Friday, December 10, 2010
Traffic in the stores is abysmal; crowds are pushy and rude; marketing to play on our greed for the next best thing is everywhere!
I enjoy a bit of the hustle and bustle I suspect, as long as the"reason for the season" is remembered, my joy can been seen in my smile. I love the look on the little one's this time of year. a magical time in their lives and fondly remembered by yours truly as a time when Santa Claus came to town on Christmas eve, and hopefully spoiled us with all the toys we asked for.
So Mary and I went out last Saturday two weeks before the big day. Now there were two ways of attacking this venture out into the wilds of retail with 14 days before Christmas: We could be like most of the denizens out there and go wild and grumpy, stealing parking spaces, cutting off drivers in a mad rush to get in and out of stores, knock people over in line ups at the mall...or......the opposite.
We donned Santa hats and red sweat shirts and off we went with good cheer as our intent. What a difference it made in the lives of the people we crossed.
Frowns in long line ups turned to smiles as David and his beautiful wife in long red hats with floppy white pom poms bounced in and out of places.
"You made my day" said one lady.
"How wonderful of you two to do this today" said another
Cashiers frowns turned to big smiles as we paid for our take out coffee. "You guys look great" was heard often.
Now the processor on my cochlear implant does not like hats! The mic gets buried in order to keep the hat on.
So my comprehension, which is bad at best in noise and with strangers, fell to about 10%.
Everything I heard, Mary had to tell me after what was said in the car when I removed Santa's head gear.
Mattered not! Total strangers came up to me/us and starting talking with big grins on their faces pointing at our hats.
I knew what they were saying without hearing!
Happiness and Joy have no communication issues.
The Kids grinned and pointed us out to their hurried and stressed out parents, which in turn brought adult smiles. That in itself was a great gift.
A smile on any child is worth all the effort in the world.
Little things mean a lot?
Little things mean everything.
Remember that Joy spread is 100 times more wonderful than Joy kept small.
I hope you can bring a smile to someone today.
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
From the questions in the security line up by the "rent-a-cops" in their nice crisp Transport Canada uniforms to the mumbling overhead speakers that may or may not be announcing a gate change for my flight; I am not liking the ride as a cochlear implanted passenger!
I don't do a whole lot of it these days, and that is fine by me. The Toronto Airport is nice for about the first 3 visits and then you realize that traveling is A) not fun, and B) expensive and C) scary for the hearing impaired.
Parking is a silly ritual where you drive for up and down and back and forth in search of a spot until you realize that you have to drive to the end of the lot then go up the ramp until the air is thin and the roof disappears. Once you come to grips that you will have snow on your car when you return from your trip, you head out on the incredible journey to find the elevator.
About an hour or so into the discovery mission and realizing that you have backtracked and passed your own car about a dozen times, I consider canceling my flight for the third or forth time that day, as I have left the cozy confines of my our lovely home and my beautiful wife only to sit in Toronto traffic that starts and midnight and lasts about 23 hours. The trick would be I assume is to, is to try and guess the hour of non chocked up blocked roads. I always guess wrong.
Once parked and terminal found, the security anxiety kicks in. Will I get away with a carry on of the tiniest tube of toothpaste known to man, or will Helga the SS security person toss it out as it it can be squeezed into an unsuspecting pilots eyes (do they not lock the doors to the flight deck?)
They speak in low voices with accents and look away when the ask "oeuo iueopu jo duieu?"
" Pardon?" I say "
I have a hearing impairment can you look at me when you speak?"
Suspicion looms as they now think I am indeed a terrorist with an explosive magnet on my head.
I slowly reach for my wallet and pull out my "Advanced Bionics " card that states "This person has an implanted medical device; Cochlear Implant model # ci-144-02h
I get past checkpoint Charlie and head to departure area.
Overhead speakers say something or other. I never had figured out how any CI person can hear them. Not even sure if any of us do. So I go to nice airline employee and explain my deal.
"Cant hear, need help with announcements"
Get on plane, happy I got the bulkhead seat with all the extra space because it is an emergency exit. I love that seat as I get to stretch a bit.
Airline attendant comes by to explain the rules of what to do if a big old nasty flame happens in flight etc. I know the drill, have heard it many times.
She notices the magnet on my head and asks me to remove my "Bluetooth headset"
I explain about the blessings of a cochlear implant and how science and technology have given the deaf a hearing life.
"If your deaf you cant sit here" Helga's sister tells me.
I get bumped to a middle seat somewhere south of Mexico. So far in the back that it takes me half an hour to exit upon landing.
So at 10,000 feet in the air, the in-flight video/ GPS in front of me reads we are between Sault St Marie and Sioux Look Out.
I ask our flight attendant, Sue, how many more ways are there to spell Sue/Sioux/Sault? "Sue me" she says. " I don't know" she says.
"Why do you have a bluetooth headset on during flight" she snarls.
So I explain the wonders of ...........
I not that the outside temp at 10,495 ft is - (minus) 63 degrees Fahrenheit. I think at that point F and Celsius meet and greet! I wonder if snot crystallizes at this temp. I don't want to know.
Flying is fun going to Cancun for a week in the sun.
Flying to a cold clime in Canada in November is not fun!
Landing is nice, as I feel safe and sound....until I risk the perils of the Rent-a-Car people and the 101 questions about how can the deaf drive.
Friday, October 29, 2010
October 2007 was an eventful month as I look back on it. In early September of that year, I went into hospital via an ambulance in the wee hours of September 7, 2007.
I have no memory or recollection of that fateful night. For years I have tried to piece together the lost "episode of those two months.
My next memory is a few days before Halloween in the hospital. The void still exists to this day.
I remember sitting looking out a window in a room with other people. There was a nurse or a technician that wheeled me to a table and wrote down some questions. I knew I was deaf, and knew I could talk. It was as if I had been deaf all my life and this was a natural way to communicate.
She wrote questions on a white board, and I responded in voice.
"Do you know where you are"? she asked
"Yes of course, I am in St. Mike's hospital"
"No you are in Oshawa hospital"
I had a dream, and it was a long dream. It may have lasted an hour a day; or it may have lasted the 40 some days that I have no memory of.
Or it may even have been dreamed during the 11 days I was on life support and put in an artificially induced coma to save my life.
Or was it a dream at all?
Matters not, but the images in the "dream" are so real and so vivid that they stay with me to this day.
In my dream (if it was a dream) I was in a hospital and was so thirsty. I looked out the window in my hospital room (in my dream) and saw a store.
In my dream I can see Princess Margaret Hospital down the street from as I walk the streets in a hospital gown.
I walk into the store and ask the man if I was in Princess Margaret hospital. He replies in the dream that I am in St Mikes hospital in downtown Toronto.
I buy many tins of mandarin oranges in my dream and take them to my room and devour them.
So when I "woke up" (I use that term because it is the first date that I have memory of post hospital stay) I assumed I was in St Mikes.
"Do you know what day it is"? writes the therapist in Oshawa hospital.
"September something" I answer
"It is Halloween in 4 days" she writes.
The missing pieces are not so much a bother, the deafness was even accepted then. I was deaf and in a wheel chair. No sound, no balance, and lots of pain.
My medical 9/11 implosion was "David's" personal perfect storm.
Meningitis, bronchitis, pneumonia, Ischlemic stroke....a few more things I am sure.
Early symptoms of all ignored as I ran hard to train for my 3rd 1/2 marathon; ran hard to run a business and bring in the bacon; ran hard for the previous 3 years on nightly Princess Margaret visits where my wife lay in-house getting chemo for the blood cancer that would have her in PMH (Princess Margaret) more often than she was home with her family; ran hard to be a father of a then 12 year old boy.
And then the running stopped.
Metaphorically of course, I fell into a coma.
Then I "woke up"
It was almost Halloween.
Life is different know beyond words, written or spoken.
My wife of then passed away in early 2009
I am still deaf, yet I hear thru the amazing technology of a Cochlear Implant.
I still have no balance and never will, yet I walk pretty good most of the time by tricking the brain that we don't need the inner ear for balance. The eyes have it!
Got it covered pretty good.
New house, wonderful new wife who I love deeply!
So this Halloween I will enjoy the sounds, stop and take in every sight, and love life beyond words!
Written or spoken.
I live in a new place where I care deeply, speak kindly, live simply and love generously.
I let the rest go!
Enjoy the day, stop running and take in life in all it's wonderful glory!
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
I wrote this on April 17th 2008. One month before my cochlear activation and sound re entering my life after 230 days in my deafness.
I am reprinting it because Mary did not read it, and I happened to have it saved.
I also liked it, and reminisced fondly of my first trip to a Wal-Mart superstore.
Deaf as a stump, no balance, wandering through my first Superstore.
I hope you enjoy it.
I needed to buy batteries today. I tried to change channels last night and the remote was not in a very cooperative mood. Seems it needed AA's. "Didn't I just buy a bulk pack of those"? I naively asked my wife. "Talk to the 13 year old that lives in the first room on your right" she replies.
I went into to see where all my batteries were, and I discovered the source of the supply drain The "X-Box remote controllers" , it was explained to me. "Eat them like candy" Dan complained.
Regardless, I needed some or else I would be stuck watching "The Price Is Right" marathon for the next 3 nights.
So this morning I had to make a decision on where the purchase would be made. I knew that Costco would be the cheapest, but one item in a line for 3 days is just silly. The other end of the spectrum is the corner store, but I was not paying $37.89 for 4 AA batteries even if I was the only person shopping.
I went for the middle ground and picked Walmart.
So Janet and I head out this morning and she is traveling in a direction of which I am not familiar with.
"Where are you going" I asked.
"There is a new Walmart that opened in the
Two things here: I was surprised that any retail opening would miss my consumer radar, and…..
2) I don't like
I guess while I was "sleeping" for 90 some days in a hospital ward, Wally World slipped one in on me.
Not only did he build a store unbeknown to me, but he built the "Super Wally World Store" concept.
It was the size of O'Hare and I swear I saw an air traffic control tower and a few DC 10's in the lot.
Now I'm no country bumpkin, nor have I just fallen off the rutabaga mobile, but I have never been in one of these behemoth of store.
We park, and in we go.
"You get the batteries and I will grab some fabric softener". announces Janet.
So off goes deaf as an Acorn Squash guy into the wilds of Wally's Frontier.
I leave the cozy confines of the 73 year old store greeter, and venture past the fruit and vegetables. After around 3 or 4 Kilometers I am still in some sort of produce section. Yes it is different from where I started out with the familiar
I cross into a deli section that takes in about 14 Acres where a nice lady in blue jacket stamps my passport and smiles at me. I am cruising now.
As I cross the Prairies, I note the vastness of the ryes and flax breads. The flatland's seem to go for miles, and one looses perspective of distance once the sourdoughs are stumbled upon.
The whole wheat flutter on skids as far as the eye can see.
I catch of glimpse of what I suspect is a Prairie dog, but quickly discount it as scurries back into the Pet aisle.
A stray gerbil I suspect.
I have always had a soft spot for the prairies. I admire the hardiness of the workers who toil amongst the dangers of falling prices. The amber waves of grain and the ski high stacks of Wonder Bread are a joy for the eye to behold.
"Oh beautiful for spacious skies.." I sing proudly, as grab a dozen Frosted Ho Ho's.
I sense a sudden chill now as I enter into the land of milk and cheese. I must some how have wandered off course and ended up in
I hurry back to the pet food isle, and grab Speeder some Bickies, and a fresh kong to go with the wheel of Cheddar I just picked up in the dairy regions.
I pass a mountain of cola neatly staked beside the biggest pile of denim jeans I have ever seen. The blue jeans scream a $10 price tag.
I wonder how much the seamstress makes on this.
About 2 or 3 hours into my venture I ask a bird watcher that I pass, if I could borrow his binoculars to see if there is sign to point me in the right direction. He obliges, and I spot "Electronics" just east of the first watering hole. (The pools are now out on display even though the snow continues to fall today) I thank him and get back on my journey.
Around I get hungry and follow my nose to one of many local McDonald's that services weary travelers like myself. I see the natives in blue smocks dine here as well. Although I have always found it safe to eat where the indigenous dine, I take a pass on this spot and decide that I can't eat this today, I need to stay healthy.
I ask for directions from another blue jacketed lady. I hope I can speech read her.
I ask her again to point me in the direction of batteries.
She starts into some long winded question, pointing at my feet. My God I think, are the natives interested in trading footwear?
I think she is trying to ask me why I have price tags dangling from the runners I have on.
I explain to her that the soles of my own shoes gave out about 7 kilometers away, back in house wares, so I borrowed the Wally beige shoes to get me a little further into the store.
About hour 5 or 6 hours into my journey, I make note of some falling prices that I could conceivably injure myself on. Lucky for me, I happen to be the bicycle helmet section. I put one on to secure my melon from any further falling prices.
I stop at the camping section and notice a family is resting by a fake campfire and eating giant packages of Mike and Ike's. I ask if I could join them until my throbbing stops in my legs.
They of course notice my limp and my cane, and motion me to sit a spell and rest up.
"Where ya headed" asks the woman.
I read her lips nicely.
"Batteries. In Electronics I presume" I tell them
"Ohhhh, you got a long way to go my friend" advises the man in the group.
"Better head out before you get locked in the store like us. We've been here since just after Valentines day clear out" he warns
I spring up and carry on.
By the time I reach Consumer Electronics, I notice my shopping cart is full.
I suspect while on my journey I have been subconsciously shopping up a storm.
If, and only if, I proceed to the cash at this moment, I might get out under a hundred bucks.
But I still have no batteries.
I do, however have one roast turkey, some stuffing in a box,a 15 pack of tube socks, gum that explodes when you chew it, a 12 pack of peanut butter chocolate cups, some Disney
I asks a clerk if there is bus stop or a taxi stand to take me back. Even a rope tow would do me fine.
I am spent, done, fatigued.
I need to cash out before I have to sell my collectible footballs.
I can see the 45 cash registers just east of the horizon and very close to a
I follow a caravan of buggies back to the cash and meet Janet.
The batteries are neatly sold on racks on every cash.
I make a note that no treadmill workout will be needed, and we go out into the wilds of the parking lot.
I hope it is not too dark to find our car.
Friday, August 20, 2010
More and more the "so and so is a fan of" were popping up like cherry chips on facebook pages for this new ice cream place so I thought I would treat Mary and take her to try.
Thus, our first, and last (although we did not know it yet) visit to the Marble Slab Creamery, took place.
At first glance it seemed kinda cool. It looked from the parking lot like an old fashioned country looking store. Not realizing that this is a huge franchise, and has literally hundreds of locations across Canada, United States, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Lebanon, Bahrain, Singapore, and many many other locations. This is a serious business.
The line up was out the door and pouring onto the parking lot. Kids were everywhere in soccer uniforms, baseball caps with parents in tow. I should of known right away by the Porche Cayenne's and BMW X5's in the lot, that this was not your Grandmothers ice cream store.
Confusion started once we eventually got into the store. There were a few different lines to get in. Once we realized that one of the three lines was for those who required financing, we settled into the "We think we can afford a baby size" version of this new marble slab concoction.
I jumped the line so I could preview what was ahead. I thought if I saw the flavours it would help speed things up. My confusion got pushed into deep confusion when I saw only a few options: Vanilla, Chocolate, and a darker chocolate.
"Wonder what the big deal is" I asked to no one in particular, but directed at the staff of 20 or so 16 year old working furiously away on the famous marble slab.
They were working with vigour, violence and determination and pounding and prodding "stuff: into the customers ice cream.
One of the "order takers" asked us for our decision, as if we were one of the regulars.
"How does this work" I asked.
A menu was given to us to look over.
Still more confusion.
There were lists and more lists of "stuff" to get thrown at our ice cream, which we read was made fresh daily.
"What is made fresh daily, the ice cream or the sprinkles, bobbles and sparkles that you add?" I ask the young girl with tongue in cheek.
"All our ice cream is made fresh daily" she answers.
"Right here, in this tiny overcrowded room?"
"No, we get it shipped here every second Tuesday."
"Oh, so made fresh daily, then stored for a few weeks, then shipped from India to here"
Kinda like the stores that say open 24 hours......but not in a row....over a three day period.
More confusion when Mary and I see a poster on the wall for what looks like a decent ice cream treat: "peanut crunch bobblicious sucker delight"
"Can we try a small one of those" we ask
"They are only on approved credit. You have to go to the OAC line and meet with the finance people." we are told.
We decide on a less expensive option and order a "Chocolate peanut butter" treat. The plain and unassuming (and quite non-flavorful" vanilla ice cream is scooped from the frozen bottom of freezer wasteland, where it no doubt was made fresh on this morning by Keebler elves in a magical forest. The marshmallows that can be added for a fee might also hail in the same box with the "Pink moons, and yellow stars" that for $3 for 2 of each are yours!
So our "ice cream technician" (is this like the sandwich makers at Subway that are sandwich technicians?) puts a tiny scoop on a technical looking weigh scale. She frowns at us because all we could afford was the "Baby size" and she has difficulty in measuring a "nano-scoop" onto the scale and needs several attempts to remove the excess and deposit the "made fresh" stuff back into the frozen hinterlands.
5 minutes later the procedure moves to the infamous "Marble slab" area, where she places three or four tiny bits of brown crayon into the middle of our ice cream.
I thought at first that they must be chocolate chips, but realized after tasting that they indeed were crayons.
Very old crayons.
Possibly from MY childhood.
Next she pours an amount of Kraft bottled sauce of some type that would not cover the fine print in their posters that tell us that they actual treats are "not exactly as illustrated"
Our techie then goes to work on our baby sized treat with tools that would make a blacksmith jealous.
She pounds and pulls the "fresh" experiment in all directions. I of course make a remark that it must be "fresh" since so many sharp tools were required to chop it up.
After 11 minutes our technician goes into the line up for "staff requiring braces for carpal tunnel issues", and is quickly replaced by a fresh faced technician who wants to show of their brute strength and finish our production.
Finally done we wait to pay. There is a bog down in the line up ahead at the check out, as a family scrambles to get out 4 or 5 different cards (Visa, Amex, MC, Dinners Club, and a Suzy Sheer card) to spread out the payments. They mistakenly brought 3 kids, and one insisted on the "Smurfs topping". Once you go with licenced merchandise you pay for it!
So now they are attempting to pay for it!
Once we pool our credit cards and cash on hand we watch the adding go on at the cash.
"Baby sized" is indeed punched in correctly, and I marvel at the nerves of steel as they add the dollars and cents for the each and every bit of brown crayon.
I am in the wrong business, but decide that a franchise would be more expensive than the Porches parked in the lot.
They are clearly in the business of selling franchises and not ice cream.
So out the door we go with a spoon in each hand, shell shocked from paying the price, but still open minded about tasting what our weeks wages have purchased.
Two bites into it (one bite each) I broke a tooth on the crayon, and Mary thought the sauce that was added was a petrolium based derivitive used to assist in mixing the compounds.
I decide that there is more "marble" than "creamery" in my overpriced baby sized bowl, and toss it out.
I get no argument from my lovely partner.
We drive home and reminice about the Pralines and Cream for $3 at Baskin and Bo Bo's.
We consider going thru Mickey Dee drive through and sharing a McFlury that has real Oreo cookies in a soft fresh made ice cream.
We wax nostalgically about Kawartha Dairy cherry chip that was a favorite for the kids on many a camping or cottage trip.
We discuss Reids Dairy and their 99 cent fresh swirl!
Ah, the dollar cone.
We both sigh, then take one last look at our bill from the Marble place.
I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream.
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
The journey that brought Mary I to this day has been a marvelous one filled with love , laughter, joy and much discovery for both of us.
When I met Mary for the first time in late spring last year, I saw in her a beautiful warm sole filled with warmth and compassion. I saw this beautiful girl that was smart, pretty, full of grace and attentive to all around her.
Mary on the other hand found me “Interesting”.
We saw and enjoyed each other daily without fail during our first few months together, never missing an evening or a weekend together. We shared much in common and explored our differences with open minds and hearts.
I was curious in what she saw in me. Here was me; this deaf grumpy old guy, with no balance, no hair, and had a magnet stuck to his melon.
I walked funny and said pardon a lot.
It was only late last year when she told me that she has eyesight issues and is actually legally blind. Perfect I thought; David profoundly deaf and Mary legally blind. I proposed immediately!
This would be the marriage made in heaven.
I suggested a simple solution to a wedding for the two of us: We both love travel, and in our time together we have vacationed in the Caribbean twice. So I offered the idea of our wedding in a similar locale. Mary thought about it and we decided that since our friends and family mean the world to us, having a wedding local would mean they could all share our day with us.
I agreed of course, but my thrifty conditions were laid out: A simple ceremony at home. A casual affair where a small group of family friends would join in our celebration. A casual BBQ with cold beer and grilled meat on a stick, or bucket of chicken would be offered up.
Enter Gail. Our wonderful friend who took on this project as “The Wedding Planner”!
Most of what was seen in our backyard on Saturday was a result of her planning and efforts.Beautiful table cloths were all sewn by Gail. Napkins, place settings, center pieces, floral arrangements all Gail’s work.
So my thrifty idea of box of beer and bucket of chicken was, I was told, briefly considered, and then tossed.
“Relax and enjoy” I told myself, and so I sat in awe as Mary, Gail and many other friends worked away searching for material, sewing curtains for the barn, booking a chef to cook and grill for us, choosing music hanging plants and lights and decorating Shamus.
My job now was to go out and search for a bigger box of beer as the guest list grew and grew. The wedding planners took over, and I moved aside.
Things sailed along through the spring and I worked on staying out of the way, keeping the backyard in relatively good form, and praying for sun balls in the July forecast.
I found myself with a bit of time on my hands since my task of clipping KFC coupons for this day, was long tossed. The odd suggestion I had for today’s celebration was brought before the committee, laughed at, and dually tossed with the KFC coupons.
Every wedding day has their share of speed bumps and ours was to be no different. We just seemed to hit them as often as rain was falling.
Guests had all firmed up, wedding planners were sewing, and hitting the stores, the rains of April continued into May and then into June with little signs of a break. I prayed to the Gods of sun balls with more passion, and started my “It will not rain” mantra whenever anyone said “what will you do with 50 people if it rains”?
Late this spring my sister Michelle phoned with not great news. My fit, athletic and active mother had suffered a heart attack and was in hospital. Suddenly, weddings and celebrations became unimportant, and our concerns were of course with Mom and her recovery.
And recover she did. Not wanting to miss too much of her golf season, she was up and at them as fast as the rain fell in our yard.
Assuming that Moms issue was our one speed bump, we got back on track and I continued my mantra of “It will not rain” as we primped and worked on the grounds out back.
The pond in our yard involved a lot of work, a lot of deep digging, and lot of planning, a lot of rocks, and again, a lot of work. Thankfully, Jason, Mary’s son dug the requisite six feet last summer so the fish could survive the winter, then we all worked hard the rest of the summer and fall, and much of this spring, making the pond look like it was always here. We finally got comfortable with the look, and were adjusting to the huge surge in the fish population (fish multiply. Who knew), and the neighborhood raccoons were delighted with the 24 hour all you can eat sushi that we provide, when the endless rains of May turned to days of torrential downpours in June. I stuck to my mantra “NO RAIN”.
The wedding committee had now ruled me insane and ignored my mantra. They were now making preparations for a couple of huge canopies from scouts Canada. I silently prayed to the Gods of sun balls, bloody sun balls please!!
15 days ago it rained as hard as I pleaded with the sun ball folks. The next day Mary arrived home from work and went out to feed the ever growing fish population to keep the sushi bar going, and do her 10 day before the wedding check of the grounds.
Well the rains had taken their toll and collapsed the sides of the pond! Speed bump number two had arrived with 10 days to go!
Rocks hung over the edge balancing precariously above the water.
My original Caribbean wedding idea hovered in my head as I now envisioned the labour required to restore, rebuild and repair the pond. Jason came to the rescue and I quickly stopped my internet searches for last minute deals for a wedding in Aruba.
The Aruba of no rain!
Back on track with a week to go we were, doing last minute errands when we return late last Saturday to a phone message. It was the Baker of the cake.
Yes THE cake.
The same baker we had chosen, discussed at lengths our needs and wants, even emailed suggested photographs showing placement of whipped cream, which fruits we wanted etc. The message was short and to the point: “Just wanted to let you know that we will not be doing your cake for next Saturday. Realized that we are closing for a vacation day due to the placement of Canada day this year”
Speed bump number three arrived as quick as the rain down poured yet again!
Mary of course was distraught. I smelled a savings opportunity, but could not convince Mary to go to “Almost Perfect” and grab one of those leftover cakes that no one picks up for their date. “So what if it says “Happy Bar Mitzvah Billy” I pleaded. There cheap and almost perfect.
Like most of my wedding ideas, that one ended up in the recycling bin with all my coupons for two for one chicken meals.
Mary quickly went to work with ideas to save the day, and despite my attempts to convince “Buck or two” to make a cake for us, we managed a lovely save.
The speed bumps were talking their tool on Mary it seemed. By Monday of this week her back now had gone out, and the pain was so bad she struggled to do minor things. I suggested some rather unorthodox stretching techniques that like my many other ideas just got me slapped.
I then suggested that if her back did not get better, I would happily provide one of many my many medical tools that I kept around from my old days. I searched in the attic for my old walker or a cane or two that I still keep. This did not win any points, so my focus went back to sun balls!
Everything in life changes constantly. My life/our life is no different. Babies are born, love ones pass away, grand children bless our lives, wealth and health rise and fall as the sun rises and sets.
Everything in life constantly changes.
All we know for sure is that the sun will rise. Either behind a mask of clouds or in its splendid glory, but it will rise.
Having a partner, a soul mate, to life and love together as life changes is important to both of us. Facing life and its challenges together as it constantly changes seems like the right path.
Sharing the joys and laughter with your friend, your life mate just multiplies the smiles.
Sharing the sorrows, the down times seem like the right path as well. If you don’t share them, you don’t give the person who loves you a chance to love you enough.
We all have 83 problems in life, and Mary and I are no different. There will always be speed bumps but when you hit them together, oh how much fun we can make them!
And yes, we had sun balls on our wedding day!
Glorious sun balls!
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
I am indeed profoundly deaf, have no balance due to loss of that inner balance thing that most of us still have, and the many other little nagging "issues" that Mary begs me to get checked.
Many of these can be written off as what a guy in his 50's gets. Some may be due to the stroke damage that occurred on that fateful night of September 9, 2007. Many good people believe that stress caused the 9/11 type medical blow up that night. If I accept this theory, and I do, then it behooves me to make some use of this hypothesis.
Physicists learn about the subatomic world by smashing things together and then looking at the debris. Imagine a midair collision between two watermelons; it would make quite a mess, but nothing very interesting would result.
Suppose though, you get two protons to collide head-on. If they are moving fast enough, the energy of their collision, converted into mass a la Einstein's E=mc2, would produce a shower of new particles. It would be as if 2 colliding watermelons splattered into a shower of pineapples, blueberries, mangoes and other exotic fruits.
Forgive me if I take on the role of "interesting" here. I prefer the term "interesting" as opposed to "enigma".
Mary often comments that she finds me "interesting", and I swear you can hear the quotations as she says it!
Anyway, I like to think of my 100 day hospital stay along with the assorted other medical maladies as a way of learning about my body, my mind, and my soul if you will. All of my "protons" smashed it seems on that night almost 3 years ago now, and since then I have been examining the "debris".
I would like to think that a new "David" was created. I feel much different physically. Some reasons are obvious, for I am deaf and a true Cyborg with my cochlear implant; I walk different with no balance; and I sound different. In my mind anyway.
Deafness for sure had the biggest impact on me. I became much more observant, inquisitive. The whole medical experience somehow made me less selfish, and more willing to help and give.
The stroke made me feel vulnerable.
Made me slow down, think about life. Love more. Enjoy the concerto that life offers every second of every day!
I want to get a bumper sticker that says: "Slow down, enjoy life, love more". But actions speak louder than words so I will try to set an example every day and do just that. Besides, bumper stickers are hard to read for us over 50 folks.
Try small changes in your life before science tries an experiment to examine you!
Do what you can to make a difference in what you believe in.
Live a little more, and love a lot more.
The concerto is wonderful!
Friday, May 21, 2010
Since that fateful day in September 2007, when a cone of silence was dropped over my being. I quickly changed gears and adapted as best I could to being profoundly deaf.
The first survival instinct is of course lip reading, or more specifically speech reading.
One watches the lips and position of tongue of course to observe the animation of a word. But so many words are similar, so more clues are needed. Hand gesture, shoulder slumping or hunching, chin position, head tilt, right or left matters much, leg bending...they all play into the reading.
The eyes are keys to finish what, or where the other party is attempting to communicate.
I had a good teacher in my rehabilitation in the hospital. Laura, my "speech reading" coach, had patience, good skills and great teaching aids. Her constant "look at me", taught me that observation was the number one rule to understanding.
It helped me learn a new way of life that would get through many days ahead.
I still employ my speech reading skills, even though I have a cochlear implant that gives me an interpretation of sound to help me "hear" the words, speech reading is still very important to me. In many ways it more important than ever as it assists me in learning a new way of hearing.
My relatively new acquired skill of speech reading, will serve me well regardless of the situation. I find that looking into the eyes tells us so much more than words can ever say.
Without sound, I could tell so much about the emotion of the participant. If they were having a bad day or great day, it was as apparent as a neon sign flashing in their eyes.
I asked people to look at me when they talked to me. I explained that I was deaf, and needed to read them. And the only way I could understand them was if they looked at me.
A few were awkward with my request, but most accepted this and actually exaggerated their syntax and enunciation for my benefit.
It makes such human good sense in retrospect, and shows so much interest when two people look at one and other when conversing. I watch other people, and note with disdain how quickly people say something then look away or start multi-tasking by reading or writing.
Are we not interested?
Do we really understand "it" wholly?
We can learn so much from the deaf (me although deaf can learn as well) by watching ASL and speech reading. It is so "polite" if you will, and it shows so much more interest when visually involved. One cannot have multiple conversations going on.
I can only listen to one person right now with my cochlear implant. If two or more are talking, it just becomes difficult. It is as if many layers of words are vying for the number one spot, forcing themselves into a tiny opening in a small wire that sends electrical impulses, firing at neurons in my brain.
In my non-sound days, I could only have a "conversation" with one person as I had to speech read them. People found it flattering it seemed that I paid so much attention to only one person at a time.
Regardless if there were 7 or 10 people in a room, I would focus on the "speaker" to read them. This struck me as odd at first, as I like to multi-task and multi converse.
But after all this time in a cone of silence, I came to the conclusion that old way is just rude.
How wonderful to focus on one person and enjoy their words.
I have taught Dan my skills, and he emulates them masterfully, making sure he gives attention to only the primary speaker, and waiting until it is clear they are finished. Then and only then will he offer his argument or comment. He also focuses on their eyes as I taught him. "you will learn so much more and gain so much more respect if you look at your conversation partner Dan. Engage them and watch them become alive as they notice your interest".
My deafness has served his mannerism well, and I suspect he will take these tidbits of advice when he goes and grows forward in his hearing life.I am quite proud of him, and I know Mary is as well. That in itself gives me joy!
By asking people to repeat themselves a few times now, I find they oblige with a smile. I feel bad by having them do it for my cochlear edification.
But good God, you know what I found? It shows so much interest when someone says, "could you repeat that please. I did not get it all and it is important to me".
Watch the smiles as it is received as an instant accolade.
Being profoundly deaf I had to focus so hard to "get it" all of the time. As tiring as this was/is, I watched my concentration transform the speaker. The harder I looked at their lips/tongue, eyes hands and other body language, the more more the speaker lifted up, looked at me, and brightened into an emancipated look of "my God I must be saying something interesting". I find people always are.
If people distracted me or tried to interrupt while I was "speech reading another person" I had to cut them politely off.
"I'm sorry, I'm trying to speech read Joe here, but please don't loose your thought, I will focus on you as soon as Joe's finished"
This was just common sense to me trying to survive, but to others it was as if an alien from the planet Polite had landed and invaded my body. At the end of my efforts it was just David trying hard to understand.
It is important to me, to understand.
It just makes good sense, plus I heard more at times in my deaf concentration than I did in my hearing, multi-tasking, reading, writing multi conversing days.
Slowing down, watching. I mean really watching. And studying the converser, made me a better communicator.
The eyes are the window to the soul, it's believed, but for deaf guy, it told me 1/2 of the story that needed to be told. Watching the eyes, the movement, the openness, the uninhibited mannerism spoke volumes in my "speech reading" world.
I will always conduct my relationships in this manner going forth. Business, personal or just passing you on the street, I make contact first with the eyes.
It just seems right, and makes a difference in how we the message is conveyed and if it is understood.
Seek first to understand........
“O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek... to be understood, as to understand...”.
The prayer of St. Francis, written in the 12th century.
Happy Victoria Day Canadians!
Monday, May 3, 2010
It is Monday, and the weekend offered spectacular weather, sun balls every day. We even were graced with a much needed drop or two of rain that helped quench our parched newly sewn seeds.
Lazy outdoor book and newspaper reading, chased with early evening movies. Enjoyable dinners with family, and nice afternoon coolers with Mary on the deck.
What contrast the Monday morning commute offered up!
Black SUV (why do the aggressive people always pick black as their vehicle colour, and of course a big stinkin', honkin' gas guzzlin' SUV)?) sat on my ass and was as close to being in my back seat as one could get.
Drivers, impatient at best, weaved in and out to get two car lengths ahead of me, only to sit at same stop light that we all will arrive at in seconds.
Not so much in a hurry.
I do enjoy the craft I have chosen in life, and it has served me well in sickness and in health.
But am also very aware of the fact that we are candles that can get plunged into darkness without notice.
Work is the tool that provides my means of the weekend enjoyment. The roof over our heads, the nice cheese to nibble on, the BBQ to smoke some ribs on. My life/our life, really starts at 5:30 on Friday nights.
The big newspapers, the extra coffee that weekend mornings can afford in time. The lunches that are created by inspiration and time that is offered.
We grilled cheese with grated fine old cheddar and added tomatoes that reminded me of home made pizza.
Time, glorious time!
Life, at the speed of life, is scary fast from Monday to Friday. We like to slow it down, breathe it in. Take in the wildlife in our backyard, garden, water, sit, read, talk, enjoy, love, live, learn.....as slow as we can.
Watched a baby raccoon sleep for a good 3 hours yesterday. High in a tree in our neighbors yard, we marveled at the fact that the little guy did not fall out.
Fed the fish in our pond that have just woken up from their long cold water sleep. Marveled at all the new babies that were spawned in the winter, and tried to imagine how they live under the ice, and multiply by spring.
Leisurely sipped a fine late afternoon ale, ate some snacks, then back to book. Closed eyes for a moment or two and gave thanks in my quiet way.
Fired up the BBQ to smoke some nice pork, grill some veggies, and "Q" some spiced up taters!
Ahhhhh life at the God's speed.
No pressures on weekends. Concerns are getting groceries for the week, washing some socks and underwear to keep us smelling fresh, and if our heart desires so, we pick up fresh live muscles to steam with Garlic and white wine in pot one, and a nice marinara in pot 2.
And oh yes, we will enjoy with our Chateau Neuf de Pape that we bottled two weeks ago.
New world for me.
I only wish the Black SUV drivers would realize what a wonderful world we have!
Monday, April 12, 2010
On April 12, 1980 Terry dipped his artificial leg into the harbor at St. John's, Newfoundland, and headed westward across this huge country. It was his intent to run from coast to coast to raise money and awareness for Cancer.
The very same disease that was spreading by the day through his body and had already claimed one of his legs.
He ended his run 143 days later near Thunder Bay when cancer had spread to his lungs. He died at age 22 in June of 1981.
People remember Terry during the many community walks and runs each September. I remember my son Dan, running in his first "Terry Fox" run at the age of nine. His class was asked to write out "who they were running for". Most of the kids wrote that they were running for Terry Fox,because he was a brave Canadian who still raises money in through his memory and foundation.
Dan wrote, "I am running for my Mom who has Cancer, and I hope this helps get her better.
Janet, his Mom, of course passed away, at the age of 49, five years after her sons first Terry Fox run.
Occasions like the recent Olympics also inspire memories, as do the 32 streets, 14 schools, numerous statues, research centers and 1 mountain named after him.
But take a moment today to remember Terry at the beginning, the first day many of us knew him.
The headline in one of our newspapers proclaimed this:
"Fox's Legacy: $451,737,662....and change"
That indeed is a lot of money but not enough.
Let's keep giving until we CURE CANCER IN OUR LIFETIME!
Saturday, April 3, 2010
Redemption is an act of redeeming or the state of being redeemed. Deliverance from sin if you will; salvation.
I like the idea of restoration, whether it be of the personal nature, or to do with restoration of things in our lives. Fixing up of the old and perhaps broken.
On that Sunday I reflected on all of the above and moved silently and lovingly into the ever changing renewal that life offers us daily.
I did and will examine as I often do, what is broken and what I can fix, or more aptly, what the big guy can work on with me to fix.
A day after Easter Sunday, I went to one of my favorite spots to "breathe". We have a Jesuit retreat not far from our home. I have been going there for over 15 years to walk the grounds, look at the trees and sky, and watch the squirrels, chipmunks and birds "at play in the fields of the Lord".
I took Mary there on Monday. It was only her second visit since I introduced "my place of personal meditation" to her. She enjoys and gets as much benefit as I do/have.
Manresa is a Jesuit Spiritual renewal center, and lies on beautiful acreage minutes from the hustle and bustle of the city. It a jewel. An oasis that I love to spend time in. My wish is that every one of my friends that grace these pages, have one of these places that they can go to when the world seems like it is spinning out of control.
Reflection is good, but I am always careful not to beat myself up too much. I constantly question my abilities as a parent. I want the best for my son, yet I need to let go and let God.
Dan will be fine I tell myself, I just need to remember that fact.
I worry about how he views his life and the changes in the past 3 years.
Dad goes deaf, and his Mom passes away before she is 50.
Life changes as we breathe. This I learned well in the past 5 years. Life moves at the speed of life, and acceptance of change has kept me sane.
I have much to be grateful for, and sometimes a walk in Manresa just reaffirms how blessed I am.
Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, (attributed)
Monday, March 29, 2010
There are no Lions in my town, and the zoo is 3 towns away. The “roar” I heard was a car horn.
I am deaf, yet I hear sound. I am in this unusual liminal space. I exist in this space as a result of the amazing technology of a cochlear implant.
A cochlear implant or CI is a surgically implanted electronic device that provides a sense of sound to a person who is profoundly deaf.
I am a “late deafened adult” by definition. I lost my hearing very suddenly, and tragically after 49 years of near perfect hearing. A major infection that saw me go from a healthy half marathon running male, to being on life support two days after a 15K run; then in a coma for 10 days.
The end result was “waking up” deaf.
It was in my recovery, and the 9 months of deafness that I researched and discovered the world of cochlear implants.
There are approximately 200,000 people worldwide that have received cochlear implants. The majority is in developed countries due to the high cost of the device, surgery and post-implantation therapy, or “mappings” as the audiologists refer to this as.
So after 9 months in my “cone of silence” or utter and profound deafness, I was “activated”, or turned on, as the magnet that sticks to the implanted device inside my skull, was “stuck” in place. It was then that I heard sound for the first time in 9 months.
Sound glorious sound!
Wonderful yes, but sound is just sound. You see this “device” or mini computer inside my head, takes the sound that is picked up through my external mic, and changes the analog sound it receives, to digital. So when some one says “Good morning David”, my mini on-board computer, changes that analog sound into a string of zeros and ones or digital code It then sends that code down an implanted wire to where there now resides 16 microscopic sized, surgically implanted electrodes. These electrodes then fire this digital code at my auditory nerve.
This of course happens so quickly that I probably receive the information at the same time it takes a “hearing” person to have the sound fired from the cochlea hairs to the auditory nerve. My new hearing method of course is all “man made”.
Not an “aid” but a hearing replacement if you will.
The surgery is complicated to be sure. They drill a hole in your skull, cut a huge incision down to the cochlea area; then through an incision behind the ear, the surgeon drills a hole into the mastoid bone. Once all the electronics are implanted, they staple you back up.
A month latter is the big “activation” day, when the anticipation is over the moon after not hearing a pin drop or an engine roar in my deafness. Once implanted, and then activated is when the real challenges begin.
The challenge is in learning what I like to call “digital sounds”, the new language that is fired at my auditory nerves once I put my magnet on.
Birds sound like an electrical buzz; phones don’t “ring” they “brang”. Car horns sound like lions to me; my dog “bracks” instead of barks; words all sound different to me than my past hearing life.
When I was “activated” 18 months ago, I had to figure out how words “sound” in my new world. I bought talking books so I could read what the word is as I heard it in my digital new language.
“Hop on Pop”, and “Is your Momma a Lama” were my first talking books, and I felt like a pre-schooler learning language for the first time.
In fact I was.
I have been learning a new language, and every day is a new adventure, a struggle most days as new voices force the brain to work harder.
I still read lips and look for clues as I struggle for comprehension of sound. New voices are like foreign languages, that need time to ramp up comprehension with.
So many people assume it is a hearing aid that amplifies sound. Not at all, it changes analog sound to digital. I hear the world different than I did when I was part of the “hearing world”
Music is simplified, and lost mostly, as my 16 implanted electrodes replaced the 180,000 odd hairs that used to fire sound from my cochlea to my auditory nerve. So I get a very simple version or facsimile of what it used to sound like.
Music is what I miss the most from my old world.
I can “hear” the sound or noise, and if I know the song from past hearing days, my brain magically backfills a lot of it, but it is not the same.
I still get life’s everyday concerto, and I am grateful for the technology that restored sound into my life, but when my son strums his guitar to a wonderful new set of chords he just learned, I smile and say “fantastic Dan”, but in fact I dearly miss the sounds he used to fill the room with.
So I still search for a box that I fit in. It is if I need a label to give people like me.
I am “deaf” once my magnet is removed at night when I sleep or step into the shower, but I do “hear” when I wake up and strap it back on and hear the sounds being fired at my brain.
I am in that liminal space of “not deaf” because I have sound, but am “deaf” because I do not hear a thing without this processor strapped on.”
So where do I fit now that I am bionic?
Perhaps I am CI-Borg.
Oh, if you could only hear what I hear.
Sunday, March 21, 2010
I get little response on email when I launch into my canned approach of "why do you not have the ability for us hearing challenged to express our complaint ...etc" The world is built for hearing and we sadly have an invisible handicap. As much as I dread that word, I have to face up to the fact that I am challenged and I use "coping" strategies to get through the day. I am different than when I was on top of my game. I was in hearing world, master of David's universe and carried on like there was no end to the sound of life's concerto.
Well as you know, it ended like like a piano getting dropped out of the proverbial window and landed on my auditory nerves.
Now I live in new place that requires new living strategies to get the message.
I changed, but the world did not.
If you want to complain, one has to pretty much dial a 800 number in business hours of course and state your beef. Phones are a challenge for me, and if they recipient's phone is a VOIP phone (usually in some South Asian locale) I struggle.
So I ask if they can provide an email for me to send my issue.
Nine times out of ten, there are no way of sending an email to get issue resolved.
I was on a long flight recently with Air Canada from Toronto to Las Vegas. The 4 1/2 hours is killer, but it is especially long if one cannot use the many features of the in seat entertainment device to watch shows/movies/documentaries etc.
NO CLOSED CAPTION!
Do deaf/Deaf not fly?
So try and express ones disbelief at the lack of sincerity in offering closed caption for the 35 million hearing challenged in North America
We are not a small number, yet we get treated like "who cares about this group"
If I was in a wheel chair, I might get attention if the airline did nothing to help me get into my seat, or off the plane.
But because I "seem" normal, and I do hear sound through my cochlear implant, there is a prevailing attitude of "but he hears, so why is he bitching"
I hear sound, and up front and personal I can read lips and get the idea of the conversation.
Television, loud speakers, public address, radios etc etc etc, are a different story.
Closed caption is easy to do, even on a tiny airplane screen.
It seems that whatever is easy to do, is easy not to do.
Sad is it not?
Saturday, March 20, 2010
Thursday, March 18, 2010
My 83 problems are still 83, always will be, but I was hitting the proverbial wall with "self" issues.
I went back and read this post from one year ago, and decided to re post it because I can.You don't have to read it, but it felt good for me to read it and post it.
Since I posted this a year ago, I have discovered new love in my life with Mary, and am excited about our future.
I still need to remind myself to "Just breathe David" every now and then. Today was one of those.
Just Breathe: April 2009:
There is no "normal" for me. Acceptance of that statement/fact is huge for me, and it puts me in a new space that requires constant review and challenges. I struggle to develop a better mental toughness most days, that is required to bring me out of a place and space where I often drift to in my hearing and balanced challenged world.
In the past eighteen months I have lost much: Hearing, balance, a beloved family pet, and my spouse of 19 years. But I have gained much in that time. Managing my expectations of a new life, is the challenge and the new reality of my this new space that I occupy in the universe.
I recently read a quote by Michael J. Fox, the Canadian actor who lives daily with the quirks and jerks of Parkinson's disease.
"I may be different from other people, but someone told me that the growth of happiness is in direct proportion to your acceptance, and in inverse proportion to our expectation"
This was an epiphany of sorts to be sure. I read it, and re read it until it struck me as why there are days that I get mired or stuck in the "why can't I just be normal".
I have what I have, and my cochlear challenged world is what it is.
I will never get hearing back as it existed pre-1997. So once I grip that fact, I can move forward to deal with life as it exists now. Which more often than not is hearing at a 80% level of comprehension in quiet situations, filling in the rest with good guesses; and hearing at a sub 50% level in noisy environments, and playing a huge, but oft-times hilarious guessing game.
"Are they not bastards? " I heard from a friend last night with my processor and mic on the opposite side of the speaker.
"Huh? No, no, they are good people" I responded, "not bastards"
"No, no, Baptists, not bastards" they corrected.
I can and do laugh at the daily frustrations of what I "get", but what I "miss" is the source of frustrations. Phones are still a nightmare, for me and for the callers I suspect. Some calls that should be around a minute or two in length are five minutes in qualifying the caller.
"I'm sorry who are you asking for"
"Who are you again"?
"Are you with a company"?
"I'm sorry I am hearing challenged, can you tell me the subject of your call"?
"One more time, is it David or Dan you are looking for?"
"Oh hi Mom, sorry"
Confidence at times slips out of my persona like warm air through a open door. I go through the "this sucks, and I am alone now to deal with it" daily. Yet there are times, where I give thanks to this technology and marvel at the implants and what they provide in sound for this deaf as box of cereal boy.
Michael J. Fox hit a spot in his challenges and said "This sucks, this is what it is and this sucks, and then you move on from there"
While I am in that spot or space, I still ask myself if the universe decided to play a cosmic joke, or a God of my understanding decided that life was too easy, and needed to put me through a cosmic test, and took away some powerful things, and people in my life, to see how I deal with life without the love and understanding of some people, and the necessities of normal hearing and balance.
If I accept this as my new spot here, and accept that even that is ever changing, then I can start to deal with life from a better vantage point. I have what I have. End of story. Move forward now.
Yoga and meditation keeps me grounded and provides a "jumping off" point for the day. Deep and slow double breaths remind me that I have life. The slow process of air entering my lungs and slowly filling into the belly, gives me hope and is a reminder that 18 months ago I fought survival in a coma on life support. Written off and family gathered around, I somehow was given a chance at a comeback. But hearing would be the cost of this battle.
In my silence I changed of course, and saw the world through vision and touch.
Eyes became my ears, and a new vision of life emerged.
A gentler kinder vision as I needed compassion and understanding to survive in the dog eat dog environment, so I best learn how to give compassion and understanding if I was to receive it.
So the metamorphosis of David began in a hospital bed, but continues daily.
I lower my expectations of what I can and cannot do now in life, and I learn acceptance of my new life without important things and people in my life. So much I shared with people that no longer grace my world, go unshared. So be it. It changes not the fact that they exist with or without what or who I have or do not have at this point in my life.
Michael J. Fox has a small square painting hanging on his office wall. Just black text on a white background that immortalizes an expression Fox, a former heavy drinker, used as he was trying to quit and accept Parkinson's disease.
It reads: "fuck it and breathe."
This morning as a beautiful sun rose, and I stood in full Tree Pose attempting ujjayi breaths, I drifted to that spot that dogs me. The confidence escaping me as I dreaded the Monday morning dealings with the phone at work and the frustration that comes with it.
Life became calm and clear when I removed any and all expectations and stopped reacting. As radical and unfamiliar as this was, it calmed me, and my attention shifted inwards.
I have what I have.
I am what I am.
Now fuck it and just breathe David.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
I have been many times on business, and towards the end of trips as a hearing person, quite frankly I was tired of Vegas. The allure and shine seemed to have gone out of it, and Vegas started to get to me. My last trip was 2005.I lost my hearing in 2007.
Fast forward 5 years to "Magnet boy" on his voyage back to the shiny city that stays up all night and pumps oxygen to ensure this is indeed the case.
I saw new buildings (they build bigger and shinier every year), the old and one time favorites (I loved the Belagio and Paris) and all of the noise and traffic through a cochlear implant.
I had a bit of an Epiphany of sorts this trip. I saw so much excess, so much waste, so much decadence. Funny how deafness caused this paradigm shift. A city that at one time I looked up and stared in awe and wonder was now a city that made me react with dismay and dismissal.
Some people look at chair, and don't see a chair. They see see some wood which could be teak or mahogany, which quite possible comes from Malaysia, and then they wonder if people got kicked out of their homes where these trees once grew by the corporations who came and stripped the land of it's natural growth.
Some people look at an Ikea store and fail to see a shiny coloured store filled with bobbles, knick knacks and brick-a-brack. What they perhaps see a big corporation that strips the rain forests to get material, and then adds brominated flame retardants and PVC chemicals to the at one time natural materials and contaminate us in our homes.The score is always Ikea 1, Rain Forest 0.
So this trip I saw Vegas as this big behemoth of a rich mans playground. I saw more Hummers (H3's of course) then any other vehicles. I stared in awe at the noise of people in restaurants dining on more seafood than I am sure there exists off the coast of Newfoundland, then picking at it whilst drinking copious amounts of expensive wines. I saw power grids jumping off the map as lights buzzed, flashed, beckoned and blinked. I saw money being tossed on tables like leaf lettuce at an all you can eat buffet.
An oh yes, I saw buffets that in a one hour sitting would go through enough food to feed an African nation for years!
I watched at one of our business dinners as a group of eight men spent $2500 on the event.
Drinks flowed and laughter ensued as more exotic cocktails were ordered.
Appetizers arrived and Stone crabs were eaten like crackers by children.I saw the Stone crab population in Mexico tremor in fear.
More drinks flowed and wine was poured by waiters who licked their proverbial chops imagining the tip that this inebriated group of business people would drop with their Gold and Platinum cards.
I cringed as $200 and $300 bottles of wines were brought to tables and poured like water from a tap.
Entrees arrived and by this point most of these folks had long forgotten how to speak or use utensils, but the laughter ensued, as did the wines and drinks with three olives adorning them.
At the end of this eating exhibition the "service" staff arrives to clear the tables. The white jacketed waiters were busy processing the house of cards and calculating their tips while the service staff arrived .
These Mexican and South American staff dressed in their service smocks, ventured out of "somewhere" to take plates away and clean up the "crime scene".
All I could read with my eyes was look of awe as they took away each plate. Many still had 90% of a "Bone in" Rib Eye or Porterhouse half cow. There was more meat left to be scraped in 8 plates than I myself had seen in years! The pieces of Beef were the size of the small turkey that graces our family table at holiday to feed many. The size, in my opinion, still did not justify the $75 price considering the "side" dishes were extra!
I was wide eyed as I saw most of the ordered dinner being scrapped off into bins of composte.
Not mine! NO sir, I ate every bean and pea on my plate and thanked God for it.
What struck me the most was the wonder of what this group of service staff must of thought. Were they thinking about the waste of these 8 and the fact it would feed their families for a month?
Did they consider the gas consumed by the limos, Hummers and Cadilacs that would ferry this group to hotels be the amount of gas that they would use in a year?
Did it go through their minds that these business people would sleep in rooms costing for one night what it would cost them to perhaps build a home and live for a year?
The thought was on my mind.
Or did they just give thanks for the opportunity of being employed and go home to their families and kiss them goodnight.
It will be hard to go back to Vegas. I saw waste, excess, greed. I saw fossil fuels being burned like the earth had unlimited supply. I watched lights that never go out, saw screens always on. I saw money being tossed like it fell from trees.
I went home after 5 days and thanked God for what I have and kissed my family.
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
It is as tough as any course I have taken, and I do have a few years of college, University, and assorted other endeavors that I have taken on in my academic and "general interest" courses. But I gotta tell ya I have nothing but respect for those who are fluent in ASL!
French, one of this countries official languages was always a bit of a struggle for me, and through out high school I passed by the skin of my teeth. I gave a respectable shot again in my thirties in a College on Saturdays, and seemed to enjoy it more. Fifteen years after the course I am sadly about as bilingual as I was in high school.
I can order a hot dog and get a beer in Montreal, but it pretty much ends there. At least I wont go hungry or thirsty.
ASL is an endeavor of love for me for many reasons.
I do adore the "language" and culture that IS ASL.
There are those,( and count me as one) who love listening to French being spoken. To those of us who love listening to it it matters not if we are lost in translation. It just sounds so beautiful.
Ditto ASL. I love to watch two people having a most animated conversation. There is a sense of awe and about ASL as one watches fingers flying, fists tapping, wrists bending, elbows twisting. But the joy is in the face; watch the deaf community "speak" and you will see what I mean.
In my brief nine months of total and profound deafness, I wandered to the Deaf center to get information. It was a chilly February day as I remember, and I stood in awe and admiration as I watched two older gents on the rickety porch of the Deaf center. By my guessing, one was telling the other a funny story, or perhaps even a joke. I stood mesmerized as hands flew, eyes widened, fists pounded and palms slapped. Laugh? Oh my good God, these two were peeing their pants in American sign language if there was indeed such a thing.
I never forgot that scene.
Without the emotional telltale aspect of ASL, the recipient gets confused. This is what I love about ASL. The emotions. Life is emotion. Life is full of them.
Yet in the hearing world, we hide our emotions for the most part. It's as if it's not right for people to see us cry or something like that.We dare not show the world how we feel for they might sense us as weak and pray on us. So we put head down, don't look up or smile. When we have to we put on our game or clown face to take on the world, but most days we just give a little nod to those who pass us by on our journey through the world. But for God's sake don't show emotions!
Ah but in ASL it is life on life's terms. Cries, laughs, smiles, frowns, stomp feet, slap chest, pound fists. Get excited and show it. Live for life.
Life at the speed of visual glorious sight!
If your happy and you know sign it with a smile!
Smiles and frowns; excited and bored looks; they all are part and parcel of the wonderful art and science of ASL.
I use it more and more, and that drives me to learn more and more. I am deaf, but have sound in my life when my magnet is stuck to my melon. If I go for shower, I am deaf as a bar of Irish Spring sop on a rope, and when I step out of shower it seems someone wants an answer on something.
When I go to sleep my processor is off and I hear nothing. No alarms (yes I have slept in), no smoke alarms should they go off (this scares me) and I wake up deaf until I "strap on" the magnet.
It seems that Mary always has a question about something as soon as I am toweling down after my complete silence in my deafness shower, and she tries her best to squeak out a simple ASL sign that is related to her question of the moment.
"You want Lunch" is one that she has worked on, and I get it as soon as she starts. Eating signs in ASL are easy as eating pie, and I never want to miss a meal!
I hope to carry on and get a diploma of some sort in ASL. I love it to be sure, but it is a dream of mine to use it working with the Deaf/deaf one day. Another reason for my diligence in learning ASL is the fear that my Cochlear will go down for good one day. I have "lost" the use of 3 electrodes which leaves me with just 12 I think. I guess they can always go back in and re-implant the tiny little things, but what IF????
I was going to be bilateral, and was implanted on my right side in September 2008. Activation day produced no sound, so they went back in and did the whole nasty surgery again.
Activation day gave no sound.
The thought is that the auditory nerves on my right side are dead as door nail. My fear is that one day my left side might go as well.
I may be paranoid here, but the cochlear implant has restored me a life that is as close to the real concerto that I had in my hearing days. Nine months in a cone of silence was spooky. I like my CI and want to keep it.
But I also want the back up of knowing ASL. Love to learn it and love to use it as a novice student, but I know it is indispensable when my magnet is off.
My boy Dan signs I love you every night before bed.
My favorite sign indeed.
Sunday, February 28, 2010
March apparently will make it's annual appearance dressed as a lamb but with a lion mane. At least by all local weather reports.
The Olympics will end and the hangovers in Vancouver will start as quick as the deficits are tallied and the homeless move back to their boxes in the east side.
As I type this, it is time to get ready for the Gold medal hockey game. Canada vs USA. I will put on my patriotic "Canada" official Olympic hoodie, and will get Mary to do the same. The two of us will then head over to friends with my car adorned with a "GO Canada" flag attached and flapping in blaze of patriotic glory. We will watch the game and pray to the hockey Gods to give us the "Glove from above" if those Gods feel us worthy, and snatch pucks that seemed surely bound for the mesh. The crowds will roar and you will hear a collective "did you see that save?" from a sea of some thirty million Canadians that have in our DNA, the "hockey gene".
We all remember for some reason where we were when Canada beat the USA to win the gold medal in 2002 at the Salt Lake City Olympics.
Funny lot we are. American friends will tell us in detail where they were when they heard Kennedy was assassinated; or regale in historical detail their location, and with whom they were with' on 9/11.
Canadians on the other sporting hand, will give you coordinates to the exact degree, along with temperature, time and weather outlook when "Our team" won something or other.
It is hockey man. This is Canada.
This is our game, to be sure, but boy do we have an inferiority complex about it. There is no swagger or no given. The outcome is not always a win; a medal; a world championship.
No sir, last winter Olympics we finished so far back, the country drank all the beer in our borders for a week straight! The arm chair hockey coaches and the political pundits flapped gums about what went wrong for a year! We analyzed and second guessed every move made by coaches on the games that we lost. Governments fell I am sure over the catastrophe.
The tide is changing. Russia and Canada were always the two hockey supremacy's in the world. Outside of the "Miracle on ice"30 years ago, the USA was not a hotbed of hockey talent. That is changing.
NCAA is working on drafting talent and building a program of young talented players.
The annual "Boxing day" fixture in our collective consciousness is the World Junior Hockey championships, where traditionally we mop up the world and then apologize in our true Canadian nature for having so Damn much young hockey talent.
This year, we lost!
Lost to the United States of America!
That country to the south of us that we thought just raised Nascar drivers, suddenly came out of the south and beat our young boys at our game!
So in just over one hour from now as I type this, Canada will break a record that quite possibly never be broken again. More people will watch this game in than any other game in our history.
When we beat Russia in the quarter finals just last Wednesday to advance to the Fridays semi-finals, over 10 million of us northern denizens tuned in to watch.
The estimates tell us that the number will be a lot more today.
I pray to the "Gloves from above" as most of my northern neighbours are doing right now.
It is our game, to be sure, but in true Canadian manner, I want to apologize to my friends in the US, for winning soundly!
Saturday, February 20, 2010
The Super Bowl was just in the books , and American Idol was once again in full swing.
And I was deaf as a stump!
No hearing, no balance, and no idea that in 4 months time I would be implanted with a tiny computer inside my head that would give me semblance of sound.
Digital speak as I called it,
Since that first post in my first blog (life in a cone of silence), I figured out how to cope with what I have, make due with technology that attempts to recreate the world that once graced my cochlea, and I learned that my lives concerto is what I make of it.
Today in church while listening to the band, my mind rambled over many thoughts. I caught glimpses of the music and figured out more coping strategies. I watched the people around me and lip read to figure out where we were in the song. Just another strategy in my world of coping.
We do what we can, which is never the best, but its the best we got.
Every day is about coping. I am deaf, I have no balance, yet I can figure out ways of getting through the day and it's challenges.
My cochlear implant gives me sound, it is the comprehension of that sound that needs the work.
I/we (all CI folks) employ strategies to "get it". We read lips, use closed caption, fill in blanks and guess a hell of a lot.
No balance is just damned determination.
"I will not fall, I will not fall"!
Head up, focus and use all the muscles to walk from A to B.
Two years ago I needed canes and could not hear a jet roar.
On Friday I did a 2 1/2 Kilometer power walk at the indoor track, and enjoyed Mary's conversation the whole time.
Damn my life is blessed!
Friday, February 19, 2010
Mary and I just got back from a week in Cuba, but after a scant 6 days back it hit me that it is still February!
Funny how the seasonal disorders; the blues and the blahs ramp up big in the shortest month of the year.
Perhaps because the month that is shortest in days, is also shortest in our true source of vitamin D: Sun glorious sun.
Regardless, Cuba chased the blues right out of my horn for 7 wonderful days.
Temps in the 30's every day with the exception of Superbowl Sunday. On the day of hype and American glory it dropped down to the mid teens (Celsius my American friends!)Great balls of orange sun every day, as we laid on the sand and watched the surf turf the land.
This was my second visit to the island of Cuba.
My last visit was during Christmas 25 years ago.
My father had just passed away and I had an opportunity to use sun, sand and Cerveza to reflect on what I thought was a sad "part of life" event. He died a young man, not quite 60 yet, and it was a surprise to me.
I have since come to a new acceptance that people die, babies are born, spring follows winter....life is change. Accept and enjoy.
And I have. My chapter 2 is a glorious wonderful story with a wonderful lady that showed me how to live and love again!
Cuba, as I discovered, offered a different look at the world. A view that life is a gift, and what we have in our world, we take for granted until we see another world.
I loved Cuba then, and love it now. The people are warm and so thankful and grateful for the dollar store trinkets that we brought to give to them as our tips or our way of thanking the maid/servers/hostess etc. It was a million dollars to a lady who lovingly custom made our eggs each day when Mary gave her colouring books for her children.
25 years ago, on my first visit to Cuba, I smoked too many Coheba's, drank too many Mojito and cerveza (por favor)!, and got montezuma's revenge! Cuba had just celebrated 25 years of Castro in power.
25 years later, last week, I smoked no cigars, and drank the odd beer on the beech and took advantage of nice wines at dinners. Spanish coffee ended most evenings and early nights were the norm.
Ahh yes 52 year old male versus a 27 year old boy!
Castro is still alive, and technically still in power. His brother though has the control of the remote on the island right now.
Regardless of the great time, we are back in "groundhog" month, where every day is the same: sun rises late, sets early, same cold and damp temp every day. No sun, just grey with shades of Gray!
I feel like a snarly old manopausal (new word) male who needs more sun, more sand, and vino blanco por favor!
I spent some time looking at Blogs by Cubans the past few days, and if you get some time I suggest you do the same. The simple fact that you and I can do this (Blog) we take for granted. Different story in Cuba, and one day I will do a post on it.
Oh the sun is making a comeback here in the land of "own the podium". I best open the blinds and suck it up.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Anyway, I guess I am bit of curmudgeon and perhaps need to lighten up a bit, but my God man...what happened to the "Good sport".."Good Game"..."Happy to be here"....lucky to be competing with the worlds best."..."Blessed to be amongst these athletes"?
We apparently must "own the podium" as it were. Not my words, but a conscious and expensive effort for the past 4 years to not show how good and classy athletes we are, and pick up the odd medal here and there; no we have to own it!
Me thinks it smacks of arrogance, and flies in the face of what I figured was the worlds perception of us good Canadians.
Apologizing for things that are not our fault; opening doors for every and all; health care to all the good folks in our land of lakes and trees. But that is as gone as Saars. Dead as courteous drivers on the Highway of Heroes.
Overnight we became the people that want to take over the world of shooting whilst skiing; dancing on ice; tobogganing way too fast in spandex, and of course Hockey.
Ahhhh yes. Our game!
The poor Canadian that finished 5Th in our first Gold Medal affair will go home and never be heard from again! This young lad (Eric Guay) is the fifth best in the world at this sport, and yet not a peep was heard about him, not a glimpse of his parents (who I am sure are undoubtedly proud) sitting in the stands. And sadly, we will probably never hear from him again.
No, you see we have to "own" the podium. All colours of it. Fifth is kissing your sister with tongue damn it!
Why can't we celebrate excellence?
Why do we have to "WIN", "OWN", "Decimate", "Destroy" ???
"Ladies and Gentlemen take my advice. Pull down your pants and slide on the ice"...All the way to the bottom of hill and have the joy of your life.
Nice to be back