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.

A great cause

Please support my wife on her walk for a cure for Junior Diabetes. It is something that is becoming a bigger and bigger issue and it needs to stop.

Traumatized

That is the word my wife used to describe my state of mind after having to deal with traffic… but not just traffic… wait until the end to see if you would also not get a little jolted.

Before I continue I would like to add that I hate traffic, not driving, just traffic. This is one of the reasons that I like Kansas City so much, traffic in Chicago is just not bearable. I know that the Grandview triangle gets bad, but imagine that kind of traffic all day long. Traffic to me is the idiotic way in which some people drive causing more hassle than it really needs to be. Also poor development of infrastructure in a city that grows too quickly. It has been said that if computers were to actually drive the cars, the flow would improve traffic tremendously.

I also would like to point out that most taxis in Colombia now run in natural gas and stations are available all over. It was impressive to see a developing country doing something before the US does something it needs to do to not depend on oil anymore.

I am not a fan of buses, specially in Colombia. The smell of diesel fuel being burnt is not a pleasant one almost always causes me to be nauseous. I was not looking forward to being stuck in a bus sucking up fumes, but we had to visit some family and a taxi from where we were at was just too expensive. So Bea and I ventured into the whole bus riding thing.

The bus was moving along pretty fast until it got close to the bus station in our destination. The last 5 miles of the trip took about 30 minutes in not just stop and go traffic, but break your neck accelerate to cut another bus off and stop inches away from the other vehicles. We had to catch ourselves from hitting the sit in front of us a couple of times. Nauseated and tenderized we thought that getting to the bus station and taking a cab the rest of our trip was going to be the easy part.

We get on the cab and the guy is not the friendliest, but whatever. We exit the bus station and at the first light which was at the top of a little hill, the taxi starts rolling backwards and it hits another taxi with enough force to startle us.

The cabbie says nothing, just puts it back into gear and starts driving. I grew up in Colombia and at this point I am expecting the worst, the other guy coming and chasing us in a road rage frenzy. Bea actually looked back and saw the the guy waited until the next light to get out of his car, check the front and go on his merry way.

Bea was pretty calm about it, but my nerves were on alert after that. The taxi zoomed in and out of traffic getting us to our destination. My city had changed so much in the past five years since I had seen it that it was hard to feel at home. There were just too many cars on the road and people were driving more aggressively than ever before. Even though it was a mixture of the shock and rush hour my first trip back to the city was just not too pleasant… but this is not what traumatized me.

I had seen people riding pedal bikes hang on to other vehicles to get a “free ride” in the past. However it seems to have become a trend down there. I had seen it all day in even mayor roadways. We were back from our odyssey and were actually back on Bea’s families car heading from her Grandma’s house to her Mom’s condo when a dude on a bike put his shoulder on a motorcycle dude.

My first instinct was to open my big mouth to comment on the scene. I said how irresponsible and dangerous it was to get a “lift” that way, and how easy it was for the pedal bike to get caught on the motorcycle if either of them lost balance. I had not finished my sentence when it happened… exactly what I was talking about…

The motorcycle went around a pothole and the pedal bike lost balance, he did not let go and ended up getting tangled with the bike and the motorcycle. I do not want to get graphic, but there was dragging, blood and just overall mayhem. As I always do with my big mouth I started to give a play by play of what I saw without realizing that Bea’s Mom is very sensitive to those type of things because she lost a son to a motorcycle accident. After Bea snapped me out of my stupor with well placed scream and explanation I sat there traumatized by what just had happened.

We tried to get help for the guy but after going to the police station and coming back to the scene both people were gone. I slowly recuperated, but we kind of stayed home for a couple of days until the shock of re-encountering the madness that its traffic down in Colombia kind of wore off.

Not ready to come back

To say that we had a good vacation in Colombia will be like saying that when Columbus discovered America he just found some island.

Bea’s family was not just welcoming to me, they made me feel like I had been part of their family for a long time. Any doubt that I might have had about them liking me was quickly erased by the time we spent together. Her two brothers have complete opposite personalities and I was able to relate to both of them, her uncles both had stories that made mine seem like short stories compared to their novels.

Her Mom deserves a whole post, but seriously words cannot express who lucky I am to have a wife with such a wonderful family. I had a couple of cups of coffee with Bea’s Mom every morning and we talked, talked and then talked some more. I have not met someone as wise as she is since my late Grandfather.

That was only half of the trip!

I also got to see my Granma, aunts, and cousins. Got to visit with some high school friends and my fifth grade teacher. All said and done, the people made the trip worth it… the rest (food, scenery, weather) was icing on a huge caked.

You have to check out the first pictures, and there are plenty more to come. I also have some posts that I have been saving for after we got back and I am sure you will enjoy them.

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