Tag Archives: American Sign Language

Little Joys!

Have you ever stopped for a moment to listen to the water as it drips out of the faucet? What about the sound your sheets make when you ruffle them as you make your bed in the morning? The sound your fork or spoon makes against the dish; the taps your fingers make on the keys when you type; the brushstrokes when you paint on a canvas; the click of your eye shadow case as you finish getting reading in the morning; or the sound of pages turning as you read a book? Little joys!

Yesterday I got my hearing aids fixed! ūüėÄ Funny is perception. It has only been a mere three weeks since they went from usable to unusable overnight. It seems much longer than that! The hearing aids currently are back to where I had them set before–I have them turned up all the way though, as we did not adjust any of the settings due to my last hearing¬†test being in February.¬†At that point in time, my¬†left ear had¬†gunky-dark fluid behind the ear drum and¬†I¬†received some¬†medicine to see if¬†that¬†would¬†clear out. I had my ears checked once and it seemed to be helping¬†slowly. It was not until after the spring break that the tinnitus¬†(insane ringing in both ears) became increasingly¬†loud.¬†So there¬†is much difference in my hearing since February.

Changing the levels now seemed¬†in wrong timing, because¬†I have my MRI/hearing test next Thursday the 23rd. My¬†regular doctor appointments are the following Thursday the 30th. As far as my hearing test goes, I am thinking my left ear has not improved any even if the gunky¬†fluid is out¬†from behind the ear drum. Even with my hearing aid in, I am not hearing much (though I placed it in first this morning and then shut the lid to the case and heard it clear as day…guess that is a good thing!) I do know, however, that I depend on my right ear/hearing aid the most. It used to be the opposite, but I can¬†tell already¬†that my hearing aids are helping…maybe n0t improving¬†my balance but I have not run into as many walls today as I round the corner–little joys!¬†And, after going three weeks with no hearing, I think I did¬†improve my lip-reading and¬†we started incorporating more sign¬†language at home.

My dad is sneaky. He¬†found this¬†website where you can look¬†up words you need and they give you¬†a¬†video¬†of the¬†sign.¬†Last weekend, we had company and at Sunday’s lunch we had the typical tuna sandwiches, chips and salsa, carrots and grapes and cookies for dessert. I see my dad pull out his phone¬†as the others at the table are in conversation. Not thinking anything of it, I return my attention back to lip-reading but sort of just sit in a daze. (I get bad at that. I stare like I am lip-reading but I am not paying attention at all in my mind! I need to work on staying focused!) Anyway, dad never waved for my attention or anything, he just moved his hands. I knew it was a sign, but since he did not mouth the word, I had no idea what it was. Instead of guessing or pointing aimlessly at the table, I just said, “I don’t know what that sign is.” It was grapes!!!

I should have remembered. I learned it in ASL I. Although dad was trying to be sneaky and not ruin the conversation at hand (I think I did ūüôā ), our table then erupted in sign–from discussion of ASL vs. ESL or SEE to guessing¬†the¬†word being signed¬†(as my dad passed on his phone to my sister who put the website and¬†my memory to good use!) Sometimes these conversations are awkward for me as I feel I should be the one to know all the signs (I don’t), but because our guests¬†both¬†had reference¬†and previous experience to sign language, we¬†were able to¬†work through and remember words with sign together.

During these past three weeks,¬†I now¬†have experienced both sides of the spectrum in terms of hearing and hearing loss.¬†Just the other day I read this quote. I think¬†it sums up my thoughts the best way possible:¬†“Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard, are sweeter.”¬†~J0hn Keats.

I am happy to hear, thankful to hear, liking¬†to hear…and¬†I think it¬†is because¬†I had none–that¬†I appreciate it more!¬†Little J0ys!!

PS. This s0ng came to mind this morning:

Carolyn Arends, “I Can Hear You”

Leaky faucet dripping in the kitchen
Rubber squealing — watch out in the alley
Mr. Marley’s probably late for work again.
Birdie singing — telling me to get up
Such a soothing sound floating on the wind
I just keep listening

Funny how You speak to me
In such mysterious ways

Chorus:
I can hear You
I can hear You
It’s so amazing how Your voice keeps breaking through
I can hear You

There’s a church bell ringing out the hour
Like an old friend calling through my window
With the laughter of the children playing down below
You’ve got a way of getting my attention
In the rhythm of life, everywhere I go
Somehow You let me know

If I’ll only stop to listen
You’re in everything

I can hear You
I can hear You
I can hear You
I can hear You

Music video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GtsWtNS-3Og

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Filed under Adjusting to NF2, Books and Movies, Family Times, Muffy, Paintings

Life’s a Road Trip

Road trips. I love road trips. Usually I am the backseat driver, unless I am needed up front to drive (which is not very often) or to sit as co-pilot and make meaningful conversations to keep the driver alert. Because I had my nose in a good book last week, I opted to take the backseat. We left Thursday and spent the night a few hours down the road so by Friday we only had half the time left to get to NY.

We get to the hotel and I am laying out my things for the next day and start getting ready for bed. I take out my hearing aids and place them in their safety container; then I put my container in my purse so I do not forget them in the morning. (Can you imagine!?) Friday morning we grab drive-thru¬†for breakfast and¬†officially set off on¬†our way only 9 minutes behind the schedule we had hoped for the day before (I was so proud!)¬†Now, you have to understand…freeways, airplanes and the constant murmur in the background at the grocery store gets very annoying to hear. I usually have my hearing aids on the second setting on road trips¬†when there is another person in the backseat with me so I can keep in conversation and I keep them at this setting¬†when I am shopping. I just take them out in airplanes.¬†Because it was just me in the back and I wanted to read, I left my hearing aids in their container.

We get about 40 minutes from my grandparent’s place (destination) and I am on the last page of my book. You also have to understand…I normally shy away from a few genres in literature: Sci-fi, romance novels and animal (pet) memoirs. But my latest trip to the public library had a shelf of books about animals and gardens–in theme¬†with springtime,¬†April and Earth Day.¬†A few caught my eye, with this one in particular, because the owl on the front was so fuzzy and cute I just had to read it. It turned out to be a very educational read, but it was entertaining all at the same time.¬†After two hundred and some odd pages, I am absorbed in the life of this biologist and her owl that I get to the last page and feel it coming! Yeah, the tears. Inevitable!

If you are like me and don’t normally read animal memoirs or watch the nature show, then hope you can sympathise¬†with me on this for this very reason: tears. Not that crying is a bad thing–I think it shows how great the book is, because the author was able to relate that emotion to the reader. But when I read books that I know will make me cry, I usually like to be in my room. Alone.¬†Yet here I am on a NY freeway trying to control my emotions that I really was not expecting until I started the last chapter. I finish the¬†book¬†and decide if I distract my thoughts from¬†what I just finished reading then I would be fine. I mumble up to the front that I am getting a Charlie Horse cramp in my left leg and I need a rest stop. Up until this point I have somehow managed to keep the tears at least in my eyes, but as soon as my mom turns around to see what I need, one look and I burst out the¬†ending¬†of the¬†story¬†in one¬†grand sentence and then¬†sob profusely.

Mom¬†and I finish our tiny chat about the¬†book and¬†I¬†dry my¬†tears. I figure it is¬†time to put in my hearing aids.¬†I first¬†put in the right¬†hearing aid but¬†don’t¬†hear the “ring tone” that announces¬†to my¬†ear that¬†it is turning on. I put in the left¬†(which¬†is¬†no longer my dominating ear but¬†practically deaf ear) and can’t hear much of anything. I take them¬†out and replace the batteries.¬†Nothing. I know my left aid is¬†working¬†but¬†I pass up my right aid to my mom to see¬†if¬†she can hear the ring. Nothing. Now¬†I¬†am¬†no longer sad but a bit frustrated. What am I going to do?¬†I¬†just had to put them back in¬†my case and¬†back¬†in my purse. “I will just have to lip-read today.” Sometimes my¬†hearing aids just need a break¬†and¬†then the next day work again, and because I have had to turn them up to the highest setting most often as of late,¬†I figure¬†if I just try tomorrow then maybe they will work. The timing in this is not great. First, a whole weekend with my grandparents. How horrible would it be not to hear? And second, I just finished this book about barn owls and other birds who have such precise hearing that they can even hear spiders crawling up the wall. Surely adds to my frustration.

You may have guessed by now–but if not I will tell you: my hearing aid is currently still not working. I avoid the term broken, because it could be a numerous amount of factors that does not necessarily mean the hearing aid is broken but just needs a few adjustments, like¬†new sensor pads or sometimes my ear wax will get inside the aid and cause it to not work. I am hoping it is not broken. But¬†I did survive the weekend! Actually, I think I did quite well. I think right now I just want to have a pride moment and pat myself on the back. But I also give a lot of praise to my parents and even my grandpa who took time to sign little words (even make them up just on the spot so I would get the word at the moment) and lots of finger spelling. ūüôā Most of one dinner conversation consisted of the game “Guess¬†the Word in¬†ASL.” That was fun. And we toured a lighthouse on Saturday, so we looked up how to sign the word. All I knew was boat.

We finish the fabulous weekend¬†and life goes on. I did not do anything different today than if I was wearing hearing aids. I had a meeting in the morning to discuss job potentials. The lady knew ASL, so there was no interpreter, but¬†I think I talked and lip-read more than I signed. I notice without my hearing aids in, I am more verbal to say, “I am Deaf” and¬†let¬†people know why I¬†am not understanding one word¬†or accidentally¬†interrupting a conversation or starting one way off subject. Deafness has blocked my hearing senses, but I noted to myself this weekend that my eyes are going to have to take more responsibility: more observation of my surroundings especially in social settings.

I did¬†not think¬†my life would ever come to this¬†time…this¬†moment¬†when I had to face the reality¬†of my deafness. But in a way, this weekend helped me more than it did frustrate me. I learned in part¬†from my¬†grandpa. He¬†is¬†a godly¬†role model.¬†His actions,¬†faithfulness and servanthood shine¬†louder than his words. He lives out¬†the famous Mark Twain quote: “Kindness¬†is¬†a language¬†which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” He cares for my grandma everyday…even¬†all hope seems lost. He¬†is like Samwise Gamgee:

Frodo: I can’t do this, Sam.
Sam: I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.
Frodo: What are we holding onto, Sam?
Sam: That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo… and it’s worth fighting for.

~J.R.R. Tolkien, The Two Towers

We may not be fighting off Orcs or battling for Middle Earth, but I know even in Deafness that there is good in this world. My story does not end here. And when the new Day comes, it will be worth everything! I hold on to that hope: “[But] we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance;¬†and perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Romans 5;3-4

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Filed under Adjusting to NF2, Books and Movies, Family Times, Funny Stories, Random

Conversations

We sat at an oval table. There were seven of us having a conversation. It was a typical conversation: We had some laughs, times of serious stories, questions, personal reflections. We interrupted each other and the best part was you did not have to feel guilty about not bowing your head or closing your eyes during prayer. No one else was either. All was silent.  And yet, I understood almost every word.

Isn’t that exciting? I sat for an hour listening with my eyes, talking with my hands–American Sign Language! I have not had an experience like this since I took a summer ASL class in college. The Deaf community of the town got together every so often for dinners at local restaurants and they had¬†invited me to go as well. That was¬†one amazing dinner and conversation!! ūüôā Here, our group is much¬†smaller and¬†diverse:¬†There are the two interpreters; a couple–the man, mildly hearing-impaired and the wife, hearing; a Deaf man; an occasional college student who is studying ASL; and me–profoundly deaf, but can still hear a small percentage. But we all sit together on Sunday mornings for the same reason: to hear the sermon.

Our interpreters came up with the idea of our group meeting after the first service to have a time of fellowship. I think it is a brilliant idea! Soon after we started, I discovered¬†that I am in dire need to practice, practice, practice¬†my signing!¬†The group assured me in full support–“This is the best place to practice.” How true.¬†Watching people talk with sign language is different from¬†actual signing. I know most signs and can sign well enough to carry a conversation. But I doubt my memory of the signs and I literally cannot fingerspell. I used to be fluent–signs would just float in the air as I tried to sign as fast¬†as I talk. But the college days are over. I re-entered the hearing world–outside of my classes, chapels, Deaf friend and interpreter–becoming dependent on it, forgetting my signs. Yesterday was my motivation reminder: “For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.‚Ä̬†~Aristotle

I lip-read, even when talking with a Deaf person or an interpreter. I can see the signs, but the focus is lip-reading. Like taking a picture–focusing on something in the background, yet you can still see what is in front. Same goes for how I communicate. So when they don’t use the mouth function..I see how much it impacts the way I receive the information. (Not as good.) For myself, I still “hear.” Therefore, I associate lip-reading¬†with sound. I live with a hearing family…so when I open my mouth to speak–instinct tells me to use my voice. How else am I to be heard? As we carried on our conversation yesterday, I made a¬†mental note to self…remember the elementary rule of effective sign language communication: facial expressions! This¬†is the¬†tone…there is no need for voice. Facial expression¬†is the voice of the conversation!

Now all that remains is to retrieve the dusting ASL books off my bookshelf and to dive in–looking up words, signing things I see during the day, getting a better right-hand movement in my fingerspelling. And I know the main¬†reason in my not striving for this earlier at home–because it is embarrassing.¬†The sound of that sentence is just ludicrous! It should not be, but it¬†just¬†is. I¬†should think of it in terms¬†such as going¬†around the house,¬†shouting the words at the top of my lungs…why is that any different from just a¬†little sign? I am not certain. Maybe it is because we¬†have never really signed much as a family, besides a few basic¬†words and¬†they can fingerspell. Maybe it just seems inconvenient to me…why sign to them when they can hear? I am not certain. But my¬†family is taking the steps to try different signs to me…why not then sign¬†to them or practice myself?

My sister signed/sang to me the “Happy birthday song” this year before I blew out my candle on the cake. At that moment, I thought it was so beautiful that I almost cried.

bday song in sign language

So today I added another motivation¬†reminder: I love my family and desire to communicate better with them. Thus, I will strive to¬†practice routinely.¬†We are all in this together…even though I am the only one nearing Deafness.

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Filed under Adjusting to NF2, Books and Movies, Family Times, Random