Hearing loss symptoms should prompt call to doctor

Day by day
Hearing loss symptoms should prompt call to doctor
By Liz Thompson
April 29, 2015
This Week News

As a youth, I loved swimming underwater. Watching the air bubbles rise to the surface caused my head to lift and see blue sky. Underwater I didn’t worry about hearing and I felt normal. Underwater everyone heard like I did.

Needing air, soon I’d burst through the water’s rim gasping. Then I’d hear it: noise. Laughing, slapping of water, yelling and the lifeguard’s whistle. I’d dive back under for peace.

By 50, I was almost deaf, wearing hearing aids, reading lips and body language. The miracle of a cochlear implant restored more than 90 percent of my hearing with clarity I’d never experienced. A few years later, a second implant gave me “surround sound.” I am permanently above water, living in a world of clear sounds, not mere noise.

Hearing loss is invisible. No tests existed in 1951, my birth year, to check babies’ hearing. Today a problem can be found within days of a child’s birth, giving way to treatment or therapy.

The American Speech-Language Hearing Association teaches that signs of hearing loss in a child include: lack of attention to sounds (birth to 1 year); not responding when calling his/her name (7 months to 1 year); not following simple directions (1-2 years); delays in speech and language development (birth to 3 years); pulls or scratches at his/her ears; once in school, has difficulty achieving academically; socially isolated and unhappy in school; and persistent ear discomfort after exposure to loud noise.

I encourage those who suspect hearing loss in their children to seek an accredited audiologist and ear, nose and throat physician to have your child examined.

Likewise, I urge adults who suspect hearing loss to be tested. It’s easy to ignore signs stating hearing aids are expensive — and they are — or they won’t work for them. I lived with both thoughts until I finally got a hearing aid at age 39, knowing since 29 I needed one.

I have learned the average person waits seven years to get a hearing aid after being told it would help. Do the math: I waited 10 years. Stubborn.

Signs of hearing loss in adults include: inattentiveness; buzzing or ringing in their ears; failure to respond to spoken words; persistent ear discomfort after exposure to loud noise; muffled hearing; constant frustration understanding speech and other sounds; avoiding conversation; social isolation; accusing everyone of mumbling; and depression.

Heather Pliskin, director of speech services at the Columbus Speech and Hearing Center, said that communication skills are directly related to academic success.

“Speaking, listening, reading and writing are the foundational skills for school and for life. Early intervention is the key. The earlier a child receives speech-language therapy, the faster the progress can be made,” Pliskin said.

Red flags for possible communication delays include: age 1, not saying a few words or pointing to pictures and objects; and age 2, not using simple two-word combinations and not being understood 70 percent of the time.

Preschool/early elementary school: age 2-3, not following one- to two-step directions; age 3, not using correct common pronouns and not being understood 80 percent of the time, 90 percent by age 5.
“When a child is young — especially before age 3 — it is especially important to involve the parents and/or caregivers in the process,” Pliskin said.

Audrey Tobias agreed.

“Speech therapy has improved the lives of every member of our family. When our son started receiving therapy at 2.5 years old, he had a vocabulary of zero spoken words. He couldn’t even say ‘no.’ We were scared to leave him in the care of anyone else because there was no way for him to tell us if anything went wrong.

“Now, two years later, he is a funny chatterbox! He cracks jokes all the time and loves to make complicated, exciting plans. We know what is going on in his life and what he’s thinking. For the first time, we feel like we really know who our son is as a person. It’s been an amazing transformation. We are extremely grateful for the skilled help he continues to receive.”

May is Better Speech and Hearing Month. Columbus Speech and Hearing Center is giving away two hearing aids to the essay winner who is most in need to understand the world around them. Go to columbusspeech.org and click the Hearing What Matters link before May 11 to learn how to enter.

The music of this world is up for grabs.

Come out from under the water and listen, and tell me all about it.

For more information, go to asha.org, dangerousdecibels.org, apraxia-kids.org or playingwithwords365.com.

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If you have the desire, write, share and enjoy

If you have the desire, write, share and enjoy
By Liz Thompson
November 20, 2013
ThisWeekNews

Everyone has many a story to tell. Is it “worth writing a book about” is a question I hear often from people with stories they think are worth the ink.

Recently, I was at Praises Books and Gifts in Lancaster where they hosted a book signing for my second book. Sitting with me was Kathleen Welty who has three stories in this book, along with 14 other contributors.

Since I live in Grove City and grew up in Westerville, Lancaster obviously is not my hometown but it is Kathleen’s. She let friends and family know of the event and many came to see her and meet me. The best experience of the day was meeting these old friends and family of Kathleen and others who attended.

Kathleen’s inspirational stories show how God has touched her life. All three were accepted by the publisher, while some others, by other people, were not. They didn’t fit the theme but were well written.

I fought for one of Kathleen’s stories to stay in the book. Three times it was cut and still kept showing up in a new working manuscript. The third time, I said that it must be meant to stay in and the publisher agreed.

This day, I met Kathleen’s longtime Campfire leader and we talked about how different it was from my Girl Scout experiences. Some friends since first grade showed up with smiling faces and warm memories.

One woman asked about getting published. She had heard of an online service where she could self-publish and she kept talking. When she stopped, I asked how much she had written.

“Nothing yet. But it’s about relationships,” she said.

“Is your goal to simply be published or to tell the story?” I asked.

Her answer was to tell me the experiences. I was hooked and told her I’d read it but she had to get writing. I suggested she sit and write from the heart telling the stories just like she told us that day.

“Don’t edit or worry about sentence structure, just write freely,” I said. “Edit later and do lots of it.”

Our Grove City Writers’ Group supports this idea of editing well and often and that editors are our friends. I have always believed that. We all agree, too, that we can’t have a thin skin if we are going to be writers — published or not. Not everyone reading our work will like it. I don’t like every book or article I read, do you?

Being published or seeing a byline really does hold a personal thrill but I believe writing is about expressing our thoughts, recording personal and family history, sharing our experiences and more. Most artists I know of different mediums are compelled to express themselves.

Also recently, I had the good fortune to talk with the Current Events group at the Upper Arlington Senior Center. They asked me to talk about my life as a writer. I still need to remind myself that, in fact, I am a writer. It’s such a natural act for me and I’ve been blessed with venues like this newspaper, magazines and my books to express my thoughts and experiences.

Having been a reporter in Upper Arlington for two years, this was especially pleasant for me. I did quite a few stories on members of this senior center and other senior citizens in this lovely burg. Their stories often were the stuff of history books, or what they should be.

My Uncle Walter and Aunt Eva Page lived there for years and of course I visited as a girl and as an adult. I used to love hearing my uncle tell stories of his life on the farm on the East Side of Columbus. He wrote them down for his grandsons. My father-in-law made tapes of his life in Southeast Ohio as a coal miner and all his other experiences.

Things I heard growing up from my parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents seemed so distant from the life I knew. But these are tales of the people who helped form America’s history. They lived it, fought in the wars for our freedom and raised families against many odds. We can learn from this generation and need to listen.

Many have written their stories and been published. But whether or not you get published, I encourage you to write, share and enjoy.

Couple spread Good Word one word at a time

Couple spread Good Word one word at a time
by Liz Thompson
ThisWeekNews
September 26, 2013

We must be born with a desire to communicate. I’ve said it before and it bears repeating. The first thing we do is open our mouths and cry – loudly. Maybe we’re saying “Put me back!” but here we are ready to let Mom and Dad know in no uncertain terms we have arrived in this noisy world.

Parents learn to know what their baby needs by the intensity of the cry. Since communication is a two-way deal, babies learn by the parent’s intonation what they mean as well. As the child grows, they love being read to from colorful books leading to the love of the written word. Books become a part of our lives; teaching and entertaining.

We want to communicate from our barest needs to our deepest thoughts.

Imagine, though, you have no written language, only spoken. No books, magazines, pamphlets, closed captioning or subtitles, notes passed among friends, newspapers, email or EBooks, greeting cards, Internet… no need to search further.

Keep imagining as we count our blessings.

In 1917, a young man, William Cameron Townsend, set out as a missionary to the Cakchiquel Indians in Guatemala. While trying to sell Spanish translated Bibles to these Indians, “…he discovered that the majority of the people he met did not understand Spanish. Neither did they have a written form of their own beautiful language, the Cakchiquel,” according to the Wycliffe website.

He didn’t give up. Instead, he lived among the people learning their language while developing an alphabet for them.

Within 10 years, he had translated the New Testament portion of the Bible in that language. By 1934, he was aware of other cultures without a written language and opened Camp Wycliffe in Arkansas to train people in linguistics and translation. By 1942, the camp had “grown into two affiliate organizations, Wycliffe Bible Translators and the Summer Institute of Linguistics.”

The history of Wycliffe Bible translation goes back to 1382 when John Wycliffe translated an English Bible—“the first complete European translation done in nearly 1,000 years.” I encourage you to read this history on Wycliffe.org.

According to Wycliffe, there are more than 6,800 world languages and fewer than 2,000 of those languages are without a written Bible translation. That equates to 209 million people where translation projects have not yet begun.

Stephen and Rachel Katterenrich have been in Tanzania for more than two years developing a written language in the oral language of Bungu, as part of Wycliffe. The process has been ongoing for almost 10 years. Rachel studied language in college and Stephen the Bible. “We have melded our talents,” Rachel said.

This next year Stephen will be studying the Greek language.

Their first four months were spent learning Swahili. “We had some fun blunders along the way,” Rachel said. “Like when I was trying to say someone was a patient (in a hospital) and I was actually saying they were patient (in behavior).”

Stephen said that he can understand the language easier than he can speak it, so far. In time he hopes that changes.

In English, one word can have several meanings and may be spelled the same but the meaning changes with different emphasis. The simple word “oh” which can mean “Oh, right!” as in an aha moment or “Oh!” as in surprise or “Ohhhhh” when dragged out like “Oh, I see!”

In Bungu, the emphasis and the spelling are different in many words. The written word needs to read like it sounds. It’s a complicated and tedious process. The villagers are eager and taking active roles to help make the written language happen.

Just as Townsend worked with the people to learn their language, Stephen and Rachel are living and working with the villagers to learn their language, hear their stories and translate them into writing by creating a data base. It is what they call a cluster project with other people working on their language projects and sharing resources.

The villagers are grateful to Stephen and Rachel. When the Katterenrich’s left to come to the States for a year, they were lovingly reminded that they would return to them. One day, in the not too distant future, they will celebrate with Bible translation being complete.

It matters not where we are born or what language we speak, communicating is vital. It’s comforting to know there are those willing to make sure all people have a written language.

One person and one word at a time.

The little things…

Day by day

The little things paint our days, make up life

By LIZ THOMPSON
THISWEEK NEWS
Monday August 19, 2013

It’s all a matter of perspective.

“That’s a cute dress,” I said to the young girl in the library. Since she was wearing leggings, I added, “Or is it a top?”

The Dad answered with a smile, “It doesn’t matter what it is called as long as it twirls!”

“Will you twirl for me?” She did. It was a great dress or top for twirling.

I found myself smiling for a long time after I moved on from the girl who loves to twirl. The 30-second conversation and a smiling twirl brightened the rest of my morning. Even now, hours later, I can still see her shy smile as she started to spin and the crooked smile of the Dad telling me, “See?”

How we see our day to day lives; the significant things and the moments paint how we count our day as a success or not.

Songs and poems have been written about the little and simple things in life that make it all worthwhile. My life experience has proven it really is the moments that make up the whole.

We have friends with acres of corn who offered to let us pick several large bags.

This was an unexpected and delicious gift. That we had so much we were able to share with our neighbors and family, made it more special. After we blanched, cooled and cut the corn off the cob to freeze and I realized I didn’t cut my fingers once — which is kind of a big deal for me — I was even more grateful.

More than once in my life, someone has told me to look out a window or out at something — a bird, flower, person — and I find I’m looking too far away when it’s right near me. Often I have missed the chance to share this sight because I looked too far.

That reminds me of the idiom about not being able to see the forest for the trees. Being too wrapped up in the details to enjoy the general situation.

One night I was peeking out from under our covered patio to see if there were stars in the night sky. I caught a glimpse of a shiny thread and followed the line only to see a spider the size of a silver dollar propped in the middle of its web.

Had I stepped two feet to my left, I would have walked right through the center. My focus was too distant to see the whole picture.

No matter what we think or what people tell us, time doesn’t really fly. It feels like it when we realize a month is almost spent or summer is almost over. Children back to school already? Where did the summer go? we think. Of course, it didn’t “go” anywhere and our minds tell us this fact but before we know it we are getting our cool weather clothes out again.

We have moved so many times that we remember what was happening at any given time by saying, “Where were we living then?” Our moves and various homes are markers for our life moments; where and when our children or grandchildren were born; when we started or left a certain job; and when time started flying by too fast and the little life moments became more precious to us.

I know when the latter started happening with me. It was when I slowed down a little at a time. Sure, life happened to slow me down but now I count it as a blessing in disguise.

When my youngest grandson, 13, asked me to do exercises with him, and I asked what kind — chin ups, pushups, sit ups and more — I said my sit ups aren’t the kind he described, and would he prefer a game?

He agreed and we played Tiddly-Winks, his choice, and he still beat me even though I said, “I grew up playing Tiddly-Winks.”

Then we played the card game War and much to my surprise, I won. We played till I had all the cards. My grandson said, “That never happens!” I said that is does when you play long enough. While we played, we also talked, laughed and joked. We enjoyed the moments.

It’s all about perspective. I see it clearly.

A quote by Frank A. Clark sums it up well.

“Everyone is trying to accomplish something big, not realizing that life is made up of little things.”

Technology lifts quality of life for those with hearing loss

Day by day

Technology lifts quality of life for those with hearing loss
By LIZ THOMPSON
THISWEEKNEWS.COM
Wednesday May 15, 2013 1:53 PM

The short of it: I became deaf.

The long of it: I learned how to cope.

Technology has become what was considered futuristic in the ’50s, when my hearing loss was discovered at age 9. It would be 30 years before my first hearing aid and 41 years before I was totally deaf and received my first cochlear implant. Four years ago, I had my second implant.

My ability to hear and understand speech and sounds went from 0 percent to almost 97 percent in a quiet setting. To be able to sit in a dark room and carry on a conversation was a miracle. I stand amazed and grateful for this technology.

I’m not alone in my hearing-loss struggles. According to Stanford School of Medicine, about 36 million American adults report some degree of hearing loss. Stanford also stated two out of every 1,000 babies in the United States are born deaf or hard of hearing, and close to a million children in America have hearing loss.

Kate Morris, 33, of Upper Arlington, is initiative coordinator for the Stanford Initiative to Cure Hearing Loss. The Stanford Initiative involves hearing-loss research investigations in four areas: stem cell therapy, gene therapy, molecular therapy and targeted neural stimulation.

She says she has “a wonderful 3-year-old who wears pink hearing aids.” Very cool. I’m thrilled her daughter, Lily, has possibilities for a better scenario than I had available as a girl.

“Because of the newborn hearing screening … in the hospital on the day she was born, we were able to catch Lily’s hearing loss very early and to have her fitted with her first pair of pink hearing aids at 7 weeks old,” Kate said. “Lily now speaks at a level above what is considered age appropriate, and currently attends speech therapy at the OSU Speech, Language and Hearing Clinic, but otherwise attends a mainstream preschool.”

Her family also feels “amazingly lucky to be dealing with hearing loss at a time when there is so much realistic hope for a cure, which could be beneficial for Lily or Lily’s children, should they have hearing loss, and that in the meantime, huge strides are being made in assistive technologies.”

Many obvious factors play into causes of hearing loss. Some include noise pollution from military service, industrial activity, illness and any prolonged high-decibel noise.

Hearing loss has side effects not often discussed. The Stanford Initiative, and most specialists, agree with my experience of withdrawing socially, being frustrated communicating with friends, family and coworkers, and facing depression and isolation. It’s easy to think you are the only one and, as the numbers tell, we are not.

Darryl Will, audiologist with Hearing Health Solution from OhioENT, says studies have linked untreated hearing loss to diminished psychological and overall health.

“Most recently, researchers have found that there is a direct relationship between the degree of hearing loss and the risk of later developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease,” he said.

Will adds that “loss of hearing often coexists with other health problems and should not be ignored.”

With Stanford’s research, improvements in hearing aids and cochlear implants, children won’t need to wait years like my peers and I did.

Hermine Willey, 76, of east Columbus, has known of her hearing loss since she was 7. She got her first hearing aids in 1981 and now loves her digital hearing aids that allow her to be active in the hearing world.

Dave Scott of Upper Arlington marks his birth as “after Benny Goodman’s Carnegie Hall concert and before we entered World War II.” His sense of humor intact, he has sported hearing aids since December.

Wendy Brady, 44, of northwest Columbus, wears hearing aids as she waits to become a candidate for a cochlear implant. Her hope is that she will hear her young children with a clarity that is missing now.

Pat Vincent, 64, of Columbus knew of his hearing loss at 14 due to Meniere’s disease. He now has a cochlear implant.

We all encourage being proactive and finding support through organizations such as Hearing Loss Association of America or Association of Late Deafened Adults. Since 1927, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association has spotlighted May — Better Hearing and Speech Month — as “a time to encourage Americans to get their hearing tested and determine if they have a hearing loss.”

Anything sound familiar? I encourage you to learn how to get your hearing checked at these websites: hearinghealthsolutions. com; speechhearingclinic. osu.edu; or columbusspeech.org.

Local author Liz Thompson writes the Day by day column for ThisWeek News. Reach her at lizt911@gmail.com.

MS Awareness Month

Befriend, Support Someone with MS
by Liz Thompson
Published March 15, 2012
Suburban News Publications

We’re not hard to find. You see us in venues from the corporate world to Kindergarten. The list is long.

Most are everyday people doing everyday activities.

Symptoms are invisible to most everyone but those living with multiple sclerosis.

This central nervous system disease causes sensations of numbness and tingling, indescribable fatigue, dizziness, blurred vision and often partial or complete blindness, muscle spasms, cognitive problems and more.

The majority of us have relapsing/remitting MS that comes and goes at will. The smaller percentage has progressive MS that declines rapidly.

We may find ourselves in the middle of a large, empty room unable to move safely because we don’t have anything to balance our bodies. That is one way that MS can be paralyzing because our bodies are rebelling within. The new normal is what our lives become as we adapt daily.

I asked Grove City businesses for donations of sweets to deliver to the Columbus TV stations, along with information about March being MS Awareness Month. Tim Horton’s on Broadway quickly agreed to a donation. The woman I spoke with said her sister has MS.

Jolly Pirate Donuts on Southwest Blvd. generously donated donuts along with Tim Horton’s on Stringtown Road.

While delivering the goodies, I found a woman whose best friend has MS and she joins her friend’s Walk MS team every year.

Another station quickly told me they have a staffer with MS.

Like I said, we’re not hard to find.

The mantra for people with MS is “knowledge is power.” When I was diagnosed in 1987, information about MS was elusive. No Internet to research, few celebrities were talking about having this disease, there were few books and no drugs to treat it.

Today information is plentiful and more than five drugs exist proven to slow progression with more being developed.

MS Awareness Month is important because the face of MS is changing.

For years MS was believed to be a disease affecting those age 20-50. Currently, MS has been diagnosed in children as young as three, with an estimated 8,000-10,000 children under the age of 18 living with MS, and in adults as old as 75.

Demand for services in the MS community continues to increase and change in scope. The Ohio Buckeye Chapter of the National MS Society is a lifeline of information and services for the more than 11,000 people with MS in the counties they serve. There are two other chapters in Ohio that also care for the more than 20,000 people in Ohio with MS.

The National MS Society is investing more than $6.3 million over a three-year period in Ohio institutions for 17 MS-related research projects – one of the highest investments nationwide.

How can you help? Befriend someone with MS, offer your arm for support. Consider sponsoring an MS event like the Walk MS in Columbus on April 21 at the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium to keep research and services possible.

For more information, call 1-800-FIGHT-MS  or visit the Web site at MSohiobuckeye.org.

Stick With It

Work Improvement Like Yeast in Bread
by Liz Thompson

Published in Suburban News Publications
February 3, 2012

The smell of bread baking is a favorite of mine. At 19, while living in an apartment in California, I followed the aroma and found an open door. I was invited in and sought advice on making bread. “Find a recipe you like and stick with it,” she said. “You’ll have flops and successes, but eventually you’ll catch on.”

Good advice and I ran with it.

I remembered the original recipe I used until I “caught on.” It was cut from a Red Star Yeast packet, taped to a 3×5 card and placed in my recipe box.

Now covered with signs I had used it for years, I remember my flops and successes.   How after years of practice, I learned how the dough felt in my hands when it was right – and when it wasn’t.

Memories on a yeast packet. Unexpected.

But advice to “stick with it” served me well in many areas of my life. Had I not listened to her, or sought her out in the first place, I might never have had that gem of advice to run with.

Yeast can make or break a loaf of bread.  Several factors determine how well it will rise and make heavenly smelling bread. That thought reminds me of a parable in the Bible not about unleavened (without yeast) bread.

“The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.” Matthew 13:32-34

Believe me; I never work 60 pounds of flour at one time! But this verse is speaking of how yeast permeates the dough to give it “life” similar to how God’s Word works through our lives to help us grow. I love the analogy.

It doesn’t take much yeast to make bread rise, under the right conditions. And it’s infinitely easier to work small amounts of flour at one time. Yet if the yeast is old or handled poorly, the bread won’t rise. So we buy new yeast or read the directions again. Start over.

As we begin another year, we might be thinking of resolutions we made to lose weight, exercise more, learn a new skill or any number of ideas to improve our lives. My advice would be to stick with it till you find what works for you. And as in making yeast bread, work a little into your life gradually to make improvements until healthy choices are second nature.

I didn’t learn to make bread—or do anything really—overnight or without practice and failures. Think of inventors who toiled faithfully to make their dreams and ideas happen.

These same ingenious folks make our lives easier with choices that were unimaginable in my early life.

But today I still choose to learn things carefully, measure advice cautiously and accept failure as a learning tool. No, I don’t like failing. Looking back on my life I can see how those tough moments strengthened me.

So I stick with it till I get it right. Good advice.