Noisy Eater

Some deaf people are noisy eaters.

Growing up, I would sometimes get stares from others if I was eating too noisy.  It got to the point where during lunch at school I would try to eat as quietly as possible.  I didn’t know what made noises and what didn’t, it was a guessing game.  I never quite understood how teachers always knew when I was chewing gum or when I was trying to sneak in a bag of snack during class.  I couldn’t figure out how my mom always knew when I was sneaking cookies out the kitchen.  I didn’t know for a while that smacking my lips actually made a noise until someone told me.  It wasn’t until recently that I realized how annoying a person slurping his/her drink could be.

I admit, I’m still a noisy eater at times.  Sometimes I just like to make noises because I haven’t heard those noises before.  Sometimes I forget.

Whenever I eat around a bunch of hearing people I become self conscious about how noisy I might be.  It’s kind of embarrassing when a whole table becomes quiet and everyone looks at you.

A few years ago I read some deaf people’s experiences with being the only deaf person at their lunchroom table in school.  They would either not eat, eat in the hallway, or eat really slowly.  They didn’t want to be made fun of for eating too noisy, they didn’t want all the attention on them, etc.  It can be embarrassing because you don’t know but everyone thinks you should somehow know.

Earlier tonight, I went to a presentation given by Dennis and Mark.  I bought a bag of chips and a roast beef sub from Jimmy John’s to eat during the presentation.  I sat back in the corner with my delicious supper.  My first thought was to open the bag of chips and unwrap the sub before the presentation started so 40 people wouldn’t turn around and look at me.  I got my food all laid out and ready as soon as the presentation started.  I then started eating the chips and realized I probably should pour them out so that the bag wouldn’t make a noise every single time I grabbed a chip.

I did that and was surprised no one turned around.  Hm, I must have been quieter than I thought I was.  I started eating the chips and was trying to figure out how to eat them quietly then it dawned on me.  Almost everyone there was deaf (most didn’t have CIs/HAs).

I relaxed, laid back in my chair, and crunched away on chips.  Not once did anyone turn around to give me a dirty look for being a noisy eater.

After I was done with dinner, I was trying to mentally figure out the quietest way to clean up.  Then I remembered I didn’t have to worry about that.  So I just grabbed the sub wrap paper and crumpled it up into a ball and stuffed it into the potato chip bag…all with a big smile on my face.

As silly as it sounds, I really enjoyed that.

I was able to relax without worrying or wondering if I was bothering anyone around me.  As a deaf person, it’s challenging to figure out what bothers and what doesn’t bother hearing people around me.  I don’t want to be viewed as a rude or inconsiderate person for disturbing others.

Sometimes society is too judgmental and uptight.  🙂  Yes, I have been judged based on how noisy I eat.

Surgical Masks

Recently, Shanna shared her experience about not being able to lipread her dentist due to him wearing a mask.  Check out her blog post, Lipreading Mom Faces the Chair.

The topic came up again last night during a discussion that Minda, Shanna, Lucy, Sarah, Dennis, and I were having about dealing with doctors/dentists as deaf/hard-of-hearing patients.  We talked briefly about our experiences of going to the dentist and being unable to read their lips because well…we don’t exactly have x-ray vision.

I hate those doggone masks.  Transparent surgical masks exist, but I have yet to see them.  

Anyways, it’s funny how simple little things can remind you of something bigger.  I actually associate surgical masks with my cochlear implant surgery now (can you believe it’s been 18 months?!?).

I had an interpreter available for before and after surgery but for some reason that no one really understood why….sign language interpreters from certain agencies are apparently not allowed in or near operation rooms.  I was not aware of this until about an hour before they wheeled me in.

I was scared about not being able to know what was going on as I was being put under.  I knew the cochlear implant surgery team would all have surgical masks on.  What if I needed to understand something asap?  Would I be able to communicate that immediate second?

Well, of course they give you something before wheeling you into that room.  They say it’s to relax you.  I say it’s to prevent you from jumping off the stretcher and running down the hospital hall.

So as I was being wheeling in I was already entering that fuzzy little world.  I do remember laying down on the table and thinking…”Crap.  I’m putting my life in these people’s hands and I can’t hear them.  I don’t have a sign language interpreter.  I can’t lipread them.  I can’t communicate with them.”  I felt lonely and powerless.

Then all of the sudden the anesthesiologist pulled down his mask, made good eye contact with me, made sure he had my attention, and spoke clearly. 

Him having that simple little knowledge made me feel safe and like I could trust him.  I could have reached up and hugged him if….well….my arms hadn’t already been tied down.

It’s all about little things like this that can make the difference between an experience being positive or negative.  It may lead me to trust someone or distrust someone.  

For so many years, surgical masks used to remind me of my experiences of trying to lipread dentists (which, fyi, is impossible) with their masks on.  Now, it reminds me of one person who I interacted with for a grand total of 5 minutes in my life and the difference he made in gaining my trust and reassuring me when I needed it the most….just by being educated.

Sometimes it’s all about the simple things…..

Ear Infection

In my last post I mentioned that I have an ear infection.

I’ve had swimmer’s ear on and off for the past month which isn’t unusual for me. They’re generally mild and clear up after a few days.
This time around, it knocked me off my feet.
It started hitting me hard Saturday night while I was assigned photography duty for my cousin’s wedding reception in southern Kansas. I couldn’t even open my mouth wide enough to eat a cupcake and had to cut it up in small pieces to eat with a fork. Let me tell ya, that chocolate cupcake was worth the pain. 🙂
I barely slept at all Saturday night and was in constant pain. After a grand total of about an hour of sleep, I woke up to several wet spots (one nearly as big as my palm) on/near my pillow from drainage (gross, I know).
I finally went to the clinic early afternoon Sunday. Where upon examination, “ouch” was the initial reaction of the nurse practitioner. She kept staring at me like I was bonkers for not going to the ER first. She basically stressed it was bad and that if it didn’t get any better to head straight to the ER. She couldn’t see much because of how swollen my ear drum/ear canal were and how much fluid there was.
I was given some pretty strong painkillers and antibiotics. I spent most of Sunday and Monday in bed with no appetite whatsoever. I actually threw up some of the soup I finally got around to eating Sunday night (again, gross). I did keep down 6 crackers that took me 20 minutes to eat because I couldn’t open my mouth wide enough and it hurt to chew.
My appetite came back Tuesday, yay!
My ear is really clogged and I’m still having a little bit of drainage. Am still having some sharp pains but it’s become more and more spontaneous. I’m supposed to follow up with my PCP Wednesday to see if an additional line of treatment is necessary.

The Right to NOT Have an Interpreter

Ok, I would like to make it clear that I’m thankful for the ADA. I’m also thankful for several situations where I’ve found myself in the ER or the doctor’s office able to understand 100% what’s going on because an interpreter was present.

However, I have also found myself in situations where I simply do not want an interpreter present. I have had an ongoing debate with my PCP office because I do not always want an interpreter present when I come in for appointments.
Sometimes interpreters do not have the appropriate medical background training to do well at their job (this is not fair to them either). This results in more misunderstanding than necessary.
Sometimes I know these interpreters from other aspects of my life and just am not comfortable with them there (they’re not comfortable either). It’s something similar to having one of your high school teachers from 10 years ago present for a “lady check-up” appointment. Yeah, awkward.
Sometimes I’m not comfortable sharing all significant medical information during an appointment with certain interpreters present. I may know them on a more personal basis (e.g. they might be a friend of mine).
ASL is not my first language. English is. However, I’m always having to constantly translate from ASL into English when I’m at a doctor’s appointment. I know I don’t catch everything that was translated (not the interpreter’s fault). Sometimes I use English signs because I don’t know the ASL signs. This once again leads to a dangerous situation.
A pet peeve is when I have to adjust my whole day schedule just to get an appointment at a time when an interpreter is available just to get a flu shot or something. I often end up pigbacking on another deaf person’s appointment which means I get squeezed in…..resulting in a very rushed appointment after an 1-2 hour wait.
Another pet peeve is when I can’t see the doctor right away because the doctor office is so afraid of getting sued for not providing an interpreter. Well, erhm, shouldn’t they be more concerned about making sure I don’t end up in the ER or something?
I guess I sometimes I want the right to NOT have an interpreter rather than being forced to have one in every single situation. Heck, I even had to wait to get a PPD skin test recently because an interpreter had to be present….even though I explained thoroughly that I knew what PPD skin tests were.
I always want to have the right to have an interpreter but I also want to have the right to not have an interpreter. Only I can assess the situation the best and only I can make the best decision for myself in terms of communication. I do not like that decision being left up to doctors who don’t even know me.
Doctors will sometimes refuse to write things down because they have the whole “deaf people can’t read above 4th grade” stereotype drilled into their head. English is my first language…not ASL. Doesn’t anyone think it’s a bit ironic that I’m forced to use a language that is not my native language to try to avoid miscommunication issues?
So that I’m not all negative. I love that I live in an area where emergency personnel and doctors are generally very well educated about the deaf community. I live near hospitals with on-call interpreter staffs. I ended up in the ER a few years ago when I was home from on break from graduate school and an interpreter was called. I could have hugged that interpreter to death when she walked in.
All I want is the ability to make communication decisions that I feel are the most appropriate for me. Situations vary all the time. What works in one situation may not work in another. Only I can judge this.
I had a recent situation that I thought was handled perfectly. I have had a severe ear infection for the past few days and ended up going to the clinic on Sunday. Basically they were surprised I didn’t go to the ER and was told that if it got worse at all to go directly to the ER. Anyways, I arrived with a typed up note of my symptoms and let the check-in person know I was deaf.
I was asked if I wanted an interpreter.
I said I didn’t. I didn’t see the need to sit in the waiting room for an hour waiting for an interpreter to show up when all I wanted was to be told that my ear wasn’t going to fall off and get some antibiotics. After all this wasn’t a life threatening situation or anything really odd.
They accepted that and I loved that they asked.
I was able to lipread and communicate perfectly fine. It was recorded in my file that I declined an interpreter. Which was perfectly fine also. This protects them.
Please don’t think I’m ungrateful for all the hard work interpreters do. I absolutely love living close to hospitals that have on staff interpreters present, it puts me at ease. When my mom was in the hospital for an out-patient surgery when I was in high school, I was amazed at the fact that I knew what was going on because they provided an interpreter for me.
I sometimes think to myself that if I ever find myself in a car accident (*knocks on wood*), I hope it happens near hospitals I know have on-staff interpreters. If I break a bone (*knocks on wood*), I would rather suffer in pain for an additional 20 minutes if it meant getting me to an ER with on-call/staff interpreters. I can’t lipread when I’m in pain, confused, or feeling really sick.
There’s a reason why I made all of my health appointments whenever I was at home on break from graduate school. I was not comfortable with the accessibility of NY’s health care system. It made me nervous to even think that I might end up in one of those hospital ERs.
All I want is to have the right to make my own communication preference decisions. There are times when it’s the best to have an interpreter present. There are times where unqualified or strictly ASL interpreters can result in a very dangerous situation for me.

2 x 2 x 2 Program

I confess, I hate working out. I dread it everyday and slack off at times.

But I hate the feeling of not working out just a tad bit more than working out.
I also have unhealthy eating habits. That is something I need to work on little by little.
Anyways, if you’ve been following my blog for a while you have probably noticed I can’t seem to stick to a certain workout program for the whole recommended time. This is generally the norm among my friends too.
I restarted P90X a few times only to stop after the 7th week. There’s something about hitting the 7th week in that program that burns a person out. It also seems I travel around that time and it’s hard to get back into the swings of things afterwards.
I tried Insanity for 30 days. Insanity is a 60 day high impact cardio program. It was starting to take a toll on my shins and knees so I stopped.
I was running for a while then I got bored with running 5 times a week in the 100 plus degree weather. I haven’t ran in about a month.
I haven’t worked out in 2-3 weeks and have decided it’s time to get back into working out again.
I debated between trying to set up a new program or doing what I did years ago. I used to just do something active for an hour. It didn’t matter if it was roller blading, playing Dance Dance Revolution, shooting hoops, playing volleyball, etc. I wanted to make exercising fun and not a chore. I may do that if I burn out again.
This time around I have decided to do a P90X and Insanity hybrid program. I like some of the strength training that P90X has to offer but I don’t want to bulk up. I like the cardio Insanity has to offer but I don’t want to do strictly cardio. Then I realized I would like to get back into running 5Ks this fall. Might as well as enjoy the fall weather now that it’s no longer in the 100s and before it becomes too cold. However, I didn’t want to run on top of doing a full P90X and Insanity hybrid program.
With that being said, I would like to introduce the 2 x 2 x 2 program! 🙂 It’s basically 2 days of P90X, 2 days of Insanity, and 2 days of running/walking a week.
I am also incorporating gymnastics. I usually do this on top of my workouts because it really helps me with my back. It’s usually a short and easy 5 minute workout of doing back bends, front walkovers, etc. Nothing fancy, very low-impact stuff.
PHASE 1 (if I don’t burn out again, there will be a phase 2 and hopefully a phase 3)
Weeks 1-3:
1) P90X Chest and Back, Ab Ripper
2) Insanity Plyo Cardio Circuit, Gymnastics
3) Run/Walk 1 hour
4) P90X Shoulders and Arms, Ab Ripper
5) Insanity Pure Cardio, Gymnastics
6) Run/Walk 1 hour
7) Rest or Stretch
Week 4:
1) Insanity Core Cardio and Balance, Gymnastics
2) P90X Core Synergistics
3) Run/Walk 1 hour
4) Insanity Core Cardio and Balance, Gymnastics
5) P90X Core Synergistics
6) Run/Walk 1 hour
7) Rest or Stretch
Thoughts? Suggestions?

Justin Timberlake

I admit I was one of those high school girls who was in love with N*SYNC and Backstreet Boys. I had a N*SYNC poster in my bedroom and wanted to be one of their backup dancers.

They had songs that were easy to follow with hearing aids if I learned the lyrics and beats (with practice). They were cute. They were always dancing which made the music visual. They were cute. They had music videos that were actually captioned. And…well….they were cute.
I continued to follow Justin Timberlake’s music after N*SYNC’s breakup.
As cheesy as it sounds, Justin Timberlake has stayed with me through all my stages of hearing. I enjoyed N*SYNC before I ended my “I’m not wearing hearing aids” stage. I learned there’s more to music than just sounds. I listened to N*SYNC when I was getting used to my new hearing aids in high school. I watched Justin Timberlake music videos in the wee hours in the mornings as a college student with the TV muted so I wouldn’t wake up my roommates. I loved cracking up his CDs in the car so I could feel the beats. I also got a kick out of listening to him beatboxing.
Even after I got my CI, I continued to enjoy Justin Timberlake. However, it has been in a completely different way.
When I have my iTouch on shuffle….I sometimes recognize his voice as something that sounds familiar but can’t quite put my finger on it. Sometimes I know exactly which song it is right off the bat. Other times, I don’t even realize I’m listening to him until I look at my iTouch.
I’ve listened to his songs so many times over the years and am familiar with his most popular songs. I am familiar with the lyrics. I used to recognize songs by beats, but am discovering I recognize songs in different ways. Sometimes I feel like I’m listening to his songs for the first time.
It’s hit and miss.
Justin’s Rock Your Body came on a few weeks ago in Dennis’ car. Dennis hinted it was a song I should know but I couldn’t figure it out. I didn’t get it until I looked at his Zune to see what song it was.
A couple of weeks later, I was catching up on e-mails while riding back from Colorado with music playing in the background in the car. I was not focusing on the music at all, I actually tuned the music out. I was so focused on e-mailing and nothing else. I didn’t even recognize one of Timberlake’s song had been playing for a minute until out of the blue, I heard “I don’t mean no harm.”
I looked up and grabbed Dennis’ Zune to make sure I wasn’t imaging things. Sure enough, it was Rock Your Body.
That was a bizarre moment. One of the few times I’ve ever recognized a song by the lyrics only and not the beats. I wasn’t even listening for it. Heck, I wasn’t even paying attention.
A very rare moment. A moment that has stuck with me ever since because I don’t know if it’ll ever happen again.
I still enjoy music videos without sound. While I want to continue to learn how to appreciate music with my CI, I never want to forget how to enjoy music without sound.