Friday, September 29, 2006

Susan Graduates!

She graduated! This is my friend, Susan, who also has a cochlear implant. She has been very busy this last year and has not had time for anything except studying and spending time with her family. She graduated from nursing school with her LPN degree last night and will be taking her state boards soon. She was valedictorian of her class and I am so proud of her! Having her CI has made a big difference in her life. I would not have missed her graduation for anything! She is having a party at her house tonight so guess where I'll be! (P.S. I know I need to write and will do it this weekend! Been busy with kids, work, getting Steve ready for his mission trip to Latvia, etc. Watch this space!)

Monday, September 11, 2006


Just wanted to let my readers know that Chris is HOME!!!! He pulled up to the house on Saturday morning about 4 a.m.!!!! I could not sleep until I knew he was home and safe. He left San Diego on Monday driving a U-Haul truck and towed his car behind it. I tried to talk him into taking his time and stopping along the way but he wanted to get HOME! He drove 72 hours straight after stopping in Arizona and New Mexico, eating power bars and drinking caffeine to stay awake. We expected him earlier on Friday night but there was a bad accident on I-40 in Memphis, Tennessee. He ended up taking a detour on a different route. Then he got lost in Chattanooga and could not found the route that he was looking for. The truck he was driving was not comfortable for his 6-foot frame, did not have cruise control, and was difficult to drive. I couldn't sleep at all and kept dreaming about him driving and waking up to look out the window to see if he was here. Even though I can't hear anyone come in when I have my "ears" off at night, I still "know" that my kids are not home and cannot rest until they walk in the door and give me a goodnight hug and kiss. Anyway, when I saw his vehicles out in front, I immediately went looking for him and found him in the kitchen eating sloppy joes and potato casserole that I had fixed for dinner. It's funny how kids always seem to find the refrigerator. He had only been home for about five minutes. He was HUNGRY! He went straight to bed and slept for 14 hours on Saturday and woke up long enough to eat dinner with us, ride his bike, and visit a little. He slept late on Sunday and today, too. His cat, Chester, is happy to see her master and lays next to him and is content to watch him sleep. He has no plans for the next few months except to unload and rest and regroup.

All four of our kids were home this past weekend. Brad came home from college to see Chris and brought his friend, Matteo, with him. (Brad was also sick with a bad cold and needed some TLC.) That meant "Mom" was busy cooking and cleaning and falling into bed exhausted. But, it was great having all of our children home under one roof. That doesn't happen very often. The whole time Chris was in the Marine Corps, we only got together as a family a few times. Chris says it feels weird being home and it hasn't sunk in yet. He served four years in the Marines and spent eight months in Iraq in 2004. My sister, Kathy, thinks he damaged his vocal cords while he was in the military. She says his voice has changed because of all the yelling and screaming he had to do. He certainly is not the same person that left home four years ago. He has seen and experienced more than most people have in a lifetime. We are extremely proud of him.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Guard Your Words

These last two weeks have been frustrating on the insurance front. Just before all this started, I came across a quote that I needed to hear: "He who watches his mouth, guards his soul." This comes from Proverbs 13:3 and it has made me stop to think about what I should say and shouldn't say. I have plenty to say about dealing with Steve's company and AETNA but I am going to guard my thoughts and words. . .

To make a long story short, Steve recently changed from an employee status at work to a consultant status. This move is necessary so that we can move forward with our consulting business that we have started. Apparently, an automatic step was taken at his company to cancel our insurance on August 11, 2006 instead of transitioning to COBRA coverage with the same benefits. We did not know any of this until it affected a doctor's appointment, a couple of prescriptions, and the determination for my second cochlear implant procedure for my right ear. I received a call from Teresa, Dr. Merwin's nurse on August 21st telling me that AETNA had cancelled the determination for my cochlear implant for my other ear! I had just found out about the cancellation of the insurance and explained to her what was going on. I was discouraged to find out that we would have to start all over once the COBRA coverage kicked in. We figured we had been in the process for about four months and were so close to getting an answer. We got the COBRA forms from Steve's company by certified mail on August 25th, two weeks after the insurance was cancelled. We immediately filled out the necessary paperwork, wrote a check, and returned it Priority Mail on Monday, the 28th. On Thursday, the 31st, Steve emailed me and told me that his boss/supervisor got a return call from AETNA saying that we should be reflected as COBRA participants and that the benefits determination for my upcoming cochlear implant procedure should continue as if no interruption occurred. So, I sent Dr. Merwin a letter right away to let him know what was going on, that the determination was put back in the queue, and to proceed with whatever it takes for me to be considered for a second CI. Needless to say, Steve and I are not happy about his company canceling our insurance without notice. This whole process has been a lesson in patience for us.

But, there is some GOOD NEWS! My new friend, Jennifer, whom I met a few weeks ago in Nashville, has been approved for her CI surgery and will be having it NEXT WEEK on September 11th! You can read about her progress here. I know she is thrilled and looking forward to hearing again.

In conclusion, everything happens for a reason. We don't always see it or understand it. We just have to trust God and let Him do His work. "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven. . ." Ecc. 3:1

Saturday, September 02, 2006

A Busy Week

It has been another busy week for me. I'm still trying to catch up after my summer travels. I finally finished unpacking my suitcase yesterday and put it away. Now I need to get ready for Chris' arrival back home. We've been communicating almost every day this past week. I'm just so thankful that I can talk on the phone with my family. As I write this, Chris is loading up his U-Haul truck and will be towing his car behind it. He plans to start his journey HOME tomorrow (SUNDAY) So, if you see a U-Haul truck towing a black Ford Contour on the highway between San Diego and Tennessee, wave to him! He has mixed feelings about leaving the Marine Corps but is looking forward to starting a new life. I know he is anxious to be home and we are looking forward to having him around again.

I had a few CI moments this week. It just keeps getting better and better. One evening when I let the dogs out, I stood outside in the driveway and just listened. I noticed that the summer background music of the crickets and cicadas were not as loud as they usually are and thought to myself, "Oh good, the season must be winding down and it is almost time for them to leave." As soon as I said that, I noticed that their song got louder and louder and louder, increasing in a steady tempo. I just stood there in awe listening to the crescendo of their music. I hadn't noticed the distinct change in their volume before. Everyone has their opinion of the sound of these summer insects. Some like them and some do not. Even though this is the first season that I can hear them and it is not one of my favorite sounds, I'm thankful that I can hear the sounds of one of God's creations.

Another CI moment was at work while sitting at my desk. As I mentioned in an earlier post, my office is filled with many different sounds and I usually know which ones they are. When I hear a "new" one, I listen and try to investigate where it is coming from. Keep in mind that I work in a credit union with no open doors or windows and am in the middle of a building. I have several barriers to the outside world. As I was working, I heard a train go by! I always notice the sound of a train when I hear one. I love the mournful sound of the horn and the wheels clicking on the tracks.

This week I had my car worked on and got a loaner car to drive, a 2006 Lexus RX400 HYBRID! Wow! What a cool car that was to drive! It was so quiet and had a GPS (Global Positioning System) in it. THIS CAR TALKED TO ME! When I entered in my destination, I would hear a voice say things like "proceed to the next intersection," "go to the next light," "go one half mile," "turn right," "turn left," "you have arrived at your destination," etc. I heard and understood every word it said to me. I even talked back to it! A bell would "ding" when it was time to make a turn. I didn't always follow the directions because I take shortcuts or travel on back roads and the GPS did not like that. I would hear another distinct bell "ding, ding, ding" when I didn't turn like I was supposed to. (This would be perfect for Marissa, because she is always getting lost when she drives to or from a new place!) It would be nice to have a car like this someday but we will have to wait a LONG time. Maybe someday all cars will have a GPS in them. When Jason, our service representative, called me at work about the repair work on my car, I was able to understand him. He told me I needed new front brakes, how much it would cost, and when it would be ready. He mentioned to me that in the four years he has been dealing with us, this is the first time he is able to talk me on the phone without any problems. He always had to call Steve or relay a message to me through one of my coworkers.

This week I had dinner with two of my dear friends. Wednesday night I met Susan (Susan's Journey To Sound) at Abuelo's, a new Mexican restaurant in Knoxville. We talked and caught up on each other's news for over three hours. I had the Chile Manzanillo, which was crab imperial stuffed in a fresh roasted poblano covered with shrimp, scallops, mushrooms and red peppers in a creamy lobster sauce. It was served with rice and sazonado. I'm not a fan of scallops so the waiter subsituted extra shrimp for it. It was delicious! Susan ordered chicken fajitas and when the waiter brought her food to her, we just sat there and listened to her food SIZZLE (in a noisy restaurant) for five minutes! We would not have been able to hear that before our CI's. Susan has had her CI for almost two years and is doing great, too. I am so blessed by her friendship - I would not have started my Dance With Sound without her. She will be graduating soon with her nursing degree (that's why she hasn't had time to update her blog for awhile) and I plan to be there to cheer her on!

On Thursday night I had dinner with Dawn at the Olive Garden. I LOVE the salad that they serve there. We talked and visited for several hours, too. It is hard to hear in a noisy restaurant but I just turn down my sensitivity on my processor while on my BEAM program (background noise). The lower the sensitivity number, the more it brings in the voices and sounds that I want to hear. Dawn just needed to talk and I just listened. Dawn and I have been through a lot together over the years. I am truly blessed with good, dear friends!

This week we had a new washer delivered. We had an automated message on our voice mail telling us the delivery time. A year ago, I would not have been able to understand it. Remember my "Furniture Delivery" entry in April 2005 and how frustrated I was? They even called me at work when they were 20 minutes from the house so that I could run home and let them in. I even asked them if they needed directions and they said "no." I would have gladly given them some!

Life is good. I celebrated my one year CI surgery date on Wednesday, August 30th. I cannot believe that it has been a year already! God is so good, ALL THE TIME!