Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Just 12 Hours to Activation... :) WOOT!

I'm so excited tonight about what tomorrow afternoon will bring when my cochlear implant is FINALLY activated! I thought we had a babysitter for the little guy but not happening. James has a friend that's been in the construction field with him for several years and still works for James occasionally. He's a little rough around the edges, but he named his very beloved cocker spaniel, Princess. Go figure. He's a guy's guy with a big heart, and always a story to tell. Aidan adores his dog, Princess, and loves playing with her. It's a bit of a bummer that he couldn't babysit.

So, in the spirit of pure toddler bribery tomorrow afternoon, I went on a mini shopping spree at Toys R Us and Half-Priced Books tonight. I found some interesting and seriously over priced toddler snacks... some salty, some sweet but most importantly low in sugar (because this child leaps off walls like Spiderman after too much sugar but give him just enough and he's sweet as...well, pie.. no pun intended.) The only exception would be the PEZ Mickey Mouse because we LOVE Mickey Mouse in this house. Okay, and I'll throw in a couple of lollipops too, but desperate times and all that...

I picked up a Doodle Pro *fingers crossed it will hold Aidan's attention for a minute* as well as some farm animal figurines. He was only so-so interested in his plastic barnyard in a jar. It would probably pointless to bring them when the cows and pigs will probably be caught loitering among the equipment or under the audiologist's feet with Aidan right behind them (and I'm pretty sure she's too serious to be amused by that.)

The real winner was the Thomas the Train peel and stick book from Half-Priced Books for $5. Who knew? Aidan, my darling son, sat by me quietly playing... just peeling and sticking and peeling and sticking some more while James and I watched tonight's complete episode of Dancing with the Stars. (Note to reader... I have never used the words "Aidan" and "quietly" in the same sentence until tonight.) He hasn't sat beside me on the couch for more than a few minutes, if even that long, since he figured out how to wiggle and roll practically the day after he was born. (Did I mention he was eleven days late? I swear he came out and ordered a happy meal!)

I hope tomorrow brings the same sweet quiet behavior so his daddy and adopted Aunt Becky can relax and stay put for moral support. I'm also hoping since Aidan is going to be with us, that I can hear his voice first, even if he says "burgers and COKE!" sounding like the love child of Wall-E and Fran Drescher . Okay, I'm a little choked up at the thought... and I don't do sappy if I can help it (which is rarely... I'm too sentimental at heart, but you didn't hear that from me. ;-)

Last, but not least, by this time tomorrow night I will have seen my first episode of American Idol while activated. I am hoping they don't all sound like love childs of ducks on helium, robots, nasal nannies, and whales bellowing under water. Note to self... keep expectations simple. You didn't buy that either, did you? ;)

Stay tuned!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Put Your Hands Up in the Air! It's Shelly's Birthday!

Today was an adventure. My friend, Shelly, had a birthday, so Becky and I made plans to go to dinner tonight with her at Gringo's. James and Darrell (Shelly's husband) were "allowed" to come but had to sit at the end of the table across from each other so they could male bond while Shelly, Becky, and I tried to catch up on everything under the sun at the other end of the table, and Aidan was left with a babysitter at Shelly's house with James, her son, and no tears!!! Woo hoo, Aidan!

Shelly, Becky, and I became friends through our weekly happy slash venting hours for a couple of years while we were teaching... 5 years, 6 years ago?? We could spend hours talking and the sun would go down as we sat on the deck at "the boat" (Sam's Boat...fun place!) Between work and our personal lives outside of work we never ran out of topics. Becky still teaches the babies and loves it, but I left deaf education when I got married in 2005, and Shelly left a few months before her son, James, was born in 2007.

So anyway, tonight was a great getting to catch up, eating Mexican food, and drinking margaritas kind of night. *sigh* I miss our happy hours and dinners from back in the day. Both of them were in my wedding, and they threw my cowboy themed baby shower for my eleven day late mini cowpoke. They straightened out my dazed and confused self tonight, when I told them my first mapping is this Wednesday, the 31st. Nope, Tuesday is the 31st... and color me thrilled... American Idol, I'm going to be ready for you Tuesday night! (I'm really optimistic about the first mapping if you can't tell.) Becky is going to try to make the first mapping, and Shelly wants to try to come on the 1st, my second appointment, the next day. I adore them. If you guys are reading this... I MISS YOU, darn it!!! :-)

Before we went to dinner tonight, James, Aidan, and I went shopping at Kohl's. We had to check out by 2pm to get an extra discount, and darned if James wasn't in line for at least 10 minutes only to be checked out a minute or two after 2pm without getting the discount. It must've taken 20 minutes or more to get it all straightened out and have the register re-rigged to give us our discount. With a lively, opinionated toddler in tow, it feels like double the amount of time.

Then we took Aidan to McDonald's at lunch with a big indoor playground to burn some energy and eat "burgers and COKE!" as he screamed pulling up in the parking lot. Where does he get this stuff??? James climbed up the maze (to the ceiling) with Aidan and through the tunnels. Then, on their way down the slide, James got STUCK in the slide. Aidan jumped ship and went down without him. Little Turkey Butt, but oh so brave! Fortunately, James worked his way down and looked a little wounded... (his ego and physically... poor guy! ;-)

We went to my hair appointment at 3:30. I haven't had it cut in 3 months, and it's been over half a year since I had it professionally highlighted. My hairdresser had booked 3 or 4 appts at once and was running ragged between a perm, coloring, and haircuts BEFORE she even threw me in the mix about 20 minutes later. I told her I had to be out by 5:30, which she agreed to before I sent James and Aidan on their way, only to not finish until after 6:00 (when we had 7:00 dinner plans across town) because she started so late and had too much going on at once. I showed her pics of subtle highlights that didn't look like bright blond zebra stripes which scare me, and lo and behold, I came out looking like I had bright blond zebra stripes. Not to mention, I told her I'd just had surgery and she raked the metal pick side of the comb right down my incision while doing highlights... oh. my. gosh. That was extremely painful! She apologized, but how does she forget something THAT important? I also gave her very clear details on how I wanted my hair cut because I wanted to grow it out. She nodded and then long pieces of hair were falling left and right on my salon apron/jacket thingie. I'm sure there's a word for it but so not important. What's important is I can barely pull my hair back in a ponytail holder (which is esstential for Houston's heat and humidity in my humble opinion.) She told me that my hair looked beautiful, and honestly it is a nice cut, and she did tone down the color, but my hair length is gone. *sniff*

Sometimes I think many deaf people can hear/comprehend more than some hearing people because we actively try to pay attention to what's going on around us. We're mostly a visual group and can pick up a lot of clues that hearing people tend to miss. If you want to know how somebody REALLY feels about something, ask a deaf person who has been observing. I hate it when someone with perfect hearing has highly selective hearing, especially when they use it on me... *boo*hiss*.... (I won't mention my husband's tendancy to do that, since I have him "trained" to listen to me MOST of the time now. :0) Oh yeah, I went there.)

I will never go back to my hair stylist on a Saturday again, and if I even go back is questionable. I have a history of "firing" my stylists after too many screw ups and then searching madly around town for someone better... There's 1, 2, 3 and hmmm.. now maybe 4 stylists I finally had to break up with since I've moved to Houston after utter frustration. My friend, Anna, used to follow me to whoever I found because she knew I was super picky. Every time I told her so and so is fired, she'd sigh and ask me "well, where are we going now?" That was always funny because she hated answering questions to said stylist about why I abruptly stopped coming for appointments, so she just divorced the stylist too. I'm not as fussy anymore... I mean please, I'm not a single girl on the town every Saturday night anymore, unless you count Chuck E Cheese, but I do have some standards.... like, don't hurt me. Don't whack my hair off, and please no bleached out stripes in my hair, and get me out of the salon at the time you promised.

Anyway, James and I ran home to change after my appointment and were rushing to get out the door 10 minutes later to make it to Shelly's on time, but then her husband was late getting home from a frisbee golf tournament (where he won 2nd place today! Go Darrell!) The babysitter didn't arrive until 7:00, so Shelly and Becky planned, at the last minute, to meet for dinner at 7:30 instead of 7:00. We finally touched base with Shelly about 15 minutes away from her house to find all that out, and we were so relieved to find out everyone was running behind. We could finally relax. When the 3 of us get together, one of us is always late. They like me because they think I'm the worst one, and I make them look good.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SHELLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Tonight was so much fun! ~~xoxo~~

Monday, March 23, 2009

A Case of Mistaken Identity

I've been meaning (and forgetting) to post about the case of an interpreter's mistaken identity for several days, but as is apparent in this blog, my memory is not ginkgo enhanced.

In my second post on this blog I mentioned Emily, my interpreter for my cochlear implant surgery. Emily worked as a substitute interpreter (temporary hire from an agency) on occasion when our deaf education program's regular interpreters were out for the day. I mentioned how she was there before (she was) and after surgery (she wasn't). I also mentioned in that blog post the picture we had made together.... no, I've not uploaded any pictures from that day yet to my computer (I really wasn't looking so hot, so no rush to share with the world yet), and I refuse to upload the video because I look like a cast member from Celebrity Rehab rolling up to the first day of treatment minus the cosmetically enhanced lips and Lincoln Navigator.

So, anyway.... I looked through James' camera at the pictures the other day. I got to the picture of "Emily" and me and had this puzzled expression on my face. Me: uh, who is this? This isn't Emily. James: Well, no, that's your interpreter from when you were in labor. They switched out while you were in surgery. Me: Say what????????? ....and that is how confounded, dazed and confused a little morphine will make a soul. I spent a couple weeks telling this story a few times and thinking all the while my interpreter, Emily, was there for me the whole day. I just have to laugh because I had no clue my interpreter from nearly two years before, when I was in labor, was there again in the recovery room after my cochlear implant surgery. Even though I had video talking with her and a picture sitting with her posing before we left the hospital, I had no idea. I remember seeing the picture with "Emily" after surgery and initially thinking that she looked a lot different than I remembered but shrugged it off since I was on serious pain meds and still feeling the after effects of all the morphine I'd had that day.

Let me back up.... When I was in labor in May 2007, I had 3 interpreters there all day that came in shifts. The first two seemed kind of at loss with an oral deaf chick who could hold her own most of the time. I have to force myself to look at interpreters sometimes when I'm in a situation that I can handle orally because I feel really bad about somebody being hired for my benefit and then not using them. Unfortunately, I don't know if I can handle a situation through speechreading (and patient staff members who will take the time to enunciate clearly without overdoing it), or if I need pull out the stops with all of the above and sign language too, until I'm actually in the situation. Plus, any time I'm in severe pain or just doped up (in a legal manner of course) I really need an interpreter there.

My water broke around 4am that morning, and that evening, many hours later, when my third interpreter showed up I was having a rough time. It only got rougher that evening when my young and seemingly inexperienced nurse decided to turn off my epidural ENTIRELY (when I was 10cm...grr...) without discussing it with James or me so I could FEEL my contractions more because SHE decided I wasn't pushing hard enough.... *boo*hiss* WHO DOES THAT??????? Yow!!! It took TWO hours for the anesthiologist to get back to my room and turn it on, and he was ticked with her to say the least and had no qualms with giving her what-for in front of my family and me. Normally I would have been appalled, but this is one of those times when I think the chewing out was warranted. Plus, there was a full moon out that night so the hospital maternity section was bombarded, and my anesthiologist barely had time to come back. (Anyone doubting this full moon theory should do some research. I kidded with my doctor about the theory that more women give birth during the full moon, and he said it was true as did the hospital staff that was running frazzled that night.) Meanwhile, I was the screaming banshee you will often see on tv or in the movies yelling at my husband, "IF YOU LOVE ME, YOU'LL DO SOMETHING NOW! OOOOOOOOOOWWW!! PLEEEASE HELP ME!!" I stopped short at telling him it was all his fault because that line has been overused for years on tv ...and yes, I was also the chick that showed up originally declining the epidural so I could go natural. I made it through 4 cm and a round of Demerol before I gave in to the epi! *giggle*snort* (To my credit though, I was given Pitocin to get labor going and artificially enhanced contractions aren't exactly a walk in the park, even though Jessica Alba will say contractions are only like bad cramps... for real, Jessica???)

The final interpreter that came in for labor was an angel in disguise. She was just what the doctor should have ordered and lucky me, she came when I needed her most. She was really sweet, and she had four kids herself so she felt very at home interpreting in that environment. At some point though she went from interpreter to interpreter-slash-coach. That will almost never happen with an interpreter from an agency as most are so by the book and all about straight interpreting, but I got to the point that I was almost out of my mind and ready to throw in the towel or jump out of the window (and I would have if I were on the first floor! :-) My pain, when that nurse turned off the epi, was out of this world! I want to howl just thinking about that night sometimes. So my new "coach" would hold my knees and sign counting to ten to help me with the breathing exercises. She was so calm and so positive and really helped center me. Finally after many hours of pushing... I think it was about 8 hours of actively pushing... (I'm stubborn like that... I didn't want to have a c-section!) we were coming up to 24 hours after my water broke. Aidan just wasn't going anywhere no matter how hard I pushed and I had had been fully dilated and effaced at 10 cm.... It was a lost cause. I was completely exhausted and was in tears I couldn't get him out without surgery. I can't even begin to imagine how many women have been in that situation before modern medicine was equipped to intervene.

My interpreter was so supportive and walked beside me to the surgery room door to interpret any last minute details. Fortunately, James was scrubbed and by my side quickly in the operating room. Almost 24 hours to the minute after my water broke, Aidan was with us. I should add that when he came out the room was eerily silent. I could only see James' face and for a second he looked scared to death, until he remembered I was watching his face. We were both holding our breath, and I knew the doctors were working on Aidan..... and then I heard it, his voice screaming.... the most beautiful sound I had ever ever and I do mean EVER heard in my life. James brought him to me, and oh, wow, he was breath-taking. We couldn't believe we made such a gorgeous baby, and we knew we were blessed. After the staff weighed Aidan, James looked at me astounded and repeated "nine pounds and two ounces". Our doctor had just told us two days before that he weighed 7 pounds and change, but since he was 11 days late and I was looking more and more like a Goodyear blimp, I didn't really believe him. So here was our kiddo, absolutely gorgeous with a giant conehead from where his big head was stuck at the birth canal entrance. It didn't matter how he showed up or how pointy his head was, we were just glad he was finally here.

Once Aidan was cleaned up, he went with his daddy and nurse to the nursery. My interpreter was still there! She didn't want to leave without seeing Aidan once, the little guy that she did her part to make his arrival in the world a little smoother than it would have been without her, even though she had probably been off duty for at least an hour. At this point it was probably pushing 6am, and she'd been there since early the evening before. What a trooper and great interpreter/coach she'd been for us. Here's the thing.... I was so drugged, I couldn't remember her name a week later. It has bothered me ever since. Then here were are twenty two months later, and once again, she's there to fill in the gaps, and I think she's Emily! James feels bad that he can't recall her name either. *sigh* Maybe one day I'll see her when I am actually sober for a change. I'll have to admit I can't remember her name, but at least I can refer her to this post so she'll know that I don't need ginkgo to appreciate what she has done for me!

Friday, March 20, 2009

My Life is an Extended Blooper Reel

This has been a weird kind of week..... It's one of those times where if I would just sit down and capture all the details on paper (or computer more likely) I might have started a true life comedy and best seller. No, nothing overly thrilling... but just the usual tales of the bloopers that make up my life. My friends humor me and tell me my stories are fabulous, but I'm pretty sure they mean that in a "and thank God it's you and not me" kind of way.

Where to start?? Last Saturday we took Aidan to the Houston Livestock and Rodeo. It is truly one of my favorite times of the year. I LOVE the rodeo. It was raining and the first day of spring break for all of Houston and the surrounding areas. We should've known it would be a zoo, literally, with a gazillion children in line for the petting zoo, pony rides, the cow barn, and even the exhibition areas with animals since the outside carnival was closed down. First we get there and go see the pigs. Aidan took off with James hot on his heels down the piggy lane... petting each pig for a hot second before taking off for the next. That child kills me. I have video of trying to keep up with him as I was pushing his stroller while he takes the occasional peek over his shoulder to see how close we are to catching up with him as he zigzags around the crowds. Then I took him to the petting zoo and he ran from goat to goat wrestling (again... literally) the poor things with his ferocious and maiming hugs. He ran up to a big ole llama and stuck his hand in its eyes and mouth.... then he pulled on the ears of a litter of tiny baby goats. I got more than one dirty look zipping behind him with the Flip camera while pulling him back from loving on the animals so intensely. We also took him through the barn where there were all kinds of big cows and bulls/steers, and a variety of goats and pigs. His dad thinks he is reliving his 4-H days by showing us how he can moo to a cow and get the cow to moo back. See, it's not me Aidan gets all the weirdness from, people! (His dad once raised a pig only to find out it was underweight before competition. PETA would probably love to know he bloated his pig up on water from a hose so he'd qualify to compete and eventually even place...) I also have James mooing on tape. I am ready to activate this implant already so I can get the full listening experience from the video. Aidan watched James in fascination. James left the building, and meanwhile Aidan walked up to a pig who started to nibble on his hand. I don't think Aidan liked that too much and was looking at his snotty looking hand in disdain. I couldn't believe he drew the line at slurping pigs on his fingers. We also took Aidan to the rabbit exhibit. *BIG EYEROLL* What did my son do?? Well first there was a big rabbit a lady was holding that Aidan started tugging on...hard. Said lady was not a happy camper. I moved him along to the next lady who was holding a gerbil, and my darling son snatched that gerbil right out of her hand and tossed the poor thing on the table. just. like. that. opps. Again, dirty look and I moved him along to the caged rabbits he, fortunately, couldn't touch. I was extremely grateful to James for taking Aidan with him for about 30 minutes and giving me the card to go shopping. I left with a new purse, wallet, turquoise/silver ring and bracelet. A totally fabulous reward for my hard work already that day. The last thing we did before we walked out of the rodeo was take him on his first pony ride. That was just really darned cool. I walked behind him filming it all only to find out it either wasn't on correctly or it was accidently deleted. Well, his proud papa stood on the side and made pictures every time Aidan came around. Aidan had no interest in posing and was completely engrossed in the pony experience. I guess with papa and mamarazzi like he has tailing him in public for almost two years, he's been forced to just tune us out in order to enjoy his life.

Tuesday, Aidan and I went on a long long walk. We walked to my father in law's house to say hello and feed the ducks, but they weren't home. Every time we walked past one of the manmade lakes on our walk over, Aidan threw a hissy fit to get out and feed his ducks. I turned around and went back to the park where we blew bubbles, played on the swings and slides (which I totally forgot to ask Dr. McReynolds about... as I'd read plastic slides and cochlear implants can be a lethal combination... well lethal for the CI... not me personally...) and then I followed his happy slappy self trotting off to the duck pond where we sat by the pond feeding the ducks. It was a classic Hallmark visit to our local park on a beautiful spring day... until that happy slappy little goofball jumped up and ran pellmell for the pond with me just one step behind him. The next thing I knew we were at the edge before I could reach him, and just as I grabbed him I lost my footing and *kerplunk* we both went flying in with the fishes, turtles and ducks (who all fled from us at this point.) I was stunned. Aidan was shellshocked. I stood there in my beautiful new tennis shoes up to my knees in water and holding my child who looked at me all sentimental, teary, and sputtering. Yes, there were other people there at a distance. I'm sure they had to have seen us, but they left us alone in that very awkward, uncomfortable, wet moment as we stood in the shallow pond water. If there was one saving grace it was that the water wasn't any deeper than it was. I had to grab a tree root to haul us up as the drop off to the pond is quite sudden with no slope to tread up on and out of the water easily, and I immediately put my dripping wet and unusually silent and still child in his stroller. Then I sloshed home about half a mile soaking wet with dirty knees silently steaming. When we got home I peeled off his stinky clothes and shoes at the front door and went directly to call James on the video phone with one of those "and let me tell you what YOUR child just did...." calls. The interpreter was amused. Aidan finally broke his silence sitting in the floor leaning against the doorway crying furiously. I brought him over to the phone and told him his daddy was on the phone... and instead of getting excited and saying "Daddy, Daddy..." like he usually does, he turned his lips down and whined "ducks, ducks..." like he was just terrorized by his experience. Sheesh. Daddy thought it was amusing too and had to throw in one of those told-you-so comments since Aidan has been trying to make a break for the pond for a year now, which has been why I rarely ever take him there anymore. He's just not normal...that child....

After that I got Aidan cleaned up for a night out at Chuck E. Cheese date with his dad since we hadn't been there since, oh... Sunday, a whole two days. I met my friend, Dannette and her husband for a 10:30 open captioned movie, Slumdog Millionaire. Awesome, profound, and touching movie. It was cool showing her my cochlear implant to be surgical scars and shaved head and catching up on their lives. They are moving to Austin this summer where she plans to teach deaf education pre-school next year hopefully at Texas School for the Deaf. Dannette was Miss Deaf Texas when I was Miss Deaf Tennessee, and we've been very close ever since we met at the Miss Deaf America Pageant in 1994. I also found out a mutual friend is also getting a cochlear implant next month, and I can't wait to catch up with her and see how everything works out with her too. After the movie I stopped at Walmart for a few things and darned if I didn't set off the alarms coming and going. This day was just getting better and better. The guy manning the door was just looking at me oddly and I had to explain the whole "I just had surgery and have a magnet in my head...see my scar..." thing.... blah. I hope that doesn't happen often. It hasn't happened at the other Walmart near me, and it is a more updated store. I'm guessing maybe the alarm system there is more advanced and sensitive than the one at the store where I set off the alarm. It really drove home the whole thing of having a computer in my head. Every day I can feel the magnet more and more clearly. It is just insane thinking there is a foriegn object implanted there that is going to change my life (and hopefully make the title of this blog become a reality as I really expect to hear "that"....lots and lots of this 'n' that.)

The next day I went to my doctor check up a whole day early, and there I thought I was running late. I really need to carry a calendar. Aidan made several friends in the waiting room playing with his trains, running and jumping around with a big grin on his face and dispensing hugs. He also enjoyed the car stickers and lollipop from the staff. Figures, it was the one day James couldn't take him at that time, and it wasn't even my day to be there. Needless to say there was no interpreter either being a whole day early. Dr. McReynolds was really cool about seeing me anyway and said everything looked great, and he'd come by for my first mapping to make sure everything looks good. I'm touched he is going the extra mile as he certainly doesn't have to be there. I really really like him. He also seems really impressed I still retain some residual hearing in my right ear. I actually wore both hearing aids to watch American Idol this week, but my implanted ear felt exhausted afterwards and the benefit from the hearing aid was minimal, but there was some.

After the doctor appointment, I took Aidan to McDonalds to play in the big play area for a couple of hours. He made a lot of insta-friends with the older kids. He also ventured all the way to the top of the maze TWICE with the help of some girls and this child is not yet even two... he's such a big brave boy. He was scared, but he kept going and even slid down the big loopy slide that starts at the ceiling and twists and turns several times on the way down. I held my breath and was so proud of him for trying it. He was really cute waving at me from waaaaaaay up top while looking a little frozen like..."oh *bleep*bleep* what have I done????" Meanwhile I was forced to eat our Big Mac solo since he was too busy playing. Well, I didn't want to waste it, you know. It was not my finest moment since going back on Weight Watchers in January.... I won't even mention the fries, Coke(s) or parfait... no need really.

Today we hung out at home. I'm incredibly sore and stiff from our long walk this week and tumble in the pond (and trips to Walmart, Kohls, and the rodeo didn't help either.) Aidan has an ugly cold... lots of sniffles, coughing, and tears. We've skipped the bloopers for the day and enjoyed about 5 different shows of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. We also talked to my friend, Crissie in Tennessee on the video phone since she is out of work sick herself. Aidan LOVES talking to her and calling out to her cat, Tux. Hopefully we'll be able to catch up with Crissie live and in person this summer. Aidan already thinks he knows her well. He woke up from his nap asking to talk to her and ran to the office to see if she was still on the tv.... really cute.... It was a nice and much needed break from the daily hee-haws in our lives lately. ;-)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Mosh Pit, Head Banging, Stars in the Morning Baby

This morning I saw stars. No, I didn't wake up before the sun came up, but I wish I had. Then I wouldn't have been RUDELY awaken by a 22 month old toddler who wanted some attention with a gigantic head butt on the side of the head... right smackeroo on the formerly healing incision where my bionic piece, a.k.a. the really expensive cochlear implant, is housed... oy, stars!

For the longest time... *hanging head*.... 14 months to be precise, we were a co-sleeping family because I didn't have the heart to put the little guy in his own bed at night. I couldn't handle the tears and drama on the few times I made the feeble attempt. It took 14 months before that crib in his little yellow cowboy room was actually slept in overnight. I can't even take credit for that, as one of my BFFs took him in for a week last July when James unexpectedly ended up in ICU. I call that week at Shelly's "baby boot camp" because Aidan came home with skillz his mama didn't teach him, including sleeping by himself with not too many tears in protest.

We have a routine that we've developed around here since then that works for all of us. In the evenings, I make dinner, James is in charge of baths, I do story time before bed, and before James leaves for work he changes Aidan's diaper and puts him in bed with his me. Being deaf, I would never hear Aidan wake up in another room, but I will wake up if he's beside me be-bopping and bouncing around. I like it because he is an independent little guy at night, and I get time to myself or to spend with James just relaxing, but in the morning I get to wake up to my little ray of sunshine full of love and joy.... until this morning..... there was no sunshine... just stars. Lots and lots of stars.... in the moment I might not have used very motherly language either. My little tyke woke me up with one big, huge, resounding HEAD BUTT right smack on the side of my head... right where that magnet is implanted. Lord have mercy. What did he think it was? Rave time? Body slamming mosh pit practice for the Barney song on he might hear later on PBS? Argh!!!!!!!!! *$&*^%!!!!! No really, I refrained from yelling and screaming and just looked at him stunned while holding my head... my poor throbbing head. We got up and I fixed him breakfast while I popped a pain pill and some Diet Pepsi.

I emailed Pat in Dr. McReynolds' office to tell her what happened and to inquire if my implant might be toast. She wrote me back and said it would take much worse, to take a Tylenol, and she'd let Dr. McReynolds know on Monday when he came in what happened. I'm sure she might have gotten a chuckle out of that email today. I did take more pain medication later today... it's still throbbing a bit. I've really got to teach my son how to show his affection in a more subtle manner. Maybe I should call Shelly at "baby bootcamp"? I do know the next time the little guy gives me a big hug and kiss and then follows up with a playful head butt that we'll put an end to that. Seriously... a head butt in the morning. Did I mention how much I love that kid???? :-)

****this post is dedicated to Jessica in Seattle (a member of my two person fan club...), who pestered me to write something for the day.... love ya, chickie!*****

Friday, March 13, 2009

Finally... just squeaky clean hair!

I've gotten some feedback from other previously krazy glued cochlear implant recipients and was inspired this afternoon to go ahead and lather up some Herbal Essences without fear of coming unglued...literally or figuratively. I had read about one person who had trouble with her incision opening early, but a couple people on a CI email group I belong to led me to believe I'm going to have a harder time getting the glue out of my hair than I'd like as opposed to the computer in my head falling out through the cracks because of a little water and some suds n' bubbles. So, I now have squeaky clean hair that doesn't flatly stick up in any direction I manipulate it!
I don't even care that I haven't had it cut in nearly 3 months or that my roots are a hot mess (when IS the last time I had them done???).... I didn't need to whip out the Chi and ten hair products to feel good.... The little part that is shaved doesn't faze me (but okay, I am a little self conscious about the somewhat gory looking scar showing in public so I decided against a ponytail for a trip to Walmart today...) All in all... this. is. bliss... just clean hair blown out and twisted up in a clip with wispy pieces falling here and there. It's the little things....

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

American Idol, Whiny Toddler, and Food, Food, Food

Last night we turned on American Idol, and it just wasn't as much fun as usual. We had the volume way up there, but for some reason Aidan is always at his loudest and most fussiest when we are watching that show. I suppose because it's not the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse or Zoboomafoo. Betweeen Aidan and the show, I can barely make out anything clearly. We broke our own rules and gave him a couple of lollipops to see if we could get him to zip it. It's a nice little short-term solution... but doing it over long periods of time would have him bouncing off walls with sugar highs even more than he does normally. Last night was Michael Jackson night, and I am picking favorites by looks, whether Paula is up and dancing, and if I recognize the song (and if James tells me it sounds halfway decent.) That's just sad... I'm ready for two ears again, albeit with one semi, sort of, kind of bionic ear.

Speaking of lollipops and all things sugar related.... am I the only person that gains a huge chunk of change at the first sniffle, cough, or slice under the knife? I HAD lost 11 pounds prior to my CI surgery... after surgery I required all kinds of comfort foods and lost the fierceness of being in control... lost my mojo and gained most of it back...just. like. that. The food has been awesome... *sigh* All that hard work...*poof* Snickers, anyone?

I'm so ready to WASH MY HAIR!!!! I talked to Pat in Dr. McReynold's office, and she put it in perspective. She said if the incision were to get wet, the glue could come undone and to be very very careful. Needless to say, we put off the hair washing a little longer... but man... it has been a week. I honestly will not leave the house until I can wash my hair at this point. We'll wash it tomorrow night though because I have a public appearance at the doctor's office on Friday.

I'm still having pain. It feels like a sharp ear infection on the inside, and on the outside I feel like I have a nail that someone tightened beyond the point of return behind my ear. Also, most of my ear still has numbness to touch, but it's starting to feel like I'm touching my own ear and not someone else's (which was a really weird experience). I thought I was past needing pain pills, but last night I had to take one to get some relief. My ear has a lot of swelling and therefore sticks out now. One of my best hidden features are my lovely flat ears that no one ever notices due to my hearing aids taking away from them. Now I have one floppy ear and one flat ear. I don't think anybody would make it past the mop on my head to notice though (if I were in public, that is...)

I've been reading some other blogs from cochlear implant recipients. I've gone back to the beginnings of their blogs to see how it was for them at this stage. I have to say in spite of the pain, the messy hair, the weight gain, and oh, my son picking favorites with his parental figures (and I haven't been the chosen one lately) that I'm extremely excited about activation. I'm glad the first two activation days are scheduled together instead of spaced apart a week. I know my expectations should be low, but I also know my personality and how well I have done with very little sound to work with over the years, and I can't help but think this is going to be a great thing but a whole lotta work.

On a happy note, last night Aidan climbed on a chair beside me when I was on the phone talking to Alecia. I'm not sure if he was showing off for the interpreter or just happy to give his mama some love, but he leaned over THREE times to give me a big kiss in the face. All was right with my world. Whatever had been bugging him about me was gone. After I got off the phone he told his daddy goodnight and grabbed my hand as we walked to his room to read about trains and animals. I love that kid!!!

Monday, March 9, 2009

The Weekend Blues

One thing I learned this weekend..... never take a hyper toddler to dinner at Bennihana's. The other thing I learned... nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing, holds a candle to the lure of Chuck E. Cheese for a hyper toddler. So, we took the kids to dinner. James and I took turns taking Aidan outside when he was antsy. When James was gone, of course the waitress or chef would ask me a question I couldn't hear. My stepdaughter is too shy with strangers to really help there. At one point a lady at my table thought it would be okay to move over to James' chair and mouth quite loudly what was being asked of me. I know she was trying to be helpful, but she was so in my space, in my face, and talking to me like I was a sweet little lost five year old... boo...hiss... I told her thanks and that I read lips and could see her lips from over thataway. I don't know quite how I said it in the moment, but I did say something along those lines. Oops. I must've said it with some tact because they waved at us like we were all BFFs as we parted after dinner.

After dinner we went to Chuck E. Cheese. Aidan asks to go there several times daily, and James loves to oblige and takes him 2 or 3 times a week lately. It's definitely cheap fun since every ride and game only costs a token which is only a quarter. I stayed there for a few minutes but the roar in my "good" non-favored ear was just too much, and Saturday night traffic in there is elbow to elbow. I found one little boy standing alone in the women's bathroom crying his eyes out. He didn't know where his mother was and it was just chaos, so I carried him out to someone that worked there. She found his mom quickly. I couldn't believe none of the other mothers were rushing to him to see what was wrong. I couldn't understand anything beyond his nodding when I asked if he lost his mom, but I didn't need to be able to hear to see that he was lost.
Anyway, I left and went to Target while the kids stayed with James. Our 15 year old microwave caught fire that afternoon so I had an excuse to get out of the noise and get my shop on. We went out for ice cream after that. Aidan ignored his ice cream to take turns eating out of all of ours. Cute... but annoying. Gotta love that kid! He always thinks whatever we are eating or drinking is better than the babyish food and drinks he thinks he is getting.

Tonight we went out again to get a different microwave since the one we got last night didn't even work when we plugged it in.... very very annoying... but love new microwave better so I got over it... I still have not washed my hair. James and I aren't sure we can manage to do it without getting the bandage wet. I need to double check with my doctor tomorrow and find out what he told me during my morphine haze about washing hair. I think he said a week or earlier if I could keep the incision dry. I'm starting to look homeless. I could probably make sculptures with my hair at this point if I had a mind to do so. Any special requests? A duck? a box?

One more note about the weekend... I'm not sure if Aidan feels like I abandoned him for a few days this week, but Daddy is the preferred parental unit in this household right now. He's kept me at an arm's length and seeks his dad out for fun, comfort, and mostly looks to me for food. The joys of motherhood. I think he's starting to forgive me though, and it's been very sweet seeing his bond with James this weekend. At least the timing is great for this phase (even though it does sting a bit) because it's given me time to take a mental and physical break when I really needed one.

On that cheerful note, my bed head and I are off to catch some much needed zzzzzz's.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

3 Days After Surgery

What year is this??? ....pleeeeeease make it stop! I'm kidding....kind of.... it's not quite that bad... but today has been pretty rough. The right side of my head is throbbing, and I feel so much pressure. I don't want to take pain meds today, but I think I'd feel better if I did. I just don't want to leave James on solo parenting duty all day.

Aidan came home last night, like the little hurricane he is, zipping through and leaving toys and miscellaneous "stuff" in his wake. Not having the energy to keep up with him yet is a little stressful, and meanwhile, James' blood pressure has gone way up today so he is resting. I'm going to try to wash my hair without getting the incision wet. My stepdaughter, Skylar, is here for the weekend, and I know we'll probably go out to eat later.

One final note, I had my left hearing aid off earlier and shut a kitchen cabinet drawer. I could hear a soft thud on the left side but nothing on the right. I tried it again.... and yep, couldn't make it out with the right ear. It didn't faze me too much, but I did feel a second of... "oh no, what did I do?" and then that passed. I just thought about how very soon I would hear that sound more distinctly and clearly with my right ear than my left when my cochlear implant is finally activated.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Day After...

I am feeling pretty sore, but it is do-able with the drugs! Melissa went to doctor with me and to x-rays this morning. Dr. McReynolds said everything looked good and to come back in 10 days to check out the cochlear implant incision. My mappings are scheduled for March 31st and April 1st. So exciting!

I tried on my right hearing aid today so I could just get it over with and accept that my residual hearing is gone... well, it worked but it's different! James sounded like Donald Duck on helium. I can't believe I have anything left at all, but I'm not complaining.

Melissa picked lunch up at Chick Fil A for us this afternoon, and Anna is coming by with dinner tonight. James came home early to look after me, and I'm just so happy to be able to relax and not worry about anything else for today. I miss Aidan so much, but this will give me a little time to get back to myself and a chance for him to play with other kids for a few days.

Off to veg...

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Implantation Day

I had the surgery today, and it was a success. My husband, James, was just the best today. He's been at my side constantly for the last day. A lot of friends/family have been praying for today, which was very nice of them, and I'm truly grateful. They've either emailed, FBed, or left James a message. I don't think he's called anyone back just yet, but I did get your messages!

We arrived at just after 8:30am. Of all days for an alarm clock slip-up. James thought it was 7:00am when it was really 8:00am. The hospital is barely a hop and skip away, but I was nagging James a bit to step on it. He can fly when he's inspired. They took me back about an hour before surgery and it was all a breeze. I had an interpreter, Emily, who also subbed as an interpreter when I taught at a middle school several years ago.

Veering slightly off topic, but worth mentioning, it usually happens when I have an interpreter for personal business that I have probably known them for school business previously. I can remember going to court for speeding nearly 100 mph (don't ask)... and the interpreter was one I knew from teaching when he subbed a few times. He and the district attorney I was in an office with were stiffling laughter as they tried to ask with a straight face exactly why I felt the need for speed (like I said.... it wasn't in open court and I was first on the books for the day... perks of the deaf!) I also had an interpreter that had subbed at the school, when I had the ultrasound finding out Aidan was going to be a boy. The deaf world is a very small world no matter where you are. Thank God for the code of ethics they abide by to keep personal business private, although I'm outting myself as it is.

So anyway, I knew Emily in the past. She was there before and after surgery. Thank God for her. I wasn't hearing or focusing on anything like I normally would've been. I was a little sad thinking I wouldn't be able to hear out of my right ear with my hearing aid again.... a little nervous about getting knocked out... and some staff members had European accents I had (and almost always have, unless it's a British accent oddly) trouble understanding, especially with a room where sound was bouncing off the walls and tiles easily, but Emily was there to fill in the blanks whenever I tried to speech read unsuccessfully. Several people came by to put an "X" on my right ear to make sure I wasn't missing a spleen or something. The nurse came by and gave me an option of whether to have an IV with Ativan before getting wheeled off or waiting until I was under. I gave her one shot before to get it in because I was more nervous about the operating room and the mask (but it was barely the lesser of two evils) and she did fabulous.... Once I met the anesthiologist and talked to the doctor, I really don't remember much else. I was wheeled away on a hazy calm cloud (2 mg of Ativan in an IV... just the thing for nerves!) and woke up in a stupor two hours later. When I woke up today in the recovery, I started having sharp chest pain when I breathed and felt like my blood pressure was falling (I had a really scary episode with rapidly dropping blood pressure when I was in labor) so they did an EKG, which was fine from what I know. They gave me morphine and the chest pain subsided. I was/am still majorly drugged... LOTs of morphine today so I was able to fall asleep all afternon and evening.

Just wanted to update.. more later. Have doctor appointment in A.M and riding with Melissa. Aidan is staying with his friend, James' (Shelly and Darrell's son). It was rough leaving last night, but Shelly sent message today that she got him to sleep after a bath, clean up, and then several stories with not too much crying. She said he asked for his mommy and daddy... bless his little heart, but he couldn't be anywhere better right now and with awesome people.

I'm laying down for now, but I wanted to update to make it a habit. :)

***updated 3-12 for minor details my hazy self wasn't up for reporting at the time*** :-P

Monday, March 2, 2009

My Story

Forty-eight hours from now, I will have been implanted with the Nucleus Freedom Cochlear Implant. It's surreal to me. It's taken me three years to go through the approval process, and once it was given, everything seems to be snowballing rapidly.

I've had a severe to profound hearing loss for most of my life. My hearing loss was noticed by my family when I was three after I had been through a particularly rough winter with childhood illnesses and frequent high fevers. My mother also had rubella while she was pregnant with me. My hearing loss has always been defined as "unknown" since there have been different possible factors that could have played a role.

I was fitted with my first hearing aids when I was 5, and I still have a vague memory of hearing sounds and speech well right off the bat. I was so excited! However, the summer before I was due to start kindergarten my mom was told I'd have to go to a deaf school which would involve me leaving home at five! She didn't find that option acceptable for us and worked very hard with me at home everyday that summer, in addition to the time I spent in speech therapy each week at the Chattanooga Speech and Hearing Center, to prove I was ready for public school admission. In the fall when I was tested again my IQ jumped up 20 points, (so much for the concept of an IQ test not being something that someone can study for, right?!) and I had no problem being accepted in the public school system where I don't remember being much different than anyone else in the earlier years.

As I got older and my hearing loss became progressively worse, I started struggling to understand what was going on in the classroom. However, I rarely struggled with language or reading skills. Those were my forte thanks to the many hours and days my mother devoted working with me one on one and reading stories to me. She was an English teacher who often took those with challenges under her wing. I still get emails from her students sharing their memories 22 years after she passed away, and I'm sure I was the one most blessed by the difference she made in my life.

Junior high was a nightmare for me. I could not fit in to save my life, but my hearing loss had so much to do with that. I was so embarrassed by it. One year I was the wrestling team manager, and I refused to even wear my glasses in front of the guys. I was Helen Keller with a score board, and Coach McClure was kind enough to ignore the fact that my score was never remotely close to what the other manager would have on his board. Coach McClure is my cousins' uncle and my brother's former coach, so I think he was just letting me have my fun, but that was the only year I was the manager. Come to think of it, he even gave me a letter for managing I know I didn't deserve, but he didn't ask me to come back, and I didn't even try to suggest it.

I didn't really know anyone else like me, and kids can just be tough when someone is different. The harder I tried to hide my hearing loss, the more gawky and out of place I'd be. My parents were concerned and thought I might benefit from going to a deaf summer camp. I went very reluctantly, but I thrived that first year. I started learning sign language. Boys liked me, a lot of boys! The attention totally went to my head. I excelled at sports at camp and brought home quite a few first place blue ribbons from different team competitions. I made a girl friend was new to the scene herself (raised oral but was also beginning to learn sign language through immersion at camp.) I went to this summer camp for several summers, and it made a huge difference in my self confidence which I sorely needed.

When I started high school, I bloomed. I still hid my hearing loss, but it was different. I think having my mom around the corner did wonders for me. She was a popular, well-loved teacher, so I had no shame riding her coat tails. My brother graduated the year before I started high school, and there was no shame in my game in riding the crest of his success as an athlete and well liked guy either.

I eventually felt like my own person, but darned if I still couldn't talk about my hearing loss. I ran track with my hair down in hot weather so as not to show my hearing aids. I even had a boyfriend my junior year that would call me on the phone at home. Every time I couldn't understand him, I changed the subject, which was like every other sentence. Our conversationos were exhausting. He was extremely polite and didn't call me on my insanity. I don't think we ever discussed my hearing loss that spring we dated. The most annoying part is that I had volume control on the phone, and my mother (who was his teacher) would feel free to participate in our calls from across the kitchen while she made dinner.

My mother died when I was a senior in high school. That same year my dad showed me a story in the newspaper about a girl who won Miss Deaf Tennessee. That just blew my mind that being hearing impaired could be an awesome thing. I think that article had a lot to do with my definite decision to teach deaf kids one day. It also made me start thinking beyond losing my mom and actually think about the future. It was also the beginning for me to let my guard down about my hearing loss because what's more glamorous than a shiny tiara, right??? That girl that won the pageant? She's one of my closest friends today and has been for MANY years. (Hi Crissie!)

My audiologists pretty much promised me as a kid that I wouldn't become deaf. I grew up thinking of myself as hearing impaired/hard of hearing, until one day in college I took a closer look at my audiogram and asked my audiologist what I already knew. I asked if I had become deaf since my loss was at 90 decibels at this point. I was a special education major, and I had just read something not long before in one of my textbooks about deafness being a loss of 90 decibels and higher. He said yes, but oddly I was relieved that being deaf wasn't the sheer silence or stigma I was afraid it would be, and I was relieved that I didn't have to worry about becoming deaf anymore because I'd finally arrived, and somehow it was kind of cooler to say I was deaf than hard-of-hearing.

I could still use my hearing aids at the time to talk on the phone (the poor people on the other end that had to speak slowly and repeat themselves often...) I had some basic signing skills I'd learned from deaf friends and college classes, but I didn't have an interpreter for classes. I rarely paid attention in class and was bored silly most of the time. I'd study at the last minute absorbing everything in the textbooks and hoping the professors didn't add anything that wasn't in there. Once I had to explain how I'd written a paper to a professor because he didn't teach what I'd used and I went way beyond what was required (thanks to not being able to lipread a man with a beard and no effort on my part to clarify the assignment in the first place), and he was sure I'd cheated. I didn't know whether to be flattered or ticked off... I was a little of both, and I sat down and pointed out all my references from the text I'd used. He was impressed, and I felt justified but annoyed.

Surprisingly, I felt truly liberated once I knew I was technically classified as "deaf". Perhaps part of that was the freedom of being in college as well. I loved my ASL classes, and I felt pretty special being the only one in the class besides the teacher who was deaf. For the first time I had a lot to say, and I didn't hold back. I embraced my deafness. I became involved in the deaf community, made new friends, competed in local deaf pageants, and went to community deaf shin-digs and just had fun getting to know a new world.

I represented Tennessee at The Miss Deaf America Pageant. That was extremely tough though. I struggled so much with understanding the language at the time (receptive and expressive) that I just didn't stand a chance at the national level in the interview portion. One of the on stage questions was something like "...and how would you feel if a doctor said he could cure your deafness?" which was a reference to cochlear implants. The PC answer was of course "..there's nothing wrong with me... I don't need to be healed... Deaf pride!" I remember thinking what a relief it was that I didn't make the top ten and have to answer that because I wasn't very PC. I probably would've been lost anyway and said...."my favorite childhood pet was a shaggy dog I named Benji..."

I graduated in special education and became a deaf education teacher. My signing skills have improved tremendously since my deaf pageant days, although I am not so presumptuous to consider myself overly fluent. I'm still learning. However, I can't make a phone call without my video phone where an interpreter is on the screen signing what the other person is saying. It has changed my life though, and I love using the phone again. I can also call my two favorite deaf girlfriends, Crissie and Dannette, and talk directly to them. They get to see my son, our cats, and my husband will jump in once and a while to say hi. I also get to say hi to their husbands and my son loves seeing their pets. Dannette even showed me the color they were painting their walls the other day. I can't imagine being able to use a phone now without captions or an interpreter available. I have no idea how much a cochlear implant might improve my auditory skills on the phone.

Three years ago, I applied to get a cochlear implant. While waiting for approval, I became pregnant, had Aidan, and now he is almost two! I've wrestled my feelings on the subject for a long time. The deaf community used to take a firm stance against cochlear implants. While they are not embracing the idea now, they are much more open-minded on the issue than they once were. I was once on board with their viewpoint thinking an implant wasn't for me, but as I got older I realized I really wanted to hear as much as I can. My son is talking, and I don't want to miss a word.

So, this is the beginning. On Wednesday I will be implanted. My hair will be slightly shaved. All the residual hearing in my right ear will be destroyed (not that there's much left, but there is a mourning process in losing it.) I will be activated a month after surgery. I'm excited and anxious at the same time, but I feel blessed to be on this journey.