Dolphin Show? Nooooo Problem!
We’ve been to the National Aquarium in Baltimore since my “match” with Chloe, but I choose to sit out during the Dolphin Show. We were “new enough” that I did not know what to expect. This past Saturday we met some new friends at the Aquarium. After soliciting the advice and opinions of fellow Fidos For Freedom folks (geesh… say that 5 times really fast!), I decided to take Chloe to the Dolphin Show. I went a little early so I could pick my own seat. I knew I didn’t want in the “Splash Zone”, but I also did not want to sit as close as where the hearing assistive section was situated. I hear “voices” well enough with my CI, so I decided we’d sit where it was best for CHLOE.
This decision meant in the back and up HIGH – grin! With my poor balance, it took some quickly whispered prayers, Chloe’s steady counter-balance, and a husband walking immediately behind my weaving, dizzy, umm…. BEHIND, for me to get where I felt “safe” for Chloe’s sake.
Most of the time she stayed down on her blanket, and I was not even forced to reinforce the behavior with her treats. She was OK until she heard the dolphins making sounds. I couldn’t hear it, of course, but my husband said they chattered, chirped and made other interesting noises. Chloe would “pop up” to take a look, but would immediately go back down when I reminded her to do so.
At one point, the crowd burst into applause and exclaimed, “OH!” very loudly. Chloe popped up to take a look, and I found her staring in astonishment! A dolphin was doing the “high jump”, where it burst from the water to touch a ball extended high above the water. If Chloe’s jaw could have dropped open, I’m sure it would have. (I did have to ask her twice after that to go back to a “down”!)
Chloe did great at the Aquarium. I suppose the biggest “chore” was just keeping her from being stepped on by the crowds, and insuring she was in a “safe place”. I had to put her in “place” a couple of times (opposite of “heel”, to the right). I can’t leave her there very long due to…
… As the World Turns
Meniere’s disease is different in every individual. Although symptoms may be similar, they are never identical. Some people develop Meniere’s along WITH unexplained hearing loss, some people have it without any evidence of hearing loss at all! Some people experience tinnitus (ringing, buzzing, whistling), nausea, dizziness, vertigo, blackouts, blurred vision, and much more.
In a simple, layman’s description: my world spins counter-clockwise. With Chloe in “heel” (although a modified one as she is slightly forward of a formal “heel” due to my inability to see lower, left peripherally), she actually provides a “check” to my slowly, moving world. As my visual field and brain cause me to feel as if I’m spinning left, her “brace” in “heel” sort of SNAPS my visual field back to where it belongs. She is standing, or sitting STILL, which allows my focus to re-establish center as I am NOT “sitting still”. When she is in “place” however, her body isn’t in a position where it enters my counter-clockwise “spin”. Confusing? (grin) Try explaining the individuality of Meniere’s someday!
Let’s just say I’m glad she is in “heel” MOST of the time. I practice “place” and “circle right” as they are occasionally needed.
All So “Normal” for Us
We also went to the shops near the Aquarium, and then waited for about 45 minutes to eat at The Cheesecake Factory. I can hear voices in quiet environments at normal speaking levels. I cannot hear voices in places with a great deal of background noise, nor can I hear whispered things. I tend to miss all of the exclamations from the general public when they see Chloe do something for me.
When she rolls her own blanket up for me so that it is high enough to reach, or picks up her own leash to hand it to me, I do not give it a 2nd thought anymore. She picks up the end of my cane until it’s high enough for me to grab, picks up dropped items like menus or pamphlets, and just has a GRAND time doing it! Although my family are also accustomed to Chloe being by my side and “helping”, they hear those comments that I do not when we are in a new place.
What can be really fun is to see the look on everyone’s face when I remove Chloe’s vest outside for a short break. My dog morphs into “Miss Congeniality”.
Something is ALWAYS Learned
Even when everything does NOT go as smoothly as Saturday did, I still learn important lessons. The least significant lesson may be a reminder of what should be worked on with more diligence. “Reality checks” are great teachers.
Having a working dog does not mean that I do not have to WORK at adapting. My cochlear implant allows me to hear, and yet I am still deaf. I use a bright purple cane, but I still fall sometimes. Chloe acts as my ears, but I will still misunderstand even a noise I am alerted to at times! How we react when everything does NOT go “great” is a good measure of how we are “really” coping with an acquired disability.
Tomorrow I may have a different opinion, but right now I think I’m “passing with FLYING colors!
© 2009 Hearing Loss Journal