Inspiration

'I Love You' in sign language

‘I Love You’ in sign language

People often ask writers where they get the inspiration for their work. On Saturday, inspiration came to me in the form of a lovely woman, named Patsy. This delightful, spunky woman spiraled into deafness over a ten year course. Patsy is profoundly deaf. Hers has a genetic cause, and though others in her family were hearing impaired, Patsy was the only one who suffered the trauma of deafness.
What I learned about deafness from books and the internet, in preparation for my current novel-in-progress, was no where near what Patsy was able to teach me. Of her isolation; of people’s reactions, good and bad; of the day her house alarm went off and she never heard it. She had to give up her job. She couldn’t go to a movie. Or a concert.
Deciding to be proactive, she and her husband attended a seminar on cochlear implants. Within two months, she underwent the surgery to place the receiver under the skin behind her ear. From my research, I had already become a fan of the cochlear implant. Though the outcome isn’t always complete restoration of hearing, most people receive some gain. Imagine not hearing a bird’s song, your loved one’s voice, a Willie Nelson ballad—or whatever music you like. And then one day, the audiologist turns on the first level of your cochlear implant and you hear sound. Imagine how wonderful. Patsy made her husband keep talking on the way home from her second level adjustment, because it had been so long since she heard his voice.
I was amazed as we chatted that Patsy could hear nearly everything I said. When she took off the outer parts of the cochlear implant to show it to me, she could hear nothing. Complete silence.
Patsy is an inspiration to people who are deaf or handicapped in other ways, because she made her story public. I am grateful to my friend Sandy who arranged for me to meet Patsy. I am heartily grateful to Patsy for sharing her moving story.

If you have time, please read Patsy’s eloquent comment below.

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About Gerri

I'm in my second career. Besides raising my beautiful family, worked as RN. Now I'm a novelist. Have completed five novels and working on my sixth. Way more fun than nursing! Happy hubby and neurotic cat hang out with me.

Posted on March 25, 2013, in On Writing and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. Patsy Bouzianis

    Gerri,
    It was an honor to meet you and to spend such a beautiful exchange Saturday. Something that would ‘not’ have happened prior to July 2012. With my other senses appearing to have been sharpened through my deaf experience, I feel certain I would have ‘felt’ your kind spirit and sparkly personality, had we had the opportunity prior. I thank my God everyday ever since recieving my cochlear implant, for having been given back a piece of myself that I silently mourned, and for allowing me to hear even the simple things I once took for granted but never will again. …’Thank You’ for your genuine interest in sharing some of my deaf journey. I pray it comforts someone along the way with an insight that might not of have been possible otherwise. ~ Patsy Bouzianis

  2. Lovely, Gerri. We take so much for granted. However, I’m trying to honor as much as I can while I can. Today I found a note from Rick ….an old sticky note that stuck to some papers.
    I’m keeping it. He’d left for golf while I was still sleeping. It said: “Your coffee is waiting for you, Sweets.” There might be a day when I won’t be receiving these love notes. Thank you for confirming that we need to cherish what we have while we have it. Love, Anita

    • Thanks for the lovely comment, Anita. You are right, every moment is a treasure. And so are the wonderful guys we live with! xoxo

      ________________________________

  3. Thank you, Gerri,
    I had no idea how deafness separated you from the world. When you described her making her husband talk to her the whole way home, it really had an impact on me. (and I should know better, playing Beethoven’s Fifth this concert, and he was deaf when he conducted it, imagine…)

  4. This must be such good news for those who cannot hear and for parents having a deaf child. It’s so good for Patsy to be so open about her condition and treatment.

  5. This is an incredibly inspiring and moving story, but beyond that, to think that so many of those who have been deprived of this form of communication and enjoyment can find help. How miraculous is it for those who have lost hope. You write from your heart and lift us all up with your wisdom and knowledge. Thanks for sending a smile today.

  6. What a beautiful, moving story. Thank you for sharing it – I can only imagine how Patsy must have felt being able to hear the sounds of the world again. It must have been very emotional for her.

  7. The act of writing and sharing one’s thoughts and imagination with others make connections among people we could never imagine reaching. If only our words could have the impact of a beautiful sound to a person without hearing.

  8. gigia205@cs.com

    Did you eve r think of writing a column for the newspaper? It would be great….Oh but I guess you don’t have time????

  9. Sandy Goodwin Fontana

    I got to know Patsy best before she received her cochlear implant, through the fabulous photos she posted almost daily on Facebook. Although she couldn’t hear, she could see things that the rest of us take for granted. Patsy is a gentle soul with a spirit like no other. I was pleased that the two of you could join forces– Patsy making her journey known to you, and you making it known to others. As your writing partner, I’ve had unpresidented access to your novel-in-progress, and so I know what a wonderful story it is. I wish you all the success in the world with sharing a journey similar to Patsy’s, so that others will better understand the condition of deafness. You are both courageous woman, whom I’m proud to know.

    Sandy Goodwin Fontana

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