Hearing Aids in the Great Outdoors: A Mom’s Story

Oh, the joys of owning non-water-resistant hearing aids.

This afternoon, I took the kids to a pumpkin patch for our annual trek through nature. A partly cloudy sky and temps in the low 70s seemed like ideal weather for our country excursion. With a stroller for my littlest tyke and a lunch box in tow, we were all set. My kids frolicked through rows of corn and danced on hay bales. All was bliss.

UNTIL…

A drop of water fell on my head. Then more drops. Suddenly, the partly cloudy sky tranformed into a scene from “Twister” (without the tornado). Rain fell so hard, I couldn’t see straight ahead. Where were my kids? The stroller? Then I swatted at my ears.

MY HEARING AIDS WERE GETTING WET.

Everyone should remember this important fact about hearing aids: they are not water resistant. A plunge in the pool or a rinse in the shower or rain falling from the sky can make $5,000 hearing aids die.

Without an umbrella or hooded jacket to protect my listening investment, I panicked. First, I rounded up my littest tyke who was feeding corn kernels to a pen of goats and oblivious to pouring rain. My older two kids sprinted for our mini-van.

Chasing after them while pushing littest tyke in his stroller, I whisked off my hearing aids from behind my ears. I cupped them in my hand and made the most waterproof fist possible.

While nudging the stroller forward with my legs, I used the other hand to reach in the lunchbox. I pulled out the only waterproof item inside: a Ziploc baggy filled with pretzels. I dumped out the bag’s salty contents. Bye-bye, pretzels. Then I dropped the hearing aids inside and sealed the bag. The lunchbox sat in the bottom of the stroller and appeared to be the driest spot within a quarter-mile of pumpkin patch mudlands.

“Clunk,” went the hearing aid-filled baggy as I tossed it into the dry lunchbox.

Then I ran as fast as I could in muddy flip-flops and pushing a stroller, that lunchbox with my expensive listening device treasures inside going “bumpety-bump” all the way to the car.  Oh, the joy.

While my kids didn’t get their pumpkins, their mommy’s expensive, non-water-resistant hearing aids were kept safe in the great outdoors.

-Shanna Groves, http://shannagroves.blogspot.com

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This Week’s Captioned Movie Showings

Two open captioned (OC) movies are playing in Kansas City this week, both at the Regal Cinema at KC North’s Ameristar Casino. “Secretariat” (PG) and “My Soul to Take” (R) are the OC showings.  Read movie details at http://www.captionfish.com/theaters/regal-kansas-city-18-cinemas.

AMC Theatres, however, aren’t showing any captioned movies this week.  HLAA continues to keep in contact with AMC representatives in advocating for weekly captioned film choices.

Be watching this Web site for updates.

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HLAA KC Chapter Announcements

A large crowd attended the October 16th KC HLAA Luncheon at Frontera”s Mexican Restaurant in Olathe. We were excited to welcome such attendees as Kansas City Deaf Pantomime JJ “The Mime” Jones, Kansas City Star columnist and attorney Leonard Hall, and KU Audiologist Student Jessica Stamey. There was face painting for young attendees, a wonderful lunch, and door prizes, which included a $50 Applebee’s Gift Certificate and free hearing aid batteries from Hometown Hearing, a tote bag from the Kansas School for the Deaf, and a complimentary copy of the National HLAA Magazine Hearing Loss.
November HLAA Meeting Announced
Join us Saturday, November 20 at the Kansas City Public Library-Plaza Branch (Large Meeting Room), 10:30am for the next KC Chapter meeting. Cady Lear with Hamilton Relay will discuss the latest innovations with Captel phones. The meeting is free, CART-captioned, and open to the public. For more details and to RSVP, e-mail hlaakc@gmail.com.
The KC HLAA Chapter is All Over the Internet
* Our new Chapter Web site: http://hlaakc.com (Read our new post: “HLAA: A Mom’s Point of View” by Shanna Groves)
* Our new Facebook page: www.facebook.com (“Hearing Loss Association of America-Kansas City Chapter”)
*  Our Twitter page: www.twitter.com/HLAAKC
* New e-mail address: hlaakc@gmail.com
We hope you will attend the November meeting and connect with us on the Internet!

HLAA: A Mom’s Point of View

As a mom of three young children, my hearing loss story may differ from some who belong to the chapter. I am relatively new to the world of hearing loss. My progressive hearing loss diagnosis was made 10 years ago when I was 27 and my first child was two months old.

Every year since the diagnosis, I’ve headed to the audiologist for a hearing test. Ninety-five percent of the time, the result is the same: more hearing decibels lost. Ten years ago when I was first diagnosed, each ear tested at 20 percent hearing loss. The left ear remained stable all these years. The right ear, however, is now at 60 percent loss. This ear hears some sound but can’t distinguish where the sounds come from or interpret the meaning of spoken words.

A few weeks ago, a double-ear infection wrecked havoc on my hearing ability. Sickness destroyed a decibel or two of what I can now hear in the right ear. Voices seem more mumbled, phone conversations more muffled. It’s as if someone turned the volume down a notch inside my “bad” ear.

My kids must repeat themselves more, their questions often met with my blank stares. My youngest child, who at age two is learning new vocabulary every day, screams his words to me. Late-night conversations are especially difficult with my husband since bedtime is when I go hearing aid-free.

Does the strained hearing ability frustrate me and my family? Absolutely. What mom doesn’t want to hear her little boy’s first words crystal clear, or have a heartfelt chat with her husband without the constant refrain of “Huh? Could you repeat that?”

I suppose it’s easier to add up all the stress-induced moments caused by hearing loss since there are so many. I could also count all the sound decibels lost over the past ten years. Or the conversations hindered by hearing loss. Or the increasingly difficult listening situations. I could count all the times I’ve wished and prayed for better ears.

Would life be easier without hearing loss? Without a doubt. Would my life be better? Hmm…

I guess I should count the many people I’ve met who, like myself, struggle with hearing. Neighbors. Parents. Teachers. Artists. Scientists, Teenagers. Children. Babies. Friends. Every week, most notably through my affiliation with the KC HLAA Chapter, I connect with someone living with their own lost decibels.

Would I have taken the time to get to know all these people if I could hear perfectly? Or would I have tuned them out, passing them by without any empathy or concern for their unique experiences?

I’m not deaf, but close to it. Life has handed me more hearing loss. Now I must decide whether to count my blessings… or focus on the lost decibels.

The precious people I’ve connected with who have hearing loss are to be counted as my major gains.

Belonging. And also, Mexican food.

So I’m the new girl on the block. I’ve only been going to HLAA-KC meetings since January. And then I took a hiatus to tend to bridesmaid duties over the summer. And if I had to be honest, there were a couple of meetings that I was just too shy to go to. But this fall has seen me a little more active with the chapter, and now I’m wondering what took me so long to come around… but I’m so glad I did!

I lost my hearing when I was four years old and even though my childhood was spent among interpreters, deaf education teachers and a few deaf and hard and hearing peers, the majority of my growing up years was spent in the hearing world. My sign language grew rusty and I found myself in that awkward place between D/deaf and hearing. I couldn’t claim either as my home and even something as simple as asking someone to repeat themselves or requesting accommodations in my college classes felt like a monumental task. I didn’t consider myself culturally Deaf but I didn’t know how to be hard of hearing among the hearing, either.

Fast forward a few years, to my mid-twenties. I had finally started coming to terms with my hearing loss and wanted to meet other people who would, I hope, get it. A friend told me about HLAA and encouraged me to go to one of their meetings. The first couple of meetings went smoothly, if uneventfully. Introverted as I am, it was a big deal for me just to walk into the room and even then, I would mostly sit, listen (and read – yay for CART!) to the speaker, chat with people for a few minutes and leave. But I grew just a little bit braver with each visit. I wasn’t afraid to ask for repetition – because everyone else was doing the same thing. I could read the CART text. Or I could read lips. Or write notes. Or sign… kind of. And I noticed that the tension – of asking, “What?” over and over again, of bluffing my way through conversations, of trying desperately to fill in the communication gaps – had dissolved. The playing field had been leveled; I was no longer the only one wandering in this no man’s land of hearing loss.

As I look back over the last few months with HLAA, of making new friends and learning about new technology and thinking about how to be a more effective communicator, one word comes to mind: Relief. It is a relief to be with people who understand the struggle of not belonging to any one world, of not being Deaf or hearing. Who make communicating easy and not burdensome. Who get it. Here, I belong.

On that note, we’d love to get to know you and talk to you about HLAA. I wanted to invite you to our lunch social this Saturday, Oct. 16, at noon at Fronteras Mexican Restaurant – 13415 S. Blackbob Rd., Olathe, KS. This is definitely one gathering I will not be missing (they had me at “Mexican!” ;-)) and I hope we’ll see you there!

Adios!

Lucy

AMC 30 Captioning Update

The email posted here is a follow-up from Dan Glennon, whom Shanna and Teri have been working with to get captioning back in the theaters.

 

Shanna/Terri –

I just wanted to give you a quick follow up to the questions I left the meeting with as points to research:

As far as open captions being displayed on screen via our digital units, the technology is coming. At this point, as I understand it Hollywood is agreeing on the technology piece (much like they did with RWC/DVS) and once the technology piece is in place it will be as easy as turning on the captions on a DVD at home -pretty exciting.

In speaking with our in house technical services department I conveyed some of the information with them that you had brought to my attention (ie. population base of Olathe, etc.) and have secured a recommendation for our site as the first site for installation as well as a need for pushing the timeline forward provided AMC has any input.

Hope this info is of help and look forward to hosting you at Studio in the near future.

 

Best –

Dan

 

Are you excited to have captioning return to the Olathe theaters? I sure am!

Our site is moving!

Greetings all! Members of the HLAA KC chapter have been hard at work to provide you with a new website – still a blog, but much more than just a blog. In the next day or two, we’ll switch over. People who click on this blog site will automatically be redirected to the new site. All links will still work. Of course, if you should find something that doesn’t work the way it should, please let us know! Contact us at hlaakc@gmail.com. Comments, questions and feedback are always appreciated.

Look for the new site soon! We’ll share the url for the new site as soon as it’s ready!