Suddenly Deaf

My mom’s hearing is gone. Pffttt. Disappeared. Like that (imagine my fingers snapping.)

She already had some hearing loss, but has managed to do okay with a hearing aid in one ear. You could carry on a conversation if you spoke up a little. Then suddenly, a couple of weeks ago, she could hear almost nothing. It’s gotten a little better at times and then worse again. She can understand me if I put my mouth right next to her ear and speak slowly. That’s it.

She has an appointment tomorrow morning with an ENT. I hope we discover impacted wax or something that can be remedied on the spot. My consultation with Doctors NIH and Google tell me sudden hearing loss is often idiopathic, meaning nobody ever figures out the reason. Oh, please no. Sometimes hearing mysteriously goes away and then shows back up in a couple of weeks, as if it had been out on a beach vacation. Sometimes it goes away and never comes back and they never find a reason. Sometimes there’s  a virus or a tumor. An sometimes there’s a severe wax buildup.

Mom’s quality of life has diminished quite a lot with her sudden deafness. She no longer attends the weekly Bible study, since she can’t hear what’s being said. She doesn’t have conversations with other residents of the nursing facility. She doesn’t even watch TV, unless it’s a baseball game, something she can track without the sound.   Her family can’t call and chat with her over the phone. I almost always call on days I don’t visit in person. But now I can’t. My 15-year-old son is learning guitar. He’d been planning to go with me last Saturday to visit and play a couple of songs for her, but there was no point in taking the guitar after all. She is doing a lot of reading, so there’s a silver lining.

I suppose tomorrow I’ll have more information on whether she can recover her hearing or whether this is the new normal. If it’s the latter, it will be a big adjustment for everyone.

When the Sandwiching is Helpful

Were my kids completely grown and gone, I don’t know how I would have managed things last Friday. Sometimes, being in the sandwich generation means juggling priorities and trying to do too many things for too many people at the same time. Other times, it means you have a helpful teen on hand when you need one.

My daughter is 16, almost 17. She’s homeschooling this year, so her schedule is flexible. Good thing for all of us, as this meant she could go with me when I took my mom to get her new non-driver’s state ID. She moved here from another state, thus the need for a new photo ID. I both emailed and called the Missouri Department of Motor Vehicles in advance, desperate to find someone who would tell me of a way I could get my mother’s non-driver’s license without having to bring her in. There is no way.

So off we went, my daughter and I, to fetch my mom and take her to the driver’s license office. It took two people to help Mom into and out of the car. Then one person had to walk with her and her walker to make sure she didn’t lose her balance or her way, while the other carried everything. I accompanied, my daughter filled the role of pack-horse. She also ran ahead to open doors for us, and parked the car in a legitimate space after my mom was out right next to the door (our disability hang tag is in the works, but not here yet.)

So, yeah, having the teens still at home can ease the workload on occasion. The kids are all right.