Man, I have been slacking with posting here (or anywhere, really) lately. I actually thought about taking a little hiatus while I try to focus on some other aspects of my life, but that just seems too severe. Plus I want to be able to write when I feel like it, and the moment I say “I’m taking a hiatus” I will probably be struck with an uncontrollable urge to write.

Let me just give you a little update on things here. First of all, today I FINALLY called the Cheyenne Mountain Resort to book the extra nights we’ll be staying for this summer’s NFED Family Conference. I called the reservation line and it automatically puts you on hold while you wait in the queue.

I’d like to just mention that the hold music was so fantastic that I wanted to sit there on hold for as long as I could. I’m serious! As I listened to it (and did a robot-like dance in my chair), I wondered if it was the hold music that they talked about on an episode of This American Life, which I used to listen to religiously. After I got off the phone I googled “awesome hold music” and found out that yes, it was the same tune.

Now that I’ve piqued your interest, check it out for yourself here. I’m actually listening to it as I’m writing this post.

Also, if you’ve never listened to This American Life on NPR, you might want to take a gander. An auditory gander.

Speaking of auditory. Yesterday I had a routine visit to my ENT. Good news! My ear is stable. Not that I really expected anything different, but it’s always nice to get confirmation that you don’t have a diseased inner ear. I also had a hearing test. Blah.

I’m not terribly fond of the audiologist my doctor uses. This is the same woman who got the silicone stuck in my ear last year, but even before that I found her annoying. First of all, she speaks really softly, which is a bad quality in a person who is working with hearing impaired people, right?

One of the other things that makes me not take her seriously is that when she does the test where she says a word and I have to repeat it, she doesn’t do a very job of covering her mouth, so I can see her forming the words on the other side of the booth.

Also, it’s the SAME WORDS over and over! They are going to think I had a miraculous regeneration of my hearing because I know it’s:

Ice cream. Toothbrush. Sidewalk. Hot dog. Backpack. Lollipop.

Add a wind sound in my good ear.

Hot dog. Ice cream. Toothbrush. Backpack. Lollipop. Sidewalk

I’ll admit it gets hard when it is just one syllable words. Sometimes I have literally no idea what she said, and I can’t even think of a word to repeat back so I just shake my head in defeat.

At a couple of moments during the test, she turned up the wind sound SO loud in my good ear that I actually had to pull the headphone away from my ear. What the hell. Maybe this is what I don’t like about her the most. She does not seem to notice how sensitive my ears are.

It seems like a paradox that I could be so hard of hearing, yet so sensitive at the same time. I have been thinking about it a lot in the last 24 hours. I am not sure if it’s because I have to struggle to hear sometimes that I am so sensitive, or if I would be this sensitive even if I could hear perfectly. In fact, maybe it’s a blessing that I can’t hear perfectly, because maybe all the loudness in the world would drive me insane.

I really don’t like loud noises. I never have. When I was growing up, my dad had a dirt bike. I don’t think I ever got within 50 feet of it when it was turned on because it was so loud. In fact, when I knew he was going to start it up, I would run into the house and cover my ears. Even now, I practically have a heart attack when a motorcycle drives by me and revs the engine.

Come to think of it, maybe I am just a huge wimp…

Well, that’s enough of an update for now. I need to hit the hay! Goodnight and good luck!

Throwback Thursday – Autobiography Part 2

Last week I began typing up the autobiography I wrote for my 11th grade developmental psychology class. If you’d like to start at the beginning, check that post out first. This is part 2 of 3.


In first grade I had an awesome teacher named Mrs. Bush. She was the best teacher I’ve ever had. As soon as we could read and write, she had us writing our own stories and reading things not only to learn, but to have fun. She taught us words like amphibian, camouflage, reptile, and azure. she began each day with a letter on the board for us to copy into our notebooks and fill out the blanks. We liked her so much, and she liked us so much, that she decided to teach all of us again in second grade. In second grade she taught us sign language, we built a mouse house, learned about the Amish, barn owls and England. We even put on a puppet show for our parents on Open House night. I think those two years were the best of all my years in school. That year the school district redrew the district lines and as it turned out, my house was closer to another elementary school, so the next year I had to transfer to Longstreth Elementary. Third grade was a big adjustment. I had a hard time making new friends, but I survived.

In November 1988, my brother John was born. I had my first kiss around that time too. It was at a bible class which was being hosted at another family’s house. My friend Tim and I were playing together in his room while everyone else was downstairs. I was just innocently playing and talking to him when he grabbed me and kissed me right on the lips. I was so happy! I remember we used to hold hands together and I truly believed we’d be together forever (at the time I was only about 9 years old.)

The summer of 1989, Dad built us a big playhouse in the backyard. It had two ‘houses’, one for me and one for Kris. My house was on top and it had a wobbly bridge across to another platform with a sliding board. Kris’s house was under the slide platform and under my house was another open platform to climb on. That summer we played constantly, pretending to be Swiss Family Robinson in the playhouse, mermaids in the swimming pool and Indians in the woods.

In August of 1989, I had surgery on my ear to remove a benign tumor. It was only supposed to be an outpatient procedure but when I woke up, I was told that the doctor had found a bigger tumor than expected. It had intertwined itself around everything in my ear and the doctor decided to remove everything in my ear. Since then I have been deaf in that ear. At the time, I wasn’t too upset, probably because I was still groggy from the anesthesia. My parents were really upset though. I was supposed to have been well enough to go back to school with everyone else, but when the doctor took off my bandages he discovered that the incision behind my ear had become infected and hadn’t healed. I remember my mom almost fainted and I started crying because blood was running down my neck and the doctor was saying “This isn’t supposed to be happening!” So, in order for it to heal, the wound had to be kept open and an antibacterial ointment used on it every day. Dad was the only one who could change my bandage because mom couldn’t bear looking into it. I hated to have the ointment put on because it was very uncomfortable. About a week or so later, I was back in the operating room to have my ear sewed up again. I was glad when that finally healed. I ended up missing the first week of school because I was still recovering.

I was well enough to go to Disney world in October. I remember that trip well. it was really exciting for all of us because we’d saved the money for a long time to go on that trip. Fourth grade was a lot better than third grade. I had a lot more friends, but I hated most of my classes except art, which was my favorite.

In the summer of 1990, I had to I had to go in the hospital for an intravenous treatment because the tumor was growing in my ear again. We had switched doctors since the ear operation, and my new doctor believed that the IV treatment would be much more successful than another operation. I was glad of that, but 10 days in the hospital, however exciting it may seem gets really boring after the first day. I watched a lot of T.V. and I was homesick and dying to get out of there. I remember talking to Mom on the phone and begging her to come and take me home. She came to visit every day, but I wanted her to stay with me the whole time. I did have a lot of visitors though. Gram came a couple of times and brought magazines and food for me. The rest of that summer was fun though. Chrissy and I played in the woods, building forts and pretending to be Indians and fair maidens and everything else we could possibly imagine.

Fifth grade was a great year. I had great teachers and good friends. We went on a class trip to the Poconos for three days and two nights, we had a Greek Festival and we wrote a book together as a class. In February 1991, I missed about a week of school for surgery on my mouth. I had to have a bone graft to close up the gaps in my gums on either side of my two front teeth. I was so scared of that operation. I was convinced that I was going to die. I think it was because they were going to use bone from my hip to do the graft. I thought I would have a permanent limp, because I didn’t understand that the bone would be taken from the outer part of my hip. As I lay on the operating table slowly breathing in the anesthesia I kept repeating the Lord’s Prayer over and over in my head and as I slowly began losing consciousness I begged God to be with me and keep me alive. I was so afraid. It’s a horrible feeling, as you lose consciousness to know that you are no longer in control the doctors and nurses had total control over me and that freaks me out.

Fifth grade was my last year in the Elementary school. My friend Marie moved to Alabama right after school let out and Chrissy had moved in April, so I really didn’t have many friends close by to spend my summer with, but I enjoyed it anyway. I read a lot, rode my bike everywhere and swam in the pool. I got together with Joanna a couple of times and went to the beach with Gram.

—To be continued—

Editor’s note: When I wrote this, I had a very childlike understanding of what had happened in my ear. I refer to it all as a tumor, but it was more than that. I wrote about this in more detail in my post about my early experience with cholesteatoma.

Can I Get a What-What?

Being hearing impaired but not wearing a hearing aid (or a sign that says “I’m deaf on the left”) makes for some interesting life experiences. I’ve unintentionally offended people when I’ve seemingly ignored them, when really, I had no idea they were talking to me or talking at all. There have been plenty of times that I have not heard someone clearly and thought they said something totally different than what they really meant. I’ve also had scary moments of driving in my car and hearing a siren and not knowing which direction a fire truck or ambulance is going to approach from. Luckily so far none of the moments have been life-altering. At least not that I know of… perhaps I just misheard.


The other day I was in my boss’s office for a meeting. Both of my co-workers were out of the office, so it was just me and my boss. She has a small conference table in front of her desk, where my co-workers and I usually sit. Out of habit, I sat so that my boss’s desk was to my right, which meant that my back was to the door.

We were expecting someone to call in during the meeting, and right on cue, the phone rang. I saw my boss reach out and push a button. Then she said “Hey, how’s it going?”  A voice I was not expecting to hear began to talk. I noticed that he sounded incredibly clear, and lacking that tinny, echoing quality that people usually have when they’re on speakerphone. It was another colleague, and he and my boss chatted amicably for a few minutes. I fiddled with my notebook, and flipped through a stack of papers I’d brought in for the meeting.

Then a weird thing happened. My boss’s phone rang again. The clear voice said “Oh, do you need to get that?”

Wait a second… I thought to myself. How does he know she’s getting another call?

My boss pushed a button on the phone to divert the call. I looked at her and noticed that she kept looking at something above my head. We have a calendar on the door, so at first I thought she was just looking at that. It finally occurred to me that there might be another reason she kept looking my way. Slowly I turned my head to the left and out of the corner of my eye I saw that there was someone standing behind me.

lucy woah

I’m not sure I can describe the feeling I had at that moment. As hilarious as it would have been for me to react as Lucy in the photo above, I did not. I had to spend a few seconds composing myself because I was pretty horrified that I hadn’t been able to tell that there’d been someone standing behind me and talking for what must have been a solid five minutes. I was also worried that I’d appeared rude for not acknowledging him the whole time. I decided to play it cool and not let on that I had just realized he was there. The next time he made a joke, I turned and looked him in the eye as I chuckled at his wittiness. I think I saved face there, but barely. I’m sure my boss was wondering why I hadn’t turned to look at him before that, and why I kept looking at her and at the phone.


Note to self: Avoid sitting with your back to the door. Or, start wearing glasses with side mirrors.

Deaf as a post – Part 1

Trying to be enthused about starting 4th grade late.

Trying to be enthused about starting 4th grade late.

For about a week now, I’ve been 85% deaf (as opposed to my usual 50%). I seem to have acquired an infection or a swelling or some thing which has caused my good ear to feel clogged and useless. I’ve been walking around feeling like I’ve just jumped into a swimming pool and the world is muffled.  

My nerves are a little frazzled lately, in part due to this ear thing. If you’ve ever gotten water in your ears, or had your ears pop in an airplane or something, you know how annoying it is when they don’t feel (and hear) right. You never think about how often people speak in hushed tones at work (or should I say gossip?) until you can’t hear them. Sitting at my desk and watching a co-worker mouthing the latest gripes and having no idea what she’s saying makes for some awkward moments. Worse yet is not being able to clearly hear my boss giving direction for a project. 

Ok, who am I kidding, this happens even when my good ear IS working.

So you’re probably wondering what the problem is. Well, ear problems go hand in hand with cleft lip and palate, thanks to improper Eustachian tube function. Since infancy I had frequent ear infections. Every time I’d have surgery on my mouth, they would pop some tubes in my ears in an attempt to alleviate the ear issues. The tubes would always work their way out a short time later and the infections would return. Over time, my ear drums became heavily scarred from all the tubes and all the infections and subsequent ear drum ruptures.

When I was 9 years old, I had surgery on my left ear. I had been suffering from a chronic ear infection for years before that. I’m sure there was pain and hearing difficulty during those years but all I remember was the frequent dosing of antibiotics, or “bubble-gum medicine” as we called it, because it was bright pink and candy-flavored. So I was 9 years old and I had this surgery which was supposed to be an outpatient procedure. I think it was an exploratory surgery because the doctor we were going to couldn’t figure out what my problem was. So when they went in, they discovered that my inner ear was full of cholesteatoma, which as I was made to understand at the time, is basically a tumor made of skin. They opened up my ear from behind and removed all the cholesteatoma, along with bone and parts of my inner ear.

I woke up from the surgery with an incredibly sore neck. My head was wrapped in what felt like an enormous, heavy bandage. My parents were really upset and they told me then that the hearing in my left ear was gone. I don’t recall being sad about it. Considering the amount of cholesteatoma and the extent of the infection I had at the time, I probably hadn’t been able to hear well from that ear anyway.

A few days later we returned to the doctor so he could remove the bandage and take a look at my ear. I sat on my mom’s lap as he began unwrapping. As he pulled away the last bit of gauze, a gush of smelly fluid came out from behind my ear. Mom exclaimed concerns about fainting and the doctor exclaimed too – something along the lines of “Oh crap, that’s not good.” The incision had become infected. Back on antibiotics I went, and home I went with a hole in my head. It had to remain open until the infection cleared up.

Part of the infection-healing process was that my dad had to apply antibiotic ointment to the incision every day. My mom couldn’t bring herself to do it (and I don’t blame her). It was a hideous experience. When he would get home from work in the late afternoons, I would lie face down on the bed while he took a Q-tip and gently applied the antibiotics to the back of my ear. I hated every second of it and just thinking about it now makes me queasy.

Ultimately that infection healed and the wound was closed up. I missed the first week of 4th grade and, as you can see in the photo above, once I did return to school I still had the cotton ball and ointment going on for a while. Plus I was exhausted.

Sadly, that was not the end of the ear problems. The following summer I had to spend a week in the hospital for an intravenous antibiotic treatment to clear up further ear infection. By then we’d switched to another ear doctor because my parents were horrified that the previous one had missed the signs of cholesteatoma until it was nearly too late. For several years I had regular visits to the ENT to have my ear “suctioned”, which as you can imagine is not the most fun process. After a while, it was determined that my ear was okay and I could stop using ear drops and eventually I stopped visiting the ENT.

For the most part my ears were okay throughout my teens and 20’s. The occasional ear infection or wax buildup in my “good” ear would sent me to a doctor for treatment. It wasn’t until my 30’s that I finally decided to find a good ear doctor and find out what was going on in both ears.

Stay tuned for Part 2 – my adventures in ENT issues as an adult.