Saturday, November 15, 2014

Do You Hear What I Hear?

Okay, so here is my question:
Considering the fact that I am a musician....and that is how I make a living,
if I go blind and deaf....will I be eligible for disability?
So, most of us are aware of the fact that I am well on my way to "deaf."
I wish I was kidding about that.  I guess I approach that in the same way that I approach my mother's Alzheimer's.....I try to find the humor in it, and remember that things could be worse.
If I didn't, it would probably crush me.
I mean, come on...who wants a partially deaf musician?
I realize that Beethoven pulled it off....but he also pulled "crazy" off, and I'm guessing people were not sure what to make of the guy. Oh, and he was a musical he had that going for him.
I really had no intention of writing about my hearing (quite honestly, I sat down with no plan as to what I would write about.) but perhaps I will just roll with it for a bit.  It's kind of interesting?
When I was in 3rd grade, I had my tonsils and adenoids out, had tubes put in my ears, and got glasses.  (Just reading that makes ME feel sorry for the pathetic little dork I must have been.  Two years later, add braces to the mix.)

I was the queen of ear infections.  I still remember the day I got the tubes, coming home, and for the first time, hearing the wood floors squeak.
I had never heard that before.  There were so many little sounds I had no idea even existed.
I'm sure I never had perfect hearing, and my ear drums had some damage due to the number of infections I had.  I did seem to outgrow those, however....
until my senior year in college.  While student teaching I got a horrible ear infection that blew out my ear drum. (Funny what all of those little kiddie germs will do to you!  I thought I was going to die.)  That was the first of 3-4 bad ear drum perforations that would cause me to lose hearing in my right ear for about a week.  I am sure the fact that I had played in rock bands all through college didn't help my hearing at all either.
About 15 years ago, I had a stapendectomy.  I was diagnosed with otosclorosis, which is where the stapes bone no longer vibrates like it should.  They remove it from your inner ear, and replace it with a pin.  The bone is about the size of the tip of your pinkie fingernail.  However, because it is in the inner ear, it messes with your equilibrium so badly, that for about a week after the surgery, I couldn't move without feeling like I was being knocked to the floor.
It was lots of fun!
It made some improvement in my left ear, but during the surgery on my right, the Dr. found that my facial nerve was lying on top of my stapes bone.  Rather than risk facial paralysis, he sewed me up, and stopped the procedure.
My hearing in that ear progressively got worse, to the point where I 
would have what felt like panic attacks when put in a situation where I would have to answer questions, or lead a rehearsal, or really, anything that 
involved interacting with a group of people, because I was so worried about looking stupid if I couldn't hear them.
I tried a hearing aid, but it didn't help a ton, it was annoying, and I felt like I was 90, because you could see it.
Finally, about 3 years ago, I learned of a newer surgery that involved implanting an abutment in the bone behind your ear, and attaching a box, similar to a cochlear implant, called a baha.  It sounded tropical and fun, so I figured "why not?"  It turned out that my hearing through my ear was terrible, but my hearing through the bone (you know how they put the headphones behind your ear to test whatever that is called when you have a hearing test?) was normal.
Weird huh?
So, I was a perfect candidate.
To have a screw drilled into my scull.
And a magic hearing box snapped onto it.
I figured this was going to be a breeze.  The Dr. would take a drill, bore a hole in my head, stick the little thingy in my skull, and we would be done.
He forgot to mention the fact that he was also going to make sure the area behind my ear was as flat as it could be, so the baha would lay flat against the bone.  I noticed this when I felt the row of stitches that started at the screw, and ended at the bottom of my hairline.  He had removed whatever had been there before. (bone? muscle? tissue? brain?)
Oh, and the best part.....the entire area had been shaved.  And yes, my hair was nice and long at that time.  I looked GORGEOUS!
I stocked up on cool bandanas and scarves and cute flower thingys to cover up the box once I was healed enough to get it.
Once they snapped it on my head (3 months later) I realized that anything that even touched the damn thing made it feed back, and it would make this high pitched "I am a little piggy, and I know you plan to make bacon out of me" squeal.
So much for beautifying my box.
This was the contraption they sent me home in.  It worked great, as I could sleep and not have to worry about bumping any of my owies.
And then my dog ate it.

This is a few months after the surgery.  All healed up....but still pretty bald there.  See the little screw thingy?

And the box.  I will never wear my hair in an up-do again. :(((

My hearing is WAY better with my magic box....but it still isn't great.  I have to pop both ears if I really want to hear well. And I have tinnitus, so they both ring very loudly, and constantly.  I think that may be a lot of what covers up sounds when I'm trying to hear.  It sounds like I have a head full of grasshoppers and cicadas....all the time.  You know how loud they can be right?  Image that in your head.
It really explains my need for prozac, doesn't it?  (Is there anyone out there who will prescribe the stuff for me?!!) ;)
I am pretty sure that my ear issues will probably keep me from trying or pursuing some things in life that I otherwise would have.  
I know that I always feel bad when I have to ask someone to repeat themselves.  And I hate talking on the phone. (I think I would hate that anyway.) For me, texting was the greatest invention ever, because it's quick, to the point, and I can READ it, rather than listen to it.  
I also keep the subtitles on the TV all the time, just because it seems like so many movies are SO loud when there is music in the background, and then SO soft when it's just dialogue.  I hate constantly adjusting the volume.  Reading it is easier, and you never miss a word. ;)
I find that the worst place for me to hear someone is in a large space.  Like a theater or a church.....if someone is speaking to me from across the room, I can never make out what they are saying.
Guess where I work 98% of the time?!
Theaters and churches, of course. Ugh.
So, if you see me popping my ears...that means I actually want to hear you.
If I don't...well, we won't talk about that. ;)
Fortunately, my ear woes haven't taken a toll on my music. (yet.)
Vocally...I can still hear everything in my head just fine, so that's great.  The piano is no problem.  Hearing Mark's trombone, which I have the pleasure of hearing right now...this very second, is, sadly, completely audible as well.  In fact, at times like these, I might actually consider deafness a gift.
I tell ya, being able to take off my box, and reduce the volume of loud, annoying, headache inducing, "oh dear God, why the hell are you playing that damn trombone so loud right at the bottom of the stairs so I have to listen to every note" sounds is pretty darn convenient.  
If only I had a box for the other ear right now.
By the end of this painful warm-up session (because that's all he does....warm-up.  He never actually plays music...because that might be enjoyable to listen to!) I may need a screw drilled in the other side of my head.
Briefly: blindness.
My eye doctor says I'm not blind.
But I am one step away from bifocals.
Let's just say I no longer wear my glasses (which I have worn since 3rd grade, if you recall) when I read at night.  My arms are't long enough to hold the book away from my face so I can see it.  And it's horribly uncomfortable.
Getting old sucks.
I promised I would tell you about Mark's breathing tube. (He may need a real one if he doesn't stop playing soon.) 

Two days ago, he had this long hose-like thing he was carrying around.  It sort of looked like the tube you hook up in the back of your fridge to your water supply....but it was bigger in circumference.  I didn't ask what it was for. (I figured it was best to not even start that conversation.)
Yesterday, he sent a text that says "My breathing tube works great!"
Huh? it is.  He breathes through his fancy tube so he doesn't fog up his hockey helmet as he rides his BICYCLE to and from work.
And hey, if he gets thirsty, he can stop at kwik trip and get himself a slushy, and he doesn't even need a straw!  He has a tube!! 
It's a multi-purpose tube!!

Here is his back-pack that has it's own vest.  (He forgot his vest there are usually two yellow vests going on with this get-up.)
I am currently taking suggestions for back-pack buddy names.  I mean, come on....he has a obviously he needs a name!

I wish he had his vest on, so you could get the whole picture...but at any rate, he looks like a character that you would find in Star Wars, Episode the Mos Eisley Cantina on Tatooine.  (and yes, I looked that up.  I asked my son what planet that "bar from Star Wars was on" and then sang the song from that scene.  He looked at me (down at me) and said "Mom. It's a cantina.  And it's on Tatooine.)  Duh mom.
Just so you know, it is all spelled correctly, because I felt the need to be sure.
Please excuse me now, as I go shove a spaghetti squash in the bell of that damn trombone.

Have a wonderful Saturday!

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