Monthly Archives: April 2014

Hearing underwater – adventures in hearing loss

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At the best of times, my hearing isn’t great. Due to allergies, chronic infections and multiple surgeries, I have about 25 % of the hearing in my left ear. My family and friends know to sit or walk on my right side; otherwise, I’m like a post. However, about a month ago, my right ear blocked up and I can’t hear much of anything. I Know my ear has fluid in it – I can feel it. It’s like I’m swimming in the lake and I can hear sounds above me, but I can’t quite make out the words. So far, I haven’t been able clear it out sufficiently to hear much of anything.

This is not the first time my “good” ear has become blocked. But it’s usually a short-term problem, precipitated by a cold or a bad bout of allergies. Since I’m particularly susceptible to mould and pollen, early spring is often a difficult time for me. As soon as the snow starts to melt, all kinds of crud and other nasties are exposed to the air – “snow mould” is probably my worst allergy. But most years, I experience minor problems and after a couple of days and liberal use of saline nasal spray, all is right again. Not this year. I’ve been using saline spray on a regular basis (gross and messy), manually trying to clear my ears (plug one ear, hold nose and blow gently) and taking a handful of supplements prescribed by naturopath. To no avail.

To be clear, I’m not quite deaf. But I can’t hear the radio or TV unless they’re both cranked up to a volume that would blow out the eardrums of a normal person. In order to protect my husband’s hearing, as well as M’s, I’ve taken to listening to the radio via my iPod. I don’t even try with the television – closed caption is my best friend. Always an avid reader, I increasingly opt for going to bed early and reading.

I’ve discovered that we live in a noisy world. While I can get by with not hearing everything, not hearing very much is challenging.  While I can hear sound, I have much more difficulty distinguishing individual words. On the one hand, it’s very hard to know what’s going on at work. I have to pay close attention to body language and watch people’s facial expressions. Large groups are a challenge and I’ve taken to asking my colleagues to represent me at meetings. I’ve been pretty upfront with my co-workers and my supervisor, but I feel increasingly isolated, as if I’m living in another time and space continuum. I’ve started spending more time in my office, as opposed to interacting with my colleagues, since it’s hard work trying to understand what they’re saying. Intellectually, I know this isn’t an effective coping strategy, but hearing – or trying to hear – is hard work. Having become disconnected from the sounds – and the people – around me, I find it’s just easier to retreat into my own space. I’m generally exhausted at the end of the day. While M and his dad are generally very patient with me, it’s stressful for them too. I’m constantly asking them to repeat themselves. M has taken to saying “never mind”, instead of finishing a conversation with me.

Having fluid in my ear affects my balance and I feel dizzy much of the time. Due to the unseasonably cool and wet weather, I haven’t jumped on my bike. But truth be told, I’m a bit afraid to ride – I’m not sure how well I’ll be able ear the traffic around me. I’m generally comfortable with urban bike riding, but I’m less certain at the moment. The down side is that riding my bike to work is good for my mental and physical health. I’m walking as much as I can, but it’s not the same. I’m quite surprised the degree to which my lack of hearing is affecting my overall quality of life.

I’m optimistic that my current situation is temporary. I have an appointment with a specialist next month. One option may be to put a tube into my ear. It involves surgery under general anesthetic, which is no picnic, but having had the same procedure done at least a dozen times on both ears, I know what to expect. In the grand scheme of aliments, it could be much worse – after all, I have all my limbs and my organs. Having a wonky ear is relatively minor on the scale of physical aliments.

My recent experience has reinforced for me that I don;t want to be cut off from the world. While I’ve been resisting getting a hearing aid in my left ear for years, once the issues with my right ear  are resolved, I’m going to go ahead and and get one. I’m looking forward to the noise.

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Signs of spring (better late than never)

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Less than three weeks ago, we had fresh snow on the ground. Two weeks ago, the mercury was barely breaking o C. However, after a few days of sunny weather , some rain and double-digit temperatures, spring seems to be finally making an appearance. Not only can I walk outside in shoes and a light coat, but my garden is showing signs of life.

I have snowdrops…

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and crocus…

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some are even starting to open.

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Plus, the tulips are popping up, never mind the snow.

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An iris, which over-wintered in a pot outside, also P1040046has new shoots.

 

A few other plants are starting to poke out of the ground – this might be Sedum.

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My garden is still pretty messy. Despite temptation of the warm temperatures, its way too early to do a major clean up. I’ll leave the leaf cover for a while longer, until the risk of snow and heavy frost is gone (snow’s in the forecast for early next week). I have picked up the dog poo that was littered around the yard, (downside of letting the dog out in the backyard during the winter months), as well as other random piles of unknown animal droppings (since they’re always near the dog poo, I’m pretty certain some other creature has been leaving gifts in the backyard – gross!), so as to avoid stepping in anything nasty when I finally get out and start the serious tidying.  A few more warm days and plants will be popping up all over the garden Who kows what else I’ll find? Yeah Spring! My favourite time of year.

John Sebastien Toad - a gift from my mother and my version of a garden gnome

John Sebastien Toad – a gift from my mother and my version of a garden gnome

Monogram treasure box

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One of my favourite people is turning eight years old in April and to celebrate her birthday, I decided to make her a bracelet and a matching necklace. However, since the necklace I made her as part of her Christmas gift was tucked it in a little change purse and accidentally got thrown out, I decided I needed she needed a some sort of container to keep her jewelry and other treasures safe.

I headed to the Dollar Store and found a little wooden box with a latch.

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It wasn’t very attractive but that’s what paint is for. Since green is one my young friend’s favourite colours, I picked up some green paint and yellow and terra-cotta as complementary colours at Michaels. As I was leaving the store, I spotted a bin of laser cut wooden initials in various shapes and after digging around, I found the right initial – an “L”.

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After a couple of false starts and a second trip to Michaels, I decided to cover the top and inside surfaces of the box with scrapbook paper and paint the sides, both inside and out.

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I cut out my pieces of scrapbook paper before I started painting to avoid any unfortunate messiness. I used the same design for the top of the box and on the inside bottom and a coordinating piece for the inside top.

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I also took the screws out of the box and ran some fine sandpaper over the rough edges. Yes, the box only cost a $1, but the perfectionist in me wanted it to look good.

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Several hours later, I had a perfect little monogrammed treasure box (I brushed one of the wooden die-cuts with a light coat of copper paint and put a small piece of scrapbook paper on the back, to make the letter stand out)

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Yes, it took much longer than I originally planned, but it was exactly the type of finicky little project I love doing.

Lesson # 1 – cheap wood absorbs water-based paint. I put on at least 5 coats on the outside surfaces. Two coats were enough for the bottom and the inside of the box (both the bottom and the lid).

Lesson #2  – setting your carefully cut paper way from your work area will prevent paint from getting on the paper – luckily I had enough to re-cut the piece for the outside of the lid.

Lesson # 3 – ModgePodge is the best. I used it to adhere the scrapbook paper to the top of the box (inside and out), as well as the inside bottom. I also diluted it with a little water and covered the painted areas, just to give it a little shine.

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Lesson $4 – pay attention to the size of the screws. I pierced the inside of the box, putting on the back hinges. It wasn’t until I was trying to affix the front clasp that I realized there were short and long screws for a reason (I’m now very proficient with a Robertson screwdriver). A little dab of paint on the inside made the little hole disappear

Lesson #5 –  fun is priceless. In terms of time and money (2 trips to Michaels, plus supplies), this little box wasn’t at all cost-effective. But I had a great time working on it. Granted, my perfectionist tendencies demanded that it look “just so”, but it doesn’t get much better than dabbling with paint and ModgePodge.

As for the jewelry, I went with a simple design and primary colours. The centrepiece of both pieces are ceramic flower charms from Jennifer Jangles.

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The ones I used came from a line she made for Michaels last year and are not longer available (however, check out her shop as she often has flower and other charms). For the necklace, I added a split ring to one of the flowers (the charm is less likely to fall off than with a jump ring) and then strung it on a double strand of satin cord, one red, one yellow.

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Since my young friend is quite petite, I used M as my model to measure the length of the necklace the circumference of the bracelet I attached the yellow flower to a jump ring large enough to go over 3 separate strands of multi-coloured seed beads.

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While I had a blast decorating the box, it’s simple enough for children to do with a little supervision. It would be an easy and relatively inexpensive craft for a birthday party – you could use cardboard or chip board letters, instead of the wooden . Who wouldn’t want a personalized treasure box? I’m crossing my fingers that my friend likes her gift.

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Links include: Think Pink Sundays at Flamingo Toes ; Monday Link Party at Craft-O-Maniac; Motivate Me Monday at Keeping It Simple; Making Monday Marvelous at C.R.A.F.T. ; Made by You Mondays at Skip to My Lou ; Market Yourself Monday at Sumo’s Sweet Stuff; Get Your Craft on Tuesday at Today’s Creative Blog; Tuesday To Do Part at The Blackberry Vine: Take-a-Look Tuesdays at Sugar Bee Crafts; Wednesday Wowzers at oopsy daisy; Flaunt It Fridays at Dotted Line Crafts; The Cure for the Common Monday at Lines Across My FaceSix Sisters Stuff – Strut Your Stuff Saturday