Wednesday, July 20, 2005

...jiggity jig

Home again, home again. Rented a PT Cruiser once again for this trip to Halifax to keep an appointment with my audiologist, "Helen", to get the CI reprogrammed, and to see the surgeon who wanted to do a four-month post-surgical inspection.

First, the audiologist. Last time I ran through the 3 programs really rapidly so this time we cranked the sound up to "eleven" in order, I hope, to get more mileage out of the programs. I'm doing so well that my nerve cells are responding almost too rapidly to the increasing volume and complexity of the sounds, and too soon, it seems, they have adapted and the sound begins to seem flat and muted.

We went into the sound booth to test my progress. First we tested my perception of tones, then I heard full sentences I had to repeat back, then single words (that's the hardest test, because the sentences add context to their words. If you are not sure whether the speaker on the CD said ""mills" or "bills", the rest of the sentence being "She is paying the ____ at her desk" tends to settle it for you.) Word and sentence recognition is in the high 80 percents (in other words, I repeated back around 87% of the sentences and words correctly). When they added severe background noise (sort of like static) I scored in the high 70s.

When they factor in words I got partially right (for example, mistaking "bend" for "mend"), I got 96% correct or partially correct, with background noise I got 85% correct.

These numbers are compatible with normal hearing and, judging from Helen's and the surgeon's reaction, pretty astonishing, I guess. My audiogram (hearing the 'beeps' when they're played) is now entirely within the "normal" range on the chart. (This is nice, because I recall one audiogram where the audiologist wrote "DNR, DNR, DNR, DNR" across the bottom of the chart. When I asked, he said it stood for "Did Not Respond". That was good, because frankly I thought a Do Not Resuscitate order was a little harsh even if it was a crappy performance on my part.)

Everyone is beside-themselves happy. I am getting the impression I may have the best results they've ever seen there. One of the interns spoke to us quite earnestly about the need for money for the CI program and how they need to keep advocating for it. Advocates for the hip replacement program, he noted, had been very successful in getting that program into the public eye and getting the ear of politicians to make sure it is well-funded. We need to do the same for the CI program, he said. I told him that if they needed a spokes-thingie, a poster child, as it were, I'd be happy to volunteer.

After the audiogram it was a short one-block walk-- past what we believe may be the world's only High-Voltage Decorative Water Fountain --

-- to see the surgeon who is similarly delighted with the results of his work. The dent behind the ear is perfectly normal after the settling of the surgery site, he said. If it isn't bothering me (and it isn't) it isn't a problem.

Business aside, we spent the rest of our time enjoying ourselves in one of our favourite cities (photos soon when we get them sorted out). Halifax is absolutely brilliant at the tourist trade; every single visitor is made to feel like a welcomed and highly-anticipated guest. ("Oh my gosh, you're here!" you almost expect them to say. "We've been getting ready since May!")

Free buses travel the circuit between the historic waterfront and the Spring Garden shopping district every half hour, taking you from the heart of the downtown to the gorgeous Public Gardens in a few stress-free, cost-free minutes. The driver is a chatty sort who will point out to you the clock in the tower at City Hall, its hands frozen at 9:06, the moment on December 6, 1917, when most of Halifax was leveled by what was, at that time, the largest man-made explosion experienced on earth. It would never be equaled until the first nuclear bomb was detonated. The clock was never re-started.

He'll also tell you about the city's special connection with the Titanic - it was the first stop for the boats involved in the body recovery operations, and 150 unclaimed bodies from the doomed liner are buried in Halifax, all the graves still cared for with respect and dignity, even those many marked only "Unknown". To this day, when a victim can be positively identified by descendents via the meticulous records of physical descriptions and personal effects recovered, the tombstones are sanded clean and re-engraved with the correct name. An extensive museum display on the disaster boasts one of the few deck chairs recovered from its debris and thousands of Titanic pilgrims visit every year.

This time we stayed at the Lord Nelson Hotel, a Georgian beauty, full of old wood burnished to a warm glow by 73 years of hands passing over it and soft cloths polishing it. We drank in the Victory Arms pub and had a to-die-for Turkish takeout of rice and chicken kofta and warm pita bread and homemade tzatziki.

It's Pride Week, and Halifax's large and proud GLTB population was extra-visible everywhere, with stores offering discounts to anyone wearing a pride flag anyplace. The annual Dykes vs. Divas softball game was Sunday afternoon - I don't even think anyone knows who won, but I'm thinking the Dykes had the edge since many of the Divas were somewhat hampered by their stiletto heels, and those enormous bouffant hairdos had to be playing hell with their wind resistance.

It is, to be reduced to a cliche, a city to fall in love with, and fall in love in, all over again every time you visit it with time on your hands and somebody you love at your side. We are lucky that necessity meant that this, one of our most beloved getaway spots, is the site of these enforced visits.

But it's also nice to be home with my kitties, who I missed awfully and who seemed genuinely pleased to see us, which is enormously gratifying, cats being cats. And tonight I sleep in my own bed.

(Kurt van Houten, showing off his post-divorce bachelor pad: "I sleep in a bed shaped like a race car! Where do you sleep?"
Homer Simpson: "I sleep in a big bed, with my wife."
Kurt (downcast): "Oh.")

And we still have a week and a half vacation left to just hang out and enjoy the hot, hot summer weather and stay up too late an' stuff.

Right now, right here, life is good.



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