Not so loud, just about right

So last week I wrote about how Mike’s hearing aids were blasting into his ears like nobody’s business. He hung in there with them until he got back to the audiologist a couple of days ago. She took pity on him and readjusted them. He thinks they are just about right now. It’ll take a few days to see if he is really hearing Judy or if she has to repeat herself as before. We will adjust as necessary, and life will go on. Mike says that one thing for certain is that the birds outside are overjoyed. As soon as he puts in his hearing aids they start singing. So he knows they are happy about his new hearing aids.

I have never been so proud of the teenagers as I am right now. Quite frankly, usually they seem to be a bunch of dumb kids who are only interested in themselves and what their friends have to say on social media. But after the latest school shooting in Florida, some of the kids in Florida who survived the incident became very outspoken about gun control and the senseless violence that is perpetrated by people with high-powered semi- automatic weapons. They have tapped into a lot of energy that is present in our country that is mobilizing against gun violence. That the shooters in these incidents are mentally unbalanced goes without saying. But as we noted in a recent post (The Mark of Cain, posted February 25, 2018), the mentally ill we always will have with us. We just don’t want them to have access to these firearms. The opponents of restricting access to these weapons to mentally unwell persons make Second Amendment arguments and personal liberty arguments, as well as stating that “the liberals” want to take everyone’s guns away from them. The only ones who talk about taking guns away from people are the gun lobby who says that the liberals want to take guns away from people. Oh, and of course, there is Spoiled Donald who said that we should take away the guns from mentally ill people first and invoke due process afterwards. But very few people take what he says seriously, and those who do, shouldn’t.

If I can jump from one soapbox to another right now, I want to hold forth about distracted drivers. You may recall Snowball whom I mentioned in the post called “Possum”, posted on February 19 of 2017. I was over near his house the other day. He lives (lived) on the main road through our subdivision, Meadows Trace. There is a fair amount of traffic there, and a number of the drivers regard the speed limit as a suggestion rather than a regulation. I hate to tell you what I saw but I’m going to. Snowball, a beautiful fluffy white Persian male cat, had found a patch of sun to stretch out in. Unfortunately, it was right in the middle of Meadows Trace. Along came a driver in an SUV, and ran right over Snowball almost before he even saw it coming. He had just noticed the car and started to react when the right front tire got him. He was nailed by the back tires as well. The driver stopped and got out. It was a young woman I would guess in her mid-20s who had a small child with her who remained in the car seat. Mrs. Greenblatt came running out of the house crying and screaming “Snowball, my Snowball!” At least it was quick. He was already gone and I don’t think he felt a thing. The  young woman got a blanket out of her car and covered Snowball with it. She tried to comfort Mrs. Greenblatt just saying over and over again, “I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry”. It was just plain awful. Mrs. Greenblatt took the blanket and wrapped Snowball up in it. The young woman asked her if she wanted her to stay with her for a while, but Mrs. Greenblatt said, “No, you have your little boy with you, you just go on. I’ll call my husband and he’ll come home.” So she went on into the house with Snowball wrapped in this blanket, and the woman stood there in a state of shock. She got out her phone and called her husband. I guess he was not able to come over right then. He must have been at work or something. I heard her tell him that she had been talking on the phone when she ran over Snowball with her car. I guess she was holding the phone according to what I heard her tell him. I know Mike and Judy both have hands-free phone devices when they’re driving. Judy never talks on the phone when she drives, even so. She is afraid of getting distracted. There’s nothing wrong with being cautious. It’s one of my best traits, and part of why I’m still alive. You’ll never catch me sunning myself in the middle of the street like Snowball was doing or like Nevermore does. You know, I’ve talked about Nevermore before. He is the black dog that lives on our street and who came in to visit us one year when we opened the door for Elijah the Prophet during our Passover Seder.

Not to get off track, but Passover is coming up this coming week. Mike was invited to speak at a nearby Missionary Baptist Church by his friend, Rev. Larry, this past week. I of course, didn’t go, but Judy and Michelle did. So did one of Mike’s friends, Steve, who works with him. I’ll try to talk  Mike into letting me post his talk. His topic was the relationship between Passover and Easter. Nothing to interest a cat, but I heard that the church folks enjoyed it. You might enjoy it as well, but if it’s not your cup of tea, you don’t have to read it.

So, when I got home later that evening I heard Mike and Judy talking about Snowball having been killed by a distracted driver. They were pretty upset about it. Judy made some chicken soup and they took it over to the Greenblatt’s and stayed for a few minutes. I guess you can make a Shiva visit for a cat. I heard them talking again later about the pending bill in the Georgia legislature to address the problem of people talking on the phone while they’re driving. The bill is regulating the use of the phone, not banning  it. Texting while driving is already illegal in Georgia. The argument in favor of the legislation has to do with the increase in motor vehicle related deaths that have occurred in Georgia the past 3 years. It’s quite dramatic, and it is directly correlated to the increase in use of mobile devices by people while driving. I don’t think they keep statistics about how many cats and dogs are getting killed by distracted drivers, but I guarantee you that number has gone up as well. With current technology there is no excuse for anybody having to hold the phone in their hand to talk while they are driving. The argument against the legislation is a personal liberty argument. Some people think the government shouldn’t infringe on the conduct of their lives, even if what they do endangers the lives of other people, dogs, or cats. The personal liberty argument, carried to its logical conclusion, would have us eliminate laws against drunk driving, hollering “fire” in a crowded theater, or selling firearms to people with a history of mental illness.

Back to that again. Mike thinks that in the short run, no real change will happen with gun control legislation. The NRA will throw millions of dollars around, and the conservatives will assume that the kids will get bored and discouraged and go back to their video games. In Mike’s talk this week at the church he said that we have experienced a predictable backlash in this country to the election of a black president. He said that it’s a temporary thing and that it can’t and won’t last. I think were already seeing a backlash against the backlash. And I think that it’s the women and the young people in this country who are leading the way. It will be interesting to watch.

LOUD, and Amazing

So, Mike came home a couple of weeks ago with these little things in his ears. Just from listening to him talk with Judy I realized that these devices are supposed to help him hear better. I didn’t particularly notice that he hadn’t been hearing that well. Of course, the 2- leggeds in this household don’t hear nearly as well as we do. Mike has not complained about it, but he’s been hearing hissing in his ears for years. I think the medical term for this hissing is tinnitus. He says that he knows that his hearing must be diminished, although he hadn’t noticed it particularly. He said tinnitus occurs when the hearing nerve is damaged. So if he had tinnitus he must have diminished hearing as well, he reasoned. As far as he was concerned, when he didn’t hear what people said to him it was because they were not speaking clearly or directly to him or loud enough etc. etc.  Anyway there has been this recurrent drama going on in the house where Mike has had to ask Judy to repeat herself quite often. Judy has been quite annoyed at times. Mike has said that if he’s in the bathroom with the water running and Judy is speaking in the other room she shouldn’t expect him to hear her. That makes sense, but facts are facts; he doesn’t hear that well. I think it has something to do with listening to loud rock ‘n roll, and the rest of it has to do with his ears being 75 years old. (That’s about 15 in cat years.) He started to go for hearing tests several years ago, but last year was the 1st time an audiologist told him that he would benefit from hearing aids. She showed him a model and when she put it in his ears it sounded like she was speaking into a microphone. The other thing that was  remarkable is that the hissing went away. Now, truthfully, Mike was up to that point  not at all interested in getting hearing aids. He had only gone to the audiologist because Judy asked him to get tested, and he was trying to be a good husband. He had thought that the tinnitus was something that he was just going to have to live with, and that his hearing was more than adequate. Anyway, he didn’t get the hearing aids at that time, mostly because of the price tag which was substantial. Then Judy came home saying that some of her friends had gotten hearing aids at Costco and Mike should go over there. Well, one of the things that Mike found out at Costco was that the brand of hearing aid there was the same as their brand of hot dogs, laundry detergent, Norwegian salmon, and dog food. So he wasn’t so sure about the hearing aids. But they tested him and said he needed hearing aids and fitted him with a model, and he walked around the store and couldn’t tell any difference whatsoever. He went back the next day and tried again with no real improvement. They told him that hearing aids would not help him with his tinnitus which he knew to be false based on his brief experience a few months earlier. So not long ago he called back to the audiologist he saw last year, but they couldn’t give him an appointment because she had left the practice, and the clinic hadn’t hired a new audiologist yet. So he called another audiologist who carried the same brand, Widex. He liked the new audiologist, and that brings us up to the visit 2 weeks ago where he got fitted for his hearing aids. He went back again a couple of days ago and gave his hearing aids a C-. It turns out that she had not cranked them up to full volume at first for fear of making his head explode. After 2 weeks of some improvement she reset it to what she said would be the equivalent of his hearing when he was 18. No jokes, please.

And EVERYTHING IS LOUD. Scratching his head, combing his hair, opening drawers, closing drawers, the television, walking on the hardwood floors, people talking, breathing through his nose, his own voice, flushing the toilet, computer keys, the printer, and OMG the vacuum cleaner; the birds singing outside; you name it and it’s loud. Mike’s friends came over Sunday morning for their weekly men’s group, and at first he thought he was going to have to take his hearing aids out because one of his friend’s voice was so loud. But he hung in there and was able to tolerate it. I will mention 2 amazing (see below) things; no, 3. One is that he can hear so much better. The 2nd thing is that he went to see “Black Panther” with Judy and Michelle Saturday and he was able to tolerate the loud soundtrack of the movie. The 3rd thing is after the movie when he normally would’ve had loud tinnitus he didn’t have any, and didn’t really have any tinnitus to speak of on Sunday either. That never happens. But he woke up this morning with the hissing as usual. I guess it’s just going to take time. He said he’s going to go back again this week and get them readjusted if necessary.

I would say that the change in his hearing, and in fact the whole experience has been amazing, except if I did so I would be giving in to the current overuse of that word. Everything is amazing these days. I’ve collected a short list of things that have been said to be amazing just listening to the TV in the last couple of weeks. The arugula is amazing; the Brussels sprouts were amazing; the level of competition was amazing; the pastry wrapped brie was amazing; the crème brûlée was amazing; remembering that “The Woman in Red” had a Stevie Wonder soundtrack was amazing; the challengers for the Senate race are amazing; the Americana and pageantry of  college football Saturday is amazing; somebody has an amazing husband; Mark’s performance on Celebrity Big Brother was amazing; somebody’s sense of humor is amazing; the kitchen was amazing; the wooden beams were amazing; the chandelier was amazing; the antique Rookwood vase was amazing; someone’s marketing skills are amazing; she looks amazing; someone’s skin is amazing; how she looks in her wedding dress is amazing; the job with her hair was amazing; the pork chops were amazing. I could go on but I’m sure you’ll thank me if I don’t. You can tell that there’s a lot of food and home and garden programming on at the house. Well, seriously, let’s be real, that many things can’t be amazing. The impact of the word has been diminished to the point where it means no more than “better than average” or “noteworthy”. The arugula  was better than average; the Brussels sprouts were better than average; the level of competition was noteworthy; and so on. I suppose it is completely natural for people to speak in a vernacular, and with mass communications being what it is, people get exposed to other people’s expressions and manner of speaking quickly. Things have not always been amazing. Mike remembers when things were not to be believed. He remembers sitting in the high school cafeteria one day when he heard a girl at the next table say “I don’t believe these hot dogs!” He wondered at the time what there was to believe about the hot dogs. Or, were the hot dogs really trying to persuade her about something? He realized that she could’ve just as well said “these hot dogs are much better than I thought they were going to be.” Or possibly, she could have said “what in the world is in these hot dogs? They are awful!” In any case, the amazing and noteworthy hot dogs were not to be believed, and either well above or well below average; and if nothing else, deserving of comment. Enough said about that.

So, there’s a lot more to report but it will have to wait. Happy Meadows is an amazing place with so much going on all the time. Mike just dictated “Happy Meadows” for me and the voice recognition program typed “heavy metals”. That is not as funny as some  AutoCorrect events such as changing the word Paraclete to parakeet in the minister’s sermon. But it was mildly amusing if not noteworthy. Be safe and be well, and remember,  if it’s not about love, it’s not about nothing.