Thursday, April 7, 2011

My New Friend, Pam

Pam and I - I'm without makeup in this one, can we tell? Yessss

After moving to Houston, Texas, I decided to attend Beth Moore's final Fall study (in November); I got there a little late for a good seat, but found one toward the back in the lower section of Houston's First Baptist Church. I saw a beautiful lady sitting at the end of the row with a few empty seats beside her, went up to her to ask if the seat next to her was taken...she said, "No". So, I sat down and we immediately went into conversation mode. 

The Bible study hadn't started yet, so music was playing in the background, and, mind you, there were probably 2500+ women in this church --> and they were ALL talking, every last one of them!  Which means, it was very noisy for me. 

**All of that sound goes directly into my microphone, and tells my brain that Gina has placed herself, once again, in a  massive head-banging rock concert  sound-overloaded environment.

Lo and behold, Pam is saying something to me, and I was trying to read new lips (everybody speaks differently, you see), and was also trying pick out her voice from within the noise; so I, of course, quickly begin to get things wrong. ("So, what's your name?" - "I'm 50 years old, how about yourself?" - kind of thing.)  Besides, my implant's processor was in desperate need of a tuneup (mapping to CI-wearers). Which then lead me to explain that I am deaf, had surgery and can now hear --> artificially...and, sometimes it takes more work to hear than other times. This was one of those times.

Well, instead of saying, "Oh, OK, it was nice meeting you," Pam wanted to know all about it. Ahhhh, a sigh of relief -- someone who isn't taken aback, but willing to do what it takes to help me along. She didn't shun me, she welcomed me - even when I got 43,249,498.2 words incorrect. Thank you, Lord...and thank you, Pam.

We exchanged E-mail and telephone information that night, and began to slowly make plans to do things together. One evening, I was driving (my trusty Jeep Wrangler, Rubicon) and Pam said something to me while leaning forward to put something in her purse. I didn't hear her, nor could I see her lips, and quickly went into deaf survival mode by laughing, smiling and responding with: "Yeah...".  My new friend looked at me and asked, "Did you hear me?"  Oh my goodness gracious, this woman wasn't going to let me slide my way through in life. Turning a little red, I said, "No." She then asked (with a smirk), "Then why did you answer?" 

I nodded my head thinking, "I like my new friend. Thank you, Lord, for bringing her into my life. She's going to make me a better person, I can see that right now." But, I was probably even more red in the face by now, maybe not, I'm not sure, as I don't remember :-).  I answered honestly --> "I do that, at times, to spare myself from having to ask people to repeat. Plus, I feel like I've been given the gift of hearing; so, I shouldn't miss anything anyone says."

She replied, "Well, I don't mind if you need me to repeat." Pam also wanted to know what she could do to help me hear better.

Those are key words for anyone around those who are hearing impaired --> help us 'hear you' by looking at us, keeping your hands away from your mouth when you speak, don't over enunciate -- slow down just a bit, but talk normal; and shave long mustaches or beards.

When Pam and I are around a group of people, she quickly notices if I'm having difficulty following along, and will inform everyone I can't hear well, and what they need to do to help me be a part of the conversation. She's very kind about it, and presents herself well. I sit there in amazement of my new friend -- I haven't had one like this before.

The other day (5 1/2 months after meeting each other), she and I got together to talk about God, family, life, etc., and we were having iced tea at a place with an outside patio. All of a sudden there were firetrucks and ambulances with sirens sounding all around. It was so loud, it drew her attention toward them and to wonder what could possibly be going on. For me, I was immersed in conversation and didn't notice them all that much. She asked me if I could hear them, and I said, "Yes; but, it's kind of vague." I then realized that this time SHE was the one in sound-overload, and I was the one placing sounds in the background while conversing. 

(Either that, or it's a sign my brain isn't deciphering high tones as well as it does lower tones. I'll have to discuss that with my audiologist on my next visit.)

Well, that's the gist of my progress with hearing, and with my newfound, God-sent friend, Pam.

At a Beth Moore Bible Study - she's without makeup in this one, but can anyone tell? Nooo!