Sunday, August 15, 2010


That is the sound I like to make just before I head out for vacation! But, today, it has another meaning...

You might recall that I am deaf on one side thanks to the Big Brain Tumor Adventure of 2008. I must say that the first year after surgery I was dealing with so many other things (like a paralyzed face) that I didn't really realize how frustrating it was going to be to have impaired hearing.

Most people equate this to a hearing loss, as in diminished hearing. It's actually quite different. My hearing on the Left side is excellent - really, I can hear a mouse fart in the woods. Unless there is any sort of background noise ... lawnmowers, air conditioners, people talking, music, wind in the trees, etc. And you'd be amazed at how much background noise exists in our normal, day to day lives! The more sources of noise there are, the more strain it puts on my "good" ear and my brain. You see, when you have a total hearing loss on one side, you lose the ability to be able to filter noise effectively. All the noises arrive at the good ear at the same time, which makes it quite difficult for your brain to process each noise individually. What frequently happens is that all you really hear is a blast of noise - voices tend to run together, background noise overrides other noises that you would normally be able to isolate. All in all, it is frustrating and it is also very tiring. So, why am I talking about this? (And, no, I'm not whining...)

Well, several weeks ago I went to get my hearing checked in my good ear (a yearly occurrence now since it is the only ear I have left). While I was there, I had them evaluate me for a Bone Anchored Hearing Device (Baha, by Cochlear). This is a pretty cool thing that allows your skull to conduct sound waves to your "good" ear. It is also a pretty major commitment. It involves having a titanium "abutment" (think screw) embedded in your skull above the deaf ear. Once the screw has been occified into the mastoid bone of your skull (which takes about 3 months), you can then snap a small sound processor onto the abutment and ... voila, you have some degree of bilateral hearing! Of course, once the screw is in there, it is there for life, so you kind of need to be sure you are okay with that. If you can embrace your inner Frankenstein, though, it seems like a good way to simulate some sort of normal hearing.

Like all things, it has some limitations. Friends who have a Baha tell me that it doesn't "sound" like regular hearing, it has a bit of a tinny sound to it. And, most people still can't tell where sound is coming from (directionality, or localization.) But, it does allow you to know when someone on your deaf side is talking. And, it does allow you to filter some of the background noise which makes it easier to comprehend words. It even has a little adapter so that you can plug in a device like an iPod.

So, over the next few weeks, I will be making a decision to whether I want to become a "bolt head." And, if the decision is yes, then I will start what will surely be a battle royal with the insurance company to cover the operation and device.

If you'd like to know more about the Baha, you can check out their website at

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

LaZ Boy

Okay, first let me fall on my own sword. I can't believe it has been nearly a month since I blogged. Mea culpa. I will use the excuse that I've been busy, but that's pretty weak.

So, what inspired me today? Well, actually it is something that I've been driving past for the last year. And, every time I see it, it bothers me. What am I talking about? The LaZ Boy.

There are a couple of things here that are concerning me. First, and perhaps most obvious, is the fact that this cloth recliner (LaZ Boy, if you will) sits out front of this store on NJ State Route 206 day after day, rain or shine. Think about it. Can you even imagine how nasty it must smell? Euw. And how many mice call it home? It boggles the mind. Frankly, the reason this picture isn't great is because I was afraid to get out of my car and approach the damned thing. There is nothing that would induce me to buy a recliner from this place. NOTHING.

But here is the thing that really concerns me, and something I think you men should rise up and fight about. LaZ Boy. Why not LaZ Girl? Or, even better, how about a gender-neutral LaZ Person? Men, if I were you, I'd be plenty pissed about this! And, I wouldn't stand for it!! Rise up and revolt! Don't let the recliner people imply that you are lazy, or that you are boys. Enough, I say!