Archive for September, 2007

My brain is on lock down right now and can’t hold any more info.  I have two exams this week and one of them is a midterm.  How do they expect our brains to hold all this information?  and why don’t these professors coordinate their test schedules?

There should be a rule, no more than one test a day allowed.  I’m running into a real problem with spanish.  One part of the exam will be listening comprehension.  DUH! how is a deaf/hearing impaired person suppose to respond to this?

I discussed it with the professor and her response was (in a very heavy latin american accent….i think), “Pearl, I will repeat many times for you…okay?”   NO PROF, no okay, no bien, comprendo pero yo no HEAR bien. 

So how many times is it okay to tell her to repeat? five times? ten times or when we hit twenty do I shrug my shoulders and say, forget it?   Its not as though I can lipread her because I just can’t.  I’m a lousy lipreader and was never good at it even in english, my home language. 

I’m much better at reading body language.  But since I am not proficient in spanish, it would be hard for me to read the professor.  Okay, I probably should tell her that I cannot take a comprehension exam, its just not possible.  I’ll discuss it with her tomorrow.  Maybe she’ll offer to give it to me in writing but that defeats the purpose of that part of the exam.  So, does that mean that deaf/hard of hearing students should not be allowed to learn a new language?  pffffffffffftt

Imagine me, after all these years learning how to swim?  Well, tonite was my first swimming lesson and I have to say, move over Esther Williams.  

At first I was terrified to put my head under water without holding my nostrils shut.  So the instructor told me I would have to go into the kiddy pool and practice while the others moved ahead with the lessons.  I looked around the pool and saw the 12 and 13 year olds on the swim team and imagined what a sight I would be in the kiddie pool.   I immediately stuck my head under the water and we proceeded from there.

I cannot believe that I not only put my head under water but I didn’t have nose plugs on.  I actually felt so much freedom being able to put my whole head under water and breathe through my mouth.  WOW, what exhillaration I felt and no water in my lungs and thank goodness for that one because I learned exactly what can go wrong in Anatomy.

The lifeguards at the pool know me from my daytime walks in the water so tonite, they were all sort of cheering me on everytime I stuck my head down…lol   In fact, everytime one of the students did the swim properly, the swim team on the side cheered us on as well.

I swam across the pool with a small boogie board and flippers on.  We learned to keep our head down, breathe and kick.  We also practiced our strokes outside of the water.  Two of the women went down when they let go of their boards in ten feet of water.  The lifeguards threw them a tire to catch onto.  Now if the teacher had jumped in to help save the person going down, I would have let go of my boogie board and joined them.

I cannot begin to express how proud I am of myself tonite.  The feeling of even this minor achievement has me so giddy.  I always wanted to learn how to swim but was terrified of putting my head under water and going into the deep end of the pool. 

I’m one of those people who will swim across the pool as long as I’m on the side where I can grab the wall and/or keeping my head above water and swimming across gauging to make sure I can make it and not stop.

I think this is going to be one hell of a radical sabbatical year! Making waves has always been my forte but never expected to make them in a pool.  Life is just full of surprises!

I have to admit, returning to college is not as easy as I may have thought initially.  The work is hard but now, the work appears even harder.   Maybe its that the honeymoon phase is over and the fun has turned to working more hours on the lessons?  or maybe its that when I don’t pay close attention or I find that I’m not hearing the discussion, I lose track and fall behind?  Whatever it is, the lessons are becoming more and more complicated.

I can’t help but take it all seriously.  I want to learn all thats presented to me and do well and although I don’t give a hoot how others are doing, you can’t help but feel the competitiveness.  All in all, whether you’re 21 or 51, the professors don’t discriminate.  They’re tough on everyone. 

So, getting back to my wanting to start a Sabbatical Sisters Sorority.  I just cannot find the time to make a committment to organizing a club.  My life has been filled to the rim.  Suddenly, I have time to help people with rides, appointments, shopping for them, etc.  Suddenly, what started out as as being a whole lot of time for “me,” turns out to be a whole lot of time for others.  I’m sure it will get better but for now, I am running out of time for the most important person, myself.  If its not studying, its shopping for my parents, if its not that, its going to the library to study, if not that, its taking a parent for a doctors appointment.

Okay, so I’m rambling here but I need to vent that although its been fun up to this point, it still has it’s stress factor.  Most people seem to think I sit around doing nothing all day when I’m not in school.  I still haven’t found the time to get new tires for my car or take Scooter to get his nails and wings clipped.   I gave in a half ass job on a homework assignment Monday and approached the professor today, to ask if I can do it over.  Her response was, I don’t grade the homeworks but Pearl, if you did a half ass job, then you lose out on the information you need to know. 

Boy, did she hit me between the eyes!  She’s absolutely right.  I did it carelessly and haphazardly.  But so is life.   There are those who will do things meticulously to impress others.  There are those who will do things meticulously to impress themselves.  Then there are those who just don’t do for anyone.  There’s a moral here but I don’t know what it is.

Today in Anatomy the Professor rambled about the grades on our papers.  She stated there was a bit of a curve as one of the questions was misinterpreted by everyone but two students.  So she gave everyone the points.  She also explained that the average of the class was 80, there were two 100 grades and that we should now be able to pull off the rest of the semester and know how she gives tests.

I wasn’t the least bit nervous until I noticed the girl next to me got a 100 as did her boyfriend who sits next to her on the other side.  Hmmm, maybe I should have glanced at her paper during the test?  My paper was delivered to me as the Professor called out my name.  My heart took five steps into my rectum and then it took seven steps back up into my chest.  I got a 75 and I could not be happier.  I was thrilled beyond belief. 

Who would have guessed that my first time back into the classroom after 30 years, two childbirths, a growth spurt in the wrong areas and some antidepressants, that I could remember anything beyond inspiration and expiration?  WOW is all I can say. 

As we reviewed more chapters, more words, more diagrams,  I suddenly realized, this is so not easy.  I almost wished I could drop out of the class at this point and not have to worry about memorizing all the parts of the face and larynx for the next quiz.  Something is so lost when all you do is learn in order to take a test.  You lose the significance and the meaning of all thats necessary to understand the field you want to go into. 

In anycase, as we were told to pass our homeworks to the front of the room for collection.  The homework was for us to draw or sketch the posterior and anterior of the larynx as well as listing the cartlidges.  I noticed the girl next to me had made a very pretty and colorful diagram of the larynx with all the proper labels.   I looked at my work, and all I had done was traced it onto a piece of paper, no colored pencils used, no fancy calligraphy.  Just plain ole lines.  Hmmm,  I guess brown nosing it hasn’t changed in the last thirty years. 

I can’t say that everyday feels like a weekend because it doesn’t.  I spend a great deal of time studying and enjoy the reading.  But weekdays are clearly still weekdays on this sabbatical and weekends are very much a time for me to make time for studying and relaxing.

Today, Ed and I went to the Botanical Gardens as the weather was a beautiful 81 degrees.  Needless to say, I couldn’t help but smell the roses that were still in bloom.  Some smelled like lemons, others smelled like fresh gardened roses.  The scent relaxed me and its been a long time since I stopped to smell the roses.  The expression certainly means exactly as it states.

Our lives are so busy that we forget to stop and do the simple things that are right here in front of us.  The same thing with laughter, love, hugs, compliments and just turning to the person you love and giving them a smile.  It can make such a big difference in someones day.

We are becoming so automated and removed from the human touch that we don’t slow down until something goes terribly wrong.  Life is very, very precious.  I don’t mean to sound philophical but we take life, every bit of it, for granted.  Yes, we all know we’re going to die one day but we don’t act as though we may die one day.  We act immortal.

One day last week, a neighbors husband was working on his roof.  A hobby he had taken up over the years. The house was an ongoing project as it is for many of us.  He enjoyed working on his house and this was just another day doing what he enjoyed doing.  Yet, something went terribly wrong.  We’ll never know exactly what happened, whether he lost his balance or felt ill or whatever it was.   He fell off that roof  and hit the ground, and in an instant, his life, his families’ lives and his friends lives changed.  His life, snuffed out quicker than the speed of light.  Or at least faster than one could imagine.  I can’t imagine the pain this family is going through and it makes me feel so terribly sad when someones life is cut short.

Did he tell his children he loved them that morning? Did he hug his wife and hold her close.  Did his daughter ask for the car keys and give him a big smile?  Did he stop to smell the roses that grow in his yard? It’s all so terribly painful to know that he died so tragically.

So, today when I told my children I loved them in a slightly different tone, and gave my husband a special hug, and gave my friends a serious smile, no one may have noticed the change, but I felt the need to stop, think and feel connected and smell the variety of roses that come across my path today.

The eve of Yom Kippur is almost upon us and supposedly, we are to reflect on the year and ask him/her to forgive us for the past year and keep us safe in the coming year.

I don’t know about you but I always found this whole thing a bit scary.  I mean to think that I have no control over my being and that someone is deciding on who shall live and who shall die?  I am certain in my heart that if there is a God,  She/He will understand those of us who are ambivalent.   I am certain She/He will understand why we feel the way we do and why we can’t follow it all, the way we were taught too.  I love some of the traditional flairs of Judaism, they warm my heart and make me feel united with the religion.

So although I don’t pray, beg for forgiveness or ask for a smooth year, I do in many ways take this time out for reflection.  As a Jew, which I am every bit of,  and as a human being.  I ask myself, what is it that I can improve, not only in my life but in someone else’s?  How can I make this a better place for me, for my children and for the strangers and friends who pass my way.

If I’ve put a smile on your face when we’ve met, I hope you’ll remember to put a smile on the next person you encounter.  To those who celebrate the Jewish New Year, may you all experience a good, clean, safe and healthy year. 

In the meantime, I’m headed for bed early tonite and staying under the covers most of tomorrow.  I plan to lay low……….

I spent 12 hours of my day today on campus.  Thats right, 12 hours!  Who would have thought I would enjoy studying.  I arrived on campus at 8:30 a.m. and headed to the library cafe where there was none other than STARBUCKS waiting for me.  My favorite burnt coffee when nothing else is available.

I picked a cozy chair, pulled my books out, drank some coffee and people watched for about a half hour.  I was gearing up to study but in the interim I decided to observe my surroundings and take it all in.

 Did you know that most students do NOT look happy? In fact, the majority of students and staff did not look happy.   I was trully surprised to find that those observed didn’t even smile.  I must have looked really silly with a big grin on my face while studying but I trully feel lucky, blessed and relaxed.  Yea, yea, I know I made some of you crazy with these tests I’m taking but thats all par for the course (no pun intended). 

Okay, back to studying.  Anatomy is tough, no doubt about it.  And I’m only studying anatomy and physiology of speech, language and hearing.  I can’t imagine what medical students must go through.  In anycase, at one point, I could not find the answer to a question I felt I needed.  It was nowhere to be found in the textbook and it wasn’t in my notes.  So I text messaged one of my brainy friends who I thought might know the answer because she knows anatomy. 

My buddy called me and gave me the answers to two of the muscles I needed to know.  In my text to her, I told her the two definitions of words I did know (at that moment at least).   I felt assured that I knew some of the material but there were definitely some things I would not know.  

Sitting in the classroom, you can hear the students complaining of anxiety and panic attacks they were having over this “quiz.”   I was not feeling any of that but I was sort of hoping I would get stuck in the elevator on the way up to class.   It would have at least given me more time to study or worse, have a panic attack.  The test was handed out and we were given a half hour to complete the exam.

The first question looked familiar….ah yes, the one I texted my brainy buddy about.   Lots of questions on planes, tissues, sternocleimastoids, a diagram of the rib cage having us identify locations of the sternum, the pectoral muscles, the scalpular, the clevicle, etc.  The one thing I messed up on was a medical term for lack of growth.  hmm, I really didn’t study the medical terms and I felt a bit lost.  The only word I could think of was “stunt”. when your growth is stunt?  naturally, that is not the correct answer, but I thought it was a pretty good guess and so I put it down hoping it was close to the right answer.

After class, several of us congregated to check out what the answers were to the questions we were uncertain of.   I’m glad I’m not the only one who got wrong answers.  Several students were pretty upset but I assured them that we would have other opportunities to improve our grade or screw it up even more. 

In reviewing the answers though, I realized that I did NOT answer question number one correctly.  Jeesh! now I was annoyed because this is the one I got right in my text message to my brainy friend.  I wonder if the Professor will accept my showing her the correct answer on my cellphone?

Oh yea, I got a 90 on my Spanish test.  The teacher took off five points each on two answers because I spelled it incorrectly.  Am I allowed to yell FOUL play here!  I mean, afterall, maybe I heard the word the way I wrote it?  Can I claim my hearing disability as a means of getting those ten points back?

 In anycase, is it good when the professor knows your name so early in the semester? because my Spanish professor called out my name, volunteering me to read from the textbook.  Naturally, I wasn’t paying attention at that very moment and gave her a very DUH look.  She rattled off something in Spanish and my buddy next to me, pointed to where I should read from.   Jeesh!  thank goodness my spanish accent saved the day when I read from the book. 

I definitely overstudied for this spanish quiz today.  I must have memorized at least 100 words in spanish.  From colors to identifying objects in a classroom to clothing.  I even figured out a way to remember several words that I was having a difficult time remembering.  For example: la cabeza means head.  For the life of me, I could not remember the spanish word.  It finally ocurred to me to remember cabbage head.  cabbage vs. cabeza.  its a cinch now.  well low and behold, the teacher hands out a paper thats three inches long and eight inches wide.  Their was a list of 20 English words which she asked us to translate into spanish.  

The good thing was that I was able to look at the word in English and immediately say it in Spanish.  So, this little quiz was just a tiny quiz.  Now anatomy is another story.  Today in class, we were all saying that this quiz on Wednesday feels more like it should be called a test.  The Professor has stated that the “QUIZ” will be on chapters one through five.  We will be quizzed on diagrams, medical terminology and asked which direction certain parts go and what expands and what decreases, increases, etc.   hmmm, so what is the difference between a quiz and a test?  I’m sure to find out on Wednesday.

Oh, and by the way, the word head was not on the spanish test.

I don’t know how I am ever going to return to work next September.  I absolutely love attending college classes.  I love learning and I love being so inquisitive.  I want to be a student in college for the rest of my life.

For those of you who attended college in the 70’s, remember the older students that were hanging around attending one class a semester?  The ones who were close to 30 years old?  They weren’t returning students, they were actually students who took a few credits each semester but their main objective was to smoke cigarettes, be cool in the student union and take forever to graduate.  They were party boys who were never going to grow up (although we didn’t visualize them that way at the time).

I’ll never forget Bruce R.  He was student government president so many times that we all thought the school would just eventually hire him and give him that position permanently.   He was what we called the perpetual student.  He was always in on club meetings and the President of the college invited him to luncheons.   I guess the guy felt Bruce had the students ears on his side.

Anyway, my point is that, I want to be a perpetual student. Bruce sort of had the right idea but it was earlier on in life.  I want to learn all there is to learn and continue to enjoy the interaction I’m having with the students.  I’m enjoying the professors too.  They’re young, bright and ballsy.  Exactly the type of people I like to communicate with.

Have you ever listened in the dark? or should I say, Have you ever listened to the silence in the dark?

I feel the urge to write about my hearing. Or should I say, lack of hearing.  Most people think because I wear a hearing aid on my right ear, that I hear well with my left ear.  Then others think, because I wear a hearing aid, I must have 20/20 hearing.

Pull up a chair and learn something…..a hearing loss is very different from a vision loss.  Even with a vision loss, you can wear glasses and not have 20/20 vision. For some reason, vision loss and wearing glasses is 150% more accepted than a hearing loss and wearing hearing aids.    With a hearing loss, one does not hear all that is spoken or hear all the environmental sounds because they wear a hearing aid.  The thing to remember is that a hearing loss means I cannot hear certain sounds with or without a hearing aid.  So no matter how loud you scream what you want me to hear or move your mouth in total exaggeration thinking I am going to lipread you in slow clowny motions, it ain’t gonna happen.

So please, if I do not hear you, don’t ask me if my hearing aid is on? don’t ask me if I’m wearing my hearing aid today? Fortunately for you, if I am not wearing my aid, I will tell you and please don’t ask me why I’m not hearing what you’re saying?   I find all these remarks/questions terribly offensive and it makes me realize how much you, as a hearing person, do not understand about the science of hearing loss.  

I have no problem educating you about hearing loss. So the next time I don’t hear you, ask me what you can do to help me hear what you’re saying.  More than likely, you will need to REPHRASE what you’re saying.  Don’t bother repeating the same exact sentence when I’ve just finished saying what three times and you keep repeating the sentence over and over.  I’m not going to get it until I know what the subject is that we are discussing.

Imagine, I want you to try very hard and imagine looking at a persons face during a conversation when suddenly,  all you can hear are the vowels in the sentences or the consonants only. Or you’re sitting in a movie theatre and hearing the voices from the screen but not being able to discriminate what is being said.   Welcome to life as a hard of hearing person.

No matter how many times I explain hearing loss, there are always those who believe that hearing aids are for old people. Or hearing aids should be disguised or that the hard of hearing person hears what they want to hear.  The thing I hate most is the look on a persons face when I can’t catch whats being said and they need to rephrase.   There’s this look of “man, how much longer is this going to take?”   or “man, how do I make you understand what I’m saying.”   well, hey, I can understand what you’re saying if I could hear what you were saying.

I wear my hearing aid all day and let me tell you, listening, takes a great deal of energy out of me.  I am in automatic pilot when my hearing aid is on.  I just love when people say to me, Pearl, you speak so well!  Of course I speak well, I wasn’t born deaf and my hearing impairment did not start until my teenage years.

I work hard to hear people.  I love to socialize and having a hearing problem can really alienate you from people, if you allow it to.  And there are times, I do NOT want to hear things. Thats right! I don’t want to hear the noise, the conversation I can’t understand or even the flushing of the toilets.   At the end of the day, when I pull off my hearing aid and all goes quiet in my surroundings, I feel the exhaustion leave my body, my antennas close and I feel good lying down in bed and listening to the silence.  And all is quiet and sleep prepares to set in.