Deaf in one eye and can’t hear out of the other

We never know how much we value something until we lose it.

Or, how much we take a thing for granted until it’s gone.

The alarm went off inches from my face – a faint buzz, more in my head than in my ears.  I woke on my right side, facing the clock, and reached with my left hand to slap the alarm “off.” My right ear remained plastered to the bed as I willed my eyes to open and then pulled the earplug from my left ear (yes, earplug – Hubby snores, dogs bark, trains blooooow…).

Odd.  I heard nothing.  Hubby wasn’t snoring.  Birds weren’t twittering. Dogs weren’t barking. The train wasn’t….

I rolled onto my back and removed the right earplug. Instantly sound filled me and I reached to make sure I had indeed removed the plug from my left ear, knowing I did because I held it in my left hand.

I placed my hand over my right ear and immediately became deaf again.

Strange.

The effect it had on me was even stranger.

There was concern, of course. Would I regain the ability to hear with that ear? What’s caused the problem? What if I have…. (You know how it is – instant panic where you assume and fear the worst.)

I changed. The way I did things changed. The way I held my head changed. My thinking changed. My ability changed. My attitude changed. My outlook changed. My focus changed.

My heart also changed.

I saw for the first time what it’s like to become hearing impaired.

And, with that change came understanding and compassion. I have friends and family who struggle with hearing loss. To me it had been little more than a fact.  To them it’s much more.

Deafness is a loss of more than just the ability to hear.  There’s a loss of a sense of self as well – like being deaf in one eye and unable to hear out of the other.  (Yes, that’s what I said – your eyes hear fine.)

It’s confusing. Disorienting.

And, irritating – to the one who can’t hear and continually says “huh?” as well as to the one who must continue to repeat themselves.

And, it’s frustrating. “What’s the point? She can’t hear me anyway.” Imagine that being said about YOU.

People with impaired hearing live in a muted, often silent world, that is often a lonely world.

Hubby and I walked for an hour this morning and I talked the whole time – he on my right side, my right hand in his left.  I shared my unexpected deafness with him.

And, then proceeded to talk the entire time we walked, drawing him into conversation and when he became silent, talking enough for the two of us.  Eventually, I forgot all about my hearing loss.

By the time we returned home I noticed a dull ache in my left jaw and a sense of fullness in that ear.  I also noticed that I was able to hear – not as well as before, but I could hear.

Apparently exercising my jaw was beneficial to my hearing. All my talking improved my hearing. Ha! Who would have thought it to be so!?!

My gain from the experience is life-changing.  What did you gain from it?

KK Question

Hubby and I dropped in the local Krispy Kreme Doughnut shop to redeem coupons for a free cup of Krispy Kreme Coffee, a 99 cent cup of Mocha, a free dark chocolate strawberry-filled doughnut and $2.00 off a dozen glazed doughnuts.

Instead of grabbing and going, we claimed a table and sat to enjoy our drinks. Through a huge glass window we were able to look into the bakery and watch the doughnuts cook, then travel down the belt to be glazed.

The fragrance of coffee and fresh doughnuts took me back to simpler days when “KK” Doughnuts were a rare treat and watching the doughnuts cook mesmerized me.

A family with 5 children stood watching the cooking/glazing process through the huge glass window. Ooo’s and aaaahhhh’s flowed from them in appreciation of not only the process but the amount of glaze dripping from each freshly glazed doughnut.  An occasional “wow” punctuated the atmosphere and I smiled as I remembered my own first experience watching KK Doughnuts go from gooey batter to glistening delights.  And, the taste of one still warm from the belt….

M-m-m-m…I can almost taste it now, 50 years later.

As hubby and I rose to leave, the youngest of the five tugged his mom’s hand hard and said, “Momma, look at the man.  Why is he throwing the baby doughnuts away?”

I looked up to see a worker slip a long handled spatula under two of the smaller doughnuts on the conveyor belt and flip them into a tall trash container.

It seemed a sad waste to me, but I knew those that didn’t meet the standard couldn’t be sold.

“Momma!  Momma!  Why? Why is the man throwing the babies away??” the little boy asked again, this time with urgency in his voice.

I don’t know what his mom said or if it satisfied him.  Hubby and I were on our way out the door when he asked the second time and almost to the car when I turned to see that she had leaned over to answer him.  His question – “Why is the man throwing the babies away??” – still rang in my ears.

It’s a question I’ve asked myself – perhaps not in those exact words – and one to which I’ve not yet received a satisfying answer.

Mall Walking

Hubby and I are accustomed to walking a minimum of an hour a day. Lately, it’s more like an hour a week – total…if that much.

Our middles are showing our increasingly sedentary lifestyle.

The cold weather has been partly to blame for our decision to be indoors rather than be active outdoors.  I have Raynauld’s which means cold (air, water, etc) makes my hands and feet hurt…very painful.

So, extended walks outdoors have not been in our daily schedules for some time.

We decided to take our walk to the Galleria Mall this past Saturday.  And, apparently we weren’t the only ones with that idea.

Many were out walking the mall (it was apparent they weren’t shopping – no items, bags, purchases evident) and looking at whatever it is people look at when they walk the mall.

Like teenagers in love, we held hands, rode escalators, looked at rings, giggled at the price of shoes (and the styles), pretended to shop and marveled at all the money we were saving (didn’t see a piece of jewelry I liked – see there, saved over $400 right there). We hugged and kissed (yes, in public…on the lips – remember, I said “like teenagers in love”) and made “goo goo eyes” at each other.  We dreamed of “one day” and talked of days past.  We watched children and anticipated grandchildren.

For over three hours we reveled in a tasteful, public display of our love in the midst of a crowded mall.  I marveled that no one seemed to notice.

A love of 37 years – a marriage of 34 years – marital experience of 70 years combined…that’s a lot of love that went unnoticed and ignored at the Galleria Saturday.

Sweetheart, if you’re reading this, we’re going to have to ramp it up the next time we walk the mall.

 

Saturday Rise Surprise

The alarm woke me at 5:30 and I lay quiet, listening for sounds that would assure me that my daughter was up and at the task of preparing for work. (up at 5 a.m., leaves for work at 6:30)

I could see a light on, but could not hear her.

She arrived home yesterday hoarse and tight-chested, with a nagging dry cough and a slight elevation in temperature.

My assumption was that the nagging cough and tight chest would give way to forceful, productive coughing when she woke this morning, especially after showering and becoming active.

I expected to hear her coughing, but did not.

My mind immediately clicked into overdrive.

  • is she worse?
  • is it the flu? or that virus that’s going around?
  • will she be able to go to work?
  • does she need my help?
  • why isn’t she coughing?
  • why don’t I smell coffee brewing?
  • what’s the temperature outside?
  • are the roads icy?
  • should I get up and check on her?

Moms tend to think this way.

At 5:45, I sat up and slid to the edge of the bed. Hubby roused, asking if I would return to sleep longer.  I planned to, just wanted to check on her.  After all, it’s Saturday and though we have plans later, we don’t need to rise before 8:30.

The house was quiet.  The only lights on were in her bedroom and the kitchen.

She was sitting at the table with breakfast before her.  I could tell by looking at her that she did indeed plan to work, and she was worse.

Knowing first hand how bronchitis is first thing in the morning, I held my hand up, indicating she was not to speak and asked her three questions.

“Are you feeling better?”  (She shook her head as she took a bite of breakfast.)

“Are you coughing much?” (She nodded her head and made wry face.)

“Any fever?” (Once again, she nodded, and this time opened her mouth to speak.)

I knew what would happen and stepped back a couple of feet.  As soon as she tried to form a word, she began to cough. My germaphobic mind imagining…well, you get the picture, I’m sure.

As long as she was silent, coughing was not an issue.  But, silence was not what she wanted.

The more she tried to talk, the better her voice became as she coughed up and cleared out the gunk.

I learned her fever is just a slight elevation, there’s no achiness except in her chest, what she coughs up tastes awful, and though she didn’t feel better she was going to work.

We talked a bit about the road conditions – they were wet when she came home yesterday and the temp was currently only 30 degrees out.

No, there wasn’t anything I could do to help her.  She was fine.

I punched the POWER button on my laptop and watched the screen light up. I wanted to, by quickly checking the weather and road conditions, satisfy myself that she would not have any problems getting to work due to ice.

“30 degrees with freezing fog.” As I pondered “freezing fog” and what that meant, my daughter spoke from the kitchen.

“Oh! I just checked my schedule…I don’t have to clock in until 7:30.  I could have slept another 30 minutes!”

SURPRISE!

“Slept another 30 minutes,” my mind repeated as I I looked at the time on the laptop.  It was almost 6.

I thought of hubby snoozing peacefully in bed. I thought of how unnecessary my intrusion into her life was this morning and that I could be snuggled next to hubby for another two and a half hours.

“…another two and a half hours,” my mind repeated dreamily.

But, my body was awake and she was dragging my mind with her.

I typed in suzansays on the bar at the top of the weather page and clicked on the link that appeared.  My blog popped up and I signed in.

Crawling into bed next to hubby would accomplish only one thing – waking him. My hands and feet were already cold. There was no way I would be able to quickly relax and slip into slumber.  No, I was up for the day and would begin my next post…this post.

And, so, with nothing else on my mind I began to write as my daughter slipped past me to her room where she lounged on her bed and idled away her extra precious minutes before she must leave for work at 7.

About 10 minutes before 7 o’clock I asked my daughter, who was feeling more herself and more able to converse and coughing much more productively (and spraying germs far and wide), if she had checked her car.  It was 30 degrees and humid out.  That usually means frost.

No, she had not – hadn’t even thought of it. (What a Georgia girl she is!)

Knowing what the cold air does to her lungs when she is well and uncertain how she would fare being out in the cold with bronchitis, I grabbed my jacket, a pancake flipper, a cloth and my bottle of rubbing alcohol and headed out the door.

There was only a thin coating of frost and I quickly scraped the windows, then poured a little alcohol on the cloth and wiped them down.

As I finished, my daughter appeared.  I suggested caution on the bridges and assured her the roads would be fine – wet, not icy.

She thanked me for clearing her windows and I wished her a good day and headed back into the house where I stood at the front door and watched and waved goodbye.

I noticed a twinge in my chest – just right of center – as I closed the front door and wondered if I’d pulled something when I reached across the car to scrap the back window. Before returning to my laptop, I disinfected the kitchen and sprayed down the bathroom – germaphobe that I am – then washed my hands.

Since returning to this post I’ve noticed a vague itchiness in my chest and have developed a dry hacky cough and I feel like I need to clear my throat, but it does no good.  My throat, down low, feels a little raspy…not quite raw, but irritated.  And, when I inhale I notice a distinct tightness center chest.

Guess I sprayed too much air sanitizer…. 🙂

I think of Hubby sleeping.  He has another hour to go before I awaken him and his day begins. My day is now two hours underway (yes, it’s taken me that long to reach this point) and with another hour of quiet before me, I find myself wondering how best to make use of it.

This post is nearing completion. It’s time to reflect on what I’ve written and why – and what can be gained from my Saturday rise surprise. (I’ve decided not to edit, which is unusual for me – will leave it as it was written.)

My daughter does not need my mothering.  She, fully capable of managing herself, was up and about the task of preparing for work. It wasn’t necessary for me to get up and check on her.  At least, not to her it wasn’t.  But, to the mother in me, it was necessary for me.  I needed to know she was okay. That’s why I set the alarm. That’s why I got up.

Sure, I could have peeked at her and gone back to bed, pulled the cover over my head and slept another two and a half hours.

But, she would not have known and it was important to me that she know.  Not that I was up checking on her.  But, that she know that I love her and am concerned about her – that I care about her and for her – that as she steps toward full independence I am cheering her on and watching her back.

My son, married this past June, had been a free agent for several years and no one knows how hard it was for me to love him without burdening him with my intrusions – to love him enough to let him go with no apron strings attached so when he found the love of his life (and he has) he would be fully free to bind himself to her with his love for her, that he might lash himself securely to her love for him, and that they might entangle themselves completely in their love for each other.

14 minutes remain of my quiet opportunity.  This post has been 2 hours and 16 minutes in the making.  Perhaps I said all just to reach the point where I could say what was in the last two paragraphs. My heart is light and my mind clear. It’s time to stop.

Thanks for listening.

Morning Musing

Ten minutes.

That’s how long I’ve sat looking at this blank page while sipping morning coffee and awaiting inspiration.

Five more minutes have passed and I’m on my second cup – still nothing.

My mind seems content to be silent and still.  Nothing presses me for release and my fingers don’t twitch in anticipation of rapid fire typing.

Perhaps there’s nothing within me this morning…nothing to share.

Perhaps I will just write.

Yesterday I was reminded that everyone doesn’t see the world the way I do and that I need to respect their view and not berate them for it.

I see through lenses shaped by 54 years of experiences, habits, beliefs, instruction, knowledge…. How can I expect someone to think the way I do when their vision has been shaped, not by my experiences, but by their own?

Everyone’s vision – of themselves and of the world around them – is shaped by life events that are unique to them.

We all see things differently.

Example: a butterfly

What comes to mind when you see a butterfly? I started to place a picture of one above this paragraph, but didn’t.  I wanted you to see your own butterfly, not one I provided for you.

What butterfly came to mind? I know one did.

What were the colors? Was it flying or at rest? Were its wings closed, pointing straight up, or opened flat like a solar panel? Was its proboscis (“tongue”) curled or stretched in search of nectar? Were its wings tattered or whole?

Do you see the butterfly as a creature? or as a creation? or have you really never given it much consideration?

If I shared my view of the butterfly that came to mind, I’m certain it would differ from your view.  Does that make my view wrong? or yours?

Does my view of the butterfly, or your view, change the truth of what a butterfly is, or its nature?

Is your view of the butterfly of no import because it’s different from my own?

If neither view changes the reality of the butterfly or its existence, why can we not share our sight and insight with mutual respect and grow in our ability to see more clearly and more fully what a butterfly is – and, thereby, come to appreciate, not only the butterfly, but each other and our individual and unique ways of seeing life and the world around us.

The ME in Me

It’s rare that I have bad dreams that wake me.

But, when I do – wow!

I remember so much about this dream – the setting, faces, smells, situations, voices, words spoken, colors, man, thoughts, age, woman, temperature, children, season, sensations, crying, laughter, anger, loss, discovery, fear, walking, heart pounding…ME.

I find myself searching memories to see if any of it is truly from my past.

The odd thing about dreams is that they tend to weave the past into the present and throw a bit of the hoped-for future into the mix.

The faces, that now begin to fade from my memory, seem to be a mixture of many I know – past and present.  Familiar in some way, I attempt a more in depth appraisal of the faces in my dream and find the images morph as I focus on them.

Soon the dream will be only a fuzzy memory, a fleeting sensation of an upsetting early morning awakening.  And, then it will be gone. A memory no more, swallowed up in folds of forgetfulness, its place taken by more present and more pressing thoughts.

That leaves me with only one constant – ME.

The truth of that was evident in my dream, and present with me now as I ponder my part in the dream – my decisions and actions that dictated the direction of the dream, and the outcome.

I see similarities between the ME in the dream and the me that sits and types about it.  And, I find that to be more disconcerting than the dream itself.

Within every dream there’s a kernel of truth. Dreams are the mind’s way of awakening us to something that needs our attention.

And, this dream that woke me has awakened me to something big that needs my attention now.

Feelings, thoughts and impressions are difficult to capture when there are no words that fit.  I feel like a child attempting to describe something I have only a mental image of and my vocabulary does not yet include the descriptive words I need.

Words for ME, right now, would be a box of crayons and a piece of paper.  Each color a different word.  The color I would begin with…black.

I would give voice to the ME images in my head, tracing them onto paper, coloring them, giving them expression and permission to tell the story of ME that is so evident in the dream – and give a glimpse of the hope-filled me that lies beyond ME.

Bed Monster

I woke in the wee hours to a fight taking place in bed – my bed…our bed.

And, there were only two in bed.  I was one and Hubby was the other.

The scuffling confused my groggy mind. And, when my ankle was grabbed in the darkness I kicked HARD and continued to kick.

When I reached out to grab whatever it was that was attacking me, intent on pummeling it, I found Hubby in my grip.

“What are you DOING?!?” I asked him.

It turns out Hubby was battling a monster at the foot of the bed and apparently the monster was my foot.

Now, before you laugh, let me add one more bit of information – I injured my right foot last Summer (long story, perhaps for another time) and it still bothers me, especially when I bump it into something…and so I wear a shoe of some sort all the time, except in bed.

You would think in bed my damaged foot would be safe.  But, no, not with bed monsters that attack in the dark of the night.

Oh, Hubby didn’t hurt my foot.  I did that myself.  The foot he grabbed was not my sore foot.  Yeah.  I kicked with my injured foot, striking hard blows repeatedly with the damaged toes and forefoot.

I walk with a limp this morning – and if anyone asks what happened I’m going to give Hubby’s response, “There was a monster in bed” and let them think what they will.

I know, and now you know – the monster was ME!

If you are honest, there’s a bit of a monster in you, too.  Monsters react, often causing injury to themselves and to those they attack.

Attack?  Yeah.

  • We all get tired
  • We all overreact
  • We all get frustrated
  • We all have a bad day
  • We all feel stress
  • We all get scared
  • We all feel a need to defend ourselves
  • We all are victims in some way
  • We all experience darkness
  • We all react

We choose reaction over action. That’s when the monster slips out.

Patience, NOW!

My coffee’s hot.  My computer…slow.

And, I’m in the mood to write.

Not a good combination for early morning when I have x number of minutes of uninterrupted silence before all…

…well, you get the picture.

Patience is not one of my virtues.  In fact, Patience is on my “Do Not Call List” when it comes to answering situations and circumstances.

Like, this morning – My daughter left for work at 6:30 and I knew I had precious few minutes for quiet, reflective writing before hubby rose from sleep and began his day. When she left, I punched the POWER button on my laptop and watched it spring to life – a bright glow in the dark room.  I was eager to sit and download the thoughts in my head through my fingertips by tap tap tapping on the keyboard – translating thoughts and ideas into words and phrases….

But, my computer was sluggish…seemed to be thinking its own thoughts. Appeared to be lost in them.

Not wishing to break the silence by asking what it could be doing that was more important than what I had planned, I sat, sipped my hot coffee and listened to my heartbeat accelerate – whether in response to the caffeine or to my increasing impatience I’ve no idea – and occasionally tapped a command which went unanswered.

As the clock ticked through my x number of minutes and my computer continued its lazy disregard for my plans, my frustration grew to the point where I felt a need to take action.

I punched the POWER button and watched the light fade from the glowing screen as the laptop turned off.

It was truly silent in the house when the whirr of the computer died away.  Immediately I felt sorry for my impatience.  Apparently the computer was having a problem – yes, it’s noisy at times, but from the depth of the silence I knew a struggle must have been taking place on a level beyond my understanding within the laptop and, therefore, a reason for its sluggish reactions.

I waited a moment, giving the laptop time to settle fully, and then I pressed the POWER button again.

The laptop sprang to life and quickly became all I wanted and needed it to be – my tool that translates brain waves into words.  How lost I would be without it!

And, how impatient I become when it’s not all I want it to be.

This was not my intended topic for this x number of morning minutes, but as I’m learning, sometimes it’s best to relax and go with the flow.  There are blessings to be found when we choose patience.

And, yes, patience is a choice – a habit – a lifestyle.  And, it’s one that brings benefits the impatient mind cannot comprehend.

  • Peace
  • Health
  • Well-being
  • Happiness
  • Satisfaction
  • Relationship
  • Blessings
  • Calmness
  • Healing

My x number of minutes are up. Time for me to fully engage my day.

(Patience, Suzan, patience. Hubby is newly awake, his mind still groggy. Give him time…can’t punch the POWER button and reboot him…. Patience.)

Frozen Hard

As hubby left for work this morning, I followed him out to his car.

I stepped from the porch onto the stepping stones and from there into the grass.  My arms were filled with items hubby needed to take with him, so unable to see my feet, I leaned over to make sure I was indeed off the stones and in the grass.

The grass, still green, bore no ice…no frost.  There was no indication the ground was frozen until I walked on it.

At 20 degrees, the ground felt different under the thin soles of my house slippers. It was hard – hard as the stone I had stepped from.

There was no give to it, no softness. It did not yield and its nature…unforgiving. Its harshness in the uneven places threatened injury if I did not take care.

“So what?” you ask. “It’s winter.  The ground freezes and then kissed by the sun it thaws.”

Ah, there is truth in that and hope.

But, what hope for the heart that lies cold, hard and frozen – so like the frozen ground, yet impervious and unresponsive?

“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” *

“…whatever is in your heart determines what you will say.” **

*The Bible, Proverb 4:23 NLV

**The Bible, Matthew 12:34b NLV

I wonder

I stepped off the back porch and into the yard on my way to the garage.

It was already cold – not quite freezing, but almost.

As I walked, I lifted my eyes to the sky and marveled at the beauty.   A half moon, brilliant white – sparkling stars of varying sizes scattered across the black, inky darkness – it took my breath away and…. 

Or, was it the chill wind that teased my skin into goosebumps beneath my thin shirt and caused me to shiver as I looked up into the cold night and thought of how much colder it would be before morning breaks?

And, that tomorrow’s high is forecast to remain below freezing.

I thought of how uncomfortable I was at the moment and wondered how it would be to sleep outdoors tonight – in only the clothes on my back –  and how long I would live with the temperature dropping to 14 and not rising above 30 tomorrow.

I thought also of something I’d read in the news just minutes prior:

The Mayor’s Office of Emergency Management in Nashville tells NewsChannel 5 that it will not be opening any warming centers overnight.

As I entered the garage warmed by the clothes dryer, I wondered what homeless people would do tonight.  How would they stay warm?  Where would they find warmth? What if they couldn’t find shelter?

Would anyone die from exposure?

I looked around my crowded garage and wondered how many homeless could find shelter in it.

And, then thought of our small warm house, and of the unused space within even it.

And, I wondered…if someone came to my door and said they had no place to spend the night…would I open my door to the stranger and bid him/her enter?