Saturday, June 30, 2012

Single-Sided Deafness

I have had little to no hearing in my right ear since my early twenties.
Originally, I was told that only surgery could correct the problem, but there were risks to that solution:  I could be left with no hearing at all.  Eventually, I was fitted with a hearing aid about ten years ago, which I recently discovered does not really provide me with much hearing at all.
My lack of hearing in my right ear results from having a rigid stapes bone, caused from otosclerosis, as well as inner ear nerve damage.
With otosclerosis the stapes bone follows an abnormal growth pattern which can spread to the opening of the cochlea. This affects the amount of sound waves being transmitted to the cochlea. A reduction in sound waves means a reduction in hearing.
The less flexible the stapes the greater the degree of hearing loss. Eventually the stapes becomes completely fixed which results in severe hearing loss.  This type of hearing impairment is called conductive hearing loss.
Sound is usually passed freely through the ear due to the plasticity of the individual components. But this unchecked growth around the stapes causes it to lose its flexibility and become rigid which then disrupts normal hearing.
This growth is usually confined to the stapes but in some situations it can spread to the cochlea and affect the nerve cells within. If this occurs then the transmission of signals to the brain will be affected which also affects the hearing.  This is a different type of hearing problem called sensorineural hearing loss, which is the type of hearing loss I have in my right ear.
Otosclerosis can affect one ear but it usually affects both.  In my case, it only affects my right ear, leaving me with what is known as single-sided deafness.  (I also have hearing loss in my left ear, but only mildly so.)
The extent of my single-sided deafness was certainly demonstrated during our recent vacation when I developed an infection in my left ear.  A wick was inserted to act as a conduit for the antibiotics, and it served as a very effective plug too.  (So I'm wearing a hearing aid in my right ear, why?)
The other day, I came across a blog by Ray Gillies-Jones ( in which he described what it's like to live with single sided deafness.  While his experience is a bit extreme, he certainly captures the essence of much of what I deal with on a daily basis because of the lack of hearing in my right ear.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Sure hope I get home soon ...

It seems that I'm still in travel mode.
Every night, my dreams are filled with travels to various and sundry small town Ontario places that I've never been.  I don't know where I am, but I'm still on that  S.W. Ontario trip.
Each morning, I awake quite tired; exhausted from the frustrations of travel that I've faced all night long.
I was away for ten days; been home for five.
Sure hope this extended "still away in my dreams" phenomenon doesn't last too much longer.
I need to be at home, in body and in spirit, AND in energy.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Those Mack trucks are back!

Damn it anyway.
I managed so well on our 10-day vacation.
The body is a funny thing isn't it?
I knew by day seven that my body had had the biscuit.  I was really dragging bottom by then, but I had to keep on truckin', as they saying goes.  And I persevered.
On day eight, I took it slow and easy to try to 'catch up' a bit.
And it helped.
But day nine took it all out of me.  I did the driving from Waterloo to St. Marys, to attend the Induction Ceremony at the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame (boring!).    Then I again took the wheel for the drive from St. Marys back to our Toronto host's home where we were staying overnight before heading home the next morning.
I was really done for after that drive!
John did the complete drive home from Toronto on Sunday.
And I've been trying to get ahead of the curve ever since.
I managed to get the laundry done (there must have been five loads!) and put everything away so I feel 'settled' but my body is screaming at me from every muscle and fibre.
Yesterday, I had to go into the big city for a dental appointment and for my physio treatment.  The physio session helped tremendously to calm me; it always puts me in a very mellow frame of mind.
But this morning, I awoke again feeling like five Mack trucks had bounced me back and forth between them all night long.  Classic fibro flare-up!
Sure hope it doesn't last long because I've already tired of the overall fatigue and the complete muscle soreness.

Monday, June 25, 2012

22 weeks post-op

Today marks 22 weeks since my hip replacement surgery.
It also marks another milestone in my recovery.
While we were travelling, I went down to the hotel's hot tub every day and used the jets to help me while I was not having my normal therapies (acupuncture and massage).  It helped tremendously and it was amazing how much easily I could do my exercises in the hot water.
It was there that I discovered I could crouch enough that perhaps I just might be able to get into the tub when we got home.
And this morning, I finally managed to take a bath in my jet massage tub.  Oh what relief it was!
Unfortunately, we discovered that the back jets are not working -- something we had no way of knowing since it hadn't been put to the test in the past five months.  Fine time to find out!  One of the main reasons I use the tub is for the back jets.  
Anyway, we'll get that problem fixed pronto now that we know I can start using the tub again.
My surgery was performed on Monday, January 30th.  
July 30th also falls on a Monday -- that will be precisely six months since my surgery.
I'm told that by the six month mark, there should be nothing that I can't do.

Friday, June 22, 2012

I can hear again!

OMG it is wonderful to have my hearing back again.
On Wednesday, at 5:00pm, precisely 48 hours after that damned wick had been placed in my left ear, John very carefully removed it.
We had been watching the ballgame (my boys lost!) and I couldn't hear the commentary at all.  John assured me that the volume was at an acceptable level -- but nothing was coming through to me.  I had not been able to hear since the wick had been put in my ear, driving John mad with the need for him to yell to be heard.
John removed the wick and Eureka! I could hear again.
"Why is that television so loud?"  I giggled.  (John almost always has the volume at a higher level than I like.)   Once I put my hearing aid in my left ear, the television volume was at an unbearably loud level for me.  It was really quite amazing.
So, it would seem that I really don't hear with my right ear -- apparently even WITH the hearing aid.  Makes me wonder why I just paid $300.00 to have that hearing aid fixed!  I had no idea that my right ear was so useless to me!  This exercise really brought home to me just how dependent I am on my left ear for ALL my hearing.
My hearing was restored just on time for our dinner engagement with a good friend of mine whom I hadn't seen in several years.  I had tried to connect with her last year when we made this trip but it hadn't worked out.  This time, we made sure it happened and we had a delightful visit over dinner at a local establishment.

Yesterday, we went to Stratford to catch up with the gang that worked in the constituency office for that area's MP when I worked in his Ottawa office (from 1988 to 1993).  We have maintained contact all these years and whenever any of us is in each other's neck of the woods, we get together and have a grand old time discussing the glory years.  Unfortunately, the former MP wasn't able to join us this time. (I did see him on our visit last year.)  It's hard to believe that 2013 will mark 20 years since the electorate "fired" us.
The waiter very nicely offered to take a photo of us -- John is standing in for the absent former MP.

Today, we're going to visit my baby sister and her ever-growing family.  Her five offspring all live in the area and will gather at her home for the occasion (with the exception of her one daughter who is living up north for the summer).  There's also a new granddaughter whom I'm looking forward to meeting.  It's a busy gathering, but fun.

Tomorrow, (on MSYM's 11th birthday!) we're attending the Induction Ceremony for Rusty Staub into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame at St. Marys.  Our Toronto host will meet us there.  He and John are really looking forward to seeing Rusty and hope to get a chance to chat with him.  We'll go back to Toronto for the night.

On Sunday, we'll finally make our way home.  We're both ready to be there!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

That's a lifetime ago!

Yesterday, I had lunch with a cousin of mine whom I last saw on New Year's Eve 1964.
You read that right.
Nineteen SIXTY four.
That's 47 and a half years ago!
How did we figure out when last we saw each other, you ask?
She recalled that it was a New Year's Eve party at my home.  She was married with two young children at the time -- her second son had been born in April of 1964.
I was fourteen years old at the time; she was nineteen.
We didn't have much in common back then but you wouldn't have known that yesterday.
She walked into our hotel room and we started yakking like we had just seen each other last week!  I showed her a photo that had been taken at a family gathering -- it included her at approximately thirteen years old.  I was hoping she'd be able to identify some of the other children in the photo.  They must be our cousins but I don't know who they are.  She offered a few educated guesses, but neither of us could be certain.
During our almost three hour lunch, there was never a lull in the conversation.  Never an uncomfortable quiet.  The talking just went on and on.  From both of us!
Forty-seven years is a long time to be out of touch.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

On the road again ...

We left home on Friday for our Blue Jays weekend (and some peripheral travel around that trip).
First, we stopped en route to Toronto to visit MFN and her newborn daughter.  What a cutie patootie she is!
Amelia was perfectly content to cuddle with me for the duration of our visit (which was longer than I had anticipated but I just couldn't put her down!).
Eventually, her mother insisted that I give her back (she said she had to take her upstairs to change her bottom -- likely excuse, I say!).
We arrived in Toronto at about 4:45pm, having left home at 9:30am -- long drive, that, for what is normally just under four hours.
Our routine for these Blue Jays weekends is that we watch the Friday evening game on television with our host (he always makes pizza for dinner).  The next morning he serves a full-on breakfast and we go to the ballpark for the afternoon game (what a fabulous game it was too!).  Our host then serves us a bbq dinner before I turn in and he and John continue to reminisce (their friendship goes back some 50 years).  On Sunday we do it all again.  My boys won that game too (we swept the Phillies!).  Since this was Fathers' Day weekend, we enjoyed joining our host for his traditional Father's Day bbq with his family.
All in all, it was a wonderful weekend.  Clouded only by the ear infection that I was dealing with.  My left ear is prone to problems, since the canal is very tiny (baby-size, the doctor described it) -- doesn't take much inflammation to close it completely.
We left Toronto at 10:00am and headed for Barrie, where I had plans to meet up with a cousin whom I haven't seen since I don't know when.  We checked into the hotel at around 11:15am and asked where the nearest medical clinic was.  Right!  Turns out that clinic didn't open 'til noon and it was lined up out the door with patients waiting for it to open.
We sought out another clinic and walked into a very crowded waiting room.  I registered anyway and was told it would be two to three hours.  However, a gentleman offered that he had already been waiting three hours (this was at noon) -- indicating that we might be six or seven hours!  We left to run an errand and perhaps have lunch while we waited.
En route to our errand (I was going to Oro Township to pick up a book for my good friend, RLR), we passed the Barrie Hospital.  Why don't we try the hospital instead?
After getting the desired book, we headed for the hospital.  Wow -- not too many people here, we thought.  Very organized routine -- register, see the triage nurse, then wait to be seen by a doctor.
Right -- turns out they "hide" all the patients who have been through those stages of the process.
The registration and triage went very quickly.  Then I was directed to the waiting room.  Where we waited.
And we waited.
And we waited some more.
At around 2:00pm, I called the hotel to see if anyone had called looking for me (I anticipated that my cousin would be trying to contact me).  I left my cell number for her to be redirected, should she call.
An hour later, my cell beeps at me, indicating that I had a message.  (I had "missed" two calls -- both from my cousin.  Yet, the phone had not rung.)  I called her back and left her a message, apologizing for the screw-up and explaining that I was waiting at the hospital for medical attention.
At 3:15pm, I was called from the waiting room and placed in an examination room.  A nurse rushed in, asked numerous questions, and determined that I needed to be seen by a doctor.  (You think?  Give me the damned prescription please!)
At 3:45pm, an orderly came by, asked if I was Catherine Fowler and was stunned to find out that I was -- he had been looking for me and had thought that I was in the waiting room.  (Seemingly, I had been lost in the system and had missed an opportunity to be seen by the doctor.)  Back in the queue I went!
At 4:30pm, John asked if there was any chance that we might see a doctor that day.  (They were doing their best with what they had -- their doctor had been called away to Trauma -- they are sorry for the delay.  Yada, yada, yada.)
At around 5:00pm, a doctor finally came in.  It took her less than two minutes to determine that I had an ear infection (no kidding Sherlock!).  Because of the size of my ear canal (I have a "baby size ear," as she put it) she would have to put a wick in my ear to enable the drops to get in.  (Been there, done that.)  The wick has to be removed in 48 hours.  I should see my family doctor to have that done.  
We will be in Waterloo in 48 hours' time so I can either spend time sitting at yet another clinic (or a hospital ER), or John can attempt to remove the wick.  We bought the appropriate tool so John can retrieve the wick tomorrow night.  I have to continue the drops twice a day for seven days.
From the hospital, we went to the pharmacy to fill the prescription.  We finally went up to our hotel room at 5:45pm -- six and a half hours after we had actually checked in!  We settled into the room and promptly left to find dinner.  We had not eaten since breakfast at 8:00am that morning.  We were just a tad hungry.
By 7:45pm we were back in our room and I had another message from my cousin (again, my phone had not rung; it just beeped that there was a message).  I called her back and she very nicely agreed to make the trip back to Barrie so we could lunch today (it is an hour's drive for her).  
I can't hear worth a gosh-goll-darn.  It's amazing to find out just how much I rely on my left ear for the bulk of my hearing.  With not being able to wear my hearing aid in that ear (coupled with the wick that is currently plugging it), I only have my right ear available.  But my hearing is so poor in my right ear that even with the hearing aid, I still have a great deal of difficulty hearing.  I know there is sound but I can't quite process what I'm hearing -- it's really just a whole lot of noise.
John is gone photo-hunting and I will finally re-meet my cousin whom I haven't seen in very many years.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Amelia to Amelia

The latest addition to our family tree is named Amelia Rachel.
Now, I'll find out later today why the name Amelia was chosen. (I already know from where the Rachel comes).
But MFN was intrigued to learn that her 3rd great grandmother (her daughter's 4th great) was also named Amelia.  It didn't take her long to inquire as to the actual relationship.
Amelia (Burchall) and William Gizzard had nine children, our direct ancestor (Richard Henry) being their second to last.   Their third born (Frances aka Fanny) would years later live with her younger brother and his wife to help raise their children.
Richard Henry Gizzard and his wife Mary Elizabeth (Docker) had eight children; our direct ancestor, Sarah, was their sixth.  They named their first daughter (their second child) Amelia. Their first-born, William, named two of his daughters Amelia -- one was Ellen Amelia and the other was simply Amelia.  Sarah is the one who was eventually sent to Canada as a British Home Child and is responsible for our being Canadian rather than British-born.
Sarah (Gizzard) and Samuel Sharpe (another British Home Child) had twelve children; Dorothy, (my mother, MFN's grandmother) was the sixth.
Dorothy (Sharpe) and Richard Cherryholme had eight children; their son Richard (my brother) was their first born.
Richard Cherryholme and his wife, Enid (Brown) had five children; Shannon is their youngest.
When Shannon Cherryholme married Randy Ruisendaal, she inherited two lovely daughters and has now added two more to the fold.  And without knowing it, MFN named her daughter after her 3rd great grandmother (the baby's 4th great).
This is just outlining one branch of our family tree.  We are a large lot indeed!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

MFN has a new addition to her family

MFN gave birth this morning to her second daughter.
And now Madison is a BIG sister.  She should be good at that role since she has two older step-sisters who have set a wonderful example for her.
Amelia Rachel was born at 4:18am today, weighing 7.9lbs, 20.5 inches long.  She was due to arrive tomorrow, so that's not bad.
I'm glad she decided to join us today because John and I are heading off for our Blue Jays weekend tomorrow and we can make a side-trip en route to meet the new one.
Welcome to the world, Amelia Rachel.
You have three big sisters who are anxious to spoil you rotten.
Enjoy your special family.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Nine weeks post-op

Here we are, nine weeks since my Mohs surgery to remove that danged basal cell carcinoma from my nose.
It has healed very well, I'm told.
I suppose I agree, somewhat.
It apparently is a lot more noticeable to me than it is to the outside world.
I look in the mirror and see a very red blotchy wrinkled mess of a nose.
Everyone who looks at it comments that they can barely notice it.
You be the judge.
The scar from my hip surgery is barely noticeable to me yet it shows up in photos like an almost angry red incision, still a long way from what it will be.
Yet my nose, which to me looks very obvious, photographs as barely noticeable.
Funny that.
I'll assume that the healing process continues.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Nineteen Weeks Post-op

That's right -- today is nineteen weeks since my surgery.
Hard to believe; seems like just yesterday.
The scar is really not all that unsightly. Some people have stretch marks that look worse!
I'm walking like a normal person, most of the time.  I say 'most of the time' because some of the time, my SI joint causes me a little trouble; other times, my knees give me pause.  When it hurts to walk, I try not to limp, really I do.  I understand the importance of maintaining a proper gait so I try to do that as much as I can.
Stairs are still a bit of a challenge.  I can go up like a big girl -- one foot at a time -- as long as I have support on the right side.  Down stairs are another matter altogether.  Still have to go two feet on each step AND use the railing.  I'm told it could be another month or so before I can go down like a big girl.
I still can't crouch.  I don't know how much longer it will be before I can lower myself into the bath tub so I can enjoy my jet massage bath.  There are oh so many days when I could really use those jets!
But the real story here is -- I have no left hip pain.
And that is huge!
No longer do I get up from sitting and feel like my leg is going to buckle.
Since having my left hip fixed, my right hip is not nearly as painful as it used to be.  Suggesting that we might not have to undergo another replacement quite as soon as was originally thought.
And that is huger! 

Saturday, June 9, 2012

It's Saturday ...

... and I love yellow roses.
I saw this image and liked it.
So I thought I'd share it here.
'nuff said.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Finally, fifteen!

Ta da!  I finally managed fifteen minutes on the stationary bicycle.
I had been stalled at ten minutes and was becoming quite discouraged.
But this morning, I jumped on that bike determined to push the envelope.  Wasn't much of a push though.
I actually did the fifteen minutes with relative ease, although I was working those last two minutes!
It would seem that the deterrent now is my knees!
That's right.  My hips are no longer holding me back.  My damned knees are another story altogether though.
I can finally almost do the stairs like a normal person again (after injuring my ankle and suffering the setback that came with it).  'Cept my knees are not liking the pressure -- especially going down.
The right knee is much worse than the left, but both are fairly sore.  I even woke this morning with throbbing pain in the right knee -- I was not impressed!
I recall that my physiotherapist told me that it was to be expected that the knees would start yelling at me.  They are the next weight-bearing joint in the body and now that my hip is fixed, my knees are simply reminding me that they, too, are arthritic and deserve attention.
I'm acutely aware of the arthritis in my fingers, my shoulders, my knees, my right hip ... and now having suffered two serious sprains of the left ankle in close succession, it's only a matter of time before it too starts yelling at me.
But hey -- my left hip gives me no trouble whatsoever!
And I can now do fifteen minutes on the bike.
I'm on my way ...  to where, I know not.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Hello, Mrs. Fawler?

I knew right away it was a spam call. But I thought I'd stay with it to see where it was going.
"Yes," I replied.
"This is the Hydro Company," said the voice.
"OK," said I.
"We see that you always pay your bill on time," said he.
"OK," I repeated.
"We would like to reduce your hydro bill by 40%."
"All you have to do is plug a device into any outlet in your home, and it will convert every appliance in your home to an energy saving appliance," claimed he.
"OK," said I again.
"You will do that?" he asked.
"OK," I repeated.
"We will send you the device and the paperwork," he offered.
"OK," I said.
"Just to verify that your address is RR 2, and your postal code is K0A 1A0?" he asked.
"OK," I said.
"And just to verify, Mrs. Fawler, what is your first name?" he asked.
"You must have that information," I replied, "since you called me."
"But just to verify, Mrs. Fawler, what is your first name?" he repeated.
"You must know that," I repeated, "you called me, and if you know that I pay my bill ..."
"OK, Mrs. Fawler, we will just send you the paperwork and the device," he said.
"OK," I concluded, as I hung up the phone.
I checked the origination of the phone call -- it was from Oklahama, USA.
I'll give the device and the paperwork all the attention it deserves -- when (and if) it arrives.

Monday, June 4, 2012

I know, I've been derelict ...

... in my duty to write this blog, that is.
Haven't posted anything since last Wednesday.
And here it is Monday already.
I still don't really have anything in particular to discuss.
Without a topic, it's rather difficult to develop a post.
So, I won't blather on.
Perhaps by tomorrow, I'll have some inspiration.
Sorry about that folks.