Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Pants Lawsuit: Roy Pearson Gets...Nothing

Remember the $65 million dollar lawsuit over a pair of pants?

Roy Pearson lost.

It looks like he will have to dig deep into his pants to cover the court costs for this silly lawsuit that he dreamed up.

There is justice after all.

Cochlear Implant Surgery Video

Yesterday, the Tampa Bay Hearing and Balance Center showcased a live video of a cochlear implant surgery:

Cochlear Implant Surgery

Warning: this is not for the faint of heart.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Enter the Laughter--Stories of Klutzy Moments

Remember Erma Bombeck and her short, witty sense of humor?

Well, Marti Lawrence has the same brand of humor with a twist: she comes from the hills of Missouri. My parents and all of my siblings are from the same state. My brothers and sisters have memories of outhouses and second floor bedrooms with no heat. I was the only one fortunate enough to be born in the culturally advanced city of Chicago.

I can't remember how I first "met" Marti online, but I quickly took a liking to her blog, Enter the Laughter and left a comment. Somehow, we started chatting via email and she was kind enough to send me her book.

Marti Lawrence shares tales of her life in Queen Klutz, a collection of mishaps surrounding her inability to get through life without breaking a few bones. You will find yourself with mixed emotions-- one moment you'll be breaking out in laughter and the next moment you'll be clutching your heart thinking, "This poor gal, what a life!"

Marti calls herself a "blutz," which is a klutz who has bad luck. And somehow, this bad luck traveled through the mail to my friend Groovy, who slipped on the steps on her way to the mailbox.

So if you're looking for a light-hearted read with a couple of chuckles thrown in, grab a copy of Queen Klutz. If you're lucky, Marti will autograph it!

I went to pick up Marti's book from a table and stubbed my toe!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Cochlear Implant Article Printed

Back in February, I started interviewing families and deaf adults with cochlear implants for an upcoming article in the Hands & Voices Communicator. The idea for this article came about when my daughter's friend had an implant that suddenly stopped working. It was a tough journey for her to be re-implanted and adjust to new mappings. She is now enjoying her Beatles music through her implant again.

If you recall from my previous post, I took some criticsm for attempting to write this article.

It was one of the hardest articles I've ever written.

Twists and Turns: Journeys with Implants is available in the current Hands & Voices Communicator. Join Hands & Voices and receive quarterly issues of this excellent newsletter.

Here's an excerpt from Twists and Turns:

“Families who choose implants are set up to either succeed with the implant, or fail,” said Susan Raad, owner of Communication Clubhouse in Illinois and mom to two deaf and hard of hearing children.

Susan’s son, now 13, obtained an implant at 18 months with good results.

“The very first day, he responded to a dog barking!” Susan recalled.

Despite a background in speech, language and audiology, Susan found herself vulnerable as a parent in a field that is often polarized. Prior to obtaining the implant, a doctor suggested that she pursue a certain method of communication, and Susan found herself pursuing it, even though her son’s audiogram showed no response.

“Even with my background, I found myself acting in irrational ways based on my hopes as a parent, rather than what I knew from my academic background. We often talk about implants in an either/or situation. If the implant takes off, it is considered a ‘success’ and our child has ‘succeeded.’ But if an implant doesn’t work for a child,” she continued, “it is considered a ‘failure’ and parents begin to question what they did wrong. We begin to humanize the technology.”

“What’s more,” said Susan, “it’s a technological crapshoot. Most of the time, the odds are in our favor, but what do we do when it doesn’t go in our favor? Families end up blaming themselves, feeling like they haven’t done enough.”

Susan believes that the idea of “choice” is a misleading one. “If parents are told they can simply choose a path for their child based on the decisions they make,” she says, “then what happens if their child isn’t able to function on that chosen path—does that mean they’ve failed?”

She shakes her head.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Thinking Blogger Award Goes to Deaf Mom

Angie Lee from What Floats My Boat has bestowed the Thinking Blogger Award on this humble blog. So if you'll excuse me, I've got to get my hair done and pick out my evening gown. And a speech, I must have a speech!

All kidding aside, while reading Angie Lee's blog, I came across her poem about American Sign Language. Angie Lee's husband, son and step-daughter are deaf. Here's what she wrote:

Seeing your hands in conversation
Is witnessing the most beautiful symphony ever composed.
A world full of words
Dancing gracefully from your fingertips . . .
Music in motion,
A melody I see with my eyes and hear with my heart. . .
And having listened, I now know the meaning of harmony.


So of course, this got me to thinking about other blogs that make ME think:

Glenda Watson Hyatt at I'll Do It Myself

Phil Gerbyshak at Make It Great!

Wendy Piersall at Emoms At Home

Mark Drolsbaugh at Drolz Uncensored

Terry Starbucker from Ramblings of a Glass Half Full

Dawn Colclasure from Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Check them out-- you'll enjoy the read!

Personalized Children's Books

Monday, June 18, 2007

Get in the Habit for Free Coupons!

I'm not a fan of cutting out coupons from the newspaper each week, but occasionally the mood strikes me and I cut them out. I'm always amazed at the amount that I save at the cash register-- so why don't I do it more often?

In the past several months, I have gotten into the habit of checking out free coupon sites. I recently found a coupon for a free appetizer at a local restaurant by searching for free coupons. I just discovered a new coupon site: CouponChief. CouponChief has coupon codes for online purchases. So before you make a purchase online, check to see if there are any coupons available for the items you plan to purchase.

The nice thing about CouponChief is that it keeps track of the coupons you've used or searched for in the past. You can find them easily again. There's a weekly newsletter to keep you updated on the deals.

This week's special has an online deal at Target: Spend $50 and get $5 off.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Another Crazy Lawsuit-- Warlick and Ramsell Argue Over Bears Tickets

Once upon a time, Douglas Warlick and Donald Ramsell were friends. The two lawyers from a western suburb of Chicago, attended Bears games together for over twenty years.

Back in 1985, Warlick purchased four Bears season tickets in his name. Just four years ago, Ramsell began purchasing two of the tickets from Warlick in an "agreement" that the two friends struck up to split costs. No contract was signed nor anything written down.

The friendship began to go sour, and on May 30th of this year, Ramsell filed a lawsuit in court to formally obtain his half of the tickets.

Warlick, in a recent Chicago Tribune article, summed the situation up perfectly: "I'm still in shock -- that's so obnoxious, so immature," he said. "He could've just picked up the phone. I think 'sad' is an appropriate word for somebody who does something like that."

Sunday, June 10, 2007

When Adversity Turns Into a Blessing

Stephen Hopson, over at Adversity University, has tagged me for a post on the Secrets of Overcoming Adversity. I thought I'd share about a tough time in my life which actually turned into a blessing:

I grew up as a "solitaire", a term that Gina Oliva, author of Alone in the Mainstream uses to describe a deaf or hard of hearing child who is the only one in a school of hearing students.

Born with normal hearing, I became hard of hearing in elementary school and obtained my first hearing aid at the age of nine. By the time I started middle school, I was lipreading my teachers and fellow students and fooling everyone into thinking that I could hear pretty well.

I was even fooling myself.

When I was in eighth grade, it became apparent to my mom that I needed more help in school. Up to that point, I was getting yearly hearing tests and speech therapy--that was the extent of my "support services" at school. My mother tried to convince me to attend a local high school that had a program serving deaf students. The students used sign language interpreters.

"No way," I told my mom. "I'm going to attend the same high school with all of my hearing friends. I'm not deaf."

Never mind the fact that I couldn't use the telephone nor follow group conversations. Every day, after school, I took my hearing aid off and kept it off each summer. The hearing aid often gave me headaches and it didn't contribute much to my understanding of speech. I was relying nearly 100% on my ability to lipread.

So off I went to high school. I was fortunate to have a group of friends who I could communicate with. I hung out with a couple of girls from the swim team and I fell in love with a boy on the guys' swim team. The telephone was a nightmare for me. Since my mom was deaf, I often had to wait until my father arrived home from work and asked him to make phone calls for me. If he was in a cranky mood, I was out of luck. I quickly learned to ask my local friends down the block to make calls for me. It sure wasn't fun communicating through a third party to set up dates.

I quickly became the "Queen of Social Bluffing" in high school. It was the only way to save face; if a bunch of people at a party were laughing together, you'd find me laughing right along. Heaven forbid if anyone came in and asked me, "What's everyone laughing about?" I'd mumble something and head off to the bathroom.

After I graduated from high school, I attended a local community college. I applied for jobs around town and ended up working at a neighbor's restaurant washing dishes. I also babysat for extra money. Even though I still had my core group of friends, I found myself feeling lonely. I could communicate one-on-one just fine, but I sure wasn't having much fun at parties. At one point, I stopped going out at night because it was too hard to communicate in the dark or even with a single light on in a car.

I had visited Northern Illinois University during my senior year in high school and saw that they had two floors in a co-ed dorm filled with deaf and hard of hearing students. Instead of jumping at the chance to go away to college and meet other deaf and hard of hearing students, I turned it down for the same reason as I turned down the high school program: I didn't know American Sign Language. I didn't need it. I was doing just fine bluffing my way through life, thankyouverymuch.

By the end of my first year at the community college, I knew I needed to go away to college. Going away was going to be my only ticket out of the house, because I couldn't seem to find a job that was going to get me an apartment. So I applied to NIU and I was accepted.

That summer, I was barefooting (waterskiing on bare feet) a lot on Christie Lake. One day, I turned to cross the wake and fell. I slammed into the water sideways--there was no time to tuck and roll. I was a little sore afterwards and my ears felt as if they were filled with water and I couldn't hear. In the past, I could shake my head and blow my ears and I would be fine. This time, nothing happened. I just shrugged it off, thinking it would clear up later.

The day I headed out to NIU, I still couldn't hear. Just before heading out the door, I started bawling. My mom was upset enough about having her youngest go off to college, so she urged me to reconsider. "You can stay here and finish college!" I shook my head and we headed off.

As it turned out, becoming deaf was a blessing in disguise. While I mourned the loss of hearing and had to get used to wearing a hearing aid 24/7, I was also learning a new visual language and discovering a whole group of deaf and hard of hearing people to communicate with. I met my husband and fell in love, not only with him but with a whole group of friends that I still hang around with today.

So today, I feel blessed to have deaf, hard of hearing and hearing friends and the ability to communicate with them all.

I'm passing the Secrets of Overcoming Adversity baton on to Dawn Colclasure. Here's her entry: Being a Burn Survivor.

Note: It is with great sadness that I share the news that Gina Oliva's husband recently passed away.

Friday, June 08, 2007

The Debt Diet and Today's Prices

This morning, I sat down to watch Oprah's Debt Diet and catch up with the families that started the debt diet a year ago. The families made great strides in cutting into their debt and making some changes. Most of them reported that their marriages improved and they gained a sense of working together as a result of the Debt Diet. The advice from the money gurus (Jean Chatzky, author of Make Money, Not Excuses, David Bach, author of The Automatic Millionaire and Girl, Get Your Credit Straight!) all had the same advice: Stop spending, sell some of your stuff, increase your income, and pay off your debt.

Sounds so simple, doesn't it?

The hubby and I have made some changes here and there lately and cut back on our spending and gas use. We've been staying home more and the kids took their lunch to school more frequently instead of purchasing the school lunches.

Yet, this week, the Chicago Sun Times reported that food prices are on the rise and the cost of eggs has risen 81%.

So I guess that means we'll be eating less eggs this summer.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Medical Coding--A Deaf Professional Manages a Team

(Left: Julia Anderson, right: Cathy Smyth)

Ask Julia Anderson about her job and she'll tell you she "loves it!" Julia is a Clinical Data Coordinator at Advocate Christ Medical Center/Hope Chidren's Hospital in Oak Lawn, Illinois. She graduated from the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID) in 1991 with a degree in Medical Records. She went on to obtain certification as a Registered Health Information Technician and Certified Coding Specialist.

Yes, she's been coding for 16 years and still loves it.

Julia communicates in American Sign Language and utilizes interpreters for meetings. On the job, she had to come up with innovative ways to communicate with her co-workers. "I do not use the phone," says Julia. "Email is my main source of communication. The associates in my hospital who I work with know that email is the best way to contact me.

"I use paper and pen to communicate with co-workers, Julia continues. "Sometimes I will use a computer or laptop as well. If co-workers have questions, they will sign, fingerspell or email me."

Julia, along with another coordinator, supervises a staff of 24 medical coders and 4 unbilled staff. Julia's path to becoming a coordinator was not an easy one. Back in 1999, while working as a coder, Julia applied to become a coordinator. She didn't get the job and was quite disappointed. The job was given to Cathy Smyth, who happened to have a sister who was hard of hearing. As it turned out, Julia completed her internship years ago with Cathy's sister at Advocate Christ Medical Center.

In the beginning, Cathy and Julia communicated via paper and pencil. Cathy learned to fingerspell and slowly picked up signs. Today, Cathy and Julia communicate fluently in American Sign Language. Several other co-workers are learning sign as well.

When the coordinator job opened up again four years ago, Cathy encouraged Julia to apply. This time, she obtained the job and continues to enjoy it today. "In my personal opinion," Julia reflects back, "the director at that time did not think I was capable of doing the job due to the communication barrier.

"I ended up proving her wrong when I got the second chance at the coordinator position."