Archive for June 2016

Oh Snap! It's the Little Things

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When I was a little girl I learned to wink, snap and whistle just like everyone else. I loved learning all three of those milestones.


I always thought my whistle was a fail, until last week. Lo and behold, I can actually whistle quite well. I just couldn't hear it. What was once a very faint whistle now sounds to me much like all of the birds I'm now hearing.

Snapping my fingers turned out to be hard too. I learned to snap in a fort that my best friend and I made from the tall grass in an empty lot near our houses. That night, when I went home, and went to bed, I practiced my snapping until I fell asleep. It wasn't a loud snap, but I was proud I could do it, with my right hand anyhow. My left hand was another story. I tried, but for some reason, I just could not get my fingers to snap on my left hand. 

I never gave up trying. For years, when I would go to bed, I would practice snapping my fingers! I finally accepted that I was snapping deprived in my left hand. 

As I grew up, and people would share quirky things about themselves, I would share that I was unable to snap with my left hand. 

After I got my hearing aids, I was dancing to music, and I snapped my fingers! What a shock to hear what a snap really sounds like! Not only that, but both hands could snap! 

This morning, while I was getting ready for the day, I had my hearing aids out. I decided to snap to see what I could hear.  I could hear my right hand snap, not like I hear it with hearing aids, but exactly like I heard it my whole life. 

I snapped my left fingers. Nothing. I did this over and over. Still nothing. 

So I put my hearing aids on, and sure enough, each of my different hands' snap sound different. My left one must fall into the pitches I can't or nearly can't hear.

All that practice paid off all those years. I now hear my finger snapping on both hands. 

When I snapped my fingers this morning without hearing aids, it brought me back to my childhood, in my bed, falling asleep, where I never gave up trying. 

It's the little things.


Work to Do and I Picked My BFF's Names! #namemyBFFs winner announced!

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A lot of people have asked me what it is like to transition to the world's way of hearing. So I thought I would share a little bit of what it has been like the last two weeks.

When they told me I was a perfect fit for hearing aids, based on my discrimination tests, they also said they believed I would do well, simply based on they way I compensated already my whole life. I was very encouraged hearing this, and went in with a positive attitude.

The first day I got them I was numb. Numb because I could not believe all that I was not hearing in the world, and I did not know.

Emotionally it was a draining experience. How did no one ever know? How did I not know? How did this go on for 50 years? I spent night and day re living all of the times in my life that there actually was a clue that came our way, but we missed it. I read everything I could get my hands on to understand the science behind how I was living like this my whole life.

Later I joined two groups for people who are deaf or hearing impaired. That helped me a lot concerning the work it would take, and what I would be going through physically.

A lot of people compare this experience to getting eye glasses. Lucky for me, I was also visually impaired as a child, so I know that experience as well. It is very similar, with one difference. With glasses you put them on and you see. It is pretty much an ah ha moment.

With hearing, your brain has to learn every single new sound. Over and over. So it is a daily ah ha experience, over and over and over again. Just when you think you got it, you have to do it over again. Then you go to bed, and wake up the next morning, and start all over again. Then they move your hearing aids up, and you start over again.

What I did not expect when they told me they thought I would do great with hearing aids, is how much energy it would take. Learning to hear like the rest of the world is more work than I have done in my life. Putting those hearing aids on did not just make me hear. I had to do the work. My body was exhausted for the first two weeks. I would wake up in the morning, and it felt like I never slept. Though I did, soundly each night, because I fell into bed exhausted.

This morning was the first morning since I got my hearing aids that I woke up almost as fresh as I used to wake up. That is why it was my first time in the two weeks that I had the energy to take a walk in the neighborhood. Which I only got as far as my next door neighbor's house, because I had to stop and take in all of the amazing sounds of the world waking up! Wow!

It has been an incredible journey, an exhausting journey, and a grateful journey.

I am so happy to be two weeks into this, and getting closer to what I think the rest of the world hears like. One of my new friends, in the hearing loss community told me to expect 6 months before I am really settled in. As long as every day continues to get better and better like it is now, I can do this from here on out.

Thank you to each of you as you have given me and my family the support and love during this time. We can't tell you how much that means to us. I am so very proud of my husband and kids. They have been amazing as I recall over and over countless stories that should have given us clues that I was not hearing like the rest of the world. They have helped me process so much of this, and have given me the unconditional love that I have needed as I learn who I was, and who I am now.

As promised, I am going to announce the winner of #namemyBFFs. Thank you to all of you who played along. Through the grit and grind of this process, I have been grateful for so many of you joining me in this journey. And naming my BFF's is one place that I have smiled from ear to ear reading your suggestions. Thank you thank you thank you!

So what have I named my two best friends?

Faith and Hope. Faith is my right hearing aid and Hope is my left hearing aid. I had a few runners up, but these names jumped out at me as if my hearing aids said, "Yes, Diane, this is us!"

I chose the sides because left has four letters and so does Hope. And right has five letters and so does Faith.

I also liked these two for one other reason.  I never ever want to lose Faith or Hope. Literally or figuratively.

Congratulations Carol Marie Brown! Please message me your address and we will get that coffee right out to you!


Every Day is a Celebration - Today, Was a Unique Celebration #happyhearing

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Today marks exactly two weeks since I entered into the world of hearing like others do, or as closely as modern technology is letting me.

Two weeks ago, I heard my own voice for the first time in my life.  What I really sound like. Not what I heard for the last 50 years.

It was absolutely shocking to me to hear what I sound like. It is a day I will never forget for as long as I live.

I knew almost immediately that I wanted to celebrate this day.

I also knew earlier than today was too soon.

I had work to do.

The days since that day have been spent working on the job of learning to hear.

They call it transitioning.

And let me tell you, it is much more work than I expected the day they told me they could help me.

I have not spent much time with other people, other than my husband and children, and those who I have seen in passing, during these two weeks.

I have done a lot of stuff mind you.

My husband, children  and I have gone a lot of places.

But we have done this somewhat privately.

I needed time to get used to my voice. I needed to get used to the new sounds. I needed time to process all that was new and changed.

Processing what my voice sounds like has taken almost the whole two weeks. Working on my volume, nuances of speech, and all that it takes to communicate effectively has changed since I now hear. I was basically learning from others reactions to me in the past, and now, I am learning by hearing my voice, by actually hearing me.

As I said above, I knew two weeks ago, that getting together with friends was going to be something I wanted to do.

So a few days after I got my hearing aids, I called a small group of my IP sisters. (Their husbands work with my husband, and well, we are all like family in this company, so we affectionately call each other IP sisters.)

I wanted it to be a small enough group that we could talk, celebrate and I could hear them the best I could.

Today was that day!

We met for lunch, and it was everything I hoped it would be.

We laughed, we cried, we laugh/cried lol, and we celebrated.

Getting together with them was like ointment on my soul.

Every day I learn something more about myself in this journey, and every day I appreciate what it means to hear, as best as I possibly can, what others in the world are hearing. That was worth celebrating.

Thank you to my IP sisters, for celebrating with me.

Our lunch will always be a sacred moment for me!

Ointment on my soul indeed.

#happyhearing






You Have Questions. I Have Answers...

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I have had a lot of questions come my way since I found out that I am hearing impaired, so I am going to do my best to answer as many of them as I can. I might not remember all of them, and they have come from a lot of directions, so bare with me as I work to recall all of the questions that have come my way.

1. What made you go and get a hearing test?

You know, it was the usual husband and wife conversation. For the last 31 years, before marriage, and after we were married, life with my husband has been amazing.

Though, truth be told, there were moments, (a lot of them), that I thought he was mumbling to me.

We now know John's tone is one of the hardest for me to hear. So I missed a lot of what he was saying to me.

Our communication was great, if he was looking at me.

When he is not, it is almost non existent.

I'm not going to lie, I am a little bit proud of all we have done in our lives together with such limited communication. What once felt like our biggest hurdle, we now know was our greatest accomplishment.

2. How is it possible that you never knew you were hearing impaired?

My audiologist said it best, "You never knew anything different. This is all you know."

I was a bit numb when she said this to me.

Not knowing at that time what the future would hold.

Not wanting to believe I was hearing differently than the rest of the world.

I was scared.

I would love to tell you all that I was not at all afraid of learning I am hearing impaired.

I would be lying.

There was so much to understand, and I was so confused.

This is the only world I have ever known.

I could hear you. Or so I thought.

Once I heard for the first time in my life, I knew differently.

It was a lot to process.

So in short, I did not know, because I have never known anything different in my whole life.

I was born this way.

I had nothing to compare it to. It is that simple.

3. What do your children's voices sound like? How much different is it to hear ME's voice?

Hearing my children's real voices has been one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had.

It is not just their voices, it is the intentions of their voices.

Their happy sounds.

Their sad sounds.

Their fear voices.

It changes everything.

In my old world, every voice sounded disappointed.

And when I say every voice, I mean every single voice.

I did not hear the joy that high pitch sounds bring.

I am moderately hearing impaired on a few low tones, and severely as the pitches go high.

So for me, I missed out on the sing song tones that a voice has when they express joy, sadness, happiness, and fear.

I heard anger.

But now anger even seems less angry.

So hearing all of the tones from my kids has been absolutely amazing!

Priceless.

I do not have the words that express how I feel to hear all of the tones my children are sharing with me. I will be forever grateful to hear their real voices. Their real tones. Their real intentions. Nothing in life will ever compare to this.

ME's voice is no different than my other children. I hear her emotions better too. She is much much much more articulate than I knew.

We will be a much better team now, because I can now hear my voice too, for the first time in my life, and I can help her in ways I was not able to before knowing I am hearing impaired.

For now, I am going to stop with these three questions. I am going to go relax with my kids, and thank the heavens above that I can now hear as best I possibly can due to modern technology. I will answer more another day.

I am so grateful for each and every one of you who have reached out and supported me as I learn how to hear all that the world has to share with me.

My life will never be the same again.

I am so grateful every second of every day for this new gift.

#icanhearyounow


Hearing Transition Update... Yes, I Took a Short Cut. lol

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I am reposting some of the posts I have posted lately on my Facebook, to keep those who follow my blog up to date. It is the easiest way for me to keep people up to date, and quite honestly, I think writing about this has helped me process my journey. Here are some from the last couple of days. Admittedly, at times it has been overwhelming, but mostly I am just completely grateful to hear the way others hear in this world!

I said this day one, and I will say it again, better late than never!





To hear this interview, please click on the above photo, it is linked directly to the interview!

Thank you to everyone who has shown an outpouring of love to me as I learn how to work my way around the hearing world. I feel incredibly grateful and truly blessed!


I can almost hear you now! Hearing aids on their way!

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Today, I was informed that I will get my hearing aids either tomorrow or for sure by Friday. But they were sure it could be tomorrow.


I am a little bit excited. No I am a way bit excited. Over the moon excited! 

I am curious what I will hear differently than what I have already heard. 

Overwhelmed and ready. 

Everyone at Memphis Hearing Aid has been amazing. 

They did not diagnosis me, but they have walked me through the rest of the way. 

I will drive there the second they say they are in. 

I am ready! 




Can you hear me now... How they know my hearing loss is from a birth defect....

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Today I got to learn how they knew that my hearing loss was a birth defect and not from something that happened to me in my life.


When I went in last week, they made sure that I did not have any visible damage to any of my hearing structure. They made it very clear that my ears were very healthy. 

During the testing they did what is called a speech discrimination test. After they gathered what I could not hear, they brought the decibels to what I could hear, and they tested my speech. I had to repeat what they said word for word. That meant, I was hearing word for word what they were saying, at the level that my ears needed me to hear. 

What does that mean when I get hearing aids? 

It means I should be able to hear, with the amplification and new technology, exactly what is being said. 

When they saw this result, they knew right then and there, this was not from damage, but likely from a birth defect. That this was how I was born. If it was from damage, nerves would have been damaged, and I have absolutely no nerve damage. So I have no damage to any of the structure, and no damage to my nerves. Those two points, along with my significant hearing loss, all point to the fact that I was born this way. I know nothing different. 

We discussed how often it happens that someone comes in, and did not know they had a significant hearing loss. She said it is very rare. She had a lot of questions for me. 

I had as many questions for her. 

Every day I learn more. 

I am supposed to get my hearing aids by Friday. For the first time in my life, I will hear like everyone else. And if my discriminations tests are accurate, I will hear 96% in one ear, and 100% in the other ear. I believe I won't hear that day one, as they need to scale it up. Holy moly, I am super curious what my world will sound like. 

In less that 4 days, I will start that journey. I am ready. 


Can you hear me now?... learning that things are not always as they seem....

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Now that I know I have a hearing loss, and my brain is not tricking my ears as much, I am feeling, realizing what it feels like to have a hearing loss.

I know I am not hearing everything, and I know that I am missing a lot. I am reading lips still, but I am realizing how off I am on a lot of my lip reading. (A week ago, I did not even know I was reading lips. Oh my goodness.)

One example, which is so minor, but makes my point. I handed my credit card to the woman at Hobby Lobby, and she looked at it and said, "Chips are on sale." I thought to myself, why would she tell me that chips are on sale. I clearly could not hear her,  she said something before she said that, but her head was turned away from me. The lip reading that normally tricks my brain was not letting me think I heard her. I was relying fully on what I saw her say, and not what I heard her say.

It hit me, this did not relate to what I was doing, which was buying arts and crafts for my daughter's sweet friend, who we are hosting a wedding shower for.

So I paused.

I looked at her, and said, "I am sorry, what was that?"

She looked at me with a smile, and I read her lips, and bent my ear in more closely, and she said, "Chips are a fail. Watch your credit card closely."

Usually, I would have walked away and said, I have no idea why she told me chips are on sale, but oh my goodness people crack me up! I am sure that happens to a lot of people where they hear something differently.

What I am realizing is that my system for filling in what I hear, versus what I really hear, is not working any more. I am questioning what I heard, and in this case for good reason. I was buying arts and crafts, why would she bring up food? lol

In my world, I often wondered why people would bring up things that had nothing to do with what we were discussing. But I shrugged it off, because in my world, it was what I heard.

Every day I am learning more about who I am. I have only known since last week that I have a significant hearing loss. I would not need a test to prove that to me anymore. I am learning moment by moment.

Now that I know, my brain is not letting me trick my ears. Sort of like when you see a photo, and people say, "Can you see the old lady?" And you say, "No I only see the young woman." Then they show you the old lady, and you can't undo that.

No going back.


Can you hear my now? Update....Test Results

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For those who have followed along on my newest journey, I found out the other day that I have a very significant hearing loss. I am very glad to finally know, and enter into the world of hearing. At least as well as I am going to hear.

First things first, I had written that they needed to rule out other complications before they could just call it a hearing loss.

On Friday morning, bright and early, I was laying in an MRI machine while they looked for a tumor on my brain. My doctor told me she felt quite confident that I did not have a tumor, however, she said it was imperative that they rule that out. So from Wednesday to Friday, my emotions were running high, wondering if I had just a hearing loss.

Friday afternoon, we found out that I do not have a tumor.

I simply have a hearing loss.

I have been celebrating with family ever since we found out.

Finding out I have a hearing loss was new, but it is all I know. Nothing changed there.

Learning that this is all it is, is exhilarating.

How could that be that I did not know my whole life that I have a hearing loss? Believe it or not, it is not all that surprising.

My family and I have spent countless hours putting pieces together. I am 50 years old, and we only just learned that I have a very significant hearing loss.

I have never heard how others hear, and I still hear some tones. So this has been my normal for as long as I can remember.

The tones I hear the best put my loss in mild/moderate hearing loss category. Those are my low tones. So if people had low tones, I mildly or moderately could not hear you.

As the pitch increases I am all the way up having severe hearing loss.

I do not have any damage to my ears either. Which makes the professionals surmise that it is most likely that I was born this way.

As we have pieced this together, so many things now make sense.

People would tell me I talk too loud. So I adjusted and spoke quieter. It all sounded the same to me, but I could feel in my throat that it was not as loud.

I would adjust my voice, depending on what someone told me. Usually family members. Sometimes friends, when I was little. Like, "Mom, you talk too loud." Or "Diane, I cannot hear you, can you please speak up." It all sounded the same to me, so I thought it was their issue but I "adjusted" accordingly.

My husband and I reminisced this weekend how when I was 18 I told him I would be afraid if something happened to me, because my voice does not travel very far, and I worried nobody would hear me scream. In my world, it did not sound loud enough for others to hear.

When I was a little girl, I had some kids tease me that I was too loud. So then I adjusted, the best a little kid can, and made my voice what I thought was less loud. I did not hear that I was too loud again that year, so I figured I must been more in control of my behaviors. I did not equate it to a hearing loss, because remember, my voice was my voice, was my voice. I felt it was more closely related to behaviors. And people reacted to me that way too. So I just did my best all my life to try to adjust my voice to what the feedback was by those around me.

Another instance was that I thought I could hear people better when they look at me. Depending on the person, I had mastered the art of lip reading, and my brain told me I was hearing them. I put their tones I could hear, together what I saw them say, and pieced together what they were saying.

I did miss a lot of what others said, which all of us are piecing together. Times when others thought I did not remember the details were actually more than likely times when I did not ever once for a second hear that detail.

And as I said the other day, I loved speaker phones for ever, because before speaker phones, I just was not as impressed by Alexander Graham Bell as the rest of the world was. I used phones, but everyone sounded very muffled or like they were mumbling.

And let's face it, the commercials convinced me it was a technology issue. "Can you hear me now?" was a tag line that proved to me that not all telephones or providers were providing clear reception. When speaker phones came out, I was super excited, because this was way better than the technology that we were all already using.

So I accommodated all along the way. Not realizing I was doing this all along the way.

On Monday I will be getting fitted for my new hearing aids. I think it will take a week to get them. If my hearing is going to be anything like it was the day I heard the audiologist when I got my diagnosis, I think I will fall over. They said to expect it to be.

For the first time in my life, as much is physically possible with modern technology, I will hear what all of the people in my life REALLY sound like.

For the first time in my life, I will hear what my husband and my children really sound like.

It takes my breath away.

I am excited to hear you world!

Thank you for all of the support and love you all have shown us as I enter into the world of hearing.

It truly is going to be a journey, that I promise I will share with you as I go.




Can You Hear Me Now?

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Can you hear me now is a common catch phrase in our new tech/cell phone world.

I would see that ad and think to myself, no, I can't hear you.

Not all the time.

Then I would think, "It is probably because I am not engaged enough. Or not listening well enough."

It turns out there is a more simplistic answer.

I can't hear you.

I would like to hear you. But I am going to come clean. I can't hear you. I do my best, I read your lips I put that together with what I am thinking you are saying, but my reality is this. I can't hear you.

My sweet husband has endured this for many years. I accused him of mumbling.

In my ears he was mumbling.

I would say, "I can't hear you when you walk away."

At times, I could not hear a single word he said if he was not facing me. Not one single word.

I thought it was normal husband-under-the-breath moments.

He couldn't "hear" me either.

He did not understand why I kept asking him to repeat what he said.  It had to frustrate him.

It had to frustrate my kids. I remember looking at all of them and asking myself, "Why don't they respond?" I could not hear them.

When they did respond, I wondered why they took that tone with me. For parents, it is all about the tone. If you are not hearing all of the tones of your children, you will only hear the tone that you can hear.

For some, it sounded negative.

For others, if I could hear their tone, it sounded positive.

I can't wait to hear what my kids really sound like, with hearing aids.

My audiologist walked me through all of the steps today.

When he brought me in the room, I can't lie, I was like, "Okay, here I come." His tone sounded negative.

It is hard to explain but when you don't hear all tones, for me, you can't know how people feel. And let's be honest, our voices set the tone.

Then he talked to me over a head phone. I heard his voice. It did not sound at all like the voice I heard in real life. It hit me like a ton of bricks. I have not heard anyone for a long time. I mean I hear you, but I don't hear you.

I could still hear some things.  So it never crossed my mind that I had a hearing impairment. It never crossed John's mind that every "What?" was me saying I can't hear.

I hear people when it is one-on-one. I do a lot of interviews. I hear them. Depending in their tones, I hear them more.

I really hear you if you are facing me.

Which has made me realize how much I read your lips.

On the phone, I am dependent on you being on speaker phone. If you are not, I cannot hear you. I have to point my phone on speaker phone directly at my right ear to hear you. I heard mumbling on my phone, but on speaker I could hear you. If it was right by my ear.

You would think I would say to myself, "This is not how the rest of the world is living."

The reality is this. I thought this was what everyone else was doing.

I have wondered if I could hear like everyone else for a very long time.

Obviously I hear.

But today I found out, confirmed, I don't hear like everyone else.

I have peace with that. This has been my world for a long time. I don't know anything different.

My husband and I have talked all night about the many things that should have made us more aware of this. Denial. Maybe. Not knowing any different, maybe more.

We have a few more tests to go to confirm it is just a hearing loss. Please keep the Grovers in your prayers as we muddle through this.

As always, I thank you for always being by my side.


Dreamers Update! What a year!

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To say this year has been a whirlwind would be an understatement.

One year ago, we introduced  Dreamers Coffee.

Our very first purchase was from our dear friend Mary Wasserman. She believed with us day one. She knew this much, we were going to teach the world. Mary has been a mentor and teacher to me over the years, so her purchase meant the world to me. When she got her bag of coffee she was thrilled with the packaging, and so happy we had chosen coffee that everyone gets paid all the way down the line! To this day, I would say that Mary has been my biggest influence in my Ds journey. I was/am so proud that she was the very first person to purchase Dreamers Coffee!

The very first  gift package was bought by my absolutely dear friend Dr. Jennifer Smolka! I was not shocked. This woman has worked tirelessly to advocate for individuals who have Down syndrome. Her entire life has been dedicated to this on behalf of her son who has mosaic Down syndrome. I could not have been more thrilled that she purchased the very first gift! Her 321 eConference is such a blessing to so many families! Can you imagine, all of the information you want to learn, from the professionals you want to learn from, and you don't have to travel. I love her forward thinking, and I believed in her day one!

I had a dream that I would open a coffee house, in which I would employ individuals of all abilities. So I sold bags of coffee. It sold in a big way. So much coffee went out that we needed to adjust to our new plan.

Many were asking me if they could sell Dreamers. Of course I wanted them to, I just had to figure out how to do this.

We have figured it out, and we are so excited that Dreamers is being sold in 11 states and we have 3 more states who will be joining us!

Our coffee blends are top notch, and people are seeing that we definitely have amazing coffee! So thankful for our awesome roasters at J. Brooks and Furnace Hills!! Both of our roasters believe in our mission. I could not ask for more!

Locally, we are having a blast! We will be at the Collierville Sunset on the Square every Thursday!! We are so excited to be there! We hope you will come on out and listen to some of your favorite bands, and stop by and see us!

We also hope you check out the golf at Vantage Point Golf Center! Have you seen their new miniature golf course! It is amazing!! And beautiful! And Pleasant! And safe!  Please come on in and have a cup of amazing and delicious iced coffee before or after you hit some golf balls.

We are also out at Clara Morgan's in Southaven! These ladies are having a blast sharing our mission and helping create jobs!! Their passion is amazing! They get this!

What ever you do, come on out and taste our amazing coffee. Meet our amazing Dream Team! Every time you purchase a cup of coffee, you help us employ individuals of all abilities.

Thank you to each and every one of you who have done just that.