Still more on the 2004 convention

Loss of Hearing, Loss of Self: Finding Your Way Back to Home and Family
2:15-3:45 p.m., Friday, 6-11-04

Dr. Deborah Gough

Dr. Gough earned her Master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling and a Doctorate in counseling. Dr. Gough provides training on disability as an issue of loss, grieving, and personal growth to rehabilitation professionals and consumers/family members on both state and national levels. Dr. Gough spent a great deal of time explaining how people deal with loss. She discussed grief, denial, anger, etc., but not at all from the usual viewpoint. We have probably all seen articles on the stages of grief, but she spoke from the idea that all of the seseemingly negative feelings are actually very beneficial. Each of these feelings, help us to evaluate our loss and ourselves. In many ways, they enable us to “grow”. I really enjoyed her lecture, but I would have liked to have seen a clearer link to hearing loss.

Reading Lips and Sharing Tips: Speechreading in the Community
4:00-5:30 p.m., Friday 6-11-04

Gael Hannan

Well after having seen her video, “Unheard Voices”, Gael Hannan was already one of my favorite people! This one-woman play about hearing loss clearly and passionately educates the hearing people in our lives about what we live as HoH people. I will continue to stand on my soapbox and preach it’s influence. Every HoH person should have a copy. I couldn’t wait for her workshop to start! In 2002, Gael, who has a severe-to-profound hearing loss, created a national awareness campaign on infant hearing screening for the Hearing Foundation of Canada. Her writing includes articles for Hearing Health, Vibes, and Abilities magazines, and two employment manuals for people with hearing loss. Gael began the workshop with a silent roll call. Before the workshop began, she walked around and introduced herself to several attendees and wrote their names down. She then had a silent roll call and we were to raise our hands if we saw our name on her lips. I “nailed”mine, as my teens would say, but my name is very easy to see on the lips. Gael shared with us why she believes that HoH people should be the teachers of Speechreading classes. After listening to her, I agree! I’m ready to start one myself! Ye-haw, but she has a contagious enthusiasm for the subject! I’d like to look into one for my own local chapter and community. I plan to contact her soon to find out more. Another “fun” exercise she shared with us was a literal lip-reading activity. She had us break up into groups of 4, and she handed us cards with questions and answers typed out on them. All the questions had to do with Omaha! Wow! I learned a great deal about Omaha! We were to read the question out loud, and were to let the members of our group see the question. We were then to “lip” the answer (sorry Gael! Is that a word?) and our group were to try and understand what the answer was to the question by reading our lips. I had a lady from Chile, who could read lips in two languages! Was I ever impressed or what?

Did you know that Omaha has a population of400,000?

Did you know the Reuben sandwich originated in Omaha?

Did you know the honeybee is the official insect?

Gael gave us a few tips to practice speech reading at home. She suggested reading the headlines of a newspaper, and then having a family member read the headlines back to us without voice, to see if we could pick up which ones were being said. She also suggested reading short articles from the paper, and then having a family member read the article back to us so that we could see how the article appeared on the lips of someone else. As we will have just read the article, we should easily be able to see the words more clearly on the family member’s mouth. Gael also suggested watching the news on T.V., with no sound and no closed captioning. Sounds intimidating to me, but I’m going to give it a try! Super workshop…I think everyone left with a greater understanding of Speechreading.

Saturday, 6-12-04
I was in the exhibit hall talking to Becky Compton from CSD Texas –San Antonio, when someone touched my arm to let me know my cell phone was ringing. I have a CHAAMP, but I cannot hear it ring even on it’s loudest setting. I can only hear it ring when I’m staring at as it “goes off” GRIN. In other words, the lights alert me! Any—whoooooooo…I digress! I excused myself and saw that it was my daughter calling me from her new cell phone. She shares my minutes since I rarely use mine each month because I’m scared of my CHAAMP. (Folks, that’s another long-winded story in and of itself, so let me get on with this one for the time being…)

I was getting ready to “fuss” as I figured she called to say, “hey Mom”. However, she asked me if I had looked outside lately. I took 3 giant steps to the right from where I was standing, to where I could see out the door of the exhibit hall to the windows of the hotel beyond. All was darkand well…It was dangerous looking! I almost dropped my phone! My daughter sounded scared, and I picked up a word or two. One word I intercepted was TORNADO.

I immediately dropped my bag and pocketbook, and stood frozen as I said into my phone, “What do you meanTORNADO?”

She said that there was a tornado watch and that the hotel people were telling everyone to stay away from the windows, etc., andhad cornered a lot of the SHHH staff to let them know the procedure should everyone have to go to a “safe place”. I felt an actuals hudder of apprehension shake me to my toes! And yes! If you had been standing next to me, you’d have felt it! I kept trying to make sense of how we would let hundreds upon hundreds of HoH people know there was a tornado! Well only a “watch” was in effect, but I don’t believe I have ever felt so frightened on behalf of HoH people I love in a long time! Well, really EVER! I quickly made a “let’s intercept each other” date with my kids, and I ran to meet them on the 1st floor. It was only 2:30 and yet was almost dark outside. Within 30 minutes, everything seemed almost back to normal. We had showers and thunderstorms the remainder of the day. My husband later joked at the beginning of the banquet, that “now that everyone had spent the afternoon in their tubs, we could enjoy the banquet”. It was a frightening experience. Wish I’d gone to Friday’s workshop, “Disaster Preparedness Tips for Hard of Hearing People”!

7:00-10:00 p.m., Saturday, 6-12-04

The nicest part about the banquet, was the company with me! My family, of course, is very special and I enjoy getting all dressed up. My daughter conned this “Mom” into buying her a new dress, and she looked like she was 17 or 18, instead of 14. Perhaps, I made a mistake in going shopping with her? My son, wearing a shirt and tie looked like his Dad. (Of course, Terry looks like a million bucks in a suit, and wears them almost everyday, but Chris looked like he was headed for his own execution!) To my right was a bhNews and BeyondHearing friend, Barbara Hunter and her husband Bob. I have never “met” Barbara before the convention, but have traded emails with her on and off for over a year. Barbara calls San Antonio, Texas, “home” and is a very special friend. She has been involved with SHHH for a very long time, and has been a big encouragement to me. She has been my “listening ear” many a time, and also helped me to purchase some hospital kits for my local chapter to give out during our “Hearing Awareness Month” outreach in May. Barbara has also worked very closely with her local CSD in Texas, and I hope t obe as influential on the consumer advisory committee in Maryland. Faith and Bob Arrington were on the other side of the Hunter’s. They are the co-leaders with me of my own little Frederick County SHHH chapter. Talk about cheerleaders! They even come with pom-pom’s…well ok! That’s an exaggeration, and I’d not like to see Bob with pom-poms in his hand! But they are faithful in their attendance, and quick with praise, wise with suggestions, and all-in-all wonderful SHHH’ers! I don’t know what I’d do without them! I hope every local chapter has a “Faith and Bob Arrington” in their midst! On the other side of the Arrington’s were Harry and Marian Reyburn, from the Omaha SHHH local organizing committee. And guess what we had for dessert? Raspberry Cheesecake! Oh my goodness! Will my clothes fit when I get home? Advanced Bionics sponsored the banquet, and Michael Onuscheck welcomed us. Ahme Stone, wife of founder Rocky Stone, gave the invocation. We enjoyed dinner, and then Ann Liming, President of theBoard of Trustees of SHHH, recognized the local organizing committee and volunteers. Recognition was given to Dr. David Conway and Susan Lantz, “Adult Activities” coordinators. (GRIN, I’m still bitin’ my tongue!) Leisha Eiten, from Boys Town Research Hospital, Becky Hohnbaum, Verla Hamilton, (Hospitality & Children’s Programs), Dr. Paul Lundell, (Treasurer), Chris Olsen, (Omaha World Herald), Mary Reyburn, (Volunteer Management), Warren Reynolds, II, (Shopping Raffle), Karen Rossi, (Children’s Program), and Eugene and Dolores Tjarks. My hubby, gave out the Outstanding Employer Award to Dominion Exploration Production, Inc., in Oklahoma. Rocky Stone, then gave out “his” award, that is, the “Howard E. “Rocky” Stone Humanitarian Award” to Jerry Hohnbaum, from North Platte, NE. Jerry and his wife certainly deserved this award as we learned of all the ways he has served HoH people throughout his state of Nebraska.

Denise Portis
Frederick County SHHH
Frederick, MD
©2006 Hearing Loss Diary

2004 Convention

Ask the Doctor
12:30-2:00 p.m.
Friday, 6-11-04

Dr. Paul Hammerschlag and Dr. Edward Cohn

An informal question/answer time with doctors who KNOW hearing loss. Dr. Hammerschlag is a member of the SHHH Board of Trustees, and specializes in hearing loss, cochlear implants, neuro-otology, otology, facial nerve problems and aural atresia. He is a clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Otolaryngology at the New York University School of Medicine. He has a congenital sensorineural hearing loss.

(Otolaryngology? Try saying that fast 10 times! What a “mouth-full”!)

Dr. Cohn, was a spur-of-the-moment replacement I gather, as his name was not on the original program. A very likeable professional who is an Associate Professor in theDepartment of Otolaryngology and Human Communication at Creighton University’s School of Medicine, and staff Otolaryngologist at Boys Town National Research Hospital.

Tinnitus was discussed at length, as many attendees had questions about it. I even went up to the microphone to voice a question or two. My first, with tongue in cheek had me thinking back to a bhNews discussion.

“Tinnitus with a long “i”, or short “i”? Both doctors agreed that either pronunciation was correct. See? We at bhNews had already come to that conclusion! Aren’t we smart? My second, and real question was: “I suffer from tinnitus,” (of which I pronounced with a long “i”, as it goes better with my southern twang…..) “and I have heard that cochlear implants eliminates tinnitus in some patients, but have also heard that some people suffer tinnitus for the very first time after having received an implant. What is your experience as to whether or not there is a connection between CI’s and tinnitus?”

Dr. Hammerschlag answered my question. He said that as far as he knew there had not been a study to see if there was a connection. He, too, had heard that some people suffer a usually “temporary” tinnitus after having received a CI, but that he knew some no longer suffered with it after a CI. He did make sure all of us knew that CI’s were not given in order to eliminate tinnitus. Tinnitus does not make a CI candidate.

One lady had a charming story/question. She suffers from what I know after having read enough of bhNews member “Neil Bauman’s” posts, as auditory hallucinations. She only “hears” one song…I believe she said it was “Shall We Gather at the River”. The doctor’s asked her additional questions, and through her story it seems she suffered a head injury prior to the “song” starting. When she is busy during the day amongst a great deal of noise, the song does not bother her like it does when she is in a quiet setting. Perhaps we’ll all learn more when Neil comes out with his new book? I thought it very interesting, as the only auditory sound I hear is a ring…I know some tinnitus sufferers hear a variety of rings and pitches. I only hear one. Am I boring or what?

Earlier this month I joined the American Tinnitus Association. I received my first magazine from them while I was away at the SHHH convention. I look forward to reading it. This session could have been much longer as I don’t believe time allowed everyone who had questions to ask the ones they needed answers too. I hope SHHH continues to have this workshop, and perhaps every local chapter should invite a qualified otolaryngologist at least once a year to answer member questions.

Denise Portis
Frederick County SHHH
Frederick, MD
©2006 Hearing Loss Diary

More of 2004 Convention

“Meet the LOC Dinner”
6:30-8:30 p.m.
Wednesday, 6-9-04

My husband, Terry, and I had the privilege of having dinner with the Omaha SHHH’ers who helped to make this convention happen. What a treat to meet all these wonderful people! We were a little late to the dinner, and NO it wasn’t me! I don’t believe in being “fashionably late”, as I am a VERY detailed ON-TIME melancholic! However, hubby was stuck in a By-laws Committee Meeting until 7:15. The dinner was really delicious, and I had my first taste of Omaha steak. Now it’s a given I’ve probably had steak from Omaha before, but I was eating it IN Omaha. Surely that makes it special!

We were introduced to the “movers and shakers” for the convention, and Elissa Brooks from the national SHHH office impressed us by remembering everyone’s name as she walked around the room to introduce each person. Recognition was given to Jerry Hohnbaum andMarian Reyburn, the co-chairs of the local organizing committee. My goodness, what a lot of work goes into organizing these conventions! They did a super job, as the days ahead would prove! I did get a little tickled when Susan Lantz, was introduced as the “Adult Activities” director. Hmmmm…me thinks a better title is in order? Warren Reynolds produced a SHHH cake at the end, which we thoroughly enjoyed eating. Everything tastes better if SHHH is on it! (grin) We also met Marshalle King, who was introduced as the “go to” person at the Hilton Omaha. She proved invaluable over the upcoming days. I found out that they had workshops for the Hilton employees, to orient them to serving and communicating with HoH people. The entire staff really was incredible, and I could definitely tell that everyone had been “educated” as to how to best interact with HoH people. Terry and I rushed back to the room at 8:45 as he had a staff meeting in our suite. I hurried the kids off to bed, and I assume Terry came to bed at a much later time. I had long since fallen asleep. Ever notice how excitement and extra communication really “knocks a HoH person for a loop”?

Newcomer’s Meeting
1:30-3:30 p.m., Thursday, 6-10-04

Sue Miller, well-known and beloved SHHH leader from Rochester, NewYork, was the speaker for this workshop. She does an incredible job of orienting all the “newcomers” to a SHHH convention. Her enthusiasm is contagious as well! I certainly hope she continues to do these workshops, as she does a superb job! Terry and I stepped into say “hello”. I hung back at the door, but Terry motioned me up to the front. I have a terrible time reading his lips from the side, but I was able to easily look over his shoulder at the CART screen. What a blessing to have CART at every single meeting and workshop! Iwas asked to say something rather spur-of-the-moment. I made sure hubby understood later that I much prefer being “fore-warned”. He’s still rubbing his sore arm, so I don’t suppose he’ll forget anytime soon!

“Welcome to the national SHHH convention! Last year was my first national convention, and it was the first time I attended something that was completely accessible to me! Introduce yourself to everyone, and enjoy your time here! Have fun!”

Nothing profound, but heartfelt. Good thing CART was there to display my words…I’ve found my accent really throws off HoH people. (Unless they’re from down yon’)

Picture session w/ Jim Fowler
3:30-4:15 p.m., Thursday, 6-10-04

What a treat to meet Jim Fowler “back stage” before the opening session! I approached him and stuck out my hand, but my mouth was frozen in “dropped open” position. He graciously took my hand and bent down to read my name badge.

“Denise Portis,” he read aloud. “You’re young!” (He turned his head to take in my hearing aids in both ears.) “Hearing loss affects all ages, doesn’t it? Let me guess…you use to watch me when you were a kid?”

My mouth, still in “dropped open” position clicked closed with a snap and I merely shook my head “yes”. Talk about “star struck”! My kids were rolling with laughter…especially since they had no clue who he was!” Listen, you don’t understand! He’s a Wild Kingdom icon! Well golly! He was the Crocodile Hunter, BEFORE there was a Crocodile Hunter!”

Their “wow’d expressions” showed they finally understood. Many pictures were taken, I’ll try to post some later.

Opening Session
4:30-6:00 p.m., Thursday, 6-10-04
Cheryl Heppner has done a wonderful job of reporting on this session. Be sure to find her remarks on bhNews. I’ll add that the “3 volunteers” to hold that enormous albino constrictor, were my children and myself. I held the head and shoulders. (Well, the front part, ok? I know a snake doesn’t have shoulders!) Face to face and eye to eye with a huge snake! I almost came unglued!

Get Acquainted Party
8:00 pm – 10:30, Thursday, 6-10-04
What a great time! I was able to meet many Beyond Hearing, and bhNews faces that I’ve seen “posts” from over the past year. I don’t know how many people were present, but the room was packed out! Ricky Smith, who had preformed at an earlier workshop for the children, entertained us during the party. He is a professional mime. Although he is deaf and knows sign, he very clearly communicates through the use of mime…something all people can easily understand once they start thinking with pictures instead of words. He asked for many volunteers to come up and illustrated “jumping rope”. It was really hysterical! It’s difficult to “show” something very commonplace. When the volunteers “dropped the jump rope”, he clearly showed through the use of mime that the “jumper” was hopelessly tangled up! Much later I cornered Ricky and asked for a brief history lesson of mimes. He took me back to the 1400’s, and even explained why mimes paint their faces white. I learned a great deal! Ricky trained with Marcel Marceau and is a very talented performer. Go to: for information about the history of Mime’s.

Omaha Barbeque
7:00-9:00 p.m., Friday 6-11-04

YUM! What a wonderful barbeque spread! Although all the dishes claimed to be Omaha favorites, I would have guessed many of them very “southern style”! From chicken to ribs, potato salads, and casseroles, asparagus and salad, to Snicker-Bar Cheesecake! My absolute favorite! Cheesecake is my weakness! I had two pieces, and will for sure sport extra pounds when I get home! My family and I sat at a table with some people I had not met up to this point. I was so excited to be seated across from Iz Cohen! Fellow BeyondHearing member, Iz taught me a great deal about BAKING BREAD. I think he was surprised I knew “my wheat varieties”, as I grew up on a farm myself. What I did NOT know was what it took to make GREAT bread! Iz has had a lot of experience too! I also sat next to Tim Creagan. He is the Director of Consumer Training at ITTATC (Information Technology Technical Assistance andTraining Center). I discovered we are practically neighbors as he “hails” from the Arlington area. To find out more about what Tim does, please visit:

Also seated at our table was George DeVilbiss. I have the pleasureof knowing George, but was tickled to be at his table. If you ever get a chance to talk to George about his family’s history, ASK HIM. Indentured servants, and early Maryland settlers, his family’s history would make a great book! Perhaps he’ll write it all down one day! After eating, I ran into Wayne Roorda. I have not had the opportunity to really get to know him before now, and he’s a great guy! He has been a member of SHHH since 1980! He is a walking cochlear implant miracle! I have never heard such a successful implant story! He’s another one who should write a book!

Denise Portis
Frederick County SHHH
Frederick, MD
©2006 Hearing Loss Diary