Wednesday, May 26, 2010

When Protons Colide

Today I try to find the good of my many physical ailments.
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.
Scared me.
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

Seek To Understand

The deaf world of David has taught me many things.

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

Life at "God's Speed".

Today felt aggressive out in the world.

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, 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!