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.

Modified Radical Mastoidectomy, Round 2

Yesterday I had my mastoid surgery. There was a brief moment in which it seemed the surgery might not happen. My dad was supposed to pick me up at 8am but the car (which was actually MY car that he was borrowing) broke down as he was on his way to get me!! Of course I went into full on nervous breakdown mode. I tried to call a cab but the local taxi company wasn’t even open yet and the other place I called said they didn’t service my area. I was about to start knocking on neighbors doors and begging for rides when I thought to have my dad ask our mechanic if he had a spare vehicle. Amazingly the mechanic had one and was willing to let us use it for the day! He said that he wouldn’t do that for just any customer but he considers my dad a friend. How sweet is that? So I was driven to and from the surgical center in a vehicle with a Yankees sticker and an NRA sticker on the back. And the keys were on a rifle bullet keychain. (It’s funny because I’m a Red Sox fan and a vegetarian.)

We managed to get to the surgical center at 9, which was only 15 minutes late. Everything went as usual- the check in and paperwork, the changing into hospital clothes and then the sit-and-wait. My dad stayed with me until it was time to go into the operating room.

At this place they have you walk into the operating room and climb into the table on your own. It’s kind of an odd feeling. Last year when I had the same surgery, I told the anesthesiologist that I was nervous and he gave me something that relaxed me the second I was on the table. I wish I’d told the anesthesiologist the same thing this year because it took a lot longer for me to go under this time. I was aware of being strapped to the table and aware of the sensation of the anesthetic creeping through my veins. I got that familiar buzzing sound in my head… and yet I was still awake. I did finally lose consciousness but it seemed very slow.

When I woke up I felt like I was coming out of a dream, except I couldn’t remember a thing. My mouth and throat were so dry I thought I was suffocating. I was really freaking out about not being able to breathe. My lungs felt like I had just run up 3 flights of stairs and I couldn’t catch my breath. Also I was really hot so I was fighting to kick off the blankets. There were 4 nurses around me trying to calm me down. Luckily I didn’t punch anyone. On top of everything, my ear was really sore! I was so annoyed. I wanted the nurses to fix everything- help me breathe, cool me down, make my ear stop hurting. So irritable!

After a few minutes I came to my senses and calmed down. I drank all the water and had two ice pops. My dad came in and sat with me while I gathered myself.

When I was home later, I was trying to get comfortable on the couch and I started crying again. Dave sat with me and held my hand while I wept for a few minutes. We watched the news, but I kept crying because the stories were all so sad. Then we found some comedy to watch and that helped me stop crying.

I expected that it would be a rough night because I remembered last year I had a really uncomfortable night on the couch that first night after surgery. Fortunately this time was different. I managed to create a structure of pillows to support me so that I could relax fully and not worry about rolling onto my sore ear. Of course I had the huge bandage on so no matter how I put my head there was a little discomfort. I woke up a couple of times during the night but just enough to adjust my position a little and then fall back to sleep.

In the late morning, Dave took my bandage off. There was a lot of blood on the gauze that had been behind my ear. You’d think after all I’ve been through I’d be ok with seeing my own bloody bandages but I’m not. I felt a bit like I was going to pass out but with some deep breaths and a cool washcloth to my face I got it together. Dave said the incision looked good. My head was happy to be released from the bandage.

Today I took it easy. Just hung out on the couch with my cat and my iPad, watching movies. I haven’t taken pain meds since last night. I am pretty excited about that and wonder if I will need to take them at all. My ear is tender and throbbing inside but the pain is not unbearable. I hate how the pain meds make me feel woozy and sleepy but if I try to sleep I can’t get into a deep restful sleep.

So that’s the update of for now. I’m sure I’ve been posting too much about ears so will make my next post about something more exciting.