Thursday, March 31, 2005

You win some. You lose some.

So. It's been a kinda up-and-down kinda week.

I got the staples out. I've got my activation date in hand. And I got laid off.

Some of you know that I split my professional time between two non-profit organizations. On Tuesday, the good people who volunteer for the Human Resources Committee for one of them came to tell me that, for financial reasons, they have to let me go.

They felt dreadful about it, but I know better than anyone the facts and figures behind the decision. It is related, in part, to my hearing loss. My job description was significantly altered when I went deaf - I could no longer talk to contacts on the phone, couldn't attend meetings on behalf of the organization, couldn't moderate panels, and so on. And that meant I was moved to a half-time position, which was okay, because I was also picked up for a half-time position with a sister organization to do the work I still could do - writing funding proposals, legislative briefs, and such and such. But my not being able to really get out there and be an advocate has hurt my original organization, I fear, and now some significant sources of funding have dried up, and their hands are tied - they have to let me go. Just when I am hopefully about to get my hearing back.

The second organization will still keep me on half-time, but I'll have to look for freelance or other work to fill the gap. In fact, I guess it's time to dust off the ol' resume and start looking for something altogether new, although it breaks my heart, because my heart is in the work I'm doing now.

I remember saying to Husband one night, when I was feeling particularly old, "Don't you ever worry that nothing else exciting is going to happen to you for the rest of your life?"

Dear lord - what if somebody was listening????


Wednesday, March 30, 2005

New Improved Ronniecat NOW! 100% surgical-staple free!

Got the surgical staples out today. Zoom-zoom, all the way to Halifax this morning, appointment with Dr. B. at noon, and back home.

I wasn't looking forward to it but it was much smoother and much more painless than past experiences. He has a light touch; the incision is, in his words, "well-healed"; scalp skin is some of the toughest and least pain-sensitive on the human body; and he complimented us on how clean and well-cared-for the site was. Well, that's thanks mostly to Husband. I tried to clean and dress the thing myself with antibiotic cream, using two mirrors, but really...

"We only get one shot at this..."

So everything looks great, Dr. B. is dead pleased, and wants to see us again in three months.

Next countdown: to April 7, when the implant's to be "activated".

With the surgical staples gone, it's the first time since the op that I haven't had any tightness or discomfort around that area. I'm thinking I'll sleep well tonight.

Excellent question posed by JGM today in a comment below, about how comedy "works" on TV when viewing it via closed-captions. Looking forward to thinking about it and replying to it, but for tonight, I'm pretty beat, and there's work tomorrow...


Sunday, March 27, 2005

Radio Free Ronnie

I have written a lot about music in this blog, about how much I enjoyed it, how I used to review it for a living, and how much I miss listening to it. In fact, the cochlear implant I chose was chosen in part based on its strong capacity for interpreting music.

In fact, you want to know one of the things that just drove me up the wall after I went deaf?

Pet Sounds.

Pet Sounds, the album by the Beach Boys. Widely considered one of the best albums ever made.

I'd never gotten around to listening to it.

Every time I read a "Best Albums of All Time" list or an article about Brian Wilson which referenced the album I'd think, "Geeze, Pet Sounds. I've never heard that. I gotta listen to it."

But I never did. And then I was deaf. And I'm thinking, "I will never know what Pet Sounds sounds like."

It's the kind of small thing that can drive you nuts, you know?

But now, since there is a good possibility that I will have ... some ability to enjoy music again, and since I don't believe that anticipation is a jinx, I've started making some lists.

A list of albums I can't believe I never took the time to listen to when I could hear. A list of albums that have come out since I went deaf and which I am dying to hear. And a list of old friends who I have missed very, very dearly and who will be my first stop if and when I can hear them again.

albums I should've heard years ago but never did

Pet Sounds - The Beach Boys
Wish You Were Here - Pink Floyd
The Velvet Underground and Nico - The Velvet Underground and Nico
Blonde on Blonde - Bob Dylan

the very first albums I want to hear again

London Calling - The Clash
The Ramones - The Ramones
So - Peter Gabriel
Asylum Years - Tom Waits
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band - The Beatles
Highway 61 Revisited - Bob Dylan
The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust - David Bowie
40 Licks - The Rolling Stones (best of)
Music from Big Pink - The Band
The Dark Side of the Moon - Pink Floyd
The Joshua Tree - U2
Village Green Preservation Society - The Kinks
Barenaked Ladies Greatest Hits So Far
Stop Making Sense - Talking Heads
Automatic for the People - REM

gotta-haves released since I went deaf

London Calling - The Legacy Edition including "The Vanilla Tapes" - The Clash
Smile - Brian Wilson
American Idiot - Green Day
Franz Ferdinand - Franz Ferdinand
How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb - U2

Suggestions or additions are welcome. If all goes as we hope, I will be listening, in some way, shape or form, to music for a very long time to come.


Thursday, March 24, 2005

Go Ronnie... got the date, now... Go Ronnie

Activation Date is April 7!

Go ronnie... you got it... do da dance now... go ronnie... shake your puff tail... you got it... it's yer birthday... go ronnie...

(no, it's not really my birthday, but I gather that is an obligatory part of the "go person" song.)


Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Deaf Reckoning

Hey, cats and kittens. A rec.arts.comics.strips friend, Carl F., sent along a link to an interesting newspaper article about a woman whose story is quite similar to mine. (Thanks, Carl.)

Deaf Reckoning is an article by Stacey McGovern. "One day, I could hear perfectly. Then I couldn't hear a thing," says the article's subtitle. "What five years of deafness taught me."

There are a couple of significant differences between my story and Stacey's. The first and biggest in my opinion is that she had two small children, the youngest born shortly after her deafness became complete. As I wrote to Carl in an email thanking him for the link, it's brutal enough not being able to hear my nieces and nephews. I can't imagine what it would be like not to be able to hear a child who is your responsibility to teach, aid, care for and most of all protect, every day, all the time.

The second difference is that she was deaf for five years before getting her implant. Since reading the article I have been trying to pinpoint what the prospect of four more years of deafness would feel like. Like a sentence, is what it would feel like, not a circumstance, I'm afraid to say, and I have tried to be as optimistic and positive as possible about living as a deaf person.

Given how long Ms. McGovern was deaf, it's pretty obvious that this is the short, short, short, Reader's Digest Condensed version of her story. I'd love the luxury of hearing much more about her experiences, the appalling things, the funny things, the uplifting things, how she coped, when she put her face in the pillow and screamed, but there's no room for that in a Boston Globe article, I guess.

(It's funny how everyone comments on how much being told "never mind, it's not important" hurts. And, while I don't make a big deal out of being catered to because I am deaf, if I had been Ms. McGovern, I would have written a letter to the management of the store whose hideous salesperson refused to put her answers on paper, writing only, "I don't have time, I need to help the next customer.")

What Stacey needs is a weblog. She gave you the Reader's Digest Condensed version.

I, on the other dismaying hand, am giving you the paaainnnnfully slooooooooowww naaaaaaaavel-gaaaaazing bloooow-by-bloooooooooow verrrrrrrsion... :)


Monday, March 21, 2005

Close-captioning cockup of the day: Cross-border edition

Courtesy CTV NewsNet earlier this evening:




A Town for the Deaf

As Town for Deaf Takes Shape, Debate on Isolation Re-emerges

IF the founders stick to their commitment to make the town equally welcoming to hearing people (they note that 90% of deaf children are born to hearing parents, for example), I can't help thinking what a wonderful thing this would be.

And nobody is more shocked to hear me say that than me.

It flies into the face of everything I've believed in up to this point. I have worked, personally and professionally, all my life to promote integration and fight segregation, even self-segregation. But there's theory and then there's one's life, and all I can think about when reading this is the inexpressible pleasure that would be living in a community designed to meet my needs as well as Husband's. To never feel self-conscious again about being deaf.

A town where the fast food joints speak sign, public IM terminals are everywhere and cash registers are not piled high with lotto posters and candy boxes, obscuring the price window... heaven :)

It's an incredibly seductive idea.

One which will fail, because I note there seems to be no economic plan for this town whatsoever. Other than service industries, what will all these good deaf and hearing people do for a living in Laurent, SD?

I have a sneaky suspicion that the developers are, at least in part, pinning their hopes on deaf tourism - that deaf people like myself who would no more consider moving to South Dakota than I would Timbuktu would instead spend vacations in Deafland. Well, it's an interesting idea, and I would, in fact, visit Laurent, but I doubt tourism would sustain the town.

It's one to keep an eye on, that's for sure.

Thanks to everyone who sent this article to me.


Thursday, March 17, 2005

Plus ça change

I went back to work today for a couple of hours. A few hours up and about leave me feeling woozy (no other word describes it as well) but I was at least able to check in, catch up and collect a handful of files for working from home.

Many hugs and much fussing-over by all my coworkers, which made me feel very nice. There had also been flowers and cards and fruit baskets while I was off. These things make you feel appreciated and valuable. The Boards of Directors of the two organizations I split my time between these days are also making sure that I don't lose pay while I am off. I have been very grateful this past year that I work in the NGO sector where the sense of employees as family is deeply-rooted and the concept that we are, in fact, our brothers' and sisters' keepers is a core value.

Several people have asked me if, now that I have the implant, I am going to give up the ASL classes (I am now at level 4 of seven levels). I find that frustrating because it reveals to me that people don't understand what's going on here. Giving a wheelchair to a paraplegic does not make him a walker. It makes him more mobile. Similarly, having an implant does not make me a hearing person. It makes me a deaf person with a tool to help me decipher sounds.

I am deaf. I am going to be deaf until the day I die. The implant does not make me a hearing person. For the rest of my life, no matter how well the implant works, even if it responds beyond our wildest dreams, I will still be deaf. I'll be deaf when I bathe. Deaf in the shower. I'll be deaf when I swim. I'll be deaf when I am sleeping. Deaf when the batteries die. Deaf in a driving rain or blizzard if I put the external unit in a purse to protect it. Deaf if the internal or external unit fails. Deaf at the drop of a hat should the thing get damaged or thrown off in a car accident or a slip and fall.

I woke up in a foreign country and I am learning the language. I would be an arrogant fool to stop because I met a cheerful fellow expatriate who began to interpret for me everywhere we went.

Because the ticket here was one-way, and I am going to be here a long, long time.


Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Killing time 2

Going a little stir crazy here... thanks to Kate B. (and Storm, the Flat-Coated Retriever), I have a copy of Master and Commander (and a brilliant companion lexicon, A Sea of Words) and I am really enjoying it - I was not familiar with Patrick O'Brian's series of Aubrey-Maturin novels, but I am having the same feeling that I has upon seeing the first of the Lord of the Rings movies - a sense of happiness at having found something brand new that has gripped my imagination and gave me a great deal of pleasure, and at the same time the wonderful anticipation of realizing that there is much, much more of the same out there waiting for me.

When I have read for a few hours and need to do something more active, I've been writing letters. I'm a member of Amnesty International Canada's Urgent Action Network. When a time-sensitive situation occurs (a political activist is taken into custody without charge, there are reports of a prisoner being tortured while interrogated, or an execution date is imminent, that kind of thing) you get an email with specific information about the details, who in the country's government you should write, email or fax, and what it would be useful to say (or in some cases not say). They even provide sample letters, although they urge you to write your own.

You can opt to receive as many alerts a month as you want. I find each letter only takes about fifteen minutes or so; and you're not obligated to respond to every one (so if something conflicts with your own personal values you are not compelled to advocate for that person).

Even outside the Urgent Action Network, there are sadly always issues to be addressed and letters to be written. They're features on the various AI websites:

Amnesty International

Canada USA UK Australia NZ Deutschland
Nederland Sweden

(There are many more, but this list represents most of this blog's visitors.)

Letting the powerful know the eyes of the world are on them doesn't always help. But sometimes it does. It feels kind of like shining a flashlight into some of the dark places in the world, and I like that.

Even from here in my bed in my dorky jammies.

Both pastimes - the Aubrey-Maturin novels and Amnesty International - are things the intelligent and well-informed people who read this blog might like to look into for themselves :) Really.


Monday, March 14, 2005

Ludwig weighs in

Jimmy Johnson, creator of the comic strip Arlo n' Janis, is a class act. He's one of the most, if not the most, fan-friendly, approachable, communicative and interactive syndicated cartoonists working today. His website,, is an ongoing dialogue with his fans about the strip, cartoons and cartooning in general, the weather, basketball, cats, sailing, football, art, France, baseball, Japan, and just about any other topic the conversation with his readers drifts into.

In spite of all the work involved in updating his website pretty much daily and making sure Arlo, Janis, son Gene and the wise and inscrutible cat Ludwig are there to greet us in our papers 365 days a year, Jimmy was kind enough to send me the above get-well greeting featuring Ludwig, complete with ear-trumpet, urging me on with a very feline get-well sentiment.

I love this sketch so much that surgery seems a small price to pay.


Sunday, March 13, 2005

The Next Big Thing

Hi, everyone!

I have been having a wonderful time reading all the comments, the posts on rec.arts.comics.strips, the emails... I am so lucky to have surrounded myself with such funny, smart and kind people before I was plunged into all this!

Several people have commented on the long and detailed post I wrote post-surgery. I guess it helps to remember I'm not that articulate, especially on drugs :) - it was written on Friday, a full two and a half days after the actual operation. I was not very articulate for the first 24 hours following, I can assure you. The first afternoon in the hospital after the surgery was very weird, in fact; I'd doze off and wake up to see that flowers had arrived; then doze off and wake up again to see that more flowers had arrived; then doze off and awake to see that a card had been delivered... it was quite odd, I never saw any of these things being brought into the room, I'd just wake up and see that another addition had been made to my little collection. "I should keep doing this," I thought groggily. "Eventually jewelry will start appearing, I'm sure."

By Friday night, back in my own home since Thursday afternoon, I was quite content and comfortable and I shooed Husband off to the pub while Sis kept me company. He came back from our "local" with the relief of the worst part being behind us written all over his face. All the staff and our friends - the regular Friday night crowd - were so pleased everything had gone well, he told me. A bunch of soldiers from nearby Base Gagetown, who'd been celebrating their own homecoming, fresh off the plane from a tour of duty in Kabul, had been there. "They're all rooting for you and they bought me rum shots," he wrote, grinning loopily. God-damn. Bless those boys and girls. I think I've got problems.

The next step in our journey is "activation". The implant has, thank God, been installed and that went as well as could possibly be expected, and they somehow tested it during implantation and told Husband that the electrodes were responding well. But without the external apparatus it's like an expensive stereo that hasn't been plugged in to a power source or tuned to an FM station. So I am still deaf, of course. The activation usually happens sometime around six weeks after surgery, and we're waiting for an appointment for that. We have another appointment with Dr. B. in Halifax at the end of March, so maybe we can bundle a visit to the Hearing and Speech Center to consult with them at the same time.

But for now, my job now is to take care of myself and that surgery site and make sure everything heals properly and wait, anxiously, for the Next Big Thing:

turning it on.


Friday, March 11, 2005

One for the Books

I'm swimming up into consciousness. The air around me seems to go from black, to dark blue, to pale blue, and suddenly I blink as the brightness of dozens of fluorescent lights shines into my eyes... my first thought is that I survived the surgery (it's always the first thought that comes to your mind when you come out of general anaesthetic) and that I am in the quiet, concentrated bustle of the Recovery Room. As I focus I see a familiar figure standing at the foot of the stretcher. It's Dr. B., the head surgeon. Gathering my strength, I croak through an aching throat, "Did we get good placement?" I can see that he laughs out loud, then gives me an enthusiastic thumbs-up. I stiffly give him one in return, then, contented, pass out again.

I didn't even remember this encounter until Dr. B. reminded me of it when he came to visit me later in my hospital room. He thought it was hilarious. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

We drove to Halifax Tuesday morning and were lucky to head off a bad spring storm which hit that afternoon - driving rain and hurricane-force winds. We went to the hospital for our pre-op registration. We met with a nurse who gave a very basic interview consisting of name, address, review of what I was there for, asked which side the implant would be on (that's one); then we were passed on to an RN who interviewed us in much more detail about my medical history (allergies? seizures? heart conditions? etc. etc.), and who asked me which side the implant would be on (that's two). Then they drew blood for testing and matching in case transfusions were needed. I then met with an anaesthesiologist, who interviewed me about pretty much everything the RN had asked me, including confirming the side the implant was to go in (that's three times).

After that we went back to the hotel, where Husband had gotten a room which overlooks Citadel Hill. (I read a survey last year of Halifax tourist-industry workers that asked the most commonly-asked tourist questions. "Why is there a ship buried in a hill in the middle of the city?" ranked near #1, as I recall.) It was a nice room and I had a wonderful dinner of poppyseed-encrusted filet of salmon with pesto sauce (hey, it could be your last meal!) but it was a sleepless night.

At the hospital at 7:15 a.m. we began immediate pre-op processing. That included another detailed interview with an RN, with the same questions, including asking me to confirm which side was to be implanted (that's four). Then deeper into the bowels of the hospital to a pre-op waiting area. After a minute, I was called into an office where, yep, another nurse did another interview about medical history and asked me to confirm which side was going to be implanted (that's five). After that, I got to exchange my clothes for a johnny gown and a little green dressing gown and was parted from my luggage (bye-bye to Bunny, who I'd been clutching so far.) Then I was weighed, temp and blood pressure taken, and given another brief interview to confirm who I was, what I was here for - and which side was to be implanted (that's six).

Then it was 8:30. In the world of the OR department where surgery time is 8:45, this is apparently the equivalent of "places, everyone!" All us ladies and gents in the green dressing gowns were to follow an orderly to an elevator which would take us to the OR floor. I was lucky - at this point, everyone else was separated from the family and friends who'd accompanied them this far. Because Husband was interpreting for me, he was allowed to come with me right to the operating room doors.

So like little green ducklings we went in a line behind this big linebacker of an orderly and onto an elevator. (I noticed an older women behind me was crying a little and wiping her eyes. I wanted to say something comforting to her but in the absence of being able to hear her reply it seemed impossibly awkward.) Then we were ushered into an efficient little room with eight gurneys in eight little niches, all labeled - "OR 1" "OR 2" "OR 3" and so on. I was to be in OR 4, and lay waiting for what was next as Husband sat next to me in a chair the orderly thoughtfully produced and rubbed my arm.

Then they unleashed the Residents.

O! Lord! the Residents. Each patient got one. The ones that aren't trying desperately to look confident look terrified. They can't help it... they're too young, in their mid-twenties, to know what we see at 40. The lady next to me got a man who looked about twelve and terrified. I got a woman who looked 21 and was overcompensating. I suspected this when she walked confidently up to the bed, looked at Husband and me, and said, "I am The Doctor".

Oh well, it was too late for her to do any harm now, at any rate. But she asked a few questions and then asked me to confirm which side the implant would go on. That's a lucky seven times, folks. Malpractice suits have put an end to the bad old days, I guess. And since she was The Doctor, at least for this five minutes, she literally signed off on me, initialing my left cheek to confirm "PUT TAB A INTO SLOT B HERE".

Suddenly it was time to go, and I said goodbye to Husband and I was in the OR... an overwhelming sense of deja-vu from past surgeries and past ORs, from the sight of the great, huge, menacing lights over the operating table to feeling the contrast between the icy air of the room (ORs are kept very cold for some reason) and the warmed blankets they put over you to compensate... in the corner I could see Dr. B. and Dr. H. and some others looking at my MRI and making final battle plans... then, after the much-dreaded fight between the IV needle and my busted-up veins (the anaesthesiologist kept asking the OR Nurse to write "SORRY" on a notepad and I kept gasping that it wasn't him, it was me, it was always like this), I was sound asleep until Dr. B. gently shook me awake so that I could groggily ask him the only question that seemed to matter after "Am I breathing?".

"Did we get good placement?"

The next thing I remember was being wheeled into my room, where Husband was of course waiting. ("Private room," Husband noted. "You are either very popular here or you sure catch the breaks.") He told me the surgery went extremely well and that Dr. B. had told him he'd gotten excellent placement of the electrodes.

It's important to remember that inserting a CI is like gently pushing a string into a snail's shell. You must work the "string" - the tail end of the implant - around and around the curls of the cochlea. Ideally, the end of it reaches the very center of the spiral, and if that happens, the electrodes are placed as perfectly as possible along the cochlea, waiting to stimulate the nerve hairs there. Partial insertion - if the surgeon can only get some of the electrodes in, and those only at the outer curve of the cochlea - is a huge handicap to positive results. Good placement is the first step to buying a chance to hear again.

I wobbled to the bathroom on Husband's arm. I looked like hell. Half of my head and face was swollen and sore and my whole head was wrapped in a tight white bandage with a huge dressing over my left ear. It reminded me of nothing so much as those silent films of wounded soldiers from WWI. It hurt more than I expected... I'd expected pain at the incision site but hadn't realized the whole left side of my head and face would swell and ache and be exquisitely tender to the touch.

Thanks to the pain medication I dozed on and off for awhile, then came 'round long enough to send Husband back to the hotel for some sleep.

Around four in the afternoon, Dr. B. and Dr. H. came into the room looking extraordinarily pleased with themselves - like two little boys who had done something terribly, terribly clever. The operation was "exceptional", they said. They'd even brought a copy of my X-ray to show me. Goddamn. There is was, and he had gotten full insertion, too. Dr. B. reminded me of our post-op conversation, which I'd completely forgotten until he reminded me. He still thought it was hilarious that I was focused like a laser beam on that placement even as I woke up. Dr. H. said he'd be back to see me the next day (Thursday), and they left, the two of them still grinning like two cats that just got the canary.

Well, if they were that pleased, damn it, so was I.

Husband came back later in the evening. He said that there might be a change of plans - initially, the local ENT, Dr. Henderson, who'd first treated me, was supposed to do my first post-surgery examination and remove the staples (eek). But now Dr. B. wanted to see me himself in ten days. That meant yet another 8-hour round trip to Halifax and possibly another hotel stay. (Public medicine pays for the treatment, thank God; but not for the travel or for the accommodations.) Husband shrugged; we'd ask again tomorrow but for some reason Dr. B. wanted, for the moment, to see me himself.

The next morning The Resident Who Introduces Herself as The Doctor and a couple of other Residents? Interns? Who knows? came by and took off the dressing. They were pleased by what they saw but not as much as was Dr. H., who was practically beaming when he inspected the incision later. ("Are these people this delighted with every surgery they do?" I was beginning to wonder.) "Beautiful," he pronounced.

Later, unexpectedly, Dr. B. showed up again. "I wanted to see the incision [now that the bandages were off]," he wrote. He was delighted. He would see me in ten days, he said. Have Husband make an appointment with his secretary. I ventured to ask, "So... you wouldn't rather that Dr. Henderson, back in Fredericton, do the initial exam and take the staples out?" (Maybe, I thought, he'd forgotten we are so far away.) No, he wrote in my notebook. "I just like to make sure myself the first time. Want to make sure there's no sign of infection. I would prefer to see you myself." Of course, I replied. If that's what he wanted.

But it was Dr. H. in his earlier visit, who revealed the real reason why Dr. B. wants to see me himself. We had roughly the same conversation, with me asking if it was really necessary to come all the way back to Halifax in ten days when the initial plan was to have the staples removed in Fredericton.

"He wants to see you himself," Dr. H. said. "He wants to track this. This surgery is text-book."

So, an inconvenience and more time off work.

But for a hell of a reason!

(This is your doing, you know. All that prayer and chanting and meditation and white energy had to go somewhere.)


Thursday, March 10, 2005


Oh, my God, I just read the comments left after Sis' second update...

I don't think I''m supposed to laugh this hard or grin this wide while the staples are still in, guys...


There's no place like home, there's no place like home, there's no place like home...

Hi everybody! It's me... thanks to Sis, who I see did an exceptional job of keeping the blog up-to-date and who also had some nice words for y'all, which was really nice of her.

I am in my own little bed now, having made the four-hour drive back from Halifax today (Thursday). (Surgery was yesterday, Wednesday). I'm pretty tired and groggy and my head's very swollen and sore on the implant side, but I'm on medication for that... I've got a lot to tell you but for now I just need to rest :) Thank you for all the emails and e-cards, I am just starting to go through them and what a pleasant pastime that looks like for the next day or so!

Full details tomorrow, I promise, including why my surgeon is insisting that I go back to Halifax in ten days to get my staples removed rather than having them taken out here...


Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Second Update

Sister here again. Got another message from Ronniecat's Husband. Ronniecat is doing very well, and feels good and happy. Our parents, and the wonderful people at her work, sent her some flowers. This is the second leg of the journey, I guess. Now it's "cross-the-fingers time".

I want to take this little space here to thank every one of you who are sharing this journey with her. When something like this happens, a person needs every ounce of support they can get, and as I have read this blog, I have seen she has that from all of you. Not ounces, but the tonnes.

My sister has always been a source of inspiration to me, and I have always been astounded and awed at her strength. She's amazing.

From her family, I thank you for your company on her journey.

Information - First Update

Those of you who are regular readers of this blog know me as Sister. When ronniecat asked me to be "Minister of Information" I was honoured to accept, and I'll be updating this blog whenever I get information myself.

I just got a message from Ronniecat's Husband. She's awake, and coming through the Anaesthetic just fine. The report from the surgeon was that the operation was a success! So far so good!

Monday, March 07, 2005

Believe in the Bunny

Well, the bag is packed, I'm ready to go and there ain't nothing left now but the waiting.

(Note dorky pink and white pyjamas to the left and ratty old but comforting bathrobe to the right. It's "Fashion File: the Victoria General Hospital Edition".)

And note the Bunny. We Believe in the Healing Power of the Bunny. We decided so at the office today.

Leaving at 8 sharp tomorrow, and will probably have to maintain radio silence until after the operation, because we are staying at a new hotel and I don't know about web access. (We're slowly trying out every hotel in Halifax. Why not? All the decent ones are in more-or-less the same price range, so we thought we might as well have some fun with it.)

Sis will update on Wednesday. Once again, thank you all for getting me to this point. You gave me faith when my reservoir of hope was on "empty", lifted me up when things felt too heavy to bear anymore, and humour when I wanted to cry. I am taking every one of you with me in some form or another.

I'll be back :)


Killing Time

Husband said on Friday evening that he wanted me to rest up this weekend. Just do nothing, de-stress. We didn't want a cold coming on or for me to be in any kind of a stressed-out or physically exhausted position.

He's absolutely right of course. So since Friday all I have done is gone shopping for a pair of dorky pyjamas, gone grocery shopping, pre-made a few meals to be frozen for after I'm home, done a massive laundry (recuperation clothes plus first week back at work plus linens 'cause I'm not gonna feel much like laundry, I'd guess), returned the dorky PJs for a better size (well, what can I say? Nobody tries on pyjamas in the store!), hit a used bookstore for a bagful of trashy true crime books to read while I'm recuperating, finished some speakers' remarks for my boss use to open that conference I was talking about, responded to a bunch of emails that were overdue (by months in some cases), arranged some things with my Sis (about which more later), and, in the frenzy brought on by nervous adrenaline, also managed to scrub the upstairs bathroom floor, clean the microwave, tidy the living room and...

Well, y'know. Just all sorts of taking care of business and nervous activity an' stuff.

The reason for the dorky pyjamas is that I've been told I shouldn't wear anything I have to pull over my head for the first week or so, and what I usually wear to bed isn't really appropriate for Ward 3G anyway. That means dorky short-sleeved two-piece flannel button-ups. From experience, I know you don't want a nightgown (too much exposed if they need to yank it up for some reason) and you need short sleeves (bloodwork). Isn't it neat how you become an old hand at this crap?

Since Husband was already named Minister of Health by acclaimation, I have appointed Sis Minister of Information, and she has graciously accepted the post. This means that she'll post a note to the weblog as soon as she gets info from Husband in Halifax. That should be sometime early Wednesday afternoon.

She'll be carrying the responsibility of a double portfolio, since she has already been named Minister of Cats, and will be taking care of the casa and the kitties while we're away.

The three women I work most closely with came into my office this morning with a card and a stuffed bunny, which was just a great gesture because I can take the little guy to Halifax with me. I'm feeling very superstitious this time 'round and have acquired a little collection of talismans I am bringing to the hospital with me, notes and the bunny and some photos. On paper I have a two-hour wait between the time I am to be at the hospital and the surgery time... that will be the longest two hours of my life and having some things to occupy me will help.

I'll post again before I leave tomorrow morning...


Saturday, March 05, 2005

Love, waiting to be shown.

Well, it looks like Brian's Mom just has more waiting to do on the cause of her leg paralysis while her MRI is analyzed. And that's the name of that tune. You can't rush science, especially not when it's combined with art, which is what I expect MRI analysis is.

We'll all be watching and rooting for her, that goes without saying.

Speaking of Brian and of lending support, Brian posted a message in the newsgroup, my daily internet hangout, with a link to this weblog, so a lot of "virtual friends" who didn't know before about my deafness and the implant surgery do now... and I am grateful to him for doing so.

While I never actively hid the situation from my r.a.c.s buddies, I didn't call attention to it either. I had been gossiping, wisecracking, analyzing comics, arguing, and having a lot of fun with those guys for years now. I didn't want anyone's perceptions of me to change. I didn't want people, when they opened up a post from me, to think "ohronniecatthedeafone". I didn't want one of my worthy ideological opponents, in the middle of some feisty debate, to be thinking, "She probably only has half her facts straight anyway. She can't hear the TV or radio. And aren't deaf people, well, on average not as bright as the general population?"

(One of a number of misconceptions about the deaf that turn up in surveys.)

But with the possibility of regaining my hearing after less than a year of this roller coaster (can you believe it?) most of my fears seem moot. So when Brian mentioned in an email that he'd thought about posting a link but had not in order to "respect my limits" (bless him, he has good instincts, just as other r.a.c.s people who read the blog have), I felt it was time to thank him and suggest I'd be ok with that.

In fact I encouraged him... with the surgery so close I want those good, smart, funny people rooting for me. And, not a bit to my surprise, they are.

I wish there were more adequate words to describe what expressions of support do for you, mentally and spiritually. In a post thanking my newsgroup friends, I described every message of support as feeling like "someone has just thrown you another thread to add to your lifeline".

I just finished reading Christopher Reeve's autobiography "Still Me" and he writes about how, immediately following his accident, so many people rushed to the hospital at the University of Virginia... people he would not have expected, sailing buddies, old friends he hadn't seen in years, people he didn't realize he was important to. He talks of how the medical staff offered their own apartments to these out-of-towners, how some of his visitors took care of his young son, Will, for hours and hours so that his wife, Dana, would be free to focus on him.

"I began to understand," he writes, "that there's so much love around -- love, waiting to be shown."


Wednesday, March 02, 2005

A call to be there for 'Mom'

Friends, for those of you who have followed the story of Mom's Cancer (not my Mom - Brian and his siblings' Mom), and Mom's subsequent weblog, Mom's Recovery, Mom has had a bit of a scare recently, which is being investigated now and which we are all fervently hoping is nothing at all... but if you are able, drop over to her weblog and post a message of support, and whatever else you do, send good thoughts and good energy her way that this new development turns out to be nothing, nothing, nothing at all.


Who are you?

We don't know, really, who we are to other people. We don't know the roles we play or the needs we fill in the lives of our friends and loved ones.

Husband is a musician. He taught himself to play the guitar as an adolescent (blame Lennon, then Hendrix) and later taught himself harmonica and keyboard and eventually, more eclectic instruments like kalimba and dijiridoo. He was going through an intense roots period when I met him, very primal blues stuff, which was one of the things we had in common. And he was uncommonly good at electric blues, especially bottleneck blues - as a former music reviewer I could look beyond my fondness for him and recognize that. In recent years his interest was piqued by the new stuff being created in the house, techo and trance genres and he revisited Captain Beefheart, Brian Eno and Laurie Anderson as he explored the new music and new technological possibilities. A second bedroom in our house has been converted into a recording studio and he spent hours in there with a growing collection of 1970s and 80s era keyboards and racks of mixing boards and aural exciters and other equipment I don't even know the names of, composing and editing. I'd sit on the bed, tictacing away on a computer, listening to him next door, perfecting melodies and polishing haunting, hypnotic tunes. He really had a talent for this. The technology and his talent had reached a synchronicity, and he started talking about actually pulling together a CD, not commercially, you know, but a collection of his work, a little personal accomplishment. Maybe even send it to the local college station, what the hell, one of their techo or trance shows. Just tick that off the amateur musician "someday I'm gonna" list.

One Saturday night a few months ago we were sitting in bed talking, like we do, and we were, as I recall, just discussing the deafness, and he wrote, "Who do I make music for now?"

I probably couldn't possibly have been more stunned. I knew his music was important to him, and I knew I was important to him but I could not have guessed and did not understand that I was important to his music. I can't read or write music or play an instrument. Husband, he's a gifted musician, I've always known that. But I haven't a clue. He'd ask me for an opinion on a piece, on some specific fine point, and I'd feel terminally inadequate because I had none of the language to explain my impressions, no real understanding of the mechanics of songwriting. That I am a reason for his music - that I am the person who he needs to have hear the tree fall in the forest, at least in the beginning - that would never have occurred to me.

And then, since the CI evaluation in Halifax, in November, I have noticed that he is preparing his hope in his own way. Suddenly sound editing programs are proliferating like dandelions on his laptop. Suddenly he spends hours sitting on the bed editing the digital pieces he composed months ago on the studio keyboards. And a few days ago, without mentioning the deafness or the implant or anything else, he said, kinda out of the blue, "I think it's time to start working on the CD again."

You just don't know who you are in the lives of other human beings. Please, handle with care.


Tuesday, March 01, 2005

As I was saying before I pitched a sudden hissy fit...

My emotions are all over the place these days. I tear up at blatently manipulative ads and tv shows, while on Sunday, I burst into tears and ranted and swore like a sailor at the computer I had borrowed from work, which wasn't working, at the people holding my own computer hostage who won't help me expediate things, and pretty much anyone who'd ever touched either machine. I got mad and ranted at the people operating the Halifax medical hostel, a beautiful facility, who no longer offer smoking rooms but who haven't removed the claim that they do offer them from their website. I can dissolve into tears or pitch a tantrum at the drop of a hat these days.

For an old veteran of surgery like me, that's unusual. Worst of all, you know who gets to bear the brunt of it. I don't get angry at Husband, but I get angry and upset and emotional at other things and people around Husband. When the situations are reversed, I am terribly distressed when he is angry or upset. I don't want him to feel that way. I've got to try to keep things on an even keel so as to stop worrying him and scaring the cats.


Closed-Captioning Cockup of the day, Mental Hygiene Dept.

Courtesy CTV NewsNet:


First, medical marijuana and now this. Wow, our wacky socialist medical system.