Holding a Grudge since High School

I have several posts that I have been wanting to finish from my time in Colombia, but the various medical things put my mind in other things during the last week. Then a post from Nuke brought one of the topics back into focus.

During high school back in Colombia even though I was chubby I was still one of the smallest kids in our class and certainly the youngest. While I don’t consider every one of my classmates a bully I was a very easy target. There were a couple of people that really made my life miserable and sometimes I have wondered if I ever saw them face to face now as an adult if I would confront them, if it would be worth it.

I had the chance to see a couple of my classmates during my trip back to Colombia, and while we were exchanging e-mails some of them brought back the old names we used to call each other. Some of them were very offended by them and I certainly understood were they were coming from. Those days bring back some dark memories for me along with the good ones.

While someone could argue that everyone got picked on at one point or another, I was mercilessly picked on during 6 years with that group of people. It went from simply having my book bag hidden to the desk that my Dad had to buy for me (each person brought their own to the school) completely torn apart and even attempted to be set on fire. The physical abuse was not as often, but it did happen and it was probably the most frustrating because I just could not defend myself against some kids that were 4 years my seniors.

In Colombia you are with your classmates all the time, the teachers come to your classroom rather than you going to theirs with different groups of people. Most of my classmates were with me for the whole 6 years and we were all in the same classroom year after year.

Maybe it was the whole all boys school, or just that we were a bad group from the beginning, I remember we got in trouble more than any other group in our school. One of the meanest things that they ever did was our yearbook. While I was used to the stupid comments, to have something very vile written about you for your family to read was truly embarrassing. Even though I was not the only victim and many of my classmates had some incriminating and personal attacks written about them, it was still something that at the time hurt.

I healed from all of that. Moving here to the U.S. gave me the opportunity to start at a new school where the bullies I encountered were gang members that wanted to physically hurt me but were more at part with my size, that and my best friend in high school was pretty big and always had my back. I developed a sense of being very protective to those around me and I despise others taken advantage of someone weaker either physically or mentally. That is one of the main reasons for picking up a dragon as the tattoo I now have in my arm, because to me it represents many things and one of them is protecting others. Some of my college friends can tell you how far I will go when protecting a friend.

One of my classmates from back in high school was a very quiet boy. Extremely intelligent and someone that I learned a lot about chess from. We were never extremely close during those times, but I knew who he was and liked him a lot. I did not know that he was picked on, and did not know how much the words in that year book had hurt him. It has been over 15 years since those days and he is still very angry at the people that wrote it. I have written it off as it was immature boys doing immature things; he in the other hand still holds a grudge.

We had an awesome time when we got together and talked about a lot of things, but it was not until later when I posted some of the pictures I took that the comments back and forth between old classmates turned ugly. It was sad in many ways, but I think the pain is real, I think the need to feel respected back then and now are probably the same, I think some of the wounds never healed.

I am glad some of those wounds for me as simple scars now, but again I am not perfect and if I encountered one of the bullies that physically abused me back then I am not sure if I would be the better man or not… I hope so. So when Nuke talked about being a bully to another bully I was torn… between cheering him on for taking on a bully to others and understanding that he does not want to become what he is trying to fight against.

Meet the press

I was shocked and awed when one of my favorite public figures and maybe the most influential military mind of our times Colin Powell endorsed Obama.

As a former republican, I consider myself an independent now, I used to think that Powell could actually be the first minority president of the United States. I have always liked his character, his demeanor and his way of thinking.

We still got some time to go on this race, but the 100 and 75 thousand crowds in St Louis and Kansas City are another testament that Obama is being identified as the candidate that will lead the nation out of these horrible times of war and financial inestability.

Attitude is everything

I remember when I got a shirt from my Dad’s work, he used to work for Successories, that said just that, “Attitude is Everything.”

That holds true in almost every single situation in life, not controlling the outside world which is impossible, but how we see and respond to it. If you constantly think that the worse is going to happen it will, if you believe in the power of positive thinking it will also have an effect in your life.

I have been scared this week with the impending prognosis of my ear condition, but I have stayed positive. With the help of my wife, family and friends I have been casting doubt out and in the end what is the worse that can happen? Being deaf? I already started to learn sign language in the past and I am sure I can learn to read lips. While I don’t believe that will be the outcome, I know that there are plenty of people leaving in this world that are deaf and are completely happy.

My trip to Colombia was once again life changing. I saw how people with a lot less than I have seem to be much more content and that gave me hope. I know with a great attitude I can make people smile, now I just have to be positive a let that be the driver of my life. I believe there is a God and that to him nothing is impossible.

Another piece of the puzzle

Today I saw the audiologist. I knew the news were not going to be good, but I tried my hardest not to get sick being worried about what was going to happen. She started her testing and I did was pretty scared.

The testing is lengthy and frightening because while you can hear some of the tones, some of them were barely audible and obviously some none at all. We all take things for granted in life, and now I realize how much I have taken my hearing for granted.

The idea of never hearing again has me wanting to listen to more classical music… fortunately I think I will eventually get my full hearing back.

The audiologist does not have the authority to really tell me what is wrong, but from her knowledge it seems that the problem is actually in the middle ear, more specifically my stapes. She cannot truly diagnose that I have severe tinnitus and hearing loss just yet, she can only tell me that bellow 55 decibels I hear pretty much nothing. Both ears have the same exact problem.

A whisper is around 20dB, normal conversation is around 60dB. If someone has talks with a quiet voice I cannot hear them; if someone does not have my focus when they are talking in a normal voice, I can probably not hear them either. The worse thing is that it is something that is progressive so I have to get it checked out further. Next step is a consultation with a surgeon which will happen next week, I already made an appointment.

In the mean time I could get a hearing aid and it will help me a lot, however it is $1400 – 1700 for the cheapest ones and the insurance does not cover it. I might try some really low tech cheap ones and see what those can do.

There is a high probability that it is something that can be fixed because my cochlea (inner ear) seems to be intact, but the prospect of surgery terrifies me. There are probably a lot more tests to still do and more details to be learned, but at least I have another piece of the puzzle now…

Thanks for your good thoughts, prayers and overall support, without my wife, my family and friend I would probably be having a harder time with this.

Scared

Last week my nephew had an accident. He is still a toddler and have been learning to walk. Unfortunately curiosity and his still new skill made him pick up a broken mop and then trip and actually managed to hurt his eye. Thankfully it appears that it was not too serious and there was no permanent damage, but my sister went through a lot.

When a mother says “I have never heard him cry like that before” it teared my heart apart. I know she was concerned, I know she went through infinity of emotions and scenarios of her little one losing an eye. Once we knew more about the situation and knew he was going to heal, I told my sister. We sometime worry about stupid things like, “oh he has such pretty light green eyes”, when the reality is that as long as he is healthy and able to see is all that matters.

My whole life I have been made fun of by the way I look, either because I am chubby or because of my big ears. I really learned not to pay too much attention, but today my big ears are in the center of my brain’s turmoil.

When I was a kid I had two very bad things happen to my left ear. The first one was that a bug got stuck in there and it was trying to scratch its way out the wrong way. After a very painful night my parent finally believed that I had something in my ear and took me to the hospital to take a little bright green grasshopper looking thing out.

The second one was a very right ear infection. Swimmers ear they call it, and well, I did was a swimmer both in Colombia and here. The two incidents left me with partial hearing loss in one ear.

About a couple of months ago my wife started telling me that I listened to the TV too loud. More so than even before. I also started to have a hard time hearing people in normal conversation. It seems to have gotten worse and worse. So today I went to the doctor to have it checked out.

I love my doctor, she talks to me as a friend and remembers me and my wife. I have had good doctors in the past, but she is the best. Today she came in and was very upbeat about the whole check up and while she was diagnosing was chit chatting with me. Then her face started to change.

I am a people watcher. I watch for facial expressions all the time, it is how I read people from the first moment I meet them, specially around the eyes.

She told me my ears were very clean, she had initially mentioned that I could just have a build up of wax. Then she rubbed her fingers together right next to each ear and I heard it. So far so good, but her face will contort a little more.

She pulled out a device and placed it right next to my left ear, the bad one. I heard nothing. Then she placed it right next to my right ear and still nothing. She looked concerned and told me she would be right back. I was very scared, what did it mean?

She told me that the best thing to do is to go see an audiologist. Tomorrow afternoon I have my appointment with one. I am scared. I do not want to go through a self diagnosis phase so I am just going to wait until tomorrow but the prospect of going deaf is not without a lot of concerns… I guess we just have to wait and see.

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