Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Living and Recovering from Hearing Loss

 Hello out there, world!  Have you ever experience a major life event
which altered the course of your life and you simply accepted it and
took it in stride?  This is just what was planned for your life and
you were going to accept it, learn it, deal with it, and move on.  I
thought I could do just that after suffering from viral labyrinthitis
in October 2013 and permanently losing all hearing function of my left
ear.  It was that sudden.  I went to bed fine and woke up deaf in the
left.  After a short period of time, I adapted to only hearing out of
my right ear and went on about finding a fix to minimize this and
allowing me to return to life as I knew it before that morning.

After several months of hearing test confirming the hearing would not
be returning and this issue needed a course of action instead of
patience while it returned, I sought out solutions.  Without any
explanations, I was given the blunt diagnosis, “you can either use
hearing aids or get a screw in your skull.”  That was it, she left the
room right after this and I had no clue what she meant by the screw in
the skull.  How frightening!  Of course, I went home, did some of my
own research and found out that the BAHA surgery was this infamous
screw she spoke about so abruptly.  With time, hundreds of hours of my
own research, and lots of questions, this screw in my head became
reality on August 15, 2014.  I became an implant recipient.  Once it
healed and I was activated, I’d be back on the road to life and all
its glory with no issues…another challenge overcome.

Then a bout of depression started to set in without warning.  If
things weren’t perfect, I was upset.  I simply was not going to accept
that activation was going to be delayed.  It didn’t work into my plans
and recovery expectations.  How dare things get screwed up!  I was
mad…livid even.  Sure, it was only going to be a slight delay, but I
just wasn’t going to have it!  Then I started getting frustrated at
everything around me.  My life is so blessed, but I couldn’t see it at
that moment.  Then in a moment of clarity, I did see it.  Physically,
I was healing just fine.  But I was taking the time to conduct proper
wound care.  What I wasn’t doing was tending to my mental and
emotional wounds.  I simply did not have time to hurt emotionally,
life is simply too busy for that!

Ok, now that I realized I had this other set of injuries unknown to
me, how do I deal with them?  Was I angry because I lost my hearing in
the first place?  Was it because it took so long and was so difficult
to get help and resolution?  Was it because I was scared of the
unknown?  Why was I so angry when life is so good to me?  In my life,
my release and escape is writing.  Always has been, always will be.
So, with all these thoughts jumbled in my mind, I sat down at the
computer, opened my blog, closed my eyes and let my fingers just type
what my brain told them.  There were no sentences or structure.  There
were no spelling checks to interrupt.  Feelings flowing with eyes
closed to eliminate distraction.  Release.  After I was done, I walked
away for a bit to cope with the drain of emotions, but happy I had
allowed them to not suppress any longer.  Then I returned and read
what I had wrote, “there are those times during the day when in
solitude it still hits us...we are forever different than before.”
Now that I read this and understood how it was changing me, it was
acceptable.  Once I realized I had these fears, pains, anxieties, and
realizations, I could then talk about them.  I then reshaped the blog
to structure, spelling, and clarity and then posted with the title,
“Healing:  It’s More Than the Physical.”  Now, others whom had
experienced the same physical obstacles could also share in their
stories of how to overcome.  Therapy was about to commence.  Little
did I know the response would be so tremendous!  Quite a few comments
were posted of people saying they knew they were hurting, but didn’t
know how or why…this explained so much to so many.  Understanding your
injuries helps you begin to treat them so they heal.  Now, we can all
heal together.  This was, and still is, my therapy.

As I continue to heal, helping others do the same is a passion I’m
learning has its own powers of pain reduction.  We all have survived
so much, no matter our story, but we all hurt still at times.  It is
ok, we deserve to understand, empathize, and heal with others like us.
We are connected now, if not before.  We lift each other without
question and reach out when it is our turn to need support.  Do not
ever hesitate to reach out, there are so many ready to provide that
helping hand.  They’ve done it for me.  I’ll do it for them.  We all
will do it for you.  Heal, we have to in order to be strong and not
bitter.  Talk, write, pray, seek out therapy or support groups, but
don’t suppress it.  We are stronger together, we have done so much, we
will do this too…it simply cannot and will not be any other way.  I
will be healed, you will be healed, we will be healed!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Simplification: Catchphrase or Way of Life

Simplification.  Is this a catch phrase or is there logic behind it?  In business, absolutely.  How about in our personal lives?  We add more and more, do more and more, schedule more and more.  Life is short we tell ourselves, we must get the most out of every day.  But seriously...doesn't that wear us down, break us down, and perhaps even shorten that life that is already too short.  Can we do too much?  Plan too much?  Heck yeah, we can!  I'm at that point!

This year has included so much outside the normal work schedule and family items.  There was refinancing the house, getting all new windows, new shades, new furniture, painting two rooms, repainting a room, and the entire exterior being painted.  Take a, we've attended multiple MLB baseball games, basketball tournaments, planning football games, hosted cookouts, attended cookouts, and went camping.  Whew!  Oh yeah, don't forget a vacation to two states, anniversary trip coming up, out of town surgery, and a conference for work.

Every single bit of that has been, or will be, great!  Even the surgery as I've work towards that for almost a full year as well.  I'm tired.  I can't blame anyone else for my exhaustion.  We do these things to ourselves.  What next?  That's right, simplification.

Next year will be...plan much less, say no a little more, let a little more of my life be unplanned and explore a tad more.  Yes, simplification.  That's my promise to goal for my sanity.  Yes, it will still be blessed and full of fun and excitement, but it shall be much less planned, chaotic, and demanding.  The grill will get used more.  The alarm clock will get used less.

Yes, scaling and cutting back is the way it has to be.  Simplify to amplify...that's 2015 for me.  How about you?

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Have You Walked a Mile Yet?

There is an old adage that states to understand someone is to walk a mile in their shoes.  That was never meant literally, but was meant to stress not judging people and urging an understanding into how people feel, think, and respond.  What makes someone tick?  Why do they do certain things?  No one knows how any certain individual will react to a situation or why.  However, the adage does have value, even more so in today's environment and society.  Why?  Social media, technology, and a desire to understand are the tools used widely on the high road and the path to a positive outcome.

Let's take a look at each one individually and then we'll realize how their cumulative effect molds our understanding and reaction to things we don't have a firsthand knowledge of.  Social media can be a harmful instrument when used to bully, extort, and misdirect persons.  However, when you are in short supply of understanding or answers, it is a natural go-to weapon in today's educational arsenal.  I know I used it when I was diagnosed with viral labrynthitus.  What the heck is that?  I didn't know, but I did know it wasn't a good thing...but since I had never heard of it, was it rare or widely known?  When I was finally able to focus and overcome the vertigo, I immersed myself into Google, WebMD, etc.  I learned so much about what was going on with me and what could be the worst case scenarios.  Unfortunately, one of the worst cases was hearing loss in at least one ear.  I ended up as one of those "fortunate" people.  However, others suffer from vertigo for months or years and cannot function or work.  That was something I was lucky enough to learn how to overcome quickly by pushing myself to relearn how to walk, move, and function with the inner ear balance loss in my left ear.

Social media then continued to assist me.  When I was told my hearing loss was permanent, the technician told me my choices were either hearing aids or to have a screw put into my head.  Say what?!?  Then when I learned the "screw in your head" was a cochlear implant, or bone conduction implanted device, I quickly got educated on the different devices, how they worked, the advancements in deafness treatments and the improvements in the devices, and I finally watched the surgery I was considering to make my decision.  After using social media, my new disability seemed so much less scary and daunting.  I now owned it instead of reacting to it.  I made the decisions that impacted my life again.  I was no longer forced to just accept my circumstances and situation.  Social media had done its job!

Then, technology has to do its job to help that mile walk happen.  Deafness, to me, was an absence of hearing which was overcome with sign language and attitude.  Holy cow, even with only Single-Sided Deafness (SSD), how much I've learned about how little I knew.  Many individuals today have come together with research, education, gumption, and technology to overcome this lost sense in their life.  Bilateral deafness is hearing loss in both ears.  What did they miss in their lives?  Imagine not hearing your loved one's voice, the birds and bees in the summertime, the warning siren of a fire truck, or the tunes of your favorite musician.  Amongst many other items, these are some of them.  Yet, with technology today, these are items which they can rediscover, or hear for the very first time.  I've had SSD for only six months now and am learning the road to recovery and am networking with those whom have traveled this road already, some of them traveling the technological road to hearing their entire lives.  They, to me, are the pioneers I get to benefit from now.  I hope to be that inspiration, example, and support for others in the future as they traverse their troubles and struggles.  I wrote "Bushels and Barrels" several years ago and based it off of life's struggles and how to overcome them and remain positive by looking beyond the challenges to recognize the blessings of life.  I never knew I would be tested to this extreme, but having that in my toolkit of experiences allowed me to see that I am blessed and can do such much more with this new "point of connection" with those struggling in life.

Technology has made it so those whom cannot hear naturally now can hear those sounds we take for granted.  Even better, in a more natural sound and distinction of direction from which the sound travels.  Science and engineering has come such a long way.  I am still awaiting final approval for the implant surgery, but am now wearing my new hearing aids.  They are helping me already, and they are so minimal, it's almost like they aren't even there.  They are giving me so much more back than they are requiring of me with respect to care, maintenance, and comfort.  I was with a group of my friends over the past few days, they didn't even realize I had the devices on, but I felt so much more a part of the conversation again.  I was no longer isolated when positioned at a place of disadvantage at the gathering table.  When meeting with a group of individuals at a support and educational gathering in the past few days, what an inspiration these individuals were.  There were those from eight months in age all the way to 71 years young.  Different experiences and reasons they had lost their hearing, but all together because technology was fixing that very thing for them.  I was a newbie in a world of those advanced and aided by technology.  What an adventure and a pleasure to be part of this.  I am blessed and my world is larger because of this journey!

Finally, a desire to understand is essential in overcoming an obstacle.  Researching via social media and meetings has given me a comfort in my new world.  There are so many others with larger challenges than I have and they are so positive because they understand their situation.  Their knowledge gives them comfort and control.  I now also have that.  Walking a mile in the shoes of deafness has been only the beginning of my new journey, but I now have tools to made that journey a smooth ride, walk, hike, and journey.  What walk have you taken lately and what tools have you used in that journey?  What has it "forced" you to learn?  What understanding and appreciation do you have because of this journey?  What do you plan to do with this new knowledge and confidence?  Own it, share it, and recreate it in others!  That is my challenge in hearing loss, what is yours?

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

An Age of Entitlement? I Think Not!

Hello!  It's been quite a while since I've written, but that doesn't mean there isn't things to write about.  Life has been so busy and blessed, I love where life and God has taken me.  Within my life now, I get a chance to interact with and work with individuals of all backgrounds and ages.  There are many whom want to learn the right thing, there are those whom teach the right thing, and then there are those whom will do whatever it takes to avoid doing anything...much less the right thing.  But the overall assumption that this is the age of entitlement is far from correct.

I have encountered those whom will do absolutely everything to avoid performing the very activities they were hired to perform.  Yet, these individuals are such the minority.  Yes, they take a ton of time to manage, document, and defend against.  But man-o-man, are there so many of the younger generations ready to step up and learn life lessons and do their jobs exceptionally well at the same time.

I'm still learning...every day, I learn.  I love my job and career and where it could potentially take me.  Yet, what inspires me more and takes me to work is getting to help younger individuals create priorities in their life, build budgets, understand the importance of honor, and creating networks.  Forgiveness and flexibility have become a larger part of my vocabulary and actions within the past year as I've learned how to lead a team of civilians and not military members.  And that is ok, I've grown, they are growing...and the metrics are improving every time I look.

Outside work, watching my daughter and her friends learn and embrace community outreach, servitude, and responsibility.  It is a society where the village parenting concept is alive in the world I'm in now.  Maybe not everyone's, but it is in mine.  I love how other parents trust my wife and I to help raise their kids and we trust them in the same fashion.

As America's population gets older and the youth are challenged, they will rise.  If you tell them they can have things without having to work, of course, they will take it.  Wouldn't you?  Yet, you teach them to work hard, have pride, and learn from mistakes, you will be surprised, proud, and restored in faith.  We are ok!

Let's rid our lives of those whom only take, share with those wanting to learn, and stretch for those willing to make mistakes to grow.  This includes yourself...shape your life this year to be one willing to stretch, grow, learn, and prosper.