Please Face Me – And Make it a Double (part one)

Questions, questions.

“What do you think made you start drinking?”

Laundry List:
– Pending divorce and expected result: bankruptcy
– Looming debts rivaling the national budget
– Loss of driving ability from sporadic bouts of vertigo (fear factor)
– Tinnitus
– Hearing loss

“What – wait, you have hearing loss?”

I read your lips and guess much of the rest.

– Loneliness (LL continued)
– Endless battles for accommodation

“Any major issues in your childhood that might be involved?”

And so it goes. The above is an excerpt from one of many interviews I had in the behavioral health facility where I recently spent 4 days (inpatient) for alcohol detox.

Great facility, great program (I detoxed successfully, and will get outpatient aftercare).

Of interesting note; it turned out to be much easier communicating with my “peers” (other patients in the facility for a variety of reasons) than with most of the staff.

All the patients wear wrist bands of various color – it’s a bona-fide hospital – some wore more than one (I had 3 – red, yellow, green – I liked to call myself a traffic light).

My green band meant that I voluntarily requested a bed in the facility (meaning I could choose to leave any time I wished – not true for everyone). The red band meant that I have allergies to certain medications – to remind staff to look at my chart before administering anything to me.

The yellow band I had to request on my own from a day nurse, even though I’d mentioned this issue at my intake interview – it meant “fall risk” (vertigo).

Now I’m not one to jump off a horse (particularly one I picked out and saddled up myself) in mid-stream, so I wasn’t going to leave the place until I’d fully detoxed and my doctor agreed with my assessment.

When that finally did happen, and I got to speak to my case manager (CM) prior to going home, I had a few questions…

My first question was regarding the “missing” color band (not the yellow – but some color I never received because it doesn’t exist). It was, of course, the “Deaf/deaf/HOH” band. Or perhaps even a generic “different ability” band. Something that would at least flag the staff that they’d need to provide some extra accommodation for my situation.

I’d wear my “Please Face Me” pin, but pins are (understandably) contraband in a mental health facility.

My CM told me to be sure to write that on the evaluation form (which I’ve not seen a trace of yet).

My next “question” (really a statement) gave my CM a bit of that “deer in the headlights” look.

“In my aftercare program (group therapy sessions), I’m going to need CART.”

The CM needed the acronym deciphered, of course. Being the helpful guy I am, I did so, and also let her know that I could hook (whoever) up with some folks I know who can provide excellent remote CART – and all you need is an Internet enabled PC, a microphone, and Skype.

Those deer were becoming hood ornaments at an amazing rate.

“Well, there is a PC in the room where we do the sessions.”

Good, as long as it’s got Internet; and the folks I can hook you up with can tell you everything else you need to get/do.

[head nod affirmative]

And by the way, it’s required by law that you accommodate me.

The deer were frolicking in the roadway; the venison business booming.

I let it go at that, and moved on to more mundane questions about my ongoing meds, the schedule for aftercare, etc.  The road crews cleaned up the mess, and traffic flowed cheerfully along now.

Although I’m pretty sure most readers won’t identify with my original goal, nor my choice of “hotels”, I’ll bet many of you have similar stories to tell about your interactions with the medical community in general.

Let’s face it – there are probably more than a few AUDIOLOGISTS who don’t know what CART is (or at least won’t mention it if they do). I’m learning (with the help of my SWC friends) that if there’s a battle to fight, than fight I’d better. Particularly when it comes to my (OK, mental) health.

In part two of this post, I’ll let you know how the aftercare accommodation turned out.

Cheers and best wishes for your own battles.

Paul S

0 thoughts on “Please Face Me – And Make it a Double (part one)

  1. Thanks for sharing this part of your life, Paul. When I had surgery a few years ago, I made the hospital staff put a “hard of hearing” sign over my bed – they also put a wrist band on me with the note “hearing loss”. Keep fighting for what you need in order to be a part of the hearing world and for accommodation. There are so many of us needing to do the same – you’re not alone. When I go to jury duty in December, I really hope I’m picked to be a potential juror. Why? So I can request CART and see the reaction I get. (What do you want to bet I would be excused from having to serve on the case?)

  2. Thanks Katie – I wouldn’t be surprised if they excused you either – but it seems to me if they do so based on your accommodation needs after selection, they’d be walking a thin line over discrimination & civil rights. I’m not a lawyer, of course, so that’s uneducated opinion, but like you, I’d enjoy rattling their cage a bit. 😉

  3. Paul,
    I love the way you write. I hope you write a book someday. REALLY! OK– that out of the way, this same subject about CART came up in my last post. Late-deafened don’t usually know ASL. We outnumber the ASL speaking deaf by at least 2-1.

    Recently I asked my daughter to arrange CART for her college graduation. You’d think a college with 15,000 + students would know about CART? But for some strange reason whenever graduation ceremonies are planned, NO ONE ever thinks to consult with their ADA dept. My daughter let me know (excitedly) they’d be providing an interpreter and preferential seation for me. GREAT! I might finally be able to understand a bit of the ceremony after taking a classes in ASL. I’m no where near fluent.

    Drawback– I can only sit with one other person– meaning I have to sit apart from the rest of the family. Considering three of us have hearing loss– me, my husband, and now my dad– it’s going to be hard to decide who gets to sit upfront with me, but I figure it will be Eric since he’s her father and paid tuition all these years. If the ceremony were here, I’d be sure to “rattle cages” just like you, but it’s hard fighting for accommodations long distance. (sigh)

    I’m looking forward to your part 2.

    I’m so proud of you for detoxing!! I know it wasn’t easy.

    Do you know of the statistics of drug and alcohol abuse among the late-deaf? I’ve heard it’s high. Also depression.


  4. Thanks Kim,

    As you’ll see, part 2 is posted. 🙂

    As far as the statistics I’ve read (and remember, all such statistics are based on reported/treated cases, which could easily understate the actual problem), the incidence of alcohol and drug abuse problems in late-deafened folks is slightly higher than the population in general – but not very significantly so – meaning once again, that we’re pretty normal in all respects except our hearing ability. Similar stats for depression and other mental illnesses, which cut across all demographics – nobody’s “safe”.

    It’s an interesting point about “treatment” for depression (and alcoholism, etc.) – there’s a “double-minded” approach I’ve noticed in the medical community.

    In every counseling interview I’ve had, I’ve been asked the same question I mentioned here in part 1 – “What do you think caused…?” Meanwhile, back on the MD track, we have wonderful new drugs that “restore the chemical balance” – the lack of which is known to drive depression (and I’m even now on a kinder, gentler, anti-alcohol-craving drug – Campral, that’s said to do just that – restore the neurotransmitter balance that’s been driven into the craving mode).

    So let’s see…

    We have the psyche, that can get messed up situationally.

    We have the physical body, that can get messed up chemically.

    I’ll give my passionately dualistic doctors credit for at least trying to deal with both (though as you’ll see in part 2, they’re not exactly doing a bang-up job at the moment – more updates coming soon to a blog near you ).

    Paul S

  5. I work in the medical community (Surgery Main OR as a Scrub & circulator) mostly in robotic GYN oncology & Urology. The environment is difficult, fans, motors, air handlers, equipment alarms, lots of 2 to 3 way unrelated communications beteem MD’s & pathologists, & nurses. I wear hearing aids and have had to relearn how to interpret what I am hearing. Once, I mistook an irrigation sprinkler for a rattlesnake in the nightime. Laughable … now.
    I have had most I work with get used to accommodating via louder speech or turning down alarms as they can hear them way better than me. However, when masks are up I found out exactly how visual I was & had to resort to reading minds instead of lips. New people to the OR ( & younger) do not seem to blend in. All of this makes me very circumspect in performing my job I would very much be uhappy if was asked to step aside because of a perceived safety issue. The surgeons are happy to have me in their room as I am able to forsee needs & problems & devise solutions on the fly.

    Another unanticipated change in the environment…the newbies.

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