Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Vacation Variables Part 2 - Victory!

So it turns out I don't think I did half bad! 

Concern one, of not being able to hear those behind me, ended up being a moot point as my pregnant belly and I were always bringing up the rear.

Concern two, of having trouble at the water park, was also rendered unnecessary as I spent most of my time doing the things that pregnant people can do at a water park which was hang out with Chase at the kid area.  Not much talking involved there! 

Concern three, of the plane ride to and from Florida, actually did not affect how my ears felt in any way. 

The only time I had an "oops" moment with my hearing aids was at Magic Kingdom when I took Chase under the Spitting Camels to cool off.  I was so caught up in getting him in the water I did not think about myself getting hit by some.  As soon as the cool liquid hit my hair though realization clicked and I immediately took them out and put them in the stroller. 

I feel truly blessed and grateful that in the setting of vacation all seemed well.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Vacation Variables

As promised, today I woke renewed and excited for our upcoming vacation to Florida!  I needed yesterday though and even putting my hearing issues aside I know most pregnant women would agree that hormones can be a tricky thing.  Thank you for allowing me to vent in a safe place!

So, Vacation!  While in Florida we are going to Disney, the beach and a water park.  Carter is thrilled about it all, Chase has no clue we are even leaving - ha! 

I have been dutifully packing over the last week hoping that if anything is forgotten it is something that either won't be missed or can be easily replaced.  Since the hearing loss started and my memory has gotten worse I have made several lists to ensure travel success, or at least I think I have.  Ha again!
Realizing my limitations has never been my strong suit.  But after reading the most recent book on hearing loss I know that somehow it is what has to occur.  To do that I must admit to myself that there could be issues and I need to have practical answers on how I will deal with them. 

Here are what I am calling my Vacation Variables.  I will handle them as best I can and with all of the grace I can muster! 

1.  With the size of the crowds at the theme parks, will I be able to hear any of my entourage if they are positioned behind me?  I plan on making it clear to everyone that if I don't respond then I did not hear and probably need to be patted or tapped on the shoulder.

2.  At the water park without my hearing aids and the water/people noise will I be able to hear much of any speaking?  I will have to lean in close, especially to Carter and watch their lips carefully.  Most likely I will repeat everything back to confirm.

3.  How will the flight affect my ears?  This one I plan on taking Tylenol as we near our descent.  Most of the time this helps however they have been known to ring pretty loudly rendering me even a bit more hard of hearing until morning.  I've decided to pray that one off! 

This is the new me. 

Correction, this is the seven month old new me.  Hard to believe that it has been that long. 

When planning this vacation I honestly didn't give my hearing any thought.  However I did consider my pregnancy to great lengths when choosing a location and I had only been pregnant a few weeks.  I'm shrugging my shoulders as I write I think because worrying about a baby is still so much easier than worrying about myself. 

Recently someone asked me why we chose Disney and my gut response was 100% for the kids!  It is a vacation where they are never bored.  And personally I love that you never have to plan out your day beyond heading to the parks. 

Practically we also made this choice because we have been there many times and know exactly what to expect,it is within the United States, the beach is in driving distance and it's the most magical place of all! 
I know at 19 weeks that it will be tiring for me but I believe that adrenaline and excitement will keep this mama plugging along.  Carter just came to me yesterday and said how excited he was...that's motivation enough for me! 

I'm not comfortable as "this" me but sometimes it is necessary so that I may journey on.

This week has been one of "those" five days, you know the ones I mean, the type you would like to forget.  Some people might deal with it by yelling out "Margarita time!" and head out to the beach.  Others want to open up a nice aged bottle of wine while sitting peacefully in their home.   Some head straight to the nearest bar and order up their favorite draft beer.  All three of those options sound good to me, if I wasn't pregnant.  :)  Instead, after putting Chase to bed I have a good cry.  An emotional, pregnant hormone filled sob fest that I am not proud but feels so good.

If my life was a cartoon you would have seen the sane part of me in ghost form as she stood shaking her head and wagging her finger disgusted by my total lack of control. The irrational ghost side would simply be sitting and laughing uncontrollably.  At the sound of both of them I would have wiped my tears away and then knocked them both out with my silly rubber hammer.  Unfortunately that only works on TV.

So what was so crazy about this past week?  Tons of stuff that was completely unimportant and not worth my time.  You see, problems at work yeah they are annoying but in the grand scheme of life they don't mean anything.  Pressure of owning our own business is great but all of it, no matter how stressful and complicated doesn't even begin to compare with that which was my mishap with Carter. 

And so, here it is:

Earlier this week, on my day off I was working around the house and playing with Chase when the phone rang.  I answered not knowing the number but grateful it was local, a safe bet not to be some sort of solicitation. 


"Yes?"  I do not recognize the voice.

"Hi this is wha wha my son wha wha would like to invite Carter for a sleepover this Friday, we live just down the street." 

Immediately because I can not understand her name or the child's my brain begins running though a list of the boys Carter talks about from school who live in the neighborhood.  Unfortunately no one comes to mind that matches what I thought was said.

"I'm sorry I have trouble hearing, did you say Derrick?"  I felt like a complete boob.  I sounded like I was crazy I mean who can't hear with the phone up to your ear? 

Oh yeah, me. 

"Yes, wha wha wanted to ask Carter over, even though it is late notice would he like to come?"  Her voice gave way that she was a bit concerned and just might be regretting the call.

I might have obsessed more about the uncertainty in her tone except I was really too busy trying with all of my might to place this person in some kind of context.  Who was Derrick?  Did I know a Derrick in his class that lives in this area? 

And then it hits me,  Merrick.  Merrick has been in Carter's class since Kindergarten and lives in the neighborhood.  A feeling of relief floods through me. 

"Well sure, I will definitely talk to Carter about it this afternoon and let you know."   Cringing I added quickly, "What was your name again?" 

I know it added nothing to my credibility but I needed to know this persons name if my son was going to stay the night at her house!


Thank the Lord.

"Great Amy I will get back to you."

"OK, and you can just text me."



Later that day I ask Carter about the call and if Merrick said anything during class.  He shrugs his shoulders replying quickly no but emphatically yes that he would indeed go on the play date.  I text our acceptance and then let it go. 

Flash forward to today.  Friday.  Play date day.  I am armed with their address as we head out the door.  Carter is pumped about connecting his tablet with Merrick's and I am happy he is excited.  As we near the house Carter starts waving to another friend that is playing outside.

"Hey mom that's my friend from the bus!"

"Oh cool!"  I reply distracted.  "Can you help me look for the house number?"

"Sure mom but I think you just passed it."   He exclaims with his finger pointing out the window.

"Really?"  I craned my neck backwards to confirm his deduction.

"Yeah, the one right there where Jared is playing outside with his brothers."

I slammed on the breaks.  You see, it was at that moment I knew.


Not Derrick.

Not Merrick.


I look at my 8 year old through the rear view mirror and I am mortified.  Is this really happening?  Did I screw this up? 

"Do you really know Jared?"  I ask still unsure of what my mind was confirming now made the most sense.

"Yeah, I sit by him on the bus a lot and he is in my class."  Carter's head bobs up and down for emphasis.

I am so very embarrassed to have to open my mouth again.  I wish there was another way to make this appear not to be a mix up but there really was not anything to be said but the truth.

"Mommy made a mistake sweetheart,  I thought the play date was with Merrick but it must be with Jared.  Is that OK?"  My eyes are glued on him hoping that this is not going to be a huge deal.

"Yeah." he responded timidly.

I shake my head in frustration and turn the car around.  Carter is the type of boy who plans, plots and sets up expectations in his mind.  I know at this moment he is desperately trying to rework the image he had held just seconds before. I am unsure whether or not it is working.

As I pull into the driveway of what is most definitely the address that waso on the text to me AND Jared's house I get out and open the door for Carter. 

"Are you sure you are OK with this?"  I look down into the bright blue eyes of my first born son.

"Yes mom."  And this time he sounds like himself. 

I sigh as I walk up to meet his dad because I still feel so out of sorts and disappointed in myself.  How could I have messed this up so badly?

Now, hours later as the baby sleeps and I am alone it really starts to bother me.  I'm angry because I made my son uncomfortable and I was completely confused about such a simple situation.  I want to scream in frustration from the failure and the fear as they mix in my mind causing me to re-think everything that was.  What will it be next?  What will I miss, what won't I hear?  What detail might slip by me that results in my life changing forever? 

I just finished a good book by Katherine Bouton called Shouting Won't Help.  She writes about her own journey through hearing loss.  It has a lot of informational points for someone who wants to learn more about technically, physically and mentally what happens as our hearing deteriorates.  I learned a lot.  Specifically about how acceptance and greif come and go just as easily as the wind. 

I'd say today I found myself in the valley of this.  In fact I'm still sitting there wallowing in the pit of what is sure to only get worse.  I'm not comfortable as "this" me.  I am the strong one who pushes through, gets by and moves forward in spite of life. 

But not for tonight, instead I will go against everything that feels normal and allow myself a moment to be sad.  

Because I know that tomorrow I will wake up renewed ready once again to journey on. 

Friday, April 5, 2013

Hearing Loss and Pregnancy

Today as I write I think about my life just two short years ago.  I was a full time working business owner and single mother with a husband at war and an undetected change going on with my hearing. 

But the noise of my life hid the silence in my ears. 

The noise of my life hid the silence in my ears. 

Hard to imagine but reality all the same.  I remember coming home after work haggard, lonely and burnt out.  I would sit on my couch after feeding and caring for my seven year old wondering how in the world I would have enough energy for the baby that was growing inside of me.  I would worry about my husband and his safety daily never letting on to anyone that fear hovered ever so neatly at the top of my mind threatening at every turn to topple over and come flooding out.  At some point I would receive a call regarding our business and they would need my problem solving skills and then that was all there was.

It was impossible for me to worry about myself.  I was the last thing on a long list of priorities. 

Here is what I know, facts that I can look back and record.

My hearing loss started at some point while I was pregnant with Chase.
I do not remember the exact time frame in the pregnancy that it began to change.
I feel like it had to have been gradual or I would have noticed it more quickly.

So now that I have revealed that I am once again carrying our third child I thought it time to talk about the elephant in the room....hearing loss and pregnancy.

There is a lot of speculation on this topic.  So much information and so many different points of view.  But by in large, the most common occurrence of hearing loss while pregnant is sensorineural hearing loss.  In an earlier post I defined what this specifically means.  I am going to repost that definition here.

Sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) is a type of hearing loss in which the root cause lies in the vestibulocochlear nerve (Cranial nerve VIII), the inner ear, or central processing centers of the brain.

When hearing loss is caused by problems within the inner ear, it is called sensorineural loss. The problem may be with the cochlea (sensory) or with the hearing nerve (neural). It's also sometimes incorrectly referred to as “nerve deafness.”  Sensorineural hearing loss is the most common type of hearing loss. If you feel like you can hear fairly well, but have trouble understanding what people are saying, there is a good chance you are experiencing this type of hearing loss.

There are several cases of SNHL during pregnancy HOWEVER these usually resolve shortly after the mother gives birth.  Most of the research credits pregnancy hormones and pressure on the inner ear as the culprit.  

As all of you know for me, the change was permanent.

Up until a week ago I feel like I had a very positive outlook on the issue but then my hearing changed again.

It is interesting to note that I felt the loss in my brain before I heard it in my ears.  I don't know how many of you understand how draining hearing loss can be on your mind but because it is a major sense, as it drops off the rest of your body attempts to compensate for the void.

For example, immediately I will find myself thinking harder about what people say.  There are two methods I employ when attempting to understand what I cannot hear.  #1 - I will start to play the context game that they teach you in grade school when you are learning to read.  I begin to think about where I am, what I am doing, what the conversation is about and what makes the most logical fit in the blank that is what I do not hear.  #2 - If I cannot piece it together by that then I begin to study their mouth intently reading their lips as to gain inference and reference which will hopefully lead me on the path of rejoining the conversation for real.  I say for "real" because quite often I will continue talking to someone but have no clue about what is truly being said. 

After context and lip reading I then lean in to the person and ask them to repeat.  Oddly enough I limit my asking though.  Somewhere in my mind I find myself an annoyance and so I will count how many times that I must have someone say the same thing twice and stop after I feel it is too many.

My stomach is affected because not being able to properly follow the flow of a conversation is stressful.  Instead of enjoying what is being talked about I am straining and struggling which in turn stresses me out and I will begin to get fatigued. 

I am assured by my hearing specialist this is all a normal response to my type of loss. 

And so with my brain I hear the loss. 

Deciding to return to the Dr. for a hearing test was an easy decision.  It's free where I bought my hearing aids so why not? 

Sitting in the tiny box once again, I realize that this is now familiar.   No longer am I filled with anxiety as I wait, instead more of a routine feeling consumes my thoughts.  As the series of beeps and tones begins to vibrate through my ears and I realize that it is crystal clear to me when I cannot hear a something because she repeats the last sound I beeped on twice.  Yes, my mind would answer her thoughts, that was the last sound before the drop.  Then she begins to read and I can't see her lips.  They are two syllable words that I am to repeat back to her.  She reads around six I think I get about two.  I realize then just how much I have been reading lips over the last few weeks.

After the testing is complete she walks me into the Dr. who begins to adjust my aids to my current hearing.  She mentions that I do have some more loss and most specifically in the volume that I hear at.  It was at that moment that I tell her I am pregnant and that I knew there was no direct relation proven about hearing loss and pregnancy.  Her reply surprised me, "Yes there has been.  We will need to monitor you more closely.  Come in whenever you think there has been a change."  Her tone so offhanded and matter of fact struck me more than the words that she spoke.  You see what was more monumental than the change she was speaking of was that there was nothing I could do to stop it. 

I am at the mercy of this journey. 

With every ounce of my body I want this baby, this 3rd miracle in my life.  Whatever it brings will be well worth it.  I don't know where I will end up at the end of it with regard to sound but no matter what I will push through.

I thank everyone who has daily patience with me as I walk the path of unknown and uncertainty.  It is what it will be, this hearing loss and pregnancy.