Getting Back in the Game
While in college, I led an active lifestyle, working out, playing various sports, and participating in a baseball league. I was having some difficulty hearing certain words and a hearing test revealed mild hearing loss in my left ear. The doctor chalked this up to me working in a loud automobile factory — the job that supported me through school, and listening to loud music.
A Remarkable Irony
“I never knew that spaghetti made noise!” exclaimed one of my cochlear-implanted students. She was in awe of the new sounds she was able to hear since her recent surgery.
I, on the other hand, was struggling to hear certain sounds. I blamed my recent hearing difficulties on the fan over my head in the classroom and the whirring of the motor of the smart board, and I blamed it on getting older. I am a teacher of high school deaf students and I depend on my hearing to teach communication skills.
Brain surgery was the easy part. I slept through it. My altered life and “new normal” started the moment I awoke. Due to the practiced hands of two brain surgeons whose patience outweighed mine, I was recovering from a nine-hour craniotomy. My head was now tumor-free, but the long and difficult operation resulted in chronic post-craniotomy pain.
I didn’t recognize at the time that I was entering the “in-between.” I was stuck between who I had been and someone I didn’t know yet. Unknown to me, my personal path would lead to disability: an outcome that was “worse than some and better than others.”
Watching, Waiting...and Still Dancing
My balance had always been pretty good. As a dedicated fly fisherman, crossing a raging creek on a fallen log or wading in a swiftly flowing river was a piece of cake. And as a square dancer, I was pretty nimble and coordinated for a 70-year old guy.
Then, in 2013, my friend and I decided to fly fish in the Snake River in Idaho. As I made my way into the river I began staggering around, trying to navigate the underwater rocks. I moved toward a rising trout but stumbled,falling into the chilly water. After being swept downstream for about ten feet, I regained my footing and looked sheepishly at my friend, who was suppressing a chuckle at my little mis-adventure. Two days later, I noticed a pretty red rock in the shallow water. I bent over to pick it up, lost my balance, and pitched face first into the river. The result was a nice cool bath on a hot day.