Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Three Nights...Four Days in Florence!

1. Thong update: The mom called me and the night was a tremendous success. Not only that, but, she went to her employer determined and secure and got that part-time position! She told me they didn't even hesitate. She had that glow:-)
2. The Italian Pediatric Federation Congress is the next four days in Florence. We prepared a poster that I went to print yesterday to find that the printer I usually go to was closed permanently. I freaked. I jumped in my car and began driving around Grosseto wondering what I was going to do, when I noticed the van in front of me had "ART and GRAPHICS" smeared all over the place. There was a number. I dialed it and a woman answered who told me they did, in fact, print Congress posters. I now have the poster in hand and I am ready to go!
3. Our Audiology session is tomorrow and a deaf woman with a cochlear implant will be presenting a speech. I am so, so proud that she is one of the presenters. I had the opportunity to see one of her presentations in Rome and she is just amazing.
4. Me, myself, I and 1200 pediatricians in Florence.
5. Bring it.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Thong Sermon

Yesterday I met with the Mom of a five year old deaf child. She was in crisis and her eyes were dead. After her son's diagnosis she continued working eight hour days, while her husband and mother-in-law watched her son. She had her baby when she was 25 years old.

Five years later she took a week off of work and spent time with her son. She told me, with tears in her eyes, that she saw him introverted, suffering and desperately in need of his Mommy. She told me that she had decided to request working half a day, but was terrified they would deny her request.

So, I'm sitting there staring at this mother who I am not lying put Nicole Kidman to shame, assertive character, obviously extremely competent in her job. But 100% insecure. And she suddenly realized that she wanted to be a mom.

I told her she could be a mother if she wanted to be a mother, and that if she wanted to work part time, she could do that too. I told her to work on her delivery if she was sure that was what she wanted to do.

Her marriage is in crisis. She comes home stressed, angry and exhausted. I told her she needed to decide what was best for her, because THAT is what will help her child the most. She could commit herself to work and be happy in her job, come home a happy mother and spend one entire hour of happiness with her child. When you are fulfilled, your child is serene. Or, she could decide to dedicate her afternoons to her child and set her job straight.

We constantly underestimate ourselves in moments of transition. The insecurities prevail. I tried to listen and to help.

Then we talked sex. I said I wish that someone would have told me how to manage to be a woman and a mother...but something always gets lost if we consciously do not concentrate on the job of being a woman. It's very difficult to make it all work. It's difficult to give up your job to dedicate yourself to the needs of your child. It's difficult to jump on your husband every night when you have desperation in your head.

I decided to challenge the statistics as I looked in the mirror-mom.

I gave her the "thong sermon" and told her to immediately call her mother-in-law to watch her kid so she and her husband could go out alone. Five minutes later her eyes were bright and she was on her way to the Italian Victoria's Secret.

My fingers are crossed that it works out for them...beautiful couple, beautiful son.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Mother May I

My kids are amazing.
My nails are done.

I have the Pediatric Congress- 3 nights in Florence!!!next week and I'm busy with preparations because we just added a poster presentation. There are bills to pay, mouths to feed, a house to clean, families to help and a million things to fix- all of the lights seem to be blowing out at once, but...
It's okay.
I've been thinking a lot about trees lately. The one thing I always love about going home is that my house is surrounded by woods, which means big, tall, sprawling trees. None of that where I live here in Italy, but at this moment life is a tree.
A man from the Italian forum sent me an email that clearly explained the difference between hearing aids and cochlear implants. He said that with hearing aids, when the word "Albero" (tree) was said, he only heard, "Ah-Eh-Oh" but with the cochlear implant he hears, "A-L-B-E-R-O". He is now trying to identify sound and transform it into comprehension.

I started teaching the Tuscan Pediatricians again and use my favorite quote: "When facing a single tree, if you look at a single one of its red leaves, you will not see all the others. When the eye is not set on one leaf, and you face the tree with nothing at all in mind, any number of leaves are visible to the eye without limit. But if a single leaf holds the eye, it will be as if the remaining leaves were not there."
(Takuan Soto)

I find myself obsessed with leaves and branches right now and it has nothing to do with Fall.


The roots have been planted.
And now...I am sipping on a homemade nutella milkshake and watching the tree grow.

In the end, life is just a big, fat game of "Mother-May-I."

And I am the Mother.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Mental Monday

I decided to feel sorry for myself today. I strongly believe that a dose of self-pity goes a long way every now and helping you realize how much there is to be thankful for in the end.
I was sitting talking to my Australian friend, not having the best of mornings, when this woman walked out of the bar, straight up to me and said, "Wow, you are really beautiful."
I looked at her suspiciously.
She then proceeded with her interrogation:
"How old are you?"
"Are you married?"
"Have you got any kids?"
"Wow, you have beautiful teeth."
My friend escaped. I continued staring between firing back answers.
The woman then spent ten minutes talking about her teeth and her pending trip to the dentist, picking them, showing them to me and how much she spent on braces for her kids, and then...
Her bus arrived!
I sat on the bench alone and no longer felt sorry for myself.
I was too thankful that the bus had arrived.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Give it Up to the Universe...

I have to share this especially because it's Yom Kippur, at least it was, here in Italy all have broken fast. Months ago I wrote about how the Italian Pediatric Federation had reached an agreement with the Israeli Ambulatory Pediatric Associations and how I would like to go to the 2011 Congress in Jerusalem with our audiology network project in hand.

I don't know whether or not that will happen, but I am willing it to happen and currently working on the project proposal.

However a funny thing happened.

I contacted my Rabbi in Siena while I was in the States and asked him if he knew of anyone in Jerusalem who could give me information on Newborn Hearing Screening. He contacted his friend and sent me an email with a contact name.

On Rosh Hashana I sent an email to this person who has not yet responded talking about my interest in gathering any information possible regarding the role of the pediatrician and current situation in newborn hearing screening.

I just started working on the project, so to prepare I fished out the original Italian email sent about the agreement and noticed the name of a gentleman quoted...the man responsible for establishing the agreement.

Yes, this is the same professor I sent the email to a week ago.


Thursday, September 16, 2010


Today, during his second day of high school, Jordan asked his Italian teacher if she could organize his class in a circle to introduce themselves. He told me that he spoke for twenty minutes as his class sat in silence. Apparently he had this tremendous need to explain himself and his deafness to his class.
His first day at school, he observed.
His second day of school, he spoke.

People ask me all the time, "How's the book? Have you made any money?"

I guess those are logical questions, but the writing of Rally Caps never involved dreams of riches or success, it was a cathartic experience for me and a way to do something with and for my dad.
Every time people ask me that question, I am taken aback and mumble some kind of response like, "The purpose of the book was never to sell it..and it has led me on a path filled with wonder."

More than a path, it has been a wave of consecutive coincidences that have given birth to the possibility of helping others.

I teach pediatricians, I speak before audiologists, ENTs, speech therapists, other parents and I have never once whipped out my book to say, "Hey, wanna buy it?"
The people who need it the most find it.
I'm kind of shy about the book, which is strange. My dad is promoting, doing, struggling to make it a film.

And me? Nothing. I took an American survey and transformed it into a National Pediatric Audiology Network. If I need to find a sponsor for the Italian Pediatric Audiology Network to promote Newborn Hearing Screening in Italy, I will go for your throat.

Book-related success to me was receiving comments from parents and feedback from children. It was seeing the book translated in Italian, so that Jordan could actually read it, and having the opportunity to thank all of the doctors and people involved in helping us. I even received a letter from Graeme Clark.

However, lately, I've been thinking about the book. If I lived in the USA, I would literally go school to school to speak to Principals and classes and request that they place the book in their library. It deserves to be there.

Now, after three years, I'm starting to wish for the book to become a film.

I am so proud that Jordan has a voice and that he uses it.

Wouldn't life be grand if your kid walked into a classroom and instead of hearing, "What's that thing on your head?"...
They were welcomed with, "I know what that's a Cochlear Implant and it helps you hear."

(Dad...get moving, please)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

'Bout Damn Time: Josh Swiller Appears


Two nights ago as I was sitting here typing, I heard Jordan talking to his x-box live computer-online-yes,-I-can-hear-with-my-headphones-and-play, and he said, "Hey! Don't call me Deaf! I am Deaf! And if you call me Deaf, that's an insult, because you mean it as an insult."


I ran into the room and asked who he was talking to and he said, "Go back to the computer, Mamma, it's under control."

Sometimes, Jordan surprises me.

Today was his first day of high school. This was our conversation in the car on the way to school:



When we finally reached his school, I got out of the car, we started walking towards his school, we kind of touched shoulders and he held my hand.

I said, "Jordan, let go of my hand. NOW!"
He looked at me perplexed.
I said, "Jordan, do you want to walk into high school holding your mommy's hand?"

He looked at me, started laughing, and dropped my hand.

He then walked into his brand new classroom alone.

CLICK IT: "I THINK I HEAR YOU..." by Josh Swiller

"But for millions of deaf people, their most intimate relationship is with their hearing loss. More than family, it’s always there, a teacher, a guide, and a friend."

Monday, September 13, 2010

Unilateral Hearing Loss, Tinnitus and...a Cochlear Implant?

I asked a question during the conference I attended this past weekend, because a gentleman on the Italian forum asked whether or not the Cochlear Implant provoked tinnitus or could worsen tinnitus. My surgeon responded that in 70% of the cases, the tinnitus improved, and that there are ongoing trials where adults with really bad tinnitus and unilateral hearing loss are receiving cochlear implants to relieve the tinnitus.

I found that fascinating so I began to surf.
The only article touching on this that I almost found is available here.
It mentions the idea, but the site was not available, so I haven't read the article.
Debbi just sent me this article, bless here.Just throwing it out there because it's the first time I've ever heard of cochlear implants being okayed in unilateral hearing loss.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Apples and Honey

In the past week, I've been in contact with a variety of people of a variety of ages with a variety of thing in common- Deaf.
One father is traveling throughout Italy to try to find the best care for his 17 month old daughter- you should see the pictures of the two of them together. He lost another child to leukemia. And now he is determined to help his other child.

I chatted with a fifty-five year old man who is having his surgery tomorrow, who needed encouragement before going in for the cochlear implant surgery, so that he could "hear his granddaughter call him when she needed him" and so that he could "hear the wind again" when riding his beloved horse.

A fourteen year old girl popped up on the Italian forum, terrified of her upcoming surgery, needing encouragement. When I saw the date of her birthday and the year 1996, the year Jordan was born...I got the lump in my throat so I began emailing her. She wrote to me today, "Mrs. Jodi Michelle, everything went fine and I'm home and recovering." I told her I was so happy for her, she was a girl with balls and if she ever called me "Mrs." again, I'd smack her upside the head.


Enriching is an understatement for what helping people help themselves gives me.
In the end, I'm pretty selfish.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Inside Out....Outside In

I have spent the past three years on the inside trying to look out and now I find myself on the outside looking in. This may make no sense at all to you, but it does to me. And it's a good place to be.
So, I've been reading "The Secret" and there's a part where it says something like "If you don't fulfill yourself, you will have nothing to give to others." And this is so true. For eleven years, I stopped existing, there was just no time to discover myself, fulfill myself and shop for myself.
I threw myself into my kids- teaching Jordan to speak, ate nutella by the spoonful and shopped for Sofia Madyson because suddenly the world was pink.

I believe that one morning- I woke up, the cause for the sudden wake up is irrelevant, and felt empty. Jordan could speak, Sofia chose her own clothes and nutella wasn't working for I had to self-discover. I discovered music, pilates and support groups. I discovered blogging, international associations, and other moms like me. It was like I woke up back in high school and had to go to the University (of life) again, only this time as a mom.

Only this time as a MOM.

I went to visit my friend in Florence this weekend and she took me to Flo- an outdoor nightclub-bar-disco thing. Meat market. Hilarious. I had the best time hanging out, talking, drinking and yes, I danced- pulled a leg muscle and had toe cramps the rest of the night, but I danced. At a certain point my friend started talking to a guy, who was a thirty year old stone worker. Adorable guy. He guessed that I was thirty-two years old (Saint that he was) and asked me what I did. I told him and said I had two kids. He could have been my child, not because of his age, but because between his life experiences and mine..oceans, oceans of oceans apart.

But it was okay. I saw myself from the outside and the places I lived as a crazy college girl flashed before my eyes on the inside. I just wouldn't want to go back. I don't feel like I never lived life, and I no longer feel empty. I feel like a woman who is so happy just to spend time with my kids, read a good book, hit the cube for some quality exercise every now and then, hang out with my girlfriends and guyfriends...and dive into my job.

Plans...I have plans.