Thursday, May 19, 2005

Flipping the fork

I sit on sanity break from the reading and watch the rain pour from the sky. It is thick with fat drops that splat inelegantly on the sidewalk. Thunder grumbles misgivings and the occasional laser spark of lightning adds a touch of brilliance to the dull, unpolished gray of the skies. It is the sort of rain that lends itself well to contemplation, conversations with strangers and folksy sparse guitar music.

As previously stated, I have gone on 'Mom-leave' to read. After so much continuous contact, the solitude is strange and loud. The book continues endlessly, a thousand pages to go. As I have determined my reading speed of such dense material to be in the neighborhood of 10 pages an hour, it is apparent that trouble lies ahead. Or, as many an author has stated before, 'Get used to disappointment.'

Monday offered a little break as Mom and I made our way over for her recheck with Dr. Labadie. Mom has developed a habit the last week of snapping her fingers outside the left ear, wrinkling her forehead, and saying, 'I am sure I am hearing this better than I was before.' Sometimes she plugs her right ear with her other hand and repeats the exercise.

As there remains a large amount of self-dissolving gelatin packing in the ear canal, it is not expected that her hearing will be normal. It will continue to change, to improve, as the packing dissolves. Still, being Mom and being a musician, she worries.

Our visit Monday was a shocking exception to previous experiences at Vandy. We checked in at 8:30 for Mom's appointment and were immediately sent back to Dr. Labadie's waiting area. Before we were able to sit down, we were ushered to an exam room where the nurse updated Mom's medication history in the computer. Jeanene found us here just as the nurse finished up. We had less than a minute to catch up with Jeanene before we were joined by Dr. Labadie. He was very pleased with the resolution in swelling at the surgical site. In exciting news, Mom has already accomplished a shift in hearing acuity known as 'flipping the fork.'

As you may recall, previous diagnostics confirmed that Mom had normal bone conduction with moderate loss of hearing through the ear itself. One manifestation of this is that sound is better heard when conducted through the bone behind the ear. This can be easily demonstrated with a tuning fork.

'Flipping the fork' therefore refers to an increase in hearing conduction through the drum, using the apparatus, that causes the sound of the fork to be better heard when it is held next to the ear than when the base of the fork is placed against the bone behind the ear. This is normally appreciated, when surgery is successful, about 4 weeks afterward, while Mom has 'flipped the fork' two weeks post-operatively.

[At this juncture, the rain has become violent, stripping limbs from trees outside the window and knocking out the power. Happily I had already been served my latte...]

Well, enough play, Ettinger beckons. With love-



Blogger Angie Antkowiak said...

I was starting to get a little nostalgic for the regular, daily posts...but figured that it must mean that Pam is still continuing to be an over-achiever in recovery! :-) So glad to hear it and it has been such a joy to have her at VCC choir practice lately. We are all SO very excited about our "season finale" this Sunday and even more ecstatic that Pam is joining us (and she is definitely back to being "large and in charge", as Jacqui puts it).

Its also just comforting to hear from you, Jacqui! You have become like a good friend to all of us! We wish you well on your boards-I'm sure you'll ace them-and though we hate to acknowledge that your time with us is quickly coming to an end, we hope that you will continue to keep in touch and know that you are loved here in Nashville!

Bravo to Team Schneller!! You continue to be an inspiration to us all!

Love to you,

5:49 AM  
Blogger Jan said...

Dear Jacqui: Today another singer and I were discussing the miracle before our eyes--Pam sitting in a circle with Dennis Keene, Kelly, Debora, attendees at the conductors' workshop, et. al., all engaged in a lively discussion as they finished their lunch. It is May 20, a scant four months since that awful day in February when we all feared the worst, and there she is--marvelous Pam, "large and in charge." What a gift she is to us. I am already thinking about what exciting music she has for us next fall and looking forward to having her conducting expertise in front of us. Listening to Dennis Keene critique the attendees today gave me a whole new perspective on what it means to "have the stick." Good conducting does not happen by accident, which is why we all respond to Pam so well. She not only knows what she is doing, but she has the inner voice that Keene kept encouraging the conductors to generate, the voice that connects with the singers like the aesthetic distance between actor and audience that creates that magic when we all believe in what we are singing and we make the music come alive. I have heard several singers say what I have felt myself: although we all have had other choral experiences, we can count on a very small hand the conductors who make us feel that connection...Pam is one of those!!!

Now, Jacqui, heal thyself by recognizing when you need medical attention, which you have been forced to do, and take a lesson from your mom...let others help you get well.

Thank you for the continued details about the latest doctor's visit for Pam. We need to understand the frustration that she must feel with the altered hearing. I've mentioned before that my husband has lost hearing in one ear, which has made being an audience member for our concerts a physically difficult event, often requiring ear plugs when French horns and trumpets are playing. This disability is the invisible one that completely escapes the hearing world. No one can see what is going on in the other person's ear as extraneous noises cause interference. We are grateful that the surgery seems to have done what it was supposed to do, even though I'm sure Pam feels dismayed that putting Humpty Dumpty back together is way too complicated. For us, her presence in our midst is a miracle of medical science combined with the determination of Team Schnell and the psychic energy from all of the rest of us. I almost believe in magic. Love to you all...Jan (N)

8:06 PM  

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