Sunday, July 27, 2014

Water cat

Crazy cat loves water.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Well it's not a banana

I had a very thorough hearing test today, and then saw the specialist. I knew something was up because I could tell during the hearing test that my right ear was just fine, clogged yes but working as intended. Not so with the left ear, and then I got to do some tests I’ve never had done before – things that measured the pressure in my ears, checked to see how well my ear drums vibrate, and then how well the nerves in my ears work to conduct the sound (that one involved vibration on my skull, which felt incredibly weird). The audiologist was almost happy running all his tests because as it turns out, I have a fairly rare kind of hearing loss: low frequency hearing loss or nerve related hearing loss.

Since I got home, I’ve been scouring the internet for more information, and here’s what I’ve found:
  • This article talks about severe reverse slope hearing loss – mine isn’t severe, but it’s most definitely reverse slope and as I read the author’s description about what he can and can’t hear, I just kept nodding. I hear some sounds remarkably well; they are all in the higher frequencies. Others get lost in the audio clutter for me. This helps me understand why I didn’t really hear the ambulance that nearly t-boned me the other day. It had one of those newer, lower sounding sirens. If it had been high and wailing, chances are good I’d have heard it.
  • This article has charts that show the various kinds of hearing losses as they look on an audiogram (figure 6 is spot on for mine).
  • My doctor told me there are generally three causes for this kind of hearing loss: Meniere’s disorder, a small benign tumor that presses on the nerve, and we don’t know. He’s leaning toward we don’t know for me since I have no other symptoms to support a diagnosis of Meniere’s. We could run tests to see about the tumor but if there is one, treatment options aren’t great and don’t have a good chance of improving things. Plus these kinds of tumors are very small and very slow and not life threatening. 
  • I can hear women’s voices better than men’s and children’s voices are also better for me. 
  • Typically those with my kind of hearing loss will struggle in crowded places with loud, ringing acoustics (think bars, airports, places like that).
  • Generally, people with this kind of hearing loss don’t have issues with their speech – they talk just fine. Speech gets affected when the loss is in the upper frequencies. 
  • And I found this section from another article to be really interesting – I may have lost this hearing a while ago and just not realized it:
"A low frequency hearing loss is not easy to identify because it tends to not have any symptoms. In fact, lower frequency sounds do not have as much information as sounds in the higher frequencies. Plus, people with hearing in the middle and high frequencies can use what they hear in those frequencies to make up for what they do not hear in the lower frequencies, thereby "masking" the hearing loss. One of the few clues to a low frequency hearing loss is that the person has difficulty hearing in groups or in a noisy place."
My hearing loss is fairly mild so far, so there’s nothing to be done except get checked periodically. I go back in six months to see how I’m doing.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

When things are not as they seem

Are you familiar with Throwback Thursdays on FaceBook? It’s a silly meme that involves posting old photos of yourself on your timeline. I love it, I’m not ashamed to say, and I’ve had a blast seeing what others post as well as finding photos to post of my own.

A couple of weeks ago, a woman I knew in high school posted a photo of herself attending a very glamorous event, and she most definitely brought the glam. She wrote that you wouldn’t know it to look at the picture, but that had been one of the worst nights of her life. She was right – the picture didn’t show that at all.

Similarly, my photo tomorrow will be from the start of the darkest period of my life, I hope ever but most certainly so far. I knew things were bad, I suspected but hadn’t yet fully realized just how much worse things would get. And yet you can’t really tell from the picture.

I’m sure some of it is because it’s such a stylized, cliché of a photo. I mean really, a Glamour Shot? Totally ridiculous to be sure – and what’s hilarious is I remember well that the stylist was just stumped by what to do with my incredibly short hair.

I have some good feelings about the session itself, but not because it was a Glamour Shot. My dear friend Paula knew how bad things were and maybe she knew that things were going to get worse, I don’t know. But she persuaded me to go to the mall in Topeka KS and do the shoot. So for about an hour or so, I was distracted by all the hubbub and directions to “look here” or “tilt your head this way or that way” and of course the silly costume changes.

I hated those pictures for years, mostly because they were a visible anchor to the time when they were taken. But the other day I was looking for another photo to scan for Throwback Thursdays and found them. I realized things had changed and what I felt now was empathy for the old me, and sorrow for what she was going through and had yet to go through. And as dated and cliché-y as they are, I sort of liked the pictures. So here they are.

Monday, July 21, 2014


Do you remember that old skit from Sesame Street with Bert and Ernie, where Ernie’s got a banana in his ear and Bert’s trying to tell him that? Ernie keeps saying “What??” and of course Ernie’s punch line – after Bert gets quite irritated with Ernie – is “I can’t hear you, I have a banana in my ear!” Har har.

I don’t have a banana in my ear but I am having problems hearing. This has been going on for nearly three months now, but I ignored it . . . until the morning when I was very nearly t-boned by an ambulance because I couldn’t tell where the sound was coming from. That shook me up and I realized it was stupid not to get this checked out.

I suspected, and my PCP agrees, that I have wimpy inadequate Eustachian tubes that aren’t letting the fluid drain out from my middle ears. My ears are almost always clogged and it’s as though I’m under water. So I have an appointment with a specialist later this week.

In the meantime I have been consulting Dr. Google who is full of information about ear issues. My favorite is this article on Eustachian tubes and how they work (I found it quite fascinating, to be honest). Other bits of trivia I’ve picked up about this problem:
  • I’m already doing 99% of the recommended interventions 
  • I should have seen my doctor at the three week mark, rather than waiting nearly three months—oops 
  • Once it was clear that popping my ears the way you do when you’re on a plane that’s landing didn't help,I should have stopped doing that (I have now)
  • The jaw injury I sustained in my early 20s when I was an assistant gymnastics coach, the one that caused the TMJ, may also be partly responsible for this problem
  • Tubes may be a valid treatment plan – to which I just have to laugh. It’s such a cliché that ear tubes are for preschoolers and I’m nowhere near that demographic!
On the positive side, my left ear popped by itself this morning on my run. That’s the first time it’s done so in months. I have (muffled, not great) stereo sound now for the first time since May.

Stay tuned for an update once I see the specialist.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Oh yes the fabric

I finally got pictures of the fabric we bought in NYC over the 4th of July weekend:

Two sided knit, it's a very blue red
and will make a great top.

Top fabric is a polyester for a dress; bottom fabric
doesn't show the sheen, it's for Kent to make a jacket

Black ponte knit that looks like leather/pleather on
one side. I'll make a skirt/jacket out of this.

Gorgeous sweater knit, the photo doesn't do it justice.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The house of blues

In the last week, two friends have each lost a parent-in-law. As friends do, we’ve been talking through their specific losses and then more generally about death, funerals, family dynamics and other things like that that are uncomfortable and tend to only get mentioned during times of loss. It’s a way of coping, to be sure, and I think it’s helpful to those who lost their family members.

Honestly it helps me too. My family isn’t especially close, and I don’t know what things will be like after my parents die. At this point, I hear from my brother once a year, when he sings happy birthday to me and then usually drops a personal stink bomb on me (he’s generally got some bad things going on at home, and I’m sympathetic but come on, that’s what you’re going to tell me about on my birthday?). One of my sisters, well I don’t even know how to describe things. I think the last contact was a text from me to her about nurse’s day. My youngest sister and I are probably the closest among the four of us. But we’re separated by a big giant ocean, so even there we’ve got distance.

This all makes me feel sad and frustrated. I’ve tried for decades to have closer relationships with all four only to hear mostly crickets. At the risk of sounding like a whiner, I’ve given up. There’s only so long I can continue to be the one doing the heavy lifting with little to no response or effort in return.  My emotional energy has limits, it’s not never-ending. I need replenishing too, which means my relationships have to be two way. For my own sanity, I’ve just stopped trying any more.

What’s really strange to me is that I’m closest with those who aren’t actually physically related to me. I guess that speaks to the fluid nature of family. I’d say I’m closer to two of my step sisters than my brother and one sister (and really, they haven’t been legally step sisters since I was 12). How weird is that?

Anyway, I’d love to put a bow on this post and write a happy ending, or at least a neat conclusion but that's not happening. There isn’t one now and maybe that’s just the way things are.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Le Pew

Last weekend, Kent and I took a quick trip to NYC both to get away and also to do some fabric shopping. We knew several of the stores would be closed because they aren’t open on Saturdays, but enough were open to make the trip worth our while.

As we drove to the airport, I had that niggling feeling that I’d forgotten something but couldn’t figure out what it was until we were sitting on the plane: my deodorant! Well Kent travels with his own toiletries so I knew I could just use his, although he uses Tom’s and I didn’t care for Tom’s all that much.

Well my opinion has now been amended to intense dislike, so intense that I would be better off not using anything than resorting to Tom’s. Yuuuuuuuuuuuck. Not only does it feel slimy going on, it irritated the heck out of my skin and made me smell bad/weird. Look, after all these years on the planet and after all the sweaty runs I’ve done, I know what my sweat smells/stinks like and this wasn’t it. I would catch a sniff and think a stranger was getting way into my personal space only to realize, no – that’s me.

It took a couple of days to get the lingering aftereffects of that nastiness removed from my pits, but all is right again in my personal grooming world.

First world problems, I know.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Water cat part trois

Eddie has long been fascinated with running water, at least water running from a faucet. I have no idea what he’d do with a stream since he’s strictly an indoor cat. But he does love water coming from a faucet.

I wrote about his obsession here and here (both with videos), where I had to practically fight with him to get the sink to myself when brushing my teeth. That ritual has evolved in the Little Yellow House.

Nowadays, he jumps on the bathroom counter when I get the floss out and chirps or meows at me to hurry it up. Once I turn on the faucet (to a tiny trickle) and wet my toothbrush, the sink is all his for as long as it takes me to walk to the kitchen, dispose of my floss and finish brushing my teeth. Sometimes I come back to him just looking at the water. Other times he’s actively biting at the trickle or sticking his head under it. Usually he ends up giving a great big shake and getting water all over the counter and the mirror.

This morning when I came back, he wasn’t doing any of these things and I realized there was a spider on the side of the sink. I rinsed the not so eensy teensy spider down the water spout drain, and poor Eddie didn’t get his water play time today. No worries, he's an optimistic cat and knows tomorrow is another day.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

I'm going to Disney World!

No, not me. But it's part of the story.

One of the reasons we fly on Delta pretty much exclusively is because the rewards program is so good. We get upgrades to first class on most of our trips, which is nice both for the extra room and the convenience.

So it was this last weekend that we had seats in first class for our trip to New York. While waiting at the gate house in Kansas City, I noticed a girl with probably her dad who was standing near us – she was really chatty, the kind you know comes from being nervous or a little keyed up. So I asked her if this was her first plane trip. No, she said, it was her second but her dad had flown a lot so he was the expert. He sort of rolled his eyes so I’m guessing he hadn’t actually flown all that much but it was pretty cute to see her belief in him. They were on their way to Disney World and she was just all kinds of excited about the trip.

Right about the, the gate agent called for families with small children to board, and she asked why they were going on the plane. I walked through the process with her (families with small children, those who need more time to board, first class and then by the zone numbers on the tickets) and she nodded. This was a very rare flight in that there was only one family that pre-boarded and none who needed extra time. So the gate agent called for first class. As I stepped up to the gate, she asked in utter surprise, “Are you in first class??” Yes, I said, I am. Her eyes got huge. I think she was kind of amazed that real people sit in first class.

I hope she had a great time in Disney World.

Friday, July 4, 2014

It aint pretty

But it works. Here's our solution to the litter box issue I mentioned a while back. I'm happy to report that the litter is great; it controls odor really well and has far less dust than the Fresh Step did. That's good because the big litter bins are in our office:

No, it's not what we wanted to do but we don't really have a better spot for them. Since the stairs to our basement are located in the garage, we couldn't put the litter boxes down there. That's just as well since then I suspect we would forget to scoop daily. And the other downside is we can hear them doing their business, which is pretty disturbing when they're peeing.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

That was exhausting

Here's the end result of all of yesterday's hissing:

Yup, he wore himself out. He napped the rest of the day, which isn't his typical pattern.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Cranky cat!

He won't catch mice himself but he's cranky about another cat coming round to get the job done.