may be thinking, "They could just turn on the TV."  The major news channels normally have anchor people who speak clearly, but most people on TV are talking rapidly and there can be other background sounds going on with them.  Closed Captioning has been a great blessing to me and many others who have trouble hearing, but they do not always type exactly what is being said.  I did a little Immersion Reading today, but have not done as much the last few days as I would have liked.  Maybe tomorrow afternoon I can find time for it.

While I was at the grocery store, I ran into my dentist.  The last two times I had been to his office, I had not been able to hear him.  One time I was using the temporary trial high powered hearing aid and the last time was between the time I had the Implant and when it was activated.  He was amazed and delighted at how well I could hear him in the very noisy grocery store.  It was nice to have a normal chat with him.  I have been going to him for over 35 years and we have become friends during that time.  While Ron was out this morning, he ran into my dermatologist.  He asked how I was doing and was also delighted to know I was making good progress.  I have only been going to him for a short time and he told Ron he would look forward to having a real conversation next time I am in his office.  I laughed and told Ron that maybe this time I would answer the questions he asks instead of the questions I thought he asked.  The two are not always the same. 

My dentist mentioned that he uses the same hearing aid office I had used for years.  He said he had talked to them about me the last time he was there and they said they had not seen me since I got the implant.  That reminded me that I need to make a visit to them and let them know how it turned out.  I need to let them know I would be willing to talk to other patients who might be facing similar choices to the ones I had to make the last few months.

In the grocery store I also ran into a lady who used to hire me to baby sit her three daughters over 50 years ago.  I stopped and chatted with her.  In the past, I might have avoided someone like that, knowing that to understand them would be such a struggle.  This morning we had a great visit.  Her husband has a significant hearing loss and I wish he would consider checking to see if he would qualify for the Cochlear Implant.  He is a gifted writer and was the guest speaker at a banquet I had planned a few years ago.  I remember how hard it was for him to take questions from the audience following his talk.  I also remember having someone else contact him and make all the arrangements because I knew I couldn't hear him on the phone to work things out.  What a shame that so many of us are limiting our worlds as our hearing deteriorates over the years.
The newly weds being honored at the reception this afternoon.

This afternoon we went to a reception at our church for the son and new daughter-in-law of our music minister.  They had a small family wedding a few weeks ago and were having a reception here today.  Many of our friends from church were there and some who are no longer in our church.  There were several former staff members and their families who came from out of town for the event.  All of their children had grown up together and it was a time of celebration for all of them.  Several of those people read my blog and have known what has been going on with me, but had not seen me in person in a while.
My friend who came to see if I could hear him now.
Yes, I could!
 
One couple we really enjoy was there.  The man came up and started chatting with me.  We were having a fairly good visit (it was very noisy at the reception - at least to me).  We joked about that old TV commercial for a cell phone company where the guys are always saying, "Can you hear me now?"  My friend's wife joined us and said she had told him to come try to talk to me first knowing that I hear male voices better than female voices.  I chatted with both of them for a while, but told her I didn't have trouble hearing her.  She said it was her "teaching" voice.  There is some truth to that.  She is a small lady, but has a strong voice and she enunciates well.  I thanked her for not running her words together.  A few people I talked to didn't know about the hearing loss, while others had been keeping up regularly.  It was a nice reception.   I did spend a good bit of time in a secluded area watching my youngest grandchildren.  They are always a treat and a nice escape when the noise overwhelms me.
My youngest grandson feeding wedding cake to his baby sister.  Precious!
 
The rest of the day was quiet.  My husband slept the rest of the afternoon and early evening away.  I cleaned, read, and caught up on the computer.  One friend wrote that an older lady she knows is now being evaluated by my surgeon for the possible Cochlear Implant.  She is one who lives alone.  I am praying that it will work out for her to get the implant, but it will take a lot of work on the part of her friends and family to keep talking to her and helping her adapt, if she is able to have the surgery.