Tuesday, August 4, 2009

OK, so I'm new at this. It's not like I can't think of things to say, but are they things you want to read? :)

So, I'll start with today. It's raining. A half-decade ago, all this meant was dragging an umbrellla off the shelf in my hall closet, or making sure I had my 'shmoo suit' to put over me and whatever I was carrying. I was closer to the bus stop, but on a busy road, so getting there was easy, but staying unspattered? Timing. Of course, if I get it wrong, then I get it worse, because everybody can see the white cane, and that makes me more fun to soak. No worries, really. It's not like I'M gonna melt.

So, then comes the eye surgery, and I don't need the cane anymore. No, not driving. Not 'un-legally blind,' just seeing that little bit better that the cane is not needed -enter snow disclaimer here. I'm liking this development! Wouldn't this have been a gift-send when my son was in day care, and I had to carry his soy milk, diaper bag, nebulizer, HIM -no feather-weight belt for HIM- AND my briefcase. I have a whole nother free hand! I can carry more home from Wal-Mart foraging, or can flip-a-person-off without hesitation. I now have to keep the Disabled ID handy because I'm not 'obvious' and now I get "Retard!" muttered under their breath rather than the exaggerated smile (that I nearly always returned) because nobody 'blind' could be doing the things I was doing, right? That summer, having this success to open doors, my sweetie gently tells me I should get my hearing checked.

OK, but why? I've been using my ears to protect me for years! They're my supersense, now that I can see, the ears can rest, but they're not deficient! Dutiful student I was, standing with my mother, listening for whatever might come our way, and telling her when it was safe, so she could check my work. So, my ears? My knees, my back, yes, but my ears?

Imagine my shock when I saw the audiogram. It wasn't quite flat-lined, but there weren't any high points. My official diagnosis, since we crips must keep this information close to our persons at all times, is 'severely to borderline profoundly deaf.' I scored really well on voice recognition, or they'd have passed by me on the feasability of hearing aids. (Guess all those language classes paid off?) The audiologist said I've been 'filling in the blanks' of what little I've been hearing for years, and got really good at it.

OK, so to build on this point, I've been intuitively sensing the bus coming to mow me down, and my brain has been 'filling in the blank' where the sound was supposed to be, and I've been running from something I didn't really hear? Or, the kids were raising the dead with their noise for hours before my mind thought to input some hint of their activities, leading me to rein them in, and therefore restore peace to my neighbors? Or the time when I called the police because the upstairs people were vibrating my furniture with THEIR stereo was 'just another filled-in blank'?

On the flip side, I really must track down all my former neighbors and beg pardon for listening to my own stereo in what I thought was a 'low' volume, but was more likely an air raid siren on Tornado Day.

Flash to now, and I'm thinking myself 'adjusted' to my 'new' disability. I think, as one lives with a disability all their life, the addition of another, or change in status of the 'original' is something we almost expect. I grew up hearing 'Be thankful for what you have, because you don't know when God will take it away." I resented this vehemently. Why not take from the kids who laugh at what I already don't have? This did get me thinking about what I'd 'prefer' get taken, though, since those same tormentors' parents would call me 'blessed' and let me 'bless' their babies as a ward against 'evil visiting them'. I spent hours thinking about wheelchairs, or prosthetic arms, or iron lungs -for a claustrophobic, that one was a doosey. I even tried to learn sign language, 'just in case.' You can't predict God's agenda, so might as well cover the bases, eh? As if surviving cancer, being blind and having radiation-related side-effects wasn't enough?

Now, it's a joke, I tell with relish. "This is how I've kept myself alive all these years! Using nearly useless ears to compensate for a slightly better-functioning eye!" It sounds better with the whole telling, but you get the point. Truth be told, I'm amazed that I'm here. Not because I was deaf all those times I was listening for traffic, but because all that 'filling in the blanks' was something I didn't know I was doing. The 'from where' and 'why' of that is awesome.

Oh, and officially the etiology of the hearing loss is 'unknown' though they suspect it was from all my headphone use in early years. (Another blog, that.) But I didn't have problems until my last pregnancy. A midwife I consulted told me that it was 'not unusal' for women to lose hearing during pregnancy and that it 'would come back' -usually- after delivery. Mine didn't. So, I've traded my hearing for my son. I didn't think of that during all those childhood 'what if's.'

Not bad, really. If I can presume to say such a thing about a process of which I am merely the recipient. Hearing for a whole new Life. Blindness for my own. And with the 'miralces' of modern medical Lifeplan Management, I have slight gains in both, which I can use to see to the graceful raising of my son.

So, it's raining, and there are school supplies to herd into a cart at Wal-Mart, but the hearing aids are sensitive little boogers, and cannot even tolerate what little sweat I produce at the gym, so going out without special care is a no-no. (They WILL melt. :( ) So, shmoo suit, or umbrella, and a box for the hearing aids, because I have never minded getting wet, and forget about the $3ooo I'm carrying in my ears. Then again, I have the luxury -and I do know the heft of that word- to stay in. School doesn't start until the 12th, right? I've had two really close calls -Gretchen vs. pool pump, for one- that have put the Fear of Wet in me good. Seriously, though, we all know it takes a while to fully realize the implications of a 'new' disability. Find the humor in it, as soon as you can, and the work will be easier.

Ziplocs are great, too.