Sunday, September 28, 2008

Finding the Peace Within

Today at church, we had a guest minister, Reverend Christana. She spoke of Hospice and her work as a hospice chaplain. It was very near and dear to my heart. Both of my parents had hospice before my mom and dad died. I think they were invaluable in helping my family to cope. In November, I will be doing my first sermon on Organ Donation. Hospice care and Organ Donation are very much akin to one another. Many of my patients who are not eligible for donation do go on to hospice care.

Next Sunday we start the new Worship Partners program. I'm very excited about this. A few of the selected congregants help our minister with the worship service. I guess it would be somewhat equal to a Deacon's position in a Christian church. We will be doing the readings, chalice lighting, offeratory, hyms etc. When I attended the North East Leadership School last summer, worship was my favorite part. I love the planning and making each service special. Not everything will speak to everyone but something will speak to someone.

Today, during joys and sorrow, Larry got up and lit 2 candles for his parents. It always brings me to tears to see him get up for this part of the service. I know it is hard for him to express his thoughts and something must lay heavy on his heart for candle lighting. It is a time to connect with the congregation and with his family no matter how far the distance. It has been a difficult summer and year in general. Our church has held us fast many times this year.

Larry drove to CT to see his mom today. She is very weak. Tomorrow they will do an echocardiagram and some ultrasounds and also place a PICC line for IV nutrition. Larry said she looked a little better today but he worries so. Rev. Christana said today the secret to being a good hospice chaplain was just to be there for the person and to listen. I am trying to do that with Larry's mom. To just be there for the family. It is hard to just listen. It is hard to find the peace within when it eludes you. Sunday at church helps me find that peace and centers me for the week. It is a place to refocus on what is important and inevitably, something does speak to me.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Take a Little Siesta

Last night was my first night back to work after 7 weeks. Physically, for the most part, I'm back to normal. But watching myself work thru the night I have noticed a few things. I'm forgetting a lot of details like my patients history. I've worked in the ICU for 12 years and when taking report on a patient, have never writting anything down. Many nurses make elaborate report sheets filled with tons of details. I put a note on the side of the page like, "CT scan 6:30". That's it- a simple reminder for some of the most complicated medical histories on my patients. Dates of surgeries and procedures never were a problem but now they elude me.

I still have the fingertip and toe numbness. It doesn't bother me that much but don't know if I will ever get the feeling back. Opening the pill packages presented a few problems last night as did typing. The manual dexterity is not there. And when I type it's almost as if there is a delay from my brain to my fingertips-its a very slow process.

I got some of the lab work mixed up this morning too. I reported it correctly, but what I wanted to tell the oncoming nurse about the patients platelets came out all backwards and I didn't realize until I got home what I had said.

I also found myself dozing off last night-if they had propped me in a corner I could have easily taken a very long nap. Siesta time in the ICU. Can you be tired from being tired? Maybe it was just returning to work after not being there for so many weeks that sent me into a tail spin.

I came home and collapsed into bed after a 12 hour shift. Larry had taken Morgan to her soccer game and I had not been asleep for more than an hour when the phone rang. It was Larry's Dad and he was very confused and not making sense. He thought I was Larry and then told mom that he was talking to Larry and said "Oh never mind-I already talked to you today" and started to hang up. I finally convinced him that it wasn't Larry and got some of the story figured out. I told him Larry would call him later and then hung up and called Larry's sister. She was away for the weekend visiting her son in college for parents weekend. I was a bit panicked after talking to his Dad, but Eileen assured me everything was fine and that Steve was there. We are blessed to have family helping and calming us.

Larry's mom has been in rehab but not doing well. His father is having a hard time coping but this morning something wasn't right. I finally figured out that they brought Mom back to the hospital and admitted her. While Dad was on the phone with me he said Mom has colitis-which we knew so I really was having trouble following. He also said that she didn't have pneumonia but some fluid in her lungs. It is the weekend so i expect that she'll be there at least until monday. I spoke to her on the phone for just a minute and she sounded so weak. She hasn't eaten in several days now and her labwork is showing she is malnourished.
Larry will head down again this Sunday. He's been so worried about Mom lately. In the meantime, we try to keep things as normal as possible here.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Mapping Times Three

Larry went for his third mapping yesterday with Troy, his audiologist. Troy increased the high pitch tones on Larry's Cochlear Implant. The high pitches are what Larry has always had trouble with. Larry also had his first hearing test with his Implant. Amazingly the low tones were almost at normal hearing. That means a normal hearing test like you or would have (only in the low tones). Larry was struggling with the high pitches last night. It's something else to get used to as he's never heard these tones before. Troy says the higher pitched tones will help with discerning speech. That's been the hardest part for Larry is figuring out speech. With his regular hearing aids all they ever did was amplify sound. Now, this amazing computer in his brain is interpreting the sounds. I can only imagine his synapses firing like crazy trying to figure out all of this new information.

If I ever meet the person that invented the CI, I'm going to give him a big fat kiss right on the mouth. It's the best I can do-I don't have any money to give him.

We were shocked at the cost of the CI when the hospital bills rolled in. Just the internal implanted part cost over $80,000. The OR bill, MD bill, subsequent office visits, lab work, overnight stay at the hospital etc-well-let's just say it would have been a second mortgage. Thankfully, insurance covered most of it. But of course, as always, there are bills to pay.

Our fundraiser is next week, I'm excited even though turnout is smaller than we had hoped. It's been a lot of work but fun also. I'm trying not to get too hung up on details like I usually do-that's hard for me. Anything we make on the fundraiser will go right back to NEADS. We've covered our expenses with ticket sales so in reality the whole night will be a blessing. My family and friends will all be there-that alone I am grateful for. Music, dancing, dinner and some educational stuff. I'm pleased. Both executive directors and the director of fundraising from NEADS are all coming. We've known Kathy and Shiela a long, long time. Larry first met them when he was only 8 years old. I met them right after we graduated high school. I even wrote them some really weird letters telling them how in love I was with Larry. I still am-but now I just don't write and tell to perfect strangers......I just put it in my blog for the entire world to see.

Tonight is my first night back to work after a 7 week leave of absence. I'm so not looking forward to it. It's been a couple of years now that I've been pondering a career change. Especially since I've been sick and have seen a whole new perspective on health care and how patients are treated. Maybe, as a nurse I have a higher standard of patient care but I don't think I do. The wait in ER's to be treated, the lack of compassion, 50 people asking the same questions over and over, the constant requests for paperwork when you take a leave of absence, the hassles when you try to return to work and they won't let you because your doctor mistakingly checked off "may return to school" instead of the box below it that says, "may return to work." I'd like to think I treat my patients the way I want to be treated. Then there is the mandatory education. No one much cares if you have a life outside the hospital, or children to care for, or no babysitter or money to pay a sitter. Just fulfill your obligation so we can check off our box. It apparently doesn't matter that I homeschool my kids either-I need to drop their education so I can get my mandatory education done. Blech. It makes me sad that my chosen career no longer makes me happy. Actually, that's not true. I do love nursing but it has changed so much over the years that we are no longer at the bedside and can no longer have a life outside our career. Our personal lives used to come first and we would worry about everything else after. It used to be more caring;-co workers cared about your life, there were get togethers outside work, I knew everyone's family, managers were understanding and sympathetic to your life happenings. Where did that go? Working per diem for the last 10years I've pretty much been able to make my own schedule. But even now-it's hard to find time to schedule work much less to actually make it there and put in a full shift. My husband rolls his eyes when I tell him I want to leave. I don't think he gets it. For 5 shift a month-it just doesn't seem worth it. But right now-we still need to feed our family and there is nothing in the wings (nothing yet that is making its presence known to me) so here I stay.

I need to surround myself with things that make me happy and fulfill me. Nursing isn't it any longer. The thought of starting something new both tires and inspires me. It needs more thought before I decide on anything.

Perhaps it is because we have lost so much family in recent years it makes be realize how precious time really is. It makes me realize how we don't spend enough time with friends or family because some personal crisis always overshadows a visit or we are too busy to make the time. It is hard to find the balance. Maybe that is why I feel so balanced.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Finding Me

What has happened to me? I have always wanted to keep a journal but I guess Blogging is as close as I'll get. It's been very cathartic (my favorite word) in allowing me to express the goings on in our life-our joys and struggles. Somehow by pouring out my life online it's allowed me to process a whole lot more and find those things that I need to let go and those things that need attention. It is finding me. I get lost sometimes and lose perspective of what is important or maybe it is just letting life invade what needs attention. The doctors appointments, meetings- all of those things that push living life out of the way.

Last night my friend Lori came over and helped me work on a scrapbook for our fundraiser. It has been almost a year since I picked up my scrapbooking stuff -it's something I love and I've pushed it aside for almost a year. I found some pictures I need to scrap-like the gorgeous one above of Patrick on the beach. I also don't get to see Lori enough. We scrapped for almost 4 hours last night, shared a glass of wine and caught up on our lives. Lori and I had a big disagreement last year. The details aren't important. We've forgiven each other but she still can't forgive herself. Forgiving others is hard. Forgiving ourselves is even harder.

I've started blogging for the UU homeschooler blog. Very exciting and I've been having a ball with it. It's a great opportunity to let everyone know how our Unitarian principles and homeschooling are a perfect match. This morning, I sat on the playground with my youngest while Patrick and Morgan were at their sign language class. There were two other moms there, both Christian, and we had the lovliest conversation about our faiths and how it plays into homeschooling. They don't agree with my beliefs and admittedly, sometimes conversation is difficult and sometimes it is easier to keep quiet. But this morning it was relaxed and centered around how our churches provide comfort for us. When people ask if I homeschool for religious reasons I reply, "yes I do." Perhaps it does give them a false impression of what our beliefs are but recently it has opened some doors for conversation. It has also been another opportunity to find me-to express my own beliefs unabashedly, just as they do. Maybe it is why I am there-why I was placed there at that very moment.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Rethinking Education

You would think after 3 years of homeschooling my kids I would have a system down that I'm comfortable with. I'm a flip flopper. I love the unschooling approach where few books are used and the kids study what interest them in whatever way they find interesting. It does work for the nay sayers. We've done it while in Cape Cod and several others places.
But I love books, any books, curriculum, reading, instruction anything at all. Most often each week I plan out the kids assignments. They are used to that and so am I. In a sense it is easier to stick with because it is familiar.
This week I am tired with a very full week. Maybe it is the universe telling me to change with the season. We are unschooling this week. Yesterday we picked some pumpkins from the garden, scraped out the seeds and cooked them, then cooked the pumpkin. Today we will make pumpkin bread. The kids love cooking with me.
I pulled out the microscope this morning and dusted it off. We took a few feathers from the chicken coop and looked at them under the microscope. Very cool. It led to a huge discussion on why the barbs of the feathers are crossed and how this would be great insulation, especially if the feathers are stacked on one another.

Patrick has decided to work on his marine biology. It is highschool level (he's in 7th grade). He chose the next chapter and is working on the questions on the computer. Morgan chose some language arts to do. Tae has pulled out his workbooks. He loves his workbooks and has pretty much taught himself all the letters of the alphabet without any help from me. He gets them mixed up at times and confuses his numbers but all in all, he's doing great. He's doing it all by himself and is even reading small words mostly from recognition. Not bad for a four and half year old.

Maybe flipflopping is my style. Maybe it's ok-maybe it's a healthy medium. Maybe I'll never figure this out.

Monday, September 22, 2008


Websters Dictionary defines gifts as "something given from one person to another." It's hard to remember your gifts when it's been a difficult week. I'm trying to focus on those that uplift me. It's a difficult time of year in general. We are approaching the 3 year anniversay date of my mothers death. Halloween eve, my father in laws birthday and it used to be my favorite holiday. As I was watching my mother being carried out in a hearse after her death, my kids were downstairs preparing their costumes and carving pumpkins for Halloween. Mom loved to see the trick or treaters so the following night I continued to hand out candy. Some what detached from the situation but it felt right.
My mother in law is very ill. I couldn't bring myself to go see her Sunday. Too close to home. I wanted to be there for Larry to support him thru this difficult time but I had to avoid the situation to cope. I call his sister everyday for updates on his mom and relay them to him. So hard. I feel at such a loss.

We had another gift today. Our dog trainer Jeff came out to help us work with Pete again. When I was sick the poor dog got his daily walk with Larry but no obedience work. It was all I could do not to fall off the couch and mind the kids never mind the dog. He's a boxer. Boxers are stubborn and after 6 weeks of no training he was a lunatic. We love Jeff. He is awesome-Linda,his wife comes to my homeschool group and has become a really good friend to me and her daughter Lucy a friend to my son. Jeff came out to work with Pete again today. Rescue dogs have some issues. Or rather the people taking care of them do. (It's never the dog, it's always the trainer). The above picture is Jeff's dog taking an unexpected swim in our green pond in early spring at our last visit. Where did my prized Koi go? We love our rescued Boxer, we will continue to work hard to make him happy. He is a gift too.
Gifts. We're surrounded by them everyday. Sometimes it's just hard to recognize them. Take the time to recognize your gifts.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

School is Cancelled

I'm wiped out. What an incredibly busy week. Soccer practice for Morgan as well as a game this Saturday, 2 church meetings, Sign Language, homeschool group and then a parents planning night on Saturday. Today was our church's 50th anniversary so we had a potluck (had to cook a dish yesterday), I dropped off 4 tickets for the fundraiser, went grocery shopping, took care of the chicken coop (hate a stinky coop), 3 loads of laundry, compiled the minutes for our parents planning night and posted them, took care of some Small Group Ministry problems at church and worked on a few things for the auction fundraiser. This week isn't looking much better. But it is all very fulfilling stuff. It is just very full.

This afternoon Larry took the kids down to see his mom. She's been very ill and Larry is worried about her as am I. Larry's mom went to rehab last week after 3 weeks back in the hospital. But her strength is so depleted I'm not sure if she will be able to participate in the rehab. Larry said he and the kids stayed about an hour but mom slept the whole time. He had dinner at his sisters and the kids got to play with the new puppy Roscoe while they were visiting. Larry was able to visit with his brother and dad too. I think being with family has helped him. It will be a late night for the kids which means a lot of late sleepers tomorrow. We will save the bookwork for another day. Family is too important to miss these visits. They have learned so much more today by loving and being with their grandmother...even if she did not know they were there.

Friday, September 19, 2008

What Is That?

Can anyone guess what the above picture is? It's not a crumbled brownie, it's not sawdust or even a sugary cereal. Come can do it. I'll wait. Da da da da da da dum, da da da da du du du du du dum dum. Time's up.
It's owl vomit on a plate. Yeah, yeah-I know it's gross. Actually I found it really interesting. It was all dried out so not much of a deal to this farm girl. Patrick was taking the garbage out tonight and yelled, "Mom-I found Owl Scat". So what do I do? I run outside and pick it up and bring it inside so that we can disect it. Now this confused us-there were tons of black sunflower seeds in the poop. We could only surmise that the delectable mouse (or chipmunk) had a belly or cheeks full of seed. We do know it was some type of rodent it ate. We could see all the little tiny bones and tons of hair. It was hard to get a good picture-the lighting was just not right tonight.

And I did have to correct the blog tonight. One of my homeschooling friends emailed to remind me that owls regurgitate what they can't digest. I don't know if that makes me feel better to have vomit on my kitchen table as opposed to poop. And somehow I did know this from watching Mike Rowe on Dirty Jobs. There is actually someone called an Avian Vomitologist who goes in barns and collects the vomit pellets.
here is a nice link all about owl vomit.

Such is the life of a homeschooler. Disecting owl pellets on our kitchen table right after we finished dinner. No biggie-when the kids start to try to put the teeny tiny bones of the critters back together then I'll worry. Anyone have some glue?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


A very full week and I am tired so just a quick note tonight. Larry is hearing voices in his head. Ok-not really but his new problem seems to be the noise at work. His cubicle is only 3/4 walls and he's discovered that keyboards clacking are very noisy. The voices he now hears are all of his co-workers around him. He hears their phone conversations, their phones ring, their coffee cups hit the table, their chairs squeek. It's driving him crazy. He says the world is too full of white noise. He can even hear the blinker on the car now. He never even knew it made a sound. He makes me smile listening to him. He sends me short email lists a few times a day. They are funny to read-no one else would get them. They say things like, toilet flushing, or handdryer. It is his code words for letting me know that he can hear them.

Tonight we sleep. I am so busy tomorrow. Sign language in the morning with Patrick and Morgan, we meet with our Homeschool group tomorrow afternoon, and I have a church meeting at 7pm. This weekend we have a homeschool parents planning night here to plan our activities, field trips, history lessons, tours, and handcraft classes for the year. Then there is Morgan's soccer game on Saturday afternoon also. Larry will be here to help. It is September and busy.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Smart Sounds

Today was Larry's second Mapping of his cochlear implant. CI in deaf lingo terms. Today he got his smart sounds. check out the link here:

It's a totally facinating experience to be part of this. The smart sounds are programs for his CI that allow him to listen to music or beam in on a lecturer's voice- so I guess in an a way a more precise hearing. He had the CI all weekend and was really frustrated. Voices still sound like Daffy Duck to him but he is picking up so much more sound. His current program was set for general life noises. Most of which annoy him because he's never heard them before. He heard the chickens cooing tonight but the garbage disposal was a bit much.

He was also plagued by the return of the tinnitus this weekend and had a hard time distinguing sounds between the ringing in his ears and the sounds of the world. But last night, while watching a football game, he sat across the room with the volume on 30. In past years, I can't watch TV with him-especially a game. He sat on top of the TV with the volume up to 60. Talk about surround sound...and he wonders why the kids can't sleep.

Oddly, his snoring has improved. I don't think it has anything to do with the CI but how weird. Larry had Troy adjust the CI again today. He played all weekend with the 4 programs Troy gave him to see which worked better. It just amazes me that Troy listens to Larry's complaints, plugs him into a laptop and tweaks his hearing. My bionic man. I'm so very proud of him. This past Saturday he brought the kids to get new sneakers. He took off his right hearing aid to force himself to use the left CI. Larry is a great lip reader-come to dinner with us some time to eavesdrop on the people in the restaurant. Lots of fun! He did ok- buying shoes, and admitting to reading lips. But that is who he has always been and done-that won't change, it's just an added enhancement to his new found hearing. He's really pushing himself.

And on the horizon-I return to work soon after being out for 6 weeks with Lymes. Gotta go back sometime and really not looking forward to it. The homeschoolers in our town are at odds with the superintendent over some homeschool laws that we feel are an infringement of our Constitutional and State Rights. He doesn't see it. So,as a show of unity, all of the homeschoolers in our town sent him the same generic letter-to which he must respond in writing to each and every one of us. There comes a time when you must stand up for what is right. My kids are thriving with homeschool and we dont' need govermental interference telling us what is right and how to educate our children. We are praying for a good outcome.

Our fundraiser is quickly approaching and I'm busy as ever, M has started soccer practice and games every Saturday, and the kids start Sign Language this Thursday as well as having our homeschool group meet here. I have a meeting with our minister about our Small Group Ministry Program tomorrow, I have to run to work to hand in my "return to work" note and I have my homeschool parents planning night this week. It's a busy week. It is September.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

It's a Matter of Faith

Larry has had the cochlear implant activated for several days now. Some things are really good, others-not so much. He heard the sound of wet, squeeking sneakers yesterday and today, the faucet running. He could hear the rain falling last night but thought it was white noise or static. It's like watching a 2 year old discover the world all over again. Larry is looking at things differently too. His hearing has enhanced his vision. Or maybe the other way around-not sure. He's watching the birds now-do they make noise? And our daughters guinea pigs-are they "wheeking" for their dinner? Is that the dryer buzzer down stairs?

He is frustrated right now about his lack of understanding of speech. Patience is easy for me-I see the changes. He wants it now, right this second, this very minute. I can't give it to him. I pray for guidance.

His first sermon at church today. He heard some, lipread part and missed the rest. Soon- sweetheart, soon.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Can You Hear Me Now part 2

One full day at work for Larry. I called him a few times to check in. I wish I was a fly on the wall today-just watching him hear all the new things for the first time. He set the alarm off at his work and discovered it was not pleasant. Paper rustling, footsteps, his office chair creaking, the overhead fan, his keyboard tapping away. So many sounds that we take for granted he is just discovering.
I can only imagine... the hiss of the coffee machine, the rustle of the leaves in the tree when we came home, the blinkers in his car clicking away. It's almost like watching a toddler discover life around him.
Tonight I caught him rubbing his feet on the floor...listening to the swish. It is hard work he tells me. It is exhausting and exhilarating work!
Larry was in a meeting today and it was fairly quiet, he was starting to notice the voices were different and not so Daffy Duck like.
He has not mentioned the tinnitus at all. I don't know if that is because it is gone or because he's preoccupied with his new ears.
I think for once I'm speechless. I sit in quiet awe of him.

Ok I'm Awake

It's been 18 hours since Larry got his Cochlear Implant activated. Okay-we won't count the sleep time since he didn't wear it. So maybe really 9 hours. Lots of smiles in the house today. Larry could hear the chickens softly clucking this morning when he let them out of the coop. My hair dryer just about pushed him over the edge. He didn't notice this morning but his back was turned to me and I spoke to him-and he turned to see what I was saying. He couldn't discern the speech but he at least knew I was talking to him. In the past, I've always had to tap him on the shoulder. One thing he did realize is that he can now hear himself chew his food. He had me laughing as he said he never even knew people made noise when they chewed.
Little things he is noticing-like the scrape the slider makes when the door opens. Good-maybe we can get that fixed now. I guess you have to hear that something is wrong before there is really an actual problem! The whole-"I don't hear anything", isn't going to work anymore honey!

Larry couldn't hear the tree frogs last night-but he will. As his brain learns to recognize the nuances of speech and sound I think he's going to do great. I'm so very excited and happy for him.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Awakening

There are some days that are much too good. Well, not really but we all need days like today. First my MD called to tell me that my liver function tests were back to normal. They have been really elevated since I was diagnosed with Lyme Disease. I've been drinking my milk thistle tea and I guess it really works. All is good.

Secondly, today was the day that Larry "got turned on." Ok-that makes me snicker. He had his cochlear implant activated today. I was totally enthralled at the process. Troy, the audiologist-what a magnificent job he has- to help people hear for the first time.

Larry has been waiting for six weeks to hear. He's been completely deaf in his left ear all this time. Several months back, we were both in a bad place over his deteriorating hearing. I think it was more scary for Larry not being able to hear the kids at all. He was often worried that he would not be able to take care of them. But he amazes me with what he sets his mind to. Things get him down but he never wallows in self pity for long. He keeps me strong.

Months ago we both researched cochlear implants-the ins and outs and Larry decided since he would probably lose his hearing at some point anyway that he had nothing to lose...except maybe what residual hearing he had. What if it didn't work at all?

His surgery went flawlessly. He was so optimistic. I was a wreck. I'm a nurse-that never leaves you. I know too much medical stuff. I know what could go wrong. Thankfully, my friend Terri came to stay with my while Larry was in surgery.
I've worked with the Surgeon, Dr. Duff many times at the hospital, so knew that Larry was in good hands.
Today was d-day. The day they do what they call mapping of the implant. It was a long afternoon for me, I could only imagine what it was like for Larry. We have been marking the days off of the calendar for six long weeks. The anticipation over coffee this morning was overwhelming. Like little sparks of lightening.

Troy showed us the external processor-the part that sticks to Larry's head like a magnet. It was funny to see him fumble with it after being such an expert for 36 years with his hearing aids. It was sometimes hard to remember that all of this was new for him too. Literally, Troy connected him to a computer. One plug to Larry and one plug to Troy's laptop.

Troy started Larry with a series of beeps and told him to respond when he heard it. I sat next to him and held my breath trying to look encouraging. Underneath, I wanted to scream "Please work-please work-if there is a God in Heaven please work." Five minutes went by and still nothing. Patience. It will work...won't it? God-can you hear me know? I mean...can Larry hear you now?

Troy tells us to be patient-that Larry's acoustic nerve is awakening and needs time to process these new sounds.

Another set of beeps and Larry turns his head a bit. Another set.....he heard it!! Holy crap-this is totally awesome. I'm smiling. Yeah-I know-it's only beeps-not like it's real sound. Troy explains that first they have to get the pitch and volume right before the implant is "turned on". God what is taking so long?

Troy tells us that now he is going to try some speech and see how Larry does. This is it!

Troy covers his face so Larry won't lip read. Ooooooohhhhhhh, mmmmmmmm, aaaaaaaaa, ssssssss, shhhhhhhhhhhhh, eeeeeeeeeeeeee. What the hell is that? Ask him if he can hear your damn voice! Oh my god-this is killing me! Troy continues with the visceral sounds. I'm sitting there smirking and trying not to laugh. My excitement and emotions have gotten the best of me and all I can think of is a really bad sex scene with Troy making noises like that. There is no control when that hits you. I fumble thru my bag looking for mints knowing that if don't do something I'll burst out laughing and won't be able to stop.

Troy tries again. Larry only hears beeps. Beeps. What good will beeps do? Troy uncovers his face and repeats the sounds. OOOOOO, aaaaaaaa, mmmmmmmmm. Larry has never heard these high pitched tones before. His brain doesn't recognize them. Troy tells him to try again now that he knows what sound he's listening for. Larry's face lights up. He got it! He is unable to discern the difference between ssssss and shhhhhhhh. Understandable. Ok-I'm calmer. Troy does more tweaking. It's clearer for Larry. I think I need more mints.

Troy is playing with the volume. Larry turns to me and says, "What is that?" It is the fan in the next room that he is hearing....with the door shut. Totally cool. Troy puts in 4 separate programs for Larry to play with over the next few days. Some louder, some softer. Larry will return to Troy on Monday and again the following week for further mapping. I'll make sure I have plenty of mints.

I can't even contain my excitement. I pull out my calendar to put the appointment in. Larry tells me that I'm noisy and hears the pen click. I laugh. More Mints!!!

I drive home-Larry is stopping for champagne tonight. I'm in my car and start sobbing the whole way home. I'm so incredibly happy for him and so relieved and so amazed at modern medicine. The Bee Jees song, "Jive Talking" is playing on the radio. I start singing "Jive Listening" and crack myself up. I was one big ball of emotion and it all poured out the way home.

At home tonight, Larry is frustrated. He says all the voices sound the same-kind of like everyone inhaled helium and then tried to speak. His brain is exhausted and his head is pounding. I tell him to give it a couple hours rest and try again tomorrow. He hears the dog's tags jingling and he heard Tae outside talking. He didn't understand what he was saying but knew that he was talking. These are all things he never heard before. It's 9 pm and we have a field trip to finish tonight. I'll let you know if he can hear the tree frogs that are gloriously singing tonight.

What a totally amazing day.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Can You Hear Me Now?

It's been a few days since I've written. It's September and life is busy once again. Soccer season has started, the homeschool group is busy and life has punched us in the gut this summer.

Saturday, Larry's mom came home from rehab after having her knee replaced, got very sick and ended up back in the hospital. She's very ill with c-diff colitis. Problem is she is allergic to the antibiotics she needs to help the infection. She's lost so much weight. I'm having difficulty with this as it brings back horrible memories of my own mother's illness.

After my Dad died, Mom deteriorated so quickly. It was a short 18 months after Dad died that we lost Mom. Larry's own mother is showing those same signs. She is so frail all we can do is pray.

His father is in a bad spot. His mind has been showing signs of dementia for some time and he is not functioning without mom there beside him. It has become apparent how little he can do for himself without mom there. Larry is struggling. It's been a busy week and he feels like he's abandoning his mom.

He's wanted to travel to see his mom really bad but tomorrow is a big day. Last month Larry had his cochlear implant placed and tomorrow is activation day. It's been 6 weeks since he's had any hearing at all in his left ear. The anticipation is killing him. Tomorrow we will travel to Providence to see Troy the audiologist for Larry's first mapping. I'm bringing my camera to take pictures so that I can show his mom. She's been very worried about him so we are praying this works for Larry. It will be his first time in 38 years that he has not worn hearing aids. We are very hopeful but trying to not have any expectations. Not sure that is possible but it is all we can do.
Our church year is off to a great start. In true UU fashion our church goes to lay ministry during the summer and with me being ill with Lymes disease I wasn't able to attend. Our first service is water communion. The entire congregation brings water from their summer travels and adds it to the communion bowl. It is a symbol of coming back together, a symbol of our travels leading us back home and a wonderful time for everyone to hug and get back together.
In June I did my first sermon with a few other people on our Small Group Ministry program. It was a great service and really wonderful to be in the pulpit. In November, I will be doing a sermon on Organ Donation with our minister. I'm so excited and hopefully can find some other opportunities to be in the pulpit. There has always been a secret love to go on to Seminary, but money, time and life will not allow right now. These are the busy years with the kids so for now I will fulfill the need with cameo appearances.

Our church and congregation really uplifted and sustained us this past summer. The Caring Circle at church brought us meals for two weeks when I was unable to cook because of the Lymes. We received so many cards, phone calls and offers of help for both Larry and for myself. They gave me rides to the doctors office when I couldn't drive and they came on pastoral care visits to cheer me. Our minister also came and I so enjoyed giving her a tour of my gardens when they were at their peak. It was delightful to be able to walk with her and listen to the birds and waterfall from the pond. A few dragonflys flitted by and the koi lipped the surface of the water to greet us. Small moments this summer that were a delight and respite for me. Larry has joined on as Vice-President of the church this year. I think he's starting to realize why I devote so much time them. He's getting it-he saw it this summer with the care we recieved.

Despite the hardships this summer we are very blessed in all that life has given us.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Give Till It Hurts

We've been working really hard at fundraising. It's something that I love doing. Some people hate fundraising and feel it's begging for money. I guess in a sense it is. I think I missed my calling.
I got started years ago after the adoption of my second child. I took over the parents adoption group with not a clue what I was doing. We had no budget, no resources and no way for adoptive families to come together.I spent 3 wonderful years running this group and we managed to raise funds to support our activities, started a mentor program for new parents and those that arrived home with babies, began an adoption subsidy to help those who financially could not affort the cost of adoption and brought all of our families together at pumpking picking events, picnics, International Festivals and general outtings. I love bringing families together or helping people make connections. I guess that's why I love my homeschool group. Today, we had 3 fairly new people attend who discovered they all lived just minutes from each other. One was a mom who was homeschooling her 4 children for the first time and was really feeling like she needed to connect with others.
People don't fundraise because it's fun. Usually what happens is something in your life draws you to a particular cause. For us, it's been many different things throughout the years. This past year we got slapped in the face again when my husband started to lose more hearing. He has been profoundly deaf since age 2 but once again his hearing started to deteriorate. In August he went to have a Cochlear Implant placed. Activation of the implant is next week on the 10th. We have high hopes for him. But the other thing that will help him is his new Hearing dog. This will be his third hearing dog. We have no idea when the dog will arrive. NEADS, the program we are working with and have always worked with will let us know when they've found a perfect match. We are so excited, Larry's two other hearing dogs did so well and were truly a part of our family. They were an extension of Larry.
When we decided that another hearing dog was a good choice, we contacted NEADS. What we found out was that the price to train a dog was about $20,000. NEADS wants you to take a proactive approach in raising at least $10,000. The rest of the fee comes from donations and sponsorship through their many donors. $10,000 is a lot of money to us but I had no doubt we would be ok. I started with a website to fundraise, put out a call to my church, and everyone I know. In a few short months we had our 10 grand. But then something incredible happened. People still wanted to help. We received another $5000 donation and began our fundraising for Canines for Combat Vets-another of NEADS programs that matches service dogs with our injured vets returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
In the midst of this we decided to do a full fundraiser for them. Hall, band, silent auction-the whole bit. People started donating things for our silent auction. Good things like a weekend in New Hampshire, and artwork and tutoring and dog training and quilts and hand woven baskets and so many incredible things. And they bought tickets to come and support us and our cause. Friends volunteered to help at the event and help organize.
It has been a great testament to Larry and I. So many that are willing to help and "pay it forward" as we've always tried to do. Growing up on a farm, it's how I was brought up. Someone got sick and couldn't milk the cows-no problem- a neighbor came to help. They were canning vegetables from the garden and needed a hand-our whole family went to help and then we shared a meal that everyone contributed to.
I miss those times when people did things because there was a need not because they expected something in return. But this whole process has made my heart full and renews my hope that there still are really good people out there.
The dog above is our beautiful Boxer named Pete. Pete was a rescue and had some issues when we got him. We found Jeff from Solid K9 Training thru the referral of a friend. He helped us with Pete and still stops by occasionally to check on him. Jeff loves what he does and it shows by the number of hours he puts in everyday. It shows by the poop bags he donates. It shows by the number of dogs he rescues and trains from shelters for free, it shows when he returns phone calls immediately and how he'll barter for payment and it shows how he gets his whole family involved in training. Jeff did alot of work with us, and continues to do so. He's donating a basic training package to our fundraiser and will attend the event.
His wife Linda and their girls come to my homeschool group here everyweek. I helped her through her first tentative steps in homeschooling. I hope I did anyway.
It's all these things that we've missed so much of, that families seem to have lost. It's paying it forward and being kind and just lending a helping hand when people need it. For that, I am forever grateful. I hope we can continue in finding good causes. I don't ever think of the old fundraising addage, Give Till It hurts, I much prefer, "Give till it Helps."
For that I am forever grateful.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Back to School

Homeschooling allows us the luxury to suck every last breath out of summer. But, alas, the time comes when we must return to some book work. We ease gently into our work. It's an easy week. A summer of sun and fun and swimming and it's all my brain can handle. Today was Math and English. I need to switch spelling books for Morgan-her's stinks but thankfully I have a backup. She's a great speller to begin with so I don't worry much about her. Patrick did well with his Math today-it's always been a struggle for him.

Today was Morgan's first day of soccer practice. She is awesome at soccer. The first soccer game is this Saturday. She's on the same team with her best friend Gab and Gab's Dad is coach. They live right behind us and the kids all play so well together. Patrick didn't want to play soccer this year. He did try last year but his Tourette's makes it hard to play and honestly he just hates sports. I really think he did it for us but we are ever proud of him trying. He and his friend Kennan would rather hide in a good book.

We are still picking tomatoes in the garden-they are still good and sweet and not bitter at all. We have lots of eggplant and the pumpkins are turning early this year. I have a bumper crop of bottle neck gourds this year. I'll lose a few-I always do but can't wait to harvest them. There are several very large and heavy ones.
I talked to my doc today and I need to stay on my antibiotics for at least 2 more weeks or until my symptoms of Lyme disease are gone. Sigh.
Our new fireplace insert is being installed tomorrow in our efforts to not pay for oil this year. We shall see. They are coming at the same time as my homeschool group so it should be interesting.
All for now-I am very tired tonight.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Labor Day and Ponderings

We cleaned out the garage today. God help me. I did find my collection of porcelain dolls. I was going to sell them on ebay but for some reason can't seem to part with them. What a junk collector I am however today was the day to purge. Two very large garbage bags full and numerous boxes were disposed of.

I found some of Patrick's preemie clothes. So small, he's almost 12 now and just about taller than me. Hard to believe that we brought him home at just 4 pounds 8 oz. He was too small for the car seat and we had to prop him up with towels to support his head. Patrick spent a whole month in the NICU. I remember the day they said we could finally bring him home. We got in our front door and I just sat on the couch with him on my chest and cried and cried. He looked like a plucked chicken. Transparent skin, bugged eyes because he hadn't grown into his skull yet, skinny chickeny arms and legs with no fat. We had to bathe him in the wash basin that they send you home from the hospital with.

It's funny how we don't forget things that happen to our kids. We try so hard to protect them and do everything right but ultimately it's out of our hands. There were many days that we thought Patrick wouldn't come home with us. I just can't imagine what that would be like. I think it's hard for people to realize the mother/child bond. It happens whether you birth them or whether they are adopted. I have both scenarios and no matter what you freak out if your baby is hurting.

A lot of memories piling on me these days, losing my mom and dad, Patrick's struggles. No idea what they mean, or what I'm supposed to do with them. Maybe nothing, maybe sit with them and let them be. Maybe mom and dad are trying to tell me something. I wish it was more obvious. sigh.