Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Life Path

Since my post on Speech and Hearing I've really been pondering how my hearing loss has affected my path in life and its been fascinating to me to really notice the way that the hand of the Lord has shaped my life. I really truly have no idea what He is shaping it into since every single time I've tried to plan any thing He has gently but firmly pushed it onto a different path.

The first time I was ever really aware that my hearing loss would affect my life path was when I was a little kid and we were learning about astronauts and man oh man did I think that was cool. And I wanted to be an astronaut so bad. And then they told us how to be an astronaut you had to have perfect vision and hearing. My little heart sunk. I wore glasses AND I needed hearing aids. So much for that plan.

The next time I was at girls camp as a teenager. I was assisting the nurse, who was a cardiac ICU nurse professionally, with a mad rush of girls who all had a bad case of mass hysteria. (One of them had been an idiot and didn't drink her water and passed out in the middle of the hike. They were all first years and it was all downhill from there). After it was all over the nurse told me that she knew what my calling in life was. I was supposed to be an ER doctor b/c I had a gift.

And all I could think was, "What if, in an emergency situation, I heard something wrong? Or didn't hear something important and somebody died b/c I didn't hear something critical?" No. I might go into medicine but all of the more intense avenues were closed to me b/c I couldn't take the risk.

I had the 2nd highest score on the ASVAB at my high school that year. I was being stalked left and right by every branch of the military (I wasn't interested b/c I dislike being yelled at) but they all left me alone after I told one of them they didn't want me b/c I was deaf.

I've been watching too many spy shows lately (Chuck and Burn Notice) and I just can't help but think theres no way I could do that. You have to hear too well.

The FBI was out for the same reason.

God gave me an above average dose of the brains and then closed off dozens of avenues where I could have used them b/c of my hearing loss.

And then theres other ways he's shaped my life. I had no intention of going on a mission when I did. I figured I'd go after I graduated if I wasn't married. And yet He very gently but firmly thwacked me upside the head until I got the message and instead I dropped out of college between my junior and senior year to take time out for an 18 month mission.

And I can say with out reservation that that mission was the single best thing I've ever done for my whole life.

The multitude of hurdles that God overcame to bring my husband and I together ( I'll tell you the story sometime). I mean we were 1200 miles and a few worlds apart. And yet it clicked and there was absolutely no doubt in my mind that I was supposed to marry him. I might have wondered what God was thinking on occasion (love ya honey!) but I never once doubted that I was supposed to marry him.

And then there was this move to Phoenix. We were going to live here for 6-8 months tops. Adam had 6 months left on his apartment lease and we were going to apply to graduate schools and then move where ever we got into school.

Then we got a big dose of reality and realized we could afford to have one but not both of us in class. And since I wanted to stay home with my small children that I wanted to give birth to BEFORE I turned 35 it needed to be Adam who went to school first. AND in order for Adam to get into the program he wanted to get into he needed at least 2 years of work experience.

Thus we have us staying here. In Phoenix. One of the two places I swore I didn't want to live. (God has a sick sense of humor).

And yet, I've been blessed with some truly remarkable friends in the time I've been here. And I've been given an incredible opportunity to discover that I truly love jewelry and that its a medium that I excel at more than any other medium I've ever tried. And I want to get a Masters of Fine Arts for sure no matter what other paths my life takes and thats definitely nothing I EVER foresaw myself doing.

And then there's my Caleb. My precious boy who took forever to conceive. And there's kid number 2. I've been trying on and off to get pregnant for a LONG time now. And things keep coming up and its just not clicking. And so all the timing I always swore I'd have between my kids (2-3 years tops) is going to get completely blown out of the water at this rate. And I just don't know what Heavenly Father has planned at this point.

But isn't interesting to look back and see His hand? Makes me wonder what I'm being guided to instead. But I can definitely tell you one thing: I am most definitely supposed to be right here right now.

Monday, January 23, 2012

No GPS Tagging for you!

Clearly I'm the wrong sort of person b/c while I'm definitely usually pro-privacy, I would have been the lone dissenting vote if I was on the supreme court...

Yeah, apparently you now have to have a warrant to gps tag a car. My thing is that you don't have to have a warrant to put somebody under 24 hour surveillance and I don't see what the difference is. Or rather I see the only difference as being a great savings to the tax payers b/c they don't have to spend valuable man power to follow somebody when you can just tag their car.

But apparently the Supreme Court disagrees with me. Unanimously. *ouch* They say it falls under an unreasonable search.

I'm like hey if it makes it easier to sort out the bad guys from the good guys for less money, and you could do the same thing, with no warrant, if you put some poor flunky on their tail 24/7 then whats the difference?

But clearly I'm now Big Brother.... *ouch*

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Speech and Hearing

For those of you unaware I have a genetic sensorineural hearing loss. What that means for me is that I cannot hear sounds in the lower ranges (such as mens voices) like I should. I can hear perfectly normally in the upper ranges, in fact I can hear some higher sounds I shouldn't be able to hear. And I read lips like a champ. In fact my audiologist has never seen a person before who can read lips like I can that hasn't had lessons teaching them how to do it.

Thing is my mother can do it to. Because she also has my exact same hearing loss (or she did. Because of cancer treatments she has now lost all hearing in her left ear and some in her right). In fact when I was a teenager our doctor remarked how he'd never seen anybody with matching audiograms before.

I think thats also why we both read lips like professionals. I have the same hearing loss my mother does. She has the same loss her mother did. I think somebody figured lip reading out back in the day and just taught their kids like it was second nature. My little sister got tired of not being able to understand what we were saying and she picked it up too even though she has perfect hearing (my Mom's brothers are fine). Now all 3 of us can talk across a crowded room with no problems and our husbands have no idea what we're saying *snigger*.

When I was an infant there was no technology to help my kind of loss. When I was 8 they came out w/ a really obnoxious contraption that had a speaker talk into a mic wired to a box and me wearing giant hearing aids connected by wires to another box. That didn't last long. So I just gave up. Sat front in center in all my classes and explained to my teachers I needed to read their lips.

That is until I was 18 and the school nurse explained to me I should look into this hearing loss thing as a source of scholarship money. THAT got my attention.

Thats when I realized how profoundly deaf I am. Because I don't sound deaf (my voice is well within my hearing range). But it wasn't until I started handing my audiogram to counselors and social workers and saw their jaws drop and they started stuttering about how they can't believe how functional I am and how good I sound do I realize just how much of a loss I have.

In the lower ranges I am profoundly deaf. The bane of my existence are deep southern men's voices that are already so low they're in the basement and then they compound the problem by not moving their lips when they talk. Lord save me.

That and every roommate I ever had, after a few days living with me, every last one of them would say something to the effect of, "Wow you really are deaf huh? You sure don't sound like it". (Probably b/c I don't shut up).

The upside is that technology had improved over the last 10 years and I was finally fitted w/ hearing aids that really do help things (I wasn't sure how big of a difference they made until I was on my mission and my companions would go, "You're not wearing your hearing aids right now are you?"). (FYI Cochlear implants won't help w/ my kind of loss b/c theres nothing wrong w/ my ears. The problem is apparently in the nerve/brain area.

Fast forward to having my first (and so far only) child. When I was pregnant with Caleb I used to stay up nights worrying about how my hearing (or lack thereof) might affect things. I was scared that I wouldn't hear him cry. I was terrified I wouldn't be able to give him the proper feed back to help him develop as he should.

The first fear went away by the first week after I gave birth. I don't know how but I would wake up if that child's breathing changed. He didn't even have to cry. And if I'm out of the room I make sure I have my baby monitor and that it has lights that go off and flash at me when he cries and I makes sure I have it directly in my line of sight. So the crying has mercifully never been a problem.

And I have mostly been okay about his speech ever since I talked it over with my family who pointed out that my sister and I's speech turned out just fine and my mother (at the time) had had the exact same loss that I did. So I started breathing again.

That and I knew that if Caleb had my hearing loss that it would show up from the very beginning (like everybody else's did) but Caleb passed his new born screening with flying colors and responds very well to my fathers ultra deep voice (he apparently uses a higher tone when he talks to me).

My pediatrician has been super paranoid though. For Caleb's first birthday we had his hearing checked again with Cardon Children's Hospital. He passed with flying colors. For his second birthday we did the hearing test AGAIN (the doc said if he passed this one he'd wait until he was 4 to do another one) and once again he passed. He's passed not only the screening tests but all of the milestone markers they want him to pass.

I know this is really long and I've got some more to say so I apologize I just need to get this out.

Now I'm starting to have a bit of a problem. And the pediatrician warned me about this - Caleb is big. He's huge for his size. He's literally off the growth chart for his height. Well over the 97th percentile. He's only 90-95th percentile for weight so he's a string bean but he is TALL. And the problem with that is that people expect more from him because he looks older. The doctor warned me that people are going to ask whats wrong with him b/c they think he's a lot older than he is.

Its easy to forget he's only 2.5. Heck I find myself getting frustrated and then I try to remember - he's only 2.5, keep your expectations realistic for his age. And I take a deep breath and I refocus.

And ya know I laughed at that doctor, because I figured the people who matter would never forget it. But I myself start to do it sometimes. And it hurts when people who should know better ask me if he's okay. They think that he's slow or not developing right b/c I can't parent him properly with my loss.

And in some ways their questions are fair. Caleb is way ahead of the game in the fine motor skills department. He knows all his letters, and half their sounds. He knows half his numbers and tries to count (though it usually goes more like 1, 2, 8, 9, 10!). He's super bright.

And he knows LOTS of words. When we read books (and he is in the mood to do so) he can point out every thing in them and at least take a pretty decent stab at pronouncing the name (elephant is hard and "ear" comes out more like "eeeawh"). He'll even sing a long with me sometimes.

And he has certain words and phrases he uses ALL the time. But he's not talking too much yet. He'll have a babble conversation at you but if you ask him how he's doing he'll just smile at you. When we're at home he'll talk a fair bit but he doesn't like to do it out side the house usually. He prefers to just grab you by the hand and drag you to whatever it is or point and get excited.

And so I can see how if you don't see him outside his space when he's in a cooperative mood you might think he doesn't talk at all (I say mood b/c I think he'll stop talking just to vex me).

But Cardon Children's gave me (from our first meeting when Caleb was just a year old and again at his 2 year screening) a packet of pages outlining the developmental milestones for speech and hearing by age and said that as long as he kept meeting those mile stones we're doing great. They also gave us a list of suggestions to help.

I do every last one of the things on that list. Well, I don't always use bath time as "sound time" but I get down on the floor of the living room with him to play and do the exact same things. Other things it says is to talk about things as we're doing things and going places. Narrate your life basically. Cuz I didn't talk to myself already. Now I sound like my mother (love you Mom).

I do phonetics with him (Clock says tick tock! T-T-T-T- Tick Tock!). I do all of the sound play - I let him feel my throat as I make "rrr-rrr-rrr" noises and hold his hand to feel the air of "p-p-p-p".

I expand on the things he says: "Car!", "Thats right! Thats a red car! It goes VROOM!"

I read at least 1 book with that kid EVERY SINGLE DAY. And we point out the pictures (I do it first and then he takes over) and we point out the letters and say their names and their sounds.

And as far as the mile stones go here are the lists for ages 2-3 (aka what he should be able to do by the time he's 3).

Hearing and Understanding
- Understands differences in meaning ("go-stop", "in-on", "big-little", "up-down") CHECK
- Follows two requests ("Get the book and put it on the table") NO PROBLEM (unless we're not at home)
- Listens to and enjoys hearing stores for longer periods of time. (Some days I wonder if I will ever get my finger back as we read stories - b/c clearly stories are best read while maintaining a death grip on Mom's pointer finger for use pointing at things on the page).

- Has a word for almost everything (Admittedly we're still getting there on this one. Getting him consistently to USE the names is still hard. But he LOVES to name things and enjoys asking for food by name - and we have time. He's not 3 yet).
- Uses two- or three- words to talk about and ask for things (He does this multiple times a day but not EVERY time "There it is" while pointing to what he wants, "Mom! Dad! Come on! Lets go!", "Oh kitty! Oops! There he goes! Bye Kitty!")
- Uses k, g, f, t, d, and n sounds. - kitty, go-go-go (his words for Cat in the Hat), phone (same sound), fishie, tick tock, and nana - CHECK.
- Speech is understood by familiar listeners most of the time.  - Adam and I have no problems understanding MOST of what he says. And his most common baby sitters (my friends Kathleen, and Felly or my SIL Natalie or MIL Donni) all understand him no problems.
- Often asks for or directs attention to objects by naming them. - He's doing this more and more - he now points to the bananas on top of the fridge and asks for them by name, he'll ask for my phone by name, he points out every single clock we see with an excited "T-t-t-t!" sound. He's trying to say "Tick tock" but that one is a work in progress.

SO thats what he's supposed to do by the time he's 3. He's only 32-ish months old so I vote we have some time.

So please before you question my sons development and send me scurrying to my list again to MAKE SURE WE'RE DOING EVERYTHING (b/c thats what I do so I don't curl up and cry in fear that I'm a horrible mother) please make sure that your expectations are the same for him as they would be for a much MUCH smaller normal sized 2 year old.

He's only 2 after all.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

It looks like depression but its not

What I have right now is long term sleep deprivation. I used to be like this all the time and didn't know any different, but now that I know what the difference is I can't hardly see straight.

I have no energy. I lack interest in my usual out lets. I don't cook anymore. I don't clean unless I have to.

The problem is that I don't sleep well with out medication. Just melatonin is all it takes for me to sleep like a baby and wake up refreshed and feeling like a million bucks. The problem is that melatonin stops my period. That sounds like a really great side effect until you consider that I'd like to get pregnant sooner rather than later.

But right now with all the health problems Adam is having I think I'll get struck by lightening before I get pregnant. It took 6 months of dedicated effort to get pregnant with Caleb. My sister gets pregnant if she shares soap with her husband. Me? It takes WORK. Don't ask me why. God has a sick sense of humor.

But I'm not getting any younger. I'm gonna be 30 next month. And I really hate being pregnant and I'd MUCH much rather get the icky, stick phase over with so we can move on with life. But I just don't see how thats going to happen really.

At least not any time soon. So I guess in some ways it would be way more intelligent to just go back on the pills so I can function and feel better until Adam gets his health issues resolved. But I'm really gonna have to pray about it first I think...

Thanks for listening to me ramble.