DOCTOR AND PATIENT – Marilyn Armstrong

Today was Garry’s 3-month post-operative surgical appointment at UMass hospital.

He hasn’t had any problems at all with the surgery. Actually, he has not had any trouble with the process, except for the minor detail that every day is a surprise. Each new sound is something he has to recognize, then classify.

He hears the squeaky ball that Duke is chewing. He hears the trucks pulling into the driveway. He recognizes the opening and closing of the gate downstairs. He can hear his own breathing and finds it distracting. We all assure him he will learn to filter that kind of sound, as well as many other ordinary sounds that the rest of us automatically don’t notice.

It takes a lot of work to learn to hear when you are 76. Sounds that the rest of us have always recognized, he is hearing for the first time. It’s a lot of work and a lot of mental processing.

Garry and Dr. Remenschneider. When your doctor is not much older than your grandchild, you know you’ve put on a few years.

It can be a bit exhausting for him. I suspect sometimes all he wants is that old familiar silence where no one expects him to answer because they know he didn’t hear them.

Today he picked up the phone when it rang … and he heard it. He hates telephones and has for a very long time. It has a lot to do with getting calls from work at all hours of the day and night. Over the years it became a bit of a phobia. Hopefully, he will get over it. Because all of us deserve to have to listen to the other electric company’s spiel on how they will lower our rates (no they won’t). At least the political season is over for a couple of months so the surveyors won’t be calling. That’s something.

Dr. Aaron Remenschneider – and a great surgeon!

On the positive side, I am (finally) not the only one who wonders what that weird noise is in the basement. Also, when we have an argument, he knows what I said — which is not always ideal.

He is not the only one who has to learn new things. I have lost my role as permanent interpreter, which to be fair, I’m glad to lose. I have not lost my role in telling people to please speak up, especially the receptionists in the Hearing Clinic.

They speak so softly, I can barely hear them. Meanwhile, the people they are talking to are actually in the process of trying to learn to hear. I figure they should speak up. Put a little diaphragmatic air into your larynx and push it out through your vocal cords. That’s what makes it possible for others else to hear you.

It’s what speakers are taught. Actors and reporters, too. Sometimes, you don’t have a microphone. You just have you.

Okay, among other things, I was a speech major. Actually, I have a degree in it. I have never used the degree for anything except telling other people to “please speak up!”

Doctor and patient. Hint: the doctor is wearing white.

Garry is quite the star of the Otolaryngology Department. He can hear remarkably well for just three months into the program.

I expected him to be a star. When Garry works at something, he really works at it. He had to learn to speak properly with significant deafness. He learned it well enough to be on television every day for many years. So given this challenge, I knew he’d work at it as hard as he has ever worked at anything else in his life.

The hard work paid off. He can hear. I wish he had this option in his life many years earlier but if ever the expression “better late than never” had relevance, now is that moment.

Next week, he has his three-month audiological checkup. I bet he’s going to be a star.

Categories: Cochlear implant, Garry Armstrong, Hearing, Photography, portrait

Tags: , , , , , ,

81 replies

  1. I love these posts! keep it up! love you guys! Happy Thanksgiving! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Just SO HAPPY, happy, glücklich, heureuse, contente, for both of you. The doctor looks just fine to me – and so does Garry! What a bunch of champions you are….. Listening to music again. THAT would be the greatest if I had lost my hearing…. But should have the same for my view – hardly seeing anything clearly any longer!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Well done Garry, you have a lot of well wishers. Have you delved into music yet?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Now, I read an earlier post of yours speaking about the fact that you have a hard time getting a good picture of your star! And here is proof that you not only had one great photo but TWO right here (although to be fair in that last photo, one gets the sense (from the slightly wrinkled nose) that Mr. Garry is getting a bit tetchy about it. What a combo! The star in TV and the star behind the camera…it was fate. Lovely! And congratulations on the success of all this effort. It must be amazing..

    Liked by 1 person

  5. A whole new world is opening up to him! How marvelous and satisfying it must be. Happy to know he is doing so well.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I am so happy for Garry. I think of him every once in awhile and wonder how he’s doing. Thanks for the update. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • I sort of wait for when we get the official word. I know he’s doing well because we argue SO much better now, but the doctors actually look at test results … and he’s doing very well. All these years of silence and finally, he can hear. It’s a major restructuring of our lives.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. What a beautiful telling of this part of your journey. Thx for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I think for people in doctor’s offices, speaking softly just comes automatically at work since it’s one of the hallmarks of HIPAA compliance. They probably don’t even realize they can’t be heard by their patients. While I’m a champion mumbler, when I actually aim to speak clearly I am loud by default. Even if someone is knowingly or unknowingly taking me into their confidence, my response is guaranteed to be heard fifty feet away. Example.. a customer was asking me where the D-con was a couple weeks ago, and did so in such a hushed tone that I had to ask them to repeat the request twice. When I finally understood what he said, I (unintentionally) quite loudly exclaimed “Oh, D-Con! That’s down here!” Now all of Mecca knows this poor guy has a mouse problem…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know they are trying to keep the personal information soft, but this is a clinic where EVERYONE HAS A HEARING PROBLEM.

      WHAT??? Huh? Can you repeat that?

      Given that the customers are deaf, a little louder (and CLEARER) would be helpful. And there I am saying “Please speak up!” Because if I can’t hear it, I’m pretty sure no one else can, either. Of course, to be fair, I come from a loud family where everyone shouted anyway.


    • Squirrel, you’re a scoundrel! That’s like the teenager who goes to the drug store for contraceptives.

      Mumbling is hell for folks who are hearing-impaired. I try to speak clearly even in social chatter. I can hear myself — and correct myself — when I mispronounce words. Can be overkill if it’s just short social jabber.


  9. Yay, Garry! Such wonderful news. Oh, that doctor–does he even shave?! But I do like the young ones–they are on the cutting edge of new technology which, in the medical field, I find fascinating. Happy Thanksgiving to both of you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. This year, Garry can discover that he didn’t actually miss anything 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

    • Lois, Dr. Aaron is delightful, great manner with patients. He is easy to share things with and obviously understands much of what I’ve had to deal with — especially as a guy on television who LISTENED to others for a living. We share laughs about how I handled awkward things like courtroom trials where good hearing is crucial. Hint: I complained to judges about lawyers who mumbled. The judges would take the lawyers into his chambers and demand they speak up and speak clearly. I would hear from the lawyers who complained about judges “picking” on them. I would just offer a sympathetic smile.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Wow – so pleased to read that things are going well!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. So good to have this progress report. As someone who suffers from mild tinnitus, I think I can grasp Garry’s problem with now being able to hear the sound of his breathing. On the other hand, that could also be a rather welcome sound!!! Eventually one tunes things out – if not all the time, then mostly. And as for ‘speaking up,’ I’m with you on that. Too much mumbling and gabbling going on.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Am so happy for you both. The miracles of modern medicine

    Liked by 1 person

    • It really is a miracle. How much easier his life would have been had he had this available to him 30 years ago (it has been available since the mid-1980s, but no one will perform the surgery until you really can’t hear at all). Regardless, it IS a miracle.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, it does have a “miracle” feel after so many years of struggling to hear. So much stress is involved in trying to hear.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. That’s amazing news. All the best to you guys.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Wow, three months already! I’m so glad it is all going so well. I can’t believe how young that guy looks though.

    Liked by 1 person

    • He’s older than he looks because to be a specialized, top-rated surgeon in Boston is no small feat. He is considered the best guy for this procedure in the country. So he has got to be in his 30s, but he has a total babyface. Kind of cute. The guy who did my heart ALSO looked like a kid. Truth? The young ones ARE smarter than the crotchety elder doctors. They are much more up to date on pretty much everything. It’s sometimes a little hard to deal with our old-person gauge of “does that kid even shave yet?” 😀

      Liked by 2 people

    • Tas, I am surprised that the surgeons and audiology staffers are surprised over my progress. I am just doing due diligence. It’s quite exciting hearing new sounds for the first time in my life. I don’t know if many folks can understand how much I have been missing for 76 years. It’s a new world for me.

      Liked by 2 people

  15. This is wonderful news!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I swear, the older we get, the younger they get! 😀 … excellent news! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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