We’ll Never Be the Same

“observe a leaf falling from on high…listen to the sounds it makes as it touches branches on the the way down…then the sound of landing. I didn’t realize until today that I can do that. I cried. Good thing no one was there. 🙂

A friend of mine penned the above words in her “status message” on Facebook, yesterday. Honestly? When I read the words, goosebumps erupted on my arms and neck and I felt an overwhelming emotion well up in my chest. I sat at my desk and “cried like a baby” if you must know. Deep, wrenching sobs that shook my entire body and caused my assistance dog to lay her head on my knee and look imploring up at me … asking to “help” as best she could.

Why?

Unless you’ve lost something and regained it through surgery, rehab, hard work, and perseverance you could never understand completely. When an individual chooses to be surgically implanted with cochlear bionics, they can only do so after their “natural hearing” has reached a point that other assistive devices provide little help. Many resign themselves to not ever hearing again “this side of Heaven”. To regain that and as an added benefit, the ability to interact and communicate with others, strengthening old relationships or forging new ones, repairing self-confidence and esteem, all “sweeten the deal” and make the decision even more lifechanging. For some, aural rehab goes very quickly, while for others that first year can be frustrating and challenging. In the end, we’ll never be the same. We will never take for granted our hearing and the ability to listen to the sounds around us. One becomes a part of a “family” of other folks who are “hearing again” as well. We get it. We understand. We’ll never be the same.

The Internet has changed our world, but there are some unheralded benefits of having the Internet. It has provided a connection for people with disabilities, health concerns, or chronic illness. Support groups and message boards exist for every type of health issue.

Those with the invisible illness/disability of fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome are connected to others who live with the knowledge that today things might be pretty good – but tomorrow you may be bedridden. Those with chronic, hard-to-explain pain disorders can communicate with others who live the same life and share the burdens and triumphs of living with a disease that WILL NOT squelch their inner spirit.

Those who have a loved one that has survived a traumatic brain injury can find others who “miss the person they once loved” and are “learning to love the person left behind”. They can share successes and set-backs, fashioning relationships with other parents, spouses and loved ones who understand because they LIVE IT.

Individuals who live with mental illness can connect with others who understand the stigma and prejudices. They can connect with others who are SURVIVORS.

People (finally) diagnosed with the new epidemic of Lyme disease can find a community of people who have learned how to talk to their doctors, discuss holistic practices that provide relief, discover medications and lifestyle changes that can make a difference in the number of recurring flares, and how to remain positive and proactive in living with the illness.

I have a cousin in the latter stages of treatment for breast cancer. Her “voice” has changed throughout this process and I can tell by reading her penned words that she has a new fascination, anticipation and appreciation for life. She will never be the same.

I think we are slow to recognize how hardship, tragedy, trials, and adversity can provide the surprising and unexpected benefit of a permanent change in hearts, minds, and bodies. For many of us our very foundation has been rocked and rebuilt. Life is different. Sweeter.

We’ll never be the same.

Denise Portis

© 2010 Personal Hearing Loss Journal

But it’s Sunny TODAY!

Have you ever found yourself slightly anxious and a bit unsettled, simply because you were not able to focus on today? Lately, I have experienced insomnia in part, because I have been focusing on two things while trying to go to sleep:

1. The PAST. I keep trying to think of a way to get even with someone who hurt a person I really care about, only murder requires prison time and doing so would only re-open old wounds. Why is it so hard for me to leave this with God? He can take care of it better than I can, yet I continue to brain storm about ways I might be able to “help”. (rolls eyes at own stupidity).

2. The FUTURE. I will be very close to being finished with my MS at the end of this year. Then what? What do I want to do with the rest of my life? Because… I mean – that HAS TO BE DECIDED TONIGHT! (rolls eyes at my own stupidity).

I’ve been trying to learn to re-focus on TODAY. So much can be missed in today, can’t it? Sure… it is important to learn from your past and to make plans for the future. Yet, I seem to really get bogged down in this mental exercise instead of actually accomplishing something good. In the process I lose… TODAY.

Last night, after kicking the 427,698 th sheep to the curb…

(Hey! I started out counting and patting the head of each that went by… but after an hour, I GET CRANKY!)

…I was reminded of a conversation I had with Sean at a TBI summer camp in 1999.

Today

I was an active member of the Brain Injury Association of North Carolina for a number of years, and my family and I enjoyed helping out at the TBI camp outside of Mayodan each summer. I had my first hearing aid and was already experiencing fairly severe vertigo with balance problems. I had not yet been diagnosed with Meniere’s disease, and I had not yet put together that for ME… rain made my symptoms worse. All I really understood was that when it was rainy, the “ringing in my head” (tinnitus) would get worse and I seemed to fall a great deal. I hated the rain. I was sitting in one of the shelters near the craft hut talking to Sean. Sean was in his early 20’s and had suffered a TBI in a pedestrian vs. car accident. Perhaps I felt some camaraderie with this young man as I had experienced the same kind of accident as a child. However, while I had almost fully recovered from my own accident, Sean was in a wheelchair and had only limited use of his arms and hands. Sean lacked the fine motor skills to participate in some of activities at camp, and because he hated those feelings of frustration and helplessness, chose instead to “talk the ears off anyone who would listen”. I was often that set of ears, (which if you think about my worsening hearing – this was a bit of a hoot!). However, I had learned already to pay attention and carefully ask questions if I did miss something.

Sean reached out and playfully punched my arm to get my attention. (Waving in my line of sight would topple him from his wheelchair, so we had agreed this worked better!) “It is a beautiful, sunny day today!”

I looked up at the cloudless sky and countered, “Yeah, but it is suppose to rain tomorrow. I think it is suppose to rain the next day too! I hate rain!”

Sean looked puzzled and repeated, “It’s suppose to rain tomorrow?”

I’m sure I looked particularly glum as I replied, “Yup! I’ll be falling all over the place! I don’t understand what it is about the rain… I hate it!”

We sat there a few minutes and I could tell that Sean was distracted by my response. I waited for him to gather his thoughts in order to reply.

Finally he said, “But… it is a beautiful, sunny day TODAY!”

I realized with sudden clarity what he was trying to explain. So what if it is suppose to rain TOMORROW! It is a beautiful, sunny day, TODAY.

Don’t Lose… TODAY

I really believe we can get so caught up in things that have already happened, that we fail to move on in our lives. I also think we can become so worried and anxious about tomorrow that we fail to live… today.

I am trying to remember that I only have today one time. My children are 19 and 20 years old, and my oldest is transferring to a four-year college this Fall. What opportunities am I missing each day to interact with them because I’m not focused on today?

How often do I pass a co-worker who looks like they could use a hug? How easy is it to ignore an opportunity to respond to a classmate’s venting about their problems and “get down to business” instead? A funny thing can happen when you become “TODAY focused”. You notice the cashier who needs a smile and small talk at the super Wal-mart. You stop to chat for a moment with the “old timer” that you always meet on your evening walk. You email the person you promised to pray for to see how things are going. You take the 15 seconds required to comment on a FaceBook friend’s wall. You call your significant other during the day, “just because”. You jot a friendly note to your landlord when you pay your rent… on time.

Today is gone so soon. Yet it is 24 hours of opportunities afforded to you alone. Those moments in time and opportunities to make a difference are yours. Yeah… the forecast may be pretty dismal. But it’s sunny TODAY.

Matthew 6:25-32

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O, you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.

Denise Portis

© 2010 Personal Hearing Loss Journal