When we were little, my sisters and I played “Spy.” If you have never been associated with this game, allow me to explain. It all begins with a sheet of wide-ruled paper and a wooden No. 2 pencil that was usually used for math class, hence, it lacks the eraser. After spending half of your spy time by creating a detailed floor plan of the downstairs areas, especially the kitchen, the game has now begun.
It’s a parallel to hide-and-seek with follow-the-leader. The objective is to pinpoint the non-playing family members and spy on them without being seen or heard. Melissa, being the eldest and cunning, always seemed to end the spying eye on her at first notice; Mom just played along, even when we giggled or accidentally moved the table chairs while trying to knee past them on the tile floor. It was the era of Carmen Sandiego and our games of Spy just happened to help us solve our curiosity mysteries.
Fast forward to junior high days–it was in these days that I learned two fundamental traits that would guide me as I started losing my hearing in the end of eighth grade: sign language and lip-reading. I first learned sign language from Melissa my sixth grade year, as she had learned a song at summer camp. That next summer meant that I was old enough to attend church camp as well, but I did not take the signing class–my friends did, however, and that year I learned, “I Can Only Imagine.” My junior year of high school, I took a community ASL class with my Dad; I had been self-teaching myself from a few signing books I purchased at the local college, but the course helped increase my vocabulary.
Until my lip-reading rehabilitation course during my first rounds of radiation in 2002, I never realized how much I was already reading. I sometimes get asked when I first started, and I honestly don’t know. I do remember once getting a talk from Mom after getting into trouble, in which I read her lips…but I always thought that may have resulted from a guilty conscience rather than hearing loss. 🙂
We may have no longer played our games of Spy, but we sisters developed in the junior high years a code. A secret code, and we would relay this message to each other in our times of need: SPR!! Yes, these three letters were part of the foundation to my lip-reading career. Best part was that we could say them to each other from across the dining room table or Sunday School room. The message was simple, so loud and clear: Secret Private Room. It usually was the closet, but some of our best secrets and cases solved were a result of the SPR!
Fast forward to the present day: I no longer play Spy or hold SPR meetings in my closet, but I do enjoy the game of CLUE. My college roommate and friend from Denver days surprised me with a visit on the weekend of the art show! Considering my past history in solving mysteries, one would think I would have not been so confused at the situation, when Callista taps my shoulder and I look up to see her smiley face. I was at the kitchen table reading, so I had my glasses off; Mom had just been discussing the new neighbors, resulting in my next sentence understanding of who I portray Callista to be in my mind: “You look like my roommate from college.” The lip-reading, because in my mind I know it is Calista, but I think it’s the new neighbor–it just threw me off completely.
“Hold on a sec and let me get my glasses on,” thinking of how I don’t like new introductions as I am terrible at names. I turn back around, see Kate and glance back at Callista. “What are you doing here?” It finally settles in–yes, these are my friends and they came to see me. 🙂 Later that night, we played CLUE. My hand of cards was not the greatest. I had all characters and two rooms, no weapon options. We play a few rounds and I had two characters left–still no weapons marked and only one room (besides my own) marked off the choices. Deciding to subject my own character to checks and balances, I place him in the nearest room and random grab a choice weapon.
“I think it is Mr. Plumb, in the kitchen with a candlestick.” Kate had no cards, Callista had no cards; they look at me like I am pure genius. “It was just a guess,” I had to assure them. Back came the conversations of Carmen Sandiego and I mentioned the show Sue Thomas, F.B.I.–inspired by the true story of Sue Thomas, who solved crimes by lip-reading: a deaf F.B.I. agent.
I must have been inspired by all these memories when it came to Monday’s MRI. Being an older, complicated body patient, my scans usually get scheduled for the last of the day. Monday was no exception. I was to report by 5pm for the preparations (which is translated as paperwork and questions); the scans starting at 5:30. I am comfortable with the long scans–usually they are my nap time when scheduled for earlier in the day. With this scan scheduled late, I knew if I napped, I would not sleep when I got home. Selecting my movie, I toyed with the Lord of the Rings, but once I start one–I must watch them ALL. To escape this, I selected Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back.
They get me settled in with the head-gear, strap my arms in, blanket and knee lifter; I am all ready for the scan and movie, although the goggles pressed hard into my nose. The opening overture and text starts–I find that looking at the screen with my left eye is actually blurred. So I allow that eye a break, close it, and view the movie from my right…aside from color differences, I saw things pretty normal considering its condition.
We’re still the beginning parts of the movie: Rebel forces are fighting the Empire on the ice planet Hoth and aside from that action, there are a few scenes with Darth Vader and his top commanders on his spaceship. It was right at the moment when the light, snowy planet Hoth gets cut off to the scene of the darkness of the spaceship that I am thinking I am seeing a secret code! You’ve heard of it before–movies will flash messages to the audience: “Buy popcorn.” Or something to that extent.
As the camera zooms in on the outer of the spaceship, I am seeing words, in what I think is the little lights from the inner of the spaceship. All excited, I start squinting to decipher the code, thinking, “Wow. My right eye problems give me a chance to see things different!” I start to see it is in sentences:
“This movie is 2 and a half hours long….” It goes on to tell me that it is not good for my eyes and that I should shut it off and sleep. But just in case I still wanted to view the movie,”Press [*].” So much for codes-Luke hadn’t even gone to Dagobah to find Yoda yet and it wants me to sleep! Thinking that my eye had recently gained some sort of cool lens power made me laugh.
In life, there are secrets and mysteries. Some will be revealed, some will not. Instead of solving them, I am learning to live in them.
Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.