Wednesday, October 7, 2015

A whole new world

Alright.  So this post is not about a Disney movie, but the song certainly fits.

After years of recognizing that he has hearing issues, Larry finally admitted to his doctor at his last check up that he thought maybe he needed a hearing test.  As a little boy, he had lots of ear infections and there was some damage done to his hearing.  Over the years, it's been clear that he has some problems, but he's accommodated for it by turning his head to the "good side" or positioning himself on the right side of persons he's talking to.  But it's gotten gradually worse in the last few years.  In his job, he spends about 80% of his days interviewing people, talking on the phone, needing to hear he knew it was time to look into it.

Yesterday, he went to the ENT who did Sam's ear surgeries when he was little and had a hearing test.  We teased that he'd go into the same little pediatric hearing test booth & get to watch the robotic monkey that squeals & claps its cymbals together when you prove that you've heard a sound for the audiologist.  I think his test was a little more mature in nature, but wouldn't it be fun if they did that for adults, too?

When he left the appointment, he called me and stated that the doctor said he needs hearing aids.  Plural.  Both ears.  Today I went with him for the appointment where they fitted him for the aids.  (Can I just call them aids?  Is that politically correct?  I guess it's my husband so I can call them whatever I want!  It's a lot to type out if I have to write "hearing aids" every time.  Perhaps I'll just call them HA.  Or not.  It might look like I'm making light of things if I say he's getting his HAs.)

When we arrived today, we were seated near 3 other couples.  All of them were in their 70s.  The receptionist who was calling to make appointments (likely for other 70 year olds) was having to speak REALLY loudly into the phone and we had fun giggling about that.  It's kind of a scary when you have to deal with something serious like hearing loss, but our warped senses of humor helped us.

The first office we went to was a man who was sort of an educator about the different types of aids.  He explained how the cheaper end ones are mostly for "hermits"---people who are at home the vast majority of the time, have little social interaction, really only need to be able to hear the TV or maybe an occasional phone call.  They also work well for people with a very mild hearing loss.  Larry's hearing loss and lifestyle, however, don't fit that category.  His loss is in the moderate to severe level in his left ear & moderate in his right.  The educator explained a lot of things about hearing loss that I never knew.  Did you know the brain eventually quits trying to hear certain sounds/pitches if you have a loss that goes untreated for years?  So even if you get hearing aids at that point, you'll never be able to hear those pitches/tones.  There was a lot of interesting info!  Oh, and he mentioned the cost, too.  Ouch.

Then we moved into the next room where he was actually fitted for his aids.  It was fun to watch him try on the aids for the first time.  The audiologist was talking and his eyes got big and he smiled, saying how surprising it was to hear everyone so clearly.  He said it was 100% different right away.  He was shocked that things sounded so much better immediately.  When she took them out to adjust something he said "Give it back!!"  ha ha!  He said once they were out, he felt like he went from hearing clearly to having cotton balls shoved in both ears.

While we were talking to the audiologist, his cell phone vibrated beside him.  He jumped & grabbed his phone and said that he'd never heard it vibrate before.  He had felt it when he was holding it, but he never heard the buzzing sound before.  He stared at his phone for a minute, shocked at the fact that he'd never heard that.  I got choked up seeing how surprised he was.  I sometimes use the vibration only as my alarm clock with my phone.  Just the buzzing sound is enough to wake me up!  It blew my mind that he's never heard that sound at all!

It's so cool to see how much these hearing aids will open up a whole new world for Larry.  I'm proud of him for facing this and dealing with it.  I've teased him for years about being deaf....and now I have proof that he almost is!  He will pick up his hearing aids Friday.  He is really excited about it, so am I!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Dear ex-foster child:

I saw you today.

We talked a bit. It was awkward and a little strained. We both wanted to talk, but words didn't come easily. We talked about the day, about school, about whatever we could.  I longed to squeeze your frame and tell you how much it hurt to let you go.  But I tried to be the adult and continue the conversation light-heartedly and smile.  I hope my eyes told you that I love you.

I loved you then.  I love you now.

It's been 8 years since you moved out and I guess I'm still not completely healed.  I mean, I think I am.  But I'm not.  My heart still aches.  I suppose it always will.  I still see you curled in my lap, tears running down your cheeks as we tried to distract ourselves with a Scooby-Doo movie.  Neither of us were really watching it, but we needed the background noise.  I sniffled & kissed the top of your head a hundred times and whispered "I love you.  I love you.  I love you." over and over.  I wasn't sure if I'd ever see you again and I wanted to make sure you knew.  And wouldn't ever forget.  It was as if I said it over and over it would somehow soak into your pores and stay locked inside you forever.

When you and your brother left, I didn't think I'd ever stop hurting.  I guess I haven't.  It's like a death, really.  You don't ever forget.  You just learn how to move on with your life.  I have.  I don't dwell on it all the time.  But now and then, it hurts just as fresh as it did then.  I know it hurt you far more to move again.  Being uprooted, switching schools, learning a new place, making new friends, getting comfortable in a new home.

It makes me so happy to know that you're nearly grown and you're doing so well.  I know it should make me happy that you barely remember us.  You were so little when you left.  I get it.  You've grown so much since then and you're really home now.  That's as it should be.  They've raised you and done a beautiful job of it.  You're healthy, smart, happy.  That makes me so richly, abundantly joyful.

There are still drawings hanging in my kitchen, right where you hung them 8 years ago.  I have never had the heart to take them down.  Maybe removing the magnets and putting them away means you weren't ever mine, even if for a little while.  And I don't want to give you up completely.  For a little while, you were my child.  One of your pictures made in preschool while you were here still hangs in a frame.  I'm proud of who you are and what you've become.  Preschool was ages ago and high school is your home now.  Hours away from here.  With your family and your friends.

I hope you know that you'll always be a part of my life, even if I'm not in yours.  And I hope, as you fall asleep tonight, you can still hear me whispering "I love you.  I love you.  I love you."