Updated Bucket List – Items #1-18

Last time I reviewed my new Bucket List I had 17 items and little progress towards any of them. However, I’m now delighted to report that I can cross off one item and have made significant progress towards three others:

  1. Coffee with a friend in our local Starbucks
  2. To be a bridesmaid
  3. To visit New Zealand
  4. To live on the ocean
  5. To own a Class B motor-home (Roadtrek ideally)
  6. Waist length hair
  7. Day-trip to Frankenmuth & Bronners
  8. Reschedule & enjoy my belated 45th birthday vacation
  9. Acceptance of RADS diagnosis and limitations that places on my life
  10. Despite RADS diagnosis, work on improving the quality of my life and work at getting back to work.
  11. year long road trip following 70 degree (21 C) weather throughout the contiguous United States.
  12. Lose steroid weight and return to a healthy weight
  13. Get out walking, locally and a little further afield on walking trails and then snowshoeing as determined by the weather
  14. Visit Harrison Hot Springs in BC
  15. Go indoor skydiving
  16. Attend the Albuquerque International Balloon Festival
  17. Go on a picnic

Yesterday, with a great deal of help from my friend I was able to cross off #1. In fact we went a step further and didn’t just meet for coffee in Starbucks but we actually met for coffee in a small local mall. Thankfully, it doesn’t have a juice/smoothie vendor and the food court is small enough that between us we could keep an eye out for potential concerns.

On arriving at the Mall we had a quick review of how to give me an Epi Pen (just in case) and then had a small wander around the mall. My first time doing so in about 6 months. Unfortunately, the cleaning machine was out, and in use, for part of the mall and that scent was too strong for me to manage so I didn’t make it to the book store. However, we did have coffee! The cleaner in the food court very kindly agreed to clean the bathrooms while we did, rather than washing the floors and tables down, at that time. It seems that the cleaning services in the Mall all use a citrus/strong scented solution for washing the floors.

Kai alerted a couple of times that I needed to use my inhalers and ultimately that we needed to leave, due to scents and my reactions. I’m so proud of him.

Funnily enough having decided to make this alert extremely obvious while we were in the hospital (jumping on, & pawing at, my head literally) he remembered how to do it more subtly, but still insistently, yesterday. If I didn’t know better I’d think it was deliberate on his part as a few patients had commented on not seeing him working, not realising that his usual alerts are very subtle and not obvious unless you’re looking for them. He can’t really have decided to show off, can he?

I am so thankful to have a friend who was willing to ensure that she was completely safe (unscented) to be with me, and to then look out and advocate for me. Unfortunately I can’t often advocate for myself as I can’t get close enough to the scent to ask the person concerned if they’d help me out.

So #1 is completed! Though it will definitely stay as a goal to meet on a regular basis.

I’ve also made good progress towards items 9 & 10 (Acceptance of RADS diagnosis and limitations that places on my life & Despite RADS diagnosis, work on improving the quality of my life and work at getting back to work.)

It’s a fine balance. Much as it was great to get out of the house, and meet for coffee yesterday it took a lot of courage to do so and I needed a lot of help to make it safe enough.

It’s all about living in this moment.

In this moment there isn’t a citrus fruit or product in my vicinity so I enjoy it. I need to be cautious and take appropriate precautions but I’m not going to give up on life just because I know what could kill me & how likely that is. I could still get hit by that proverbial meteor!!

Oddly enough I’ve also made some progress towards items 6 & 12 (Waist length hair & Lose steroid weight and return to a healthy weight).  I realised how much longer my hair has grown over the past year when I braided it for the first time in a while during my hospital stay and the braid came quite a lot further down my back. My hair is still very fine and my entire braid thinner than most people’s bangs…. but it’s growing!

Also, despite eating hospital food I actually lost some weight in the hospital. I’ve still got a long way to go to get back to a healthy weight , after the impact of the steroids, but I’m finally not going up every day!

So given my recent success in meeting item 1 I’m going to replace it with a new item. At least once a month, taking appropriate precautions, get out and do something social.

I’m also adding a new item to my list. At least once a day, do something creative. That could be as simple as writing this Blog or colouring. Alternatively it could enable my trying out a new craft, or one that I haven’t done in a while, or can’t do as well as I used to so rarely do anymore. It could be writing a poem, a story or exercising my somewhat limited artistic talents. It could also be cooking a meal or baking something that’s a little more complicated than taking it out of the box! Just because I’m only cooking for me it doesn’t mean that I don’t deserve to cook an interesting meal for myself.

So here’s my updated list. The items in italics are those that I’ve made good progress towards!

  1. At least once a month, taking appropriate precautions, get out and do something social
  2. To be a bridesmaid
  3. To visit New Zealand
  4. To live on the ocean
  5. To own a Class B motor-home (Roadtrek ideally)
  6. Waist length hair
  7. Day-trip to Frankenmuth & Bronners
  8. Reschedule & enjoy my belated 45th birthday vacation
  9. Acceptance of RADS diagnosis and limitations that places on my life
  10. Despite RADS diagnosis, work on improving the quality of my life and work at getting back to work
  11. year long road trip following 70 degree (21 C) weather throughout the contiguous United States.
  12. Lose steroid weight and return to a healthy weight
  13. Get out walking, locally and a little further afield on walking trails and then snowshoeing as determined by the weather
  14. Visit Harrison Hot Springs in BC
  15. Go indoor skydiving
  16. Attend the Albuquerque International Balloon Festival
  17. Go on a picnic
  18. At least once a day, do something creative

How’s your Bucket List coming on?

NB. Please note that Epi Pen’s come in cases. So to use one you need to take it out of the case first. Then it’s…

Blue to the Sky, Orange to the thigh

Which means take the blue cap off and make sure that end is towards the sky, swing the pen and ‘stab’ the person with the orange end on the outside, fleshly part of their thigh (through their clothes) and count for 3 seconds. Call for an ambulance and paramedic service.

If there is a delay in getting emergency services you may need to give a second pen. Most people with severe allergies, and known anaphylaxis reactions, will carry several of them on them. I also carry inhalers and liquid Benadryl which can also help buy me some time.

The Epi Pen needle is on a spring within the orange section and the blue cap releases the safety catch for it. You are never exposed to the needle. So it’s completely safe for you to give to somebody else if they need you to.

Comfort books are much healthier than comfort food…

Since coming across one for the first time I have been a great fan of the Chicken Soup for the Soul books. I have shelves of them in my home covering every subject that you can imagine and more. Most of them picked up in thrift stores or in discount books stores to be honest as I can’t quite justify paying full price for them here in Canada in comparison to the price of books in England (where books aren’t taxed, or weren’t when I lived there anyway).

Like the original author, Jack Canfield, I use them to illustrate ideas and concepts in lectures, talks and as I teach.

Unlike actual chicken soup, which makes me sick, I also love to read them when I’m sick. Every edition has 101 stories or poems and none are longer than 1200 words so they’re easy to pick up and put down as needed. Perfect for those brain fog days!

Today, I fulfilled a dream. I submitted my own story to an upcoming Chicken Soup anthology. The theme is “Inspiration for teachers” and I thought that it was high time that I said thank you to a teacher who had a huge impact on my life and probably never even knew it.

So hopefully, my submission will be accepted and in the future you can all read about my former music teacher, Mr. Nelson and the enormous impact he had on my life personally and as a teacher myself.

In the meantime, if you have a story about a teacher who inspired your or who had a huge impact in your life – why don’t you consider submitting a story too?

http://www.chickensoup.com/story-submissions/submit-your-story

How loud is too loud?

It’s Hearing Awareness week and as a result, there are some good video demonstrations of how easy it is for people to damage their hearing.

One of the best is this one, available on Facebook.

This is a short video that demonstrates the noise levels of a variety of entertainment sounds, environmental sounds and tools and how long you can safely listen to them without risk of damaging your hearing.

If you can’t access the video on Facebook there is a noise simulator on the Australian Hearing Awareness website that allows you to choose the sound for yourself and hear for yourself how loud it actually is, and see how long you can safely listen to it before damaging your hearing.

Why is this so important?

It’s important because deafness can’t be fixed in the same way that issues with your eyes can. If you are short-sighted or far-sighted you can wear corrective lenses and your sight returns to 20:20 or pretty close to it.

Even with the newest technologies, such as cochlear implants, a deaf person is still deaf. This video demonstrates what sound is like for somebody with a cochlear implant.

In contrast, this video demonstrates what sound is like for somebody using a hearing aid or FM system in a classroom.

As you will realise, neither technologies are returning the deaf person’s hearing to normal.

Deaf-People-Can-Do-Anything-Hearing-People-Can-Except-Hear.-»-Dr.-King-Jordan

Yes, deaf and Deaf people can do anything but hear. However, it is hard for us to make sense of the world around us. So as somebody who doesn’t have a choice about my hearing loss, it astounds me when I see people not wearing ear protection and constantly risking hearing loss.

The worse culprit is all the MP3 players and in the ear headphones with no sound limiter. If I can hear what you’re listening to there is a problem. You are damaging your hearing.

Age-related-hearing-loss

The assumption has always been that aside from a few people who are born with hearing loss that most loss occurs in old age. However, as this chart below shows that’s not actually the case. We are seeing increasing numbers of people with hearing loss right from young adults all the way through to old age since the invention of personal stereos in all their different forms.

hearing-loss-pie-chart_300x2561

In fact, the cause of hearing loss is most often due to loud noise exposure!

hearing-loss-causes

Even a little hearing loss starts impacting your life pretty quickly. This is an audiogram which is used to measure hearing. The x-axis (left to right) is the frequency of the sound and includes high-pitched sounds and very low bass sounds. The y-axis (up and down) is the amount of

This is an audiogram which is used to measure hearing.

The x-axis (left to right) is the frequency of the sound and includes high-pitched sounds and very low bass sounds.

The y-axis (up and down) is the amount of decibels in volume.

So if you had your hearing tested and measured around the 40Db range you can see instantly that speech becomes impossible for you to understand.

Now most people don’t have a flat line of hearing loss. The pink line shows the common banana shape of most hearing loss.

familiarsounds

Basically, this means that you would have to have sounds amplified by the amount of your loss to bring you to somewhat normal volume but as the previous videos showed you hearing aids and cochlear implants don’t sound the same as ‘normal hearing’.

You still have to learn to interpret what you hear and as soon as you take them off, for a shower, to swim or to sleep then you are deaf once more.

So as somebody who has no choice about my hearing loss, who has accepted it culturally and believes strongly that the deaf/Deaf can do anything I still think it’s incredibly important for the hearing to protect their hearing.

Why?

Helen Keller said it best,

“Blindness cuts us off from things,
but deafness cuts us off from people”.

This obviously worked well for Beethoven in terms of his productivity but did nothing to assuage his loneliness as a person.

Ludwig-van-Beethoven-Famous-Failure

Deafness is very isolating unless you’re fortunate enough to have friends and family that work with you and assist you in communicating. Better yet, if you’re able to access the Deaf culture within your local community and be a part of it that can help mitigate the isolation.

However, as so many people are starting to experience hearing loss in mid-life they’ve already established their families and social community. It’s hard to leave one for another, even if that other is available to you. It has been very rare in my life that there has even been a Deaf community available to me simply due to where I have been living.

So, please, please consider your hearing. Buy the headphones with sound limiters, not just for your kids but for yourself as well. Turn down the TV, the stereo; attend concerts and go to nightclubs but use earplugs – take regular rests from the sound. If you have noise exposure at work insist on ear protection and wear it!

Being deaf doesn’t mean that you’re stupid but some people do seem to become deaf due to their acting stupidly!

Protect your ears!

Music and movies: The soundtrack to my life

It would have been Robin William’s 65th birthday yesterday (21st July 2016). When watching a review of his life I somehow ended up watching a video of Patrick Swayze singing ‘Love Hurts’. I hadn’t realised prior to this that Patrick Swayze had performed “She’s like the wind” on the soundtrack for Dirty Dancing. It’s hard to believe that both these actors are dead now: Patrick Swayze in 2009 from pancreatic cancer and Robin Williams in 2014 from suicide, attributed to long-standing mental health concerns and the recent onset of dementia.

When thinking about their work, certain memories were evoked for me, of where I was and the point I was at in my life when specific pieces of their art were released.

Most of my most memorable movies by Robin Williams were released when I was a student:

As a result I remember many a night walking down the long hill to the local movie theatre, usually with a crowd of up to a dozen friends from the University Christian Union to see the movies on a cheap night, sharing sweets (candy) and pop (soda) between us as we couldn’t afford our own.

I do remember that ‘The Birdcage” is one movie that I went to on my own, as I’d have been excommunicated from the Christian Union for even suggesting seeing a movie with openly gay characters and drag queens.

I thought at first that it was the first movie that I went to on my own, but then I remembered David Bowie and Labyrinth.

That was definitely my first adventure in seeing a movie on my own, a tradition which I continue to this day.

My reason for going on my own – I was 15 years old – and David Bowie looked great in tights!!

Dirty Dancing, on the other hand, came out in 1987 when I turned 16, just like “Baby” in the movie. However, I wasn’t allowed to go and see the movie when it came out; though I was delighted to watch it, while babysitting, when it came out on VHS a year later!

Looking back I probably wasn’t allowed to see Labyrinth either – but I did – several times! Sorry Mum!

Reminiscing in this way brought to mind other songs and movies that remind me of specific points in my life.

When I was very young and in fact to this day, my mother was besotted with Adam Faith. Now why, of all his songs “Mix me a person” has always stuck with me I’m not quite sure. Also, given that she was born and raised in Liverpool how she fixated on Adam Faith rather than the Beatles I’m not quite sure.

Visiting with my grandparents and it was all the classic movies with Cary Grant and Doris Day that made my holidays. I can’t imagine how they put up with me repeatedly watching Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Calamity Jane, Operation Petticoat, Father Goose and similar. My grandfather liked John Wayne movies but somehow I always seemed to persuade him to watch the musicals that I loved instead!

Taking dance classes at age 9/10 I worked so hard on a piece to ‘The Lion Sleeps tonight’ and was so disappointed when I went to my first (and only) school disco to find out that nobody danced like we did in my classes, but rather just did this odd hop from one foot to another.

The first cassette tape that I bought myself, with birthday money, was in 1984 and was one of my few forays into popular music. I was 13 years old and bought “Make it Big” by Wham! I still had the tape until very recently.

Shortly thereafter I fell in love with a country song in a movie, that to this day I’ve never been able to fully remember the song or the artist. When trying to find it I came across Crystal Gayle and “Cry me a river”. That was the start of my love affair with country music. Living in England at the time, country music wasn’t very popular so I could often find tapes greatly reduced and at one time I had a very extensive tape collection.

As I grew up I loved Garth Brooks music, especially “The Dance”. That was until I came across Kenny Chesney and his music with “Old Blue Chair” becoming a particular favourite.

I was so disappointed when I realised how short he is (I’m just under 6’ tall) let alone when he married Renée Zellweger; though that was one of the shortest marriages on record being annulled after just 4 months.

I still live in hope that he’ll grow a few inches and sweep me off my feet, to his home in the Caribbean one of these days!

In 1997 I was writing up my PhD and ended up having to completely rewrite my thesis in three weeks. By now I had graduated to CDs, from my cassette tapes, at least some of the time. The Beautiful South was my go to music during this time. To this day, I can’t hear their music without that crazy time coming to mind. I must have had every single one of their CDs and just had them playing back-to-back.

In 1999 I visited Australia for the first time and came across Lee Kernighan’s music. This was my introduction to Australian ‘country’ music; which is hard to find outside of Australia and , much like in England, is not often that popular in Australia either.

Interspersed with my love of country music I have loved many other genres. Having intended to be a music teacher I studied all kinds of music at school and to this day still love pretty much all genres the exception of Heavy Metal, Rap and psychedelic/electric.

While I’ve now graduated to an iPod and often buy music online, I still have shelves of CDs, which I’m slowly copying over to my iTunes library. My music library is very eclectic, though still dominated by country.

As my hearing deteriorates I find that I am more drawn to some of the male artists. Especially those with deep bass voices like Josh Turner.

Being deaf I do find that sometimes my understanding of a song is quite different to that intended by the actual lyrics. The first time that I saw the real lyrics to some of the songs from Grease I understood why that was another movie I wasn’t allowed to watch when it first came out!

It’s funny how people assume that the deaf do not enjoy music. My experience, in contrast, is that many deaf people love music. We don’t just hear with our ears we hear with our entire body. Live music is best! Though it would be really helpful if more concerts would include live captioning, please!

If you want to understand more about how to hear with your whole body watch, and listen, to this video of a concert that was put on specifically for the deaf.

These days, one of my favourite songs, since long before Nyle De Marco popularised it on Dancing with the Stars has been “The Sound of Silence”, as originally performed by Simon and Garfunkel. Though the Disturbed version is pretty amazing as well.

Another song that still really resonates with me is “The Bargain Store” by Dolly Parton. It seems like it should be the theme song to my life.

Finally, the song that never fails to bring a smile to my face is “African Queen” by 2Face Idibia.

I’ll leave it to your imagination as to why that might be!

Ray-Charles-quote-300x227