Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Crazy stuff I hear....or don't.

So, okay...I am pretty much deaf without my hearing aids. I can't believe I went as long as I did without them. I first noticed a decline in my hearing when I was 23 and pregnant with Joshua, but some of my friends will tell you it goes much farther back. It happened slowly and I hid it very well, even Adam was unaware of how incredibly bad it had gotten. I am a FABULOUS lip reader, which is a very useful skill in the ICU where I work, as many of our patients can't talk because they are intubated ( on a ventilator) but they can mouth words to make their needs known.

I have a genetic bone disease called Osteogenesis imperfecta. Basically it is "brittle bone" disease. It makes for frequent fractures, crappy joints and teeth, the whites of my eyes are blue and I started going deaf in my 20's. I broke my first bone ( my leg) when I was 9 months old, I was learning to walk. My family has adapted to this disease for quite some great-grandfather, my grandfather, my father, my uncle, and one of my brothers has it along with myself...and of course...Sammy Satan! We live just fine with it, there are far worse things to be afflicted with, in my opinion. We just live our lives, occasionally with a cast or two...maybe a nice ACE bandage, if we are lucky.

Anyway, this "fun" disease causes me to have otosclerosis: Bone conduction hearing loss, like Gill Grisson on CSI, Frankie Valli ( that reference is for you, Dad) and Beethoven. Ah and I should not forget...Rush Hudson Limbaugh Jr., ain't that precious! If only he had gone mute too. Anyway...

My hearing loss had gotten worse of the last few years and for whatever reason (pride, fear, stubbornness or all of the above) I didn't do anything about it. Now think about this..I am a nurse in the ICU. Not good. And it became more and more frustrating for me and I am SURE for the people who talked to me, not to mention potentially dangerous for my patients. I work with the same crew of nurse on a regular basis and they are a few of the best people in the world, and they covered for me or helped me the best they could. Most likely too much. I started to hate going to work (NOT like me) and I started to withdraw from social situations and I would "hide" in my patients rooms all night to avoid having to talk to anyone(VERY, VERY,VERY unlike me). Finally three of my best friends took me aside and told me they noticed a personality change in me and they were worried, they missed the "old" me. That next week at Christmas, I was sitting at a table with all of my family. They were talking and laughing...I was so lost, I was not a part of any of it. I knew I had to get a frickin' grip, suck it up and do something about it.

The next day I scheduled a hearing test. I had to call on my cell phone, as it has a higher volume level than my house phone. The only way I knew it was my appointment time? I read the guys lips as he as calling my name. sigh. After my test, Mark, my audiologist, asked if I had gotten though school without help. Actually, Mark, I went to college and had a 4.0. Thanks. After I explained why this was happening, we set out to fix me.

So $3000 later, I can hear. It doesn't "cure" me per say, but ask anyone around me and they will tell you the difference is amazing. I had not heard my car start in over a year. My teenager is a mumbler, like so many kids his age...I bet I didn't hear a thing that kid said to me in over a year too. Not hearing sux.

Helen Keller once wrote: Blindness cuts us off from things, but deafness cuts us off from people. Too true. Adam is going to roll his eyes at that quote, cuz I used it often to explain how frustrated I was with all of this crap. I got it out in writing, babe...I will stop now. 'Kay? ;)

So just because I have hearing aids, doesn't mean I hear everything. I miss lots of stuff, but it is incredibly better. This week, however, after having head congestion..and I am sure in need of a change in my hearing aid settings, I am hearing or not hearing some interesting things.

Tonight I am sitting on the couch, flipping through random channels and Adam is on the laptop working. I hear him ask Zach for something and I thought it was for a pair of headphones.

"Is the TV too loud for you?? I can turn it down..or off. I don't need to watch it"

He tells me it is fine, not bothering him at all.

"well, why do you need headphones?? It must me too loud, I can just watch it with closed captioning"

He looks at me blankly.

"you can just tell me, really"

"Heidi, I asked Zach for my ice water from the kitchen"

The two of them, Zach and Adam, just shake their heads at me. They are soooooo used to it by now. It almost seems normal. At least for this house.


Jennifer said...

My Mom used to do the same thing. She would say such random things in the middle of a conversation that had nothing to do with what was being said. We would also just shake our heads. Sorry Heidi. :)

robinbird said...

you do have a way with words dear heidi... you make me laugh while at the same time i am aware that you are telling us important things about yourself.'s like your saying "no joke but it is"... humor of all things is what i personally value most for coping with whatever happens to me, around me or within myself. i love that you keep acting as if you heard what was said. my mother who couldn't hear most of her life had, by the end of her life, gotten so that she stopped trying to follow what went on around her. i wish i had been kinder, more understanding, encouraging that she 'stay with us'. TFS.

Rosa said...

I am so happy to hear you are finally tending to your hearing. I can't even imagine what you went through. I can relate to the boys of the family. Mine too just roll their eyes at me at times. Enjoy your new life!